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Getting "the" tone from a non-bass amp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Dincrest, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. Dincrest

    Dincrest Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    Has this ever happened to you? By whatever stroke of luck/karma/genius/whatever, you find "THE" tone in a non-bass amp?

    Lemme tell you my experience. I'm visiting my parents for the holidays and I'm slowly outfitting the basement to be a jam space for small basement shows, jam sessions, and perhaps some rudimentary recording. I have an old-ish SWR Workingman's 12 combo amp as my backline bass amp. I have a Gallien-Krueger Backline 110 combo amp that I utilize as a guitar amp (guitar sounds awesome through it, especially the distortion channel. Plus, it cranks.) And I have a 200-watt Carvin PA-620 PA system with a pair of 12" speakers with horn tweeters and a couple of mics for vocals. (I also have a 1990 Tama Rockstar drumkit with a mid-90s Swingstar snare and AA Meinl cymbals.)

    Anyway, I brought home my Warwick and cranked through all the amps. The GK amp was really trebley and I immediately realized why I use it as a guitar amp instead of a bass amp. I've had multiple guitarists play through it and they sound f'n awesome. Tone was nice through the SWR, but also a bit peaky/harsh in the highs. (I still adore GK though, because GK amps crank louder than their wattage ratings may suggest.)

    But for the first time, I decided to try plugging my bass directly into the PA to see how it sounded... and WHOA BABY!!!! The tone was "THE" tone for me. It had my idiosyncratic "perfect" blend of warmth, thickness, depth, and clarity. When I plugged my bass into the PA and started playing, I just couldn't stop. The tone was awesome. I even decided to play around a bit with my 'Wick's onboard pre and I got some wonderful tones out of it (it has a stock MEC pre that I used to not like at all, but have now grown to like much more now thanks to this PA.)

    So now I wonder, have others around here found "the" tone in an unlikely place (i.e. through a non-bass amp)? And I wonder now how Carvin bass amps compare sonically to their PA systems, because man, my bass sounded great through my Carvin PA.

    I'm also starting to wonder how much I really need to lug a boatload of gear when I could just plug into a PA for great sound (assuming most PAs are similar in terms of sonic transparency.)

    (yes, I tried the search feature, but with little to no avail.)
  2. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    Certain axes sound better through certain amps. This is not new. I have a Fender Hotrod DeVille (100W/2-12") guitar amp. It's beefy enough that I would not harm it with a bass...especially not if I added a Hartke XL 410 extension cabinet (what I'd probably do if I decided to take it on a gig).

    Some of my basses just sound better through that amp. My 12-ver is one of them. Tube-y goodness. MMMM.
  3. Dincrest

    Dincrest Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    Yeah, I'm sure certain axes sound better through certain amps, but still this was kind of an epiphany for me that I found some amazing tone in an unlikely spot. (Heh, I'm still convinced that a Warwick can sound great through any amp, but a great sound may not necessarily be "my" sound.)

    I don't know, I think all of us in our quest for "the" tone that just makes our mojos do happy dances search high and low for it that when we do it's like "whoa!" especially when it's in a place we'd never thought to look.
  4. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    Enh. I love 'Wicks. Very "fullrange" instruments. I'm not that surprised that yours sounds better through a PA.

    Just think...now, all you need is your D.I., and you can leave the amp at home for gigs!
  5. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    I love playing bass through guitar amps. It's the business; ************************ anyone who says otherwise! :spit:
  6. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    Chris Squire does too. Entwistle did as well. If you don't KILL IT with lows, and totally abuse the speakers, it does no harm to the amp.
  7. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    I've been doing it for years now. I love it.
  8. Dincrest

    Dincrest Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    And obviously Lemmy runs his Ric through a Marshall stack and I believe Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick used guitar amps live too.

    You know, now that I think about it, it's not that surprising that bass players may use guitar (or keyboard) amps, or that some prefer to run direct into the PA.

    It's like I'm a kid with a new toy... only everyone else has had that toy forever so they think "yeah, so?"
  9. when I play my Ric in stereo I use a Kustom Quad head through a pair of Madison MAP 12 PA speakers for the neck pup and the bridge pup through my SWR Redhead....awesome sound
  10. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    At one particularly annoying gig the backline company didn't have a bass amp that was worth playing through (or functioned). I am always prepared for going direct with a good DI, but naturally the monitor wedges were horrible also!
    I ended up resorting to using an extra Fender Bassman guitar amp w/ 4x10 speakers.
    I know that this amp was originally designed for bass, but it's been regarded as a guitar amp for probably the last 30+ years.
    While it couldn't handle the low B, I actually got a great ballsy tone out of it at medium volume.
    The show still sucked, but I had fun trying to get tones out of the little combo!
  11. Dincrest

    Dincrest Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    Right? How's that for a holy grail? Tone for days without heavy lifting.

    I don't have a DI, though, so I'll have to save my pennies for one. I've heard lots of good things about the Tech 21 SansAmp BassDriver DI, but something in my mind keeps chanting "Sadowsky." So it looks like I'll be saving my pennies for the Sadowsky outboard pre/DI.
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Just to clarify: both of these men (Entwistle first) used stereo rigs comprised of both guitar and bass amps. They used bass amps for clean lows, and guitar amps for dirty mids and highs.

    But anyway, I agree with the main point. I've gotten killer tones from surprising sources: guitar amp/preamp, cheapo monitor head and cab. None of the "surprise" rigs I've found would've worked at a gig (not loud enough), but I enjoyed 'em just the same.
  13. my fender am delux jazz sounds awsome throught this little marshall dfx 250 guitar combo i have. so much so that when i got my pbj briefcase for christmas, i thought it actually didnt sound as good as the marshall (probably due to the larger drivers). but hey, you cant beat 28 lbs for portability!
  14. BbbyBld


    Oct 13, 2005
    Meridian, MS
    A lot of guitar amps put out a ridiculous amount of low end to make up for the lack of low end guitars have. Some guitar amps even go lower than some bass amps.

    I practice with a guitar amp because besides having a good tone, I like to use the reverb because it sounds purty :D
  15. richnota

    richnota Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz
    You say you plugged into a small PA and loved the sound? Im not sure of your current bass rig but it sounds like you may have discovered the joys of a full range speaker system.

    Those Accugroove and Bergantino cabinets everybody here raves about are essentially PA speakers optimized for bass. Its a lot different sound if you're used to a pair of 15s.

    It may be less about being a Carvin and more about having two or three way speakers.
  16. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Ampeg VT-22. Open Back 2x12, 100 Tube watts.

    What it really does is make me think that I want an all tube bass rig.:hyper: :bassist: :hyper:
  17. phreddy


    Mar 14, 2006
    colorado springs
    i get a good tone and some decent amount of volume out of a old 60 watt peavy keyboard amp (kb 60) that my guitarist found in a dumpster behind a school. this is for the moment my main amp for playing in my praise band until tax comes.
  18. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Exactly - what you're hearing is also described as the "flat" sound - a more even, full-range & less colored sound than most standard bass cabinets offer. The Accugrooves, Berg's, etc. are good examples of the few bass cabs on the market that offer this type of sound. You'll find the same tone if you plug into a pair of studio-reference monitors, good stage monitors, and most decent PA systems. All these systems are geared for reproducing a full-range & musical sounding output - not "colored" or enhanced/boosted in some areas of the frequency range to help a bass guitar cut through a mix, but to stay true to the essence of the original input - only at gig-volume. If anything, this will also give you a much better idea of what your bass' "true-voice" is, and what you can expect it to sound like when going straight to a recording console (before EQ, effects, etc.).
  19. Dincrest

    Dincrest Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    Thanks for the added insight richnota and Stingray69.

    The gig rig I used for a long time (and still have) is a Gallien-Krueger 400RB head through a Hartke VX115 cab. 180 watts at 8 ohms. Yeah, it's not fancy gear, but it was the best I could afford at the time.

    Other small combos I have are a GK Backline 110 (too harsh and trebley for bass, but sounds awesome with guitar) and an SWR Workingman's 12 (great sound, but not as pure as the PA.)

    I'm sure you're right about the full range speaker system and for me, the "flat" sound/ "true" voice of my bass is IMO the best, especially with its onboard pre bypassed.

    Thank you everyone for the replies, feedback, insight and all that. Man this is a great forum. I learn so much from more experienced bassists.

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