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How to tighten up tone on a p-bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Funkmeister79, May 12, 2011.

  1. I'm trying to take a little flab out of my current tone.

    Current set-up is '93 MIM p-bass with medium gauge Labella flats. Going into an Eden WTX-260 head into an Avatar B210 cab. Volume and tone knobs are always on full.

    I guess I'm looking for a tighter low end, a little less flab, a little more note definition, particularly on that E string.

    Could it just be the nature of the p-bass that favors those low mid frequencies? What would be some ways to tighten up the tone? I dialed in a little extra treble at rehearsal tonight and I still got that flab.

    -change from flats to rounds?
    -try a lower gauge flats?
    -sealed cab instead of ported?
    -try a jazz bass instead??
  2. I don't know why you want to sharpen the tones of a P to more like a J - but you can change out the pots to 500kΩ and use brighter steel strings and change out the capacitor from .047uF to .022uF.

    You can also try overwound p'ups for some extra heat but really, a P is supposed to sound fundamental, rich in texture and full of harmonics.
  3. OldFoamy


    Jan 18, 2011
    D/FW, Texas
    The Barber Linden EQ pedal is wonderful at exactly what you are wanting. It tightens up the low end fairly well with the bass knob in the down position. It has a hifi/vintage toggle switch for the treble frequencies to better shape the high end to taste, and can provide plenty of defintion. Its also the old bax tonestack like that found on the B15. Where you can cut the lows and highs and achieve a mid boost. Absolutely great sounding pedal!
  4. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    imho go for the cheapest fixes first.

    Try playing closer to the bridge.

    Lose the flats.

    Get a good compressor.
  5. If definition is what you're after I'd say give rounds a shot.
  6. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
  7. gitlvr


    Nov 13, 2009
    No. Va., USA
    This would be my first step as well. Just from personal experience. The P bass we used to use at our church was strung with flats. Don't get me wrong, I loved the tone. But the E especially, had a tendency to be kind of tubby or flabby sounding. That bass ended up with wiring problems, so i brought in my P bass, strung with rounds(DR Black Beauties). No tubbiness now, and everyone likes the tone. Give roundwounds a try.
  8. ^^^Wisdom here, especially the first two items.
  9. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    yep. playing closer to the bridge will help a great deal
  10. sonic maximizer?
  11. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    I find a lot of flats sound kinda blah on the E string for the first few frets. Many also have too low a tension and sound pretty blah too. The only time I'll play flats is when I use the 110 LaBellas or Rotosounds.

    If you're set on playing flats, trying Chromes or TI flats. They're a bit brighter with the TIs being particularly articulate.

    Or you know... switch to rounds...
  12. gmarcus

    gmarcus Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2003
    You should be able to set the gain, compression and eq on your amp to tighten up your tone. You need to work on the bass and mids to get your definition. Start with the enhance knob all the way counter clockwise. this will remove any mid scoop. also make sure the bass knob is not pulled out so that the bass boost is off. Set your mid shift to 550 Hz. leave the tone knobs in the middle. Now play and the tone should be pretty tight and dry. probably too tight. turn up the gain and turn the master down and notice how that changes your tone. It should give it more distortion in a good way. Then turn up the enhance a little bit this will boost the lows and highs. Keep playing with the eq and remember Less is more.

    Now that you like your tone alone it will sound different with your band so keep tweaking it during practice until you like what you hear. You might also try standing your cabinet up on end or putting it up on a chair or table. This will reduce the bass some
    bdplaid likes this.
  13. rouge127


    Apr 2, 2007
    Columbus OH
    I agree with playing closer to the bridge. Try raising the action a little bit as well. It will add some more tension to the strings which equals less flab and more definition.
  14. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    rounds, and raise your pickups to get closer to the strings.
  15. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Relocate your right hand to different spots along the srings and notice the different sounds you can get.
  16. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    I have a feeling you miht be playing infront of the pickup, close to the bridge...

    As mentioned before, move closer to the bridge... and if that doesnt do it for you, look into some other strings that are a better fit for your style...
  17. rounds, pick closer to bridge, brighter pots, if you have a grapic EQ, start a slope down below 80 hz and use 150 or so to compensate. there are passive low cut filters if you really need to cut some mud out.

    The 'Tight' control - simple passive bass cut
  18. Duke21


    Nov 14, 2010
    Narvik, Norway
    and play with a pick
  19. spiltcoil

    spiltcoil Banned

    Dec 13, 2010
    I highly recommend trying the TI jazz flats and adjusting your action accordingly. I think this will get the change you're looking for or very close to it at the least.
  20. WannaJazz

    WannaJazz Supporting Member

    May 7, 2010
    Nickel roundwounds are almost as expressive as steel rounds, and much easier on your fingers.

    I went from steels for years to flats for years, and recently discovered nickel wounds on a Precision bass are the sound I was looking for.

    Definitely worth a try.

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