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Bass Tone Controls vs. Amp Tone Controls

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mchildree, Dec 13, 2001.

  1. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    For everyone with on-board eq on your instrument: What method do you find gets your best tone...flat eq on the bass, utilizing amp eq...or vice versa? Rather than have this turn into just a count of who-does-what, please pass on your theory of why your method works and what gear you're using.

    Me, I find that leaving the eq flat on my Lakland and using amp eq (SWR SM400S) for tone shaping works best. Due mainly to the fact that I like the way my bass sounds acoustically and I try to approximate that.
  2. This is a bit hard to answer because I'm really not happy with my sound.....just can't seem to get it right. If I turn down the bass control there's too much top, if I turn down the middle / top, the sound is too muddy.

    OK, I play a Bass Collection SB310 through a very old HH "Combo 115": it's about 100Watts driving a 1x18".

    I'm the other way around. I leave the amp flat and adjust the bass - both eq and pup pots. Guess I'll have to re-think cos this method clearly isn't working too well:rolleyes:

  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I always leave the tone controls flat on my amp and only adjust from my bass, which has 3-band eq.

    This has several advantages :

    Firstly I often find myself on cramped stages where I don't want to stand 2 inches in front of the amp/cabs but if I stand elsewhere I often can't get to the amp.

    Secondly, I often have to change the tone/volume very quickly and it's much easier to do this on the bass - can be mid-song or with very little time between songs.

    Thirdly if you are not practising through the same rig live as at home or in band rehearsals, if you can try to factor out the amp and get the right tone through the bass controls this means that you don't have to keep fiddling all the time when you have a new situation.

    Fourthly, if you are recording, you often find that it's best to go direct to the desk; so if you are able to get the right tone through just the bass controls this is a big help .
  4. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    I leave neither my amp nor my basses quite flat. I have slgiht changes on each, but if I need a different sound for a different tune, I definitely make the change on the bass as I don't fiddle with my amp controls. I have them set where I believe is the best compromise for my 3 main basses.
  5. With my Lakland and to a lesser degree with my Wal, I leave the bass controls flat and adjust my amp EQ to the point where I'm happy with my tone. From there the only thing I might due is adjust my volume on the amp. I adjust the EQ on the bass to make adjustments on the fly during a gig if I need more mids etc.
  6. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I've seen documentation on the F1-X that describes "flat"... I believe it's bass and treble at 3 o'clock and mid at 10 o'clock. The Alembic eq is a design based on the Fender Showman circuit and the controls are interactive with each other.
  7. i consider 'flat' on my Alembic f2b preamp to be mids all the way up, bass/treble around 2 or 3, and bright switch on since the mids are cut only and the bass/treble are boost only. i think bruce summed things up pretty well, and i will have to agree that i tend to run the eq on my preamp flat and i color the sound from my basses. funny thing is i've been playing my smith in passive a lot lately so i've been reaching for the preamp's eq's a little more. go figure.
  8. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    To be honest, my amp sucks. The bass control is at a horrible frequency and it just sounds boxy. I leave everything flat except the one decent part, the parametric mids, and cut out a narrow band around 1k. The rest is done on my bass. I really like the bass control on my bass (hmm... sounds redundant), and the mids are actually at a helpful frequency, where I cut and boost them depending on the tone. Someday, I'll get a nice amp, and I'll probably be confused, not quite knowing what to do.
  9. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Actually, you're correct and my earlier posting was not. "Flat" on the Alembic preamps is bass and treble at 9 o'clock, mids at 3-o'clock, switches off. Sorry for the misinformation.
  10. I have two main settings I use. For fingerstyle I have the controls on my bass set flat and use the eq on my preamp to shape the sound I'm looking for. For slapping I take the same amp settings and add a little bass and treble on my bass.

    I use the same preamp for practice, live, and recording.
  11. 100Hz right? :D I don't know why manufacturers use that as a center/corner frequency for low end on a bass amp. I don't get it. I don't have an active bass right now (Because I'm not Lazy :rolleyes:...just kidding) but when I have had them I found that I tended to set the amp to get a good basic tone and then made changes from the bass. That didn't necessarily mean the amp was always set flat, though. Although with the last two amps I've had (SWR studio 220, '76 SVT) They've sounded great dead flat. Different, but both have great sounds in their own right.
  12. My concept is real simple. I do whatever is giving me the sound I want. I prefer to set everything on my bass (EMG BTC(?) set @40Hz and 2KHz and an added passiv tone pot), but if thats not working I go to the amp (Warwick CCL combo). And usually I have to tweak the amp too. Changes between songs I do on the bass or with my fingers.
  13. For me I use the generic settings;mainly because they seem to work ok(crate bfx50).Keep my volume at full on the bass and the tone at about 50-60% open (P bass).

    Once I get a cab to run the b2r through I look forward to doing some intense R&D on "my" sound.
  14. MtnGoat


    May 7, 2000
    I generally start with my bass set flat and adjust my amp settings appropriate to the room, getting the overall sound. From there, I make small changes to the eq on the bass when there is a stylistic change in the music that requires a different tone.

    I prefer to have my preamp do most of the sound shaping (which is nearly flat) since I feel making a boost with tube-driven eq is better than a boost with a transistor. Most of the adjustments done on the bass are attenuations, such a scooping a few mids for slap.
  15. I'm pretty much with Bruce here. I leave the amp more or less flat, and adjust the bass, middle and treble on the guitar. On my Ibanez I usually set: bass @ 6, mid @ 2 or 3, treble @ 4. I'm still experimenting with my Stingray, but, so far the settings I like are similar to the Ibanez.

    The amp I'm using is an Ampeg B100R.

    This is not written in stone, however.

    Mike J.
  16. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    On my setup, I use a combination. Actually, I never touch the tone settings on my preamps. What I have is two channels of F-2B and one channel of SansAmp BDDI going into a mixer. The first F-2B channel is all fives w/bright switch, the second is close to "flat" but with the gain up so it's slightly overdriven. I should have also mentioned that the F-2B channels are after a Superfilter, where the BDDI gets the direct signal. So, add in the switch on the BDDI, and there's a lot of tonal potential. I usually run with the "dirty" F-2B channel up most, the other two down about 3-4dB from it.

    When I need grind I click on the SansAmp. When I need stronger attack I turn up the treble on my bass (NTMB) - this is in fact the one tone knob (not counting pickup blend) I turn the most. But that reminds me - with two magnetics and a piezo, and a custom series/parallel switch for the mags, I get a lot of sound differences just by changing pickups.

    Did someone say "complicated"? :)

    I've also occasionally just plugged straight into the board and used the electronics on my bass to get the right sound (sans overdrive, of course! :) ).
  17. Does anyone know which is better as far as what's good for the equipment. Someone once told me that to max out the tone controls on an active bass can be harmful to the amp, or something like that. He said it's better to keep the bass guitar controls flat and work with the amp controls.
  18. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    I think it's sometimes good to utilize both.

    If you take a note: An onboard EQ, let's say Bass knob changes a different frequency than your Amp's EQ bass knob.

    You can use interesting combo's of both.

    Currently I've left mine flat, but sometimes if I want some growl, or if I'm just playing fingerstyle, I'll crank the lows on my onboard, and boost my mids up a bit, so I'll get a really subtle, yet powerful growl. :)
  19. Mark, if anything I think it has to do with volume. If you're not pushing the amp, I don't think it matters, but, if it's near clipping, ya might damage the speakers if you have too stong a signal going to them. But, I could be wrong. I drive my amp @ 55 mph. :D

    Mike J.
  20. Maxxing out the EQ controls on the bass could possibly overload the input circuitry of the amp to the point where you can't get rid of distortion even with the pre gain on the amp all the way down. Most preamps react badly to very strong signal at their first stages. different amp/bass combinations will vary of course. Also maxxing the onboard EQ is guaranteed to eat up your batteries much faster. The other thing is that extreme EQ settings intrduce a lot of phase anomalies. My thoughts are if you need to crank or cut any of your EQ's (bass or amp) all the way to get a sound you like, then perhaps you need different gear. EQ works best when applied subtly to enhance your sound. It isn't a fix for bad equipment or technique or for equipment that doesn't suit your needs.

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