Bass EQ with band

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Sapatown, Jan 12, 2021.

  1. Sapatown


    Sep 16, 2016

    There is probably thousands of posts like this, but here goes.

    I play loud heavy rock music, heavy metal stuff with our band. Its a power trio, with alot of agressive parts, but also mellow bits. The mellow bits are no problem.
    But when we go real heavy, bass seem to muddy up the sound, or I don't get heard in the mix.

    I use mainly two fuzz pedals, Pharao by BATW and Swamp Lord by Minotaur (Muff based), with a bass preamp DI, Darkglass Vintage Ultra 2.
    Also have a distortion pedal that I use alot Damnation Audio MBD-1.
    But only one at a time usually since two of them on will be overkill by far.

    I play on a Fender Jaguar Troy Sanders signature, and its fantastic, I can vary if I want the bass to be passive or active with its switch aswell.
    In the practice space with the band, I usually use it as Passive, but at live shows I use Active.

    I play trough a Ampeg PF 800w bass amp, with a Ampeg 810 cab.
    So volume is no problem. Its getting heard in the mix..

    Our guitarist plays his guitar in stereo using two guitar rigs, two 4x12 cabs.
    He have a really distorted sound, and use the Damnation Audio Ugly Twin fuzz pedal which is really agressive and gnarly. I also gave him my Pork & Pickle bass pedal, so he gets alittle boost in his lows.

    Our drummer plays loud af on the heavy bits.

    My bass rig is in the center of the room with the two guitar rigs by its side.

    I have had the chance to get alot of pedals, and feel I get lost in EQ'ing or mix when trying out different EQ's.

    I added some pix of my stuff here.

    Do you guys se anything not right on my pedalboard or amp settings?
    Should our guitarist drop the Pork & Pickle pedal as "always on"?
    Whats the difference in having my preamp first after the tuner, or last in the chain?

    I know I can scoop mids or push back on the bass setting on my amp, but its still hard do get out of the mud.

    That being said, some bandnights I nail the tone and sound I want, but thats just out of pure luck! Also got myself a new powersupply, the MXR Iso Brick, which helped alot with buzz sounds.

    Our guitarist runs a studio, so we play all trough DI aswell with our cabs/ams.

    Sorry long rant here.. but I have been playing for many years, and its frustrating to feel like a beginner when it comes to this for so long.


    Attached Files:

  2. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004

    Herein lies the problem, most likely. Too much bass on the guitar obscures the chance of you being heard. Also, a lot of distortion compresses his signal to full-range mash of sound that will overpower anything.

    Have him re-think his sound palette (more distortion does not equal more heavy) and have him leave the bottom end to bass and kick drum.
    danster, s0c9 and viper4000 like this.
  3. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    On the nights where you nail the tone I doubt it has anything to do with luck. More likely it relates to acoustics and spacing between your rig and other sound sources. The first thing you need to do if you want to be a performer is get past the idea that you are going to have perfect sound every night. If this is your expectation, your going to frustrated more often than not.

    I agree with other in suspecting that a big part of the problem is the guitarists are cranking their Bass control too much. This tends to sound fabulous a few feet in front of the guitar amp, but the lows build up and mask other important elements of the. There is actually huge competition for space in the low mids. Guitar, bass, drums, keys, and even vocals produce a lot of energy in they low mids. If you guitarist has a studio he should understand the important of frequency slotting, which basically means the instruments are equalized so they each have the space in the sonic spectrum. For example you need to really scoop out a lot of low mid energy from the bass drum so it sound good, and also to make room for the bass guitar. I suggest googling "masking and frequency slotting"

    The last think you want to do is create a massive dip in your mids. If you have a flexible and precise EQ you can dip a problem frequency, but if you do a wideband cut, that bass will tend to get lost in the mix. If you are getting buried at 250-400hz, try a little boost at 800hz.

    Probably the biggest problem has to do with overall volume and the Fletcher Munson curve. The first part of the problem is guitar speakers tend to be more efficient than bass speakers. In other words they get louder with less power. The second part of the problem is our ears are more sensitive to mid range frequencies than low frequencies. So even if you have a very powerful bass rig that can match the volume of the guitars, the guitars will still sound louder. Google and read about the Fletcher Munson curve.

    Long ago I took a different path. Rather than trying to compete I decided to setup my rig so I can hear my amp at the lowed possible volume setting. This is done by elevating my cab and aiming it at my ears. If the cab is closer to my ears the sound will be louder. The inverse square rules say sound decrease by 6dB for each doubling off distance. The problem with standing really close to your cab if it is flat on the floor is you will only hear the lows, and this why it's important to aim the cab at your ears. Why?

    A cabs dispersion characteristics are not constant. At low frequencies the sound waves are very long and wrap around the cab. This causes dispersion to be essentially omnidirectional. As the frequency increases, the sound waves get shorter and the cab starts to exhibit pattern control. Eventually as the frequency rises, the sound will start to shoot out in front of the cab. The pattern gets tighter and tighter as the frequency continues to increase, and eventually can get beamy. If you are standing close to the cab, and the cab is flat on the floor, the higher frequencies will shoot out below ear level. Some people prefer this, but some people like the extra clarity they get from hearing the full frequency response of their cabs.

    What I have written is good to know, but it may not do you any good. Unfortunately in heavy styles the role of the bass is really just to thicken things up a bit and if you are too present or clear the guitarists will have an aneurysm. What I am saying is your observation is common, and the solution may involve finding another band. Or your could spend a bunch of cash and assemble a huge rig capable of turning the guitarist's liver into mush. Just remember you need a liver too.

    My most important advice: Wear earplugs! I know the sound sucks, but if you don't wear ear plugs now, your hearing will be damaged to the point where it sounds like you are wearing ear plugs anyway. Even worse, you will never hear the sound of silence again because you ears will ring continuously.
  4. BossOnBass

    BossOnBass Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2012
    Houston, TX
    Let a neutral third person set the EQ and the volume on both the guitar and the bass so both can be heard in the mix.
    fig and Wasnex like this.
  5. dabis


    Mar 27, 2016
    Totally agree with @Wasnex . I recently started a loud rock trio, and tried elevating the cab and looking for a little spot of freqs, with the parametric mids. HPF solves things too. And listening to similar o relatives bands. In my case, Mutoid Man, Atreyu and Cave In are good examples to me to where to go with the bass in a LOUD band.
    Ah! the most important: the key is on the mids, not the bass. Find what are the good ones for you to live in
    fig and Wasnex like this.
  6. tshapiro

    tshapiro Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2015
    Jax Florida
    Just one thing to consider, ampeg 8x10 cabs have a high end cutoff at about 5k if I remember correctly. This is relatively very low compared to many cabinets. So, while this cabinet thumps like no other, you do (in my opinion) lose a lot of articulation which is why I don't use them.
    shoot-r likes this.
  7. I took an unconventional approach (by bass-player standards) and added a subwoofer to my stage rig. That way I can get under the other guys. I don’t pretend that my situation is as dire as @Sapatown (the OP), but I’ve contended with a guitar and keyboard with bass-heavy stage amps and haven’t had the problem of “getting lost in the mud,” as it were.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Ecclesia: Unique Arrangements of Hymns, P&W Standards, and Original Tunes
    Administrator, Pedulla Club #45
    Administrator, Tobias Club #133
    Fretless Club #943
    Big Cabs Club #23
    My Rig: Stage and FOH Friendly
    My Basses
  8. JeezyMcNuggles


    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    If you want to be heard with loud distorted guitars, turn off your fuzz. Distortion makes basses disappear. If you don't want mud, turn down your bass knob. If you want any sort of clarity, up 500-1000hz.
    shoot-r, BarfanyShart and WayneP like this.
  9. JeezyMcNuggles


    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    On paper, it would seem that way. It's low end roll off is 70hz also, but it thumps like no other. So...

    Oh, and 5hz is actually pretty high compared to other cabinets whose speakers all cutoff at 4khz. Everything else goes to a tweeter that most people turn off, or at least half off. Fridges have no tweeter, and have clear, crisp, snappy, highs. So...
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
    jimfist, Gearhead17 and WayneP like this.
  10. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I'm in the camp of "go cleaner" when the guitar gets dirtier. Then your articulation and your pure bottom end becomes your contribution to the tone. Stomp the box when the guitar is soloing or doing something higher and cleaner, so the you cover that midrange where a rhythm guitar would be sitting otherwise.
  11. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    I did the opposite and went with a 210 on top of a rolling rack tilted back to aim at my ears. I am not really all that concerned about hearing sub-bass but I do want to hear clarity and articulation. In my experience, too much sub-bass tends to rumble around and mask everything. But every hears different, and what works well for me is totally unacceptable to many other bass players.
    jimfist, WayneP and s0c9 like this.
  12. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    I'm on IEM's.. and only have amp/cab (2x10) to appease other band members. I can hear the subs thru the ADEL diaphragms in my 1964 A8's (low volume) and don't need the amp.
    Played with pedal board only for 1.5 yrs and was asked to bring back the amp. :(
    Wasnex and WayneP like this.
  13. s0c9 and Wasnex like this.
  14. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    Definitely could change the equation if the rig is pushing the house; it depend on the tone you want to deliver to the audience, and the acoustics of the performance hall. Elevating the cab tends to make your sound more clear and articulate, but it does cut the fat.

    Usually I had full PA support, so my rig served only as my personal monitor.
    WayneP likes this.
  15. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    In my (humble, snort) opinion... the mix and your EQ should be approached as a considered,whole band approach. Your band as a trio needs to agree on who gets what frequency band.

    In my sound company life, I let the kick drum determine where the kick and bass sit in the mix. I'm jaded by festival experience. No change over time and sound check is the first three songs... so the decision is what occupies to lowest end most naturally. If it's the kick the bass gets thinned out, of the kick is dry, we dial in more thump for the bass. Guerilla audio is survival for us festival guys...

    As a band, based on tape... decide who gets what frequency slots and craft your sound. Do it deliberately.
    Sapatown and dabis like this.
  16. Pulverizor


    Jun 14, 2018
    New Zealand
    Add another 810, couldn't hurt. :cigar:
    tshapiro and Sapatown like this.
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