1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Bringing out the clarity...

Discussion in 'G&L Bass Forum' started by Gothic, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    Hey there guys, I got a trib. L2500, and I tune down a whole step, and EVERY note, even in the higher register doesn't seem to cut it. It's muddy and lacks clarity. An LTD 4 string I got sounds awesome and completely balanced (probably due to the EMG's, no pre) but the tribbie is driving me crazy!

    I've tried a lot of strings, but nothing seems to do it. I string it with a set of 135-50, if that's any clue. I've changed the battery, tried different setups, lowered and raised the MFD's, nothing seems to work!

    I initially thought it might be the 34" but even in standard E tuning I had the same problems. The sound live is pretty good, but recorded it just lacks that... "oomph" and especially clarity (I know I've already mentioned that word a hundred times...). I'm at a loss here guys, can anything be done to remedy this? Sadly, I can't change the pre and I don't wanna change the pickups... :help:
  2. What volume and EQ settings are you using, both on the bass and downstream? Wide open and G&L just doesn't work too well.

    What strings are you using? Flats will certainly take away some clarity, depending on the strings. SS can be overly bright and edgy.

    What are your expectations? Single coil clarity won't happen because the MFDs are humbuckers and are VERY rich in harmonics. Even in single coil mode (if you have the mod), the MFDs retain the rich harmonics.

    Finally, is the complaint coming from you or the engineer? A LOT of engineers have little clue how to set levels and EQ with G&L basses and are resistant to venture beyond what they know from Precisions and StingRays.

  3. Could possibly be two things working against your quest for clarity. Especially if your "standard" is those EMG's.

    Doubt you'll ever get that degree of clarity from a MFD unless you do the single coil mod(then, maybe).

    Does this L-2500 have a basswood body? That stuff can be hit or miss, tonally, IMO. There's all sorts of opinions regarding basswood, but I've had a couple with distinct "frequency holes" right in the hi-mids area. If that's the case with yours, there may not be much you can do about it.
  4. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    I rarely dime it when I play, much less in recording, so that's not the problem. So far I've tried almost everything, and I can't say I have a real preference in settings, since nothing seems to fit! I've tried every single combination! Pickup heights as well. Nothing...

    I've always been using roundwound strings, and I've tried a variety of sets, from hexcore to coated, but nothing seems to make that much of a difference. A set of steel ones I got seemed to be a little better, but no big difference there, either.

    As for my expectations... Well, I play in a kinda busy metal band, but since I'm the songwriter I like to have enough room for my basslines - still nothing extreme or overdone (or I'd like to believe so :ninja:). Now the tone I'm looking for... I turned from a full on finger player to a pick (I find the sound just fits the music better) and I'm using some effects in some songs. I can't really describe the tone clear enough, though. Most times it resembles J. Chancellor's tone, with a little more grit (a little) and more bottom. It's nothing like Tool, but that's the best I can describe it right now. It's got a bit of a Sheehan compression/chorus/overdrive combo in it, as well.

    The thing is, I can get the grit and the low end from an Ampeg amp in the studio, but there's no real clarity there. The engineer had no problem with it, but what he did with it was the exact opposite of what I wanted, and I'm totally anal about my tone, so... Total dissatisfaction there. On the other hand, right now I'm recording at home for a demo/promo album before we head out to Sweden (no money for studio sessions, and we're two people recording everything), and I record direct through a Boss GT6 multieffect pedal. I can shape the tone to infinity, both through the FX unit or EQ/plugins within the recording program I use, but I can't get it to sound good enough. I figured this was the bass' problem, since I had no problem with other basses (even a squier VM was clearer!).

    I'm probably asking an impossible question here, but any help would be greatly appreciated! The trib's my fave bass, and it's the only five string I currently own, and I don't really wanna sell it... Plus, if the tone clears out I can find a way around the rest of the tonal components and special characteristics. Many thanks in advance! :)
  5. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    Nah, I don't thing I have that high a standard for clarity, plus the EMG equipped bass I acquired just last week, so it didn't manage to set a new standard yet. :)
    I just want my sound to not be muddy and boomy at every single note...

    My trib's got an ash body, it's one of the premium blueburst models...
  6. Hmm...

    Seems like you're doing your due diligence. You may be up against one of the things we really love about these basses, and that's the rich harmonics. The problem for you is that it seems that you'd like to record a simpler sound and the MFDs are more complex tonally than you want here.

    Kind of an aside:

    If I look at two of the 5 strings I have here, an EBMM Bongo 5HHp and my USA L-2500 (before I modded the Hell out of it), the Bongo has greater clarity of tone. This was most easily heard on the B string. There is more to it than this, but the most obvious difference is in the pickups. The G&L is designed as a passive bass that just happens to have a preamp in it, where the Bongo's sound is reliant on the combination of the pickups and a very powerful preamp. The pickups themselves are a lot different; G&L with ceramic bars at the base of the bobbins and the Bongo with neo slugs. My point here is that you may be up against the design of the instrument.

    You've already experimented with different kinds of strings, so that is probably as far as you want to go in that direction. The only thing I can recommend at this point would be to modify the switching to provide single coil mode. I've done this to my L-2500 and it made a notable difference in the tone. It eliminated humbucker muddiness, thus making the fundamental of the notes cleaner. This change is apparent throughout the instrument's range - not just the bottom. It did not, however, reduce or eliminate the harmonic richness of the pickups. So while the difference is notable, it isn't "knock your socks off" striking. OTOH, it gets the clarity into Bongo territory while retaining the G&L signature. I like it - a lot.

    To carry this a little further: If I want ring like a piano clarity of tone, particularly on the bottom, I pick up my Lakland 55-01. This one has also been modified, where its original Bart humbuckers were replaced by Nordstrand Big Split single coils. Great tone but very different than the MFDs.

    In the end, you may not get what you're after with the L-2500 without modding it. And even that may not get you enough of what you're after. The single coil mod is cheap (about $25) if you do it yourself.

    Sorry, but this is all I have for now.

  7. Mick Markey

    Mick Markey

    Jan 21, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    One possibility not mentioned is the pickup height.

    Try dialing the pickups up or down for more clarity.

    It has a more than subtle effect on the tone.

    Funny, but I have owned several EMG equipped basses, and always found them a bit hard to get to cut through the mix, even using their BTC system, which allows you adjust the concentric frequency of the highs with a microswitch, and they 18 volt mod.

    The G&Ls also seem to work real well with high quality amps, but not so much with lower grades. They are so hot, they tend to push the front side harder than most. Gain structure is just as important as eq settings when trying to move a lot of air.
  8. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    You should give the ideas in this thread a try first (doesn't require any soldering):

    I'm kinda surprised that you don't love the sound of that bass with a pick- I didn't have many complaints tonally about my G&Ls when I was using a pick prevelantly for my old band (the songs were just too damn fast for me to fingerpick to at that time!). Though I always play very close to the bridge when I do pick, which tends to focus the sound alot. I found EMG-equipped basses to sound EXTREMELY lifeless and thin with a pick...When that band split, I went back to playing fingerstyle and began my search for added clarity in a G&L.....

    I've had good results with dropping my pickups quite a bit and then raising the polepieces a bunch on one coil from each pickup (leaving the poles of the other pickup all the way down). What some folks are callling "mock single coil".

    Lowering the pickups a bunch in general is a good idea in my opinion- MFDs are extremely hot pickups with strong magnets, and benefit from the extra "breathing room". EMGs are different in that they are actually extremely low output pickups with built in preamps to boost the signal (as are most active pickups and many active basses in general- including Music Man basses). You won't get the same frequency response from MFDs and EMGs in my experience- so its simply a matter of preference (I much prefer the midrange-heavy content of MFDs in a band with other musicians, though EMGs can sound alright playing solo).

    I also did the true single coil mod when I still had my L2500, and that definitely added a lot of clarity- in the process, I changed the series mode to "single coil with bass boost" which is what G&Ls from the late 90s and earlier used instead of series. I find that setting to have much more clarity to my ears than series (which I find extremely midrangey).

    Also, if you play in passive mode alot, try removing the battery- for whatever reason, it makes a huge tonal difference in my L2000 (which I always use in passive). Some people have not noticed as much of an effect as me however...

  9. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    Thank you very much for the answers guys, great advice there! :)

    I'll try the mock SC mod, and I'll probably go ahead and try the true SC one if the mock one gets closer to what I want. I'll also try dropping the pickups even more, although I've experimented with pickup height and I believe I've lowered them more than enough - so much actually that the output dropped a great deal, which kinda bothered me - moreso since it had no plus effect on what I wanted from the tone.

    As for the battery removal. I usually prefer to play with the active + treble boost mode to add some more clarity in the lower register (which regrettably also adds a lot of annoying highs on the higher notes), but I've tried removing it in passive mode and I found no difference at all. And of course I did change the battery in active mode.

    The reason why I didn't wanna change a lot there, and my reluctance to mod it is that the sound I get from the bass live, while still lacking in clarity, just sits well enough in the mix and I quite like the overtones I'm getting from the powerful MFD's. I guess you can't have everything (on a limited budget :D).

    Many thanks again for the answers guys, you've been really helpful! :)
  10. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Pluck/pick closer to the bridge, over the bridge PU is ideal. Even with a pick, you get a much clearer sound this way.
    Go to a lower gauge string as well. I wouldn't be able to hear distinct notes out of my 2500 with monsters like 135-50's either. Go to 100-45's at least.
    Also, try soloing the bridge PU or the neck PU. Both PU's together give more of a scooped sound without a lot of definition in the notes. The bridge PU alone will give a good pop and the neck by itself more a P bass tone.

  11. spideyjg


    Mar 19, 2006
    San Diego
    Yep just in front of or over the neck side poles seems to be a sweet spot.

  12. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    +100000 on lowering the pups if you haven't already. Made a huge difference on my L2000.
  13. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    I pluck directly over the PU, it also works very well as a poor man's ramp for finger style if you adjust the height appropriately to your tastes.

    Actually, when I solo the neck PU I move over and pluck over it instead. This gives a nice suped up precision bass sound but still allows a little pop to the notes.

    With both PU's it still seems a little clearer plucking over the bridge PU.

    Plucking right in the middle of PU's is a bad place - I had a ramp on my L2500 for a while as an experiment right between the two PU's. The sound was just awful so I took it off ;).

    Even so, with a pick it should still sound good picking practically anywhere, or at least my FL does on the rare occassions I play with a pick. The super heavy gauge strings are probably a big addition to muddiness too....

  14. TDR1138


    Apr 11, 2007
    Section 204
    Karl echos my sentiments about EMGs - they sound fine solo, but get lost in the mix easily. I think it's just their natural frequency range leans toward the upper mids and highs, whereas the MFDs seem to lean more towards the lower mids, which is why I feel they sit in the mix better. Also, I have an older L2k with the "single coil w/ bass boost" setting, and, like Karl, I much prefer that over the standard parallel setting on my Trib L2500. (the "single coil w/ bass boost" is basically parallel, but one of the coils on each p/up is sent through a capacitor that cuts the highs - you get single coil clarity on the highs with the parallel "oomph" on the lows.)

    I'd probably try the single coil mod first. Don't forget you can go with either coil on this. Maybe using the inner coils (neck side on the bridge p/up and bridge side on the neck p/up) might be where it's at.

    But, if the EMGs are giving you exactly what you want, there's always the L5500. Basically a L2500 with EMGs instead of MFDs. They were made for a few years in the mid-90s. Might be hard to come by in your neck of the woods, though...
  15. ljazz


    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    There are two things that really make a big difference.......

    As posted, the mock single coil thing...


    TI Super Alloys. I can't stand any other string on the L2X0. You'll swear they were made for the dbl coil MFD's.

    Those two things will add a ton of focus to the sound, without losing the MFD punch.

  16. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA

    This is a good point too- I used heavy gauge strings on my L2500 at first (my band also tuned down a half a step), but eventually gravitated towards 45-125 for the down-tuning, or even a little lighter for standard tuning. I never found a single set of strings with a B larger than 125 gauge where the B string didn't sound like mud next to the other strings (with a pick it worked alright in a band setting, fingerpicking made it completely unsatisfactory). Lighter strings just simply seem to give a better balance of clarity, string to string volume, and tonal consistency to my ears- it may take a bit to get used to the change, but I'd be willing to bet that it'd be perfect for the sound you're looking for. Especially considering the Chancellor influence...

    Also, I was never a big fan of the "treble boost" mode on my L2500- the active modes in general just seemed to add "too much" of what they added. I found the normal active to be more muddy than passive and the treble boost to be the same mud, but with a bunch of clicky harsh highs on top...though the treble boost mode does sound really neat with flatwounds (kinda gives that "tic-tac" country sound).

  17. idoru


    Dec 18, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    That's a huge +1 from me. I just had a practice through my new Fender 215 Pro + TB600 rig, with the pseudo inner single coil setup. Both pups in parallel with the treble boost kicked in, and I was managing to cop some very Flea-ish tones (that band does a lot of RHCP covers), despite the vintage style rig.

  18. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    Well, kinda delayed, but thanks for all the answers guys!

    I've tried pretty much everything (I'd already done most of the suggestions) and the mock single coil mode seemed to work best. The tone cleared up a lot, and I'm waiting on some new strings to finalize the fine tuning! :)

Share This Page