Changing basses on stage just for tone

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by prater, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. prater


    Aug 4, 2011
    My band recently finished recording our first EP, in the studio and in rehearsal I use a Jazz bass on most songs but a P bass on a couple. So our first live show with the new songs is coming up and I was planning on using whichever bass I used in the studio on the appropriate songs. All the songs are in the same tuning so no tuning changes.

    This will mean at least two instrument swaps during a 40 minute set. I'm trying to decide if its worth or if I should just leave the P in it's case and use the Jazz for the entire set. I'm pretty fast at swapping them out and can be done in under 10 seconds.
  2. Nope. Unless the bass is the main instrument of the song, no one is going to hear much tone difference except you.

    Swapping instruments mid-set sucks. You gotta make sure its in tune and its on a stand ready to go. And unless its a fretless needed for one song, etc, then its usually not worth the hassle.
  3. swartzfeger


    Mar 23, 2009
    Sedona, AZ
    If the basses, strings, neck were different enough, then I definitely did -- i.e., switching from a Jazz light gauge to a Steinberger heavy gauge then back again. If there were multiple Steinberger songs I tried to group those together, but set list order 'flow' seemed to usually override practicality.

    I'd say do it if you/the band are cool with it. The crowd may not hear the difference, but you will (or will at least sense it), and at least the audience gets a different look for a song or three.
  4. Torrente Cro

    Torrente Cro

    Sep 5, 2013
    I'd swap basses on stage only if I needed 5 strings, by default I prefer 4.
    Although when I need 5 strings if only for one song, I usually suck it up and use same 5 stringer for the whole gig.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Under ten seconds? Go for it.
    Here's what you do. You put a note on the set list that you will be swapping. That gives the front man a heads up to talk to the crowd. Or maybe if there's a guitar intro he goes ahead and starts anyway.

    The only thing you need to make sure of is that there isn't "dead air" with everyone in the band staring at you with a "hurry up" look on their faces. As long as something is going on you'll be fine.
  6. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    Swapping makes sense for a lead instrument, where in-your-face-sound will change.
    If you play esencial part/melody, go for it. Otherwise, no need. Compensate with a change in technique or pickup/eq setting.
  7. Fjon


    Apr 28, 2016
    I would think the change from a J to a P wouldn't be dramatic enough to warrant you swapping instruments. If one was a 5 string or fretless then yes, but otherwise I'd stick with the J. Maybe turn down the bridge pickup a bit for the songs you played the P on?
    pudgychef, tbz, Tbone76 and 4 others like this.
  8. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass. Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    A couple times in a 40 minute set seems like a lot, if you were doing the whole night no problem.
    Jeffrey Stella, tbz and grillman like this.
  9. I've certainly swapped basses on stage: fretted to fretless/4-string to 5. I don't think I'd swap a J to a P though, you can get 'close enough' (IMHO) to a P with a J neck pup.
    petey293, Robroy, Hans Gruber and 2 others like this.
  10. Mike A

    Mike A

    Oct 3, 2002
    I've swapped on stage in the past. The biggest downside I've seen is the output level change. A good soundman can easily fix it, but it helps if he knows to expect it and soundchecks both instruments.
  11. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    The B string is the most versatile thumb rest I have ever encountered.
  12. Just play the jazz and solo the front pickup on the P bass songs. It'll probably sound the same in the mix.
    jnumme, Sartori, pudgychef and 11 others like this.
  13. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Seems like unless you are a rock star an instrument change might tend to make the bass player seem to have an exaggerated sense of self importance. For the same reason I'm on the fence about bringing a second 1x12 cab to my church gig tomorrow. It would sound a little better, but we have FOH support so it's a little bit of extra drama and everyone else just plugs into the snake (guitarist is acoustic-electric).
  14. Cuzzie

    Cuzzie Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2016

    My G&L ASAT. Vs the L1500 are different beasts and suit the songs we have written for them for their inherent qualities.

    Order the set list if you can for maybe 1 change?
  15. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I saw a guy that must have had a Musicman endorsement once. He changed out basses a couple of times a set, and each one was a 4 string Musicman. I really didn't get it.......
  16. I do that myself I have my Fender P with flats and the others are round wound

    We when get to the 80's stuff like G&R Flats just don't have the brightness I need, so need to switch. What I did do was make the set list bass switch friendly All the Blues/ R&B and 60-70 is in the first set, Set 2 is Roundwound stuff and Set 3 back to flats till the last two songs back to rounds to end the night with Smoke on the water Made in Japan version :)
  17. Marshs211


    May 7, 2015
    Unless one bass has rounds and the other has flats, I'd stick to the Jazz. Roll off the tone a little and roll of the bridge pickup. The only time that I have switched during a performance is switching from Electric to Upright. :thumbsup:
  18. I probably wouldn't swap basses in a set unless I needed a different tuning or number of strings. Here's the thing, your audience won't notice the tone difference. They might notice the different look, if your basses are different colors. So as far as they're concerned, the swap doesn't really matter. But if it matters to you and it doesn't disrupt the flow of your set, go for it!
  19. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Whatever works for you.

    I personally think it would be more trouble than it's worth most times considering how the sound quality in most venues is not the best place to pursue tonal subtleties. But that's me.
  20. This is a very good point. Every passive P bass I've heard is louder than a passive Jazz.
    joebar, hopwheels and Bassbubble11 like this.