Quest for a good rock/metal live tone

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Michal Sarnecki, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. I've been asking myself a question lately: how can I get a similiar live tone to my rehearsal/album bass tone?. I am always on mercy of sound engineers at a venue we're playing, we don't have our own sound guy.

    My signal chain goes like this: Passive old Japan Tokai hard puncher with P+J pups -> tuner -> markbass compressore -> volume pedal -> darkglass b3k -> couple of modulation effects -> ashdown ABM 500 -> ABM fridge. Ashdown head and cabs do a lot of tone shaping, I'm using"shape" button which makes a strong mid scoop, then I'm using parametric EQ to get back some mids in specific areas like moderate bump on 320 hz and 1.3 khz. The cabs also add their own flavour.

    You can get an idea of how it sounds by checking song "Sleep" (bass is pronounced on this one) on my bandcamp:

    The problem is that most of the sound guys have some kind of problem with Ashdown built in DI output, and they want me to send signal unprocessed by the amp's EQ, or just use some crappy Di box available on the venue. The result is a tone lottery.

    So I was thinking about solution as follows: Buying a DI preamp (already ordered used Ampeg Scr and Vt bass di, I'm gonna choose one and sell the other) and making my tone shaping using only my pedalboard, setting everything flat on the amp. The preamp will be last in the signal chain so the sound guy will get "my" tone. I could also connect my bass + pedalboard to an audio interface and do the tone shaping through studio monitors which should give even better result because the ABM won't be adding it's colour and it should be similar to mixing through PA.

    Do you think it's the right way to go? Or am I creating problems for sound guy this way because he needs that flat sounding tone to do shaping that fits the venue room acoustics? Also, maybe I should buy something like Radial J48 and put it after ampeg/VT di (I'm worried about quality of DI on both units).

    Please share your ideas on the topic.

    P.S: I will record a comparison test between ampeg scr and vt bass when they arrive, to contribute little something to a talkbass community, as a new user.
  2. Mic your cab.
  3. Unfortunately this is not possible in most venues, soundguys don't want to even hear about micing cab, I just get xlr cable.
  4. It’s a shame if that’s how things are where you are located. That used to be something I may run into here but I’ve added some components to my rig to alleviate it as much as possible. Maybe buy a mic and a stand and when they hand you the xlr plug it into the mic.

    My main band primarily has its own production and in this mode I’ll run a direct out from the head and a mic’d signal from my cab.

    When we work with outside sound guys or do a national opener I’ll run those two signals to a rane mlm-42 in my rack and give the sound guy a mixed signal. The rane gives me a huge amount of control over what the sound guy gets.
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  5. Thanks, I haven't thought about bringing my own mic, It might work in some cases.
  6. Good soundguys (rare, I know) can take pre or post DI or mic and make it sound like you. Ideally, they will take two signals (DI and mic) and mix to the room. Toting your own mic or DI isn't really your responsibility, unless you're playing the same venue with the same opinionated soundguy.

    I will say that sometimes over-the-top politeness can really go a long way - asking very nicely to mic the cab will usually get you a mic - especially if you ask early, get setup quickly and don't wank during the changeover while the soundguy is trying to work.

    But, there will be times when you are playing through someone else's rig - whether it's shared backline, or the venue provides - so the best advice I can give is to dial in your tone before it gets to whatever amp with your bass and pedals/DI - then the whatever amp just becomes a monitor for you and has no influence on the house sound.

    On another note, since you seem to use your Ashdown rig for quite a bit of your tone-shaping, why didn't you consider the Ashdown ORIGINal bass preamp as an option? Ashdown OriginAL Valve Pre DI Pedal

    (seems expensive, so that may have been the deciding factor)

    One last thing - your live sound in the house will never sound like your studio or rehearsal sound. Never. Except once - at that one show - and you'll never achieve it again.
    Dasgre0g likes this.
  7. Thanks for your input, great idea with the Ashdown D.I, I didn't know such product existed, def. gonna buy it and try shaping my tone from pedalboard only. I was really hoping that it is possible to get similar live tone :)
  8. musicman7722


    Feb 12, 2007
    Hampton NH
    As MoPhat said - I feel bass is the most difficult instrument to get right in the live mix. If you really want to have a decent chance of getting "your sound" out front for any engineer set up your pedal board to DI sound use a good full range powered speaker like a QSC k12. Don't push the volume to much but get your tone working in one of those and then send it to the FOH. Now send that same signal to your amp and be prepared to really have to reset the tone settings on it because it has a whole different set of ears.
    Michal Sarnecki likes this.
  9. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Some good ideas already. My trick is to provide my own Radial JDI and my own Audix D4 microphone WITH stand. Lately though, it' been easier to go direct off my pedalboard. You seem to have several effects going at once; I am wondering if sound guys are having a hard time getting a good bass tone from your pedals and bass? There is a lot happening and the original clean tone may be completely absent when it gets to their desk. One device I use that allows me to use multiple effects and NOT have the clean tone disappear or to at least minimize the tone suck is the V3 Blender from Wounded Paw. Blender V3 : Wounded Paw, Bass and Guitar Effects and Blenders

    You can run the modulation effects together however you like and reduce the tone drain.

    "I'm using"shape" button which makes a strong mid scoop, then I'm using parametric EQ to get back some mids in specific areas like moderate bump on 320 hz and 1.3 khz. The cabs also add their own flavour"

    Seems like you should not use the Ashdown's Shape Button and simply use your parametric EQ to reduce the offending frequencies. You are doing a large cut then bringing some of it back in - why make it so difficult?
  10. I use only a little dirt through B3k with blend in the middle, apart from that the compressore is adding a little warmth, the modulation effect are used only in specific fragments of the songs, so I would say that original clean tone from the bass isn't gone. I'm going to try your suggestion, I've checked manual to see what freq. the shape button is affecting "+8dB @ 50Hz & 4kHz, -8dB @ 400Hz" - this really seems counter productive, gonna set everything flat, and try to cut a couple db of 400 hz.
    Gearhead17 likes this.
  11. Dasgre0g

    Dasgre0g DasGre0g Supporting Member

    This is the most educational post I have seen in weeks. Thank you. Great advice
  12. I got tired of not having ‘my sound’ in the PA as well, so what I did was incorporate a DI into my signal chain that the sound guy could tap into.. mounted it onto my pedal board, XLR in and ezpz.


    (My case may be a bit of an outlier, all of my sound comes from the pedal board, I just use a power amp.)

    Make sure you do test your outgoing sound somehow, because you’ll be surprised at how much different it is going through a full range system than your cabinet. At a minimum you can use a small mixer and headphones to really dial things in.

    I know there is no sound guy bashing allowed, but they really are the weakest link in your personal signal. A little bit of homework ahead will make things so much better.

  13. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    I want to know what specific issues soundguys were having with the OPs amp DI. That really is the key to figuring out what to do. Stuff like ground loops is not really gear dependent, nor is having a crazy amount of mid scoop and bass boost like it sounds was happening. My instinct is to always try to solve a given sound issue with the gear on hand, rather than adding more into the mix. Sometimes that in fact means taking stuff out. But I really don't want to tell a guy whose band I'm running sound for, "no, you can't use that phaser/envelope filter/etc...". Instead I try to work with them on settings that will work better with the given room and system and the overall band mix. I will say MOST bass players use too much in the low mids, which just creates a boomy muddy mess that I'm just going to try to make as small as possible if the guy won't adjust his settings (and stage volume) to something that will work. If I have 18" dual subs on each side of the stage, let those do the heavy lifting and don't try to squeeze every ounce of sound out of that 4 or 8x10.
  14. Xlr cable can be plugged into your mic, just sayin', you could have a go at asking them to have a quick listen to your mic without causing a ruckus.
  15. AdamR

    AdamR Inactive Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    Im currently building a pedalboard rig, using a class D power amp and a small 212 cab for stage volume. Trying to take the tone of an amp and cab out of the equation as much as possible. My board will have 2 DIs on it. 1 clean, 1 with the signal chain in it (Dirt-comp-noises suppression). this way all I have to do is plug my board in to the DI and Im done. No worry about not having my amps tone in the the FOH.
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