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Solo Bass Tone

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by TaySte_2000, May 25, 2004.

  1. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Now this has to be very important but what sort of tone do you guys go for. Meaty full bass, middle of the road, twangy or alternate depending on the layer your doing.

    I personally like to alternate putting a more twangy upper lead line down but when I try to play things by jaco and victor that arn't looped I like to go for a bass heavy type of thing as its one layer all on its own and to me it just needs to sound full(er).

    Opinions guys.

    P.S. How crucial is a mid knob to all this I can never seem to find a use for them enlighten me.

  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    my main tone control these days is my right hand. For most of the recordings I've done so far towards the new album, I've had both my 6s in passive mode, so no tone control there at all, just the balance... So I use a variety of right hand techniques to get separation... That and some crazy processing... :)

  3. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Lately I've been attempting a "nasal" sort of sound, with the treble on the bass up most of the way, no mid, and the bass up just a tiny bit. It's weird, however, controls at the same spot, somedays I can achieve this sound, somedays it doesn't sound right, so I think part of it is my touch. And I also think it's funny because I would think to get this sound I'd be upping the mids. Also, I assume a lighter touch is better for this tone.

    Now, I have been working with a harmonics, and to get the bell-like tone I'm after, I eliminate the treble on the bass (as I find with my bass I can't seem to get the harmonic right...may just be me who knows lol) and put the mid and bass half way up. Again, the tone depends partly on my touch.

    Controls on the amp usually at a balance...

    As I do not use any technological devices, I'm all about exploring what I can do with my fingers in relation to the strings and the tone controls. And the tone depends on the song I'm playing/writing.
  4. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    In playing solo bass my interest is to get many different sounds and colors out of the instrument. In general, I find that the best way to do this is to use a set-up that allows the full tonal spectrum of the bass to be utilized and heard. I like to conceptualize the sound as emanating from hands and bass first, with anything processing used mostly to support that "pure" sound. I do like a little bit of coloration in the signal, but prefer not to rely on it too much. That is, unless I'm trying to completely warp the sound in some bizarre way – which is also way fun!

    As far as your midrange control goes TaySte, don't feel compelled to use it if it doesn't work for you. It's worth spending a little time with equalizers to find out how they accentuate different parts of the frequency spectrum, but by no means should you feel you have to use a frequency control just because it's there. In general, midrange controls will bring out certain harmonics of notes on the bass, and that may not be what you're looking for.
  5. I remember watching Gary Willis play a few times using a fretless bass that had no controls whatsoever on the bass, no volume, tone - no knobs. He used his fingering techniques to achieve the various sounds he had at those gigs. His sound was brilliant ( to my ears. YMMV ) and lost nothing in the removal of the offending knobs. :)

    John Ross