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How to hook my friend's bass at my house...

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Argentum, Mar 22, 2004.


  1. Argentum

    Argentum

    Mar 22, 2004
    I know this is a bass guitar forum and all, but I am not, I repeat NOT, a bass guitar player. I just came here because my friends and I want to start up a jazz band and/or have jam sessions at my house. The thing is my friend that plays bass doesn't have/use an amp. He just hooks his bass into his sterio system somehow, and pumps it up from there. I've yet to actually see his setup, but I'm doubting that I can set it up at my house considering:

    A) my sterio system is up stairs; my drums are in the basement

    B) I don't have a true sterio system in my basement

    C) my friend is not gonna' go out and buy an amp just for this

    Now, in my basement I have a few options for hooking up a bass, even though I don't think any of them will work. I could:

    A) find some sort of magical adapter that allows me to play his bass guitar through my TV/VCR setup (this doubtful, but it would be the best option because I can get a lot of sound out of the speakers hooked up to my TV)

    B) use either my sister's portable sterio, boombox, or radio device thing to play his guitar on (also very doubtful as I don't think these devices have an input jack, only an output for headphones or speakers)

    C) hook his bass up to my computer's input jack where I currently have my mic hooked up (don't know if this would work either and I've heard stories of things like this blowing up your soundcard and/or frying your motherboard)

    If anyone has any ideas or suggestions that could help me solve this perplexing problem would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Welcome to Talkbass!!

    You probably need to look into getting some adaptors that will turn the mono-jack from your friend's bass into either an RCA jack or a mono or stereo mini-jack. You should be able to find these at an electronics hobby store (Maplin, Radio Shack). Most TV's have some kind of audio input usually used for playing back video and audio from video cameras etc. It may be hidden out the way though. You can (as you say) hook it into the PC through the soundcard input usually using a mini-jack. Using the soundcard's mixer will allow you to mix the levels and possibly center the sound (if you're using a stereo mini-jack, the sound will only come through one channel, but the mixer ought to allow you to compensate for this and get a mono signal in the middle of the stereo field).

    BUT You ought to be really careful on ALL of these options not to blow the speakers of your TV/stereo/PC. Basses can put out quite a lot of signal. Most things you'll play through your TV/PC/Stereo have had the extremely low frequencies toned down (compressed) so that the overall "loudness" can be increased without the low frequencies ruining your speakers. SO please be really careful. It would suck enormously to blow the speakers on your TV...

    You might be surprised how cheap a second hand small practice amp is, and this will give you enough volume for jam sessions, and still be really portable.

    Better that, than forking out for a new TV/Stereo...

    Have fun, but play safe... ;)
     
  3. What MKS said. And really, your friend can get some CHEAP practice amps now. For example, a Crate BX15 is only $60 new. It's only 12 watts, but I mean your friend needs something to practice on anyways, right? Better that than possibly blowing a stereo speaker at home.
     
  4. Argentum

    Argentum

    Mar 22, 2004
    You probably need to look into getting some adaptors that will turn the mono-jack from your friend's bass into either an RCA jack or a mono or stereo mini-jack. You should be able to find these at an electronics hobby store (Maplin, Radio Shack). Most TV's have some kind of audio input usually used for playing back video and audio from video cameras etc. It may be hidden out the way though.

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    So would one of these adaptors plug into one of the red/white audio input jacks on either my VCR or TV? Also, as far as not blowing up anything, should he just not play very loud when he's hooked in?
     
  5. Yup - The red/white audio inputs are also known as RCA sockets. So what you're looking for is mono-jack -> RCA.

    Sometimes you can get a pair of mono jacks -> RCA in "one" cable which DJ's sometimes use for pluging equipment into a mixer. You might find these at music stores. But the cheapest option by far is to get adaptors from an electronics shop.

    Getting your friend to turn down may help, but it's a factor of both volume and the low frequencies that basses put out that can cause trouble. My advice is to go with a really cheap practice amp and not take the risk. But if you have no other option, then turn down (EVERYONE involved!) and get your friend to avoid adding extra bass is his bass is active (has a battery). I used to play through my stereo at home when I first started playing bass, and I'm pretty sure I fried my speakers by doing so. If you want to see what's going on, try to see the cone on a speaker while your friend plays bass. It'll be moving MUCH more than it ever does when you're listening to rock or anything else.

    By the way, get your friend to plug the lead into his bass and turn down the volume BEFORE he plugs it into the TV/stereo. The spike to noise or "click" as plugs in could be enough to damage the speakers.
     
  6. Argentum

    Argentum

    Mar 22, 2004
    Thanks man. I'll look into that. I would rather not take the risk, but I'll see what we can do.