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Motown Sound

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ron G, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Ron G

    Ron G

    Mar 16, 2009
    Portsmouth, VA
    I have an Ampeg BA-115HPT and my main bass is a Fender P with flats. Which settings should I use to best achieve that classic Motown sound?

    Amp settings:

    Speaker: 15"

    Style switch: 1 = -25dB @500Hz, 2 = -12 dB @500Hz, 3 = flat, 4 = +5 @2kHz and above, 5 = -6dB @50Hz and below

    Eq: Low 40dB range @50Hz, Mid 30dB range @500Hz, Hi 40dB range @10kHz (knob range 0-10)

    HF level control: adjust the level of the high frequency driver. (should I use it?)
  2. pan1k


    Sep 16, 2011
    Las Vegas, NV
    boost the mids, cut the bass and treble
  3. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Roselle, IL
    Put it on setting three for the style control. Turn the high frequency driver control all the way to the left (effectively turns the tweeter off). Turn the treble knob a little to the left, play with your fingers towards the neck. Experiment with the placement of your fingers and you should get pretty close to the Motown sound without much effort.

    Leave the other tone knobs at the "noon" position.

    Small boosts and moving your plucking hand around is the key to the Motown sound.
  4. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I don't if I necessarily agree to boost the mids unless your amp sounds mid-scooped when all is set at neutral. I play P nad J with flats and run pretty much at noon on the dials, with no contour controls operating. But, I'm playing through Markbass stuff, so it could be different. Anyway, you know the sound you're looking for. Start with everything at noon, no filters or contour stuff, and mess with the knobs to see what each does. I can't say myself what settings would work on your amp for your personal technique, but playing with the mids will probably get you there. However, when you get in a mix be ready to change it all again.
  5. pan1k


    Sep 16, 2011
    Las Vegas, NV
    im just going off of a lil research i did as year ago. not to mention i visited the motown studio in detroit last year. the tour guide somewhat confirmed what im tellin ya. =]..
    James Jamerson is the bassist btw. My fav =]
  6. As numbered behind your knobs.

    Style switch: 3

    Eq: Low 7-8, Mid 5, Hi 5

    HF level control: OFF!

    Season to taste

    BTW - Jamerson's amplifier of choice at club performances was an Ampeg B-15; in larger venues, he used a blue Naugahyde Kustom with twin 15" speakers. On both, the bass was typically turned up full and the treble turned halfway up. On most of his studio recordings, his bass was plugged directly into the mixing console.

    Just Sayin' :)
  7. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    According to "Standing In The Shadows" he was in the live room, plugged into a box that was built into the wall. The box had a meter and a knob. His signal was then routed to the mixer. Jamerson supposedly turned the knob on the box up full, so the needle on the meter was bouncing in the red constantly. What was the box? I haven't a clue.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The box was a 3-way tube preamp they used as a DI for bass and guitars. And while Jamerson did use that in the studio once they made it, he also used the B-15 on a lot of the early Motown stuff, and anyone who's heard a Motown song and a B-15 knows that the B-15 was clearly the model for his recorded sound.
  9. will33


    May 22, 2006
    His studio sound is direct to the console, live is likely a B-15. The 2 aren't that far apart. His tone soloed is also a helluva lot dirtier than it sounds mixed in with band.

    OP, set your mid switch to 3 or "flat, no effect", tweak the other tone knobs to taste. A lot of fat low mids and not to much deep bass or twangy uppermids/treble are key. Your amp and your bass as you have it setup should pretty much do this on their own.......the rest is in the hands.
  10. Ron G

    Ron G

    Mar 16, 2009
    Portsmouth, VA
    Thanks for all your inputs, all the things that I have tried just didn't sound right. I have the following settings:

    Style: 3 flat, Low and Hi 2, Mid 5, HF off
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You know, there's only so much you can do with an amp and a bass ;) But try this...

    Cut the treble to 9:00, mids at noon, bass at 1:00. Then turn it up till it starts to distort but not too far past that point.
  12. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    The above suggestions plus a foam mute under the bridge cover.
  13. pan1k


    Sep 16, 2011
    Las Vegas, NV
    You're pretty much right. The DI is weird. I saw it. Its like 3 in 1. But ya its what bass and that other instrument that shall not be named plugged straight into. Its a bummer the only video I've ever seen him play live, is a marvin gaye video and I see him for about 10 secs
  14. Ron G

    Ron G

    Mar 16, 2009
    Portsmouth, VA
    Thanks, my 2 was 9:00 and 5 was noon. Placing the bass at 1:00 sounds nice.
  15. arai

    arai Banned

    Jul 16, 2007
  16. Is that about number 6,7 on the bass knob?
  17. Yes
  18. deepdown

    deepdown Guest

    Aug 9, 2008
    A little chicken grease on the flats is essential.:D
  19. Off to the PathMark to get some Banquet Fried Chicken!
  20. Ron G

    Ron G

    Mar 16, 2009
    Portsmouth, VA
    1:00 is number 6 on the bass knob.

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