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Shortcut to warmth

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by carl-anton, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. Don't know if this is the right forum, but here goes.

    I've been trying to add some warmth to my sound by adjusting the "cheap" things like tubes and strings in my setup (SWR + Stingray5). I feel I've taken a step in the right direction, but I want more! I still need the clarity and eveness my setup provides, so I'm not looking for drastic changes. Right now I don't know what the next step should be. Is warmth only going to come from tube amps like Aguilar, Alembic, Ampeg etc. or would a new pickup like the Nordstrand MM replacement do anything for me? My ideal sound is somewhere around Josh Paul on "Free your soul..." with Suicidal Tendencies and Gail Ann Dorsey with Bowie (Especially on the live version of Ashes to Ashes). I need my sound to be clear enough for harmonics to come through. I played through a Ashdown rig (eq flat) that sounded good overall, but had a scoop or bump somewhere that made the thinner strings and harmonics sound weak. What am I looking for? A new amp (pre-?), PU? Is there any frequencies that I could boost to enhance the warmth I've already got (I can't find them myself), or is it not "eq'able"?

    Oh, and one last thing. Why is it that the warmth sound always seems to disappear when the bass is played solo? Seems to be a very eleusive phenomenon.

    So I guess the big question is. How do you define warmth, and what do you think is the number one shortcut to it? Any thoughts are welcome.

    Thanks :)
  2. csholtmeier


    Feb 8, 2004
    omaha, ne
    Give the Sansamp BDDI a try.
  3. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
  4. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Its tough because those high frequencies that help you cut through a mix sound all twangy and harsh when not covered up by the rest of the band. Try cutting a bit around 500 hz. This tends to take some of the bark out while leaving in the bite and boom. I usually cut some around 2khz too, depending on how new my strings are.
  5. I just added the Sansamp Acoustic DI to my signal chain and it boosted my warmth tremendously. It has a blend control which allows you to dial in the amount of warmth you desire. I don't think I lost any clarity and I use the blend all the way up.

    Give it a try. Maybe the Bass Driver would suit you as well.
  6. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I have a lot of adjectives to describe just how good my Stingray 5 sounds, but I'm affraid "Warm" isn't wone of them. That bass has some serious bite and from what I can tell it's intentional.

    Can you borrow another bass from a friend. This will at least give you an idea if this is a move in the right direction.
  7. Thanks guys. I'll look into the Tech 21 devices. It's just that the BDDI is the least appealling "preamp" on basstasters.com to my ears, but of course reality could prove the virtual ditto wrong. I'm not to keen on getting another bass, since I really like the idea of just have one bass with the perfect sound, and I'm pretty close with my Stingray. The bass sound on the afore mentioned 'Ashes to Ashes' (the fingerstyle parts) is the kind of warmth I want, so I know the 'ray can do it. Don't know if it's an older 'ray being played though, which is why I thought the PU replacement might be an idea too.

    The big problem is that every time I get close to a warm sound, I loose something else. Mainly clarity and harmonics.
  8. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    +3 on the BDDI.

    I thought I was going to use it as a backup or for drastic times where I couldn't bring my amp. Then I started missing the overdrive and distortion possibilities of my last amp. Remembered I just bought a BDDI recently and added it between my bass and amp. WOW. From subtle warmth to full on madness, the BDDI did it's thing. Now I felt like I got even MORE of money's worth. I bypass it when I want the normal sound of my amp, switch it on when I want more warmth, and/or overdriven goodness for those types of songs that require it.

    Just my little mini-review. Hope it helps.

  9. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    This is just my opinion, and I'm sure the BDDI works well with a majority of other basses......but I found the Stingray and the BDDI don't like each other. It's like they're playing tug-o-war and it leave a big hole in the midrange. And I mean big! It seems everything from 250Hz to 2k just disappears. My BDDI is just an expensive overdrive nowdays.

    By all means try it! I once borrowed the and MXR pedal which was similar and I found it to be better, partly because it has a midrange control, and partly because you can activate the preamp and the overdrive seperately. Perhaps you should give this one a try before you decide.
  10. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Try a distortion box, preferably a good one. You don't need it to get all "metal" on you, just a really small bit of breakup to give it girth. I don't know if you need a bass model, seems to me the guitar ones are "pre-voiced", so-to-speak, for midrange. You just need a tube for the "tube sag". Try a RealTube, or a BlueTube (bass model). That might warm it up a bit...
  11. morebass!

    morebass! I'm all ears Supporting Member

    May 31, 2002
    Madison WI
    As a former Stringray 4 player I'll chime in. My 'ray had a scooped sound that combined with the mid-cut contour on my GK (at 500 hz) rendered the D and G stings almost inaudible in a band setting. It sounded very cool when soloed though and the mid cut made the bottom bigger. I got rid of the stingray eventually because I found that I needed the mids that its preamp cut out. I haven't regretted it yet. My fenders, a P and a J, sound much warmer. But they don't get that killer slap sound that the Ray got. I think the secret is in the mids. Your SWR head probably cuts them. When you add them back for warmth with EQ it muddies it up. It's a delicate balance. You might try a footswitchable eq so that you can play with the mids while the band is playing and scoop them while soloing. If you change the pickup it may have less of an effect than changing the preamp on your Ray.

    I've heard that the Stingray 5 is EQed a bit differently so take the above with a grain of salt.
  12. + 4 for the BDDI. ESPECIALLY if you are using an SWR Amp.

    I've only had my Sansamp a few weeks and it's taken a bit of experimentation to get the sound I like out of it, but now that I've figured it out, wow what a great sound.
    I've found it adds as much or as little warmth as you want if you place it between your bass and your amps input and use the BLEND control till you get the desired amount of warmth.

    The manual suggests you to have the blend on full to get the tube emulation effect, but I find it overpowering and it kills the sound of your bass ( mostly midrange).
    Using the blend control seems to be the trick to preserving your bass sound whilst adding warmth. I haven't tried it with my stingray yet so consider Petebass' experience too.

    Try one and make up your own mind. If it works for you it'd be a cheaper than changing you amp or pick ups.
  13. braun-jovi


    Mar 25, 2004
    Evansville, IN
    yeah, i love my BDDI but it's not in love with my stingray or my g&l l-2000. it's almost like they give the BDDI more juice than it wants...not sure i'm doing a good job of describing that. anyway, my p-bass, j-bass and rumblefish all sound great with the BDDI, but the stingray and l-2000 don't agree with it.
  14. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Speaking of Tube Works' Blue Tube, until recently, I had also been using the rack version of their Blue Tube unit. Very, VERY warm and could get a mean overdrive going. I would suggest replacing the 12AX7 tubes with 12AU7 or other lower gain tube for increased availability of headroom.

    I am currently no longer using it as some new equipment I have gives me what I need. If anyone is interested in purchasing it, feel free to PM me. Great condition with minimal rack wear. Works perfectly. Okay, resume thread :D

  15. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    I wouldn't, they're not comparable tubes, and a AU7 in an AX7 position usually sounds like dirt because of where it moves it's operating point. A 5751 would be a better sub, and without knowing the circuit, I wouldn't recommend it universally either.
  16. This is why I prefer the Sansamp Acoustic DI. It has a parametric mid from 170hz to 3khz. Plenty of mid control.
  17. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks for the updated suggestion. I got this info from the manufacturer as well as lots of other people from various sources so I took it as a valid suggestion so maybe it works for this particular piece? Just from my own experience, I couldn't use the gain past 2 without getting it to be downright super dirty. This is why I thought that putting in such a tube would lower it down drastically and be able to use the higher ends of the gain knob. The Blue Tube rack is actually more of a guitar overdrive/distortion unit, but I heard AND tried it out for bass and it does work quite well....only in that the gain gets too extreme in a short amount of knob-twist.

    But I will look into 5751 tubes. May just be what this preamp needs to be a total bass convert and never look back! Thanks...

  18. Is it your Ampeg that keeps you warm? I'm asking because Ampeg seems to be what most warm sounding bassist have in common. I might consider the SVP-Pro.
  19. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Although I'm sure there are tons of amps that can give you great warmth (especially tube amps or at least a tube preamp but yes, even some SS amps!), it is indeed my Ampeg that now gives me ample warmth. This is most likely due to the tube preamp. There isn't really too much control over the tubes other than drive but with me, combining the gain with certain EQ tweaks gives me varying degrees of success.

    Just for reference, the Tube Works Blue Tube has gain, contour, and bias, all of which do affect tone. Sometimes I wish I had that control back on my Ampeg, but I'm not complaining. The stock "warmth" it has is cool with me.

    Oh, and I want to reiterate that Ampeg by far isn't the only company that can do the warmth thing well. I'm sure others can attest to this. But in relation to strictly Ampeg, my B5R I use to own did a good job of creating warmer environments due to the overdrive channel you could blend in. Man, the overdrive channel, let alone the OD boost (CRAZY) was able to get some ultra-grindy, extreme distortion. The right amount of blending yielded some pleasantly surprising results.

    But again, if warmth is super important to you, a tube preamp (in amp or outboard) IMO is almost a necessity.

  20. Ever listen to Tony Levin play "Secret World" on Gabriel's live album? He uses a MM and Trace amps. Way warm.!! :cool: