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Frequency crowding (?) playing same range as guitar

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by njones89, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. njones89


    Mar 27, 2015
    Sioux Falls
    Let's say you play a 5-string and you really don't feel like transposing a progression that was originally written with Drop-D tuning, so you decide to play it on your D-string. The problem is the guitar is drop tuned and playing the exact same progression in power chords, so you are playing the same frequency. Would it sound like crap? Let's say you're tone is clean, no EQ adjustments, tone knob all the way up, full volume on neck/bridge pickups. What would you adjust in order to make the bass fit better?
  2. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Roselle, IL
    Are you talking about playing on the open and higher D string? If so, bad move. You will basically blend in with the guitar player and the audience will hear a HUGE lack of bass driving the song. If you need the open notes of the Low D string, tune the 4th string to D. (Hipshot makes the perfect product for this: Bass Xtenders > Store > Hipshot Products. Or you can simply re-tune your bass on stage. If you can get away without open low D notes, 5th string - 3rd fret is your friend.

    It's hard to say what you are hearing out of your setup since I am NOT standing next to you. I would try messing with your pickup volumes. Many pickups have a noticeable midrange drop when both pickups are 100% on or blended in the middle. Try favoring one of them a little more and see what happens. That should create a decent tone shift and maybe give you a tone more workable for you.

  3. Like Gearhead said, it’s not completely clear what you mean by playing the D-string. But in any case, if the guitar player has lots of bass dialed into his rig, they yes you’re going to be competing in the same frequency range as he is.

    The situation is this: The lowest note on a 4-string bass is about 40 Hz. The lowest note on a guitar is 80 Hz. That’s right in the middle of the lower fret positions on your D string! So it’s not hard for the bass and guitar to be competing in the same sonic space, especially on your upper notes. It’s even worse if the guitar player likes a bottom-heavy sound.

    Ideally, in order to insure a clean mix where the guitar doesn’t trample on the bass, the guitar should be high-passed at about 150-200 Hz. This makes the guitar sound somewhat “thin” when he’s playing all by himself (e.g. the opening cords of a song), and a lot of guitar players are averse to this. However, they need to be educated that you can’t mix (read EQ) a band for “bedroom sound.” That only gets mud in live performances and recordings.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Administrator, Pedulla Club #45
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    Bassist4Eris and AngelCrusher like this.
  4. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    So you want to play a drop tuned song on your high D instead of taking the 3 seconds to tune down so the band sounds 1,000 times better?

    C'mon man
    MattZilla and Garret Graves like this.
  5. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    Why aren't you using the D on your B string?
    No need to transpose anything.
  6. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    5 string player since 1988. I've never had a problem. In the 90's I cut everything at arond 250Hz. I started doing that in the mid 70's. I lived below and above the guitars...plenty of low end, with clangy, bright, Rotosound highs. I gave them plenty of room. It worked well, and I rarely if ever had PA support in even the loudest bands I was in.

    A few years off, and today, I use plenty of mids...no cut at all, but haven't had problems clashing. We also play at reasonable volumes...no more ear busting volume anymore. THAT is the biggest help. People can hear each instrument clearly. I play in a three piece, and filling out the sound is important. No more mid cutting.
    Bassist4Eris likes this.
  7. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    If you play like that on a 5 string, then you don't really play a 5 string.
  8. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    A bit cryptic...I play very well, thank you.
  9. jtharp


    May 25, 2008
    Berkeley, CA
    He was talking to op
    Bodeanly likes this.
  10. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    I drop my E string to D on my fiver sometimes. We play
    the velvet revolver song 'slither.' It's fiendishly difficult to play cleanly
    in the lowest octave using the third fret of the B string as your root.
    I drop tune the E to D and put the riff on autopilot so I can focus on singing.

    Nobody gets paid extra for not drop tuning for a song, and the audience doesn't notice or care, but you do have to play it in the right octave!
    Bodeanly and Gearhead17 like this.
  11. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves website- ggravesmusic.com Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Arcadia, Ca
    This! This thread is a bit confused. Fret number 3 on your B string buddy- low D that your guitar player can't touch. One of the benefits of playing a 5 string bass, when guitars drop D tune, your low D is already there, it its not the D string.
    MattZilla, s0c9 and mbelue like this.
  12. BigRedX


    May 1, 2006
    Depends entirely on how you arrange your songs and what sound(s) the guitar(s) and bass are using.

    My band do quite a bit of stuff where I'll play the riff in unison with the guitar and in the same octave. With my normal bass sound it always adds more weight to part than just the guitar alone. Then I can drop down an octave and it really kicks the song into gear.
    Garret Graves and mbelue like this.

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