New Amp= 2nd thoughts on bass purchase- thoughts and advice?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by vindibona1, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. Forgive the long story, but I need some sage advice.

    It's been a couple months since I started playing bass seriously. About 30 days ago I picked up a Yamaha TRBX605FM as I had doubts about the size of my Ibanez BTB675 which I bought on the spur of the moment because it was so beautiful. After playing the 675 for a few days I thought I needed something smaller. Got a great deal on the Yammie and thought it would be ideal. It feels great. The build is great. Different than the Ibanez. But since then two things have changed...

    I've grown into the Ibanez, but at 10 pounds plus I don't see myself doing 3 hour standing gigs with it. I love that bass now and while it is big and heavy I don't feel it's that big any more. But the second thing was the acquisition of a GK MB112. I never owned a bass amp before. I chose the GK because of it's clarity and simplicity. And that's where the problem is... It's revealed the nuances of my basses.

    I'm not crazy about the nuances of sound and sonic limitations that I can't figure out how to get past with the Yamaha. Is it me? Is it a mis-match with the amp? I dunno. The way I would describe the sound that I'm hearing would be "inarticulate". To help illustrate the term, in the middle of a phrase there are three passing half steps, C-C#-D (3rd string fr3-5). Instead of hearing the distinct steps they all permutations of the same note. I played it again several times and had difficulty with the distinction. Then I plugged in the Ibby and heard defined half steps. Same with my Squier with Aguilar noiseless and heard distinct defined notes. I'm also not getting what I consider to be a good articulation when I do slap stuff. Everything just sounds weak (?). I know my technique isn't there yet, but I sound better on my other basses. I know this amp doesn't have a tweeter like the TCE BG250's, but still getting pretty good sounds with the other basses.

    I'm not sure if I'm doing anything incorrectly or it's the bass itself or what I should try? Could it be the amp and my lack of experience dialing in sound? But I have until tomorrow to decide to keep it or return it and could use some advice flushing out whether I should press on with this bass or just return it.

    TIA for your help.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  2. Timmah

    Timmah Supporting Member

    May 19, 2011
    How old are your strings?
  3. The Yamaha is new out of the box, never been played by another human except for the tester at the store. Shouldn't be very old and never been played.
  4. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    The old gk112 I have has parametric mids. I bet yours doesn’t. Play around with the EQ section, contour and boost.

    Try swapping out the string set with other ones you have. You can always swap back. I find it takes some experimentation to find what you like best for the bass.
  5. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Very few basses come with good factory strings…I can think of only two.
    Try a set of LaBella Gold Tapewounds or something similar.
  6. You know, the string swap may be a good idea. I'd have to take the strings off the Ibby, but they are 4 week old DR Sunbeams so not too old, but different than the generic D'Addarios that come on it and same gauge. Or I'll get some new strings from GC if they have anything decent in stock today.
  7. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    It’s not a bad Sunday thing to do. While you’re at it you can polish the frets, oil/clean the fretboard, clean the bass without the strings in the way and soak the strings in some isopropyl alcohol with the highest percentage of alcohol. Then they’ll sound way zingier.
  8. Warhawk

    Warhawk Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2003
    South of Heaven, Ohio
    I agree with everyone here. Try some good strings.
    Gearhead17 likes this.
  9. I just got back from a 2 day road trip, 200 miles in each direction. I took a few moments to play the Yamaha and the other two basses again. I'm hearing things a *bit* differently and perhaps strings will help. But I had another thought...

    How does pickup height generally change the tone in a bass? I know, having set up many Stratocasters, that with some pickups the pickup height is critical. I recall putting Dimarzio Area pickups in one Strat and it didn't sound very good until I stumbled up the exact height they liked. With Fat 50's and MIM Strat ceramic pickups they like to be fairly low to flush with the pickguard.

    So what will raising the pickups as high as possible or putting them as low as possible to do change the bass' sound?
  10. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Only one way to find out. Then you tell us.
  11. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I like my pickups to be as equal as my ears can make them. What I have done when swapping pickups is plu into a flat amp direct, no pedals in between. Then solo each pickup and play with the height until they both sound about the same loudness.
    I also agree with everyone on new bass strings usually being sub standard. - every second hand bass I’ve ever bought had carpy dead strings. Every new bass I’ve ever bought had cheap, what the heck brand of strings are these?, strings...

    So put on some new strings, play with your pickup height, see where you are.
    RSBBass and Loring like this.
  12. Loring

    Loring Supporting Member

    May 4, 2017
    check the tone control... maybe your ibby is brighter or set parallel and the yammie is not? I know Billy Shehan gets a very gnarly tone out of his and you hear every freaking note...
    pudgychef likes this.
  13. jchrisk1


    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    Yeah, I could never get along with the tone of my TRBX505. I tried lots of strings, but could never get satisfied with what I was hearing. I know lots of people like them, just wasn't my thing. I love the early TRB and BB series Yamahas.
  14. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Tijeras, NM
    If you've been playing bass for only a month, I would suggest looking at your technique and EQ settings before changing strings. The problem doesn't sound like it is fundamentally due to the strings. Great players can make the deadest, muddiest flats articulate each note through a modern amp like the MB112. Assuming you otherwise really like the Yamaha, then I suggest you learn how to control it and get the most out of it for the time being.

    Set everything on the bass and amp completely flat, then favor one pickup or the other to start with, rather than leaving both full up. Try plucking with your finger tips (as opposed to pads) closer to the bridge. Play around with the angle, dynamics, and quickness of the attack. Work your hands until you start to hear clear pitch definition between each note.

    I've been playing for over 30 years and I'm more convinced now than ever that the sound is fundamentally in the hands. Sure, there can be differences due to a wide variety of things like EQ, strings, wood, pickups, etc., but the more I hear myself played back from old recordings, the more I realize that I still sound like ME, despite being 3-4 times removed from the gear that I was playing at that time. If you don't like how you sound, work with what you've got until you can at least control the instrument. If you're still not happy with the nuances, then by all means, get a different bass. But don't spend your energy chasing after gear at the expense of really learning how to control the instrument with your hands.

    That's my advice, but I might be a curmudgeon...
    pudgychef, Richie Se7en and jchrisk1 like this.
  15. GroovyBaby

    GroovyBaby He stole my mojo! Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2007
    Huntingdon, PA
    Pickup height can make a huge difference! I always adjust mine to taste on a new bass. Strings can make a huge difference too. I’ve also sold really nice basses because they were too heavy. There are enough light ones that I don’t need to play a heavy bass that will bother my shoulder. My basses now are all a bit under 8lbs. I won’t buy a bass without knowing the weight. And I eq my basses differently depending on the bass.
    pudgychef likes this.
  16. I was thinking the 505 might be a better choice. They "revoiced" the 605 when they changed the body wood. I LOVE the sound of the old TRB. I'd love to find one.

    I'm not going to disagree with anything you've said. I've been playing bass for a *little* longer than a month (casually off and on since 1966) but playing SERIOUSLY for about three months [long story]. And yes, I have to and have been seriously working on my technique and sound. I want to take private lessons but having difficulties finding the right teacher locally. I agree that one will in the end always sound like themselves... unless they change something. I'm primarily a trumpet player and I do always sound like me regardless of the equipment. However, I have a sound in my head that I am striving to achieve and find it easier on different basses. I found myself working far too hard to get the basic sound I was looking for. The amp exposed a lot.

    On my way home this afternoon I stopped at a local GC to see if I could find a decent 5 string set to try, but nothing decent was available (that I was familiar with). I took the opportunity to play several basses in their bass room. I do like the sound of the Fender Elites. But I got a chance to play an Ibanez SR 5 (not 505). I wasn't aware of that model, but it had a lot of snap and pop without a lot of work and I could also tame the sound. It was close in feel to the Yamaha but I have to wonder if it was a little too easy with the Bartolini pickups? So, while I agree that getting "the sound" comes from the fingers I had an easier time getting it with other equipment. I did try the guitars in a GK, Ampeg and Fender amp and while each amp was different the general sound was there. Continue reading...

    I didn't have any new string sets on hand, so I did a swap between the Yamaha and the Ibanez. Instead of the generic D'Addario strings that came on it, I put relatively new DR Pure Blues 45-130 (same gauge as the D'Adds) and noticed an immediate improvement in the zing that was missing. I then set about trying different pickup heights. Very high, very low. They seem to produce the best sound when it is slightly lower than the highest I could set them without the magnets dampening the strings. So now the sound I'm getting is closer to what I want. And yes, I do test everything flat before turning any knobs on the basses or amps.

    On the technique front I've been experimenting with my touch. I'm not yet sure how hard I have to thump the strings, how fast to come off of them or strike through them, or how hard to pop them or ghost the notes. THIS is all new and where I could use some face to face instruction so I can get a better explanation of the desired nuances of modern technique.

    At this point I'm still waffling, and would feel better about returning the Yamaha if I had an alternative that I knew I'd love. If I could trade it back for an old TRB I'd jump at the chance. Do they even make a SR 5 any more?
    lowfreqgeek likes this.
  17. I don't know what my taste is yet from the standpoint of going after it. But I'm trying to figure it all out. Yeah... This Yammie is 8 pounds 1 ounce. Lighter than my MIA Strat.
  18. aaronious


    May 23, 2011
    Denver CO
    What are the two?
  19. pudgychef

    pudgychef In Memoriam

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    open the tone knob? It can be tempting to close it when new to bass (string noise etc) but you will lose articulation.
  20. GroovyBaby

    GroovyBaby He stole my mojo! Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2007
    Huntingdon, PA
    Just bring the pickups up (or down) incrementally while playing it. I leave mine plugged in and just turn down the volume when setting them. Too high and things get real clanky with too much attack. Too low and the output dies. Somewhere in between is a sweet spot but you should just trust your ear as each bass really is different. Also, don't be afraid to play with the EQ on the amp to get a different sound. When I switch from my P to my J I bring down the low end and boost the mids on my amp.
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