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How can I get that warm, retro thump?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by guitardefector, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. Hello TB community. I've been trying to dial in that late 60s, early 70s retro "pop" sound on my Acoustic B200 with no success. It's that Carpenters, perhaps Carole King or Seals & Crofts, warm, bee-hum thump sound. There's an element of Joe Osborn and Lee Sklar in it. I've been playing around for awhile with the controls and, for the life of me, just can't dial it in, even though I have a nice Fender Jazz with flats.

    Am I missing something, like a compressor or envelope filter? Is the gain too high? All comments greatly appreciated. Merry Xmas to all. :help:
  2. burnunit

    burnunit obsolete

    Nov 17, 2007
    Charlotte, NC
    I guess most folks here would say a P is better for that sound. You might try soloing the neck pickup on your J or putting them in series if you have an S1 switch or equivalent. EQ with bass and mids boosted and highs cut. You also might try to vary your attack - pluck more to the side of your fingers (closer to the neck) than straight ahead. JMO.
  3. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Try experimenting with string dampening. Carol Kaye uses a strip of felt weaved in between the strings just in front of the bridge saddles and James Jamerson used a piece of foam under the strings of his infamous P bass.

    Also, different brands of flats have very different tonal qualities so you might experiment with different brands like LaBella, D'Addario Chromes, Thomastik Jazz Flats, and Rotosound Flats. I'm a Thomastik fan myself.

    Another suggestion would be to try a higher value tone capacitor in your jazz bass. The higher the value, the more high frequencies will be rolled off when you turn down the tone knob (generally speaking). Most basses come with a .047uf (microfarad) capacitor but I really like the sound of a .1uf capacitor.

    But besides small things like string dampening, capacitors and different string brands, you're faced with a universal problem: new gear doesn't sound like old gear. Add to this the fact that most of your tone references are studio recordings where the tone is largely influenced by the recording gear of the day like analog recording consoles, compressors, and equalizers, each with their own assortment of tubes and transformers, to say nothing of the sonic effects of recording on tape.

    There's no reason you can't get "in the ballpark" with modern equipment, just be realistic about your expectations...and then go buy an old Ampeg B-15. =)
  4. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    Great suggestions so far. I would first mess with the EQ - dial back the treble a good deal, boost the mids a hair. Also, most old bass lines had a good deal of grit to them too since players had to crank their levels just to hear themselves.
  5. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    I have a Fender Jazz and I have never EVER been able to get that sound you described. I tried all sorts of strings (mostly flats), I've tried EQ and amp sims. I even have an ampeg svt classic and that didn't even help. After a few years of just dealing with the sound, I bought a Fender Precision (American standard) and put some La Bella flats on it and BOOM! There was the sound. What made it even more convincing (and more studio quality) was adding a Fender TB-1200 amp with its vintage tube preamp running into a full range cabinet (fEARful). I now have the exact sound you describe (and I can change to other classic sounds as well). I can get all those warm 60's and 70's tones with a nice thump attack that you hear in almost every hit from that era. What I did add recently to make it even more studio quality is an Empress bass compressor. This really helps with balancing the volume between the low and high notes. It's generally a vintage compressor (like the big tube compressors from the 60's) in a nice compact light-weight pedal. I wouldn't give up this sound for anything. I get compliments from other bass players all the time.
  6. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    A P, Flats and a old tube head. One of my favorites for this is a Ampeg B-25B. A Ampeg B-15N is the classic for this sound but the B-25B can be had for much much less.
  7. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    THe J and flats is fined. Avalon U5 to the board. The acoustic is a monitor. If you can hear yourself call it good. Seriously. I have some pretty decent stuff to play through. Most times I carry the bare minimum, plus the Avalon. I trust it to put me across out front.

    Obsessing about stage tone is a waste of time IMO. YMMV of course...
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    You might want to check out this 10 band bass e.q. pedal.

    Also, look into some active pickups/preamps with more tone controls. Possibly adding a P pickup may get you there.

    Maybe someone in the Pickup forum can help.

    You might want to ask JohnK_10 about this.

    Edit: I checked out the eq. specs on your amp: The B200 also includes a frequency sweepable -10dB notch filter to tailor your mids, and a six-band EQ for exact control over every nuance of your bass's tone.Rear panel features include a parallel effects loop...

    Are you testing your rig in your room or at a rehearsal/gig?

    Seems to me that with your sweepable mids and six band eq. built in, you have the tone controls to pretty much get what you want.

    Using old, dead flatwounds, light foam muting and your amp tone controls should be able to do something close. Try running the base full up (volume and tone) and cutting the bass/treble, upping the mids at rehearsal/gig. Also, try using each pickup separately and adjusting the volume.

    You might want to get a long cord or go wireless so you can go FOH and give a listen and adjust from there. Also make some recordings and see how it goes.

    Also, at your gigs, I suggest you tilt your combo back or get it up to ear level so you can hear it better. Better yet, get a second cab and move some more air with your "stack".
  9. TimmyP


    Nov 4, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    The old Fenders had a string-dampening piece of foam on the underside of the bridge cover - pretty dense foam, too.

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