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Finding your own sound and tone vs. Copying someone else's

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by MovingPitchers, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. I am constantly encouraged by fellow TBers to find my own sound and tone.

    Some others say it doesn't hurt to copy someone else's either.

    What do you guys think? I love Geddy's growl and murkiness but I would love to find my own tone and sound since his is not always suitable for every genre.
  2. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    when I hear playbacks of myself, I realize that I don't really sound typical; I definitely have my own style going on.
    it is when i try to play like someone else-that is when the wheels fall off.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
    tbasstreble11 likes this.
  3. As long as you can do something different it doesn't really matter. I pretty much worship Billy Gould's old tones, especially the pre Angel Dust era and the Chuck Mosely era. Other tones I like are Shellac, Jesus Lizard, and early Tool(Undertow era). All these sounds have one thing in common; grindy and metallic.

    His(Billy's) tone now sounds way different, but that old metallic tone works great for the new-wave type stuff I do. It goes against the smoothness of the synths and brings something more raw and real to an otherwise dreamy soundscape.

    I sound different anyway just because of my gear and my technique, and my biggest concerns are coming up with everything(drums, synth, maybe guitars) so trying to see if I make sure I sound different is a big waste of time to me. There is a sound in my head, and that sound involves all the elements. The sound of the bass within that whole scope sounds like Billy Gould in the 1980's. I honestly wouldn't want to play bass if it sounded "typical" and what most people consider proper bass tone.

    FNM is an influence on drums and synth as well, but M83 and Boards of Canada are huge inspiration on synth.

    So it doesn't really matter as long as you aren't just playing covers of their song and make it your own thing. What anyone else thinks doesn't matter.

    Trust me on this. I play with a pick nearly 100% of the time. I'm not even a "real bassist" to some. It matters none.:)
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
  4. That doesn't happen for me. My own playing comes through even when I try to sound like someone else.

    Jaco kept what he liked about other players style and sound and discarded what he didn't like about it.

    Also, John Entwistle wanted very much to sound like a guitarist he liked but on bass, and spent a lot of time chasing those sounds in his head. He wound up revolutionizing rock bass in the process.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
  5. Sound how you want to sound. Find a bass you like and find an amp you like and stick with it.
    tangentmusic and FaithNoMan like this.
  6. Al Florenzo

    Al Florenzo

    Sep 19, 2011
    I think I've come to my own pretty well, but it sort of got it's start when listening to The 'Oo and the aforementioned John Entwistle. I started using really aggressive attack near the fretboard and then I realized Geezer does that as well, who (along with John E.) is one of my favorite bassists. So I'd say it can be a good starting point, but it's good to mix it up and do what you like.
    FaithNoMan likes this.
  7. It doesn't hurt to have a direction for the kind of tone you prefer for different types of music. I just know I'll never perfectly emulate my favorite bassists due to my personal technique and current gear. It will always be a continuing process. It's why some people get a specific bass or amp because they'll get closer to the tones they prefer.

    For me, I don't have the money to make such purchases. So I do my best to get the sounds I like best with what I have, and I (usually) attempt to make it mix well with my band for each song. Although there will be times I just go, "I'm just going to play my new fretless bass with flatwound strings on every cover song regardless of the genre. It's just rehearsal." Sounded wacky playing slap-pop on "Higher Ground." Eh... sometimes they just have to deal with it. I personally love the tone, but it doesn't mix well with the band. That's pretty important too.
    FaithNoMan likes this.
  8. And even with those artists we follow, they alter their tone from song-to-song on the same album.
  9. I agree. We should all have a foundation of the type of tone we each want for ourselves and use that as a template but I feel like copying someone else's tone is just.....uncreative. I mean they built their own sounds based on heroes they looked up to as well.

    I love the growl and dirtiness of Geddy Lee's tone in the Snakes And Arrows live tour but I also love the clean tone of Mike Dirnt
  10. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Good for you. As long as it's a sound that you really like, and that you can really make work for the playing situations you have, you're way ahead of the pack. Much better than the opposite scenario of having not found one's own voice, which is far more common - and typical.

    MovingPitchers likes this.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Play what sounds good to you. If it is similar to someone elses, who cares?

    I play what the song calls for.
  12. Mmmmm so many people lack their own voice and just play because they should/can/must.

    I always encourage my younger peers to explore different sounds and tones to find THEIR voice. I can't do it for them but I can always encourage them consistently.
  13. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    There's a difference between sounding like someone and playing like someone.
    If you like Geezer's playing but like Squire's tone, go for both.

    Some like a Jazz bass or Ric's trebly attack. Some use a foam mute on a Precision. Some do both.

    Be yourself. Have your influences.
  14. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan

    Jun 14, 2014
    Midland, TX
    I've found so much of any player's tone comes from the fingers anyway, so the point is often moot. Regardless of who's rig I might be on, still sounds like me (for better or worse)
  15. bassman31783


    Nov 4, 2012
    Denton Tx
    "Your" tone inevitably is going to be shaped by your influences. I find that my tone naturally emulates the tones of who I like because that's what's pleasing to my ear. Yes my tone will be different from style to style, but all in all I set my amp up pretty much the same all the time & get my tone from my pickups (am I balanced, boosting the bridge or neck pickup), how I attack the note & where I play (close to the bridge close to the neck). So many variables in creating your tone for your particular style. Experiment again & again. Everybody has a different definition of what the "perfect tone" is. Find what works best for you, & be ready to possibly never be 100% satisfied. Ha
  16. This. I just can't get my knickers in a twist about tone (will this get me drummed out of TB?). I care much more about locking down a groove. If I don't like the way I'm sounding, I tweak my technique or my settings until I do.
    Remyd and steamthief like this.
  17. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    By the time the soundman gets through 'improving' your sound, the groove is the only think you have left anyway.
  18. AciDBatH666


    Feb 13, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    In one of Conan Obrien's commencement speech he talks about how Jack Benny was the funniest guy in comedy for his generation. People tried to imitate and be just like him. So did Johnny Carson. In trying to imitate Jack Benny, Carson's little nuances and differences made him who he was.

    I think the same mentality exists for finding your own bass tone. As a metal bassist, I find myself trying to punch through the mix and be heard. I've tried numerous pedals and settings to duplicate what I thought was the tone I was looking for. In doing so I found new combinations of pedals and amps and settings that give my sound a little edge that wasn't what I was originally aiming for but made me rethink the sound I thought I wanted. I'm currently about to add another pedal with the possibility of replacing what I thought was a staple pedal in my tone. So I've learned to accept the evolution that there is always something out there that could give me more edge or punch.

    So to me, it's the rabbit trail of trying to replicate a specific tone that leads you on the path where you end up finding your own sound. And that path changes sometimes.
    Ballin'bass and FaithNoMan like this.

  19. That's exactly what I was talking about earlier in this thread.

    You condensed it much better than I could have.
  20. Only by a soundman who doesnt know his job, or one that works as FOH in a crappy club with crap gear.

    At the pro level it IS the job of the soundman to duplicate the sound those pro musicians have spent loads of time and money on getting it they want.... and the sound that is expected by the fans and the employers of the FOH guy.
    If he cant do it, or "thinks" his way/sound is better ...he wont have a job for very long...period
    FaithNoMan likes this.

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