Are Bass Players The Only Ones Who Care About Tone?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by srxplayer, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    I have noticed ever since joining Talk Bass that there is always talk about tone. Tone this, Tone that, thats got crappy tone, that has great tone and so on.

    Previous to being a bass player myself I never paid much attention to a particular bass tone. Only Rics got my attention because they always sounded different to me than other basses but that was the extent of my interest. As a drummer I just locked in with them without any real interest in their particular tone.

    I asked the four guitar players and the one keyboard player that I play with every Tuesday and Sunday and they don't really care either. I figured they would have some type of an opinion but they don't care. None of these guys are inexperienced musicians. All of them have been playing for over 30 years.

    There are four guys now that play several types of basses on diferent weekends. Steinberger USA Spirit, Ibanez SR3005, G&L L-2000, Ibanez SRX 300, Fender jazz, and a Yamaha BB404. The other musicians can care less which bass is up there. All they care about is that you are on the right note, your keeping time with the drummer and that you are not over playing and making things muddy.

    I'm not picking on anyone as I am just as anal about tone as anyone else on this board. I just think it's funny that 8 months ago I could care less.

    Has anyone else experienced this?
  2. you mean, are bass players the only ones who care about BASS tone? because guitar players obsess over their tone even more than bassists.
  3. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    Yes. Sorry for the confusion. I meant bass tone.
  4. They have been playing for over 30 years and have never listened??? Wow
    If I am trying out different tone settings and one of them sounds like poop, my bandmates will not hesitate to let me know. Just as I would (and have) mentioned to my guitar player that his tone needs some tweaking.
  5. elgranluis

    elgranluis Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX
    my bandmates do. One really loves the ric, annother one is crazy for the 72, and another one finds the 00 jazz amazing.
  6. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    In my previous band, the guitarist and drummer loved my usual tone. Whenever I tried something different or tried another bass, they always said "No man, get that Rickenbacker back out!" I do believe those guys had more of an ear for bass, and appreciated it more, than your usual guys though. I've known many guitarists who just say "sounds good man" and that's it, end of discussion.

    My current band is well... just me so now I get to obsess over ALL the instruments' tones. I'm almost as picky about guitar and synth tones as I am bass tones. And then there's drums...
  7. The drummer in my band loves how I set my amp with my stingray
  8. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA

    No. I mean something like the difference between say my SRX and my friends Steinberger.

    If it's an obvious crappy sound like too much treble or way to muddy they will notice that, and say something or if the bass doesn't have enough volume or punch. But again thats obvious stuff.

    I mean they have no prefence between different basses. I have the choice of using my SRX300, my daughters Fender Jazz, or her GSR 200. They don't care. One guy has an G & L L-2000 and an Ibanez SR3005. Unless the song needs the low B string they can care less about the tone difference between the G & L Or the Ibanez.

    Thats what I mean by are bass players the only ones that care.

    Sometimes I think I / we worry to much about it.

    As a drummer there is tone/volume differences in the different woods, heads, and tuning used in drums. We listen for tone and some sound better than others and some sound good and bad dpending upon the situation / suroundings, but there is no where near the controversy about tone like the bass world has.

    This is new to me.

    Again I'm just trying to gain some insight here Because I have been sucked into this tone obsessive crazyness myself.

    No arguments please but humor is always appreciated.
  9. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I play Spectors with a Eden head and Ampeg cab, DR strings

    My bro that plays guitar in my band plays several Axes but uses a Mesa head with Marshall cabs, DR 11's for strings

    My drummer plays a Yamaha absolute Birch kit with Remo pin stripe heads and Zilgian A custom cymbals

    Our PA system consists of Crown Amps and Yamaha Club V speakers, BehrengerMX board (best they offer) we all use SM57 mics for vocals and instruments

    Our tone is awesome, as you can see my attention to tone has rubbed off on the rest of my band!
  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i care about the tone of everything, but that's just me
    honestly, there's probably about 4 or 5 basic bass tones out there and the rest is all nuance
    as long as the tone is appropriate for the style/song i dont think most people notice (bass, guitar, whatever)
  11. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I think part of it has to do with so many guitarists use distortion (from OD to death metal grind), that the tone of the guitar and amp comes somewhat second to the sound of the distortion, be it a Marshall head, Mesa/Booge Triple Rec, or a Boss MT-2 Metal Zone.

    So, y'know, if you're using a lot of effects, or going for that insane distortion, I think they, more than we, tend to overlook tone as we see it. We play clean, by and large, so, we're bigger on instrument tone. I think guitarists are bigger on effect and amp tone.

    But that's just my take.
  12. mattmcnewf


    May 27, 2004
    Nobody in my band really cares about tone as long as the tone works. Every day me or my guitarist fiddle with our tones and no one cares, as long as the tone works for our songs.
  13. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I find that guitarists care less about tone on a minute scale than bassists. Tubes or not, Strat or Tele, Mesa or Marshall. Beyond that, it doesn't seem to matter. Bassists definitely seem to obsess about tone not only on that scale, but to a much finer degree.

    For instance --

    Today, we started doing examples of recording with the software and mics available in the studio for the rest of the class with guitar and vocals. A buddy of mine plugs in someone else's guitar (Squier Affinity Strat) into a pod, and then into the mixer. He just goes and starts playing. Singer complains about the distortion (which is understandable, as they were trying to do a ballad) so he turns the knob from Line 6 Drive to Line 6 Tube Preamp. I put on his headphones while he plays, and...well, god damn, it was some of the worst tone I've ever heard. We didn't actually record for a while 'cause the teacher was doing a recap for the people that get there late (from schools in other towns) so I spent a good 5 or 10 minutes getting a good sound out of the pod, and still a long time after that tweaking. I don't think he even noticed, even though it sounded *infinitely* better.


    EDIT: I have, however, gotten a lot of compliments on my bass tone from guitar players, including three different people in the last week or so.
  14. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    what are the "basic tones"
    let's see

    the "dead tone" - kind of a not too bassy, very little highs "thud" barney miller theme/lots of classic rock/jazz bass with flatwounds or the treble cut

    the "jazz/jaco tone" midrange growl w/o being aggressive sounding - very bridge pickup

    the "bassy" tone - most blues/smashing pumpkins "siamese dream tone/rolling stones "voodoo lounge" - bass boost but still distinction of the notes

    the "super bassy/dub tone" lots of reggae, rap with a "real" bass - notes are less distinct

    the "aggressive tone" geddy lee/green day/stp "core"/live at leeds edgy mids just beginning to get overdriven sounding

    the distorted/fuzz tone in all of its incarnations - cream/rage/melvin gibbs with rollins

    the "slap/hi-fi/boutique bass tone" big smiley face eq, lots of lows and highs

    i'm sure i forgot some, but you get the idea. As long as your tone fits the music i dont think people notice otherwise. It's amazing how much of most of these tones come from your fingers and not your stuff......... ;)
  15. Brat


    Jun 4, 2004
    NW Indiana.
    Tone is important to me. And a little too important becuase I have the sound of the tone I want in my head, but I just cant get it. >_>
  16. I agree with you. I think if I do buy a Keyboard or a guitar,tone will be one of the deciding factors whether or not to get it or not.

    Good point however.

    Mmm...nothing like a lovely toned bass.
  17. I don't have a specific tone I want in a bass,I'll just hear/play different basses and drool all over the different tones. Personally,the tone I am feeling right now is a OLP MM3 played through a Working Man's 12...Mmm...
  18. Let me offer a perspective from the blues world.

    My wife is a world-class blues singer with a multi-record recording contract on a major label, and like most female blues singers I know she considers the bass to be the most important instrument in the band followed closely by the drums. To her it is very important that a bass give an "upright sound." She likes traditional Fender type basses played close to the neck in order to achieve this sound.

    She is very quick to criticize a band she hears in which the bassist is producing any other type of tone. She will sometimes ask what kind of bass a given player is playing and when I tell her (assuming it is not a Fender or a Fender clone), she will remark that it is not giving a "good blues tone." Sometimes I swear she can hear a P or J type bass though a brick wall half a block away.

    One time I was trying a 5 string Ray and she instantly commented on its distincive tone and began asking questions about it.

    My guess is that most singers have well developed tastes about bass tone since they usually sing off the bass
  19. I have yet to find a bass player who obsesses about their tone more than most of the guitar players I know. If you can find a bass player that will drop $1000 for one pickup... or discuss, at great length the nuances the tonal properties of the pre-Rola Celestion Sandback vs the Rola-Celestion Greenback or the sustaining properties of hide glue and epoxy in conjunction with tenon length... Bass players don't hold a candle to guitar players when it comes to over anal analyzing of tone.

    I think most anyone who isn't a bass player may distinguish between "good" tone and "bad" tone, but short of getting the "brown sound" you're not going to get much notice from anyone who isn't a bass player.
  20. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Of course there are always exceptions. A guy in the program I'm in hand-wound the pickup on his Tele so he could get it to sound *exactly* like he wants and plays it through a really old Fender Bassman with some creative EQ'ing. He's just about the only one I've met like that though. I'm speaking from the perspective and experience of a 16 year old, where a lot of people around this age don't really pay that much attention to the tone they're getting.