How to Coax a Neosoul Vibe from F1 2xAE112 Rig

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Scott McArron, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. I love my current rig. Mike Lull M5V into MB F1 and Berg AE112 stack. It's absolutely phenomenal in most circumstances, like my funk/soul band and for jazz stuff as well. Lately, I've gotten really into Neosoul, like Maxwell, Jill Scott, Musiq, India.Arie, etc.

    The problem I'm having is that no matter how I've EQ'd my rig so far I just can't get that big warm smooth neosoul vibe from this gear.

    Here are some things I've tried recently:

    VPF from anywhere from 10 to 3 o' clock
    tweeter down to 9 o' clock
    lowering the upper mids down to 9 'o clock or so
    generally scooping the EQ, then VLE up a bit to soften the highs

    If I get it EQ'd enough to get the string noise and clank out of the tone, the bass is out-of-control and muddy.

    Any help on getting that big smooth neosoul sound out of this rig? Or is it even possible? Am I looking at a new rig altogether? Thanks for any advice!
  2. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    as long as you're not going for a burpy aggressive jaco like sound, most any sound should do.

    in your case, if you're going for a smoother sound, killing the upper mids is the best way to go. you might want to add more lower mids to lows for more punch and definition down there to keep things from getting too muddy. and i never touch my tweeter.
  3. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    One way to find out if your rig has the vibe within it, is to put in the hands of someone that's well versed in the genre.
  4. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    I don't think you need to replace the bass or the amp or the cab. Try experimenting with some flatwounds or some dead roundwounds. Strings can make a huge difference. Sometimes not. Also the volume controls on the bass, itself. Maybe not run with any one of the pickups cranked 100%. The tone does change when you dial back the volume on the instrument. Also palm muting is an interesting technique which can help give a different vibe. Lastly, have someone play your rig with your settings, if possible, so you can stand elsewhere and just listen. You may be closer to "that sound" than you think. A change in perspective may be all you really need.
  5. My strings are pretty dead as is, and they're DR lo-riders. Plus, I've got a blend knob for the pups so i can't turn them down individually.

    I can get the bass to sound pretty good, but there are a lot of fills and melodic lines in the upper register that I can't get to sound right. When I remove the upper mids and highs to get a bigger rounder smoother sound with no clank or fret noise, those fills and melody lines still sound thin and also much quieter than the low end and very non-neosoul-ish.

    I've tried taking out all the highs via various methods (treble off, VLE, VTC on bass, tweeter off, etc.) but with the same results.

    Thanks for ideas. I've got a gig this weekend so I'll come back with updates. I'm thinking that having a high-mid voiced amp with high-mid voiced speakers are probably not the best combo for this style of music. I feel like I'm trying to stick a V8 Hemi into Hyundai. :rolleyes:
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    You are scooping way too much if you ask me. Here's what I'd do...I'd just set the knobs flat and add VLE until the attack is down to what you want. Also, from owning B-15's and a VT Bass pedal, I've found that the sound you're looking for lives in the 125-200 hz range, which Markbass amps don't really do. I would seriously consider adding a small EQ that can add a little more 125 than the FI can on its own.


    Mar 2, 2007
    I would say try dead strings.......I play alotta neo,jazz,gospel and I also go for the jaco tone, I usually play my bass with the eq flat except for a bit of bass and play on my back pickup moreso anything.
  8. Experimenting with moving your plucking hand closer to the neck may give you the vibe you're looking for.
  9. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Dead flatwounds, neck PU, bump low mids, roll back tone control on bass, kill them tweeters.
  10. Thanks for the suggestions guys. I've tried a lot of them, but I'll experiment a little more tonight and see what I can come up with. I'd love to try the flatwounds, but also need that bright slap sound on occassion for songs like Maxwell's Sumthin' Sumthin' at the turn of a knob or two. Preciate it.
  11. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    BTW, you can slap with flats, but of course, it might not sound quite as sparkly as rounds. My guess is ultimately that one bass won't give you an ideal sound for both very round and dark warm sounds, and also bright and zingy ones too. I'd carry two basses- each one sounding very different from the other. Even an inexpensive P with flats as a backup or alternate tone instrument seems to be good plan, at least IMO.

    I'd probably leave your ML set up as the brighter sounding instrument with rounds, and something very different (who knows, a P, 'Ray or whatever) set up with flats. You'll have lots of tonal options between two instruments set up like that.

    And with a little planning on set list/order and discussion with band mates, you can facilitate instrument changes in a way that isn't too disruptive to the flow, provided you don't change back and forth every song.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    The sooner we get rid of that nasty plinky plink slap sound, the better off we'll all be. Slapping on flats is badass. And so is slapping on a Precision. Having said that, most of my basses have rounds ;) But I don't use a tweeter, so it's all good.
  13. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    A technique thing you can do is to play on the frets, rather than behind them. I do this sometimes to cop a "p with dead flats" tone on an otherwise brighter, modern bass. It takes some practice to get comfortable with hitting *exactly* on the fret, and if you miss it sounds jarring. But it's worth the effort to learn, imho.

  14. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I took in several of the 30 sec Jill Scott previews off eMusic. All the studio cut's featured 'filtered' bass. The producer cut some of the lows, all the hi's and focused all the energy on a narrow band. He then compressed the crap out of it and mixed it out front in the mix. I have no issue with that sound but - its one the producer got - not the bass rig ... you could but it would be way too much trouble when ProTools or whatever will filter by template...

    In your live environment you have a decision to make - in the context of your band - where does your bass sit in relation to the kick ? If it's on top with the kick holding down the bottom - my preference as a player - then cut the low bass, emphasise the low mid, lose the upper mid and dial in a some hi's for definition.

    If you're holding down the bottom and the kick is floating on top- you're hosed... those sweet chordal things and little rip's aren't going to have near enough definition to be distinguishable 10 feet from your rig ... another reason I don't really need a rig with an F3 below 50 or 60 ...

    The Lull, I think is passive ? The above would work for me using my passive J's.

    Thanks for the turn on to Jill Scott by the way. There is so much good music being done today no way I can keep up. Getting the nod to something like that is really a treat. Now back to eMusic so I can grab some of that ...
  15. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    While some of those bassists are now experimenting with vintage basses, in the past many were playing Smith's & MTD's. I'm also sure a lot of compression came into play as well as there is a lot of even sounding notes heard. I know in the studio, bass tracks are 'squashed' and compressed and boosted. IME (emphasize ME), I've never gotten a good sound from a set of 12's. Do you have a 2x10 or 4x10 at your disposal? Try a different cab mix.
  16. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I would think less about cutting frequencies and more about boosting. I don't agree fully with the dead string or flatwound theories, although they could work. Often the first impression of this sound is "round and huge", a lot of India's stuff certainly cops this, much of the others are very articulate, but well supported by a lot of low end so they can be placed more assertively into the mix without competing with other components.
    My advise to you would be:
    Getting some fresh strings, maybe nickels, break them in for a few hours or a few days. Set all you're external eq's flat, turn the tweeter on maybe 1/4 of the way. Use both pick-ups at max volume. Take the bass(low) eq on your bass up to about 80% and work with it for a while and see how close you can get. Start adding a bit of amp eq(salt to taste), you may find the need for some low-mids and may find yourself turning your bass' treble up a bit as the strings deaden out. I realize it would seem to make sense that the same thing could be achieved by cutting the mid an hi frequencies a bit and turning the amp up, but trust me, it's not the same. Speaking of amp, make sure your master or main is all the way up(or close to it), headroom is your friend here.
    One thing most these players have in common is they're pretty "clean" and smooth technique wise. Your speakers have to be fed a certain amount of definition and clarity for these lines to work. I find when I am learning new styles or new tunes(or sight reading) my technique is not quite as clean as it normally is
    so some of the problem(s) may be on your end and not with the gear. Just keep digesting the sound you want, eventually we are what we eat.
  17. Fretless5verfan


    Jan 17, 2002
    I am smack in the middle of that whole phillly based neo-soul scene (which i'm tired but most of these guys are using J style 34" basses w/ fairly worn Nickel or SS strings through aggie 410s and AG500s or DB750s. I know one guy that uses a MB head with gs112s and gets a slammin sound, but he also played through my genz shuttle and 212 and got basically the same sound...all that to say, there's a lot to be said for your technique. I've found that 12" cabs and 35" scale basses definitely aren't my preference, but it can be done.

    The important thing to consider here is the mix. What type of mixes are you dealing with? is it a trio? Guitars or keys involved? how many singers? I think these things and your left hand muting technique are more important than the rig or the bass....but that's just me.
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    IME the settings you described would suck the life out of just about any bass. The settings for the VLE and especially the VPF seem excessive for what you're trying to achieve. You're scooping the mids with the filter AND scooping it even further with the EQ... not necessarily a bad thing if you weren't looking for the exact opposite of that sound:)

    Did you try starting out with everything flat and the filters off? That includes the bass itself.

    You need the mids and again IME if you don't cut them you'll have them. If you simply bring the gains up before doing any EQ tweeks, you'll have lows, mids and highs out of most basses.

    The noise and clank, if any still exists, is usually a technique issue. At least that's been my experience. Once you dial that out of the way you play, things can get "controllably fat" in a hurry.

    I had big help with my (de-)clank training... I bought a Wenge necked, Ash bodied MTD 635 ( I love that bass) and it was like a magnifying glass on my technique. Now I have to try to clank to get it anymore.
  19. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Set your amp "flat" and use your hands and technique to get the tone you want. Playing up by the fingerboard has a radically different sound than playing at the bridge. Plus there's all that space in between. Sit in a dark room with your bass and just listen when you play. Listen to how your fretting hand affects the tone, how playing with the tips of your "picking" hand sounds different than playing with the pads, etc.. In the end, great tone is less about the rig and more about the player.
  20. I agree, some has to do with my technique. These players in the neosoul scene are super smooth. I'm still thinking too much about what I'm playing and my technique suffers from it.

    I think I'm getting alot closer to what I expect to get out of this rig. Typically, I stay away from drastic EQing, but I've found that cutting the upper mids down to about 7 'o clock has helped a <i>lot</i>, and then boosting the low mids just a touch leaving the bass and treble flat. Already a super smooth sound.

    But for that ultra gooey goodness, I tap the VPF up to 9'o clock and then roll back my VTC about half way (I EQ'd this way so I could easily roll the VTC back up and get a decent slap tone out of it). Not sure how how it's gonna sound in the mix yet, but it sure is starting to sound sweet solo! I gotta try some of your guys' other suggestions, too.
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