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How long until you know a bass' sound?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Michael Jewels, Jun 12, 2003.

  1. Right away - less than an hour

    7 vote(s)
  2. Between 1 and 10 hours

    6 vote(s)
  3. Between 11 and 50 hours

    7 vote(s)
  4. Other - give explanation

    5 vote(s)
  1. Using hours of playing as our reference, how long would you say you have to play a particular bass before you can say with some authority that you know what such and such a bass sounds like?

    I really don't know, but, I thought this would be a good topic for discussion.

  2. I voted #2 Between 1 and 10 hours.

    I would have voted for #1, but, I think by 10 hours the impression a bass leaves with you is the one that will stick for good.

  3. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    After a couple of rehersals and gigs, and through a couple of different rigs. Basses sound different when played in an ensemble setting vs alone, different rooms have different acoustics, etc.
  4. xparis001

    xparis001 Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Worcester, ma
    Product Manager, Akai Professional
    i agree with the different settings mention. i have 2 basses currently, a stingray 5 and my heavily modded mij 60's reissue p-bass from the 80s. i thought the stingray sounded better, then I listened to them both at rehearsal. the stingray got lost in the mix and had a far less pleasing tone in that setting. sitting at home playing them both, I think just about anyone would say the ray sounds better.

    btw, the specs on my mij pbass:

    alder body, sunburst finish
    added a bartolini passive p pickup
    added a seymour duncan j pickup
    added a moses j-bass neck
    added a 50s gold anodized piuckguard

    ok, now I wouldnt reccomend anyone mixing these two pickups. the barts have a much hotter output, and drown out the SD. a compressor helps somewhat. the graphite neck gives the highs and mids a piano-like, somewhat glassy metallic sound to them. if youve ever thrown a rock against a water tower, you'll get the idea. the anodized pickguard is for functions sake more than fashion. I tend to break plastic pickguards.

    also, I use the original bridge. the stock fender ridges just seem more open to me, soundwise. I cured the random spring rattling with some nice duct tape. how funny is that?
  5. 11-50 hours. That's several rehearsals and a couple of gigs, with different rooms and potentially different rigs.

    You might not know ALL of the nuances of the potential sounds in that period of time(I agree with Josh on that point), but one should have a sense of its main vibe(s).
  6. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    I thought I knew the sounds of my main basses after about 20-30 hours, but after I heard a couple of 'em on tape, I've decided that's the only way you can REALLY know how they sound. I've also decided I use too much bass EQ.
  7. old_skool


    Aug 17, 2000
    Milwaukee, WI
    Ive only been playing three years and I am continually suprised at the tones that are possible with my deluxe Jazz fiver. With an active eq and two pups to balance between 'the tone' is always a turn away.

    That being said, If I hear a classic P tone, Ill know its a P. A Thumb bass is usually pretty destinct aswell. Thats about the range of my current vocabulary though.
  8. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Less than an hour for me. I look for a bass with a strong sound right off the bat. I'm not fond of a bass that doesn't hit me right off. I don't look for a bass that has a really neat sound after you fiddle with it for a couple hours, play it through a bunch of cabs, and then slap on a different set of strings. It's gotta sound good from first pluck. If it's good, but doens't sit so well in a live mix, well, that's not an issue for me. I have enough amplification to BE the mix, so that's not a problem.

    If I ever have to gauge whether or not I'm going to keep a bass based on the strings I use, I'm just not that interested in the bass to begin with.
  9. stuie86


    May 9, 2003
    mckinney, tx
    i wounldn't say theres a time.... really its just a feel you get
  10. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    It looks like I'm the only one to vote for less than 1 hour so far. When I pick up a bass, I can play it for 10 minutes and tell if it's going to work for me or not. Either it has the feel and tone I like or it doesn't. When I buy a bass the first thing I do is put new strings on it. After getting them all stretched out and grooving for a while I can tell if it's worth keeping or goes back to the store. If I don't like how a bass sounds after playing it for a half hour at the absolute most it goes back. I think first impressions are very important.


    Haha, it looks like I took too long writing my reply.
  11. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I voted other, there are a ton of variables some were mentioned here already. Accoustics, rigs, strings, mixing, live vs. recordings, etc. Each manufacturer has a distinctive tone. I like Ricks and Warwicks for the sound and playability. With my setup, strings, and electronic configuration I can develop all sorts of sounds from those basses. I think overall tone and playabilty is equally important. It's all about application, what are you using it for. When I try a new bass I play it as clean as possible to get the overall tone then see how comfortable it is to play. I am looking for a 5 string, I have been looking for 3 months, exploring all my options. Maybe it's just me but it take me time to find the right instrument.
  12. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    It depends on how long it takes you to plug straight into an amp and a clean sounding cabinet before you hear your bass. If you play through heads and other eq-ing it will take longer. A good example was the recording statement. So many times I’ve had customers come in and plug into a Crest LT amp and into an Epifani or Bergantino and their mouths drop open. Statement that usually follows is “that is the tone I got in the studio”. This happens with basses at the shop their checking out and even their own basses they bring in. It funny how often they find a new love for the bass they own. Their problem was their rig they had bought. It was unnatural and they thought because of the name on rig it was what they needed never stripping everything down to see what works best for them.

    Anyway, I think the time it takes to have a clear understanding depends on the person. Some people know what their bass or the bass they are trying out sounds like in a few minutes and others it takes hours. It really depends on what your looking for and how focus you are on what you’re wanting to find in the tone.

    Thats my opinion
  13. To get to know, what its basic sound is ~4 hours, but to get to know every single detail of the sound a year
  14. 10-50 or maybe more..just has been said if a bass has got a lot of variable tone it could be longer than as was pointed out a single coil single pup bass with no tone alterations..
    i was interested about the comment made on the MM and jazz sounds..
    i have my bass..a manson..in a music shop for sale and when i went in to have a chat i heard this really cool sound going throught a riff...it was the assistant using my bass...i didnt recognise it and i have had it 8 years..
  15. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I think it all really depends...

    Initial impressions are really what sell me on a bass.. if It sounds good as soon as I start playing.. then I like it.. It may not however be the sound I am going for... And finding that, takes time for me.. after I figure out the sound I want from that bass.. Then I have to change the eq a bit just about Every time I play someplace new...
  16. I have to say the Ray, the P and the J are all instantly recognisable.

    I love all those sounds. Im now after something that matches those sounds in quality and is still a traditional shape bass.