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Need Help cutting through w/MTD bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rick1906, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. rick1906


    Jun 6, 2002
    I play urban gospel and praise & worship music at my church using an MTD 535. I love this bass tremendously, but I'm having difficulty cutting through the mix here lately. I play my MTD through an Avalon U5 that I use as a DI to feed the house. The U5 is either set flat or tone curve #2. The band consists of a Hammond B-3 with a miked Leslie, a Yamaha Motif run through the house, miked drums, and me on bass.

    Today at church, I ran the U5 flat but had the mids cranked almost all the way on my bass and slightly favoring the bridge pickup. Any suggestions on cutting through more?
  2. swpyne

    swpyne Basses R Loaded! Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 26, 2005
    Centennial, Colorado
    I know the MTD 535 is a beautiful and very popular bass but I found that I had the same trouble when I owned one a while back. I finally sold it because I just couldn't get it to speak-up in a live band mix. I'll be interested to hear what other MTD players have to say about this.
  3. Hey Rick!! What is your MTD made of woodwise? I have a Black Limba body, Rose of the mtn top, and wenge/wenge neck f-board, and my mtd has alot of mids, I have trouble getting alot of bottom out of mine. I usually boost the lows all the way and leave everything else flat and it seems to have a ton of mids but not that big booty that I'm looking for...I guess every mtd sounds different depending on tone woods. Although my mtd sounds killin' through in ears or through a wegde/monitor...
  4. FWIW, I've only had the bass for about a month, maybe some veteran mtd'ers can shed some light on your and my tone woes...
  5. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    What strings do you use?
  6. chris.gotfunk


    Mar 21, 2007
    Ashburn, Va
    I had the same issue with mine years ago. I too sold it. Mine had a mahogany body, maple board and neck. Great bass, just would not cut through a mix. I am sorry to hear about the problem. I am sure there are some EQ'ing tricks you try. Try finding the freqs that are not being occupied by other instruments and boost those. You may not like the tone of the bass by itself, but you will be heard in the overall big picture. Just an idea.

  7. bassie12


    Aug 23, 2008
    Are you using in ear monitors? This would take some work.

    Or is the bass just coming through stage wedges? If so, the easiest cure is to put an amp onstage so you can localize your sound and always have a strong sense of what you're doing in relation to every one else. I know the sound guy wants to keep stage levels down so he can control the mix..... but he's probably controlling you right out of the mix so the piezo "acoustic" guitars, synths, and all important background vocalists can hear themselves. A small 2x10 combo making a sound you like in the vicinity of the drummer will make your life as a bassist more fun. It doesn't have to be loud, it only needs to be loud enough for you to hear your instrument. Let the PA fill the house. Everyone else will appreciate there being less bass in their monitors, and because there will be fewer sources of bass all over the stage causing all kinds of phase cancellation/crud, you bass WILL sound better, and you WILL play better. Actually everything will sound better. And don't let the sound guy tell you the drums will suffer. You know that guys hits 'em too hard as it is, thats why there's more cymbals in the vocal mics than there are in the cymbals. :cool:

    Never mind my guitar comment, I just reread your post.:eek:

    Good luck and enjoy that cool bass!
  8. I see I see. Your going to have to send your MTD over so that I can try it out.
  9. XavidmanX


    Jun 29, 2006
    Bakersfield, CA
    Well, I'm sure there might be a lot of things going on that could be contributing to this situation. I would say that the woods in your bass could be part of the equation. I think I have trouble cutting through at my church with my MTD but I've had trouble with every bass that I play there because of the acoustics in the room, the board, the subs, etc., etc.

    Unfortunately I've been so busy with school these past few years that I haven't gigged out at all with my MTD to be able to speak knowledgeably about how it would perform in a live situation with just my amp and cabs working.

    That said, I know that this is part of the reason that Norm Stockton plays with his JJ5 is because Mike engineered that bass to sit in a more focused position in the mix, and to have a smaller sonic footprint without sacrificing any of the big low end.

    I have mine on the trading block right now but I'm kind of wondering why since it sounds so good through our church's Aviom monitoring system through my ear monitors.

    Anyway, are there other basses that you could try playing to see if it's just your bass? Maybe try something with a J style setup and see how that does.

    I know Vic gigs a lot with his MTD's along with a lot of other high end basses...maybe he could chime in.
  10. XavidmanX


    Jun 29, 2006
    Bakersfield, CA
    I had a similar problem with a tulipwood/wenge/wenge MTD. The compression in the mids in that bass hurt my tone like crazy. I would say that you definitely get a lot of mids and compressed sounds from the black limba and the wenge.
  11. This is excellent advice, and it matches my experience to a tee. Aside from greater on-stage presence and less low frequency cancellation effects, I've found that the "feedback loop" between the near-field placement of my amp and my ears/fingers seems tighter, "faster," and more immediate, which in turn helps to keep my playing more tightly focused (if that makes sense).
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Seeing as how the U5 has a huge mid cut in Position 2, it's not surprising you're not cutting through. Use Position 4.
  13. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I'm still waiting for the wood combo from the OP, but in general, yeah, MTD's are pretty modern sounding. I don't have too much trouble with mine cutting through pretty nicely, but if you end up in a mix that's pretty thick you can't be afraid to bump whichever mid frequency suits your music and style as needed. I should also mention mine are pretty aggressive wood combos, too, so that makes a diff... mostly ash bodies and maple or ebony boards on ash and maple necks.
  14. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    +1 Wenge necks don't work for me at all, and in particular, cutting mixes with fingerstyle playing. There are some wenge fans out there that will disagree with me passionately, but that's my experiences anyway.
  15. DRay521


    Aug 2, 2007
    Tuscaloosa, AL
    I've got a wenge neck/fb, and I actually have trouble cutting through with the slap more. I get alot of highs cutting through, but the bottom end doesn't make it. But that being said, I've noticed recently that my bass sounds different in every venue because of the sound man. Everybody's got their own opinion on what sounds good, and they rarely ask the band!! (as far as tone goes) And for the record, I really don't like wedge monitors.

    But back on topic, I think Munjibunga gave some good advice, mess around with the U5 at rehearsals. Chances are it's not the MTD. But I'm kinda bias.:D
  16. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    Most every time I hear an MTD played in a gospel setting the player is the type who enjoys scooping the crap outta the mids. Just listen to the gospel guys who advertise the brand. If that is not then sound you are going for, then you may be barking up the wrong tree.
  17. rick1906


    Jun 6, 2002
    Some very good advice here. My bass is ash body w/flame maple top and wenge neck and fb. The bass is 3-4 months old, so I'm still using the stock MTD strings.

    When I got the U5 a couple of years ago, I fell in love with tone curve #2, so I always left it there. But that was two basses ago. I have used that setting with this bass but have been running the U5 flat here lately.
  18. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Ok, well, IMHO(!), the wenge does suck some of the cutting tone for fingerstyle (while being particularly great for slap), but the ash body does buy some of that back for you. This is precisely the reason I went with ash necks on my more recent MTDs.

    That said, if you just use the U5 "flat" and maybe bump the mid/upper mids a bit, you should be able to cut fine.

    This may not make a lot of sense to some folks, but in my case, and a couple of other people I've spoken to, the other thing about wenge that kinda' drove me nuts is, as soon as your strings start to die off, that neck seems to amplify the effects of dying strings, in a negative way. I found I pretty much had to keep fresh/clean strings on it all the time to work well. I do not have the same "issue" with maple and ash necks.

    In my case, there's a longer story behind all this, but I really wanted to like wenge/wenge necks, 'cause I think they look really cool and feel great in my hands, but they simply don't work for me tonally.

    IMHO, IME, and YMMV! :)
  19. T-MOST

    T-MOST Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2004
    NJ via NYC
    I know some folks swear by MTD but I have heard this (thin bottom) complaint about them for years. I think it's the wood selections that makle them so different from bass to bass. I think for a big clear bottom you "probably" need to stick with a Ash body and maple neck. It shouldn't be so hard or need of special EQ tricks to get a tone you like from a bass. If it is... maybe it's not the bass for you. I considered MTD but eventually went with Ken Smith. But thats "just me". Again maybe your woods are giving off a voice you don't want.
  20. Bassflute


    Jun 24, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: MTD basses and strings; Bergantino Amps & Cabs
    Some good advice there, sort of. This 'thin bottom' thing is such total nonsense. MTD's have such a wide tonal range, and the bottom end is balanced with the rest of the frequencies. They are, in essence, flat, like a good studio monitor. They may seem 'thin' to someone who is used to the ridiculous over EQ'd basses around now, i.e. Music Man et al. Mr. T's basses are about flat, natural response, and lots of wood in the sound. Natural, acoustic sounding instruments. They need judicious EQing for the appropriate musical setting They are extremely versatile if you work at it. If you want thunderous bottom, get an EB3 with flats.

    And they generally have a nice soft, sweet sound that would definitely not be described as 'cutting'. They are all about warmth, and nice wooly tube-like sounds, quite compressed. Try a different setting, or a different DI totally. Radial makes some nice stuff quite cheap, and they are much smaller and more flat.

    Here, here. Take back control of your sound. Soundmen are there to amplify the sound of the artist, that being YOU, not to dictate what you should sound like. Too many people are weaseling up to these guys now just to keep their gigs; too many soundmen are completely out of control as far as dictating what musicians should sound like. Take control of your sound, send him a feed, and let him deal with it. That's his job, and the best ones do it well. A good soundman will ask what you would like, not tell you what you're going to get. He's a soundman, not a producer; a lot of them are getting totally carried away with themselves.

    I make them mike my cabs - no DI. Screw it. I know what I want to sound like. They do it for guitar players, they don't tell the sax players what kind of reed/mouthpiece/horn to use, they work for hours on the drums sounds, miking and gating everything, dual overhead condensers causing massive leakage everywhere, then they'll spend 12 seconds on the bass sound, tell you you're too loud (because of leakage into the stupid condensors they insist on using live and the bass amps being too close to the drums) and want your bass to go through the monitors. Awful. How many bass players like the sound of their bass through a pair of freaking vocal monitors? I know I don't. Why don't they make the singers use a bass amp for monitoring, see how well that works? Bad soundmen love to make my gorgeous MTD's sound like a Pre with flatwounds and a pick. Get the sound YOU want on stage, not the one he's giving you.

    The real culprit here I think is the soundman, not the bass. You have one of the best and most flexible instruments ever made, with top end out to 12K +, and a gorgeous DI. He's not getting you a sound that's working for you. So take back the control. Send him YOUR sound and let him deal with it.

    Incidentally, I have NO trouble cutting through with my MTD's coming through a nice pair of Bergs. Clarity for days. Get a couple.

    Get an amp, use your DI, send him a feed.


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