Bass solo not being heard

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Keith Shevlin, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. Keith Shevlin

    Keith Shevlin

    Nov 10, 2018
    So - I think I know the issue and the why, just need the best fix. Most of the time I am playing to provide the headroom in the band...and everything sounds great. Levels good, tone is what I like. Then - when I go for the solo and doing walks into the more guitar mid frequencies...I am lost. I can see I am playing but I can't hear it. I have recorded the gigs and the same thing. You can't hear me play anymore. I am thinking maybe an E.Q. pedal to use along with another overdrive. Any thoughts?

  2. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    Bass solo demands different approach than acompaning.
    You could change technique, by playing harder and near bridge. Or tweak bass guitar controls - if passive, open tone or favour bridge pickup. If active, tweek eq.
    If that won't do it, eq pedal will.
    You could also use effect pedal for expressive solo. I love envelope filters for that. Phaser also works, specialy if it has slight volume boost like my MXR Phase 90.
    gebass6 likes this.
  3. Keith Shevlin

    Keith Shevlin

    Nov 10, 2018
    nolezmaj - thanks for the reply. No one has told me to play closer to the bridge until now. It always has been using some pedal in response.
  4. rutrho


    Mar 29, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    A boost pedal like a TC spark or similar can help as well. Playing back towards the bridge should help a TON.
  5. 12BitSlab

    12BitSlab Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    Liberty Township

    The other musicians you are playing with could be considerate and turn down.

    Just a thought...
  6. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Wait: are you somehow implying that this is a problem?
    Oddly and Gravedigger Dav like this.
  7. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    Bass solos need to be felt more than heard. Most of what you hear in a band or song is what's up front, i.e., the singer, guitar, keyboards, back beat, horns, etc... They play at a higher frequency, and psychologically, that is what the listeners ears have adapted to. The bass is in the back with the kick driving the groove. Once the groove stops, the song sounds different, and the only thing driving the groove is the kick, or other instruments (in some cases). If you're out there alone it takes time for the listeners to adapt to the change. In most cases 3 to 5 seconds or (2 measures) if they have good attention spans. That's where you transition your grove and bass line to your lead out front. That's where you transition your volume, and tone to a higher register, and shorten the duration of your notes for a punchy attack while you hold down some of the grove. As you get more into your solo, you can break away farther from the groove, and get wild. But you'll also need to bring it back to the groove or end on the groove. This is the same technique used for guitar solos, mostly with blues solos. It works for guitar, it can work for bass.
  8. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Yes the band should back off when you're doing a solo, most bands stop playing and just you and the drummer will play with maybe a little rhythm guitar or piano in the background. Very difficult and almost pointless to try if the band keeps playing full blast. Another thing you could is buy an SVT, you would not have any problems soloing with an SVT even if the band keeps playing:laugh:.
  9. Solos on bass aren't much different than guitar. The issue is where you are sitting in the mix initially, which is in the supporting role. When most guitarists go into a solo, they activate some sort of tone shaping or boost pedal, to get them over the top. Generally, the solo instrument is taking the lead where the vocals generally sit in the mix, which is in the front. Guitarist (or sax, keys) are already a mid to higher range voiced instrument, so often a little boost is all that's needed for them to sit over the band.

    As bassists, punching up a modded tone and boosting the volume is a must to being heard. If playing a jazz, I will hit clean boost and drop more to the bridge pickup. The foh can mod from there, but that gets me up where I need to be. If playing a p bass or another one sounded bass that's pre eq's to sit in a band mix, an eq/boost pedal will help accent the mids and get the bass more voiced to solo with. If you want to be heard, get into the same playing field using the same tricks as other soloing instruments do. Unless you have an exclusive sound guy that knows your show and is prepared to get you sitting the the mix right, it's up to you to get you in the mix.

    Many jazz players have a midrangy tone that lends itself to being heard more than felt. That's not by accident.
  10. Keith Shevlin

    Keith Shevlin

    Nov 10, 2018
    A lot of great responses here. So, just to be clear about the band...that space where I do my solo the other guys back off. I follow a guitar solo. I also play double time on the solo, I think that might have something to do with it. I can hear myself all the way up to the solo. It isn't just there that I need to be heard but in places I do walks. I fill a void here and there. I have been practicing using the "play closer to the bridge" and that makes a difference. I have been playing for years just filling that head room space with bass, but this is the first time I did a solo. I think also that the style we play and the sound my guitarist uses makes a difference. I am going to get an E.Q pedal as I already have an overdrive. I think shifting my EQ range might give me an edge as well.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Adding effects will not necessarily help it cut through the mix.Bass stands out because it occupies it's own spot in the sonic spectrum. I would work with the EQ. Also, how about having the guitar drop out, so the section is just you and the drums?
  12. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    I don't normally do pedals and I generally don't twiddle too much with my tone settings. I try to get tone variation from my fingers.

    But when playing bass solos, the pinkie on the tone knob cranks up the treble and I play harder. Flip it back when done.

    Try practicing adjusting the tone and volumes knobs from normal to solo to normal until it becomes natural. Watch Carlos Santana to get inspired.

    Edit. My treble knob is normally on center indent which makes switching back and forth easy.
    rutrho likes this.
  13. Keith Shevlin

    Keith Shevlin

    Nov 10, 2018
    Where I am right before the solo and after I am too busy to get to the volume and tone knobs and dial it in with enough time to hit the solo...and even coming out of the solo. Lots of stuff going on at the time. I did experiment at my local music store with the TC Spark. Did exactly what I wanted just on the middle setting. I might just go that direction.
  14. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    Don't go chasing waterfalls...
  15. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Is everyone else cranked while you're soloing?
  16. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Set up your live tone with your volume at 6 instead of your volume knob at 10. That way, you just have to quickly roll it just before the solo.