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How Many EQs Are Too Much?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Michael Jewels, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. Hello, everyone.

    Here's a short story, and then a couple of questions.

    I play through a Hughes & Kettner combo amp that has a pretty responsive EQ in it.

    For the last 5 years or so, I've had my Boss ME-50B multi-effects unit sitting on top of the amp, but all I really use is the tuner on it. As you all know, the ME-50B also has its own EQ section.

    Lately, I've pulled the ME-50B out of the loop, and have been playing my basses directly into the amp after tuning, and I think all my basses sound better.

    Question 1:
    If the EQ on the ME-50B is flat it shouldn't make a difference to the overall tone, should it?

    Question 2:
    Do too many EQs in a signal path color or detract from an instruments tone?

    A typical set up is: Stingray, with its own EQ > Boss unit with another EQ > the amp with another EQ.

    When I play my Jazz bass on passive straight into the amp, I like this tone best.

    Any thoughts and comments appreciated.

    Mike ;)
  2. sketch


    Oct 16, 2013
    Tacoma, WA, USA
    #1- the flat EQ is also affected by the buffer, the circuit your bass signal goes through even when the effect is "off".

    -#2 yes, in my opinion, several EQ or preamp pedals veery noticeably color and obviously change your bass tone.

    Personally, I prefer using either a pedal (or active bass preamp) EQ, and leaving the amp flat. Or, passive bass with no EQ nor preamp pedals and just the amp EQ. Simplest and, for me, clearest sound.
  3. The equalization doesn't matter. It's the fact that you're chaining gain stages that matters. That decreases headroom and raises the noisefloor.
  4. Keep talking, guys; I'm learning already. :hyper:

    I knew my basses sounded different just by taking the ME-50B out of the path!

    I'll tell you something else, although I may be hunted down and burned at the stake for saying this:

    I have a custom Jazz bass, that has Sadowsky pups, and the Sadowsky vintage tone circuit in it, and I like the sound of the bass better when the VTC is defeated. :eek: :bag:

    Mike :D
  5. russpurdy


    Apr 16, 2013
    "Flat" doesn't always mean flat. Every EQ has it's own voice. Some are more neutral than others.
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    In general, more than one but even that can be too much if you do not know how to use it properly. I once saw a guy with 2 eqs. He had the top one set so that it looked like a bell. The lows were cut but each frequency was boosted slightly higher than the previous one until he got to the middle and then it went down hill on the other side so that each high frequency was cut slightly lower then the previous one. The second eq was set up exactly the opposite. It had the highs and lows boosted with the midswere cut and looked like an upside down bell. He never realized that the eqs were basically cancelling each other out.
  7. Thisguy


    Sep 28, 2013
    Abilene TX
    Wow! Sure he wasn't using an A/B switch with the EQ's for different tones? If not, just wow lol
  8. If I may pose another question:

    Why is it that you get a more noticeable result by boosting the EQ on the instrument, and leaving the amp flat, than the reverse?

    I notice this especially with my Stingray.

  9. Like mentioned earlier, not all EQs are created equal. Some react more, some less, and that depends on the amount of gain it has, as well as the pot values used.
    So, in this case, on your bass the EQ has a higher gain and higher pot values, allowing for a deeper cut and more powerful boost compared to the amp.
    It's the same case on my Yorkville BM200 combo. The EQ on it has very little effect on the signal. I just leave it flat.
  10. Geist


    Aug 31, 2007
    It has to do with the frequencies effected by the eq knobs on your amp and your onboard preamp.

    The manual of both preamps (amp and instrument) should state where these frequencies are focused and how many decibels are boosted/cut.

    For example, your Stingray could have a 3 band preamp with +/- 18db at 120hz, 650hz, and 2Khz. Your amp may have +/- 12db at 31, 500, and 4k.

    If you have your 31hz (amp) boosted on the amp but 500 is cut, then your loosing the boost at 120, which is audible, whereas 31hz is barely audible. This is on your amp. Your bass would be boosting the 120 and providing the noticable bass boost.

    Other things to take into account would be the the Q of the cut/boost (sharp peaks vs rounded), as well as whether the bass and treble knobs are shelving (do all frequencies below or above bet the boost cut or are they subject to a Q level.

    Imo there is little point to more than 3 eqs (amp, effects, instrument). Instrument is to form a basic tone (why most bases are either bass/treble or a tone knob), effect level eqs can be switched on/off for temporary alteration (like an effect) or to further tailor your tone. The amp is to make sure the amp functions in line with the rest of your effects board. Having all 3 is especially handy if your switch amps often (i.e. backline rigs for live and a small combo for practice), where the amp eq is a quick set to keep your sound, but the sound is set by an effect level eq.
  11. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    The EQ matters too, because each band of EQ alters the phase of parts of the wave; so the more EQs are in series, the more the wave shape is smeared.
  12. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Phil Lesh does this, or at least did for a long time. Yes, it is utterly stupid in principle. I have to begrudgingly admit though that because each EQ device has its own unique sound, the cumulative result is not the same as a zero sum, totally cancelled effect. So even if it's a ridiculous method, it could sound "good". :)
  13. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I have a parametric EQ just before the power amp. It is used to correct for room nodes using a narrow band cut, boomy bass using a gentle shelving cut, and a gentle shelving cut around 7.5k to take out any harshness from my distortion pedals. (I run a 3-way cab.) I have Fender-style three band EQ for general tone shaping. I have an EWS BMC, which is a semi-parametric mid control in a pedal format, for a bit of mid-boost at times. (BTW, this is a great pedal.) Each EQ has a different purpose; room correction, general tone shaping, and as an effect.
  14. Some amps have multiple EQs built-in. I had an old Peavey Mk VIII that had a full parametric equalizer plus shelving knobs, plus one or two tone boost switches.
  15. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    I do this, however each eq is on a separate signal path from the 2 outputs from my Attitude bass. So they do sound quite different, they don't 'fight' each other, and most definitely do not cancel each other out.
  16. I am learning from this thread; thanks, everyone.

    I have some more questions that I'll post later.

  17. jeffgnr90


    Aug 4, 2011
    Interesting topic! I've been thinking about buying an empress para eq to use along with my mxr 10-band. I'd have the 10 set eqs to work with and then I could go in between with the empress. My heads eq is generally set for as flat an eq curve as possible. And my bddi bass knob is set at 80hz and I have an hpf-3 now too! So much eq! Any reason I shouldt do this? It would just by the bddi and the 2 pedals in the chain.
  18. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    In the case of the guy I saw, he had one signal path and tried explaining to me that one eq was boosting mids and the other was boosting lows and highs. He really didn't know how to use an eq.
  19. I've never owned that specific Boss pedal but have noticed that many digital pedals will color the signal, even if the effect is not used. I've always thought it was the A/D-D/A converters to blame.
  20. Digital / Analog converters with the old 16 bit x low over sample rates can have a drastic affect on effects.