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Set up on a fretless for the 'mwah'

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by RiseOfTheWooten, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. I was playing around on my fretless yesterday without plugging it in to the amp, and I realised that the 'mwah' is much more pronounced on its own, unplugged. When I plug it into my practice amp, the mwah doesn't come through as clearly.

    What's the deal? I'm sure the setup is fine because I can hear the mwah very clearly when it's unplugged. I've got the strings set up with as low action as it can get before it starts to buzz.

    Or is this a pickup problem?
  2. Puru


    Mar 13, 2006
    Alachua, Florida
    On my bass I get a lot more mwaah out of my bridge pickup. If you have two pickups try that - Maybe EQ more bottom if you need it. That works for me. I never use the neck pickup on my fretless, but I'm sure different instruments vary.
  3. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    You can get more mwaah by plucking over the fingerboard.
  4. That's interesting. Jaco got his over the bridge pickup.
  5. Linas


    Jan 6, 2005
    i agree, more muah from playing near the fretboard. Jacos technique involved more than just playing over the bridge. If you listen to a song like say A remark you made, i guarantee hes not playing over the bridge pickup.
  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    I must say in the most respectful way I can that you're wrong. Check this excerpt from Jaco's solo on the "Shadows And Light" DVD and you'll see that he's playing over the neck pickup and at some point he plucks over the end of the fingerboard, but there's also a short, fast lick played over the bridge pickup. No mwah at all there. Agreed, he played his fretless over the bridge pickup on fast stuff like "Donna Lee" because it's difficult to get a quick response from the strings as you play farther away from the bridge since there's much less tension there (In fact, you can tell that "Donna Lee" is played on a fretless because of the slides, but aside from that, it sounds closer to his fretted bass). But slow-paced stuff like "A Remark You Made" or "Continuum" were played over the neck pickup (minus the harmonics, as they ring better when played near the bridge).

    BTW and OT, WTH so many people seem to think that Jaco played fretless bass exclusively? It pisses me off.
  7. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    I'd imagine its probably equally related to the pickups and the amp. Try putting the pickup(s) that you're using on full if you're playing a passive bass and just EQ with the amp.

    This is definitely not a setup issue from the sound of it, since you are able to get the sound you want acoustically.
  8. Thanks for all the responses, I'm taking all the ideas on board and will mess around to see if I can make a difference to the sound.

    Yes it's the Yamaha BBN4F III. I'm currently shopping around for a rig of my own, probably a Warwick head and cab (still trying to wrap my head around the wattages and ohms!) but for the moment I've been practicing through a cheap 30w practice amp. Come to think of it, I used to have the bass plugged into my bass teacher's combo amp the mwah comes through a bit clearer. I haven't had access to the combo amp for a while now though (haven't had a lesson for a while), I think that is why lately I realised I wasn't hearing the mwah as much. Is the low wattage not allowing a good tone to come through? Or just a crap speaker in the little practice amp?

    Yes it's a passive bass, and yes I was pretty sure I had it set up correctly since I can definitely hear the sound when it's unplugged. But the thing is - I wasn't sure if being able to hear it unplugged meant I have the correct setup or not, since I couldn't hear it as clearly when I plug the bass in.
  9. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Favor the bridge pickup and play over the fingerboard. And you can have the action so low that the strings DO buzz.
    Jaco's bass was set up that way... I know because I actually had a chance to play it once while I was guarding it for him him backstage at a concert with Herbie Hancock in early 1977.
    And, and has already been said, he plucked all over, not just near the bridge. "Continuum", from his first album, is a good example of the "near the fingerboard" tone.
  10. Puru


    Mar 13, 2006
    Alachua, Florida
    Right on Doug.
    To throw in another 2 cents: try boosting the mids to taste on the EQ, not too much bass, cut the highs - you don't need much of those. I find it necessary to have good control of mids on the preamp.
  11. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    And maybe another cent, you need to boost the right mids if you're using a graphic equalizer, not just any.
  12. Puru


    Mar 13, 2006
    Alachua, Florida
    Yep. That will be a matter of experimentation with the specific equipment. I find a little boost at 400 and 800Hz brings it out on my bass. Too much 400 goes nasal, too much 800 gets trebly.

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