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am I just weird? (amp eq)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by steamboat, Mar 23, 2001.

  1. Back in the day (last year) when I was still plugging away with my little Crate BX-15.. I noticed that my playing was pretty noisey, and cutting out my mids got rid of a bit of the noise (especially while slapping). Over time I cleaned up my technique but I left my EQ pretty much the same.

    Then last May I got my Ampeg BA-115 (a birthday present that I opened early :D) and I still went with the scooped mids at first. I liked the edge that treble gives, and I couldn't get enough of the low end that my new amp was putting out.. but I left the mids out, pretty much out of habit I think.

    As time went by I tweaked my EQ more and more, usually adding slightly more mids each time. I currently have my amp almost flat, with a very slight frowny face (well.. not really a face, I only have 3 knobs of EQ). I use this EQ for everything, with my Peavey's tone knob generally on full treble, but sometimes completely rolled off or in the middle somewhere.. and a similar slight frown on the EQ for my fretless Stingray 5.

    Anyone else slap with their EQ pretty much flat, or even with boosted mids? I guess I find it unusual that I do this because the EQ typically associated with slapping would be scooped mids.

    I also think it'd be neat to see some people's stories about how their EQ has changed over time with their experience, playing style, etc.
  2. Cornbread


    Jun 20, 2000
    Lawrence, Ma
    Basically I play with the amp's EQ flat (and style 3). I have a 3 band EQ on the bass, so I just fiddle with that. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I should try to adjust the amp's EQ to get exactly the right sound rather than just dealing with something close because I'm a flat EQ nit-picker. But I've never heard of boosting the mids for slapping.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    You may have two things going on.

    You went to a better quality amp. A better amp will "reveal" more of the true sound of your bass. As you experience this, your ear changes. Better gear usually seems to change your perception of sound over time because it offers more "information" for you to hear.

    Secondly, the sound of boosted mids, or flattened EQ, is not too far distant from a very compressed sound. Compression levels out the dips and peaks and flattening your EQ seems to do something like that, not functionally, but in the sonic result. Slaphappy bassists generally love compression.

    If/when you get to a more sophisticated rig, you may be back to the smile, since you will have more EQ controls to futz with.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I had a conversation with 5 or 6 other bassists in a local store a couple of weeks ago. With the exception of one guy, we discovered that none of us used a smiley face EQ setting. The one guy who did was playing his bass through a rig with the mids cut and it was all bottom and top and no mids...just the type of sound the rest of us agreed gets lost in the mix easily.

    Look at Marcus Miller. People think he cuts his mids. He doesn't. He has a bass that's naturally bright, boost the bass on his preamp...and plays. No smiley face yet most people think that's how he gets his sound.

    Some people dig mids, some don't. I've found that scooped mids takes away most of the character of most basses, the instrument is basically demoted to being a trigger as opposed to a full bodied instrument.

    It's possible to get punch while slapping but you won't get it with the typical smiley face. I use flat EQ on my amp because it sounds good that way and definitely doesn't sound compressed.

    I think the BA-115 sounds good flat... if that's a problem... oh well;)
  5. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I always keep my amp totally flat. I can get enough boost from each bass, if needed. Helps when changing basses, too, because you won't necessarily have to walk all the way back to fiddle with the amp mid-gig; you can just mess with it on the bass.
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I agree, Angus.
  7. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Well, first time for everything, i suppose!
  8. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania

    You're missing something, have you forgot one of the first "rules" of instruments?

    Differnet people have different tastes. Personally, I'd perfer my Peavey Firebass head over an Ampeg SVT.

    And another thing you left out. The fact that that's what the "gain" knob's for. To change how much actual "sound" you're letting through.

    Look up the definition of "Gain" you'll be amazed... ha.

    To get more onto this conversation...
    I don't slap, but as far as mids go...

    I take my mid shift knob and turn it to my lowest mid (200khz I believe it is) and I have it at around 8... Nice and thumpy.
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I've been shifting away from smiley face for the last year or so. I used to boost my low and high shelving one notch each, with the mid cut one notch on my WT-300. Also, I ran the Enhance knob at about 2 o'clock, which added a bit more smile. After I recorded (through a SABDDI) using a similar sound, I realized that the bass got lost in the mix.

    So now I set the Enhance knob at 10 o'clock, everything else flat, except a tiny boost (one click) on the bass shelf. Sometimes I'll boost the mid (at about 800 hz) a notch when I'm playing fretless. It's a different sound than what I thought I liked, but after our first gig with it set flat, our sound man said, "Man, you're really coming through the mix great!" That pretty much did it.
  10. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    Well, I go for a really deep/bassy sound for my jazz and ska playing. So, I boost a bit around 50 Hz and cut around 4 kHz, otherwise my EQ on the amp is flat. I run my jazz-stlye bass with the trebles totally cut and the neck pickup full-on. I also sometimes run my contour knob at 9 'o clock (which translates to even more bass with a very slight midrange cut and a slight treble boost).
  11. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Uh, C-Eye, the mids are what help you cut through, not the gain. Maybe YOU should "look up the definition of gain" before telling someone else they don't know what they're talking about (rather rudely, too). But i bet you knew that. ;)
  12. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    You're right, I did. Mids are what determines if your bass sounds hollow or not. but raising and cutting it doesn't give the bass more definition. It's a matter of taste in what amp's better than others, unless one's going to just fall apart. And unless you've tried a peavey, then you really shouldn't comment on it.

    Personally, I think SVT's sound like there's something missing from them, and the sound isn't as full as my Peavey Firebass head... But hey, that's just me.
  13. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    im always at war with my eq, one day ill have it a smiley face, the next a frown, right now i have it in a W pattern. I keep my low and high contors set full blast too. I like all that bottom end that it gives me when i do that...fills the room and kicks ya right in the chest quite nicely. and imho i think that boosting the mids and trebs a bit help get a slightly better slap tone.
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I think I missed a meeting or something ;)
  15. I guess I am kinda in the minority here. While I do agree boosting(actually in my case, leaving flat) mids will lead to a more prominent sound in the mix, I think it makes some basses, at least my Warwick, a little to sterile sounding. But to be honest, I guess I have played enough gigs to know the best bet it to start with everything flat and boost and cut(bass and amp) according to the room.
  16. I agree on people having different tastes.. but there are no two ways about my Ampeg and my Crate.

    My Crate sounds like a dog farting into a cardboard box. I feel like I'm being cruel to my fretless when playing through the Crate because the sound is so bad. I only keep it around to go jam with people in other dorms because it's easier to transport without having a car. Someday I'd like to replace the Crate with one of those little GK combos.

  17. Gain: the net change in voltage between the inputs and outputs of a circuit. This is just volume basically, it doesn't really have anything else to do with tone until you exceed the linear operating range of the amp in question and distortion occurs. Now mids on the other hand, are absolutely the key element to definition in sound. More mid = more definition, to a point of course. But it's not that simple: what range of mids are we talking about? Low mids (say 160-300 Hz) would be the frequency range associated with "warmth" Frequencies between 300 Hz and 700 Hz will make something sound "hollow" if they're boosted too much and mushy or undefined if they're cut too much. The frequencies associated with "definition" are typically between 700Hz and 1.5 kHz. "Attack" or "clarity" between 1.5kHz - 4kHz, and anything above 6kHz is termed sibilence or air. Also, the amount of low frequency information present affects the "definition"of a sound. If the sound is heavy in the 100 Hz range it's going to sound "muddy" because this range of frequencies has a tendency to mask mid frequencies. Real low end is usually defined as anything below about 80 Hz, and maybe extends as low as 30 Hz. There aren't many speakers that will reproduce anything below 30 with any efficiency. Boosting (or leaving flat) certain mid frequencies helps with hearing the bass in a mix, because our ears hear mid boosts as increases in volume. Try this: set everything on your amp flat, then center your mid control somewhere between 500 and 1k. Then start turning the mids up. You're not changing the actual volume of the amp but it will sound louder with the mids boosted. Oviously, if you boost too much it sounds bad (this occurs no matter what frequency range you're boosting because it unbalances the frequency spectrum) same goes for cutting. So in a (very long) nutshell, mid levels are the most important defining factor in "definition" for any instrument. And yes, leave some of those mids in if you want to be heard in a mix! This doesn't really count for reggae because there's enough space in the mix for a big low end bass sound, and it's all about feeling the bass.
    Have you ever heard a real SVT? (ie All tube from the 70's). To me Peavey amps sound like they're missing something: The mids are all weird. They either sound hollow and harsh or way too mid scooped. That's just me, of course :D I've owned 10 Peavey amps in my life from tiny to massive so I think I'm justified in my opinion.
  18. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Spacegoat - great stuff! Hopefully, just those little snippets of information will help me when I'm faced with a half-decent amp. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd be really interested in knowing about what sort of characterists other frequencies have, rather than just guessing next time I try to punch in a sound - that's if you don't mind... :)
  19. Jake15


    Jan 17, 2001
    USA, PA
    When ever I start to slap I cut the mids and boost the highs. Keeping the bass in lows around the middle gives you a clearer sound.
  20. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Beautiful Spacegoat!

    C-Eye, i cant say ive ever heard the definition that mids "determine whether your bass is hollow or not". Im not sure what the rest of the post responded to, but oh well. Not all people who use mids sound hollow...just listen to Jaco or Rocco!

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