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Clean sound problems

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Noose, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Noose


    Nov 19, 2010
    Hey guys, Im looking for a little advice on what I should do to improve my tone (aside from technique, which Im working on diligently). The tone I'd like to work towards is something along the lines of the bass players from Cake, Queen, etc. Nice and thick without getting muddy or overbearing. Im tight on cash, so investing in a big Ampeg fridge or awesome amp is out of the question. But I think I might be able to scrounge around and find some cheap ways to improve my set up.

    Here is what I have and what I am thinking about trying. Let me know if Im thinking in the right direction or if I am completely missing something.

    Fender Pbass with flatwounds (DiAddario Chromes I think)

    Behringer bx4500h (this is where I think my biggest obstacle lies. It was free and its all Ive got at the moment.)

    Kustom Groove Bass 410h (again, not ideal, but I got it for 100 bucks and its decent enough. I think with the right stuff going into it, I can make it work. I hope I can anyway...)

    Thats basically what ive got right now. I can get an OK tone (not perfect by any means) at "playing by myself in the garage" levels. My problem with this set up is that I cant seem to get a good clean sound in a band setting, even though its a 3 piece. I can get loud, but its sounding muddy and/or a little distorted which I dont care for. When i turn down the lows, boost mids, it still sounds bad. I only turn the output level on the amp up about a quarter of the way and the gain is set about as low as I can get it. I don't need to be super loud at all. Ive tweaked everything else I can think of on the amp and on the guitar, but I just hate the sound Im getting when I play in a band setting no matter what I try.

    What Im thinking is that I need more wattage for that cab. The Behringer is supposed to be 450 watts at 4 ohms. The cab is 8 ohms and rated for 500 watts continuous, 1000 peak or something like that. Since Im running the amp into a single 8 ohm cab, Im guessing im really only getting 225 watts or so. I barely turn beyond a quarter of the way up and it gets plenty loud, but the louder its gets, the worse it seems to sound. Muddy, undefined noise and I hate it.

    I was thinking about looking around for an inexpensive PA power amp that I can squeeze 500 watts or so into an 8 ohm load and maybe getting some kind of pre amp like the V amp pro or a sansamp DI pedal or something like that. My theory is that maybe that behringer bass amp is having to work too and since its kinda a crappy amp anyway, it just doesnt sound good when its being pushed. Maybe a power amp and a seperate pre amp wouldnt have to work as hard and Id have better control over the tone.

    Am I on the right track? Or should I just live with it for now and start saving with the intention of scrapping the whole rig and spending some money on a better quality set up? Is there something else I could do that would be a cheap way to make this set up sound better?

    I don't know very much about amps/cabs etc. Ive always been too broke to buy quality stuff and have to make what i can get work. Any advice is appreciated.
  2. First thing I would try is some half-wound strings or ground rounds. Without a string change, cut some bass and boost mids. What sounds good solo rarely works in a band mix, there mids are your friend.
  3. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    I'll get in before the onslaught of people who's first suggestion is invariably to light the Behringer on fire then run it over with a tractor.

    Do what B-String suggests first. I would personally go to full roundwound strings. I would suggest GHS Boomers or Rotasounds for crisp chime. Clean sound and high volume is almost universally dictated by the age of your strings. If you can't afford new strings every month (and let's face it, who really can?) then I'd suggest regular boiling.

    That model Behringer is a loud amp. I used to use one years ago. The Low and Low Mid frequencies are your enemy, and so is the gain. In a band setting use the master as your volume control, not the gain and suck out some of the low mids and roll with the straight mid-band as your fart guide.

    I wouldn't worry about fussing over poweramps or the like. It's just false economy. The worst piece of gear in the chain is probably the cab. If it was second hand it might have already been tired out when you bought it. Check your speakers are all fine. That's a key thing, but if I was going to suggest that you invest in anything it would be strings first, cab second.
  4. Noose


    Nov 19, 2010
    Ive never tried half-wounds or ground wounds. Will consider it.
    I kinda expected them to be a compromise between flats and rounds and Id end up not liking them. Might be worth a shot. Ive tried the "cut some bass, boost mids" approach and it has definately helped, but Im still not satisfied. Im sure everyone has that feeling at times to some extent, otherwise their wouldnt be so many of these threads! lol
  5. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    The problem is that the argument is about how long your piece of string is.

    There are so many factors at play that you have to start from the ground up. The size of your home room, the rehearsal room, your strings, the frequencies of your guitarist's tone (because he's going to be overlapping you in a lot of places), loudness of drummer, guitarist's amplifier volume, earplugs and audio perception based on where you all stand/sit, efficiency of cabs, amp power, bass pickup and tone selection, your own technique, your band's technique, plus probably a million other aspects I can't think of right now.

    Start with the basics. Strings first, then think about your cab, the room and your other musicians. If you're ok on your own I'd suggest there is a significant element of the problem that begins and ends in your rehearsal room.

    I personally have an awful sound at rehearsal and I'm universally drowned out. This is because the studio we use has fat bass traps in each corner which eat up my sound. I have to live with this because I can't run about tearing stuff off the walls. I get to the gig and my amp and cab sing in most rooms. It's a matter of many factors and you need to find a scenario you're happy with. Would a bigger cab allow me to have a cleaner sound in the rehearsal room?? Sure. But I choose to save the money because my gear cuts the mustard in the scenario where it actually matters.

    Many people will just tell you to blame the Behringer. If it were that simple then no, we wouldn't have this many threads and there would be no more questions to answer.
  6. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    Start with pickup height. Too high is a recipe for mud. Get a mm ruler and measure to spec for your bass.

    In other words, start with the free stuff.
  7. Noose


    Nov 19, 2010
    PUPs are sitting at about 8/64 from the E and A, a little closer on the D and G, but not much. I'll try lowering them a hair and see how it goes.

    Is 225 watts enough power to properly push a cab rated for 500 watts rms and 1000 watts peak?

    Would that amount of wattage significantly affect tone? If so, in what way would more watts improve it?

    What would be an ideal amount of power for that cab?
  8. More watts into the cab won't do anything as far as tone goes. The cab would more than likely with bass frequencies be maxed out with 300 to no more than 400 watts. Your amp's power is not the problem! 225 is more than enough to drive the cab properly.

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