How to address solo levels/volume ?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by pfschim, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I'll put this in Amps because that's where I think it fits best, but maybe it belongs elsewhere.

    I am wondering how everyone addresses the issue of getting a good solo level as opposed to the level used for the rhythm section role of the bass in a band setting ?

    I do not solo a great deal, perhaps 2-4 times per gig. I play in a a couple of bands. One is an original jazz/world music thing, the other is more of a cover situation (60's-90's sort of thing leaning heavily to the blues/funky side). Neither of the bands is terribly loud and we do not run our own FH/PA, so no sound guy to cue for a hotter level.

    My working rig is one of several basses (Jazz 4's or a Turner fretless 4) into a Mesa Walkabout 12 combo, to which I sometimes add a Scout 1x12. My playing style is clean/no dirt, mostly fingers, but a little thumb/pop for occasional emphasis (think Chuck Rainey rather than Marcus or Victor W.)

    What I am interested in hearing about is how do my fellow TBer's address the issue of increasing "presence" when moving from regular playing level to a solo.

    I have been playing pro/semi pro for 40 years, and how I handle it today works ok, I am just thinking there is probably other ways to handle it, perhaps with better/more satisfying results.

    talk to me.
  2. HeadyVan Halen

    HeadyVan Halen Guest

    Jun 11, 2010
    Turn the volume up.
  3. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    Volume pedal, or just change to a more bridge pickup oriented tone. Also, the rest of the band should know how to play a bit quieter to let the soloist cut through, whoever that soloist may be.
  4. will33


    May 22, 2006
    I don't really solo, very little if at all, but I just play the bass like a guitar in that my rhythm volume is about 7 on the volume on the bass. I use that most of the time, when vocals are happening, etc. When a little hook in the bass line comes up, or I need a fuller sound to fill in behind a guitar lead in a 3-piece, roll the volume up to wide open, then back down a little when the vocals come in again.

    And +1 to both changing to a more cutting pickup blend, or playing a little closer to the bridge, etc., different tone for solo's, and the rest of the band staying out of the soloist way, whatever instrument is soloing.
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I'm partial to having the band mostly lay out and not changing a thing amp-wise or playing much harder than the rest of the time. Might not work so well in a rock context, but it serves me well in the jazz and country situations I mostly play in these days. I solo on at least 80-90% of the tunes in my main jazz group, FWIW.
  6. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    thanks for the replies so far.

    agreed on pushing the bridge p/u, and playing closer to the bridge to get a more cutting tone. Thats pretty much what I do now. Both my Jazz basses are V V, and I generally just have my V's all the way up on the bass, so I need to cut the neck p/u to get the bridge focused tone change. (This is actually not a bad justification for a single V V knob with a middle/center detent IMO).

    After decades of playing jazz, I find I kind of dislike the std jazz approach for everyone to drop out during a bass solo - I like to hear some element of the changes happen while I play over. That's how I develop my solo vocabulary - over the changes, so I like to hear them when I solo. It keeps the context for me.

    I had a Mesa MPulse600 amp for a while and it had the footswitchable Solo level function. Now that was a pretty cool way to go, but the WA does not have that.

    I do have a TC RH450 with the 3, user programmable footswitchable settings. That could work too, but I have not been using this amp as my main gig rig because I can't quite get it to sound as sweet as the WA.

    I guess I am starting to think about using a Volume or boost pedal along with some sort of "color" pedal (EQ, fx ??) to get a solo tone I like, and then just pop a footswitch when my solo spots come up. I just have not used much outboard gear over the years, so I am not totally clear on how I would set that up.

    Anyone use that approach ?
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I play in a lot of similar situations. I usually dial in my sound with one or two extra clicks of bass and treble(on my bass' preamp) so I can get a hair more thump and definition for solos. Generally the band comes down a bit, or creates some extra space so I can do what I do. When people are dancing I generally groove the bass line with a little more sack and some minor embellishment, often broken down with the drums n bass then built back up again gradually.
  8. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    I am not talking about the typical jazz band approach to laying out, just providing a bit more space so you can be featured.

    There are lots of boost pedals out there so that could be an approach, I still think there is more to this than just a volume increase, however.
  9. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    There are clean boost pedals that will give you a decent bump in volume, without coloring your tone one little bit. Creation Audio's Mk.4.23 comes to mind- 24dB of pure, clean boost. No noise, no color.
  10. IMO I think you should try a VT pedal. You can pull some great tones out of it and can add a little hair. IMO you probably want something that can give you a slight mid bump and a touch of natural sounding overdrive - basically to mimic the sound you get when driving you pre a bit harder.

    Personally, I tend to just dig in harder for solos and the band steps back a bit. I've had similar amp experiences to you - and have always meant to set up a channel or preset for soloing but have never actually stopped and used it (I totally suck at using pedals). I always just used live dynamics to cut through.