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Setting levels 101 - amp, bass and effects

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bedroommuso, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. I was practicing at low levels last night with a new/old cab and the speaker was farting. The speaker is in good shape and is a decent brand/model (Eminence USA) so I am assuming the speaker is not the problem. I thought, obviously there may be an issue with the levels of my cab, bass and effects, but being fairly new to bass I found myself not knowing what to adjust or where to start. After some adjustments I managed to quell the farting but I am am still unsure whether I have my levels set correctly. I find that coming from guitar where I could easily tell what was pre and post gain or volume.. I can't with bass because it all sounds relatively similar to my ears.

    This is my current setup
    Active bass -> Boss GT-6B (thru fx loop) -> GK 400RB (1st series) -> Sovtek (laney clone) 1x15" cab

    My main questions are...
    1. What is a good place to start on the amp in terms volume for the pre-, master and boost levels? (the GK400RB has a boost knob)

    2. What level should my effects to be set to? The Boss GT-6 has a line level knob, master level (0-120) and each effect has it's own level (0-100). I noticed the farting was happening when the line level knob was almost full up 80%?, and the master level was above 60, and the effect (compressor in this case) was above 50. I did drop the levels to 60 and 50 and I think the farting lessened - but I'm not sure I adjusted the line level knob.

    3. What level should my active bass EQ be set to? And what is unreasonable in terms of a boosted EQ? I think the farting was happening when the bass was boosted on the active EQ circuit.

    4. If someone can also answer this, specifically to the GK400RB (series I), is it alright to use a voicing filter and the active EQ at the same time, or should you use one or the other? My 15" box is a bit midrangey (rear ported, large cab), so I am trying to cut some of those mids out.

    I guess in short, what I am asking, what should I set my levels to, and if set correctly, how do I know whether the amp is "handling" the signal I'm sending it. Other than farting, what are the tell tale signs?
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Here's all you need to know...if the cab sounds like it's going to explode, it will.
  3. gustobassman

    gustobassman I'm only here for the after party.. Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Sandy Eggo
    It would be good to have a sticky regarding "flat settings" or "starting points" of popular amplifiers. It might make the search easier.

    Or not. :D
  4. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Start with the bass. What is the preamp? How do you tune? Where is the low frequency knob set on your instrument?

    Any combination of hot preamp, boosted lows and lower tunings can get you into hot water before the signal is even halfway down your lead.
  5. TheWumbo


    Feb 17, 2013
    Start from zero for everything and work your way up to the sound you want. If it farts, your overloading the amp
  6. Catbuster

    Catbuster Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    Louisville, KY.
    The most important thing about the 400RB is this: The thing has stupid power for its size. Second-The boost controls the power amp-the harder you push it, the harder that thing is going to run-and GKs will run stupidly hard. Also, the "contour" is a mid scoop.

    That is all.
  7. TheWumbo


    Feb 17, 2013
    And if you're running an active bass, check your 9V battery! As said below, start with the bass. Input to output! :bassist:
  8. Thanks Catbuster - very useful. If you're referring to the "Mid Contour" voicing filter, yes I did find that helped get rid some of the mids. I was wondering whether I can use it in tandem with the active EQ?

    Tuning is EADG...
    Preamp.. not completely sure, but the pickups are Mightymite - it's a MIK Cort.

    Hot preamp.. what's the layman's definition of this?
  9. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    There isn't a hard and fast rule. Often an active preamp will give you way too much of a good thing ie. More bass, treble and mid sweep than a lot of gear can handle. It's great because it allows the instrument to be super versatile especially on high end rigs.

    I'm not familiar with Cort basses at all but it's important to keep in mind that on an active instrument it's often a really bad idea to turn all the knobs up. I only use about 20% of the treble that my Spector has available. I only use about 60% of the bass freqs available. Any more than that and my speakers start to click or burr.
  10. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    Does your amp have an active/passive switch for the input? For an active bass, you generally want to set it to active.

    Really, you should center all your controls on the bass and the amp and start from there. If the battery in your bass has been there a long time, put in one fresh out of the box to eliminate that.

    Try to minimize whatever EQ you use on both the bass and the amp. And always cut what you want less of rather than boost what you want more of, whenever possible. The controls on the bass vs the amp are probably in slightly different spots, so you might have to tweak things a bit to get the best sound. Definitely don't just crank the bass way up on the bass or amp (or both). That could push your speakers pretty hard even at low levels. There's a little more leeway with mids and highs.

    Try to be subtle with your EQ changes. It might not sound like you expect it by itself, but in a mix it will probably be great.
  11. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    First thing I would do is take the Boss out of the equation. Get the levels right on the bass and amp.

    Then add the Boss. I try to get pedals so that the output of the pedal is the same when on and when bypassed.
  12. Catbuster

    Catbuster Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    Louisville, KY.
    Yes, you can
  13. Kuroth


    Dec 2, 2012
    Thank you for this thread.. As a beginner This is one area the is still a mysterey to me and there does not seem to be a whole log of good beginners Info on this topic(From what I have found) I assume that is because it is more of an Art then a Science in a lot of ways.. And so many factors come into play, hard to cover it all..
  14. AdamR


    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    On my 800RB I run everything at noon except for the bass and treble which I roll back. Bass at 11 o'clock, Treble at 10 o'clock.
  15. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    +1. And try running the GT-6B straight into the input rather than the effects loop. (I think you said you use the effects loop.)
  16. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    The GT is the most suspicious thing in the chain.

    If you are farting, lower your low bass.

    Check input gain too if you think it's overloading it and you are cranking it pretty high anyway (50% or more).
  17. Yeah, take the GT-6 out of the loop for starters. When you put it back try it into the amp input. Then you will know what it is doing to the sound. You can download the manual.

    When you play low volume it's only the amp output that is set low. Everything else is normal. "Noon" on the GK is a quite a big midscoop but it's a decent jumping off point.

    Active bass knobs should have centre detents. I use them for quick tweaks.

    Be wary of the boost on the GK when you turn up to drummer levels. Cutting lows lets you play a lot louder before the speaker complains

    You will need to do a complete review of the EQ once you start playing with others.
  18. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    This reminds me of a sub gig I did once where I was using the band's bass rig.

    It was your typical high-powered head and 8x10 stack. We're getting ready to soundcheck and the lead guitarist says, "here let me set that for you"... proceeds to turn the Master volume ALL THE WAY UP, and then just barely cracks the Pre and says "you control your volume here".


    This was a 900w head with the Master Volume dimed and the rig was throwing out noise like you can't believe and I was scared the whole thing was gonna blow right then and there. I tried to enlighten him that with a bass rig you set the Pre first and then vary the Master to taste but he was having none of it. So since it wasn't my gig (or my rig) I didn't push back any further and just went with it. And played with an EXTREMELY light touch. Weirdest thing I ever saw.

    And then about a year later a church soundman tried the same thing on me with their rig.
  19. gui****s...

    Yeah, bass amps use the master volume as just that.
  20. makohund


    Dec 12, 2002
    "Mr Guitarist... would you like to set the knobs on this amp, or would you like to play with a bassist tonight?"


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