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The 70s tone

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by CaptainTuna, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Hey guys,

    I'm trying to get the "70s tone" out of my bass, I'm not totally sure on how to describe it properly, but some of its features are:
    -you can't hear the twangy highs or fret noise
    -it's kind of "punchy", as in low-mids boosted

    Some examples of what I mean could be:

    Starman, by David Bowie ( )

    Of course these are just some examples which I choose because you can hear the bass pretty well.
    What amazes me is that you can always hear the bass flawlessly and without the twangy-like sounds I don't look too much except in some more progressive style rock.

    What I've tried so far:

    -Flatwounds. I bought D'Addario chromes, and I later found that they actually have a bright sound, so this might have been a mistake.
    -Pick. I use a pick most of the time lately. I try to play between the neck pickup and the neck.
    -Boosting frequencies, even if I'm not 100% on how to do this and I usually end up messing too much with my tone.

    I still can't get what I'm looking for. Do consider though, that my hardware is pretty limited due to being a student :( . I mainly use my bass with a fender '68 P pickup and my SansAmp BDDI clone (self made, should resemble the behringer v-tone more than the SansAmp actually) and I use my laptop for EQing and compressing.

    Have you got any ideas to help me achieve that kind of tone? I've tried explaining what my hardware consists so that you could probably give me some more specific ideas. :)

    Thank you!
  2. Man, it isnt any more than a picked P bass with the tone rolled off.
  3. tbirdsp


    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    Might want to try the old foam mute under the strings at the bridge trick.

    I have the Chromes on my Squier 50's P and can get that sound.
  4. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000

    I'd also add nickel plated strings to the receipt.
  5. geddeeee


    Jun 30, 2006
    It's all to do with tube amps. You just can't duplicate that 'creamy thump' you get from a passive tone stacked tube amp. Most players used roundwound strings too, even though a lot of people nowadays swear they are flat wounds.

    Try a Marshall VBA 400 or Orange AD200B and you'll have THAT tone dialled in within seconds of plugging in.

    The Sansamp or BDDI won't do you any favours either. It colours the intrinsic tone of the bass too much. You would get closer by going direct from your bass. The 'un-coloured' P-bass sound is what you are going for.

    A lot of bass players make the mistake of using boxes or FX to try and dial in a certain sound, when their sound is already there, directly from the bass.

    Keeping it simple will usually get you there...

    Good luck!!!
  6. The tone knob on your bass is your friend. Don't be afraid to use it.
  7. This.
    & older flats, & foam mute/ foam under strings near bridge:thumbup:
  8. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest

    +1 Just research what players had available back then? very few were using effects.
  9. Interceptor

    Interceptor Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Madison, WI
    Precision or Jazz (neck only pick up) pick and roll off some tone. Flats - Chromes or TI Jazz Flats. Use a passive DI like a JDI, Switchcraft or roll one up with a top shelf transformer. A little compression doesn't hurt, either. As far as eq, sensible high pass and low pass to roughly band shape are all that's needed.

    FWIW, my tone is in exactly that same grouping, except for the pick based bark.
  10. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    P with flats and a pick for the Chicago and the Edgar Winter, for sure. No tone rolled off. I'm hearing a good amount of overdrive on the David Bowie.
  11. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    Peter cetera did an interview in bass player a few years ago. He tasked about his gear some.
  12. Tuned


    Dec 6, 2007
    Short scale helps too, plus a fat warm tube head, Ampeg being the obvious example.
  13. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Wow, thanks for all the answers.

    I followed your advices and my sound is much closer to what I was trying to describe. I took off the BDDI clone and rolled off the tone.
    Other things that helped me a lot as well were playing closer to the bridge, specifically around where the P pickup is. My lighter plectrum also gives me a much punchier sound than my thicker one.

    Unfortunately, I still can't get exactly what I'm looking for, but that's probably because some gear is missing. I got particularly amazed by this track lately:

    I still can't manage to get it as punchy as he does...his tone simply amazes me. I'm gonna search for the interview suggested above and see what I can find. Probably, as many said, the tubes could help (and the DI as well), haven't got much money though.

    One thing I'm not sure of though is the foam or, in general, string muting. It seems to take away the presence from my sound and deafen the strings way too much for them to stay punchy as I want them, but maybe that's just me!

    Thank you once again, I'll post some audio samples as soon as I get my hands on my audio card.
  14. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    According to Wikipedia, "Feelin' Stronger Everyday" was recorded at Caribou Ranch, which used Olive and, later, Neve desks. I found this thread titled "The 'sound' of Caribou Ranch" for you, hope it is informative: http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/361947-sound-caribou-ranch.html

    Here is a video clip of Chicago recording at Caribou Ranch:

    I don't hear anything "special" on the track, just your basic 70s analog sound.
  15. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    The only gear that is missing is a good set of flats. That and not rolling the tone control off. ;) It's rare, in my experience, that an recording engineer will ask me to "roll off the tone control". As a matter of fact, it has never happened.

    But do what you want. :)
  16. Re the foam muting- could perhaps try less of it, resulting in less muting:confused:
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Peter Cetera used a Precision into an Ampeg B-15N in the studio and SVT's for live work. Dan Hartman used a Precision and an SVT for live work, but no idea what he used in the studio. Trevor Bolder used a bunch of different basses into Marshalls. I have been able to get similar sounds with pedals, but nothing quite does it as well as a tube amp.
  18. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I find in 70s music it is generally very hard to hear the bass :rollno:

    To be honest, I find 70s music a bit hard to listen to now. I think it is because they catered to AM radio, and lost all the lows and highs.
  19. Tanner5382


    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA

    Really? I find 70s bass to be much more prominent than in modern music.
  20. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.

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