Starting point for fretless EQ/effects?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by adouglas, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Not even sure which forum this should go in, so this is as good as any.

    I have a fretless, and I'm looking for some advice on getting better tone from it. I know, YMMV, it all depends, and all that...I'm just seeking a basic starting point that I can proceed from.

    Sort of like slap...the basic starting point for slap tone is to drastically scoop the mids, boost the highs and lows and use fresh round-wounds. That's not the be-all, end-all, but it's a place to start.

    Specifically, the tone I'm looking for can be heard on Tony Levin's Waters of Eden, on the title track. I *think* I'm hearing both chorus and delay, but I'm not sure.

    Any advice on EQ (both at the bass and at the amp), pickup blend, strings, effects to be used and approximate settings, ....right hand placement, etc. would be most welcome.

    Gear is:

    Carvin BB75 with the P-series electronics (jazz pup at the neck, MM-type pup at the bridge, piezo in the bridge, 3-band EQ). TI Jazz flats.

    SWR Grand Prix (lo bass flat, lo-mid boosted a bit, hi-mid cut a bit, treble flat).

    Bass Pod XT for effects and potential additional EQ/amp modeling (though I usually only use it for effects).

    Presonus Blue Max Compressor (very mild setting).

    Stewart World 1.2 (not that this matters)

    Avatar B212 with the horn turned 3/4 of the way down.

    I'd prefer to leave the SWR's EQ and the cabinet horn set the way they are if possible, simply because of logistics on stage. I could certainly create a preset on the Bass Pod to handle any changes in EQ beyond what's possible on the bass itself.

  2. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
  3. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    You don't neeed anything extra for outboard gear. You have a 2-pickup bass with piezo and a 3-band EQ, and the SWR GP has a killer EQ section. Sure you could make a POD preset, and I'd suggest that you do, but don't be afraid to work with the setting on the SWR. Just make a note of all the current control settings, or take a pic, or both, and then have at it. IIRC SWR has some good base settings in the GP manual, but they might be in the updated version on the website.

    I've owned and used the GP, and my current head is a SM500. The EQ section will do anything from Dub/Reggae to acoustic guitar. Don't worry about that.

    As far as the actual settings, man, like you said "YMMV". Start with the amp set flat and work with the onboard EQ on the Carvin. Find a good balance between the pickups, see how the midrange control changes the sound, and how the piezo blend adds air to it. Then move on to small changes downstream. But the sound coming out of the bass is where it all starts. I like using a headphone amp like my Raven or Cafe Walter so that I don't get faked out by the cab or the room sound.

    Hope that helps.
  4. It sounds like you are pretty much there. Perhaps a touch more bass on the amp, so the tone is fat and not JUST midrangy. Play with the high mid as well, but I imagine you've done that ! String height can have a massive effect on fretless tone. Even an eight of a truss rod turn can make it, all of a sudden "have the perfect sweet spot" You may want to try Nickel round wounds also, unless you are completely settled on flats. After a week or two of playing, nickel strings "fall in" quite nicely for fretless tones, and I don't have to change strings more than about twice a year, till they get really "ropey" sounding.

    I have always loved the "idea" of effects, but unless the songs are VERY open as far as arrangement, and not super fast in tempo, I think chorus may cloud up your tone a bit much. Just a thought, as fretless can almost be like an effect in itself. Also, depending on your application, chorus on fretless can sound sort of "stereo typical" 80's, the standard ballad sound. Sort of like, Simmons SDS5 electronic drums, DX7 synths and a Rocktron on the guitar. Or you could go with a lot of chorus and be ahead of the pack, with some newer bands/artists embracing the 80's era !
  5. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Good thought on the trussrod...I started wondering about that after I wrote the original post.

    I'm getting more thumpity-thunk and less mwaaah than I'd like, even with roundwounds.