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I Have Seen the Amp EQ Light (FINALLY!) Give me the mids, baby!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by burl0029, Jan 27, 2012.


  1. Tonight's rehearsal was a revelation. After 10+ years of playing bass, I've finally figured out how to EQ my amp so I can hear myself properly in the mix and still sound good within the context of the song. Don't get me wrong, I've been a manual-reading, information-seeking knob twiddler since day one, but I've never had someone show me how to get a good sound in a band context. I am a self-taught player and have not had the fortune of hooking up with an experienced mentor to learn from. I've finally stumbled upon it through trial and error.

    Like so many people, I'm guilty of spending way too much time trying to get my gear to sound fantastic when playing alone. Each new amp, cab, bass, pickup, preamp, etc always promises to be the cure to my ills, but invariably disappoints when subjected to the realities of playing with other people.

    As it turns out, I just needed to reclaim my mid frequencies. When sitting down with an amp, invariably I would goose the BASS control a bit to get a bigger sound. Next, I'd boost the HIGHS to regain some definition lost when the BASS was turned up. Sure, it sounded good noodling in my basement, but to some degree I always felt lost and powerless within the mix with the band.

    SIDEBAR: A note about my typical setup. I usually run my basses (Fender P w/flats and Fender Jaguar with D'Addario steels; both with aftermarket pups) into a SansAmp with the bass and treble boosted, the Presence set at about 9 o'clock and the Blend all the way wet. Then I go into the amp which has all the EQ set flat. /SIDEBAR

    Fast forward many years (and many thousands of dollars). I've had a GK MB212 for about a year and half. As it's been a long time, I read through the manual again to see if there was anything I'd forgotten along the way in terms of what GK considers the optimal method of using the amp. Their explanation of the EQ section made sense to me in a way that I've never quite grasped before. They referred to the highs as giving "definition," the hi-mids as giving "punch," the low-mids as the "body of the sound," and the bass as the "low end push." At the time I didn't think much more than "huh, that's an interesting way to give a frame of reference to frequency numbers." I then went on eating lunch and didn't think of it again.

    I've always liked how the amp sounds with just a bass plugged in, but I've almost always used a SansAmp in front of my amps to color the tone. For some reason, at tonight's rehearsal I took the bold step of turning the SansAmp off, setting the EQ flat and just using my bass and the amp to determine the tone. TA DA! I could hear myself clearly and I still sounded good. I then remembered the EQ descriptions in the manual and thought I'd try adding some "body" to the sound. I gave the Lo-Mid knob a slight boost and was in heaven the rest of the night. I even TURNED DOWN the Bass knob a hair at one point as it was a bit overpowering for the small room we were in. As each song required, I gave the tone knob on my P-bass a turn. It was perfect.

    While I'm sure this is no great revelation to many, it was amazing to me. I've spent so much time and money trying to get to where I was this evening. It's funny how the simple solutions often are the best. I'll now be doing a lot of experimenting to see how things work with the Jag sans-SansAmp. As a side note, I'll be getting some flats for it in the near future.

    Now, before any SansAmp owners try to talk me off the cliff of heresy, I'm not gonna run out and sell the thing. I'll be doing a lot more experimenting with the Blend knob and see what sounds I can coax out of it now that I know how to be heard. I especially like what the SansAmp does for a bunch of my pedals, so I don't think it will be going anywhere soon. It's just getting re-purposed from always on to who-knows-what.

    I welcome any comments or questions you may have. My purpose in writing this was to share the joy I have in hearing myself and sounding good while hopefully helping others who might be in a similar cycle. Fight the urge to go straight to the smiley-face EQ curve without first trying things flat in a band context. I spent way too much time EQing out the very thing that makes me audible. Give me the mids, baby!
     
  2. depthman6

    depthman6

    Dec 21, 2011
    Lol nice... I often search for that powerful mid you have seemed to acquire
     
  3. will33

    will33

    May 22, 2006
    austin,tx
    Cool huh?

    It does help some when people can give you some descriptor of the different freq. sounds. I wasted a little time thinking bass just meant "more bass" myself.
     
  4. seedokebass

    seedokebass

    Mar 21, 2009
    Minnesota
    The Sansamp stuff does suck out midrange. You can get some of it back by turning the blend down.

    It sounds like your rig became new again, in that fun discovery way :D
     
  5. arai

    arai Banned

    Jul 16, 2007
    That's why I am not a fan of them.
     
  6. Alex1984

    Alex1984

    Jan 16, 2010
    Vancouver
    Congrats, have you listened to your own tone using the same settings alone? Wonder how that'd sound. I love the huge mids on my SVT's. Flats on P basses are fantastic for getting the punch, even though I'm just use Chromes.
     
  7. You can get mids from a sa bddi, by turning down the bass & treble afaik. Works for me
     
  8. arai

    arai Banned

    Jul 16, 2007
    What is the point having one if you need to fight it's natural sound ?

    I think the bddi is great for some situations. Not my cup of tea though.
     
  9. I don't consider it to be 'fighting it's sound', just expanding on an already nice pedal. Plenty of great sounds in it. From clean to dirty, scooped or......
    My 2c.....
     
  10. arai

    arai Banned

    Jul 16, 2007
    "From clean to dirty, scooped or..." . I like how you put the "..."
    You kind of have to trail off there, because the pedal does too :D . All I have got out of those pedals are clean or dirty and scooped.
    Great for some situations. Like in the bedroom or though a crappy rig.
     
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    So what do you do if you plug into something and you don't like the sound of it? Leave the knobs at noon and flail along helplessly? ;) Yeah, I know it's real cool on the internet to talk of flat response and knob nooning, but you miss out on some really good and different sounds if you don't turn knobs, plus you don't have to go through 100 amps to find one that has the "natural sound" that you like.
     
  12. arai

    arai Banned

    Jul 16, 2007
    Oh I am not saying that. I love playing around with the tone controls of amps. And I doubt any bass amps have a flat response.
    But if you have to hard eq an amp or preamps, tone controls maybe it is not for you
    It's was the bddi I was referring to. You have to do some hard eq'ing to get good mids out of it. YMMV
     
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    In addition....run the blend @ 12:00 - 2:00 and re-label the level knob as "Mids". When used in conjuction with the bass & treble, you pretty much end up with a 3 band EQ. IME, bass presence, tonal color, and articulation all cross paths at ~220 hz.

    Riis
     
  14. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    To the OP, congrats! I know what ya mean. I did the smiley face for years. My Markbass rig brought me to the Light. I hardly have to do anything to it to sound just right. I can get by with no filters and eq knobs at noon, although I often roll back the highs some, or high mids (just because my fingernails clack). It's a good feeling to hear yourself in the mix, ain't it?

    I don't use any pedals, although I've considered an eq pedal, just so I could get my hands on some frequencies that my amp doesn't have a specific control for (e.g. 100Hz which I like so much).
     
  15. I'm also using Chromes (50-70-85-105). The bass is a '98 Fender American Standard P with a SD 1/4-pounder. I've been listening to the flat sound of the amp for awhile (mostly when I'm practicing and feel too lazy to hook up my pedalboard). That's where I developed an attachment to the sound it was putting out. Only yesterday did I think to use the EQ properly. As for its sound, it does sound good by itself, especially when I crank up the Boost knob to add a bit grit to the sound. Soloed, the bass sounds very clear, present, thumpy and aggressive. It does sound like it might be out of place in a band context, but it blends in perfectly once I get the tone knob on my bass set right.

    There is one downside to this that came to mind almost right away last night. All the pedals I bought and sold previously which were dismissed as having various EQ-type deficiencies are now back in play. Craigslist, here I come.
     
  16. I'm not sure you can trust the judgement of someone who just figured out how to properly EQ their amp (though I have had minor successes in the past), but I would recommend a parametric/semi-parametric EQ so you can be more precise in your shaping. I previously had an Eden WT300 (with the three bands of semi-parametric EQ) and it was really fun to be able to control the sound so precisely.
     
  17. As for all the SansAmp discussion, I'll be trying out all sorts of suggestions and ideas. It always seemed so wrong to turn down the bass and treble controls, but I'll give it a whirl and see what happens (along with twisting all the other knobs to see what happens).
     
  18. Blues Bass 2

    Blues Bass 2 Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2001
    Davenport Iowa
    Very cool , you have discovered the key to getting a good tone with a band .

    If you can get your tone without the BDDI that's great but if you want it to sound good with a band and use the BDDI do what Zooberwerx says with the blend knob . About 12:00 is pretty close to right with the blend , it is the key to getting a good live sound with the BDDI just like mids are to your amps tone . Do not crank the blend all the way up if you want to hear yourself with a band ! It took me a long time to figure this out too . Tech 21 will dispute this but the blend all the way up does suck out the mids quite a bit . Your sound with the blend rolled back won't sound as good to you when playing alone but as you have just discovered what sounds good alone doesn't sound as good with a band .
     
  19. chadds

    chadds

    Mar 18, 2000
    I'm happy you found it. Regardless of what some say it doesn't come easy. I've seen many peeps go through a lot of gear because they wouldn't turn knobs. I've also seen folks set their tone by perception rather than sound.

    To explain. "My sound is a lot of bass no mids and a lot of treble." So they dial up 75% bass 0% mids and 100% treble as an example.
    Their rig sounds wrong to them. So they say well I'll switch to 12"s cause these 10"s aren't my sound or they switch heads. Either way they eq it the same way.
    They don't like that and switch brands because someone described they get sound X on that rig.

    The solution is to eq blindfolded.:)

    More bass may mean less treble. Not cranked bass control. Less bass and treble may yield more mids not boosted mid control which could sound nasal. You may also get as a free gift more headroom and perceived volume.
     
  20. When I had an MB112 my favorite P Bass tone was Bass & Treble: all the way down; Lo mid: about 3:00, High mid, 1:00.
    Very clear and warm, not as honky as you'd think. The MB212 might be different.
     

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