Clean Bass Tone

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by pshep68, Nov 24, 2021 at 8:01 AM.

  1. pshep68


    Sep 21, 2006
    I am looking to achieve a bass tone that is clean, clear and crisp. I own two four string Fender American Jazz basses... One has DiMarzio DP123 pups and the other has Custom pups. Is there a outboard preamp, pedal, effect or pickups that will help me achieve this tone? I like the new string tone, but obviously that will degrade over time... Other than installing new strings all the time, do you have any suggestions?
    DJ Bebop and scott sinner like this.
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    You can always just have a few sets of strings and change them once a week, putting the removed set into denatured alcohol for a day to make it sound new again.
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    What's your amplification?
  4. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah this.
  5. This is solid advice. Buy 3 or 4 sets, rotate like Bryan says, and you'll have new sounding strings for months or depending on how much you play, years. Way easier than boiling and more effective.
  6. The Pork and Pickle, on lower drive settings, sounds like a new string effect to me. Sounds like subtle upper harmonics, not an overt overdrive. Other overdrives set to minimal drive would get you something like this, but that particular circuit really excels at it.

    The Source Audio Ultrawave, being multiband, can certainly do something like that too. But that seems like a rather costly and odd use of such a flexible powerhouse.

    For me, I just gradually raise my upper mids and treble slightly as the strings age. It isn't as dramatic as those drives but I'm not changing my strings every month.
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  7. pshep68


    Sep 21, 2006
    What exactly is denatured alcohol?
    DJ Bebop and Mechanical like this.
  8. pshep68


    Sep 21, 2006
    Yes, sorry. Forgot to add this...
    Markbass Little Mark 800 & Markbass Standard 104HF cab
    DrThumpenstein and DJ Bebop like this.
  9. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    Nothing sounds "crisp" like new strings.
    One thing you might try is playing with the EQ a little. Throw any notion that seems "standard" out the window. I have what I think is a great P bass tone. The bass on my amp is at 9 o'clock, treble is at 1, high mid is at 3, low mid is at 2.
    try boosting your mids, backing off the bass, and adding treble until you are just to the point where every bit of string noise comes thru, and then backing it off until you are comfortable that it sounds as good as it will.
    It won't make old strings sound brand new, but it might help. - Oh, and one last thing, if you have a pedal or an amp with a bright or some other eq voicing switch like this, you might try engaging it and then eq-ing from there. That should also bring out some of the shimmery new string tone.
    DJ Bebop, johnnynitro and pshep68 like this.
  10. The Lace Alumitone pickups are almost unreasonably bright. Those things pick up ALL the harmonics. It's not an effects solution, per se, but I think they'll get you in the neighborhood you're going for.
    gtirard and pshep68 like this.
  11. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Fuel. You can buy a smaller can of it for about nine bucks at any Home Depot. Keep it in an airtight Tupperware with your strings and one can will last quite a while.
    pshep68 likes this.
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I recommend a multi-band overdrive/distortion pedal. This will allow you to put distortion on the higher frequencies while leaving the mids and lows clean. This may seem to violate your request for "clean bass tone", but distortion is essentially harmonics, which is what gives brand new roundwounds their zing. As a string goes dead it loses those upper harmonics, which puts more emphasis on the fundamental tone. Adding distortion to upper frequencies specifically is a lot different than distorting your entire signal, and does simulate the restoration of natural string harmonics... this is especially true in the full band mix.

    I'm not saying high band distortion is exactly the same as new strings, but when I use one it can make my strings sound fresh even when they are dead. It's why multi-band distortion is my favorite (and typically only) effect... and it's also why I often go too long between string changes!

    Here are the multi-band ODs I own and recommend:
    • Darkglass - X series (I have the X7)
    • Tech 21 - DP3X, a.k.a. dUg Pinnick pedal
    • Brimstone Audio - XD2

    Here are a few others I'm aware of but have not tried:
    • Brimstone Audio - Basilisk
    • Orange - Bass Butler
    • Wounded Paw - Black Sheep

    There's a bit of a learning curve to multi-band overdrive, but when I get the settings right I can get a zingy roundwound tone that does not sound obviously distorted. Obviously it can be used in conjunction with amp EQ. Oh... if your bass has a passive tone control, that can also be effective in dialing back excess zing (if desired).
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    It’s ethyl alcohol that’s been processed so it can’t be used for human consumption. It used as a cleaning agent as well as a fuel for camp stoves and lanterns or as part the gasohol used to run our cars. Because you can’t drink it that allows it to be sold without needing to pay the booze taxes that get levied on drinkable alcohol. Which keeps its cost down because taxes make up a significant portion of the price you pay for a quart of vodka or bourbon.

    It’s primarily use however, is as a cleaning and degreasing agent. It’s cheap and very effective at doing it’s job. It’s also extremely toxic (you definitely don’t want to be be breathing its fumes for any length of time) and flammable, so proper handling and good ventilation is important whenever you’re using it.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021 at 6:43 PM
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Someone here used a 3 foot length of PVC pipe to hold denatured alcohol and strings: fixed cap on the bottom, removable cap on top. I think they also put a base on the bottom so it would stand upright. I don't recall the diameter of the pipe.
  15. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    A lighter touch in your playing and lower input gain also helps keep it clean.
  16. birminghambass

    birminghambass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    Swap those Dimarzios for EMGs. Crisp, clean, clear, and powerful.
    DJ Bebop, clickclack and Grapevine921 like this.
  17. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    Me too
    It starts and ends with strings and keeping them fresh. Its the curse (and price!) for wanting that sound. I can usually go about four nights/4-set gigs or about 25 hours before they start getting too dull for me. Im also a "flat as possible" EQ person (usually just end shelving bumps and a 2K bump for presence).... In the past, I used a BBE Sonic Maximizer which seemed to "extend" life to strings but not long enough to warrant keeping one but I suggest try one and see if it works for you. Stainless steel strings are said to be brighter and last longer than nickels -- unfortunately, I could never get stainless steel strings to be brighter or last longer than nickels -- gotta be me....Finally, there is body pH and, thankfully, my pH is probably somewhere in the middle - I knew players (one in particular RIP) over the years that could kill a brand new set of strings in one set just by their body chemistry

    Another thing I do is I always have a cheap beater bass lying around the house (a fifty dollar or so instrument) that I use to practice chops, licks, learning songs, or just sitting in front of the TV unplugged. I never change strings on them unless they break - the instruments sole purpose is practice so I dont use up string life on my gig basses

    ...I spend a LOT of money on strings (well, I used to - I got very burnt-out playing covers 4 to 6 nights per week - these days, Im doing full-on originals)..this is why whenever threads come up about favorite strings, my standard answer is "Whichever roundwounds are on sale" :D
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021 at 10:44 AM
    yakmastermax likes this.
  18. Kendescending

    Kendescending Supporting Member

    Feb 27, 2020
    Have you tried coated strings such as Elixir Nanoweb? I have a few friends that love them. I use Fast Fret on my strings and they last a long time before going dead.

    I've found that many boost pedals add a touch of crispness as well. The TC Electronics Spark mini does that for me, and I use that when I need some extra brightness.
  19. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    You could just get TI strings and set the EQ how you like and 5 years from now those strings will sound exactly like they do today. Crisp, clear, just enough bright snap, just enough deep punch.

    Beats going on a preamp bender cost wise.
  20. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Plug into your amp. Set your gain til clipping occurs. Dial back your gain til clipping stops. Turn up volume.

    Clean, crisp, bass tone.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Nov 27, 2021

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