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Can only hear my E string

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Dan_reeves, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. Dan_reeves


    Jun 14, 2013
    Hey guys, newbie here so please be kind.

    I have been playing bass for only around 6 months. I have been playing live in my church band for a while now and have made an observation and am not really sure what to think. Hoping you guys might have some ideas for me. I know next to nothing about mixing, I typically trust our church sound guy for that. At any rate...

    The music I typically play is quarter notes or eighth notes - basically just the simple root. Our worship songs are pretty simple - basically U2 type rock. Playing the root is really all that is expected of me at the moment, which I am cool with because I am still learning.

    I am trying to become a better player and improve my economy of motion. But I have noticed I have a really hard time hearing myself when I play on any string except the E string. I can get away with slides because the songs are so simple, but I'd like to be able to play say a C on the A string instead of the E. But I'll be darned - I can't hear it. I am playing through a 100 watt Ibanez amp that I am using as a monitor - it also lines out into the PA. I also play GHS flats fingerstyle on my P-bass, with tone and volume 100% open.

    What am I doing wrong guys? Why can I hear the C on the 8th fret of the E string, but not the C on the 3rd fret of the A, etc? What is wrong with my mix? On the amp, the settings are basically all at 12 o'clock.
  2. nicopiano

    nicopiano Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Levis, Quebec, Canada
    The problem might be the bass.
  3. adamaarts

    adamaarts Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2001
    Corona, CA
    Beta tester Source Audio, demos/reviews of many others
    Start with the pickups, make sure the are lined up evenly so they all get equal volume to begin with.

    How's your EQ set? If you have the bass boosted and no mids it will do the same type of thing, the thicker string will be heard more than a lighter string. Make sure your EQ is relatively flat or that its not too far from it.

    Have you tried other strings?

    Side note, I remember when I was only a few months into bass. Good ol' days!! Good luck with your journey!
  4. I would also start with the height of the pickups. If the one on the E string is closer to the strings it'll be heard better. the center screws on the p bass pickups should be loosened a bit to raise the height on the A and D string. Also possible on the G string hight as well. After that look at your amp and the EQ. Sometimes the Mids need to be raised. But from what you describe you gotta raise the pickup height
  5. frozenbolt


    Jan 28, 2013
    I'm gathering that you can't hear yourself when playing along with the other instruments during live performance. The reason I say this is that you state you use the amp as a monitor and let the sound guy mix the rest. If you haven't heard complaints from him, I'm guessing you don't hear yourself 'on stage'.

    There's lots of variables that could cause this, ranging from how hard you pluck the strings to what kind of speakers are in your combo and several others along the way. You say you have a sound guy. Have him help you, as he has a sound level meter on his sound board that can give accurate sound levels, not just what you hear with your ears, which can be confused during performance.

    He can monitor the amp via the DI, then monitor it with a stage mic to see if the speaker in your combo, or the combo itself is producing the same response that he's getting.

    He can help you with the pickup setup, too, with the level meter, you just have to make sure you're plucking the strings with an even amount of pull as you adjust them.

    Tweeking your setup to get just the right sound is part of the fun of owning a bass. The longer you play, the better you'll get at it.

    Good luck,
  6. adamaarts

    adamaarts Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2001
    Corona, CA
    Beta tester Source Audio, demos/reviews of many others
    EQ can ruin your presence in a Mix. I love the sound of my bass with the on board bass bossted just a little and the treble cut slightly, but I get a similar effects. I lose a lot of higher range and my B and E strings are more present and powerful, but if I leave it flat, the solo tone isnt as nice but I can hear my self better and evenly.
  7. Dan_reeves


    Jun 14, 2013
    Thanks for all the tips guys!
  8. Before messing with pickups, check the relative string heights aren't fubar.
  9. jojojoshua

    jojojoshua Supporting Member

    May 1, 2009
    Panama City, FL
    Could also be the other instruments are filling up that freq area. My guitarist likes to boost the lows on his EQ pedal. Whenever I play on the D string or higher, it's like the bass disappears because he's already eating up that frequency spectrum.
  10. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I had a similar problem with the P bass I owned - I could barely make out anything I played on the D and G strings. I altered the pickup height and tried a couple of other things and nothing would fix the problem so I ditched the bass. Not to slam P basses (cause some of them are great - and the "getting lost in the mix" problem is certainly not limited to Precisions) but I've had this issue with other Precisions I've played in a live setting. I don't care if a bass is coming through fine for the audience - if I can't hear myself onstage because of limitations on the part of the bass then that bass goes.
  11. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    On a bass, to get balance you MUST adjust your pickup height and your string height.

    The cheaper the bass, the more you have to do that. It's a long process but it must be done.

    Also you can control the output with your picking style too - everything is relative.
  12. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    Try more mids on your monitor mix. In fact try cutting some of the lows and adding more mids, as long as you are going pre-EQ to the desk. Also check front of house sound. Are you lacking there too?
  13. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    I like to lower the bass 1/2 of the Pickup on the E string side about 1/8" compared to the A string side. That way the volumes are pretty even. It looks a bit odd but that's a P-Bass for ya'.
  14. 1. Pickup and string height. Google on how to set them up.

    2. If the problem still exists, check your EQ doesn't have too much boost on the lows.

    3. Your bass may have something wrong with it like a poor wood combination or bad neck joint or something... I used to have this issue and the solution was to use a compressor pedal set to 4:1 ratio with a long attack and quick release time. Compressors do amazing things to bass guitar signals. Well worth the time to research.
    wisconsindead likes this.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Part of that problem is the Fender bass design. The p-bass and the jazz bass are bottom heavy. Or what I call boomy and dinky. The bottom strings are boomy and the high strings are dinky. I play 5 strings and this becomes even more noticable with a low B.

    How I fix it. ... Well I prefer Rickenbackers. The pickup positions gives a more even volume accross all 4 strings. The neck pickup will give the D and G strings more bass especially as you go up the neck. If you don't like Ricks try an EB3 or a Hofner or put a neck pickup in your p-bass like Billy Sheehan did. Another fix is use lighter strings, and of course boost some mids with your eq.
  16. I understand that you like Ricky's but your statement about Fenders bass design just isn't true. There's just too many fantastically wonderful sounding Fenders that I've played for there to be an inherent design flaw. I'm not even a real Fender fan myself! Although many of them are plagued with a dead spot somewhere on the neck, its nothing like what the OP is describing. There's also an awful lot of genuine pro players that play Fenders exclusively and even more recordings that have great bass tone from PBasses or Jazz Basses.
  17. prd004


    Dec 3, 2010
    Most of the advice is solid, so I won't just repeat it. Some other things to look at:

    Amp placement as your monitor. If your amp is right by your knees, the sound is being pushed right past you. You really need to be 4-10 feet away from an amp to really hear it.
    If you're playing a combo or small rig, getting it up higher and or tilting it will also give you better monitoring. Raising it, tilting it, and moving a little farther away from it, will go a LONG way to improve your monitoring.

    One of the earlier replies mentioned bassy guitars invading your sonic space. Keyboards are notorious for doing this as they have the range to get down there and eat up the low frequencies. Working and communicating with the other players would help in this department!

    Last tidbit I have to offer............
    Previous posts have pointed out possible setup issues with your instrument, and gave some great insight as to where the problem may lie. But since you're a beginner, I gotta say get a professional setup!
    I'm all for learning to setup and maintain your basses, but perhaps six months into your playing career is too soon to try this at home!!!!!!!!!!
    Buy a new set of strings, take it to a pro, explain the issues you're having, and if it's a mechanical issue with your bass, you should be done with the issue.

    Good luck!
  18. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Good suggestions here.

    I'll add that if you're run through the house sound system, you might be hearing the subwoofers add more oomph to your lower notes and not so much the higher ones.

    That won't be the cause of the problem, but could make whatever the problem actually is more noticable.

    If you have the problem when playing the amp by itself, then it's an issue with the bass, eq, overall mix, or any combination thereof.
  19. Something got lost there Will. C on the E string being heard, when the same C on the A string is lost, makes it a setup issue.
  20. iceonaboy


    Jan 8, 2013
    I concur totally with this. A scooped EQ will give you a good sound on your own, but you have to boost the mids to get a balanced sound that will cut right through, A flat EQ is ideal for all the strings to ring out at the same volume. :bassist: