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Amp settings for dummies

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by JaredBT, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. JaredBT

    JaredBT Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2012
    Hi all, well Im finally just going to ask for some insight... no more acting like I know what Im doing. My low, mid and hi settings also have corresponding frequency settings and I haven't the slightest idea how to adjust them. Actually, Im challenged when it comes to my settings period, hi mid... low mid... I guess that's what I get for being a Carvin fan. Getting better though about zeroing in. Wasn't sure which pro to ask.

    My controls are: Drive, Contour, Bass, the adjustments with frequency options are LO MID, MID & HI MID, then treble. Also my contour can range from "flat" to "scoop". Don't know what scoop means.

    Used to play thru an SVT so cut me some slack.
  2. 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
    Start out by setting Drive somewhere between off and 9 o'clock. Contour off (permanently). Set all EQ knobs at noon. Play something. Move bass to 1 o'clock, Lo Mid to 11 o'clock, Mid at noon, and High Mid to 1 o'clock, leave treble at noon. This should give you a fairly clean sound that will be heard in a mix. If you desire a little more classic vibe, put your Lo Mid at 1 or 2 o'clock, and back your high mid back to noon, maybe boost your bass to two o'clock.

    Whatever you do, don't go cranking any of the EQ knobs to levels past about 3 o'clock - that's where "suck" lives. The key is to spend a couple hours adjusting knobs until you find a sound you like. Cutting frequencies is just as effective and sometimes more effective than boosting. When you cut frequencies, you're decreasing gain, so you may have to boost your Drive control to make up gain.

    One thing to try is start with all at noon again, then boost and cut, one at a time, the three mid controls to see what they add to or subtract from the tone. Soon you'll be able to discern what frequencies you want to add or cut to reach your tone goals.

    "Scoop" means boosted lows and highs, with mids cut. It sounds great in the bedroom, but makes you inaudible at gigs. I'd avoid the Contour knob - if you can't resist the temptation, don't put it any higher than 9 o'clock. It robs notes of the definition provided by mid frequencies.

    For your frequencies, I'd suggest Lo Mid at about 200-250, Mid at about 500, and Hi Mid at 800 to 1K.
  3. Spot on, except you might get more out of bass at 10 o'clock and low mids at 1, with low mid frequency set lower.

    That's all assuming all noon is flat, the settings suggested may only achieve flat if there is a large baked in midscoop at noon. Carvin probably don't go in for that malarkey but just in case. Mainly the concerns are not blowing up your cab with excess lows, and not being lost in the mix.

    Once you're settled, more small tweaks, for tonal variation and room variation.
  4. 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
    Yeah, it just depends on how much bottom you want and how much your cab can produce.
  5. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    There's no one right setting, otherwise the amp companies would just set the amp to that and not bother adding knobs for us to mess up. Experiment with what sounds good to you. I agree about leaving the contour off - it's kind of a shorthand way to cut your mids, which you could do with your mids knob - and meanwhile, except for certain tones, your mids are important to defining your notes and making you audible.

    The other thing to remember is that what sounds great in your bedroom may suck in the mix with the rest of the band. Me, I usually play with lows and mids are 1 to 2 o'clock and highs rolled back to about 11 o'clock. One time, when I was young and foolish (about two years ago) I let the guitarist/BL set my EQ the way he thought would be best - he was the BL, after all, and had more experience than me. He basically scooped the mids, big time. Sounded great when I was playing by myself. Next gig, I use his settings, and in the first song he's yelling at me that I'm too loud. Too loud? My volume's only at about 4. Well, too "boomy." Oh... too "boomy." So I put my EQ back where it was before he changed it, and don't change my volume at all. How's that? Perfect, great!
  6. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    Amp settings for dummies:
    With any kind of amp, cabinets, room etc..

    #Know your sound (finger, pick, string, bass).. Sound is from you, your fingers, your hands,...
    #Keep it as flat as possible (at least at the start)..
    #Subtract and add bit by bit in areas you'd like (experiment + ear judgement are the keys)..
    always add/subtract only as little as I can along the way, and keep note of the differences how subtle they are..

    Sorry if it's not too technically detail as you may want it, but IMHO it is..the way to work with any (new unrecognized) amp/gear..

    Hope it helps
  7. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
  8. ShonenCello


    Sep 21, 2011
    The documentation that came with my amp has surprisingly good suggestions.

    I was lost in EQ hell and now feel pretty good about it.
  9. JaredBT

    JaredBT Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2012
    Hi all, made some changes per everyones suggestions. Ukiah Bass' frequency suggestions helped tremendously. Runnin a Carvin BX 1200 biamped into a 2x10 and 1x15 config. and sounds great... going to be dialing in for a while I think but at least Im on my way now... Thanks again to all.

  10. Why are you bi-amping two full range cabs ?
  11. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    The magic beginning setting for me is 6 - 6 - 6 and start adjusting from there. . . but your midrange is going to be the one that sets the tone for you.

    I use a Radial Bassbone preamp on mine and can choose the cut frequency and find that helps me out a lot.

    I use different frequencies for the different types of music we play (switching from Motown to Foo Fighters demands a very, very different tone!)
  12. Jarrett


    Jan 19, 2004
    Waxahachie, Tx
    On my Carvin BX500 and BX250, I put all of my knobs at noon minus the compressor and DI out. I turned the compressor off and DI out to whatever made the sound man give a thumbs up. Graphic EQ off. I typically put the drive at zero and set the master to taste.

    On my GK MB amps, I put the gain at like 9 o'clock. Countour off. Everything else to noon. Dial back treble a fuzz since they can be a little bright.

    This is when using my Carvin PBJ4 or SB5000. They have a nice 18 volt two band preamp installed. I usually run both pickups full, treble noon, bass bumped a fuzz, and tone dialed to offset the newess of the strings. The basses sound great and don't need much amp tweaking, ime.