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Controlling Sound

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Dave Irwin, Oct 22, 2002.

  1. I don't know the right forum for this but since I think it's more about the bass than the amp, here it goes...

    I have a nice Gollihur 5-string Bulgarian, nicely setup, a Bass Max and the AI Contra. In my living room, the sound is great. Just like my bass only louder.
    Got it in a club for the first time and the sound was...well yuk describes it. It seemed like I couldn't get any volume out of the A and the D.

    I adjusted (fiddled with) the Contra and it was either too boomy or to tinny. and still little volume from the A and D.

    Best I could do was lower the strings which did even the sound a bit across the strings but ofcourse produced a more electric sound.

    Anyone experience somthing like this before? If so what did you do?

  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Welcome to the world of amplified bass. I think going through what you are going through is some sort of twisted rite of passage of the dark side. A couple of questions:

    Which side of the bridge do you have your Bass Max on?

    Are you using a preamp?

    What's the area you're playing in the club like? What's the surface of the floor, and your proximity to the drums (if there are any)?

    Have you tried recording the signal that comes directly from the pickup onto tape or CD? This could help you troubleshoot the problem.

    How is the unamplified sound of your A and D strings? If it's fine, this should probably be in Amps & Pickups.
  3. Bassmax is on the left/G string side

    No Preamp (Never needed one at home but thought this might come up as a solution... )

    Area - Wood Floor, somewhat low ceiling, Apprx 2 ft from drums

    I have recorded from the pickup to cd and the sound is fine (for a pickup going direct. After trying it, I went out and bought a decent mic)

    The amp/setup has worked well with my DeArmond Ashbory in the same setting.

    I was thinking the bass was affected by the change in atmosphere and was not resonating the middle freq's because of it

    Thanks for the reply...and the questions to make me think.

  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes - this might be a big one - I go to Jazz gigs every week and the guys with good tone and projection, seem to use pre-amps - small ones - like the Fishman. Those who don't, often get this sort of sound where you get a lot of boom and top-end (scratchiness!) - but not much in the middle.
  5. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Next set of questions:

    * Where was the amp in relation to your ear? One reason I decided not to buy a Contra cabinet is because I sometimes put my speaker on a chair, off the floor and closer to the parts of my body generally used for hearing.

    * Did you walk out in front of your amp to check the tone? You might sound like yuk standing right next to the amp but have the Voice of the Bass fifteen feet out front.

    * How loud did you crank it? IMO, the louder you go, the greater the challenge to preserve beautiful, natural tone.

    * Are you getting a good acoustic sound? Concerning running the amp at home, I don't disagree with the Wise Folk around here who say that it's good to work on your amplified sound at home from time to time. I also agree with the Wise Folk who note that if you can't pull a good un-amplified sound you have work to do (and who doesn't have work to do, eh?).

    Finally, I'll echo Chris' comments. Congratulations on taking that first dip in the cold pond. It sounds like your gear is up to the challenge. Carry on!
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Keep messing around with it one aspect at a time. This is one issue that I'm only just now starting to be happy with.
  7. Thanks for the great posts. It is definitely possible that the sound out in the room was good despite the sound close to the amp.
    But I'm sure you all are aware, if the sound ain't right for you it really affects your playing.

    As I am pathetically lazy, and don't want to deal with another piece of equipment, I'll probably try running a line from the contra to the PA and using the PA eq to even things out a bit. That will also give me a sense of the sound from more of a distance.

    I personally love the contra and how it spreads the "presence" of the bass out rather than having a speaker pointed at me. well uh.. except for this case when it didnt work so well.

    Thanks again,
  8. I've found that the little plastic triangle tilt stand that Rick Jones included with the later first generation AI Contras to help a lot with difficult rooms. It apparently removes some of the floor coupling that usually makes the Contra sound soooooooooo good. If you don't have one, call Rick Jones at AI. He sent me one for free.
  9. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    i think you should put the bass max on the e string side. youll get a much rounder tone.
  10. jugband


    Jan 16, 2001
    If it sounded great one place, and bad in another, AND every setting was exactly the same, then there's a good chance that you weren't hearing it in the club as accurately as you were hearing it alone in the living room, due to different room acoustics and dynamics of other musicians playing at the same time as you.

    It's also possible that it actually DID sound different in the club, especially if you were playing on bare wood, vs carpeting at home.

    Next time, you're setting the EQ, you might want to get someone to stand there and pluck strings while you trot out into the room and judge how it sounds.

    That won't have the same volume as you, because he won't have the technique that you have. But it will give you a better idea of what things are going to sound like to the audience.

    The other thing is that a BassMax can be improved by a K&K preamp, though that probably isn't your problem in this particular case.

    I used the BassMax with a Fishman B-II preamp, and also with none. Then I upgraded to a Golden Trinity system.

    The Golden Trinity gave me a VERY noticeably more natural wooden sound than I was used to from the BassMax alone. Of course, THAT is why I got it, Duh! :)

    However, when I started fiddling with the volume knobs, to do an A/B comparison between the mic and the Bassmax, I was amazed at how little difference there was. The Bassmax sounded MUCH better through the K&K preamp than it did with the Fishman or with no preamp.

    The BassMax is one of those piezos that will work with no preamp wherever that's possible at all. It's very good about that, but it sure gave me a more natural tone through the K&K's preamp, as opposed to the Fishman, or none.

    BTW, they're working on MY new bass in Bulgaria right now, too. Might be here for Christmas! :D
  11. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    FWIW, I have my Bass Max mounted in the G side wing as well. Although it seems the usual setup is on the E side, the sound from my bass is very unbalanced when set up this way; the sound is very even when mounted on the G side with no loss of bass frequencies.
  12. atunbridge


    Apr 23, 2002
    Devon UK
    I had a very similar experience with the Bass Max.

    Having used Underwood/Gallien Kreuger with my Czech plywood upright for years and getting a very nice sound, I recently bought an Acoustic Image Contra. I found that the Contra was giving me a very boomy bottom end and I was having to cut the bass eq to zero.

    I tried a K & K Bass Max and I found I got an a really horrible uneven sound, and major lack of sustain.

    I went back to the Underwood, bought a Fishman Platinum Pro Eq and hey presto, I was able to roll off the boom and now I get a superb sound from the Underwood/AI Contra. I have tried the Bass Max again but I still get the same problem.

    I think for some basses, the Bass Max just doesn't do it. Try an Underwood!
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    It sounds like the BM was too loose or too tight in the wings or your bass. My DBM sustains more that any other pickup I've ever heard.
  14. Sure but never in front of the guys....

    I did listen between sets unplugged and was satisfied that it sounded like me. (for better or worse)


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