EQing the DB

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by mlkaminsky, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. mlkaminsky

    mlkaminsky Guest

    Jan 2, 2002
    Barre, VT
    Hello everybody:

    I have a Strunal 3/4 DB (plywood) that gets fantastic acoustic sound - sound that I am having a very difficult time amplifying effectively. Here's my gear, apart from the bass itself:

    I've got a K&K Big Double Twin on it.

    Ampeg SVT III-Pro Head and 2x10 and 1x15 cabs.

    Sansamp Bass DI

    Maybe I haven't experimented enough with using the DI as a preamp, or messed with the EQ enough - or something else - but I just haven't been able to dial in a nice, full, woody tone with my stuff. Other players at gigs have been sympathetic, but I'm tired of sympathy - I want this thing to sound as good amplified as it does unplugged. So I guess I'm looking for 1) EQ tips from somebody with close to the exact same setup as I have. What frequencies should I boost/cut? 2) Should I be running the Sansamp into the head as a preamp? 3) Should I totally kill the tube gain on the SVT? 4) Anything anyone can think of that might help!

    Thanks in advance!


    "I find my flax bill is not too high." -George Carlin
  2. I'm no expert on this subject, but I would think you would want to kill the tube gain on the SVT. You don't want the tube preamp to color the sound.
    mrfeeny likes this.
  3. Listen to Ed, truer words were never spoken.
    When I first started amplifying URB, I had all the same problems. I couldn't get enough volume, feedback problems, bad tone, etc. As my playing progressed, I was less dependent on the equipment and was able to get the sound I wanted.
    I credit this ability to many hours of playing with drummers, horns, electric guitars, etc. totally acoustically.
    True story: Last Saturday night I set up for a small noisy bar gig with trombone, electric violin, and amplified acoustic guitar. I had a GK400RB and a 2x10. As we tuned up and I was tweaking my volume to where I thought was right, I looked at the gain control on my preamp and it was turned all the way down - IOW, no amplification at all. I wasted my time and muscles carrying the amplifier to the gig!
    If you're using an SVT3 pro and the cabs you list, it indicates you're playing loud music, or are at least capable of playing very loud. In these situations, you'll have to accept the fact that this much dedicated bass amplification is going to color the sound of the bass. Generally where a lot of amplification is needed (and in most other cases) it is desirable to keep the stage volume low, and use the PA to reinforce the volume.
    For now, I would use the SansAmp as your only preamp. Plug its output directly into the SVT power amp in. Try using only the 2x10 cabinet either up on end, on a chair, or tilted up. Set all the controls on the SansAmp at 12 o'clock except the presence, which should be turned almost all the way down. Then use the blend and level controls to dial in your volume and warmth. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much more you get from so much less.
    Oh, and practice acoustically with your bandmates. Volume hides a multitude of sins.
  4. mlkaminsky

    mlkaminsky Guest

    Jan 2, 2002
    Barre, VT
    Thanks guys - I appreciate your good advice:

    I acquired this rig before I ever considered playing upright bass, and I want to be sure I'm maxing out it's potential to accurately amplify the natural sound of my instrument. I mainly play jazz and some bluegrass, and currently I don't play any rockabilly. I guess you could call my level semi-pro. I gig several times a month, and play as much as possible, but I do have a day job. (Nobody's told me not to quit it yet...) Rehearsals are unamplified nearly all the time. For small venue gigs I just come straight out of the cabinet (2x10), and for larger venue gigs, I'll be in the PA mix while using the cabinet for some stage volume. Any tips on frequency boosts/cuts?

  5. Usually the most successful approach is to go as hi-fi as possible, keep everything flat, and leave the small eq adjustments for the room.
    Your amplifier is a great bass guitar amplifier, but its output stage is voiced to accentuate lows and mid lows. EQ accordingly. You make no mention of your cabinet brand/model. Fill your profile out w/ this info, there are some muy clever people here that could help you dial in. As it is, any information given can only be general.
    In the end, there's no substitute for good ears and good technique.
  6. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    First, the Double Big Twin is not the pickup I would have suggested for a full, woody tone with all that amplification equipment. Its string-adjacent position renders a stringier sound since there is less wood in the equation, as opposed to the Bass Max and similar pickups that are mounted further down the bridge, that produce a tone with more of the lower mids that seem to add the fullness.

    Also, the Double Big Twin really needs a proper buffering preamp, or the sound is kind of quacky and thin like most unbuffered piezo pickups - rather than go into it here again, you can read details about that impedance issue at the bottom of my Preamps page at www.urbbob.com/preamp.html I own a SansAmp Bass DI also, and it's a great box; it is rated at 940K input impedance, which is certainly close enough to the 1 megohm or better input impedance that the Double Big Twin likes, but for some reason I did not have as much success with mine, either, as I did with other preamps with the Double Big Twin. I used my SansAmp early on, too, but found while it was good with the Bass Max, it didn't make my Double Big Twin as happy as I'd hoped. So I think I'd look for a preamp to satisfy that need; doesn't have to be a K&K (but of course I'd love to sell you one! ;) ), just one with the appropriate input impedance of 1 megohm or higher. However, in the meantime, do use the SansAmp, "on" in its active position, so at least you have a buffering preamp to help the situation. I don't know the Ampeg's specs-- just checked the site and manual, and they don't specify the input impedance, but I doubt it's high enough.

    You may also want to experiment with different positioning of the four transducers. Some players wanting a woodier sound have moved them down further on the bridge, or put a pair, between strings, an inch or so down from the top of the bridge, along with the second pair further down the bridge.

    Hope this helps.
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    FWIW, I also play a Strunal plywood amplified by a K&K Bass Max and a Sansamp Bass Driver DI. Musically, I'm doing lots of bluegrass and traditional country and swing...just to give you an idea of the tone I'd be looking for. I'm not into the dead thud that some players of this style like...I like warmth and clarity too.

    Anyhow, I got good results using the "acoustic" setting in the SABDDI manual, with a bit of lows boosted. It works well enough that I rarely use an amp, and can usually get by with the house monitors. On the rare occasion I do use my WM-12, I usually leave the eq flat.

    I've seen lots of the really experienced guys here mention that with DB, small amps seem to be better at rendering a more accurate approximation of their acoustic tone. Maybe you should downsize the amp a bit?
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If what you are really looking for is an uncolored sound, never boost anything - instead, cut unwanted frequencies, and then raise the overall volume level. It's impossible to tell you what frequencies you will need to cut without hearing your bass, but from my own experience with recording and amplification, two frequencies to watch out for are 100hz and below (which cause a very undefined "muddy" sound"), and right around 400hz (which tends to sound "boxy" and artificial).
    Other than that, you just have to use a lot of trial and error and let your own ears be the judge.

    As far as your gear, the advice given by (All Hail) BOB'S CAKEWALK and ALL MY CHILDREE was spot on. What you have is three pieces of gear which all color the sound in their own particular way, and you're trying to get an uncolored sound out of the combination. If you had to start by changing one thing, I'd start with the pickup. I used to own a DBT, and it was always very "Fishmanlike" and stringy to my ears. If you want more of a "wood" sound, your best bet for economy and sound is probably the Bass Max. If you have some sort of preamp with EQ to go with it, so much the better.

    Ampegs and Sansamps are both notorious for having a signature sound - often great for BG but more often than not a bad idea for DB. If you have any friends with different rigs, maybe you could take these for a test drive....it's the easiest and cheapest way to find out which part of your signal chain is getting on your nerves. Good luck.
    Remyd and Hberm_cajunbass like this.
  9. All of the above. Plus, I feel that unless you're in a loud rockabilly band, you dont need a 15" speaker. They dont seem to work that well with DB, as a rule, and tend to cause muddiness. The Ampeg would not be my choice either, so out of all the gear you've got, the 2x10 and maybe the Sansamp would be keepers. I'd sell/trade the Ampeg and the Big Twin, and keep the 15" for BG gigs. A Bass Max, and a more hifi head such as GK,SWR, EA, Trace,will be an improvement, and your Sansamp will still get you that Ampeg sound for BG gigs. The unfortunate aspect of DB is that there are no rules, only guidelines. Every bass is different, and has different requirements. It's the nature of the beast.
    Carl Hillman likes this.
  10. pokerap


    Apr 13, 2010
    I couldnt have had more luck finding out how to record my bass!!

    the OP has my exact setup!
    Strunal bass
    big twin pickup
    Sans amp driver
    but i have gk400rb like post N.3.

    I have tried the Sans amp like you mentioned (everything 12 oclock) and it sounds great!
    I have yet to try it with amp but recording sounds very satisfying.
    http://www.myspace.com/waltdiskey(1st tune)

    My only question is where did you put the 1/4" input. Some pickups offer a mounting bracket to rest it between string A and D but this one has only a (flimsy) sticky thing.
    For now i have managed to stick it to the tail piece but I really have to hold it tight for it not to come off when i plug it. at least it doesnt vibrate anymore

    Other than that I have heard someone mention it is good to have a SM57 at finger level on left hand to record the sound, is this true?

    also I think having a condenser mic near an "f" shape couldnt hurt.
  11. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Blogger for D'Addario
    Since someone bumped this thread (regardless of 8 years after), I'll give my input. I'm running a fully carved bass with a realist through either an Acoustic Image Contra III or an Ampeg B15. The best eq advice I got was from Jeff Campbell. He said to cut the treble out (so down to 0) and boost the bass a little bit. It's amazing in the sense that it doesn't really color your sound at all. The tone is still very clear, and it gives a little extra push in the low end.
  12. MR PC

    MR PC

    Dec 1, 2007

    The First Commandment of DB amplification.
  13. Barcza


    May 1, 2005
    Replace your pickup with Realist or Fishman FC, if you play in a loud band, I recommend the FC. If your amp has at least 1Mohm input impedance ( as far as I know Ampeg amps has high enough ), you don't need the SansAmp. Don't eq too much, just cut the high or the mid slightly if your pickup sounds too harsh. If you have problems with feedback, get some tool equipped with notch filter, but I think with FC you have pretty much volume before feedback.
    Hberm_cajunbass likes this.
  14. I tried adding "stuff" to the chain, but I simplified down for my Grill gig, I'm running a little Behringer Ultrabass BX1200 amp with a fishman bridge pu.
    The onboard eq lets me dial the treble all the way down, the high mid down to 3 and the low mid to 6, and the bass I boost depending on the room. Two things, I like the sound I'm getting, and I like the lack of gear I have to move. Bass and amp that's it. One more thing, have you tried using a phone app that measures the frequency spectrum your rig is putting out?
  15. The Avalon U5 preamp has given me the closest thing to the woody, natural tone of my bass. It's clean, has boost, and also acts as a clean D.I. It's $600, but definitely worth it. I also bought a military explosives case for $12 at my local military surplus store for transportation and has never let me down. It should work great with your SVT.
  16. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    The Avalon U5 gets one of the best sounds from a Realist (Copper Foil) that I've ever experienced. The drawback is that you have to tote around a "studio pre", in addition to your other gear. The Grace Designs Felix, has way more "bang for the buck and it's counterpart new Grace Designs Alex, is about the same price as the Avalon. They both have so many more useful features. Just my take of course. Hook either of the Grace pre's into a powered speaker and you have a complete system.:) Buy either the new Euphonic Audio Doubler, or a Acoustic Image Clarius plus, and you'll get a very nice sould as well.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
    Hberm_cajunbass likes this.

  17. What's the phone app to see the spectrum? I have to have a good laugh and see how that is. Please tell me the name.

  18. It's just a frequency spectrum analyzer app I found in the App Store. It's the Audio Technica AT-ISS. ( installed sound support ) it has eight separate functions, including the RTA real time analyzer and a SPL it was cheap or free, I can't remember. The feedback finder is cool too. Oh btw it's in the Apple app store