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FX newbie needs help

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by bob atherton, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    I’m not an effects person, never have been. For 40 years I just plug the bass into the amp and off I go.

    I now use as my two main basses a USA 62 RI Jazz and a USA standard Jazz. Both these go into a Markbass LMIII and this into two TC Electronic RS2x10 cabs. Great sound, very tight and smooth with a decent amount of old school weight in the low mids.

    On a few numbers in our set I’m looking for a bit more drive and energy, think John Entwistle on Live At Leeds, but maybe without quite as much top end.

    I don’t really want to spend too much money but also need something that sounds very good and is reliable. Ant suggestions will be most welcome. I live in the UK so some units may not be available here? Thanks, Bob
  2. Entwistle on Live at Leeds was pure cranked Hiwatt. I'd check out the Tech 21 Leeds and the Catalinbread WIIO, both of which are designed to sound like a Hiwatt. I owned the Leeds myself for a couple years and dug it.
  3. glenb73


    Dec 18, 2010
    What does terms like 'top end' and 'low mids' mean? I see people write this all the time and never knew.
  4. Seriously? Ok I'll assume you're honestly asking.

    "top end" means the high end of the bass guitar frequency spectrum- commonly I think many agree 5K up through 15 kHz and up (20k is the commonly agreed "limit of human hearing" but most folks don't really have much acuity for 20 kHz signals).

    "low mids" are the grunt and/or punch of the bass guitar frequency spectrum, and I bet there are many opinions as to which frequencies exactly this covers, but to me I think of this as a band from 80-100 Hz up to about 500-600 Hz, although I could see "punch" as really coming from 100 Hz to about 300 Hz.

    You can check Alex Claber's take on bass frequency ranges at his Barefaced Cabinets website.
  5. glenb73


    Dec 18, 2010

    "Seriously? Ok I'll assume you're honestly asking."
    Yes I am honestly asking...is this really such a stupid question? I am not an audio engineer, I don't know what these terms mean, and thanks for your answer but I don't know what you mean by 80-100hz , 500-600hz, I have no idea what those numbers mean, what they represent, or how one would "hear" them.
  6. droppedurpocket


    Nov 11, 2011
    Plano, TX
    Edit: please correct Mr if I'm wrong.

    Sound travels in waves. From peak to peak in the sound wave is considered a cycle. One cycle persecond = to 1Hz. So 1000 cycles per second is equal to 1 kHz and so on. Here us a snippet from wiki

    In English, hertz is used as a plural. [4] As an SI unit,Hz can be prefixed; commonly used multiples are kHz

    (kilohertz, 10 3 Hz), MHz (megahertz, 10 6 Hz), GHz

    (gigahertz, 10 9 Hz) and THz (terahertz, 10 12 Hz). One hertz simply means "one cycle per second" (typically that which is being counted is a complete cycle); 100 Hz means "one hundred cycles per second", and so on. The unit may be applied to any periodic event--forexample, a clock might be said to tick at 1 Hz, or a humanheart might be said to beat at 1.2 Hz.
  7. The numbers are in hertz, abbreviated Hz. One Hz is one cycle per second. 100 Hz in my description above means a tone from an oscillator that vibrates at 100 cycles per second. Those numbers are a concrete description of an observable and measurable physical phenomenon, in this case a vibrating string- the vibrating string on your bass.

    There is *no other way* to concretely talk about frequency ranges other than to list the frequencies. I cannot tell you what 100 Hz sounds like, no one can. You can Google it and maybe get a sine wave pure source example, but even that only helps a little when dealing with complex harmonic sounds, like those coming from a bass guitar.

    You will have to go to the EQ section of your bass amp and turn up 100 Hz a good bit, see what that sounds like, then turn it almost all the way down, see what that sounds like, and thereby teach yourself what various frequency ranges sound like in regard to bass tone. If your amp is one of those that doesn't mark the Hz clearly in the EQ section (say it only has "Bass", "Mids", and "Treble") then you will have to work harder, perhaps borrow a graphic EQ and run that in your rig to gain this knowledge, or try a Boss graphic EQ pedal.

    It is a quite specific skill to hear an arbitrary tone and know roughly (within 1/3 of an octave) what the fundamental frequency of that tone is. It can take years of experience to be able to do that well. But still, when people talk about "top end" and "low mids" they are talking about frequency bands in their bass tone.

    Also Google is your friend. Best of luck to you.
  8. alec


    Feb 13, 2000
    Perth, Australia
    Assuming you have a computer, your music player should have a graphic EQ which will let you boost or cut these and other frequencies and hear the difference.
  9. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earth-based Alternative Scientist, Sex Researcher

    Feb 25, 2012
    Dallas, Texas
    Hey Glen,
    Here's a site where a guy has taken a bunch of sound clips ranging from spoken male and female voice to orchestral and pop music, and then applied bandpass filters to demonstrate what lives in each band of frequencies.

    It's important to know that with eq you are not just dealing with the FUNDAMENTAL frequencies, but also their HARMONICS, which extend much higher than the fundamentals. To over-simplify it, the harmonics are (ideally) even multiples of the fundamental frequency. So the open A string on your bass is 55Hz., it's harmonics will be at 110Hz, 220Hz, 440Hz, 880Hz. and so on.
    The fundamental frequencies of a 4-string bass guitar with normal tuning only extends from E1 at 41Hz for the open E string to around C4 (that would be C five frets above the octave on the G string) at 262Hz (I've rounded these off to keep the decimals out). But if you listen to the examples in the link I posted above, you'll know that, especially with roundwound strings, the bass produces harmonics well into the lower high frequencies, up to and beyond 5kHz or so. In many cases the harmonics are actually louder than the fundamental frequency.
  10. droppedurpocket


    Nov 11, 2011
    Plano, TX
    Successfully derailed. Let's get back to what bob wants to know
  11. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    wow, this is like a free form jazz gig, great fun...! I didn't mean to open a can of worms.

    I used to use a Hiwatt DR100 head with Hiwatt 2x15 cab back in 1973. I also used a Ric 4001 so kind of know how that sounded and it did indeed do the John Entwistle thing pretty well (I wish my playing was up to The Ox!)

    I do find my rig today just great for getting to the gigs and getting on with it. Back in the day we were lucky and had roadies, now I just have me with a dodgy back!

    I will check out the Sansamp. I remember a lot of people saying nice things about this unit.

    Thanks for all the advice.
  12. I think BigChief covered Bob's request pretty well. Anything else- Rusty Box, B3K, etc are probably out of Bob's price range. But there a *a lot* of things that could work for him.

    As for Glen, Freight Train dropped the discussion of harmonics on him, which I purposefully avoided... I figured he'd get that intuitively when exploring his own EQ section. He didn't even know roughly what 100 Hz was, I don't think he's quite ready to explore the nuance of harmonic series in a deliberate way- but I could be wrong. We'll see. Maybe.

    Great reference of frequency bands though Train, although in terms of bass tone I disagree with the naming of the bands. I know you're a sound engineer so it's not bad to know the more generic terms, but around here I think prudence requires a bass-specific adjustment of those range names. I mean "bass" on that page is 10 - 100 Hz, and I would definitely divide that into two ranges for electric bass, and maybe three, like Alex Claber does here: http://barefacedbass.com/technical-information/Huge-lows.htm
  13. glenb73


    Dec 18, 2010
    Thanks guys for the tips, I will check it out further. My apologies for railroading the original topic.
  14. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    As far as I'm concerned railroad away, this is what makes the internet more interesting and more like people sitting , chatting and having a couple of beers. ATB, Bob
  15. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    Thanks for all the advice guys, especially bigchiefbc.

    I have now ordered a tech21 Leeds and it should be with me in a couple of days. I'm really after quite a clean but ballsy valve tone and as I used to use a Hiwatt back in the day it will be like coming home.

    I want to use a mains adapter with it. I have a couple lying around in boxes. They are both 9volt but one is 200ma and the other 450ma. The last thing I want to do is wreck the unit by using the wrong PS. Would one of the ones I have be OK to use or should I get a new one?

    Thanks again, Bob
  16. Assuming the polarity on your adapters is correct (just check the symbols on the adapters and pedal), either one should be fine so long as it is providing enough current for the pedal to do it's thing, which I imagine as an analog pedal the draw on the Leeds is well below what both of those adapters put out, so either should work. Hope you enjoy your new purchase! Those Leeds look cool.
  17. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    The Leeds came today and I think I'm going to like it. I quickly managed to get a very slightly punchier, grindier sound with a touch more presence than with it being switched off. This was very pleasing as it's the first pedal that I have ever tried that has done this. Every other one has put way too much character in the mix, not just slightly enhanced it.

    None of the settings on the Leeds at the moment are anywhere near max or min so there is plenty of room to tweak. I have a full band practice tomorrow night and then two gigs the following weekend. I will report back after these gigs. Thanks again for the heads up on this unit.

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