Can you help my tone?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Tankass, Jun 13, 2001.

  1. Tankass


    Jun 13, 2001
    Sumner, IL
    Can anyone suggest how I could give my guitar a nice thick, growly tone? I play a standard 4-string Fender Jazz Bass (Mexican-made, so the tone's not all that great in the first place), and I play through an 80 watt Peavey Basic 112. I also detune a lot, sometimes down two whole steps. It would also be nice to get a convincing slap sound out of it. Are there any amp or guitar settings I should know about? Or maybe there is an effect pedal, such as an overdrive pedal, possibly, that could help me achieve this sound?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - the two things you mention - detuning and overdrive - will definitely not help you get a good slap tone - or what I imagine this to be from listening to the best slap bassists.

    Tuning down will make your strings "floppy" and this can only hinder slapping - unless we're talking "Fieldy-style" :rolleyes:

    Overdrive will just make the sound distorted, fuzzy and indistinct - OK for heavy rock, but slappers usually go for a cleaner brighter sound - lots of treble. My advice to you would be go for bright (light gauge on D and G at least) new, roundwound strings, use both pickups full on and get some slap lessons. Not necessarily in that order!

    Turning down the "mids" will help the clarity of the sound, but may not be the tone you want - this is a subjective consideration after all.
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Tankass, one thing I notice about your post is that you want "thick" AND "growl", and sometimes the two are mutually exclusive. Don't be down on your Mexi J-bass...I've heard lots of them sound just fine. A J-bass is one of the best and easiest instruments to get a growly tone from. A few tips:

    1. Since you have a small 80-watt amp, I suspect you may be jacking up the bass settings in order to get some bottom from it. Most players get a growly, bright tone by backing off the low end and letting the upper mid freqs speak more.

    2. Many players will back off the front pickup a bit, and favor the bridge pickup on a J-bass. This will help to emphasize those mids and upper mids in the "growl" range.

    3. Check your action. Many times a tone like you're after will be due to a bit of fretboard buzz. Geddy Lee is a good example of this. He really digs in and gets a good spanky tone. Think about maybe experimenting with lowering your action some. Find a "sweet spot" so that you get good clear notes when you play lightly and a growl when you dig in harder.

    I agree with Bruce...forget the effects and the detuning. They're not necessary for what you want (unless we misunderstand you). Then again, if you wanna sound like Fieldy...forget everything I just said.
  4. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I think detuning is a progressive tone-killer. Is "two steps" two tones or two semi-tones? At any rate I think the more "steps" you detune the worse your tone gets. If you're down two full tones that would explain much of your problem.
    As for your bass - there's nothing wrong with a Mexi J-Bass.The amps ok too but if your expectation is a bigger 500 watt through a 4x10 sound you won't get it with an 80 watt amp.
  5. Tankass


    Jun 13, 2001
    Sumner, IL
    Alright, thanks, guys. I got the nice clean slap (not the Fieldy slap) tone that I wanted. I agree that detuning will screw up the slapping, but I don't detune for slapping. Just occasionally for finger style. I'm somewhat of a metalhead, so I'm kind of looking for a tone like Robbie, from Godsmack (which would be detuned 2 steps) or Johnny April, from Staind, on their new album, at least. I still haven't been able to achieve a tone of these sorts. The tone I have right now is more of something you'd hear from Matt Freeman, from Rancid; lots of treble. My action is pretty low. It's just high enough not to get tons and tons of fret buzz. Any suggestions as to how I would achieve this tone, or do you need more clarification as to what I'm looking for?
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I really like Nathan East's tone, but I can't quite get it. Mostly because he plays Yamaha basses and I don't. We both use Eden amps and cabs (except he's using Trace stuff on his Fourplay DVD), so I can get a general hi-fi tone.

    The point is, what kind of equipment is used to achieve your desired tone? Check it out, then get it.
  7. If you're going to tune down your bass, use thicker strings.. I use 110, that's the thickest string i could get from the local store.. and i've had my bass in drop C with it, without floppy strings..

    but if you're in for drop C, i'd rather reccomend a 5-string bass that's tuned UP with thinner strings..

    - adx -