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How Many Tones Do You Need?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    For me, I have decided that I need only one tone for what I do. I happen to currently use active basses with soapbar pickups, and they provide me a tone that is useful for all of the different styles of music I play (jazz, urban gospel, r&b.) I have a fretless Jazz that I may use for some things in the future, but at the moment, it's just for fun at home.

    Although I have owned a whole bunch of basses, I think I have always been a one tone guy. I have always tended to use one bass for most of the music I played at any one time.
  2. I need 3, one like Matthew Garrison or Tom Kennedy, you know, like a burpy jazz tone, one like a really hot slap tone like an active jazz bass, and a nice smooth, bass heavy fretless tone. That's all. I own 3 basses too.
  3. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I should say that the number of tones one uses is not the same as the number of basses since most bassists can get more than one tone out of any bass. I pretty much use both pickups all the time but I do vary the eq.
  4. I use one basic tone, a well rounded decent tone that I can use with any type of music.
  5. Luckie


    Jan 1, 2010
    Northfield MN
    I only really use three.
    1. Overdriven P-bass rock tone
    2. Relaxed middy P tone for jazz
    3. Super-Low Gospel/groove tone
  6. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    I very likely could get by with 3 basses..... a Jazz, a P and a fretless Jazz. The jazz covers me for slap and funk and the P everything else.

    Unfortunately, GAS is a terrible affliction and I own twelve basses!
  7. I only have to use one tone,I j adjust my playing technique on my Gb44 and it works with the music I play,depending on what kind of music it is.
  8. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    7 and a bunch of semi-tones too
  9. RexNFX79


    Jan 12, 2009
    I own several basses but I find that I gravitate towards my Stingrays most. I can get pretty much whatever sound I want out of them. I like my other basses but if I'm gonna grab one and go, it's almost always a Stingray. My tone is definitely created with those basses.
  10. BobaFret


    Jan 22, 2008
    I've finally come to the conclusion that I'm strictly a passive "J" guy and that's it. I like other peoples tone and what not but for me it's fairly simple.
  11. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Zero. I only need fundamentals.
  12. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    It depends. When I'm playing my own stuff (or where no precedent has been set for the sound I need) I only need a few crucial sounds that, once I've set a good core tone on my amp, I can usually get from a quick tweak on my basses tone controls alone.

    If I'm playing covers - where everybody (even non-bassists) know the ballpark tone the bass should have it's different... example from a set list

    Lenny Kravitz: Are you gonna go my way - Punchy, vintage with good mid projection
    Blink 182: All the small things (yeah, I know, I hate it too) - same tone will suffice
    Stereophonics: Dakota - Brighter 'piano tone'
    The Jam: Down in the tube station - really snarly Ric sound
    The Jam: Going underground - as above

    Skip a few to the mellow parts of the set....

    Paul Weller: You do something to me - Mellow P Bass
    Paul Young: The butcher's delivery boy song a.k.a 'every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you' - Good core fretless sound
    Paul Young: Wherever I lay my hat - as above but slightly brighter with a hint of chorus

    Back to the slightly more up tempo while I've still got my fretless strapped on...

    Paul Young: Tear your playhouse down - Fretless with Boss OC2 sound

    Back on the fretted...

    The Jam: Start - 60's Semi-acoustic with flats tone
    Lenny Kravitz: Fly away - Vintage P tone with brighter slapped Mutron effect on verse

    I could go on, essentially, I need as many tones as exist on the stuff that the band decides to cover. I'm not playing in a cover band at the moment, but there is another on the horizon.

    Fortunately my Bass Pod pro (after a lot of work) makes it possible to be a tone chameleon
  13. I am in a cover band...unlike Jools i don't match my tone at all with the band I am covering. I use 1 sound all night. You play a P bass it never leaves anyone asking why not try something else......
  14. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I play in a rock trio + singer, so I use different tones and effects to fill out certain parts, solos, etc. I have 9 pedals on the board right now, 2 are always on, and one is to match the tone of different basses, so I guess that means I use 6 tones? Not counting variations in plucking strength and location. But then of course mixing pedals creates new tones. Anyone want to do the math on this one?
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Interesting thread, Dr. C.

    Right now I'm gigging with three different bands. Two are Motown/classic rock, the other is hard rock. For hard rock I use an aggressive tone featuring plenty of treble and overdrive (but not outright fuzz), and growly mids. I keep my tone somewhat dirty for Motown, but soften the edge on top.

    For me, these differences are dependent on my amp rig far more than the bass I'm playing: i.e. I can get vintage and modern flavors out of any of my basses. That said, I enjoy having different styles of basses for of the variety of tones each provides. I try to keep these tones appropriate for the music I'm playing, but don't feel I have to use the same tone every time for a particular band/style/song.

    My preference is P-style basses with rounds, with my Sadowsky P5 getting 90% of my gigs. I have a single-pickup MusicMan style bass on order so I can get slightly more growl than a P-bass. I have nothing against J-style basses -- in fact I own a couple -- but I'm a rebel :p so I tend to solo the neck pup on these.
  16. 4stringPhlegm


    May 17, 2009
    I use 3, solo the back pickup, solo the front, and both :bag:
  17. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    I'm a little unclear on what constitutes a "tone". Do effects count, or are we talking about the dry bass sound, whether or not there are effects?
  18. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I tend to use one tone for all my gigs - you know, my sound.

    I like my "J" bass as well - although it's active, but I tend to run it flat which makes me wonder why I don't run it passive as I have that option. Hmm...maybe next weekend...

    I can get the "burpy Tom Kennedy tone" by favoring the bridge pup, and a fairly good "P bass" tone from the neck, but I generally run them both even, and a flat EQ, sometimes I roll the treble back a bit.
  19. Mayers

    Mayers Guest

    Sep 28, 2007
    I use one tone ... MY tone no matter what I play. My tone is my voice, my personnality.
  20. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Have to use multiple basses for the varient groups I'm doing sessions with.

    5 total.. multiple basses for each.

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