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That elusive "perfect" bass tone

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by groovaholic, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. groovaholic

    groovaholic The louder the better.

    Sep 19, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I've been having a minor "crisis" lately trying to get a bass sound that grabs me.

    It's not so much the EQ as the gain structure that defines what I'm looking for. I want something that sounds big, fat and warm, but that crosses smoothly into increasing levels of overdrive when I lay into it.

    My Peavey Classic 400 does this beautifully, but is enormously loud and heavier than most teenagers.

    A solid state amp that does this well is (don't laugh) my OLD 1974 Peavey Century head -- when I run its "Booster Out" into my power amp and my 3-way cab; it's tonal bliss.

    My other amp is a preamp/power amp rack -- and I've tried several preamps in there:
    -The Peavey MAX (which came really close)
    -The Tech 21 RPM (too dark)
    -The Tech 21 PSA-1 (very good clean, excellent dirty -- but not in between)
    -The Line 6 Bass POD Pro XT (a little fiddly and compressed feeling)
    - (Pending) a Focusrite Tone Factory

    So, I'm wondering what amps or preamps have given other people success or satisfaction with that "soft clipping" tone.

  2. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    A few amps off the top of my head-

    Ampeg B-100R
    Mesa/Boogie M-Pulse

    I feel you on the soft clipping thing, it's a key to my sound. I run all of the gain stages on my Bass 400 around the edge of breakup (preamp, Sansamp in FX loop on Line setting as an additional boost, power section pushed).
  3. Bass 400. It actually sounds extremely distorted at my settings. But in a band context it comes across much more warm and fuzzy. I am guessing it has something to do with harmonics piling up in the low mids and high mids, but not as much in the mid-mids. Except when you really dig in and then more stuff starts overdriving.

    The old GK heads like 400RB are kind of good at this.
  4. kasbrey


    Aug 23, 2002
    Northampton UK
    Markbass TTE 500. You have to crank the input gain to make it clip but it certainly does "valvey" soft clipping. 13lbs too.
  5. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Mesa Walkabout
  6. groovaholic

    groovaholic The louder the better.

    Sep 19, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Good suggestions: My Mesa Bass 400+ is the amp that got me started on this quest.
    At the right settings, it would go from smooth and fuzzy to the wrath of God.

    Then the tubes would continue to heat up, or I'd need more stage volume, and that "golden moment" would be gone and the amp would sound too barky.

    I want that golden tone, but repeatable and sustainable...

    I need to give another look to the Walkabout and the Markbass.

    It seems like a lot of Mesa amps are getting mentioned; anyone have experience with the Big Block?
  7. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes Gear-A-Holic Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2011
    So Cal
    TCE's RH450 has a convincing tube sound... The combination of compression, tube tone, and power management will get you there too. There's some upper mid missing for me, however... I just haven't had time to fiddle with it to pull it out... With it's configurable EQ, it should be "in there" somewhere...
  8. Stop being a pu$$y and bring the classic 400.
  9. jasonmasters


    Dec 18, 2008
    look into the TC electronics RH450 and RH750. I've been playing around with the RH750 a lot lately and have been loving it. you can get a decent amount of natural overdrive depending on where you set the gain as well as a "tubetone" knob for adding distortion. you could set it with a input gain bordering on distortion so you get breakup based on dynamics, or you could just have a setting that's mildly distorted with tubetone and switch to it with the available 3 patch footswitch
  10. jasonmasters


    Dec 18, 2008
    I know what you mean about the midrange, but i did find that if you change over to the "shift" area of the EQ options and move the low mid up to be highlighting more of the right side of the dial you can get a really nice and punchy tone that reminds me a lot of the tone I got with my markbass LMII
  11. noahw1


    Jul 22, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Genz Benz Streamliner 600 or 900, perhaps?
  12. groovaholic

    groovaholic The louder the better.

    Sep 19, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI
    CL400Peavey: You sound like the guitarist in my band! He adores the Classic.

    But I only have the one Classic 400 and would like to find another amp that does that kind of grind -- Plus, there aren't all that many venues where I can let the Classic "off the chain" and benefit from saturating the preamp AND the power amp.

    I'll have to find a local dealer for some of this stuff; Guitar Center only has the Mesa Carbines, lots of Ampeg and GK.

    Keep those suggestions coming!
  13. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes Gear-A-Holic Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2011
    So Cal
    I plan to dig into the EQ at first opportunity... I've "settled" for a tone that is ok... But still missing something...

    LOVE the "tube-feel" of this amp! And the 450, having less power than the 750 means you get to that power management more easily...
  14. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    That's my experience as well. The tone on mine doesn't change throughout the set, but once you get it past a certain point it really starts to fuzz out.

    I preferred to keep the head clean and use my TubeWorks BlueTube for some tube saturation.

    I don't gig with it anymore because it's too heavy.

    My Hartke LH-500 sounds great cranked. It doesn't have a gain control, just a master volume, but if I drive the front end with my old MXR AC Limiter it gets a nice growl. It's a nice fat warm sounding amp. I like it as much as my Mesa.
  15. Ok here is what I have found in comparison to the classic 400.

    The streamliner has the right idea with the gain. Boost it and set the pre volume for "feel" then set the master for volume. The low end feels a little squishy to me.

    M9: this amp has the low end to come close to the cl400, but the top end is a lot sharper. I didn't have enough time to get the eq right, and control this. This could be wrapped up in the voicing of the amp and unavoidable.

    Svt 7-pro: the svt's are voiced completely different than the classic 400, but I find the feel of the gain to be similar. The power section isn't remotely close to all tube, so you have to set the feel completely with the pre and the eq.

    I still need to try a SVP-pro, peavey alpha bass and the alpha pre, and I wouldn't mind a shot at a monique or a kern.

    So far nothing has matched the classic 400.
  16. The wonderful thing about this world-o-bass is that everyone's idea of "perfect tone" is different and there are ample amounts of different kinds of gear to supply the quest.

    That being said, I am truly happy with my Fender J's running through an Ampeg SVT-IIp preamp, Crest power amp, Mesa 2x15" & Fender PRO 8x10". (However I favor the 2x15").

    This is my perfect tone that not only works great for a solo tone, but mixes with bands and stages very well.
  17. groovaholic

    groovaholic The louder the better.

    Sep 19, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI
    The Streamliner and Carbine are on my short list to demo -- and I've found a store in the area with both in stock (and a Mesa Big Block).

    I used to use an Ampeg SVP -- loved it when I was playing a 4-string, but the low end get REALLY flabby with a 5'er, and that's what I play 90% of the time now.

    (And I didn't invest in a Dingwall to have a flabby sounding B-string)

    But if I was playing rock on a 4-string, I'd just buy an SVP and call it a day.
  18. You should check out the fDeck HPF. I just got my new one today and it really helps keep the bstring under control.
  19. Primakurtz

    Primakurtz Registered Nihilist Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2011
    Denver, Colorado
    I can't remember - have you tried the Aguilar 750?

    You are welcome to goof around with my M9 when it comes home from the shop.
  20. I wish I had an opportunity like that. I really want to like the M9, but the only one I can find to try out locally is at a GC. I would need a bit more time, than their sales staff is comfortable with, at a decent volume to dial it in. That said if the GK MB800 fusion is what I expect it to be, then it may be a top contender for a micro amp.


    There is a Peavey Alphabass for sale local to me. Hoping to check it out. Depending on how it sounds it may be an option for lower powered use.

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