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amps more important to TONE than the bass?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by AJ Love, Jul 23, 2004.

  1. AJ Love

    AJ Love

    Oct 8, 2002
    Madison WI USA
    I apologize if this topic has been discussed to death here, I did a search but didn't find much (somewhat of a tough topic to search for because of the wording)

    anyways, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who insists that with a great amp just about ANY bass would work for great tone and that the amp is more imprtant for tone than the bass...my assertion was that all parts are equal, granting an amps importance but saying the bass had a equal amount of importance in tone

    thoughts? ideas?
  2. I would say that its 50-50.
  3. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Any part of the signal chain can ruin the sound, but it takes all parts of the signal chain working together to get a great sound. Ultimately, I find that it is the player that has the largest impact on the sound.
  4. AJ Love

    AJ Love

    Oct 8, 2002
    Madison WI USA
    thats a great point.....
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I've heard some pretty junky basses sound quite decent through good amps but not vice-versa.
    The main reason is that the good amps had far more tone-shaping tools, (graphic equalizers, parametric equalizers, crossovers, compressors, blah blah) than the preamps on the basses.
    Pickup maker Lindy Fralin used to have a very good article on his website that supported the "better amp over better instrument" point of view.

    But all those things being equal, as xyllion points out, it's amazing what a very fine bassist can get out of a lousy rig.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - if you want to hear a fretless sound - it doesn't matter what amp you use, if you aren't using a fretless bass it aint gonna sound like that!! ;)

    The very best Hi Fi amp should only reproduce what is put ito it - crap in = crap out!!

    So - if I put a crap CD on my Hi Fi - it doesn't matter how much I paid for that HiFi system - it will still sound crap!!
  7. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I agree with equal parts or 50-50.

    Im using a Demeter VTBP preamp with a QSC power amp and Bergantino cabs. Its a great setup but very revealing. Some basses dont sound so good through it because you hear things (some undesirable) that you wouldnt through a more colored setup. To sum it up I dont agree that great amp can make any bass sound good. In my case my amp makes great basses sound great and bad basses sound bad .
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's what I was saying and exactly what I would expect from a great 'Hi Fi' set up! :)
  9. My bass in your

    My bass in your

    Nov 1, 2003
    It's all the player. Not just his playing, but also the choices he made gear-wise.
  10. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    Yup! We posted at the same time! :D
  11. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    50 - 50 for sure
    and the player is the ultimate factor
    Mike Nunno who owns Milford Music Studio in CT is one of my favorite players and a great guy to boot
    when he picks up a student model $100 dollar bass and i'm not looking while he plays i would swear it's a $3000 instrument
    and when i pick up a $3000 instrumant he would swear...............aw heck.........i'm not gonna say that :p
    that said, i'd rather have an OK (not crappy) bass and an excellent amp than an excellent bass and an OK amp
    but that's just me
    (fortunately i have an excellent bass and an excellent amp.............now if only had talent) :cool:
  12. AJ Love

    AJ Love

    Oct 8, 2002
    Madison WI USA
    for years I've been on a search for the right bass and now I am starting to realize just how important a great amp is too....now that I have finally found the right bass I feel like I can concentrate my energy on getting the right amp set-up too (and getting the funds for it thats the main thing...I know I wanna go with a Thunderfunk into a couple of Epifani cabs
  13. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Id say amp is more important when it comes down to the bass or amp.

    Especially if you are gigging. You need something loud enough to be heard without distorting prematurely and something that you can use to EQ to the room and eliminate boominess or feedback issues if the acoustics are especially bad.
  14. My bass in your

    My bass in your

    Nov 1, 2003
    I see a lot of use for the word "amp". But cabs and the speakers itself are also a very noteworthy component of your sound.
  15. ZonMaster


    Jun 18, 2004
    maybe Kansas
    Indeed this could get micromanaged to death. Pickups anyone? But keeping the big picture in mind I'll throw out there 80% amp. We all know Fodera (or insert bass here) man with Aguilar (insert amp here) possessing skills is BassKing. Fortunately mexican-made Fender man with Aguilar is BassPrince in the Kingdom of Tone. Unfortunately, Fodera man with cheap-end amp of many makers is BassPeasant in our Land of Tone. However, we all have different circumstances and eventually we'd like to think we'd piece it together no matter what comes first. There is no shame in gear unless the whole band sucks. Then please quit for now. The only thing worse is Fodera man with 1000w of Aguilar and no skills. The Visa doesn't make the bassist.
  16. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    IME, 70/30 in favor of the amp. Unless you're running the bass direct into the board :)

    The bass is a large part of the sound - certainly an amp can't simulate a fretless, and it can't make a P-bass sound like a Stingray. It can, however, make the difference between a P-bass sounding like a P-bass with nice articulation, sweet lows and lots of detailed mids, or a noisy, tubby, and slow-to-respond P-bass that gets buried in the mix.
  17. morebass!

    morebass! I'm all ears Supporting Member

    May 31, 2002
    Madison WI
    I've gone around in circles on gear for so long now that I'm not sure what is important anymore but I'd agree that the amp is at least 50% of a good live sound. Still the bass is the most important single component. It's got to feel good in my hands for me to play my best. Ever hold your ear to the upper horn while you play? The nice woody, bassy tone might remind you of why you choose to play bass in the first place.

    The other side of the coin is that playing live isn't much fun out of a sub-par amp. I think speaker cabinets make a huge difference. In hi-fi circles it is well known that the speaker represents the weak link in getting true sound reproduction. So it depends on what you're doing - playing to a crowd, recording, practicing...

    The bottom line is that if you want to make people move on the dance floor, a better amp will make more of a difference. And that should be enough to validate AJ's GAS...and mine too. Let's all get new amps!! :hyper:
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    My experience matches yours completely. And the fact that a pickup manufacturer says so is telling.

    True: the player is the most important part of the chain. I've seen many players get fantastic tone from lowest-budget gear. But when we restrict the discussion to bass versus amp and leave the player out of the equation, the amp is more important as described above.
  19. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    The funny thing is we're all lying..............everyone knows that a red bass sounds better than the basses of other colors.
  20. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Keep it quiet. That was supposed to be a secret.