Getting loud with the right sound?

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by Hughieboy, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. Hughieboy


    Oct 7, 2007
    Can anyone who's tried and succeeded offer any advice on this? I'll try to be as brief as I can!

    I play in a LOUD rockabilly band and for years I used Rotosound RS9000 strings via a K&K Rockabilly Plus pup on my Engelhardt ES9. My rig was a Peavey Tour 450 amp with 1 x 410 Peavy cab with horn and 1 x 15 Peavey cab. All was well enough generally but I never really had quite the volume I needed to compete on stage, especially with our drummers double pedal and 24" bass drum, and he doesn't play it quietly!

    A year ago I 'upgraded' to a Markbass rig, a CMD121h combo (1 x 12" speaker) also driving a Markbass 151hr 15" cab giving me around 500w. I added a boss graphic eq with 15(?) bands but just couldn't get it to a decent volume without suffering dreadful feedback. I bought this rig due to a change on circumstance (we no longer have a band van to transport the gear) and also for the portability (I have a dodgy back!)

    I tried plugging the f holes - not much improvement - and eventually decided to go down the mag pup route.

    I bought a mag pup that I had read good things about made by SBS in Slovakia, it's active and came with an input and blender for a clicky so I wired a jack on to the clicky from the K&K, bought some Presto (Eurosonic) strings. I hated the strings as they buzzed so I bought some Jargar Dolces. I didn't like them as they felt too stiff so I bought some Blast Cult Lowlifes. They feel good to play, much lower tension but overall I'm really not happy with the sound.

    The 'click', I guess without the adjustment in the K&K preamp is more of a thud and the fingerboard thump sound comes through. Also, if running up the neck or triple slapping on the G or D it just sounds too 'Bass Guitarry' and quite horrible. I guess that's steel strings and mag pup.

    I've been tearing my hair out with this for months now and as with any of us there's a limit to how much time, money and blind purchasing I'm happy with but we are a busy band and I need to get to the bottom of where I'm going wrong.

    I'm wondering now whether I need to run both the K&K as well as the mag so that the mag can boost the bottom end and general volume while retaining the 'true' sound of the K&K at a level below where it feeds back. I don't know if this would work and it would be quite a messy set up. Not mention I would need to run two leads and my amp only has one input!

    I can't get around the need to be loud on stage, if I'm not I just won't be heard and that's no fun at all.

    Sorry to go on so long, if this sounds familiar to anyone out there I could really use any tips. I guess I'm looking for the Holy Grail of a loud double bass that sounds like a double bass!

    Thanks for taking the time to read my rant :meh:
  2. You are running into a wall that I believe can only be conquered via actual bass modification. Blast Cult basses that are built for those volumes utilize two soundposts to stiffen the (already stiff plywood) bass. I would go back to the piezo with favorite strings since that's the sound you like and look at how to modify the bass for feedback resistance. Stuff the thing with a blanket, add another soundpost, shock absorbing endpin, etc.

    An HPF to eliminate sub frequency feedback and floor rumble could be very helpful as well. That might be step one.

    I wish I had more experience but my drummer is pretty quiet.
  3. Hughieboy


    Oct 7, 2007
    I think that all makes sense, it's easy to keep going in the wrong direction. I just put the K&K back on and it instantly sounded right again even with the Blast Cult strings.... so mods to the bass it is and fingers crossed I can work it out that way....

    What is a HPF?

    Thanks again,

  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    HPF = high pass filter

    You adjust it to get rid of body vibrations being picked up by the bridge pickup that are below your low E string's pitch.

    Think of it as a subsonic roll off.
  5. Hughieboy


    Oct 7, 2007
    Is this a unit that I can buy from someplace? Or can I use my wide graphic to do the same thing?
  6. Not sure what your graphic eq cuts to and at what frequencies, but a high pass filter would do a better job I think. There is a thread right now by PooeySK about the Tonebone PZ-Pre that I'd check out, I hear it has phase reversal, a notch filter, and a high pass filter built in that can reduce a lot of feedback.
  7. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    If your eq has a shelving low band or at least sliders down below what your E string is (about 40hz) it wil work to a certain extent, though not as well as a dedicated HPF.
  8. I just picked up a used Fishman dual Parametric EQ for this reason. It came recommended by a pro bassist as a way to dial out specific frequencies without emasculating the sound. I haven't tried it yet, because most of my loud gigs are in the summer. He told me aside from the Fishman (which is no longer produced) the Empress ParaEQ looks like a good choice. He said to look for one with adjustable bandwidth (Q). The Fishman is adjustable from 0.7-2, so you can dial out just one frequency.
  9. Hughieboy


    Oct 7, 2007
    Well, I bit the bullet and put the bass into a local luthier to have a second soundpost fitted. It doesn't seem to have deadened the acoustic sound much to my ear but I am going to take further steps.

    I am going to shorten the amount of endpin that sits inside the body of the bass. I have also bought a 10m stereo jack lead so I can mount the K&K pre amp on the amp rather than the tailpiece. I will also dampen the after length and have ordered some high density foam and a craft knife and will spend some time making f-hope plugs and pack out between the tail piece and body. Plus I'm going to spend some time on the tone pots within the K&K preamp itself.

    Hopefully all this combined with my wide Boss eq I should be able to get somewhere!

    Wish me luck, will let you know!
  10. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    im a noobie. plz explain what is a "pack-out" between the tail piece and body.
  11. Collins434


    Feb 3, 2014
    I would recommend using 2 pickups one under fingerboard and one bridge, through a stereo jack out and into the Blast Cult Channel Blaster. The preamp has a noise gate and notch filter built in. I use their monolux pickups. They come wired stereo out. I use a piece of electrical tape between the bridge and tailpiece to control any wolf tones. For outdoor gigs i use my Ampeg SVT Pro through a Hartke 8x10 HyDrive and so far my lead guitar player can't play louder than me through a Marshall 100 Watt Super Lead. No F hole covers, no packing, nothing. The Channel Blaster sends out a hot signal so i use the -16db input cut on the amp. If I really want to shake the building i go from the amp to the main board and out through a pair of 18 inch subs. The trick is controlling the mids on the amp (all the way down)and the amount of gain going into the amp. Hope this isn't too confusing.