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Need help with some general P bass stuff.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Visirale, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. Visirale


    Mar 23, 2003
    I want to love P basses. I love how they sound in recordings and so many artists I like use them and make them sound great. However, when I go and try one out at GC I'm always left wanting a lot more. They always come out sounding thin and the tone control goes from absolutely no definition to clangy with no real middle ground.

    I think it might be because of the rigs I play through at GC. I think that once it's going through my rig and it hits the tube preamp, it will beef up a lot. However, I do play them through ampegs at GC and Ampeg and Mesa are really a little bit more similar than different.

    Do P's sound great in recordings because of a host of post-production stuff that I won't be able to replicate live?

    I'm really tempted to get an MIA P5. I think I can make it work, but like I said... it's never left me speechless or anything.

    Thoughts/opinions/ideas? I'm definitely not trying to troll (I know a ton of you LOVE your P basses) because I want to like it... I just need your help to make me like it :smug:.
  2. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    P basses don't really shine until you put them in a mix.

    Play one through an SVT with a rock band, and you'll undrstand exactly what I mean. ;)
  3. Sub5ound

    Sub5ound Banned

    Sep 6, 2008
    Catskills, New York
    The stock strings are crap. the only way you will really get to hear it's sound is in a band situation anyway, but a good start, though it'll sound cliche, is to dump those crappy pickups. P-basses sound well rounded when played in a band situation and thats where you'll hear its true charachter.
  4. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    First, don't judge anything at GC.
    Worst setups ever. (can't judge anything objectively)

    What makes a P or J bass record so well is, it's a passive signal.
    That goes on tape very well.
    Less tweaking than active basses.

    With the right amp.
    A P-bass sounds great live also. ( P-Bass loves tube amps)
  5. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    Nothin' wrong with the stock American Standard p/u's guy.;)
  6. steamthief


    Jan 25, 2006
    Mentone Beach
    New strings on a P make a world of difference. Savit is correct about stock pickups and sitting in the mix. Everybody I've ever played with prefers the P to either the Jazz or the Ray.
  7. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    Perhaps the answer is simple: you don't like P-basses. No shame in that.

    I went through such a stage with jazzbasses.
    I tried to like them, they sound so good in the hands of some bassists.
    But they are not meant for me.

    Either you just buy a P-bass and give it a chance or you stick with basses you know that work for you.

    After many years I discovered I like P-basses, and not J's.
    I never played a P I didn't like. And to my taste every (decent) P-bass I tried sounded great to several different amps.

    Just your own personal taste matters.

    My 2cents.

    If you are really GASsing for that precision 5 and you can afford it, buy it if it makes you happy.
    Testing it out in a store is one thing, owning it and playing it every day makes a difference.
  8. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Don't take anything on faith alone, but also don't forget that the P-bass has been pretty much a live and studio standard for decades, and there's a real reason for that.

    IME it always takes time to get amp EQ perfect -- at times hours of rehearsal and small incremental adjustments that eventually get you where you want to be. Personally, I find the P needs some boost around 150-250 hz, and some cut in some midrange frequencies. Note that I've never been one to insist that my amp remain "flat" and the amp-bass combination has to either stand or fall based on that approach.

    Using a P-bass direct signal in a recording situation is almost always a path toward success: I've often started out using my G&L, with it's monster output and superior instant-gratification live sound, only to revert to the P for the "right" sound in laying down studio tracks.

    What the P offers is a full palate of tone without major (read: uncorrectable) exaggerations. It offers a firm "base" of bass that with the proper EQ will get you where you want to be. I think this was Leo's great triumph: engineering a bass sound that is a good starting point.

    You'll find that there is a lot of midrange, but this is what gives the P-bass its presence in a mix, and modification of bumps and valleys is what EQ is for -- IME I've always found that proper mid adjustment is the most crucial and most time-consuming facet of getting any bass to sound its best.

    EDIT: I've been using a Mesa WalkAbout 12 lately with great results; previously I used an Ampeg B200R. Both have tube preamps. I looked over your gear list, and if the Mesas you have offer any of the sound my WalkAbout does, you should be able to do just fine with a P-Bass IMO. You can always take one home from GC for the 30-day "check out" period and see what you can come up with. Again, IMO don't be afraid of boosting AND cutting EQ as needed.
  9. Really there's so many factors involved in liking a bass that it's not even funny, but if you've tried it through several rigs and it's not your thing then I'd say don't try to like it. Just move on.

    I used to think I really disliked P basses, but what I found out was that it really depended on who was using the bass and what context. There's thousands of people who use P basses, which means a good percentage of them are likely to get a sub par to average sound out of it. However, there's several that do get a great sound out of it, just like those who get great sounds out of Jazz basses, Stingrays, Rickenbackers, L-2000s, etc. Factors besides the bass itself could be anything from technique to playing style. That's why I think the feel of the instrument is almost as important as the sound, since it's a much easier thing to gauge, personally.
  10. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Really great posts in this thread, some important points made clear.

    I love my Jazz basses for some applications (specifically where the bass is very prominent in the mix, and where the mix has a lot of room for the tone to shine out) like reggae, jazz and funk, for example, but I have a much easier time sitting my Ps in a rock mix with blazing and doubled guitars, to the point where I don't use a jazz bass for those applications. Keep in mind I'm talking about passive Js, and my MO is to use basses that need little EQing besides that which accounts for room variation to sound good. The only thing I find necessary often is is to cut some lows when going through a PA with big subs, or else I find the punch and midrange character can get lost.

    Live I never roll any tone off on a P, and use a pick when I need more cut, clank, or attack.

    I do use a Jazz for some songs where the signature growl is a defining feature of the bass's tone on that track; then I stray from plug and play to boosting my low mids to bring out the growl.
  11. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006

    I'm going to STRONGLY disagree with both of these posts.

    Precisions do not sound killer on their own.

    Don't discount the Precision untill you've played one in your own band , through a rig that you are VERY familiar with.

    If you don't like it after that, then I would suggest moving on, but you'll never really appreciate what Precisions do untill you hear how they sit in a mix between the kick drum and guitars.

    Bailing on a P before you experience one in that setting, is not really giving it a chance to do what it does best.

    If you are a "solo" type player who plays alone, something else might suit you better.
  12. Visirale


    Mar 23, 2003
    That's a good description of the problems I'm having now. I'm in a rock band with 2 guitars and the Sadowsky M5-24 is just not sitting well in the mix. None of the sophistication of the sound comes out. I just want something simple and passive so I can get a tone and go. I love how a P bass sounds. Colin from Radiohead uses P basses and his tone is what I want to replicate. Guy Berryman from Coldplay also gets a tone I love. I also know both artists use a TON of in-studio production...

    Maybe I do need to use the 30 day thing at GC. Play it with my band and see how it works. Does anyone know if the 30 day policy applies to special orders? They have one in stock, but I want one in Olympic White :).
  13. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006

    I'd also suggest NOT using the mid scoop, typical J bass type e/q either with a Precision.

    Start with everything flat and work it up from there, with the band. You might even want to work the mids up just a touch with a P agianst a couple of guitars.

    What sounds good by itself, probalby isn't going to work best in a band sitiation.
  14. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    I thought I chose my words carfully in my first post.
    "Perhaps the answer is simple:..." ;)

    And further in that post my opinion is sort of the same like yours.

    I said he should own the bass to check it out because testing out in a store is not the same.

    I STRONGLY disagree that you STRONGLY disagree with me. :smug:

  15. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    I have never found a P bass I didnt like. For years I would only play jazz basses. But earlier this year I fell in love with p basses. That split pickup sounds amazing. I would have to agree with everyone else saying you have to take one home and play it in a band setting before you decide if its for you. I find when I practice on my own I end up going to the jazz bass Im not really sure why. In a band setting though the p bass is just amazing.
  16. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    I use a parts P-bass straight through a relatively cheap Yorkville amp and most of the time, my EQ is near flat, I don't use any effects and leave the tone wide open. The tone in a live rock band is solid, round and warm. I've even come to like the P-tone soloed. :hyper:

    Give P's a chance! But try it in a live or studio band setting. You won't have any touble reselling it if you don't like it.
  17. Rooster009


    Feb 27, 2008
    Some really good advice that I've heard from other bass players in my area is to borrow a bass from another bass player and use it in your setting for a night or two. Most of the players in my area are generous enough to atleast bring there bass to your gig or practice so that you can experience what it would sound like in your setting. Also when you try a new or used bass, keep in mind the overall feel has to be right to you. In other words, if you don't like the way the neck feels or the way it hangs or the fret work don't get it. P-basses are all over the place, borrow one and try the sound before you buy.
  18. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    Savit, stop giving away the secrets of the P! We dont want everyone getting our killer sound!
  19. The bass you are used to playing is active. When you play by yourself it is going to sound bright and full. However, when you are playing with multiple guitars some of the frequencies that sound so good by yourself will blend with the guitars and confuse or get lost in the mix. The beauty of a P is that the passive tones that almost seem dull in comparision to an active bass when practicing fall out of a guitar's range and really come to life in a mix. See if you can borrow a friend's P for your next practice and see how it works.
  20. Tish, and fipsy.
    It's a widely held myth in the bass world that Precisions only really work in a band context, and I couldn't disagree more.

    Just have a listen to Colin Hodgkinson.

    Of course if you don't like the Precision sound to begin with, there's no hope for you..;)

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