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Best way to improve my bass sound?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ChappieTime, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. ChappieTime


    Jul 12, 2012
    I've been lurking for awhile, and hope I can get some solid advice.

    I'm currently playing in a country (but still kind of rockish) band and things are going well enough that I'm starting to worry that my 1987 Peavy Patriot isn't cutting it sound and tone-wise. Also, I admit I'm a little embarrassed by it in the sense that no serious musician would ever show up to a paying gig with one. The way I see it, I have a three options in the $400 - $600 budget range that I'm working with - 1) new bass 2) pawn shop with upgrades and 3) get a bass amp.

    1) there are plenty of new options in that price range, even if they are all made in mexico.

    2) I found a 5 string mim fender jazz bass in a pawn shop. I could maybe throw in some decent pickups and maybe a new bridge and have something pretty nice for around $600.

    3) I practice on a crappy old crate guitar amp. For gigs I usually plug straight into the mixing board. $500 would be plenty for a decent if not ideal bass amp right?

    What gives me the best bang for my buck? Feel free to add other options if appropriate?
  2. The Peavey is probably just fine, I'd say your best bet is go for a decent used amp: 300-500 watts, and 4-10s, 2-12s or 2-15s.

    You can have the best bass on the planet but played through a crappy amp it's not going to get you anywhere. But if you have a so-so bass, it'll sound quite decent through a good amp.

    Plenty of good makes and good buys out there in your price range, the usual suspects are Ampeg, GK, Peavey, SWR, Hartke, Traynor, and a few more I know I'm missing.

    OTOH, what is it about your tone you're not liking going through the PA? A number of people do it that way w/a decent DI box.
    Laura Camacho likes this.
  3. Definitely

    Definitely Banned

    Throw flats and a tort guard on it, you'll be set.
  4. I've played some awful basses through great amps and gotten good results. I really feel like a good amp is the lynch pin of any bass rig. If your bass feels alright then that's where I would start.

    dhsierra1 brings up a good point, however. Maybe you would be just fine with a good DI and a practice amp and then start saving for a good bass.
  5. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Believe me. No one in the audience will know or care about what kind of bass you play. And maybe the one who does know will go, "wow, that's pretty cool".

    The best player in the 200 mile radius of where I live plays Squire basses. Not saying they're a bad bass, but he could care less and no one else does either except a few people like me who just "have" to have "made in the USA" models.

    Like others have said, spend your money on your amp and cab first. And have fun!
  6. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Since you're not using an amp for live gigs, are you happy or unhappy with your live sound?

    I can see how it might be difficult to hear yourself, but I bet the FOH tone is decent. Whether it's a tone you like is a different story.
  7. arsie


    Jan 19, 2011
  8. TinIndian


    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    Nothing wrong with that old Patriot. I still gig my 86 Peavey Foundation. Lots of guys here do. Those earlier Peaveys are great basses for short money.

    Spend the money on an amp.
  9. whatiswhat


    Mar 11, 2010
    Joplin MO
    $500 gallien krueger 115 combo amp (200 solid state watts) or a $500 peavey TNT 115 combo amp (500 solid state watts) may be some options to consider. I love my GK combo
  10. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I say get a good amp and maybe your Peavey needs a set up? If I were you, I would get another old American Peavey for a back up and stop worrying about what some gear nerd thinks. If you sound good and are comfortable, nothing else matters!
  11. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    IMHO, the Super Ferrite pickup on your Patriot is one of the best single coils ever made. The remarks about getting an amp first to get some more onstage presence are solid. You probably sound a lot better than is apparent to you on stage.

  12. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    I have to agree with our tb brothers here. The patriot has the super ferrite pickup and they are very well regarded. Perhaps you are hearing that crappy amp sound. I would head down to your local amp retailer and try out your bass through something good.
  13. ChappieTime


    Jul 12, 2012
    First off, thanks everyone for all of the great responses.

    I find the tone generic and bland, and just not very impressive. I suppose there could be a number of factors at work here given some of the positive responses about the bass itself.

    I had to google "DI box" to see what it was, and while I found several well reviewed ones, it's still not at all clear what it is or what it does.

    Honestly, live it's hard to tell if it's better or just louder. I've always thought the thing sounded pretty good for a $100 pawn shop special. I think it sounds WAY better than the 3 or 4 sub $300 options I've tried off the rack recently. Just not as good as some of the $600+ options.

    I'm sure it does need a good setup. I've had this thing for 20 plus years and haven't had any maintenance done on it at all. Would this be something you would trust to any music store? I'm not sure I have many options in town other than the a couple instrument shops. Could it be that some new strings and a couple of twists of the truss rod will make all the difference?
  14. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I have to agree with many of the other posts. Spend the money on an amp. The bass is just fine. Those Peaveys were all over country back in the day. They formed the 70's and early 80's country sound. Both basses and guitars. Buy an amp.
  15. If you've not had your bass in for a little TLC by a tech for 20 years then Dr Cheese's advice is spot on and generally will be under 100 dollars. Not sure where you live, but don't take it to GC.

    If you're looking for a tech near you check the stickies for recommendations by the TB community.

    Keep the Peavey, they make good instruments besides their amps.

    A very popular box around here is the SansAmp VT pedal. It emulates Ampeg amps (specifically the SVT and B-15) very well and it's only a couple hundred dollars. Will give you a defined tone through your PA like you're playing through an amp.

    As a bonus it's also a preamp so later on you could get a power amp and speaker cab for an on-stage amp rig if/when you're ready or feel you need it. A lot of flexibility going this way.

    Other amp manufacturers make preamp/modeling pedals based on their "house sound" like Eden and Aguilar, two very fine amp makers. Lots of good choices out there :cool:
  16. jlepre


    Nov 12, 2007
    Cedar Knolls, NJ
    Amp. Look used here or CL classifieds for the best deal.
  17. bjabass


    Jan 10, 2011
    Mountain South
    When was the last time you changed strings, cleaned the fretboard and done a real good setup? Might save ya some $$$$.....
  18. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    If you dont need a bass rig for gigs. And imo going thru house Pa instead is better anyway. Then Id say reconcider not getting. Or just get nice light weight bass combo for when doing low volume stuff and wanting better sound then your getting now thru it. Or new processor to create ready for recording tone to send to hosue Pa, recorder, powered monitors.

    Changing strings can make a nice diff in how one regards their tone. As can adjsuting pups for best sound to you if needed.
  19. Ronbassman


    Jun 1, 2011
    Like someone once wrote on another thread: "Never buy a new Peavey amp because, new or old, they will last for all eternity, regardless." -Don't remember who it was

    ... and my Peavey Max 450 is testament to that!
  20. Spiffmeister

    Spiffmeister Meister of the Spiffs

    Apr 26, 2012
    I'm go for the set-up! 20 years... New strings (try flats indeed!), clean the fretboard, have the neck and pick-up height checked if you don't feel comfortable doing so yourself, can't cost that much. I went to a luthier... Cost me 20 euros, after that i learned how to do it myself.

    Then try out some amps in your price range (take your time, try out sounds and EQ settings). You're bound to improve yourself with those solutions!

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