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P-Bass....rolling the tone ALL the way OFF?!?!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by JimFog, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. JimFog

    JimFog Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2000
    Phila, Pa
    I've always kept the tone control on my passive P and J basses rolled back a bit. After seeing this Pbass vid from Scott Devine....


    ........I've been experimenting with rolling it ALL the way off on the P (Classic 50's, 62 Original pup). I dig it. That's the P tone I hear in my head. Am I fooling myself about that woofy a tone working in a live situation, though? Seems ok in rehearsals, but I haven't gigged it yet.

    Anyone else run their P that way?

    Whaddya think?
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I think live you should send the sound guy a slightly brighter tone than you actually prefer. He can always roll of some highs and mids to make your tone fit the mix. But he can't ADD highs and mids of there aren't any there. By the way, I'm a bass player AND a sound man. Unless you play reggae, give me a little tone to work with.
    Frenchy-Lefty and primusfan1989 like this.
  3. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    It depends on the mix of instruments you have in your band. If you need some grind to "fill the void" in guitar solos, you should have a bit there. But if you're in a two-guitar band, you would be able to get away with the nice big round bottomed tone you hear in your head. That being said, I agree with two fingers. Send a brighter signal. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
    Isotonic likes this.
  4. Worshipbass12


    Feb 23, 2013
    Nw georgia
    I agree I run my tone on my p at half or rolled completely back depending on the song but the tone that sounds good to me doesn't cut through the mix so I usually pump mids and that gets the job done and ( my ) tone sounds right in the mix
  5. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Agreed with above re more treble when going to the board. Invariably when I ask sound techs if I can do anything to help them out, they'll ask me to roll off some bottom and give them more mids and highs. Guess I must just be a "thumper" at heart.
  6. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    Duck Dunn was often quoted as saying that his tone came from having his bass all the way up, and that it sounded horrible to him until he heard it from the front of the house, then there was that huge, round bottom end that he wanted, just perfectly defined. Jamerson, too, always played with the tone on his bass all the way open. Then he rolled off just a touch of treble at the amp, rolled the bass up and rocked it.

    You need the treble in your tone (unless you are a horrid player, so you want to hide the notes and just provide a mushy bottom to the band) to define your notes. Honestly, in a mix, you'll never hear the treble from a passive P, but the notes will suddenly have that classic sound.
    bolophonic likes this.
  7. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    I almost always roll the tone all the way off. Occasionally, I'll put it at 3/4 on, depending on the tune. The only time its up is when I'm playing slap and I need the treble.

    It just sounds perfect when the tone's down. This is also why I don't like jazz basses. I like to leave the treble tones to the guitars and cymbals.
  8. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I agree you need the treble with a P bass or its just to dark...muddy.I do roll it off sometimes on a few songs that just have a darker bass tone but overall its open all the time. I dial in my adjustments thru my amps and leave the bass controls open. Another reason i leave the tone open is I use flats. There is just to much bass in allot of rooms and I don't want to make more.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Allow me to take the opposing viewpoint.

    I think it can totally work for some music. I grew up with a ton of bass players who did that on gigs because they "wanted bass to sound like bass." Most didn't have a problem being heard. I do it sometimes myself and I don't have a problem being heard. Is it a tone I could use for everything? No. But it does work extremely well for reggae and ska and certain rock and roll sounds, especially when you get distortion involved, too.
  10. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    I roll the tone back quite a bit when I'm playing alone...once the band kicks in, the tone knob comes up until I get what I want in the mix...rarely all the way up though
  11. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    When I owned my Fender Precision back in the day, I used to completely roll off the tone control quite often. The key, as ever, is to apply one's tone settings - along with one's amp settings, choice of strings, playing technique, etc. etc. - to the musical requirements of the specific situation at hand. :meh:

    For example, for any kind of roots music - i.e. blues, reggae, etc. - tone control all the way down, a set of D'Addario Half-Rounds, pluck the strings near the end of the neck.

    For playing rock? Tone control most of the way up, a fresh set of GHS Boomers, and picking down near the bridge.

    Makes sense, yes?

  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    remember, with passive tone controls there's a big difference between "tone on 3" and "tone on 0"; when you hit "0", you actually get a little mid-boost from the cap resonance. in some ways, "3" might actually be the darker setting.
  13. I think string age with roundwounds is a big element here.

    Brand new roundwound strings have a lot of zing so rolling off the tone will temper it somewhat. Also it is easier to be heard in a live situation with a reasonable amount of tone.

    That said with non-new strings I normally run tone between 50-100%. I use 30% or lower for a blistering solo, er someday anyway!

  14. JimFog

    JimFog Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2000
    Phila, Pa
    Thanks, all. Interesting responses. BTW, I'm also running LaBell flats on this P bass, so extra deep and buttery.

    I'm gonna try it the next few gigs and see how it works out.
  15. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The tone control is meant to be used, so use it. :)

    One interesting thing I've noticed is that you can't easily simulate the effect using amp EQ; passive tone control roll-off is really a unique sound that must be created at the instrument.
  16. JimFog

    JimFog Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2000
    Phila, Pa
    Thanks! I was meaning to mention that, as well. Something interesting.....and not just muddier....happens when you hit "0" on the pot.
  17. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I don't often run at 0, but I really like the 1-3 range.

    My goal gear-wise is to make the sound coming out of my bass exactly the sound I want to hear, so that the other equipment in the chain becomes irrelevant. Never really understood the "turn the treble all the way up on your bass so the engineer can cut the treble at the board" mentality. ;)

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Love it. That tone KILLS for certain applications. Of course, the player and their approach really makes a difference.
  19. bassfreakah


    Mar 26, 2011
    Endorsing Artist Ernie ball strings
    I like it wide open with new steels (strings) and a pick for rock. A p bass has lots of fun sounds in it.
  20. bassfreakah


    Mar 26, 2011
    Endorsing Artist Ernie ball strings
    I just try to hear my self good on stage and leave all the low stuff to the front of house.

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