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How do you know which EQ band to adjust?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Skel, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Hi all,

    Sorry if this thread sounds stupid, but.... I am currently using an Ampeg B2R head, and will be moving up quite a bit to an SVT-4 PRO in about a week. For now I'm using one SVT-410HLF cabinet and a MIM Fender Precision. I have this problem where some notes are quite a bit louder than other notes. I have read some threads, and first, I know that once I get the SVT-4 PRO with the compressor (which I don't have on the B2R) that this will help *some*. No matter which head, I start out now by setting the EQ flat. I never know which frequency band or bands to start messing with in order to compensate for the notes that are not as loud as the others. Is this a mathematical issue, where you need to determine the frequencies of the notes you need to adjust, or do most players just start sliding bands up and down until they hear when they have hit the right band to adjust? I was thinking that if there were some kind of published chart that you could refer to in order to know which band you need to adjust for the corresponding strings / fret positions - it would seem to make things more accurate.

    On my B2R, I set the 3 band EQ to - treble and bass up to a around 3/4ths of being full on, and the mid to a little less than have way from full on. The guitar's volume and tone are cranked. With these settings, and the 9 band EQ just flat, I get the following:

    If I play an "E" on the "A" string, seventh fret, it is much louder than the open "E" on the "E" string, an octave lower. In addition, the "E" on the "D" string, 2nd fret is not nearly as loud as the "E" on the "A" string, 7th fret, and the "A" on the "G" string, 2nd fret is not as loud as the "A" on the "D" string, 7th fret.

    I read in another thread (and if I understood correctly) that for every freq band you increase, you need to lower another freq band to keep the EQ balanced.

    Do I need to just sit down and start hitting sliders until I just begin to learn which sliders have an impact on which note? It's not that I'm lazy, I just thought I would ask because maybe some of you have a good system or a pointer to a web page that has some good information (or again, something like a chart) that I could use to do this the smartest way I can. Once I get all the notes sounding pretty equal in volume, of course I will write the settings down, so as to have at least a starting point, realizing that different rooms will yield different results.

    Last, is there also some kind of "rule of thumb" way of getting yourself someplace near the right volume you need to be at? I am looking for info as to whether people have natural tendencies (like to always be too loud, or not loud enough, etc.) when they are simply standing next to the amp, running through a few songs, and going by what they hear. I heard something once about checking to see if you are about as loud as one of the drums, for example. I realize that it would be very helpful to have someone else play while you stand out and listen (for volume and EQ, of course), but my band is just starting to play out, and since we are 3 piece, I don't think I will be able to really hear my band with somebody else sitting in on bass. The idea of having a wireless unit (or very long cable) in order to be able to go out yourself sounds pretty much a necessity - but is getting a wireless unit expensive, and is it normally used just for the sound check, and then you switch to a regular high quality instrument cable - as in you get an "el cheapo" wireless unit just for the sound check, or is it better to buy a high quality unit and use it all the time. I also assume that if a bar is empty and later starts to fill up with people, an experienced player would know, for example, that they would need to turn up a little (or down a little?) to compensate for these acoustical changes in the room?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  2. EQ may not solve your problem. The A string E could be louder because it has an especially strong partial that resonates with something in your rig. In that case, trying a cut to each EQ slider in turn may fix the problem. You can't really zero in on a specific note, but if your rig (or the room) has a funny resonance, then you can often compensate for that by dropping one of the EQ bands. The other possibility is that, for whatever reason, your bass is louder there. Pickup height could have something to do with this. It sounds to me like boosting the bass could be causing your volume troubles, if notes played higher up the neck are louder. Try putting the bass and highs right in the middle, and boosting the mids a bit past that. That may even out your sound a little.
  3. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    A good way to find the problem frequency that needs to be made quieter is to use the EQ control and try to make the offending sound WORSE. Sweep the mid around with it in boost instead of cut or with a graphic just go from one band to the next boosting it about 6db or so listening for the change in sound. Once you find the one that's bothing you try going in the other direction with the control. Then when you're on it, try adjusting the bands next to the bad one just a little bit too and then bring up the offending one slightly, that usually sounds better than one big cut.
  4. I agree with what has been posted with respect to eq. EQ wont fix the uneven volume of your bass.

    Now for stage volume clues. I bought the inexpensive Samson Airline wireless for doing soundcheck around the room with the intention of disconnecting when the set started. I found that the tone degredation was inaudible at club show volume so I leave it in the chain. What I found and backed up with some research is that your tone on stage should be a little harsher and tinnier than you might expect in order to yeild a good tone FOH. This has to do with wavelenghts of course. The bass will be full out front and the mids and highs will match.

    Also I try to play with the drummer and get a bass volume that blends well with the kick drum. I try to get a solid thump on the downbeat of one such that you can't make out kick drum or bass per se but just a pulse.

    Maybe this helps you, or maybe just me.

  5. First, I want to say that I think this is a fantastic post, the thread doesn't sound stupid at all. I'm no EQ expert and find myself searching all the time, so threads like this really help all of us.

    Second, I want to ask what type of bass you are playing and that it is properly set up. I recently bought a used OLP 5 string and it had notes that jumped out all over the place. A new set of strings and a professional set up really did the trick. I also brought some tools to rehearsals and fine tuned it myself, mainly adjusting the string height from the pick up by 1/8 turns, just ever so slightly.

    Third, I played a show where the headlining band wanted me to use his bass amp. I don't recall the specific model but it was an Ampeg with 3 band EQ (with 5 position mids) and a 9 band graphic EQ. He told me to do whatever I wanted with the gain, 3 band EQ and master volume but to not touch the 9 band graphic because he had "set it up for the room". They had a good hour long sound check so I got the feeling the guy really knew what he was doing and it sounded like it.

    Last, the manual that came with my SWR SM900 is great. It describes the EQ and it's use in great detail but in a basic form. Go to http://www.swrsound.com/products/proseries/sm900.html download the PDF Owner's Manual and go to page 7 - Tone Controls And Equalization: A Basic Primer. Some really great info there. Here is a quote: "the ability to correct “dead” and “hot” spots that may be inherent in your instrument, poor room acoustics, and can bring life to old strings, correct peaks or dips in speaker systems, and best of all, bring out the sonic qualities of your instrument and YOUR playing technique".

    Hope all that helps, and good luck. Please let us know how it's going and what you've found.
  6. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    I have to admit I'm a little surprised the EQ won't correct this problem. It must be something with my amp/cabinet, because even though I have, in the past, been playing my MIM Fender Precision, I was using my MM Stingray last night, and it was basically doing the same thing in the same places -especially the "E" on the 7th fret, "A" string, but the "D" and "G" string notes were better. We always record our practices, and then I normally listen back to 8 or 9 songs afterwards. Sure enough, I noticed the same problem, only I felt like it was even more pronounced, probably because (ironically) of the super high quality of the instrument. I will say that I think the Stingray desparately needs new strings ( I just got it, but I think it had been at GC for a long time, maybe even bought once and returned -), and the precision wouldn't hurt by having a new set either. And if I can find somebody who knows what they are doing, I would gladly have a professional set up done on both. I'm sure everybody knows how frustrating it can be to find somebody who really knows what they are doing, and that you *trust*.

    I think at this point, the best thing to do is to read the manual Big Benner pointed me to, put new strings on both basses, do my couple of gigs this weekend with the precision, and then when the SVT-4 arrives, I can hope the compressor will help, and simply spend the time that I can now see is required to get the best possible result (and also spend the time hunting down a good guitar set up person). Seems like this is no different than most things - the more time you put into it, the better results you'll get back out of it - and it *is* seeming like being good with an EQ is a developed skill that takes lots of experimentation and practice. I would think that if I sit there with those sliders long enough, I will start to get familiar with where I need to be on the EQ to at least help with this type of issue. I do like the approach of "cutting" the loud spots, rather than trying to "boost" the "not as loud" spots.

    It is good to know that I'm not alone here. Thanks all for the input - it is definitely helpful.

  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    This could be due to the bass, it could be due to your amp rig, it could even be due to the ambient acoustic environment.

    Note: EQ can worsen this problem as well as lessen it. Dave has an excellent idea: try to make the problem worse, that should tell you how to make it better.

    Really, that's a very good idea. Start with your amp completely flat: that also means disengaging the various tone contour switches such as Ultra-Lo and Bright. Then crank each tone control one at a time so you can hear what it does (that is, which frequencies it boosts). Knowing what the boosts sound like will help you know which frequencies to cut when you have to deal with "wolf tones" (overly-loud notes). Don't overdo the volume when you experiment with tone... that'll cause your ears to fatigue.

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