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Amp and bass settings.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by magic8161, Jun 29, 2020 at 7:10 PM.

  1. magic8161

    magic8161 Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    OK. Whats the right way to set your amp and bass? on a 1-10 guide. how do you set your master your gain and your bass?
    I had always set my Master on the amp at 8 to 9. My bass just about wide open and the gain on my amp at 2 maybe 3. someone told me this wasn't right. that gain should be at 8 or nine and the bass at 1 or 2. which is correct and whats your settings at?
  2. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps

    A good guideline, IME is twofold:

    (1) Master high or dimed and gain as a volume control: your best way to stay clean. Some amps dont distort pleasantly, so to avoid preamp overdrive keep the master all the way up so you can get volume with the gain setting low.

    (2) Gain high and master as volume: if your preamp sounds good to you overdriving, you can dial in your sweet spot and adjust volume accordingly.

    Then, as always, I guess (3) somewhere in between; there is no right or wrong answer.

    As far as the bass, I usually just use my knob full open too. I could almost just use a switch instead. Personal choice there too, really, though I could see an active set of pickups or an on-board pre maybe needing some reeling in if it clips your input too much.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020 at 8:17 PM
  3. 1. Bass all the way up unless it is a quiet song.
    2. Adjust amp for venue, vary playing hand for volume changes
    CarpeBasso, Guild B301 and magic8161 like this.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Let me guess: That person was a guitar player.

    How you've been doing it is fine.

    My main gigging bass has an on/off switch and no other controls. Sounds better on.
    My main gigging amp has one volume control and 4 EQ knobs. Sounds best with all at noon. I cut the low EQ if the PA subs are too loud so I can tell what note I'm playing.
  5. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Typically for the amp, I start with tone and master controls set to noon and I’ll raise the gain until I hear a significant “jump” in sound. I’ll then back the master down a little ways and will repeat the process for the tone controls. Essentially, what I’m looking to hear is when each dial starts to “take off.”

    For instance, you’ll set your bass to zero and slowly start turning it up while strumming on an open string. What you’re looking to hear is when the bass goes from simply getting louder to when it’s character actually blooms through the speaker. That’s what you want to find, and don’t push it further. Then repeat the process.

    Each bass you play will have a different setting, and you’ll actually get to hear the real characteristics of the amp for the individual instrument. I stole this from learning how to set a guitar amp, and it has done a lot with regard to improving my tone. I used to be a “set everything to 12 and forget it kind of guy.” I probably missed out on enjoying a lot of good gear because of that.

    As for the bass, if it’s passive I have everything wide open. If it’s active then I try to find a setting that relatively flat and allows to boost some without getting too pushy.
    magic8161 likes this.
  6. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    Turn all the knobs until it sounds good.
  7. Would help to know what the OP's amp is.
    Frank77 and eriky4003 like this.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    As for gain and master, I like a tiny bit of "fur" on my tone. In other words, it isn't breaking up, but it's close. So I bump the gain until I start to break up, and then back down a tiny bit. The number on the dial varies from bass to bass. Once that's done, the mast simply controls my volume. However loud I need it for a given venue is what number it lands on.

    (In other words, quit worrying about numbers and use your ears.)
    ObsessiveArcher likes this.
  9. magic8161

    magic8161 Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Any bass amp for this conversation.

  10. It makes a difference.

    Many amp are made where it's ok to run the gain light into clipping.

    Many Markbass amps ARE NOT made to run the gain light into clipping.
    Loring, TrevorR and Zbysek like this.
  11. My amp has no master volume. It has no gain light.
    You adjust the EQ & Volume according to the size room and crowd. 4733DEEE-CC27-469D-8882-C856E450A3EC.jpeg It sounds good at any volume.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020 at 12:13 AM
    5StringBlues likes this.
  12. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i play clean - it cuts through the distortion of metal and punk since the guitar/s are distorted or very fuzzy, and it adds lots of warmth to a variety of types of music. i usually dime my basses, use only a tiny bit of gain and use the master as a volume. it doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me.

    but your best bet is to ignore what other people say and dial in the tone that sounds good to you and cuts through the band the best.
    Guild B301 and Avigdor like this.
  13. 11
    5StringBlues likes this.
  14. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Redding CA
    Depends on what amp, what bass and what tone you like. Every amp is different. I've had between 20 and 30 amps in the last few years and not one was set the same as the other. Most couldn't get what I wanted as far as tone, no matter how you set them. This goes for basses too. Kind of an unanswerable question IMHO.
    Loring likes this.
  15. Guitar players.
  16. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    I generally run max volume on bass, have the gain set to if I really dig it it just barely starts to clip, and turn master up to where I need. But there’s nothing wrong with running it your way if it sounds good.
    smogg likes this.
  17. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    If you have a gain control as opposed to a master volume turn it up until the clip LED comes on and then back it off a hair.

    this sets the gain for maximum signal before clipping. EQ to suit the room and your intended sound, nobody can tell you what those settings are, it’s all different.

    On the bass I run things fairly flat sometimes a little bass and/ or mid boost, sometimes a little mid cut, it’s subtle though and I never use extreme settings.

    On an amp with just volume turn it up until it’s at the level you want. On my Eden head I set by the clip light compressor off and then bump up the gain ever so slightly for more compression. On my GK I can’t set the master to 10, I won’t get enough control from the channel volume so I set it between 10 and 12 o’clock.
  18. rohi

    rohi Lead Lined

    Mar 1, 2018
    I set my gain until the clipping light comes on during moderate to hard playing, then I dial it back a bit for some headroom. The master knob gets set to taste/room/setting, and the EQ is usually noon (flat).
  19. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Bass guitar is always up full (more signal, less noise!) :woot:
    Preamp gain is usually about 7 (solid state FET preamp) or about 8 or 9 (vacuum-tube preamps).
    Master volume is as loud as it needs to be...
    bassface69 and TrevorR like this.
  20. My main bass is a PJ. While I adjust the volume knobs a bit for some songs, I like the P sound so the usual setting is with the P pickup pretty much dimed and the J around 10 - 15%. Sometimes I'll drop the P a bit if I want less thump (hardly ever!) and/or boost the J if I want a bit more bite.

    The way the amp controls were explained to me a couple of decades ago is: gain is the level going in (to the pre-amp) and volume is the level coming out (of the power amp). So cranking the gain affects the quality of the signal processed by your pre-amp (how "clean" or "overdriven" it is) and the volume determines your "loudness".

    I don't generally crank the gain to the point of a really broken/distorted overdriven sound because I have effects that do that with a greater degree of control. I dial up the gain on the amp until the peak light comes on, then turn it back so the light just blinks when I'm really digging in. As I prefer to put my effects "in line" rather than through the amp's effects loop, the final gain level sometimes depends on what effects I'm using.

    Then, the amp volume sets how loud I am.
    BobDeRosa likes this.

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