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It's in the fingers.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by steve4765630, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. steve4765630


    Feb 27, 2006
    One of my co-workers came up to me and asked, "do you ever get complaints on the tone of basses that the customer asked you to play in the store after they take it home and play it themselves?" (I work at a music store in case you haven't picked up on that). I said, "What are you talking about?" He clarified, "You have great tone in your fingers, every bass you play sounds amazing no matter what the price." On most occasions the customer will eventually play it themselves in the store and make up their mind based on that, but I could see where he was going with his question. I guess I never thought of it that way, but I did start to notice that any bass I play sounds like me. My EBMM Stingray sounds like an EBMM, but definitley has my attack, dynamics and character that nobody else can duplicate, so when I switch from that to my fretless Warrior it still sounds like me. I was wondering if you guys have had this epifani yet? No matter what bass I play, it still sounds like me. This is not to toot my own horn. I just think it's very cool that we each have our own tone. It's all in the fingers.
  2. There was a lot of subliminal advertising going in that post... but I know exactly what you mean.

    Everyone has 'their' sound, so the best way to judge if something is right for you is to see if it lives up to how you want to handle it.
  3. steve4765630


    Feb 27, 2006
    No advertising attempted or implied, LOL!!!
  4. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    I think you just touched on a pretty good idea for anybody checking out a bass or an amp, and that is to have a good player other than yourself play it while you listen - not that this would be easy to do. Even though it won't sound quite like you, one can still get an idea of how it sounds while you stand from different distances and listen.
  5. steve4765630


    Feb 27, 2006
    Especially when buying an acoustic bass guitar.
  6. VERY good advice!! I do this everytime I can...it will give you an entirely different perspective on an instrument. I usually prefer to let the other person (usually a sales person or someone with me that I am familiar with) play first for a few inutes and then I play.

    I agree that no matter what kind of bass, amp, or cab combination I am using I do have a "me" sound. Granted the quality of the gear can make a difference as to the quality of that "me" sound. But it is unmistakably there nonetheless! I do find that the gear I choose enhances my "me" sound and inspires me to be "me" more often though! :D


  7. steve4765630


    Feb 27, 2006
    I totally agree. Better gear = better sound 99.99999% of the time.
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Epiphany, I think.
  9. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Feh. That's total crap. Better gear does not a better player make.

    Focusing too much on gear is distracting from true musicianship, much like focusing too much on religion distracts from true spirituality.
  10. While I actually agree with what you are saying read the post again.....he didn't say better player, he said better sound, which to me is unarguable...


  11. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks

    I would argue that sound is subjective, therefore getting "better gear" doesn't necessarilly give a "better sound". Besides, I feel that getting good sound falls squarely within the realm of musicianship.
  12. sedan_dad


    Feb 5, 2006
    When I was shopping for heads thats what I did .I handed a Jazz to the sales guy and had him play while I screwed with the amp.It gives you the chance to focus on the sound and not playing.
  13. I learnt that lesson the hard way!
    I bought a cheap Yamaha fretless bass to try out fretless. Well I just did not like the sound of the bass, it was not what I was expecting (I was intoning correctly, so I knew THAT was not the issue), then my bass teacher comes over and starts talking about this new bass line he had written for fretless! So I say, lets hear it. I go get the Yammy and plug it in. He starts to play, and I was blown away at how great the bass sounds:bawl: Yep, I then immidiately realized that the bass did not sound good because it was ME and not the wood or the pickups or anything.:scowl:
    So I then decided to change my approach to playing . . . . . . and put away the fretless for a while!:D
  14. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Pasco, WA
    I think you may be referring to the character of how you play when you say 'tone.'

    No tone comes from your fingers. Tone come from your equipment.

    That recognizable style that makes people say "That sounds like...." comes from HOW you play but the sound coming out of your amp, headphones, PA, etc., come from your equipment and how you choose to operate it (adjust EQ, change plucking technique, etc.).

    Tone is all in your equipment but you can always tell WHO is playing, no matter what equipment they use, if you know their STYLE well enough.

    Fingers don't make sound. They only influence style through what you know how to do.


  15. I think this is a semantics issue. I will still refer to "tone" being in the fingers because the "tone" does change depending on where/how i pluck the string. Yes, I know the attack changes, but I firmly believe the tone does as well. It's amazing how much clearer my students sound just as a result of paying a bit of attention to how they approach the string.
  16. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Pasco, WA
    It could indedd very well be a semantics issue.

    Folks should stop using the words 'tone' and 'style' interchangeably. They are not.

    No 'tone' comes directly from your fingers but no one can argue that they definitely effect the way your equipment sounds.

    2 examples: Plucking with the meaty portion of your thumb and snapping.

    Two styles that will have distinctly different sounds when played through the same rig with the same settings.

    Yet their 'tone' through your equipment will be the same and that's not necessarily a good thing. That is why you will want to EQ the snap style different from a thumb pluck style.



    (off to work)
  17. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I'm in the "it's the player, not the gear" camp. When I first started out, I was in Mars music looking at highend basses. Didn't even look at the Squires, I wanted something that "sounded good"! Anyway, this salesguy, Rex, was tuning a white Squire jazz for this young pup and his mom. After he tuned it, he ripped into "Glide" by Pleasure, and damn if he didn't sound as good as the record, if not better! :eek: I went home and practiced on my Lotus P after that.
  18. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Actually, tone comes only from the way your brain interprets differences in air pressure on your eardrums.
    Fingers are equal to speaker cones, pickups and strings as far as "making sound". :)
  19. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI

    What a moot issue!!!

    Tell you what, play your bass unplugged, using no equipment whatsoever and tell me how your "tone" is. It will also give you the same idea as to your style.

    This ranks right up there with the "Which is more important to your sound, your amphead or your cabinet?" threads.

    Your fingers pluck the strings, which vibrate and are picked up by the pickups, which go through your control pots and your instrument cable, to the preamp, the amp,the speaker cable and then your speakers.

    Take any one of them out of the equation and tell me how what your tone is like.

    Personally, I like having good equipment to play on and through because otherwise my fingers have no reason to play. :)
  20. Aw geez, not this argument again.

    It's not all in the fingers. If it were, no good players would ever play anything but the cheapest instruments, and they would all sound EXACTLY the same--no, not kinda the same, not recognizably the same player, but EXACTLY the same--whatever instrument they pick up. About half a second's thought tells you that this is obviously untrue.

    And no, it's not all in the gear either. If it were, a given bass would always sound EXACTLY the same--no, not similar but EXACTLY the same--no matter who is playing it, and everybody who buys a given bass would automatically get the full quality of that bass's tone, no matter how low their level of technique and touch. About half a second's thought tells you that this is obviously untrue too.

    Tone is the total quality of sound that comes off your gear and hits a listener's ears. Everything that goes into creating that quality of sound affects tone, by definition. That includes fingers, gear, and possibly the level of sunspot activity too (I'm undecided on this last one).

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