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dealing with tone for low tunings

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by (hed)-less, Jul 9, 2003.

  1. hey, im just wondering if any fellow METAL players have experienced a serious lack of tone when tuning down pretty low depending on their amp set up and what not.

    i tune down to Bb because of my death metal band (i play a 5 string though so i dont loose too much string tension;)) and somebodys notes that low down sound pretty indistinquishable form one another...what say you good people?
  2. BassDodger

    BassDodger Guest

    Jul 14, 2002
    That's a question with alot of varibles, but it's funny you should ask because I did something I normally don't do lately: I caught a bunch of local acts in my area. Reason why I say this is due to what I have noticed...

    I see alot of "Death Metal" and heavier acts that have a sound so distorted and low-end that I can only best describe it as "A Wall Of Thick Brown Mud". It seems as though alot of guitar players are more utilizing Extreme lows on their amps. What's going on here is that they are tripping over, under, and into the bassplayer's frequencies. Now, to some people, this is not a bad thing. Indeed, a few places the crowd seemed to enjoy it- but to me, I didn't like it a bit and couldn't help but feel sorry for the bassplayer. I want to re-itterate: if it's your thing, that's cool- it's just not for me.

    It's like when every member of the band plays by themselves, they tune their amps to get their sound, but when they play together, the only thing noticeable is that the bass is not distored; but the guitars and bass are in the same frequency range. And the more a bass tries to be heard (by dialing up mid-range), the more the bass is going into the guitar's range = just as bad.

    I hope this helps and I hope you don't see it as a post to dis the metal because it's not. Just something I noticed in my immediate local scene...
  3. BassDodger

    BassDodger Guest

    Jul 14, 2002
    Ok- just got off the phone with a bassplayer freind of mine in a heavy band (Shamefully, I have yet to see him play).

    Anyway- I told him about your post and he agreed with me but he also says that there IS a cure. He uses an effect called "Bass Balls" and a few others. What these effects do is "throw out" the bass's low end tones and that they actually cut through those guitars with a more authoritave low-end (whatever that means). Might be something to look into...

    Hope this helps...
  4. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    If you are tuning down to Bb, you may not be hearing your fundamental anyway. Your cabinet may be producing only the first harmonic - which may be the same frequency the guitars are playing.
    What type of cabinet are you playing through?
    Can it produce a 30hz Low B?

    If you are being drown out by your guitarists it may be because they are playing in the same frequency range that your cabinet is producing.
    You might have to boost frequencies in your Mid range area to get definition and stand out.
    Thicker strings produce better fundamentals and tend to work better when tuned down also.

    If you have cabinets that will correctly produce the fundamentals (being in the 30hz-50hz range) you will be producing frequencies that will be below the tuned down guitarists. Cabinets that produce these notes will be either very large or require a lot of power (or both). I would still boost the Mids.
  5. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    What redneck said!

    Don't use effects to mask your sound. Instead, get yout tone sorted, then add effects to make it better........
  6. Alright. I'm in a metal band, and I drop my bass to (ADGCF). The band I have been in the last 23 months, played for 2 years before me, with NO bass player. So the guitarist still likes to drop down into bass land with his tone. The only way I can compensate is to be be EXTREMELY low, but extremely clear, and loud enough (not too loud, the mix has to be jsut right). I cured this by spending tons of money on some of the best gear in the world. Now... each and every not down to that low is a distinguishable, and clear. Oh, and kick your guitar player in the butt when he starts trying to put his tone into bass land!!

    Heck, bass players (at least around here) are too few and far between. I just remind him of what it was like before I came along, and that there are currently two (signed) bands within 10 miles of me looking for a bass player.;)

    Wow, that got off topic. With the right gear, you should be able to get real tone all the way doen to your Bb
  7. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    good points here from all,

    i'll just add that if your low C sounds pretty much like your low C#, try upping some upper mids for a bit more cut. helps that definition slice thru.

    also, i heard Jason Newstead always EQ'ed his bass tone with more mids and upper mids, just so he could hear himself and compensate for the massive low end James Hetfield liked in his guitar tone. i hate guitarists like that. :spit:
  8. OOk, i know this is extremely off topic... but...

    I play a 5 string, tuned DEADG... that's right, i tune my 5th string UP!!

    I played in a metalcore band for a few years, and I personally found that when my guitarist was playing drop B and A, i was better suited off playing higher notes, with my BASS turned up. I prefer to compliment the guitar line with a bass line that is only slightly lower, but with alot of bass tone, and less treble. That way, the bass and guitar were still distinguishable, as my Tone was much lower.

    If you don't have alot of money to fork out for an 18" and a crossover... i would personally suggest that.

    BTW!!! Anyone care to comment on my DEAD-G tuning? Would this 'tuning up' of my low B be bad for my neck? explain my TB experts!

  9. BassDodger

    BassDodger Guest

    Jul 14, 2002
    I'm no luthier or "expert", but I would think that tunning what should be a "B" to a "D" should be fine for a well-made bass. If you bass is a premium bass, make sure that detuned B string is of a lighter guage- I,E; if you would normally put a 140 on (what is supposed to be the B string), then put a 120 in it's place. Here's the deal: it's possible that you will get a great tone if your E and D string are the same thickness- as if you have 2 110s for your E and D strings.

    Be wary of humidity and temperature changes, no matter how slight- don't let that bass sit in a car overnight whether it be cold, wet, or hot weather- try to keep it's temp constant or as close as you can.

    Detune that "B" string when you put it away in it's case to lower tensions. MOST neck warping takes place when the bass is at rest and NOT being played- ounce of prevention=pound of cure...

    Remember that you can ALWAYS ask a Luthier, whether he be local or online here at TalkBass. They are in the business of making musical instruments for musicians- that's thier job-most will never lose sight of this. If you want a bass that's tuned a bit different, that's what they LIVE for- it's their job. They can ALWAYS help you...

    Man, I hope this helps.