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Several issues with a nearly $2000 rig

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Holly Desautels, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Holly Desautels

    Holly Desautels

    May 24, 2018
    hey everyone.
    I’ve come here to hopefully find a solution as to why my rig sounds the way it does. First of all, here’s what I’m playing out of:

    (We play Melodic Hardcore in drop B flat)

    Darkglass M900 Bass Head
    Ashdown RT610
    Sansamp Bass Driver DI
    MXR Bass Compressor
    Boss TU-3 Tuner
    Mexican Fender Precision bass Special

    Here are my issues:
    I was originally playing through an old 90s ampeg 810 classic, and it sounded horrible. Eventually, the speakers started to fart out, so I figured it was the cab and replaced it with the ashdown 610, which resolved the farting issue. However, since I got the dark glass, I’ve noticed several other issues with my rig. My bass constantly has a dead E string. It is so not lively compared to the other strings. I’ve tried new strings 4 or 5 times and no matter what, the issue is still there. It’s so dead, that when playing full band you almost can’t hear my e string at all. I’ve already tried adjusting the pickup height, no luck. I have been feeling that a part of the reason my low e sounds so dead is because maybe the dark glass m900 doesn’t put out enough low end? I’ve been trying to like the dark glass but I’m not sure. I don’t know if my poor tone is due to the bass or the head and I don’t have access to any other nice quality basses or heads to try any combinations of things to figure out what it is I don’t like: the bass or the guitar. I’m not getting enough low end in general, my low e sounds dead, and over all my tone sounds very not alive. My band consists of one guitarist, one bassist, a drummer and a vocalist, so I am very much relied on for both bass and doubling acting as a rhythm guitarist at certain parts. With this tone I’m finding it hard to carry the rhythm. I’m trying to figure out if I should sell my m900, or if the bass is really enough to make me hate my tone over all. I haven’t liked my tone since I got the dark glass, not through the ampeg or the ashdown cabs. I don’t know if my bass just started going out at the same time coincidentally or if it’s the dark glass but I’ve never read any bad reviews about the dark glass so I’m at a loss.

    Attached Files:

  2. Waltsdog

    Waltsdog Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Ottawa, ON
    Before you go changing all your gear, get a high pass filter and see how that goes.
    When you say low E what you really mean is Bb, correct?
    What does your EQ look like? Are you trying to overdrive lows as well (this will really eat up power)?
  3. Holly Desautels

    Holly Desautels

    May 24, 2018
    Referring to the Bb as a low E, yes (sorry, I’m a guitarist first haha). I’ve attached some photos to the threat of my EQ on both my head and my board. I feel like I’m not getting enough low end out of the amp in general at times, and it’s almost too tinny. It just sounds so sterile. I’ve messed with the eq for hours, multiple times (we practice 8hrs every Wednesday and I haven’t been able to find a setting I really like). The whole rig sounds so thin.
  4. masonsjax

    masonsjax Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Frederick, MD
    How does the bass sound plugged directly into the amp? If it sounds good, start adding pieces to the signal chain until you find the culprit.
  5. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Does your low string react the same at lower volumes?

    Edit... take your Sansamp out of the loop. Your Darkglass is capable of delivering MUCH richer tones and has a killer DI.
    Conkal, pcake and Waltsdog like this.
  6. Waltsdog

    Waltsdog Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Ottawa, ON
    Okay so
    1. Are you installing your strings correctly. Setting witness points? Failing to do that can cause a dead sounding string.
    2. Your sans amp is naturally scooped and you’re scooping the mids even more with boosting the bass and treble.

    As above try one piece at a time so bass straight to amp with no drive first. Is is still anemic.

    You’re not tuned massively low but you might be in a guitar eq mindset, if the equipment is not the issue when set flat. Boosting lows where you’re at is asking too much of your amp and cab imho.
    Once you have figured out the above steps the general advice will be to high pass around the 40-100hz range and boost some low mids to fill out the sound. Sounds counter-intuitive I know but cutting the low lows is usually for the best.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
    sissy kathy likes this.
  7. Holly Desautels

    Holly Desautels

    May 24, 2018
    Surprisingly, I hate the way the Darkglass sounds without the Sansamp. To the point where I’m not sure if maybe I even have a defective unit. It sounds so incredibly flat and sterile, the only way I was even able to compensate a little bit was with the sansamp
  8. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Pay attention to @Waltsdog. There is more than just bark there.
    Waltsdog likes this.
  9. Holly Desautels

    Holly Desautels

    May 24, 2018
    I’ve tweaked just about every setting on the sansamp, and the one in the photo is just the one that I’ve landed on that gets me the closest to a decent tone. I’ve ran the head straight as well and I’m not a fan of how it sounds without the sansamp. I started everything flat and worked around with things, and nothing seemed to get it quite there. As far as the dead string, I’ll have to try the witness points, that’s something I hadn’t considered. The strings are on properly, but I’m continuously getting that dead Bb and it’s driving me nuts. I’ll try the witness points, but as far as the head I’m really not sure if it’s going to be what I need when I can’t really even get a tone that I like out of it without the sansamp. I’m a bit upset about it because I’ve heard nothing but good things.
  10. Waltsdog

    Waltsdog Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Ottawa, ON
    There are several reasons why your strings might sound dead: witness points, twisted strings, pickup too close, pickup too far away, broken pickup etc. As you say above you could just be asking more than your amp can deliver, that's a real possibility.

    The other issue here is that you may just not like the darkglass amp, I don't like the sound of the B3K or the VMT myself so don't like the amp either.
    Have you tried running the sansamp in the effects return and bypassing the whole darkglass preamp? That will tell you if you don't like the amp and should also tell you if you have a technical issue with the bass.

    Your sansamp settings are massively scooped, you might like that sound, that's fine but it will make it harder to get the volume you need without rethinking your rig. Also boosting the lows that much in Bb is a gonna be hard on your cab (read, I wouldn't do it and expect them to last long at any band volume).
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  11. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    This. Paradoxically, boosting the lows on your amp often makes the problem of "weak low notes" worse.
  12. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Just to rule out another variable, how thick is your Bb string?
    joebar, knumbskull, mapleglo and 2 others like this.
  13. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Yes, this ^

    What brand and model of strings are you using, and what are the gauges, especially of the low Bb string? Down tuning even half a step can turn a tight, full sound into slop. You're apparently downtuning more than a 5th.

    Have you tried this setup in standard tuning?
  14. Larchi


    Jul 1, 2012
    Vic, Australia
    I had the M900 for about two weeks, then took it back, because it just didn't have a punchy enough bottom end, and I couldn't stand the "thump" noise it made, when changing channels. The Bass knob on the M900 only pushes 80hz - it's enough to make the E string louder, but not a B so much (or a Bb). I noticed it just made things "boomy". I did like the distortion though, so I got A B7K ultra, and continue to use my Trace Elliot.

    *Like the question above - have you got the lower 4 strings of a 5 string on your Precision? - tuned as Bb, Eb, Db, Gb?
    *Do you have some heavy gauge strings on it to make the tension appropriate - like 130, 105, 085, 065?
    *Have you tried your bass through some other rig?
    *Idea - Take your bass to a shop and "try out" a few amps :)
  15. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    good advice so far.

    just a thought, could it be a room issue? one more suggestion that costs nothing but time - have you tried moving your rig to one or more slightly different parts of the room? and then also walking around while you play.

    especially in a loud band situation, it can help, I've found... sometimes you get odd dead spots in rooms. playing in low tunings at high volume, it could make a bit of difference.
  16. Tuning down to Bb on a 4 string bass? Have you thought about switching to a 5 string?

    I'd have to get the nut slots widened to fit at .130 top string and then hope for the best. Trying to get there on a standard set of strings would be tough. We go down to C# and things are already getting flubby with a .110 string.
  17. Holly Desautels

    Holly Desautels

    May 24, 2018
    I’ve tried a few different types of strings, previously I had a five string Dunlop set on it at .130, which I assumed the dead string was due to the string being so heavy, so I tried switching to Ernie ball power slinkies .110, which is just too flubby at Bb. So I’ll likely be putting .130s back on.

    I’m not the original bassist for the band, they had another bassist for about 6 years before me, and she was using a Fender American Jazz Bass with .130s on it in Bb, but playing through an Eden WT500 and an ampeg 610, and she didn’t have this issue. I’m not looking to recreate her exact rig though, but because of this I believe it’s definitely either the DG or the bass that’s creating these issues.
  18. Holly Desautels

    Holly Desautels

    May 24, 2018
    It was a though that I had for sure, but I’d much rather stick with the 4 string, the previous bass player of this band made it work for years, I actually purchased this bass from her a while ago (it was her secondary and she sold it to me when she left the band). I didn’t have these issues when I first bought it, and I bought it with .130s on it, I believe she had the nut fit for .130s. All of these issues just seemed to start coming up when I got the Darkglass. But I can’t ignore how dead the Bb sounds, even unplugged. I read a bunch of other forums that said they had to reset their necks to fix this problem, and I’m not quite sure how far I’d be willing to go for this bass before I just sell it off, but if it’s something that can be easily done or something I’m missing I’d be more Han willing to put the work in to get a little bit more life out of the bass with me before I move on to something else.
  19. Holly Desautels

    Holly Desautels

    May 24, 2018
    I played a gig with it a few weeks ago, but the DG was being pumped through a sound system with two high power subwoofers and a full PA, and it sounded great, but I can’t seem to get a decent tone with just practice volume. Our space is not very great for sound as it is, but these are relatively new problems that have just started coming up since I got the DG. I had an ampeg portaflex before the Darkglass, and I didn’t have these issues back then, which is a bit disappointing
    knumbskull likes this.
  20. Holly Desautels

    Holly Desautels

    May 24, 2018
    This actually made me feel a bit better about the situation. I have yet to really hear of anyone who was not 100% a fan of the Darkglass. I think it is a fantastic amp, but not necessarily for the style of music that I’m playing (plus I feel like I’m not using it to its full potential since I don’t use the Microtubes engine much). What did you end up going with instead?

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