1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Switching instruments between songs

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Judo chop, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Judo chop

    Judo chop

    Apr 20, 2009
    Hi. New here.

    Having been a one-bass man for all my playing days, I’ve never had to concern myself with switching instruments live. But the time has come to bring out the fretless for a few songs in the set and now I’m wondering what perils await me.

    To those out there who do ‘juggle their instruments’ (ahem), how do you go about doing it? Do you set up two basses beforehand, and if so, how do you split the signal? Do you find any complications with signal level and how do you compensate?
    For those who might be doing the same as I – switching from frets to fretless and back - any issues relating to that particular setup?

    Just trying to get a sense of what others are doing. Thanks!
  2. nvd


    Nov 9, 2007
    Virginia Beach
    I just hit my tuner mute switch, make sure my volume pedal is also down (to ensure no PA pops) and just switch basses. I can tend to do this, also with only using one strap faster than the guitarists can tune-up. ;)
  3. Judo chop

    Judo chop

    Apr 20, 2009
    Thanks for the reply, NVD. I assume then that you run your line from the bass into the tuner, and then tuner-out to your amp input?

    And about that volume pedal... what for? Soloing? I'm not a big solo-guy, but there are a few bass 'features' in our tunes where I could use a little extra push and digging in doesn't seem to be cutting it. What are you using?
  4. dbull


    Feb 26, 2009
    North Carolina
    You can use an A/B switch, but I have found that they interfere with the quality of your sound, but maybe I am just cheap and didn't spend enough for a good one. I agree with the plug out, plug in solution, with the volume DOWN. I keep one tuned 1/2 step down and this works.
  5. Bassgrinder77

    Bassgrinder77 Banned

    Jan 23, 2009
    If your going to switch instruments in a set, I recommend using the same type basses so you don't have to mess with the amp. Switching basses takes enough time, you don't want to have to mess with your amp. If you use dissimilar instruments, pre-set the instrument levels so they have the same output.
    I play in a cover band that plays hard rock / metal in the original tunings.
    We use standard tuning, standard drop-D (E string tuned down to D), "Eb" tuning (all strings tuned down 1 semitone), Eb drop-Db (same with E string down to Db), "D" tuning (all strings tuned down 2 semitones) and D drop-C (same with E string down to C). So three basic tunings and their dropped E string variants.
    I bring two basses:
    One set up for standard and standard-drop-D.
    The other set up for down-tuned (Eb/Eb-drop-Db and D/D-drop-C).
    In a given set we'll only use one basic down-tuning (Eb or D) and its dropped variant.
    Obviously, we have to structure the sets according to tunings so everything is pre-tuned before the set and so we're not doing too much instrument switching.
    It was a drag for me back when I used one active and one passive bass since the output levels were so different (I had to adjust the amp quick). I solved it by getting two of the same make/model basses (Spector Euros) so I just unplug one, put it down, grab the other, plug in and go.
    Especially if your switching instruments for bass effect only (as opposed to you and guitar player(s) switching tuning) you want to do it all very quickly so you're not holding up the show!

  6. thebutangjedi


    Sep 16, 2008
    I hadn't seen this mentioned but I use a nice cable that has a built in mute switch. What do the rest of you TB'rs think of this? I also have a floor tuner that I can hit if I'm extra paranoid. So far the cable works really well... I just need to remember to flick the switch again or else there won't be any sound. You can guess that has already happened. :)

    edit: I second the previous poster who said set your bass levels BEFORE you play. I have similar volume producing basses so that helps.
  7. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Ahh yes, the unintentional mute. Surprises the heck out of you, doesn't it. The whole band's looking at you like, "c'mon dude, play" and you're playing and nothing's coming out. Or at least, we HOPE they notice we're not there.
  8. Bassgrinder77

    Bassgrinder77 Banned

    Jan 23, 2009
    Yeah, I step on my Boss tuner to mute.
  9. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Boss TU-2 is a good multi-tasker - tuner and mute.
  10. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    Lately, I've been using my home-built shortscale fretless (passive pickups) and my home-built rubber-stringed bass (Ashbory preamp). I tried an A/B box, but it effected my sound. I now use a small Behringer Xenyx 802 mixer, and plug each bass into its own channel and run one output to the amp or pedalboard. This enables me to keep both basses plugged in and at the same output level, so all I have to do when I want to switch is pick up the bass and turn up the onboard volume.

    I've never been a fan of Behringer gear, but this little mixer is small and quiet and is doing a fine job for me.
  11. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    which is why i wouldn't let a cable like that anywhere near my rig!

    since we should all be using a mute-able tuner anyway, there's no reason for extra switching and whatnot to go wrong in the middle of a show. (i use a tuner and an a-b box, same principle.)

    i just have one bass, but when i'm playing guitar i use two for different sounds. each has its own strap, and i use the same cable for both (looped through the strap from behind).

    now here's a minor but useful trick for fast switching: mute the rig, unplug the guitar, and keeping the cable in your hand, take the guitar off, strap and all. throw the other guitar on (also with its own strap), and when you plug in the cable that's still in your hand, it will be looped through the strap just like it's supposed to be.
  12. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
  13. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I was switching between a P bass, a Lakland 494, and a fretless with passive P/J going to an active onboard pre-amp. I just hit the tuner (Boss TU-2) to mute the signal, unplugged, took off one bass and put on the other, plugged up, and unmuted. I could do it pretty quickly (about 15 seconds depending on the stage). Using the same strap made it a lot easier.

    Before I had the TU-2 I used a DOD A/B switcher. That worked great if I only was switching between two basses- plugged one into A, the other into B. Make sure that the volume on the bass is rolled all the way off when swapping, so I just hit the switch, while I was taking the bass off, then put on the other and roll up the volume- ready to go.

    I don't use extreme boost on the active basses and the overall output of my active basses are all (and have always been- clear back to my first StingRay in 1979) about the same as my passive ones so gain levels aren't a problem. Also, I use the amp EQ to make the amp sound like MY basses, so switchng from the P to the fretless to the Lakland didn't require any EQ changes on the amp.

  14. BigKahuna13


    Nov 21, 2004
    LI New York
    I use a simple BOSS A/B switch. Has had no noticable effect on my sound, but I also run the signal through an effects processor. Each bass has has it's own strap and sits on it's own stand right next to me.

    I can switch between the two in about 15 seconds.
  15. +1 for the Boss switch.

    I cant detect any change in tone at a live gig.

    also +1 for setting your levels on each inst before the gig, I run an active warwick and a passive double bass, if i set the warick to match the double bass = no probs.
  16. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    eh......just switch 'em

    you have to be able to do it faster than a guitar player..:D

    i use a tu-2 and yes, it is hady as a mute, and yes, it can be a hazard, (once a month, i or sombody in the crowd steps on mine muting me for a second. But, once a month i half unplug myself for a second and mute myself.....);)

    As far as eq and volume settings go, don't sweat it too much. I change EQ settings a few times a night, and once you know where you're setting things, you can do it in a second or two, tops. Honest. Just don't make the guitar player mistake of fumbling for half a minute trying to remember settings. This is annoying and embarrassing.

    I say try it without buying any "crutches" (i did most of my switching w/o the tu-2). If it gives you a lot of trouble, then think about buying other stuff to help, OR, practicing switching basses.
  17. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Just buy an Eden 1205. ;) Dual channels so you can set the EQ and gain for 2 basses.
  18. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Radial Bassbone and an extra cable ...
  19. Joel S.

    Joel S. Reserved for future witty use...

    Jul 9, 2008
    I use a wireless and the basses have different straps (although that might change, I hate the strap on my secondary bass). I just kick the volume pedal down, unplug, switch, plug, jam on.

    Takes me a few seconds at most, I make sure it's tuned before the gig starts, but I usually do a quick check just in case.
  20. I use one of these as well for both guitars and bass.
    Great product and is true bypass so it won't effect tone or volume at all. Beware of other brands like Boss that are not true bypass. They will probably tone suck your amp - like the TU-2 does .

Share This Page