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Jazz band sound??

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by BassWindu711, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. I currently play bass in my HS jazz band. I come from a rock/metal backround and I was wondering what should I do to get a good "jazz" tone. I have an Ibanez SR705 with flats and MarkBass LittleMark 3 if that helps. Any tips would be great!
  2. jordan2


    Apr 2, 2011
    When I play jazz on my electric I usually set my set my toe control almost all the way to the neck pup, then with my bass' eq (active bass) I boost the bass and cut mid and treble a little. When I take solos sometimes I will boost treble a bit and shift more to bridge pup.

    Thats just what I do, I like how it sounds :)
  3. Thanks! When I focus on the neck pickup i get a p bass almost chunky sound. I like to keep it balanced between the bridge and and neck PU. But I will cut the mids and treb and boost the bass!
  4. Phineas


    Sep 25, 2011
    It depends.

    When I play in a bigband, I have 2 basic settings. When I played with a sucky drummer, I loaded up with bass in my EQ. If I had a kickin drummer, I would go for the bridge pickup/Jaco sound. Also, the key is to have just enough volume with a sharp attack.

    When I play in combos I definitely go for the Jaco-ish sound. Bridge pickup, high end EQ. Lots of longer tones, and connecting notes.

    When I play fusion, it is all about the funk!

    Other factors would be the venue, the size of the amp, etc....

    People all have their own methods. I am sure other people will chime in. I just did a lot of experimenting, and listening to recordings of my self, and did what I thought sounded the best. Your mileage may vary.

  5. Thanks! Last year I struggled with tone because the school had a crappy amp. I think Im going to go for a heavier bass sound because we do a lot of funk numbers. And Ill probably use my own amp which is a 2x10.
  6. GuyForrest3rd


    Aug 9, 2012
    I came from the same background when I started playing jazz in high school, man! I experimented around with using different pickup blends when I first started out, and found out a couple of things.

    First off, different sub-genres will sound better with different tones.

    Take funk for example. Funk, especially with your Ibanez, will sound best with a nice scooped sound (boost treble/bass, and cut mid), with your pickup blend set dead even between the two, or pushed slightly toward the neck.

    Swing and shuffle tunes will sound best if you try to emulate the sound of an upright bass. The best way I know to do that is boost your bass, leave your mid mostly even, and cut your treble -- while your pickup blend should be towards the neck, if not exclusively on your neck pickup.

    Latin music is really fun, and you have a couple of options here. You can either continue with the theme of emulating an upright bass, or you can mix it up and go with a more Jaco-esque tone. This is done by boosting your treble and mid (get extreme with it if you don't immediately get results! I usually wall out my mid and boost my treble almost as much), and cut your bass down.

    One surefire way to improve your jazz sound, honestly, would be to learn to play upright bass. I made the jump just about when I started playing jazz, and it made all the difference in my sound. Try joining up with your school's orchestra if it has one, and pick up an upright! It's a great move if you plan on playing jazz professionally at some point.

    I hope this helps!
  7. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Regardless of what bass you have, to sound like a Jazz band, or latin or whatever genre, the most important thing is the musical language. While you ask about Jazz, let me give some examples of what typically will make your playing and as result, your bass sound jazz-like.

    Typically when you talk about jazz bass you refer to the walking bass. The walking bass line outlines chord changes by walking eight notes, arpeggiating chords, adding skips and scaler or chromatic motion with good voice leading into the next chord change. Typical walking eighth note walking lines have swing component, not straight eighths but closer to dotted eight sixteenth feel.

    Now if you do that, you are 99% of the way there. There are plenty of guys doing this with round wounds, flat wounds, front or rear pick up and they all sound like Jazz bass players.

    Required listening, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Mike Richmond, Stanley Clark, Mirslav Vitous, Scott LaFaro, Marc Johnson, Eddie Gomez, George Mraz.... Transcribe the bass lines of these players and you will sound like a jazz bass player.
  8. nicopiano

    nicopiano Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Levis, Quebec, Canada
    I agree that the most important in jazz is the way you play. The gear comes second.

    As a pianist who had play lot of jazz, I've seen every kind of bass/amp and as long as you play in the style and set the EQ accordingly, you can't be totally wrong.

    If you play jazz on a regular basis, I would say that you can spend time and money to get the tone you want. It's a matter of preferences.
  9. Troph


    Apr 14, 2011
    Kirkland, WA
    The only consistency I've noticed in electric Jazz bass playing is that you should avoid boomy. Non-boomy settings will depend heavily on your amp and your stage setup. The big goal is to leave some space between instruments so they're all audible and distinct. Especially during solos, you should back off and help the solo instrument take center stage.

    Go listen to some Ron Carter, Stanley Clarke, and Paul Jackson lines from their electric bass days. It isn't strictly necessary to try to emulate a double bass tone to play smoking Jazz lines.
  10. GuyForrest3rd


    Aug 9, 2012
    This is the best advice I've seen on here so far. Listening and emulating great players should come first. Making your tone work, while important, comes second.

    Am I right to assume you're reading charts with written basslines? If so, then I recommend transcribing basslines from other bassists to get a feel for why what they do works. Written basslines are a good start, but they are, more often than not, written by horn players or piano players who don't *really* know what works best. Try improvising other stuff over the same song until you arrive at something that sounds like one of the greats!
  11. Thanks this helped a lot. With the great pre amp on my ibanez it's real easy to do what you said. And don't worry, I am actually learning upright but i am more classically trained now.
  12. Rodger Bryan

    Rodger Bryan Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    I started on electric and migrated to doubling on the upright late in HS. Because some school programs cover a diverse repertoire- from Weather Report to Basie, my suggestion would be to spend time immersing yourself in the sound of pertinent rhythm sections and see what you can do to cop the feel and tone without changing anything with your gear.

    Seek out recordings of big bands, especially Count Basie, Duke Ellington & Glenn Miller.
    Thad Jones compositions. Bassists: Jimmy Blanton, Milt Hinton, Ray Brown, Ron Carter.

    Keep playing the music you like, but the immersion in what these cats did will deepen your pocket and open your ears. Enjoy it!!
  13. There are some good posts in this thread and the OP's question is a good one.

    Your Ibanez 5er with flats will serve you fine for swing and bossa standards but as mentioned above, if you're playing fusion flavoured tunes you can definitely get away roundwounds and a modern sound.

    There are bass tones which just don't suit and should be avoided i.e. grindy-gritty (Geddy Lee jazz bass) tone, Fieldy-eque heavily scooped mids tone, heavy dub/reggae tone, etc. It's fairly self evident.

    The advantage with roundwounds, particularly in a small combo, is you can roll your treble off when you're walking through changes then restore the treble to flat (for the sake of presence) when you solo.

    When I play a 5 string with roundwounds in a medium sized ensemble I use a smidgen (9 o'clock) of the VLE on my Markbass head when I just want to sit in the mix, and I roll the VLE back to 0 when I want the line to stand out a bit more.

    Add to your listenng list Paul Jackson's bass tone in the classic Headhunters album and the ultra-modern tone used in 'The Return of the Headhunters'. The bass tones are like night and day but they are both flavours of good!
  14. For all swing songs I have to improv my own bassline over a chord chart. While funk and latin numbers are transcribed, but I still improv over that too.:bassist:
  15. GuyForrest3rd


    Aug 9, 2012
    Great! You're further than I anticipated. The main thing for you to do now is make a "bag of tricks" that you can pull from while you play. These tricks will come from things you play, things you find other bass players do, even lines from horn players. You can steal licks and lines from anywhere so long as YOU can make it work in the setting which you play. That's what the greats did to get in their hallowed place, and it's what most bass players do to get by.

    This is where transcribing gets really important. It's much easier to learn a line/lick if you break it down note by note (and having it written out helps with learning as well). You've got a great list of bass players to listen to to get started on this.
  16. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Technique first
    gear second

    Personally I prefer a 4 st to a 5 for jazz and stage band. But that's a personal preference. 5s just sound too thin to me. I also prefer either flats or tapes depending on what genre of jazz it is.
  17. Tip for playing walking bass and emulating an upright sound- get a block of foam and put it close to the bridge, to reduce sustain to a near "thump". In walking bass, the bass sound should be felt more than heard. Remember, your role is the pulse and the groove keeper. Listen to Ray Brown, etc., for great examples of this tone..
  18. Thanks for the info but dont worry about the bag of tricks. With my Dad and Brother both being guitar players, I cant tell you how many licks, soloing techniques, and tapping ideas Ive picked up. Im almost like a lead bassist :D. But thanks I always try to throw in my own little flare into a song, it makes it my piece.
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Your teacher will also tell you if your sound isn't what it should be, so take his/her advice as well. Just remember that it's not important to hear yourself over everything but to get a good balance with the rest of the band.
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yes. Because the first thing that Fred Hersch or Tom Harrell is going to want to know is how many tapping ideas you've picked up.:rolleyes:

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