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Grand Piano Bass Tone With An ADA MB-1?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MusicalAlchemy, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Good day all! I have finally figured out the best way to describe the tone I want that I've heard in my head since I first started playing bass, and I'm hoping one of you can help me with my tone quest.

    I want the punch, clarity, and other tonal characteristics of a grand piano with the boom of a subwoofer. If that makes sense. Sort of a sharp, quick boom. Can someone give me some settings that will help me achieve this? I was told to try some D'dadario Pro Steels, which I should have by the end of this week. I have my MB-1 full output going into a Crown XLS 2500 which then bi-amps the signal into a 1X15 and a 4X10. I also have a G Major effects processor if that would be useful in the creation of this tone. I play a 6 string, so keep the low B in mind. Also, if you would be so kind, include what the best frequency would be to split the signal for the bi-amping. I eagerly await the collective wisdom of TalkBass. Thanks in advance.
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    If you browse over to the "Amps" forum you'll find that the 4x10 plus 1x15 combination is currently considered a bad idea, not scientifically sound, and a hindrance to good tone and volume. It's worth your time to look for those threads (there are many); you may find the Google TB search helps more than the regular search.

    You'll also find that bi-amping is generally considered a relic of the days when bass cabs were not capable of clean full-range output. Yes, many people still bi-amp, but the important thing to note is that those people have very specific reasons for doing so, that cannot (at least to their taste) be addressed by a modern full-range cab.

    One of the reasons to avoid this approach in your current case is that the 1x15 will probably have less low-end output than the 4x10. You heard that right. Most 1x15 cabs start to roll off the lows way up around 100 Hz, because their box was designed too small for the speaker to operate at its proper frequency range.

    The 1x15 will also have lower volume, as it has less speaker surface area than the 4x10 (setting aside sensitivity ratings for a moment). The best approach will be to use two identical cabs, either two 410's or two 115's, as this allows you to send equal amounts of power to both cabs and get equal amounts of volume from both cabs (again ignoring different sensitivities).

    Another approach would be one 3-way full-range cab such as the Carvin LS1503 or the fEarful. Be sure to search on "fearful" over in the amps forum.

    If you're on a tight budget, your best bet using the majority of your current gear would be to find a 115 or 410 that ideally compliments your other 115 or 410. For example if your 410 has great crisp highs, find one that has better low end. If your 115 has a poor-quality tweeter, find one that has a really good-quality tweeter... as well as finding one that is large enough to believably perform up to the claims of the speaker seller. Inquire in the Amps forum about which specific cabs, that you're considering, are likely to have good performance. Don't believe advertised speaker cab specs, they are mostly lies--even from "big name" brands!

    If one of your current cabs has exceptionally good low end on its own, and just lacks in the mids or highs, then another option (instead of another identical cab) would be to get a small cab that has no woofer, just a "top box" with like a 6" for the mids plus a tweeter. Or something similar. Then your bi-amping will actually be put to good use!
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Also, for "piano-like" tone, I agree with stainless steel strings, and I think the less you do to the signal, the better. A clean, undistorted, uneffected, full-range bass guitar signal, through a properly-setup full range speaker cab rig, will have amazing piano tone. IMO the problems people have getting that tone typically have to do with them messing with the signal too much, or using gear that inherently alters the tone too much.

    One exception: you might find some light compression helps bring out the harmonics of the steels.
  4. niels125


    Aug 11, 2011
    DR lowriders gave my bass a piano like tone in the higher registers
  5. trowaclown


    Feb 26, 2008
    The most piano-like tone I have heard and can share, are lighter gauge stainless steel strings with more overtones, TAPPED instead of picked/plucked. With a modern sounding pickup/preamp and a modern sounding head/cab.

    So that means a nice clean, perhaps even sterile sounding head like a Genz Benz Shuttle 3.0, with a full range cab like Bongomania mentioned.
  6. Thanks for all the information. I'll get to reading on those threads as well.
  7. Graphite neck bass with exposed core strings - no tubes or effects
  8. Go di too cabs and heads will alter
  9. Buxtehude


    Jan 5, 2011
    The DR Helborg strings have a very piano-like tone IMO
  10. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    Agreed. My Modulus Q5 has tapered core strings and has a piano tone.

    FWIW, I also have an MB-1, and it's the bass, not the pre that does it.
  11. Keithwah


    Jan 7, 2011
    Milwaukee WI
    This has been my sound for many many years. I recently stopped bi-amping when I went to full time 5 string. My 4X10's just kill with a non-biamp setting. But I have dropped my two 1x15 boxes from my 5 string rig set-up. If I could go back to playing 4 string (I do have a '66 Jazz that smokes), I really loved my biamp sound, but the low B just seems too blah in that mode.

    I agree you should drop the 1x15, but do go seek another 4x10 for bigger rooms. I stunned by how rich and full my 5 sounds through a single 4x10, and tossing another one on top is like.....having an 11 on my amp.

    The steel strings, no matter DR, D'A, Blue Steels or Rotos, sound very piano like. I boost my lows on the 5 band, scoop some mids, and push the highs a bit and it rocks. I run my rig much louder but have softened my right hand attack. The harmonics are out of this world on my 5's and my other 4's. Solid State for sure over an SVT type tube rig. Clean is where its at for that John Entwhistle type sound. And if you really want to sound like Mark "Level 42" King or Marcus Miller, do what I did. Buy a Line 6 pod (I use the rack mount version live and the bean shaped version for rehearsing at home) to put in front of your amp, and you can find that tone in a preset. You should get it with your MB-1, but I would start with a preset that has the tone controls completely flat, and add a little boost to the lower freq and the higher freq. What you do with the mid freqs is more taste, but I like the scooped Jazz sound for the extra top end bite and low end punch. Besides too many guitars floating around in that region.

    But INTP is right, it's in your bass and I would add your hands.
  12. James Judson

    James Judson

    Jul 16, 2009
    I love my Carvin LB-70 made from Koa because it has a very piano like tone no matter what amp it is plugged into. I love other basses as well for different reasons.

    The Bi-amp, mixing cabs, mixing speakers, 10's vs 15's etc is largely opinions (some based on experiences, some on spec sheets, some based on "I read it on the internet"). Case in point: I have a 1-15 cabinet that kicks ass on any one of my 6 4-10 cabs (can't say the same for my other 15 cabinets). Opinions are great and useful but they get stated as "fact" here on TB way to often.

    Good luck on your "tone" quest. A quest most of us are on 24/7. Its the reason I own 12 basses, 30 amps, and almost as many cabinets. I may be the king of mix and match. Never ending story. I wish sound men would join us in this quest, they rarely get past the rattle windows mode.

    Let us know what you come up with.
  13. domestique


    Sep 5, 2011
    If you want a piano sound.... Look into Dingwall basses
  14. Thanks for all the input. I certainly agree that it's the bass that gives the tone. The Pro Steels are definitly what I've been searching for. Albeit the bass I have isn't the top of the line ( A Rogue 6 string), these strings make it sound incredible. When I eventually purchase a new bass, it will certainly be a Quantum 6. I played one at Guitar Center and the tone and playability of that thing is definitly where my tone quest will lead me. Until I can acquire the extra funds though, I shall stick with my Rogue. As for the EQ on my MB-1, I only had to do some very minor tweaking to make it sound more like a piano. The final settings are as follows:

    Tube Input: 8 / Contour: 0 / Tube Master: 7.5 / S.S. Input 8 / Contour: 2 / Master 7 / Compression 6-1 / Lo: 3 / Lo Mid: 3 / Mid: -14 / Hi Mid: -12 / High: -6 / The crossover on the power amp is set at 125 Hz.

    This may seem odd but with this bass and these, it gives it the Piano Tone. As for cabinets, I've been thinking about building some Bill Ftizmaurice cabinets such as a T39 and DR250.
    Again, thanks for all the help and information.
  15. It should say, *with this bass and these strings
  16. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    IMO You can't get that tone from any effects box or processor. It's the result of fresh bright roundwound strings on a bass with an exceptionally solid and stiff neck. i.e graphite, steel reinforced necks, or certain uncommonly used stiff hardwoods.

    Effects boxes can only tailor tone by removing what you don't want from what you put in. The only thing it can really add is artificial. So if your bass does does not contain all the high end overtones of a piano string going into the box, they aren't coming out the other side.
  17. For a B string to be realistic you want to be in the PA and monitor yourself with the 4x10 without the 1x15. You will get the sub frequencies from the PA.

    If there isn't PA then you want a real big sub in place of the 1x15.
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Don't think I agree about effects only taking away, bro. If you use them in the right contexts, they can totally add. Modern effects all have good bypass for the most part, so chaining them up isn't as much of as an issue as it used to be with cutting down on tone. The secret to effects is picking your moments.

    There are a lot of bassists who get piano like tone in a number of ways. Could be a 3 way cab that sounds like running through a good PA, could be taking a bass amp and guitar amp with the lows rolled off and the treble boosted, could just use a regular old bass cab and turn up the tweeter a little more than usual ;) But the strings have to be pretty new to achieve it, no matter what you do. Once they start to go dead, you lose that brilliance and you get less piano tone.
  19. squarewave

    squarewave Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Iowa City, Iowa USA

    Just kidding.
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    With a couple extra words and a little punctuation, this might make sense.

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