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How do you dial in your rig?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by neo 7, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. neo 7

    neo 7 The bass player doesn't get a sandwich Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    I've only played out a handful of times. I usually leave my EQ flat and slightly boost the low mids, and have had good results. Last weekend I played in this dude's livingroom and some notes on my A string sounded pretty bad (kind of like I was playing thru a guitar amp). I wasn't using my rig, but my guitarist's Acoustic (GC) 30 watt combo amp.I messed with the 4 band EQ a little bit but nothing helped. I didn't want to spend too much time trying to figure it out, because we didn't have much time and I didn't really know what I was doing.

    Can anyone give me some pointers?
  2. Can you give a little more info on what you mean by sounding like guitar? Do you mean quite thin and growly? If so you may want to cut some high mids.

    What kind of tone are you going for? Could you name some artists with a tone you like?
  3. TOOL460002


    Nov 4, 2004
    Santa Cruz
    Stupid question... but why don't you just bring your amp? You like the way it sounds. You don't like the way the little guitar amp sounds. Use yours. Problem solved.

    Or you keep turning knobs until you find a happy medium. If your ear says that your A string sounds bad, then fiddle with the knobs until it sounds good. I assume "like a guitar" to mean less punchy or too much treble.

    These are just guesses. As mentioned, there isn't a ton of info to go on here.
  4. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Maybe you should have messed some more, both with the amp's EQ and the tone/EQ knobs on your bass. Some amps, especially small ones with weak lows, may need a lot more radical EQ settings than you want to try if you're normally used to leaving everything more or less flat. Don't be afraid to turn the knobs as far as they can go.
  5. neo 7

    neo 7 The bass player doesn't get a sandwich Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    Thanks for the responses, but this isn't meant to be a "why didn't my guitarist's small combo amp sound good" thread. It's just that this experience made me realize that I don't know how to dial in a rig. I basically leave everything except the low mids flat and hope for the best. So far I've had decent results, but a time may come when the venue's acoustics play havoc with my tone and I'd like to be prepared.

    But anyway, the tone was nasal and harsh on the A string around the 7th and 9th fret. It sounded kind of like the speaker couldn't handle it, hence my guitar amp reference. The volume knob on the amp was at 12 o'clock, and an open E sounded good. Perhaps this is the limitations of a small, inexpensive amp, but again I'm just asking as someone who has never dialed in an amp before, and would like to know what's entailed should the situation arise.
  6. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I have a small combo amp that has a bit too much low mids making it sound kind of boxy, and it's not really possible to dial that out with just the EQ knobs on the amp. A parametric equalizer may be the solution, you find the ugly sounding spot and lower the volume in a narrow range around that frequency.
  7. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    it's kind of an involved process

    i start super generic, then i have the push pull bass boost, treble boost, and super hi boost push pull knobs, if that doesn't work i go to the regular eq, if that doesn't work i go to the many band graphic eq, if that doesnt' work i would just plug in the mammoth or geiger counter
  8. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    Fiddling with knobs to see what happens seems to work for me so far.
  9. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Sounds like there was a spike in that frequency range causing something in the amp to get pushed too hard. Frankly, that slight boost in your low mids could be the culprit here.

    Were you using an active bass? If so, there may have been a padded input on the amp that you could have tried. This is usually the rightmost input on a two input amp. Sometimes there's a single input with a pad switch. Even if your bass is passive, it may have especially hot pups, and so this could be worth trying anyway.

    Another thing you could try would be to try turning down the input gain and getting your volume from the master volume. The higher the input gain, the more signal the preamp is sending to the rest of the amp circuitry, including the EQ section. The idea that the signal level coming from every step in the circuitry affects how the next step will handle the signal is called "gain structure", and it's well worth experimenting with. IMHO, you can improve your tone more with changes in gain structure than you can with EQ in many cases.
  10. Comments like "Just use your own amp" ... well :rolleyes:

    It's not always possible to use your own amp, and the OP was already in such a situation and realises each room can sound different. Furthermore, the same room can sound different time-to-time.

    My regular Friday-night gig surprised me at how much the same room can sound different week-to-week and my thoughts were echoed by the guitarist (a veteran player, I'm but a neophyte) one night when our sound was particularly bad – same pub, same size of crowd, same instruments, same amp settings yet completely different sound from week-to-week. Atmospheric conditions may have applied, it gets pretty humid here.

    @ Agent77: How I'm learning the EQ curve — I read a lot of TB threads related to the topic and I make a mental note or even jot down info as I come across it in threads not specifically about EQ, which can come up in any of the other forums, not just amps. Nonetheless, as much as I've read about EQing techniques nothing beats cumulative experience while also applying ideas and theories of what you've read to that out-of-town gig's Behringer SVT-clone house amp. I've been gigging regularly several times per month for a few years now and I'm still trying to get the hang of EQ and occasionally flummoxed by poor sound no matter how I set the EQ.

    I like mpdd's suggestion of going from generic to specific. Deductive reasoning is a good way to go. I used to just randomly twiddle the knobs until it sounded good, but that's time consuming and I've gotten a bit better and faster at it with some experience. I'm still not even close to mastering EQ.

    Try showing up to practice 15 minutes early for the next little while or take an extra 15 minutes during each personal practice session to mess around with your EQ. Don't randomly twirl the knobs, though, have a plan. Look up low frequencies, say 40-200 Hz, read about rumble and feedback and then just play around with your bass freqs for those 15 minutes. Next practice, work on your lower mids; each week/practice work your way up the spectrum. By jove, I think I'll do this myself!

    While nothing can prepare you for those horrible moments where the feedback onstage is unbearable and the guitarist is screaming at you to "Do something about your @#$%^&* feedback" — *here's what I do:

    I tell the guitarist "Fight your own @#$%^&* feedback, my mute switch is on." :D

    *True Story, alas many times retold at different gigs/venues.
  11. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    Generally speaking I play a pretty boring a repetitive pattern - D-A-E strings walking down 3rd and 2nd fret then the same strings walking down 7th and 5th fret. I adjust a little and try again. I want to have an even volume as best I can. Then I try to ensure the bottom isn't too muddy and the top isn't too thin. Once I feel I'm somewhere close I'll play around a little bit. I don't play the G string a lot when dialing in tone. It seems that if I get the others well balanced that it'll be ok.

    If I'm dialing in a little OD I'll try to find the sweet spot without washover and without gank. To me OD is easiest to dial in if the source is somewhat independent such as a pedal with a blend knob or a second preamp in parallel to the chain. OD in the primary signal path such as the gain knob of a single amp with no effects takes a more talented knob tweaker than I to get it just right.
  12. I normally keep any rig I play through relatively flat. I use my bass, string selection, and my "hands" for most of my tone control. I really don't like over doing it with the eq. It may sound cool in your bedroom but once it goes through a pa your whole sound will get lost in the mix. With either boosting or cutting on your amp your "cutting" through the pa. So if you run you mids wide open for example you are also cutting lows and highs from your tone that's coming out of the pa.
  13. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I would not assume you can use the same EQ settings for the bedroom as for the PA.
  14. If you don't have great EQ controls on your amp there's not a great deal you can do. In this situation I'd pluck the D string with my right hand and twiddle knobs with the left until I located the offending frequency and dialled it out as best I could.

    As they say - you can't polish a t-rd.
  15. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY
    I generally start out with bass and treble flat then boost the mids. Then I adjust as necessary for the particular bass I'm using or the room I'm in.
  16. Bassis4me


    Jun 8, 2013
    agent77, I can relate to your dilemma. It seems that any time I have asked other musicians questions about this, the response has always been "turn the knobs, and if you don't like it, turn them back". The literature from the manufacturers is not much better. Through trial and error I have figured out that to get the sound I want from this instrument, the settings need to be like this, and for that instrument, they need to be something different. Still, when nothing seems to help I go back to flat and start over.
  17. DerTeufel


    Nov 11, 2011
    Wildomar, CA
    EQ on bass left flat, amp EQ set flat (or all knobs at noon). Adjust amp EQ for the room until desired tone is heard.