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Gabu's Reality Check!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Gabu, May 20, 2002.

  1. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I was tooling around with a Fender MIA Jazz at Guitar Center today. I was checking out this amp and that amp, looking for a medium sized combo.

    The sales man recommended that I try the SWR LA15. I told him that I had tried the LA series before and I found them boxy sounding, lacking decent bass... etc etc... He suggested I give it a try for a medium sized combo, so I did. Surely enough, it sounded boxy, lacked bass... just like I had thought.

    He asked to try the bass, so I was game. I handed him the axe and he adjusted the controls a bit and jammed some riffs. It sounded a Hell of a lot better. There was plenty of bass and I was suitably surprised.

    So he mentioned that he liked to control the volume with the amp, and keep the volume(s) maxed on the bass for the most part. (he rolled back the neck or bridge pickup a bit to get more bass or more treble) He said the reason why is that if you underpower the preamp section of your amp the natural tone of the bass will suffer. He also mentioned that he plays closer to the neck for more bass and to the bridge for more treble. I knew the second thing, but was surpriused at how well he utilized it. He turned what I thought to be a crap amp into a nice sounding one.

    I am going to try keeping my bass volume up, and see what that does for my tone. (of course keep working on my technique too!!)

    ...and Jaco was right about tone being in your hands...
  2. I am totally suprised by the improvements in my tone over the last year. "Something" has just clicked, or let loose, or something in my hands that has let me change sounds w/ just my hands. Now that I've got a good amount of that down...I'm suprised to see how much some other bass players fiddle with knobs while playing. I've never touched a knob during a gig....and it just sorta "happened". No good words for it.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...man, I thought "everybody" already did that.

  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    You'd probably be surprised, Jim. Most (maybe 80-90%) of the bassists I know or meet don't realize the tonal effects of maxing the volume at the bass. I see this practically every time I go to a store... and it's not a newbie thing. A guy was playing a nice bass (my Brubaker NBS-1) through a Mesa Boogie M-2000 into one of the nicest cabs I've come across and was wondering where the punch was. I asked him where the volume on the bass was set and he had it almost off. He's been playing over ten years.

    I told him to max the bass volume, leave the pre gain up and drop the master to compensate. He couldn't believe the change in tone.

    I used to think people knew this too. Now I just mention it whenever I see it. I keep my bass volume maxed, set my amp for the loudest I'll need to play and control my volume with my hands. It just takes practice.
  5. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Update - I had a very cool practice last night. The tone was there and all was well with the world. It does seem that this works like a charm.

    I will miss being able to control my volume from my bass volume knob... But I will practice compensating with my plucking.

    I found it very interesting that a real good player easily made what is commonly called an inferior amp sound good.

    I am going to play this way from here on out... it just works.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    That blows me away!
  7. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    This is interesting, because I did the exact opposite! I used to max out the volume on my bass, but since my rig was underpowered, I used to get a fair amount of clipping and farting, especially since the signal from my Godin was rather hot at full output.

    Then I tried cranking the master on my amp to full and controlling using the volume knob and amp gain, and I liked the tone a whole lot better. You may have to use the EQ on the amp a little more, as you're getting less of the bass's sound...

    I guess I do prefer the opposite. It obviously depends on what tone you want, what style you're playing, how you use dynamics, etc...
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    If you have an amp that doesn't have 0dB and -10dB (more or less) inputs or the equivalent, a super hot bass can be a problem. That's not the norm on a decent amp.

    I was in a store today and a bassist who had brought his bass (Pedulla Rapture) in asked me why it sounded different when I played it. When I played it I had maxed the bass' volume and left the amp where it was but played about the same volume as he had. The difference was headroom, for lack of a better explanation.

    Maxing it is the next best thing to taking the control out of the signal path.
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Blows me away too. You'd think the guys who had been playing a while would've noticed at some point.
  10. boomerang

    boomerang Guest

    Dec 9, 2001
    i can't believe people dont know this, when i started on a squirePEE the "tone" difference was so dramatically dampened when the volume wasn't maxed that i learned this within minutes. really makes you wonder why some p-bassers would choose to leave out the tone knob but keep on the volume. :rolleyes: . remember kiddies, the TONE is only in THE HANDS, when they are on THE STRINGS.

  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Hey Brad-
    Need your assistance in the General Instruction Forum.
    There's a thread about "ISO yaddayadda finger tone".
    He's seeking help in finding a hi-fi fingers' tone outta his Demeter/Hafler set-up.
  12. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I guess that explains it - my rig isn't exactly top of the line!
  13. since i started, i've always maxed the volume and tone knobs. that gives you the best starting tone, from there you can adjust with the amp. i really don't need ANY knobs, i only use the volume knob as an on-off switch.
  14. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    It was my guitarist who put me onto maxing the knobs, actually - before then, I'd have my volume at about 3 or 4 and my tone rolled right off. Now, I max them both, leave my amp flat, and let my hands do the work.
  15. Is this just because to get the same volume at a louder setting, you play softer? Striking the strings harder robs a lot of bass. Or is there something
    more sophisticated going on? Like, if you recorded two signals with the amp at the same place and somehow playing equally hard, but one with the bass's volume at 5, one at 10, then normalized the recordings to the same volume, would they be different?
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    On a lot of basses, the second you roll off the volume there is a drop in clarity. This doesn't have anything to do with how hard you're playing. I'll let someone else get into the nuts and bolts of why this happens, the bottom line is that it can. It's also one of the easiest "problems" to fix... don't do it.

    Trying to add clarity back is akin to trying to dial in brightness on a dead set of strings... you might get bright and trebly but you won't get that new string sound. Maybe that would be a nice patch for the V Bass: "New Strings";)
  17. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    I have always maxed my volume, but am curious about the tone maxing. But as I write I am deducting that the tone control on your bass when used to bring up your low end is really just killing the higher end and "taking things away". Sort of deadening the tone so to speak. With the tone maxed your are getting the full resonance of your bass??? IS this correct? And this would only be true for passive electronics?
  18. yes. passive tone wide open is the full signal, and dialing it back just cuts down the high end, doesn't "add" anything. active electronics usually have centered detents for a "flat" setting, and frequencies can be cut OR boosted from there.
  19. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    great answer. I guess I'll summerize the tone drop at less than max volumes. This scenario is much worse on a passive instrument than an active one, but happens on both. The volume control is just a potentiometer, or rheostat. When you dime it, there is no tonal change more than a wire causes, because there is no resistance, but when you trun it down, the resistance that keeps the volume down also kills the tone.
  20. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I dont usually open the volume up all the way on my bass when I play. I usually set her to 50-75% This way I still have some control if I need less or more volume either way. That usually gives me ample signal into the amp for a good tone. Another thing I try not to do is max out the bass control when I play either. Ya never know if you may need more depending on the room you're in and this allows me to add more to the mix if I should need it

    just my 2 cents worth of advice.