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Secret weapon--turn those lows down...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Russell L, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    ...sometimes. It worked last night. It was the blues jam, and I'm in the house band. I have always struggled with that room, being that it is boomy and echoy (how do ya spell that, lol?). It's a medium-size place with no acoustic tiles and no carpet, brick walls. But there are some rugs hanging, which helps, but I hate that they are also behind my amp (rear ports). I dunno if that makes any difference, though.

    Equipment: '87 Jazz Bass Special with flats through my Markbass Little Mark III and dual Traveler 151P cabs.

    See, the LMIII's low knob is centered at 40Hz. Too low, IMO. Then, the low mid knob is centered at 360Hz, higher than what I want to tweak, often. I left the VPF filter off to avoid the dreaded smiley face eq, and used the VLE mostly with the eq knobs neutral---except this time I set the low knob at 10:30. Whoa, what a difference! I had played several tunes with it at noon, but kept sounding too boomy. Now, I don't know what other frequency comes to the front with the 40Hz backed off. I read where someone said that doing that plus boosting the low mid knob a hair can maybe get me to the frequencies I usually like to mess with on a graphic eq, stuff like 100-150Hz. They may be right.

    I don't mean for this to be all about Markbass, though. My point in posting is for others to hear about this technique. When it seems like you can never get your tone right in a room it just might be the case that lowering your lowest lows might be the cure, even if it seems counterintuitive. I've done it before, but last night really stood out for how much effect I got from it.

    I got to step offstage for a bit while another bass player played my bass and rig. Man o man, that thing really sounded good, and it STILL had lots of bottom, only the bottom seemed tighter (who says Markbass cabs don't have bottom?). I was really impressed with how good of a tone was coming out. Last week I had played the ole Ampeg V4 and 810 there, but I gotta admit I like what my Markbass rig did even better:bag: Sorry, but it's true, IMO. I'm still thinking about it this morning (at work now with my eyes drooping, lol).

    So, next time you're in a boomy room try rolling those lows down some and just see what ya get. It might work. Thanks for reading, ya'll.:bassist:
  2. yup - amazing how much dialing back overall volume works too
  3. Tractorr


    Aug 23, 2011
    These rugs probably make very little difference especially in the lows. To affect lows you need mass. Even acoustic foam doesn't absorb much below a couple hundred HZ.

    Good advice though.
  4. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Too many people adjust their controls without knowing which frequencies they change, aside from seeing the numbers associated with that control. I know someone who really should know this, but he has blown a couple of amps and several speakers & is never satisfied with his sound. He's in PHX and I'm in MKE, so it's not so easy to demo this but next time I'm out there, I will.

    For the deepest bass to be more apparent, it's often better to drop the band above what needs help, rather than boosting anything. Also, it would be better for people to use an RTA and make lots of changes- practice for equalization, if you want to call it that. They would be able to see how wide/steep/where/high/deep the changes made are and with smart phones being ever-present, using an app makes this very easy.
  5. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Good post. Many (especially young or not very experienced bass players) just think bass=low. It's not that simple and you point it out very well. I tend to get a lot more mileage out of low-mids than ultra lows. My low knob on the EQ (Mesa Walkabout) very rarely makes it above flat but I will boost some low-mids in a second to add more umph if I need it.

    Another great suggestion is to READ THE MANUAL that comes with your rig. It will tell you a lot about the frequency range of the EQ. You would be surprised at how much they vary. But your speaker and the room has a lot to do with it as well so it ultimately comes back your your ears.

    Short version= as the OP said don't be afraid to turn the lows down. It's not going to "suck your tone out". It may do just the opposite!
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I'm always amazed at how turning things (EQ, volume, etc) down can be more effective than cranking things up. I was having issues with my Geddy Lee being a little too aggressive for some gigs. Someone suggested backing off both volumes to about 80%. Bam! Great tone.
  7. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Play guitar.
    I've been turning my bass knob to the left more often than not, lately, and using the graphic eq on my Carvin BX1500 to boost or cut different frequencies. Works for me.
  8. Besides the source and gain staging, the EQ is the most powerful tool we have - but, it’s no secret weapon, or at least it shouldn’t be.

    I wouldn’t waste time messing around with an RTA - just place the amp the best you can on stage and twist the EQ knobs to wherever the amp sounds best and call it good. After you’ve played a lot of gigs you’ll learn to dial in a good tone within a few seconds/minutes.

    I.E. when I plug my Fender P bass straight into my GK MB115 it only takes a few seconds to dial it in. The EQ on the MB115 is - Treble: Boost and cut at 7 kHz shelving type. Hi-Mid: Boost and cut at 1 kHz. Low-Mid: Boost and cut at 250Hz. Bass: Boost and cut at 60Hz, shelving type. This info is good to know, but since I use my ears (not my eyes) to dial in the amp it really doesn’t matter much to me.
  9. If you have the option, put your bass cab in the corner.
    This location excites multiple nodes, but is less damaging than the Allison Effect from a central wall.
  10. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    The pamphlet that came wit my LMIII head doesn't tell me squat. But, fortunately I have the book that came with my 121H combo, which does. The graphs in it are a little helpful, although I don't fully understand them. I can see how maybe cutting the lows and boosting the low mids might put me in the right frequencies along the curve.

    Also, yes, I did the thing about cutting volume last night (after turning it up for a bit). With the volume down some I could definitely get a thumpier sound, and I could pluck a little harder rather than having to be so careful with the volume up. Altogether, with the lows down a bit as well as the volume I was able to produce a surprisingly old school thumpy sound from such a modern rig. (Those fender 9050L flats didn't hurt any either). Actually, I have often found that it's good to set your volume by coming up from low volume into the mix, as opposed to being loud to start and turning down. I think you get to listen to others better that way first and then just fit yourself in.

    I've considered an eq pedal, but really don't want to.
  11. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Boominess is most often associated around 125Hz or thereabouts. Deep lows (as in sub 100Hz) are not the problem with mud or boominess. Most cabs cannot handle sub 100Hz, so when lows are boosted, that 125Hz region gets even more offensive.

    What is interesting is that because most commercial cabs put too many drivers into too small of a box (or a single one in too small a box) in an attempt to make smaller/lighter cabs, there is a definite bump in output in the region of upper bass/lo-mid frequencies...the very cause of boominess.

    I have yet to play a room where sub 100Hz causes any problems whatsoever. But I also have a cab that handles deep, sub lows with clarity which allows me to cut offending boom-centric frequencies without having the bottom drop out.

    But this is where EQ comes into play. A decent graphic EQ is good for isolating a wide band to cut, but a good parametric EQ is even better to fine tune the problem area and cut only the offending frequency without losing everything else around it. If one can utilize graphic and parametric EQ's, it's quite easy to find where the problem lies.
  12. THIS is why i like my 1968 KUSTOM200 head...

    Bass, Treble, and a bright switch.

    It's not that i don't know what to do with a comprehensive EQ... it's that i DO know what to do with a comprehensive EQ. I have a bad habit of stressing out and over-think my settings.

    I am far less stressed when i have more limited options :D
  13. steelbed45

    steelbed45 TRemington Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2011
    Nolanville, TX
  14. Tuned


    Dec 6, 2007
    Welcome to the difference between what bass tone sounds good on its own and what sounds best in a mix. Most of the time I have 800-1000Hz up +9-12 on the bass guitar channel when I mix, otherwise they're just wooly background. Sadly bass rigs are often pounding out a lot of low mids ~150Hz offstage, which is difficult to overcome. When PA is supporting you, dial in your mids so you can hear what you're playing, the PA should fill out a lot of bottom. Don't try to drive the room.
  15. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    Yep, I never turn the volume knobs on my Hwy One Jazz up above 75-80%, keeps it nice and warm without losing clarity. I also keep my tone knob rolled pretty far off.
  16. GaryLC

    GaryLC Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2006
    Scotia, NY

  17. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Interesting info there. Thanks.
  18. Thanks for the advice, I will keep it in mind while dialing in a room. You would also be saving your speakers too.
  19. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    The low frequencies that we hear as "bass" are seldom the really low frequencies that just tend to muddle up the sound and fight with the kick drum. That great punchy sound is much higher, as you have found out.

    When I am playing an unknown room, I will usually bring a bass that is more middy, with less low end to help prevent boominess and mud.

    Also - when using a graphic, it is good to try to have equal amounts of cut and boost to preserve internal headroom and keep noise down. As mentioned above, cutting highs is the same as boosting lows, and less problematic.
  20. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    What I'm getting here suggests that the 40Hz I was referring to may not have been the problem. And yet, it was cutting that that made it sound better for me in this case.

    Would someone like to tell us what particular frequencies are best for getting the punchiness we all love so. I'm wondering also what the effect is on my LMIII when I cut 40Hz. If I were to, say, cut that knob to 0, what would be the frequency that would be on bottom then? I can't tell by the graph.