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Playing without an amplifier

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Espresto, Jul 31, 2012.


  1. I recently received my second bass, a fretless Modulus VJ with passive Nordstrands, and just before the bass arrived my amplifier broke. I took it to the shop the next day, but it still hasn't been fixed. I tried plugging in an old practice amp I still had, and it blew a fuse. So for the last few days I've been playing it without any kind of amplification; to my dismay, the bass sounds muted and anemic, especially compared to my P bass, which I regularly use without an amplifier for practice.

    Once I use the Modulus with an amplifier will the tone change or improve dramatically?

    If it makes a difference, the Modulus is strung with TI Jazz Flats.
     
  2. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno

    Apr 12, 2012
    Ireland
    Practicing without an amp may lead to bad habits - at least if you do it a lot without playing plugged in. The bass and your technique change when you plug in. You can play a lot softer and include subtleties you'd miss without amplification. Not bad in moderation IMHO.
    Now your electric instruments performance unplugged is kind of inadvertent...it may be a lot quieter unplugged and louder plugged into the same amp with similar settings.

    The modulus is also a strange bass. It's not going to sound a lot like a regular one, plugged in or out. Some people love them for it. Be patient.

    Have you had the bass checked? I'd be concerned if two of my amps acted up with the same bass. Not trying to worry you but if your fixed amp breaks again... get your bass checked.
     
  3. Thanks for the advice! You're probably right about playing unplugged, I should stop. The first amplifier broke before the Modulus arrived, so I doubt it's the bass, but I'll keep an eye out for that. Will the amplifier add a bit more sustain and depth to sound? It's an expensive bass and if it sounds the same plugged in as it does unplugged, albeit a little bit louder, I'll be disappointed.
     
  4. The cabinet you are using is at least 50% of your sound, the amp some smaller proportion. What is left is the bass. If your cab and amp are good, then that bass will sound good as well.
     
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    You do realize that the pickups are the largest factor in an instruments tone, right? Until you try it amplified you have no idea what it sounds like.
     
  6. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno

    Apr 12, 2012
    Ireland
    +1. Compare a neck humbucker (Hmmmmm..... bassy :D) to a pezio at the bridge...
     
  7. Alright, I figured that'd be the case. I'm just terrified I'll end up not liking it. I guess I'll just have to wait and see once the amp comes back. Thanks guys! I really appreciate the help.
     
  8. Take your new ax down to a music store and piss off the sales staff by playing really really really loudly through all their amps. It will at least give you an idea of what the bass can do. ;)
     
  9. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass

    Sep 14, 2010
    Actually I practice all the time unplugged and it can improve technique.

    And yes some basses just have more sound unplugged than others.
    Same with Guitars.

    Flat wounds or Round wounds can lack sustain depends on brand,age and manufactures consistency, some strings will have more or less tension even if they are the same gauge. It all depends sometimes you dont notice your plugged in all the time.

    Playing unplugged can really show the limits of the string and the actual body/wood of the bass, Strings, maybe they are old, maybe they have more tension or less than your P. Some thin super light basses sound rather stale unplugged, and the pickups and electronics add more to the sound. Likewise big old heavy basses can have more to them , some sound thin too. My jazz is very heavy and has great tone sustain, unplugged not as special. Some bodys just sound magic some dont unplugged. Heck just between 5 normal P basses all same model make wood etc can sound different. Some have been joined with 2 pieces some have up to 3 pieces you can look for the seams with certain finishes some you cant see because they are painted. More/Less pieces joined together to make a body will affect it. more of a visual thing, but likewise out of maybe 30 American P basses all same model make. 4 will be complete magic 20 will be ok then maybe 6 will be a little lacking.

    And yes my P bass I go to when I practice unplugged, it sounds good for whatever reason and somehow wherever these strings came from they are magic.
    I have used the same string brand for almost 20 years, very consistent for me. But once in awhile you get a not so great set right out of the box. Since I have used the same gauge and brand for so long. I'm more aware of it right away. And only lately in recent years did I actually have to yank a brand new set and take the plunge because they didnt feel right. Maybe it is my picky self or maybe I hate changing strings...I noticed a big difference and when I changed to a new set of the same brand played just fine again.

    Also you might have super low action and this can affect tone/sustain. Plugged in you might not notice as much. Unplugged...it is like you said Anemic and lacking without the help of the pickup/EQ and active electronics if you have them.
     
  10. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Go to the pharmacy and get yourself a cheap stethoscope and tape it to the body of your bass. Instant amplification, and it gives you the real sound of your bass without any coloration at all. Heh, heh, it works.
     
  11. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno

    Apr 12, 2012
    Ireland
    I should restate the risks of playing unplugged are mainly related to mainly playing unplugged. AFAIK.

    Playing unplugged occasionally is unlikely to cause issues. Digging in a lot and tiring your hands while developing uneven technique are risks I've heard described in people who don't practice electric instruments with adequate amplification.

    YMMV.
     
  12. Good opportunity to invest in a headphone amp! Get a super hi fi one like the Cafe Walter and some great phones and you'll hear every flaw in your playing.
     
  13. JI99

    JI99 Guest

    Jan 24, 2007
    A personal caution to mention, someone referred to this earlier...
    I love to move around the house and play [unplugged] wherever the mood strikes. Practiced alot like this, developed tendonitis in my right arm and hand...turns out i was digging in too hard to pull more volume out of my solidbody, without even realizing i was doing this. So while i love the freedom of playing anywhere, i have to be very aware of my right hand and not overplay, even if it is harder to hear. I'm trying to use the same attack both plugged and unplugged. Course the best solution is a small amp in every room but my wife hasn't signed off on that yet ;)
     
  14. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno

    Apr 12, 2012
    Ireland
    LOL (at the last part). I guess you could get a wireless kit and convert the floor of the house to a sub :bag:
     

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