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EQ Q: Can I "shelve" fingersqueaks?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Gnobility, Jan 8, 2005.

  1. Gnobility


    Aug 13, 2003
    In my rock & roll outfit we do a lot of instrumental covers of beatnik jazz/snooz-blooz stuff, from greasey tunes like Killer Joe to more modern (by which I mean early 70's) things like Chameleon.

    I've used flatwounds for years, mostly so I could do bass intros on tunes where I'm trying to ape an upright. On several of the tunes I'm sliding around a bit for some of the riffs, and the flatwounds really keep fingersqueaks to a minimum.

    I was fairly content with my sound...until we started working up Billy Cobham's "The Red Baron" as covered masterfully by Marcus Miller here:


    I've switched to stainless roundwounds on my Am Deluxe JB and am now getting a terrific tone...but it squeaks like a mofo on the "upright" intros described above. Which gives me an ideer:

    Maybe I could get an EQ pedal, and then try to find out where these fingersqueaks "live" and notch that slider heavily to tame my Marcus tone just for the upright intros...after the band joins (largely obscuring the fingernoise) I could toggle back to my newfound Marcustone.

    Does that make any sense? If so, do you think I might be better with a guitar EQ pedal (I'm thinking maybe the pitch of fingersqueaks is up beyond a bass EQ pedal)


    Gn :hyper:
  2. Try before you buy... in the case of a guitar pedal, you may find that the pedal does not allow as much low-end through. If any EQ works well, it may be a parametric.

    Of course, what I'd recommend is to have two basses, one strung with flats and one with rounds.
  3. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    The short answer is, "no, wrong approach".

    At one point in my bass playing career, I was in the same situation that you seem to be in. I'd just switched from flats to rounds, and was getting all kinds of unwanted string noise. So, EQ is the first thing I thought of. And after about three years of experimentation, I came to the conclusion that it's impossible to EQ out string noise, and still retain any semblance of a desirable tone. Unfortunately, the general situation seems to be that anything you do to EQ out the string noise will also hurt your normal tone.

    Two things I can share with you: one is, that the string noise problem will probably go away as you get used to the rounds. For me, that happened after about five years of playing, and only after I was forced to get serious about my technique. Now, twenty years later, I have no problems with unwanted string noise. All the string noise in my sound is deliberate (or most of it is, anyway). :D So, I'd recommend taking five or ten lessons with a top-notch teacher, and get his/her input and feedback on your playing technique. Likely you'll get some exercises to do, which will help your string control.

    The other thing is, that string noise in a live situation is very different from string noise in the studio. Stuff that sounds horrible in the studio may be exactly what you need on stage, and vice versa. Listen carefully to some of the bass tracks that you think are "clean", and see if you can hear any string noise "behind the scenes". Chances are, it's there. It's just not "obvious" when you're listening to it, 'cause your brain tends to process is as "nuance" rather than "unwanted noise". In fact, live, I sometimes use a little stompbox that emphasizes the 1-3 kHz range, right where a lot of the string noise is. I find that a) many speakers - especially those without tweeters - don't reproduce that range with any appreciable accuracy, b) boosting that range helps the bass cut through the mix, especially when slapping, and c) when you're up against a keyboard player and a guitar player with a Marshall stack, a little string noise isn't going to hurt. Relatively speaking. :)
  4. Sounds like you have an over enthusiastic tweeter on your cab. I would try padding it first, or disconnecting it and see if you're happy with the sound.

    I had a tweeter on my first cab and never really realized how much I hated it until the woofer blew and I was forced to buy a cheap and dirty used 15" cab with no tweeter. I supplement with a 2X8" but still no tweeter... my sound has never been sweeter ;) AND no finger squeaks.

    - Andrew

    ps. In any recordings that I mixdown, I usually slope-off anything on bass above 250hz anyway - with a slight bump around 500hz or where-ever it helps to add definition to the bass. Squeaks live quite a lot higher then that, so the sloping usually eliminates it. However, most bass cab tweeters I've come across try and reproduce something like 2.5k and up - which is really outside of the usable and natural frequency range of most bass guitars... unless you like finger noise :) Now granted, harmonics are very useful for cutting through the mix, but you could get away with a cab that only goes to 400 or 500 hz and your tone would be great. Ask yourself this question... do you hear a constant "hiss" coming off of your cab? If so, your tweeter either needs to come out or be padded.
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    This is really more of a technique question, but there are enough variables that it doesn't really fit there either. Moved to Miscellaneous.
  6. Gnobility


    Aug 13, 2003
    thanks for the responses...my responses:

    - I've got 4 bassi, one of which still has flats. I could switch basses for the tunes with the "upright" intros, but I really really like the bright Marcus tone for EVERTHING else (this week, anyway). So what I'd like to do is come up with a way to trimming the fingernoise, and compromising my tone, just for the "naked" bass-only intro riffs.

    - I've pulled the spec on the Boss bas & guitar EQ pedals, as well as the DOD pedal:

    It looks like the Boss Bass EQ, the GEB-7, allows +-15dB at:

    The Boss Guitar EQ, the EB-7, allows +-15dB at:

    The DOD VFX40B allows +-12dB at the same frequencies as the Boss Guitar pedal. I might try both of the Boss pedals to see whether either does the trick

    - As far as my technique goes: you're no doubt correct, in just a few weeks I've managed to substantially reduce the amount of noise I make, but still find that I can't slide a note up a fret as quietly as with flats.

    If I roll-off the treble a bunch, and the mids just a bit, I can get the mostly squeakfree upright tone for my "naked" intros, but then I kind of freak out when I go to return to the Marcustone while I'm playing...trying to quickly roll the mids back to the center detent during one sustained note, then going for the treble pot on the next sustained note, overshooting the detents, etc. I think maybe the EQ pedal would give me a shot at zapping string noise (sacrificing my overall tone a bit) and getting back to Marcustone with a single stomp.