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philosophy of sound

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Marc Piane, Feb 7, 2005.


  1. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    I was talking to an older player the other day about the 'my bass only louder' concept. He just looked at me like I was nuts. He told me that he has never heard an amplified sound that sounded as detailed as the acoustic sound of a bass. He said that this is due to the fact that the sound of the instrument is coming from all of it, not just the bridge and the face. I work as a studio engineer and knew this. He then went on to tell me that if you are going to play amplified, try to make your amplified sound as unique and interesting as your bass. Not 'your bass only louder' but 'your amplified sound'.

    I got to thinking about that and the sounds that we attribute to certain players, Dave Holland, Eddie Gomez, are at least partial mixes of mic and pickup.

    I curious to hear what people think.
     
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I try to get an amplified sound that works for the musical style, the band, the venue, my bass, and my playing. Having an individual "signature sound" is not important, because it probably happens on its own. Making it sound like an upright is important because I like the upright tone. But it is not the only consideration.

    Note that I am qualified to comment on the philosophy of sound, since I am a Doctor of Philosophy. Glad this degree is finally good for something. :hyper:
     
  3. I agree to some extent; I still want to get the most important characteristics from the bass in the amplified sound, but at the same take what I can from the amp and pickup. I have an ashdown (which I got back when I was only an electric player) and most would say it's not good for upright, and it's not great, but I have been able to get a very Holland like tone (similar to Conference of the Birds that is). This is an interesting question that I had not thought of before, although I seemed to have already answered it for myself. The only thing that's too bad is it's pretty hard to get the Jimmy Garrision sound amplified, but it might be possible with mics.
     
  4. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    Seems like most pickup engineers would disagree, as I assume their motivations are to try to make their pickups sound as much like the bass they're amplifying as possible. Sure, no pickup will ever be able to EXACTLY capture the full spectrum of the instrument, but for one to not keep the acoustic sound of their bass in mind and just deal with the pickup on its own terms when tailoring their amplified sound indicates they don't care enough about getting their unamplified sound (which IS their sound) out front. I use a mic for lower volume situations, but am fortunate that the pickup I use now (the Realist) affords me the closest approximation of my tone for use in louder settings. You always gotta have options...
     
  5. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    I don't think the idea is a disregard for your acoustic sound, but rather a third sound incorporating elements of acoustic and electric.
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I guess it all comes down to the notion of which "part" of your acoustic sound you are trying to get "only louder". The sound from 1' away? The sound from 2' away and slightly to the left? The sound from where you sit? I've played plenty of hits in the studio where they couldn't get that "my bass only louder" in a sound-treated room with a ton of expensive mics and preamps. Live, what I'm usually going for is a sound from the amp that will mix well with the acoustic sound of the bass and help it carry farther and sit stronger in the mix. I don't know if it matters what you call it, but I think most of us know what we're looking for soundwise when we have to plug in.
     
  7. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    I think you're right Chris. I have a sound in my head. It's interesting. I record alot of my gigs with a minidisc since I bought it almost 6 years ago. I bet I play at least a gig a week and sometimes much more. I have probably a hundred gigs that I converted and saved to cds. I have gone through all kinds of pickup and amp setups. On all the recordings my bass sound is pretty simillar.
     
  8. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Interesting thread;

    I had a 4 hour rehearsal last night with another bassist. We are performing a duo concert this weekend playing mostly Jazz and a couple of Baroque thangs.

    At any rate I was playing my Shen Willow through my AMT straight into the PA. He was playing his Czech 5 string through a big ass bass amp(Carvin) and he had i think it is called Pandora's box but i could be wrong on that.

    My sound was clean clear and sounded like my bass. His bass sounded like a hollowbody Rickenbacker slab. He was using a condensor mic.

    After A little cajoling (actually i played his bass for him) he turned off the unholy effects grenade and got a better sound.

    I think the main issue was that he was hearing "amp sound" in his head; meaning not neccesarily a natural sound.

    sorry to ramble but it was an interesting evening.
     
  9. I played a folk-group gig (3 vocals, 2 guitars and bass) this past weekend in a small hall, and used just a mic (between the legs of the bridge) going straight into the PA. The stage was very resonant - I liked the sound, everyone else thought it sounded great - I was able to play pizz. and arco without having to change anything. I might try using just the mic from now on - it's a much more open soundÂ…

    - Wil
     
  10. Bijoux

    Bijoux

    Aug 13, 2001
    Denver-CO-USA
    I even avoid as much as I can using a pick up these days, and unfortunatelly I've had to play very loud gigs, and I realized that for that matter it doesn't really matter if you are playing upright bass, in fact if that is going to be the case, I much rather play my electric fretless bass or even a fretted bass depending on the repertoire.
    To my experience, some people want to have the upright on the gig for visual effect only, and I've been told that by at least 3 people, so in a few cases the sound is not even a consideration.
    I hear guys playing Jazz in big concerts, big theatres, and I just thing that Jazz is not loud music. I saw Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Brandford Marsalis, Geri Ellen, Kevin Hays, in theatres for 3000 people and theyr bass players had a mic only in front of the bass.
    Being that most of us plays for a lot less people than that, we should be able to do the same, and our band members should try to adapt and play with some taste.
     
  11. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    It depends on a lot of different things...the other players(or leader), the gig, the room. Respect is a big part of it too. Respect for the instrument. I love the sound I get acoustic. I love the sound of the bass. A pickup just can't recreate the sound. It is a comprimise. I usually play with an AMT mic now(if I can't play without an amp anyway). Lately I have been using the mic more often. I still get my "acoustic sound" louder though. There also needs to be respect among the musicians. Jazz should neither be loud or soft. It is an expression. You play at the volume you need not to compete with the band, but to express yourself in a musical way. If the band is grooving hard and the volume is going up in a musical way, thats alright. So you add some more volume.
     
  12. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    My feeling personally is this. I do a fair amount of jobbing and feel that a classic sound and the ability to play for the style keeps people calling you back. I also play in an original group and haven't thought much about my sound in that setting until recently. Electrifying the instrument does change the character of sound, there is no escaping that. It does also give you the option to shape that sound. I haven't decided what to do but I may start to experiment.
     
  13. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    NYC
    The sound I hear in my head is my bass, unamped. I try to shoot for that exactly though an amp, though it's hard for me to do (didn't get an AMT yet)

    I have trouble accepting the marriage of DB and amp. Simply cause I can't stand the way it usually sounds.

    Ideally, in the future I would have an EUB for a lot of situations - INSTEAD of amplifying my DB - BUT that would mean thta I also approach it as a different instrument. I play differently when I have the UB through an amp - the other night I just said "That's it!" and turned off the amp. Gig continued fine. I think we overuse the amps sometimes
     
  14. Is this the answer?
    http://www.bose.com/controller;jsessionid=CMk8TphsfNblPS7HLWVynb7ZF1Qs4D8jvjk4WmTCQ6z2wxhSQ5g6!-1282093452!-2108611179?event=VIEW_STATIC_PAGE_EVENT&url=/musicians/index.jsp&linksource=centernav_img_musicians&pageName=/index_2.jsp

    Forget the first page and read all the blurb in detail. It certainly sounds like jazz amp heaven - does it deliver - well there is a free trial which is just as well as there is the small matter of the price.

    In fact, for the DB half the problem is what this system tries to do but in reverse ie: a system that can sense the whole of the db without covering it in wire and gizmos and yet be focussed enough not be a pickup/feedback generator from the surrounding environment.

    However, for a db, a speaker system that keeps the localised volume as low as possible (you have to read to read the site and manuals) must give huge scope for improved db amplification over the feedback generating amps and conventional speakers we have now.

    Now who around here is rich enough or dedicated enough to ring Bose for a trial? Me? ah :bag:
     
  15. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    NYC
    Hmm.

    Interesting. Pricey too
     
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Bose has a great reputation with me. I'd drop for the trial deal -- if I had the cash.
     
  17. Bijoux

    Bijoux

    Aug 13, 2001
    Denver-CO-USA
    Fingers you have a good point. Most other musicians don't hear the bass the way we do. So if an amplified bass sounds better to them, that is what you need to do to get the gig. Although to me it's a shame that many musicians don't know how the double bass sounds like, and never experienced playing acoustically.
    I also agree with Alex David. Guys just assume they have to bring an amp and use it, without even trying to go ampless. Last WednesdayI played at this club in Denver called Sambuca, and I thought I am not gonna bring my amp. They have a P.A. system, and I just miked the bass. I got compliments all night by the other guys in the band. Last saturday I also played at a Church, no amp, no mic, and the guys in the band loved it too, and told me they could hear every note.
     
  18. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The last few gigs I played were concerts so I had to use the amp. It just fills out the bottom better when you are playing with a 6-7 piece band in those situations. I find that if I just play as if I was playing acoustic and just add a little amplifier to beef it up I don't loose too much "acoustic quality". Of course the AMT goes out to the PA so I am sure it sounded great out front. I am for the most part happy with my sound. I am still using a Hybrid bass until I get another carved one. It is my inbetween instrument. Tough to go back when you are used to playing an old carved instrument;)
     
  19. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    I tried one of those bose things and was not super impressed. It has a very boom and sizzle sound with is great for some instruments but I think the db really needs good mids and tight bass. The bose doesn't have these. I use a wm12, which is about 1/4 the price and like the sound much better. Even the guy that owns the bose agreed.



    alot to carry too.
     
  20. I played a coffee-house gig on Friday (pno, gtr, bass, drums) and used only the KM-185 slung between the legs of the bridge, going into the AI -> Raezer's Edge. I would have normally used the Fishman Full-Circle, but just the microphone seemed to be much better for both pizz. and arco. Moderate sound levels worked fine - I think any louder, then there might have been a problem with feedback. The sound using just the mic is much nicer.

    - Wil