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How to get a tone similar to this?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Seriouscat123, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. Seriouscat123

    Seriouscat123 Banned

    Jun 26, 2013
    All I know is its a picked precision bass which I have but my amp only has bass mid and treble. Any eq suggestions I don't want it to be exact but sorta like it. Also i'm not looking to buy new strings or anything to get that sound.

    Practically everything off the album has the same tone.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Sounds like a passive bass, with strings, played with a pick, recorded using 70s studio gear. If you don't sound like that yet, don't blame your amp--just keep practicing. (And maybe switch recording studios if the engineer you've hired doesn't know how to get that sound? :))


    It will be difficult to get that exact sound without flatwound strings. But if you sound a little different, who cares... be yourself! ;)
  3. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    P-bass, flats, definitely. But keep in mind, when you you say your amp only has bass and treble controls, back in those days that's all any bass amp had, for the most part. "CTA"(with "I'm A Man")was recorded in early 1968. Cetera used an Acoustic 360 rig during the band's rise, as seen in this 1970 video:
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The difference between flats/wounds is not necessarily something you can accomplish with EQ; there is also a difference in the "envelope" of the sound (attack, sustain, decay in volume).

    There are techniques available to make roundwound strings sound more like flatwound strings. The two most successful I experimented with were 1) right hand "palm mute" technique; 2) a piece of foam under the strings near the bridge. (Eventually I just switched to flats full-time.)

    Recorded sound and live sound can very different. In the studio at that time, Cetera might have used a direct signal, or a miced amp, or a blended mix of mic and direct. I do not have good enough ears to speculate. Even if it is pure amp signal, the signal would then have been run through various studio gear: EQ, limiter, compressor, etc. and then once the whole track was mixed, it would be subject to further processing/mastering.

    With all that in mind, when I am playing live just me and my bass, learning a song from a studio recording, I do not try to "nail" the recorded bass tone. Rather, I usually start with a flat/neutral/familiar sound on my amp, then use that as the starting point to find my own variation on that sound. Often it is technique and not gear/settings that makes one player sound different than another; for example even though I play P bass with flats, I can't get very close at all to the "I'm a Man" sound, because I have terrible pick technique. ;)
  5. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    I realized that, in all my rambling, I didn't really address your question...and I have another point to contribute. Kinda overlooked this, but in those days P basses came with chrome bridge and pickup covers. The 'ashtray' bridge cover had a strip of foam on the underside that would lay on the strings just ahead of the bridge saddles, to deaden harmonics and to approximate the 'thud' of an upright bass. Such was the line of thinking, even that late in the Fender electric bass history. In the Amsterdam video, you can see that Cetera at least left the pickup cover on, and while it's difficult to view, it's likely that he also left the bridge cover on. While there's no telling what went on during the recording of the album track, most players were still leaving those things on, but who knows? You might want to experiment with putting foam under the strings, in front of the saddles, like the guy in the Alabama Shakes does currently. Once again, flat wound strings will help in obtaining 'that' sound, very tight and staccato. Here's a vid of AS on ACL:

    As he is using his fingers instead of a pick(and probably has his tone control rolled off a bit), he's getting more of a deep thump sound, but you should get the idea.