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Passive tone-stack lovers! Why do you like it and what amp do you have?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by AlexanderB, May 7, 2010.

  1. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Don't you agree that the classical "tone stack" solution made popular mainly by Fender (right?) is another old (timeless) engineering design that really never seems to die. I personally like it for recording and lower volume/small setting scenarios. There is a "musicality" (for a lack of a better word in my vocabulary) to the filters - it is virtually impossible to make it sound bad. It is all good, just different kinds of good, IMHO.

    What are your opinions?

  2. Hate the tone stack.

    Great if youre looking for a scooped tone... or you dont know how to set an an amp...
  3. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Well, everyone does not HAVE to love it. I have both "modern / high tech" amps and older stuff, but I still see how that old idea is still so prevalent. ;)
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i dig the old tom walker tone stack - used an alembic for a long time. you just have to know how to use it. also demeter has a passive tone section but it's a very different animal than the fender type. more intuitive and not as interactive.
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    People see scoop as inherent to the design, but it needn't be. I use the Fender stack in some of my DIY designs, and just use a passive bandpass somewhere else to lose the scoop or create an overall mid boost. One downside to that is the need for another gain stage or two for makeup gain in many cases, but IME it can work really well if implemented correctly. In other words, it pays to look at the total system response, not just one stage.

    Beyond that, my personal philosophy is that the ability to make things sound bad often goes along with the ability to make them sound really good. As the saying goes: with great power comes great responsibility. ;)
  6. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    I use a new Hartke LH500 with this kind of eq (old bassman type eq, iirc) and I really like it, I agree with your sentiments on the tone and musicality and simplicity.
  7. Hate the stack too. It's an old design that has long since been long since surpassed for bass. I still like the design for my tube guitar amps but that's it.

  8. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Passinwind, I did not mean to pont at any special setting (including the scooped one) more the general concept. But I fully agree with you on control going together with responsibility. A five band parametric EQ in the hands of a novice can ruin the best of signals... Something that is very hard to do with a Bassman.

  9. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I've got an old Sunn head that's just amazing. Not quite the same thing as the Fender tone stack - just bass & treble knobs and I think all they do is boost. (Based on an old "Dynaco" design IIRC.) It has a certain purity of response that just can't be beat for playing "oldies" with a pick.

    I also have a Mesa, which is more Fender-based, with their own unique twist. You can pull out the bass & treble knobs to shift their frequency boosts more toward the mid-range. That works wonders for me - I leave those knobs out all the time.

    I ran an Alembic F-1X (Fender Dual Showman guts in a rackmount preamp) for a long time. I recall it could warm up a solid state power amp like nothing else. Wish I'd hung on to it long enough to try on my recent pick kick.

    Could just be me, but I really crave a nice, simple tube channel to get that sweet trebly pick attack with massive, blossoming lows. (My solid state micro-head somehow doesn't quite nail it.)
  10. james tone stack all the way.
  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Understood, but I wanted to address the inevitable issue of scoop-as-default.

    I am not a fan of tubes for too many of my personal bass applications at all, frankly. The Fender stack actually works great for me with my op-amp based designs though. Low parts count, extremely low distortion and noise, and something I can tweak in my sleep after all these years of working on 'em. And yeah, it does sound good to me in many contexts.

    Lately I've been using a Baxandall stack with a single gentle active mid/boost circuit in-line, but my Fender based preamp will likely always get some love too. Since you asked what amps we are all using, here's the thread on my DIY rack preamp using the Fender stack with some mods to match impedances to opamps rather than tubes.
  12. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    The Fender tone stack, assuming it's the 2-10-2 variety, can sound good to me, provided the room you're playing in isn't boomy. In a boomy room, the solution for me is often to cut a bit of the bottom end and pump up the midrange a bit. Usually this will leave me with a tone that sounds nice and fat, but isn't overly boomy. With the 2-10-2 type tone stack, you're left with very little room to cut the bass and no room to boost the mids above flat.

    More often than not, I EQ flat, unless the room won't allow for it. In a good sounding room, I like the Fender tone stack as much as I like a more modern design with +/- on each EQ control. In a bad sounding room, the Fender tone stack can be nothing but a hinderance in dialing in good tone. It's like you're painted into a corner from the start with that tone stack.

    The other thing I dislike about it is the lack of control over the midrange when using a provided backline cab. I've been on gigs where I was using a backline cab, but with my amp/board. In many cases, the cab(s) just didn't sound like what I wanted to hear, and that typically means midrange adjustments. Having 2 bands of dedicated midrange with +/- on each is a truly wonderful thing to get your sound back into a foreign cab. The Fender tone stack not only has one band of midrange, but it's cut only. Good luck getting enough midrange control out of that.
  13. rok51


    Sep 2, 2002
    Crawfordville, FL
    My F-1X is my last remaining relic with the Fender tone stack. I don't use it much anymore...but every time I pull it out and play...I wonder why I don't use it more :bassist:. For me, it has a 'feel' to it that is so tasty...in a neutral or bright room. In a 'dark' room...we gots problems...need more mids...but they are already dimed...can cut bass a little...but if it's still boomy...oops! Honestly, that is a worst case scenario that I have rarely experienced. I put a Behringer (I know...:rollno:) five band parametric in the rack for 'emergency use only'...and so it has remained. In the few 'hail mary' situations that I needed to employ it, it provided a clean, quiet cure to the acoustical mayhem...ego-wise, I'd rather a more 'respectable' parametric...but...I'm pretty picky...and the 'B' works way better than I would have thought...

    So why don't I use the rack setup more? Micro heads...

  14. KramerBassFan


    Jan 3, 2009
    I use and abuse it, in a 100w Marshall Superbass copy.

    Sure does the trick!

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