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Bass Tone/Dealing With Frequencies

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by joshbassistct, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. Alright, first things first. I posted this on SevenString.org in hopes that I would get some kind of help since that forum is more geared towards metal and the style I play. Needless to say, I didn't get any kind of reaction. Anyways, I need some help dealing with bass tones and frequencies. I play in a Technical metal band and I need help getting that good live tone.

    Gear I am using:

    Carvin LB 75 (tuned BEADG) w Carvin HB2 Humbucker (used Passively)
    Ampeg SVT-III Pro
    - Bass: Boost/Cut @ 50 hz
    - Mids: Boost/Cut @ Frequency
    - Frequency: (1. 220 hz), (2. 450 hz), (3. 800 hz), (4. 1.6 khz), (5. 3 khz)
    - Treble: Boost/Cut @5 khz
    - Bright Switch: +6 boost @ 2khz
    - Hi Switch: +6 boost @ 5 khz
    - Lo Switch: +2 boost @ 40 hz, -10 cut @ 500 hz
    - 9 Band EQ: Boost/Cut on top of Pre-Amp EQ when EQ switch engaged
    (33 hz)(80 hz)(150 hz)(300 hz)(600 hz)(900 hz)(2 khz)(5 khz)(8 khz)
    Carvin BR810 Bass Cab

    I've been told to cut mids in the 400-600 hz range, boost the 2khz and the 5 khz, boost the 80 hz a little, and boost the 800 hz, and that anything over 5 khz is pointless for bass.

    Any further type of help/advice/tips would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2000
    Minneapolis by way of Chicago
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Told by who? To accomplish what exactly? I'l tell you what, cutting mids in the 500 Hz range - like the advice you were given is pretty much the exact opposite of what many players and engineers would likely tell you.

    I'd pretty much ditch everything you have been told about simple frequency "numbers" and instead get a good sense of what you want - and what you need - your sound to be, and determine how you want your bass sound to fit into the context of your band and the instrumentation that's there.

    Once you know what kind of tone you're going after, then start learning how EQ works.

    Some basic fundamentals...boosting lows can thicken up your sound, but go too far and things can get muddy and you'll use amp power for sound that likely won't even help you "hear" yourself, just move air. Boosting mids is where you get your note definition and tone in a band mix, but can get honky if you go to far and usually doesn't sound good on its own. The treble range is where you get a lot of your string noise and tweeter bite, which can be good for percussive playing style, but also can introduce hiss/noise.

    Then start playing with specific frequencies to help you really zero in on settings that work for you.

  3. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Might not be good to cut 400-600. Sometimes it's just what you need in a mix. I dunno what kind of tone you're looking for, though. But cutting mids is often a recipe for being unheard in a mix.
  4. Thanks you guys, I really needed the perspective of actual bass players to help me out. The person I got my info from is a producer from MA. Maybe gave me some wrong info to mess with me? I don't know. Thanks again.
  5. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Setting things up properly is not easy. It helps to have some tools to do the job.

    How you sound in front of you amp is not how you are going to sound when standing in the house with a room full of people. Fine tuning your frequencies allows you to occupy your own space and either compliment or not walk over frequencies generated by others. So how you set your EQ depends on what you are competing with. It ultimately has to be done in a band context with someone listen and adjusting the EQ while you are playing. Running a loop through your amp can be helpful so you can take measurements and adjust the EQ with the same sounds at different locations around the room.

    If you don't have one, you can get spectrum analyzer apps (Spectrum Analyzer for the iPhone for example) for your phone which will graphically show you an approximation of what your EQ is doing around the room. It can help you tune in and fine tune your EQ. In the end, use your ears will tell you if you have it right.
  6. I would agree with all this. I play in a metal band and have long sought that "perfect tone" for metal (the journey continues as well...)

    What I have learned so far after playing metal for over 10 years is that yes, you need mids. Playing with different frequencies of mids will give your tone different character (ie punchy or clanky) but overall, ease back on the lows and highs and really explore what boosting the mids will do.

    I also found that adding some mild overdrive (in my case a b3k) combined with some boosted mids REALLY helps me achieve a great tone with punch and clarity in a live setting.

    There are other factors here as well (strings, technique) but as far as your OP goes, boost those mids. For what it's worth, I typically play with flats or pressurewound strings (I hate the clank/zing of steels) and still sound pretty gnarly in a technical metal band setting. Good luck man!
  7. I was thinking about grabbing a used SansAmp Bass Driver DI to blend with my EQ to make my tone a little gritty and maybe help clear it up a bit. Not sure though.
  8. I've heard BDDI's sound good live, but be careful. They have a mid scoop of their own so if you try one again, ease off the lows and highs (there is no mid knob but this will allow more mids to come through). Seriously, scooping your mids WILL get you lost in a mix live.
  9. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    From what I've heard, he may well have given you that info in good faith. Trouble is, plenty of (perfectly well-meaning) producers and sound engineers are taught that there is a set formula to mixing things - i.e., that "bass" is EQ'ed a certain way, "guitar" another and so on, and they never learn to mix with their ears.

    Of course, every band sounds different in their own particular way, so you can't apply a formula to these things. Your best bet is to ignore him and start with the EQ flat. If you feel it's missing something, play around with your settings until you like it. Then stick it in a band setting and see how well it sits - adjust again if necessary.

    Everyone has settings and combinations they prefer; personally I'd suggest not getting too precious about any particular EQ setting as you may well have to adjust it for the room you're playing in!
  10. 45acp


    Feb 5, 2013
    Texarkana TX
    Couple of things-

    Could you post a few sound clips/vids of the tone you're after? Maybe someone out there has a ballpark bass tone that you like... if we had an idea we could possibly make some suggestions. There are a wide variety of bass tones that sound great with techno/prog metal

    Remember, what you like alone at home will not sound the same with the rest of the band at band volume. I have a programmable 10 band eq and my "home alone" setting is way different than my "gig" setting... although I try to get the same sound for both.

    Cutting mids usually makes you unheard in the mix- if you're after the scooped type of sound there are ways to get that without actually scooping the eq
  11. Sounds like you got some good advise except that every room you play is going to be different and you will have use those settings as a starting point from which you will spring from.Bass is the biggest bitch when it comes to getting a great sound and cutting through on a gig.Just angling your cabinet or shifting it away from a wall will give a different perspective of your sound.I always try to get to a gig early so that I can get a sound and feel for the room.When the rest of the musicians arrive and start playing I can hear what adjustments in sound I will have to make to compensate for the other frequencies out there.Then off course every tune is different and that's another story,but the bottom line is you have to have a good starting reference point.Keep it simple.One more thing.Ear plugs will not help you achieve what you after.So many musicians of this generation play with them which understandably is a necessity (sometimes )but get the sound first then put them in your ears. I have found earplugs to be useful for hearing my volume level in a mix more clearly.Sorry if i digress.
  12. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    All the above advice is spot on, the only thing I will add to this discussion is that many (most) metal guitarists have so much bottom end dialed into their tone that there is very little room left over for a bassist to fit in well, sonically. How do we convince guitarists to help out here? :meh:
  13. I would suggest starting off with your eq set flat at the volume you require for the band, then listen to your tone and add or subtract as your ears tell you...

    don't set your sound playing at home in your bedroom or by yourself, set it in the context of the band

    With regard to the downtuned guitars sitting in your sonic space, play with sweeping your mids boosted and you will find a setting where you are sitting with the guitars and then another area where you suddenly jump out. that is the area you should use to boost for hearing yourself without stepping on the guitars... in my case it happens round 220hz but each band will have it differently
  14. will33


    May 22, 2006
    If you're beating your head against the wall looking for good sound, sometimes it can help coming at it from an opposite approach. Meaning dial up the midrangiest, honkyest, clankiest sound you can and start with that. It won't be pretty but you will hear it. Then start dialing in warmth, dialing out twang as much as you can but stopping before you start getting lost in the mix again.

    It depends a lot on your guitars too. If they're running a real bassy, scooped sound, you might need a little more aggressive, biting midrange to fill in where they're scooped out rather than everyone fighting over ghe same bandwidth.

    Experimentation with the group is needed.
  15. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Cutting is very useful and good if you find the right frequency range. It will free up amp power from your rig and leave more room for other instruments or vocals.
    I would do as already suggested - start reasonably flat and try for yourself.
    For my five string Jazz with EMGs (fingerstyle playing) I tend to keep the area up to 400Hz or so rather flat. I then drop the 700-1200Hz range a bit and then boost around 2kHz. The tone is a bit clanky on itself but works well with our Les Paul + Marshall equipped guitarist. The style is not metal, though, but modern rock. For metal I would cut a bit lower in frequency; maybe 400-1200 Hz.
  16. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Cutting mids like you mentioned in OP will make you happy in the bedroom or when solo but inaudable in the mix. It will mellow out the sound, eliminate precussiveness and make it sound more like a string bass; if you are playing hard and loud music you will be washed out. Yes, 400hz sounds awful to the human ear and notching those mids will fix that, but nix it entirely at your peril.
  17. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Very little bottom, heavy mids mostly brought on by the fuzz/distortion and very heavily compressed mostly due to the heavy distortion but also with a limiter of some sort. Most of the mids seems to be coming from the 600-1200 Hz range. When demoing the bass there seems to be guitar in the background which is a strange way to demo bass tone IMO.
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Any time I hear someone saying, "Well I cut this frequency and that frequency and do this and that for bass," invariably they suck as a soundman. You have to be flexible to a certain degree because of room modes. And while I agree that mids are a good thing, there's a very fine line between just enough and too much, so wholesale mid boosting doesn't work, either.

    Takes some experimentation, and it also takes an ability to deal with different rooms.
  19. ddhm


    Mar 18, 2011
    Memphis Tn USA