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Cutting through vs. being loud?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Nomadic Herder, Dec 28, 2001.

  1. This is interesting. We all talk about wanting to cut through the mix well. We also want big loud amps. But is there ever a point at which you just have a loud amp...but never cut through? Are there any famous bassplayers that have this problem?
  2. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Very common problem, even among the rich and famous. Usually it happens in the case of players who scoop all the mids out of their tone, ending up with a mud/click. They can increase volume until doomsday and all they accomplish is muddying up the mix. A well-known example...

    Nahh...I'm not even going to say it.
  3. Let's not turn this into a Hoppus/Fieldy thread now.

    I happened to notice that I wasn't cutting through well with the smiley EQ at band practice, so I turned it upside-down. BIG difference. I have since gone to a wavy M-shape. There is a slight cut in very low lows, the very middle slider, and the very high highs. That with my knob settings have allowed me to cut through well.
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    There IS a big difference between sounding 'good' when you're all alone & sounding 'good' when in a band environment.
    Personally, I never bought into the "smiley face" EQ...really, coming up, all I ever had was the basic amp(bass, mid, & treble pots turned to max!). ;)

    The biggest problem I ever encountered was a guitarist who insisted on having this big, phat, all-encompassing tone. Sounded "OK" when he played solo...within a band, though(IMO & many others), his phat PROCESSED tone sucked up everybody's space. Plus he played L-O-U-D!
    ...If I bitched, he complained if he couldn't feel it, he couldn't play.

    I assume feel was to be taken literally! ;)
  5. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    John Myung
  6. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    When i first started playing in bands, I did try the smiley face EQ thing. It didn't take long to get out of that habit.
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I finally figured out how new players fall into this habit one day by watching the sound guy set his monitor eq. They just about always end up with some variation of a smiley-face if the room has any sort of resonance at all. Somebody evidently just picked that up and figured it was a good place to start, I guess.
  8. You beat me to it. His problem is that Portnoy's double bass drums are hogging up all those frequencies.
  9. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I'm so happy I play in a couple of 3-piece bands: I get a lot of space for my tone. I've played with 2 guitars and keyboards before, and that is a royal PITA, especially when the keyboard player strays into my turf. :mad:

    Good point about playing alone vs. playing with the band. If you're in a band, go for good ensemble tone. Do not worry about how your bass sounds all by itself.
  10. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    hehe, this december i played with TWO keyboards, THREE guitars, 2 saxophones, 1 recorder, 1 oboe, 3 violins, 1 clarinette, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone and a drummer. and 20 singers in the choir.

    "what turf?"

    but the sound guy was excellent and so i managed to cut through. ;)
  11. BassMan2000


    Sep 27, 2000
    It also depends on the soundmen! When we played at a gig couple weeks ago, he miced the bass drum real loud. That left very little room for me, worse thing was that he didn't set up the monisters right either!
  12. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    When I practice in my bedroom I usually have the smiley face eq going, but when I'm playing with the band I have the low mids boosted like none other, and cut like a hot knife through butter.
  13. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    The secret to cutting through is midrange. The "smiley face" (or Disco V) EQ setting is just about the worst thing you could possibly do if you want to cut through.

    Avoid the evil disco V. It's death.
  14. John Davis

    John Davis Guest

    Mar 27, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    I remember one day while hooked up to a mixer(which our singer "happens" to control), I looked at my EQ and saw my mids dumped. Needless to say, I lost it. I realized why I wasn't cutting through. His excuse, "I'm a guitarist, I'm used to dumping the mids." :rolleyes:
  15. BassMan2000


    Sep 27, 2000
    So how do you guys set your lows,mids and highs?
  16. KeithPas

    KeithPas Supporting Member

    May 16, 2000
    I play with a keyboardist that has a very, very heavy left hand. He is an excellent player but he does'nt seem to mind regularly playing the bass on his keyboard. He plays mostly piano on his keyboard so I had to change my tone completely. I'm used to having a piano wire type of tone for my bass but I changed it to more of a Jazz bass growl, it defintely helped cut through the mix.
  17. I too play with a guitarist who favours a bassy tone, along with a keyboardist who likes to fill the spectrum. The secret is to get those mids working. In fact, if I set up my rig at home with the EQ still set from the last gig, it usually sounds terrible on it's own.
  18. Yup, way different settings for band situation vs. alone. I'm finding that a flat eq. works. Then I play with the drive knob to taste. This is on a SVP-pro.
  19. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    As most of the others in this thread are saying, what sounds good in the bedroom will make you disappear when playing live.

    There are a couple of reasons for this.

    First, lows rob your power. If you like to boost the lows 3-6 dB, you are only getting 25-50% of the volume that you could get from your amp set flat, because lows take a lot more power to produce than mids and highs.

    Second, the ear is more sensitive to midrange frequencies than it is to lows, so you can actually play with less volume with mids enhanced than you can with smiley EQ, and be heard better.

    Mids are what give you your definition, and what allow you to cut through.

    On my SWR, which is extremely scooped sounding, I leave the bass and treble flat, and boost the mids 3-6 dB if playing fretted, and 4-8 dB is playing fretless, depending on the room. At church, which is where the SWR stays nowadays, +6 dB works great with my Zon fretless.

    On my Eden, I usually leave everything flat, except the low mids are boosted 1-2 dB, and the high mids are boosted 2-5 dB, both depending on the room.

    Using the Enhance control on your amp is the surest way to get buried in the mix. They boost the lows and highs, and cut the mids. Sounds great if you are playing solo, but if you are playing in a large band or with distorted guitars, no one will ever hear how great you sound.
  20. wow, cool stuff! I've been trying to figure out how to cut through at my church. we just got a Peavey BAM 210 and the sound I like most is a model of a SWR Redhead. the factory EQ settings are set in the smiley disco V. next time I play I'm gonna try and set it all flat and see what that does, maybe crank the mids.

    I'm currently using flatwounds on my Dean (which isn't helping my cutting thru prob.), but I like the tone so much (when I'm at home). but, cannot reproduce it once in live setting. my DP I'm having built will be strung up with roundwounds, so I will have a choice of either. gots me thinking, flats at home (or with a 3 piece), rounds live (or with a bunch of instraments).

    currently we have; 2 guitars (electric, and acoustic), piano or keyboard, violin, drums and percussion, and 3 to 5 people singing. imagine tryin to cut through that. anyone got some suggestions? :)

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