Getting a really punchy treble sound

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Lex Slade, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. Lex Slade

    Lex Slade

    Jul 16, 2013
    So here's a bit of background on me - I've been playing guitar for over 13 years now but recently decided to join a band on bass. We play metal and hard rock and the guitarists' tone is just a wall of distortion. I'd like to be able to cut through it with a good solid treble-y tone (Otherwise I'm pretty much inaudible). Some points of reference are Duff McKagan and Mike Dirnt - In both bands you can clearly hear the bass, and it just really packs a punch.

    I'm not technically proficient in amps when it comes to either bass or guitar, so here's my gear for reference - I play a Washburn XB-100 (P-Bass pickups) through a Rogue RB-50B amp.

    The controls on my amp go like this:
    Presence, Volume, then 3 Voicing knobs (High, Mid, Low). Next to that is the EQ, which has 60Hz, 250Hz, 1KHz and 4khz.

    Any help is appreciated. I've been experimenting but I find I either get a sound that's too muddy or too tinny.
  2. As far as I know Mike Dirnt's tone is just a P bass into a VT bass. It's a pretty basic P bass and Ampeg tone really. You can pick up a used VT bass for less than $100 on TB and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.
    I'm not familiar with your gear, so I couldn't really help you to get that kind of tone too much. But generally to get that kind of tone you boost the bass a little, cut the low mids a little, boost the high mids and treble.
    New strings will also help you out a lot.
  3. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    You don't need treble ( probably) you need mids. Particularly low mids.
  4. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    I think the amp is your limiting point and not eq. Both players you mention play with a pick however so start there. Duff has a P-J. Mike has a bright Precision bass pickup with extra lows. You could try a QP pickup, but I think the amp is really limiting your potential before compression sets in. 10's have a brigher treble sound than 12's and 15's (Before you disagree: this is a generalization so there is no need to flood this thread with "my berg 10's sound like this" stuff) so I would also look into a 410 speaker cabinet with at least 200-300w to push it.
  5. Lex Slade

    Lex Slade

    Jul 16, 2013
    Yeah, I definitely hear that Ampeg tone with them. Maybe someday I'll invest in one (Love the 6x10 stacks), but right now I'm taking baby steps. I'm thinking new, lighter strings would help a lot as the ones I have on my bass are pretty old.

    Joel - Yeah, the pick is a must for this sound. The amp I have isn't the best, and I don't expect it to sound like the (I assume) very expensive rigs that Mike and Duff have. I'm just finding it difficult to get a good middle ground between muffled and bright. I'm thinking this is a situation where in the middle of practice I'll adjust the knobs the right way and have a eureka moment.
  6. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY

    Which era of Mike's tone are you shooting for here? He used a Gibson G3 (super ballsy/aggressive sounding bass) going into an Ampeg SVT II-Pro on Dookie.

    Duff uses a Fender Jazz Bass Special going into GK amps.

    Right now, your amp is by far the weakest link. You're talking a 50w amp into a single 12" speaker. Just to be heard in a metal band I'd say you need a minimum of 300w going into 2X12's, 2X15's, 4X10's, etc.
  7. AdamR

    AdamR Inactive

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    Looking at the pictures of the amp heres were I would start.
    Presence 3 o'clock
    Volume as needed
    Bass noon
    Mids, 3 o'clock
    treble noon

    EQ in
    60Hz, You dont need much, it will make it sounds muddy and eat up your wattage.
    250HZ, this is were the low mid punch lives.
    1kHZ, This is high mids and will help you cut through
    4K, will ad sizzle to the top end,
  8. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    A pbass should do, but you need a new amp...

    Then, try different strings, a pick, etc... all relatively cheap options to change your tone... and playing somewhere between the pickup and bridge should help too!

    perhaps a pedal might work, but I'd work on getting the tone from the bass... may add some mids on the amp, but I'd keep amp EQ for room adjustment...
  9. Lex Slade

    Lex Slade

    Jul 16, 2013
    Thanks a bunch! The mids definitely added a lot to the sound to make it more "full". I think the amp is a definite limiting factor, and that punch still isn't there. It does, however, have a really nice warm tone that I might play around with.

    I'll figure everything out next band practice when I can turn it up and really crank on it. Living in an apartment I can't turn the volume up louder than 2 or 3, so I think it'll get some more chances to experiment when I can turn this thing up louder.
  10. Lex Slade

    Lex Slade

    Jul 16, 2013
    Screw it, it's actually probably the strings. I've had this bass lying around for a couple years with the same strings on, and they're probably dead as hell. They sound exactly like the strings in the beginning of this video:

    I'll look for some good light strings to really brighten up my sound.
  11. Yeah, new strings are definitely a component in the tone you're going for. Stainless Steel will give you a brighter tone than nickel, which I prefer.
  12. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I agree about the amp. A tube Ampeg will do it. Meanwhile, I suggest Rotos or Blue Steels.
  13. Pick up some Ernie Ball hybrid slinkies, nickal wound in the orange pack. string link

    That is a good start... The pickup that Dirnt sigs use is a '59 Fender Custom shop.. Quater Pounders may get close, but it has been a little while since i had that pickup.. Try playing around with your amp to get as close as you can for now..

    As mentioned Dirnt used Ampeg in the early days and Fender now (has been for years)..
  14. No point in chasing tone through a practice amp. Bass needs serious powe.

    Be forewarned. A gui****'s wall of distortion needs only a small amp behind it to obliterate bass tone even when you have a good amp. It isn't fair. The trick is to not play with gui****s, only real guitar players who will leave you some room in the mix.
  15. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY
    New stainless strings are a must. Old dead strings won't get you close.

    Rotos, Blue Steels, or Pro Steels would be my first choices.
  16. AdamR

    AdamR Inactive

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    Or D'Addario Pro Steels. All 3 sounds great. I started with Rotos, Switched to the Pro Steel ($13 a pack and sounds great) I just strung one of my basses with the blue Steels. They sounds great too.
  17. thedane


    Sep 25, 2011
    OK - my take is going to be a little different, but I'm coming at it from a sound engineer's perspective.
    Yes, you need a bigger amp and 4 or 8 10"s are probably better for that punch - but...

    As Floyd Eye said - you need mids and low mids...not highs.
    I say not highs because you're NEVER going to win that battle against that guitar tone except in moments when he's not playing.
    On the records by the player's you listed - the mix engineer has the time and tricks to do A LOT of tone shaping that is rarely ever possible live or in rehearsals.
    Remember YOU'VE got the lows in your corner that the guitar doesn't have - learn how to work them.
    Personally - if I was mixing your band I'd probably be nearly eliminating all the highs off of your bass tone because they would very likely not be helping.
    Plaing with a pick almost always helps - and once you're using a pick and working your mids, low mids, and lows - not only do often not need bright strings but could very well even benefit from flats. It worked in the 60's and at least half of the 70's against all those Marshalls.

    You own the LOW...learn how to wield it like a hammer!
  18. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    It also helps to remove the bass knob from the amp your guitar player is using.
  19. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis

    I am interested. How do they compare to Blue Steels and Rotos?
  20. One site had listed Dirnt as using Ghs Boomers, another says Fender nickel wounds medium 7150m for strings... In my HWY 1 p I have the nickel hybrid slinkies with a mike d sig pickup through an Ampeg Micro VR and I can match his tone..

    There is also an article out there that lists him swapping in Seymour Duncan antiquity II pickups..