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Older basses, oldschool tone in a busy mix?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RicPlaya, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Just joined my first 5 piece band. 2 guitars, keys, drums and bass. We are all knew to the 5 piece thing so it is taking a while for us to find our freq range without being muddy or stepping on each others toes. My brother playing guitar had his Les paul, the other guitarist had his Strat, and I was playing my Spector. I wasn't cutting and getting lost, my brother was having trouble too. So my brother swithced to his Fender Telecaster...so now both guitars are Fender. I put away the Spector and grabbed the old Ric 4000 out of the case strung with Rotosounds. WAALLLAAA you could hear everything..the guitars both were seperated, the bass was thumpy and low under everything. The Spector worked great in the 3 piece rock setting..with the extra guitar and keyboard...the oldschool thumpin tone of the Ric ruled! I don't get it..I tried my Rebop and my old Spector with EMG DC40's and the BQC pre amp...the bass is a mids monster. But it still didn't do as well as the Ric..a tried a Fender P again it ruled in the mix just like the Ric. Oldschool vibe saved the mix...I don't get it? I thought the opposite would occur. What gives I'm baffled? I'm played an Eden WT800 with an Ampeg 410..it's not like my gear is junk?
  2. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I'm playing a Fender P-Bass through an Eden WT400, through an Ampeg 410 too.

    We only have one guitarist, and he plays a variety of guitars (though none have that thick Les Paul sound). We also have a keyboardist, but she is not real heavy with the left hand (thank God). It is a very full, lush sound where things could get real muddy in a hurry, but it doesn't.

    I think the Fender guitars are bright enough to not be stepping in your spectrum. The Spector, being more in the sonic territory of low rhythm guitar probably caused some of the problem, just as much as switching from a Les Paul to a Telecaster helped improve it.

    The Ric, or P-Bass would be quite full, but they also live down in the bass with a deeper, fuller low end than the "mid" area the Spector was better at.
  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Sometimes when you need to cut through, it's not the tonal frequencies but the attack/sustain characteristics that make the difference. I'm guessing the Spector, with its neck-through contruction and EMGs, has lots of sustain and an attack that sounds slightly compressed, right? In a dense mix, it's the sharp initial attack and not the long sustained notes that get heard.

    That's been my experience, anyway. Sometimes the attack can be bright and aggressive (Wal!) or sometimes thumpy (P-bass with flats and a pick), but it's definately important and often overlooked...

  4. Eisenmann


    May 12, 2004
    hmmm I think in your situation the guitar-swap also have a great impact, too.

    the fenders are really twangy and and more trebly, especially the telecaster.on the other hand the typical les paul has a real warm, bassy and fat tone.seems that the les paul and your spetor interefered at the bass freqs.

    in my band both of the guitarists play les pauls at high distortion. and the rhytm guitarist boosts is lows...
    our sound sucks and he is always complaining that I mudd up the sound and that I'm to loud :mad:

    I told him so many times about tit but he is a guitarist... :(
  5. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Now that I think about it, it makes more sence. The oldschool passive vibe is low and thumpy..coupled with two Fender guitars that are more trebly it creates more speration in the spectrum for all of us to live. The Les Paul and Strat together was OK..but not as tight as the two Fenders. The Spector just couldn't hang with all that going on. But like Mike said the thumpy attack is what was needed in this setting. I was and am still totally shocked how this played out with the guitars, I never would have expected it.
  6. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Yeah, not to sound like an old curmudgeon making a silly over-generalization, but back in the old days you had twangy guitars and boomy bass, and the separation made everything clear.
    Things went downhill at some point when guitarists were inspired to put out bottom-heavy, distorted tones, and bassists started using roundwound strings, solid state amps and cabinets with 10s. Each individual wanted to rule all the frequencies himself, and voila... MUD! :meh:
  7. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    No your not...this is what exactly happened. I think as music changed to more of a 3 or 4 piece rock group you could get away with it, and the guitars have to be thicker in order to fill up the frequencies and sound fuller with less instruments . Start adding 2 guitars..keys that plays all kinds of tones including horns seperation is key!
  8. This SHOULD be a BIG discussion on this forum.

    Since I've been doing some home recording the past year, I've noticed a few things that ring clearer to me now as a bass player.

    I play guitar and bass, my singing is really bad, but in my attempts to do the whole recording myself I've found out more about BASS guitar.

    I always knew that in a 5 piece and with keys, the bass needed its place. The equipment the bassist has is paramont to the bass tone, mainly the bass cause the amp really isn't what is used in a recording or a live mix (usually).

    The more "stuff" you have to compete with, the less you TONE you will be able to offer. You won't have that jazzy hi-fi sound in a busy mix, sometimes it sounds like the bassist does, but with millions of dollars of equipment (and tallent)they can get away with it.
    For regular musicians we need to find out what fits (which on limited budgets hampers our efforts).
    It isn't easy to fing out spot, different band situations required the bass player to change to the situation.
    Sometimes it's easy just by using FLATWOUNDs will do the trick and others using STEELES will fit.
  9. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Luckily for me the guitarists meet me half way. They are tasteful with volume and changed guitars to create more seperation by both using Fenders. In fact one of them suggested I bust out the Ric to get more of that thuddy vintage tone. They are very consious of frequncy sharing. I must say it is refreshing to play with guys like that, and also to progress into a 5 piece with more diverse material.

    Now all I need is a G&L:)
  10. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    And it doesn't have to be a 5-piece band!
    For many years, I played professionally with a singer/songwriter acoustic guitarist. When he played solo, he did a masterful job of sounding full... he used an old Gibson which had a very rich, chunky sound, and he had a Barcus Berry preamp which he used to further crank the low end. Also, he was a very aggressive strummer (think of Richie Havens' great performance at Woodstock).
    The problem was that when he played with me, he had no concept of altering his approach to accomodate a bass player. Sometimes at a sound check he'd even ask the soundman to boost the 100 Hz range on his guitar, while I stood next to him and quietly seethed.
    Of course, he was successfully masking the bass, which was infuriating to me because we specialized in writing intricate, interwoven arrangements, and I was often inaudible in live situations. For awhile, I tried the "Jazz Bass with rolled-off neck pickup" tone to "climb over" his sound, but that was too "fusiony" for the kind of music we were doing. Then I tried the "maple fingerboard Precision with round wounds, tone up the way up" approach to try to get simultaneously under AND over his guitar. That was better, but still not the rootsy vibe that the music called for.
    Finally, after angry input from me (almost at fistfight level) and somewhat less angry input from others, he started to get the idea, and by the end I was happily in "P-Bass with flatwounds" territory.
    Nowadays, years later, we're still great friends... but he prefers to perform without a bass player! ;)
  11. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    For there to be seperation between instruments, each must have sonic space that the others don't exist in. You can do this with EQ, but a P-bass does it for you.

    And a big +1 to everything Doug said about bottom heavy guitar players. I don't know why they do that, it doesn't sound good.
  12. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    RicPlaya, what you experience was good FUNDAMENTALS, which is the sound of the note as pure as possible, without many overtones.

    A good passive instrument will have good fundamentals, and it will cut through the mix. Short-scale instruments (I think the Ric is shorter than 34") also have exceptional fundamentals.

    Many modern, active basses amplify many frequencies and let more overtones out, and the fundamentals gets lost in the mix. Increasing the highs or mid, or both, will only make it worst.
  13. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Excellent points. Someone on another thread recently commented that when he turned his tone knob DOWN, he could hear himself better. It's counter-intuitive, but true. I've experienced it myself.
  14. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
  15. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten

    The reason I got an active to begin with was i thought the pre amp would help...but the opposite is true.

    Why do some basses (Fender clones) have pre amps and still have that thud?
  16. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    for me a Precision with rounds through an SVT with 8X10 allows me to keep up in any situation. I love playing my Sadowsky with "coffehouse cabs" but when the guitar ramps up, the Fender/Ampeg combo puts me on capable ground with no worry at all.
  17. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    Great thread ... I'm going thru a bit of this myself right now, trying to settle in with only a guitar and drummer with female singer. The guitar player uses a Tele with a neck humbucker and a 2x12 tube combo ... drummer a loud DW kit . I tried active bass pickups (Spector w EMGs) but the P bass cuts better ... I like the Spector so the EMGs are coming out and a passive set from HAS-sound are going in. Although I have almost the same rig as LuckyDog ... it's pretty big to haul around ... so I kinda downsized it to a Ashdown ABM 500 driving a SWR Henry the 8x8 ... So far so good, all in all I like the passive sound better for this situation ...
  18. Mattski


    Jan 6, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    Great stuff on this thread.

    What about the room? I spend most of my EQ time trying to un-muddy the mix because of how the room effects the band.
  19. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    The positive side of the sound you describe above is that if it's done properly, the entire band sounds like a wall of sound, i.e. the bass, guitars, and kick drum sound like one massive instrument, not mud.

    It's rarely done that way, though, and limits the band's arrangements somewhat. I hear it happen occasionally on the better recorded metal and rock albums, and almost never live.

    I like the density of the tone produced by bands doing it properly, i.e. everyone acting in concert to create the sound, rather than everybody occupying all available frequency range and competing to be heard individually, thus creating...MUD! :meh:
  20. I use my p/flats about 80% of the time because of how it sits in the mix. My j/rounds is perfect for some songs but I have to turn up a bit & boost mids to cover the same sonic area.

    As far as freq hogs, look at my sigline :eyebrow: As soon as I see a keys left hand start going to the bottom third I know what's coming. With git players I can tell by the first chord of soundcheck. Do you know how you have to turn your cab up to a certain point before it starts to "woof" & sound killer? Not fart, but like its ideal resonation point. I don't know how to really describe it. Anyway, when a git player hits that first chord, whether through a Marshall stack or a Fender Twin and I hear that "woof" I know there's gonna be problems. Freq patrol on the way! Our two gits would try to be sly and play higher chords but soon came to realize they were only hurting our sound. They also realized that each stage is diff. Bass setting on 4 in one hall might be overkill in another. They just needed a little gentle guidance. The whip helped but then they started liking it too much! :oops:

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