Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Dull/lifeless sound

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by moley, Mar 24, 2003.


  1. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Hi folks,

    First off, I'm not at all sure setup is the right place for this, as I'm not sure what the cause of this is - but it seems like a good starting place.

    Basically, recently I've been experimenting with ways of recording my bass (I'm using an Aria Pro II passive fretless, with DiMarzio dp123 Jazz-style bridge pup, soloed) - and when I plug straight into the mixer (no DI box or any other processing in between) - I'm getting quite a dull sound (for want of a better description).

    I haven't noticed this before, really, because I usually play through my amp, and as the amp obviously colours the sound in various ways, it's not noticeable - whereas when I'm just hearing the raw sound of the thing, it's more obvious.

    I tried a comparison with my sister's Squier P-Bass, plugging it straight into the desk in the same way.

    With my bass, there's not an awful lot of volume - less than the P-Bass, and the sound doesn't have much body. It's like I'm hearing too much of the percussive sound of the strings against the fretboard etc. (which I don't want), and not enough of the actual tone. And the tone itself, is just a little lifeless, I guess.

    Whereas the Squier sounds pretty much like I would expect it to - gives decent tone and volume, and doesn't sound that dissimilar to how it sounds through an amp.

    I thought it might be the pickup itself - but it seems that the problem occurs with both the DiMarzio bridge pickup I put in, and the original Aria P-style neck pickup.

    And it can't be a technique issue (kiss my ass, PoT :D ), because for one, this seems like something with is beyond the scope of technique, and like I said, it doesn't occur with the Squier P-Bass.

    So, I'm not sure what could be causing it - I guess it's something to do with the setup of the thing. Maybe there is something not quite right with the wiring? Or maybe it's just my bass? I'm really not sure.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    'flats' always sound very dull and lifeless to me!! ;)


    But seriously - a solo'ed, passive, single-coil, pickup will sound lifeless compared to a "humbucking" P pickup - that's why they invented things like the Sadowsky outboard pre-amp - I reckon this would make a huge difference to the sound!! :)

    Or it could be just that you are hearing the sound of the bass for the first time - P basses sound good - it's a design that works. I'm not familiar with the other bass, but it may just be that's the way it sounds.
     
  3. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    That could be it. But - the neck pickup in my fretless is a P-style pickup, but still has the same problem. I don't know if the neck pickup is humbucking or not - are P-style pickups humbucking by nature, or what? (I really know very little about this sorta thing).
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I hate Rotosounds as well!! ;) They go "off" too quickly!

    It's difficult to advise without having the bass in front of you - I'm not sure exactly which model of Aria we're talking about?

    P's are noted for fuller, bassier sound though !

    Normally though, I would say that passive basses need a pre-amp or a DI box betwen them and the desk and don't generally sound good plugged in direct.
     
  5. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Hmm ok.

    When basses are recorded direct inject, is a DI box or outboard preamp usually used? Take Jaco, for example (as he was using a fretless, often with solo'ed Jazz style bridge pup) - would he have used something like that?
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Oh Yes! Any decent studio looking to record bass direct - as opposed to mic'ing an amp - would use a DI box - they would never go straight into the desk.

    A lot of pre-amp type boxes are set up for use as DI boxes as well - with XLR sockets.
     
  7. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ok. So - would an active bass with built in preamp negate the need for an external one?

    (This isn't really turning out to be much of a setup-thread is it? Hambone/Merls - please feel free to move it :))
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member


    Yes but the sound of a P bass is as much to do with the body mass, "position" of the pick up, construction etc - as it is to do with the actual wiring of the pickup.

    Many people think that Leo Fender stumbled upon some happy accidents with his basses - he just tested loads of options until he got something that worked - we don't necessarily know why - but anyway the Fender basses have now become the sound we like in old recordings and other basses may look similar, but there is some small element missing, that makes a huge difference to the sound!
     
  9. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I wondered if it might be to do with the body & construction etc. of the bass. I didn't realise it could make *that* much difference. Does the same apply to Fender Jazzes?
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Most studios would still put an active bass through a DI box when going into the desk.

    As to pre-amps - I noticed a big difference when I used my passive Fender RBV through my Sadowsky pre-amp - but this does very little to my active Tobias.

    The last studio I was in - they were all-digital with Pro Tools and preferred to go via a DI box and used things like "Amp Farm" afterwards - to add pre-amps like an outboard effect.
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think there can be huge variety in the sound of Jazz basses - I tried literally hundreds over many years and most of then had a dull, lifelless sound to me. I sat in shops in London with 10 at a time - not liking the sound of any.

    Then I happened to be in Cardiff and tried another dozen or so and chanced upon the Roscoe Beck signature - which was closer to my ideal Jazz Bass sound - but even this was improved by the Sadowsky pre-amp.

    I remember talking to John Paricelli, the Jazz guitarist about this - he was my tutor at the time when I bought the RB5 - his explanation of why it sounded so good when loads of others didn't, was "Those two bits of wood work together!! " ;)
     
  12. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ok. Thanks Bruce :)
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Strange that nobody else has replied.....?
     
  14. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Perhaps they saw the alternating "Last post - moley" and "Last post - Bruce Lindfield", and thought "Uh-oh, argument..." :D
     
  15. hujo

    hujo

    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    It also depends on if you're listening to the bass being played solo, or in an ensemble setting. Sounds that sound bad or good while playing solo, will not sound the same with a band. I like my bass sound while playing with a band, but i'm not very fond of it playing solo. You often need a little "uglyness" to cut through, IME. That said, it might just be that you don't like your bass. ;) I know i've never been fond of a soloed bridge pickup without eq.
     
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    And I bought my Tobias Classic V precisely because I liked the sound of the bridge pickup soloed - flat and straight into the desk!! :)
     
  17. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    And that seems like a pretty good test of a bass, to me. And I *don't* like the sound of mine flat & straight into the desk.
     
  18. hujo

    hujo

    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    That's good for you. I wish my bass did that. Mine sounds too thin and edgy like that.