The Sound of Bass & Hands

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by chadhargis, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    My apologies if I've duplicated a thread from somewhere else, I searched and didn't find anything that answered my question.

    So...a little background. I've only been playing bass for 7 years and I'm a hobby player. Mostly play in church and on an occasional gig. So I'm no professional by any stretch. So spending money on my basses or rig is recreational cash.

    I have a nice selection of basses that fill different needs. A EUB, a Precision with flats, a Jazz, and a Lakland 55-02. Over the years I've messed with preamps, DI's, effects, and such. A few weeks ago I installed some Nordstrand pickups in my Jazz followed by a John East J Retro preamp. It was so bloated and boomy. Really ugly. So I turned off all the amp sims and all the EQ I had on my pedal board and low and sounded amazingly wonderful. Just the sound of the bass and my hands. It was like an epiphany. I grabbed my stock P bass and plugged it! Grabbed my Lakie....onboard EQ flat....NICE!

    Then I started tracking some stuff with no tone shaping or anything. Just bass and hands. And I really liked it. Playing soft yielded a nice round full sound. Digging in gave me an aggressive growl with some clanging against the frets. Moving my hand position between neck and bridge went from round to burpy.

    I get the need for a preamp EQ and effects, but does anyone just love the sound of their bass and hands?
  2. WayneP

    WayneP Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2004
    Corpus Christi, Texas

    Never been much for effects, and on top of that I’ve found myself using less and less EQ over the years. I typically get my tone changes with playing technique (the hands in different places, as you say), or more typically just the bass itself, panning between the pickups. About the only EQ I use is (1) a slight treble roll out to tame the highs on fresh round-wound strings, (2) a wholesale treble roll-out if I’m looking for a fat, “bassy” sound, or (3) a slight boost of the lows if I’m using a rig with poor low end output. The former and median I usually get from the bass itself, the latter from the bass pre-amp.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Administrator, Pedulla Club #45
    Administrator, Tobias Club #133
    Fretless Club #943
    Big Cabs Club #23
    My Rig: Stage and FOH Friendly
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  3. I think that is what most players strive for. Effects are mentioned to modulate and alter the sound, but with everything bypassed I want to hear my bass and hands. EQ should be used to correct anomalies.
  4. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Thanks guys!

    I feel the same way. I don't find myself playing anything that requires heavy effects. Ideally, I'd love to have a nice programmable EQ to give me a few tone options such as "fat and thumpy" and "bright and growly", a tuner, a volume pedal, and a DI.

    So far, I'm using my Zoom B3 to do just that. I leave everything off unless I want to mimic a specific tone. I can punch in a B15 or an SVT sim but I really just use it as a volume pedal, tuner, and DI.
  5. _Some Dude

    _Some Dude

    Sep 14, 2016
    This past weekend was my first recording session. Plugged straight in and started playing... heard the bass through the monitors and thought "wow, that sounds good".
    chadhargis likes this.
  6. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I've never been in the studio, but I did the same things with my interface. Plugged straight in and loved the sound.

    A few years back I attended a clinic with Bryan Beller. He was playing a very nice Mike Lull jazz bass. It sounded amazing. I asked how he got that tone and he said, "I don't know man, whatever bass I play sounds like me", then he handed me the bass and said, "Give it a try". I played the exact same bass, through the exact same rig, and it sounded like crap. Thin and lifeless. That made a huge impression on me and I stopped buying basses and gear and stopped trying to learn "chops" and hot licks. I focused on technique. I learned I'm a better player being really good at the basics than I am being bad at a bunch of stuff.

    Just recently, the music director at my church told me, "Your playing has really improved". That was one of my proudest moments...because nothing had changed other than my touch on the bass.
    BroDon and JCooper like this.
  7. tlc1976


    Aug 2, 2016
    I almost always run my bass wide open and use technique to vary the sound. Run the amp flat with some paramid boost. With my 7 I haven't even been using the Blue Tube, it's got a nice growl as-is. I'd like to figure out what kind of strings are on it.
  8. BlueP


    Jan 29, 2017
    I mostly just use the amp set flat , no effects and this keeps it simple

    I might eq the amp a little here and there depending on my mood or how the room sounds

    But before I do that, if I am going to adjust anything it is the volume or tone on the bass

    That approach may not work for other people but that's where I am at ....
  9. JCooper


    Oct 21, 2009
    There are definitely several pedals which I love to use, (some pre-amps, some dirt, some EQ…not all at the same time), but man, I hear you.
    The honest tone of "straight in" can be glorious!
  10. chaak


    Apr 25, 2013
    now here
    fully agree, whatever pedalboard or rig i run in the studio i always record my bass in two tracks with one always fingers bass D.I.
  11. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I don't use any pedals, but I have nothing against their use at all.

    My issue is when someone comes along and tells me that I've never get anywhere without using pedals for various effects. And that person is seldom ever a bass player...
    s0c9 likes this.
  12. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Same here...I use a DI, fronted by chorus and compressor pedals. All are pretty flat.. and I seldom use the chorus. Comp and DI are always on.. the rest is bass.
  13. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    If we have no predisposition for what a bass tone "is supposed to sound like", then, in and of itself, absolutely nothing inherently wrong with pure direct, bass-to-channel input with nothing in between. To the contrary, IMHO, this can and does sound very good.

    I will say that sometimes there are tones that are more difficult to attain without additional processing (preamp/EQ, compression, etc.), but this only matters to the extent that a tonal emulation is mandatory...and usually there is no such mandate unless your performance group uses this as a particular feature or selling point (in a cover/tribute band format).

    Having done my share of cover/tribute work, I'll say that front end processing has been a necessity to emulate a certain number of bass tones/effects. In an all-original format, or acoustic/unplugged format, there is much more creative latitude, thus a simple pure direct path is perfectly legit, perhaps arguably preferable. JMO.
  14. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Eugene Oregon
    I can add that strings and how hard you dig make a huge difference. I played in a backup band for an RnB artist for years and always strung DR's of some type for the slap pop and general bright top to deep bass tone.

    A year later and I am doing bossas and blues in my current band and I've restrung the same axe with hybrid Half Wounds. When they were new 6 weeks ago they were relatively bright and the pop sounded good. Now I am digging hard to get half the tone. It's different fo 'sho

    Pedals are useful but not necessary