How do YOU EQ your amp when using pedals?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by father of fires, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    The title might seem weird but I feel a missing piece of the puzzle when people talk about their pedals and the sound they get is how they are EQing their amp. How your amp (and cab) sounds is a HUGE part of how a pedal sounds to you along with what bass, strings, tuning, etc. you're using.

    I find that I disagree with a large portion of pedal users because my amp sounds one way and their amp sounds another.

    So, I'll start:

    I use a G&L SB-1 tuned to either C Standard or Drop A# into a Hartke HA-5500 into a Mesa Powerhouse 2x15 with the Tube and SS preamp knobs at noon. This give me a blend between classic Fender tubey mid scoop and flat SS gain. Then I boost the low contour control to about 3 o'clock. This gives me a slight mid scoop around 600Hz and 200-ishHz shelving low end boost. This makes for a nice and thick clean tone. When using most dirt pedals I find I need to cut some mids around 1kHz in the graphic EQ to keep the tone from being too harsh. When some pedals are too dark I may also boost some 2kHz to get that rock bite that helps cut through.

    My current main pedals are DOD Boneshaker, Mesa Boogie Bottle Rocket, or a Way Huge Green Rhino.

    Warning!!! The following paragraph is off topic but it is partly the inspiration for this thread: I tried for a long time to find pedals that worked well with a flat amp but they are few and far between. Being bassists, it's sometimes a struggle to get YOUR tone live because you're often using someone else's gear or fight with the F.O.H. to be mic'd. After some eye opening sessions in a studio where I was able to get a working tone with or without MY gear, I recently decided to start exploring my amp's EQ more and not worry about how to get MY sound in a club. I'll trust the engineers to do their job.

    Thanks for reading. Now you go!
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  2. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    If you want a cab sound into the PA you might want to look at a speaker emulator or DI with speaker emulation. E.g. bass->FX->DI, 1/4 inch unemulated parallel out to amp, emulated XLR to FOH, or bass->FX->emulator->DI->FOH and a split after the FX->amp. Or even bass->FX->amp then send of amp's send/return loop->emulator->FOH. Or... if the amp is flat on stage then bass->FX->emulator->amp and use the pre-eq DI on the amp to FOH as usual.
  3. When I run my amp, Gk MB500 into a 1x15" Walter Box loaded with a Pv BlackWidow 1508-8, with a clean clear sound without much color or texture.
    My sound is a product of my bass, 1982 Carvin LB50 Koa into my pedal board and i use either a Zoom B2 or B2.1u as the anchor for Bassman modelling with a touch of room 'verb.
    Not all of my playing situations use an amp sometimes I go direct and we monitor thru stage monitors or iem.
    I do have a situation coming up where dual amps will be used the second amp will be a GK MLS 100 watt guitar head into a 2x12" loaded with a pair of Eminence speakers mainly for dirt and grind. That board will consist of several distortions in a blended loop into a Zoom MS60b for mod, reverb and delay effects.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  4. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    My effects board consists of digital presets, with a Hartke Bass Attack (retired my little Behringer BDI!) in my LH 500 effects loop.

    They are unchanged.

    I tune my amp to the room and use a Hydrive 15" and a Hartke 2.5 cabinet.

    If I'm required to go FOH, I mic the 15" speaker.
    T.Dias likes this.
  5. Orion1985

    Orion1985 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2010
    Grass Valley, CA
    I've recently begun using a pedal board rather than a multi effects processor. Here's what I do: I have my amp set flat. I run my bass flat into a 10-band EQ and do most of my EQing there. After that I run into a compressor and then into my remaining effects and EQ them using their own tone adjustments.

    My philosophy for doing it this way is that I get to listen to the pedals without them being colored by an EQ after them. But even thinking about it right now I could see an advantage to using the amp's EQ in order to EQ for the room. But I think a guiding principle might be to shape your tone as few times as possible. If you are using an EQ it a certain stage you should have a reason for it. I've seen guys set a specific EQ on their bass, then use several always-on tone shaping pedals and then EQ their amp. It's my opinion that it's better to get a full tone from your bass and then gently EQ it to enhance the frequencies you're after.

    I'm not saying this is the best way to do it or that I am right in someway, I'm only sharing what I do and why I do it.
    Vlad5 likes this.
  6. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    An EQ just cuts or boosts the gain in a particular frequency. Really what you need is to ensure that no frequencies have particular big peaks and a multi-band limiter at the end of the chain such that you can ensure that mainly the low end doesn't get above a certain level and peaks caused to resonant filters likewise. But you probably don't want to limit across the whole spectrum as the first port of call is likely to be ensuring things don't get boomy. I'm not aware of any multi-band limiters, but two band compressors are common enough.
  7. sprag


    Sep 15, 2011
    Melb Australia
    I usually run clean and add pedal effects here and there through guitar solo's etc the odd song requires effects all the way through but 70% of the time I'm playing clean. So I get a good clean tone and work from there. If I was using fuzz most of the time I would get that sound perfect and adjust everything else to fit that.

    I generally run my amp fairly flat and adjust a little for the stage/room i kick each or my effects on to make sure they all work and aren't ridiculously out volume wise by then the sound guy usually wants me to shut up cos he's spent 15 minutes getting a tough sounding kick drum and needs to get the bass, guitar and vocals done in the remaining 5 minutes

    If that bottle rocket isn't working for you I'll give it a good home :D
  8. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    I use presets on a VT Bass Deluxe for two or three core EQ tones. I normally leave the amp flat and then tune to the room as needed on the gig.
    anavar, -Asdfgh-, hintz and 1 other person like this.
  9. blizward


    Feb 21, 2013
    Rennes - France
    I make a point at using my amp FLAT. In fact, it's what I'm looking for when I'm buying gear. If I have to adjust the EQ to get my basic sound going, then goodbye amp.
    I use an Acoustic Image head which isn't made to color the sound. The onboard EQ is here to tune to different situations and this is how I use it.
    I add pedals when I want color but I usually still prefer them when they don't add too much color and I can hear my base sound coming through. I'm not talking about blend here but just that the whole frequency balance is respected. I don't need rumbling basses or slap sparkle highs though and I'm no pro either.
    I use lots of pedals on bass but I learnt to play clean, straight to amp and rely on my hands to get the sound. I used to play double bass and I loved when I couldn't tell the amp was on. Base sound, just louder.
    For color, it's easier to swap pedals than amp heads or basses.
    Dexter_Bass likes this.
  10. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I EQ my amp to sound awesome without any external help, then I use my pedals to do things I can't do with that tone.
    Vlad5, Matt Dean and dinoadventures like this.
  11. My thing is to give as much signal as possible to the soundguys/recording engineer and let them worry more about EQ. That way they have more options to work with. I run my stingray flat, the EQ on the tc flashback is flat, the sans amp RBI has mids boosted slightly to get it back to a flatter tone because it has some mid loss.

    In the studio we EQ the bass after the fact using plugins And even then we don't really mess with the mids. It's more like using EQ as a hpf and LPF to cut out unwanted highs and lows. So dirt based effects like the drive from my sans amp or the fuzz from the big muff aren't too harsh and to tighten up the low end so we can get the bass louder in the mix without farting out car speakers.

    I'm not really into the idea that tone is an EQ setting though. Gain compression, presence, quality of the gear. Freshness of the strings, and the player are all more important to me than EQ.
  12. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    *If* I get to even use my amp in a gig I ran it mostly flat and get most of tone from a preamp/DI pedal, so when I had the DG B7K id use that with the tone I like as most soundguys IME would rather run through that than the back of an amp(though not always)! So when I ran the B7K through my GK800RB id cut the bass big time and keep low-mids flat(10:00) on the GK as the 100hz bass knob on the 7K sounds better to me than the 60hz on the GK and the B7K doesn't have true low-mids!! Im currently awaiting the VMT deluxe for a warmer tone as I discovered the treble to be a bit much with my fEARful cab!!

    This setup works great for me considering most clubs here have full backlines with bass amps of varying quality, so this way I can at least get close to *my sound*!! I also use a SA peq right after my tuner to ensure my 3 basses all give close to the same output/tone to my empress compressor, so really I'm running through 3 different EQ's before my signal is heard!
  13. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    A biggers issue for me than EQ'ing my amp for pedals was getting cabs that worked well and didn't have tweeters. Different strokes and all but I can't stand distortion and especially fuzz through tweeters.

    As for EQ'ing my amp (Baer Valkyrie) I generally have a slight bump to the Deep knob (45 Hz) and usually a slight cut at 250 Hz. If I'm doing more rock oriented stuff I'll kick in the bright switch for a bit more clank when playing fingerstyle and a bit more presence when using a pick. That's about it.

    I try to keep my amp EQ changes relatively minor so that it's easy to EQ for the room at my amp and then I can make subtle changes to the tone with my right hand attack, pickup blend and onboard preamp.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  14. Teijo K.

    Teijo K. Commercial User

    Sep 8, 2014
    Jyväskylä, Finland
    Endorsing Artist: CCP
    I use my pedalboard for the bass sound, and use the amp eq to solve all the problems the room might have. If the room is good, I leave the amp eq flat.
  15. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    I'm going to the studio again tonight and I didn't even bring a pedal. It's actually quite freeing not obsessing over "MY" sound. This is a new project and nothing is set in stone so I'm gonna go in with an open mind.

    The last session, I just played my Green Rhino into the board and we low passed around 5kHz. I asked for an amp model so I could massage my mids but I didn't need to.

    So maybe at my next gig I might bump the mids up a little on my stage rig but it was comforting realizing that even if the sound guy took a DI before the amp that the sound hitting the PA was usable (as long as he keeps me out of the HF horns).
  16. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    For me the ideal recording option is bass->something to make it sound good->headphones along with bass->uncoloured DI->recorder. Then, as you say, adjust after the fact. If you are using specific effects for recording that would mean you would play differently then you need to hear those too, but stick them on their own track as a guide. If the effect is unique and can't be replicated with plugins you might end up going with that effected track after all, but at least you can tweak or reamp.
  17. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
    This is what I do...
  18. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I use my pedals as accents, so I start with my clean tone and make the pedals work around that. So far I haven't used back lines very often, mostly because I don't trust them. I'm playing a show tonight that has a back line that is the same brand as what I usually use, so I'm OK with that. At my last show the Ampeg back line sounded like butt for the bands before mine, so I was glad I brought my rig.
    I also can't count on the PA guy, if there is one, what it sounds like out in the audience because I can't hear that, or monitoring (if there are monitors). My rig is basically my monitor, and is often the PA. I need to be able to hear myself so I can play well, and then just hope the audience is getting something that doesn't sound like $#!&.
  19. T.Dias


    Oct 23, 2015
    Hey, tfer, I've got a doubt about the hartke vxl. Could you help me? It is known for its kind of mid scooped sound but what happens if i reduce the treble and the bass in this magic box? Is it possible to get some kind of mid boost with it?
  20. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    I use the Shape control to adjust the mids. It's a sweepable notch filter that you rotate to find the tone you want. All the way counter clockwise wipe out the lowest bass, and all the way clockwise will knock out the highs. I keep mine about 2:00 and if I need more mids, I just use the mid boost on my bass.

    But, I like a CLEAN bass tone with a big, fat, bottom end. Low mids are where I live.
    T.Dias likes this.
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