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The sound - Your hands

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by semborg, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. After been playing bass for about 5 years I am starting to understand that the bass and amp+cab isn't everything. I would say the Amp and cab + bass is 50 percent of your sound, the rest 50 percent is your hands.

    I have played fretless for about a year now. And I have defretted my fretted bass, so now I only got fretless basses. (Peavey Cirrus 5 fretless, and Squier 5 string (defretted)(strings: E-A-D-G-C).

    So its not so often I play fretted basses, just in school. And I realized one day that I could get good sound out from the most ****bass at school. And my bass teacher, OMG, first I thought it was the bass but when I tried the bass, I realized!

    Your sound is your hands!

    What do you say about this?
  2. Can o' worms!

    But you're correct.
  3. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS

    It's more about dynamics and altering your attack for different sounds. Some people call a Pbass a one trick pony, but until you have seen a great player get about a dozen different tones just by changing his right hand dynamics, you wouldn't understand.

    The idea that a person's tone is a direct result of their fingers sounding different from Bassist X's doesn't hold much truck with me. Picking technique, plucking position, and right hand muting have a lot more to do with a person's "signature" sound than the tips of their fingers.

  4. Yep!
    I have a very nice bass and amp
    The sound only went so far until my technic started to improve.
  5. You are right arbak!
  6. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I think we've ALL heard that guy with the $3000 bass sound like crap, and that guy with the $300 bass tear it up.

    Mayby not so much your hands, but what you do, and don't do with them, although some some people are blessed with hands and fingers that make things easier for them...
  7. I'd say, at least in my case, that my left-hand fretting and muting has a lot to do with my sound. I dampen a lot with my left hand. Changing which part of my finger contacts the string on my picking hand changes the sound a lot. I sound very much the same on several basses/amps. The only difference being in the clarity/muddiness and punchiness/smoothness thats coming from the bass and amp. Hopefully its a good sound.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Most people, when saying the sound is in your hands, mean just what you said. It's not your hands specifically, it's what you do with them.

    Otherwise, doing a hand transplant would tranfer tone from one player to another...

    and we can guess how expensive that might be.

    Take any bass and pass it around to four or five players of varying skill levels and you'll most likely hear a difference, sometimes a drastic one. All other things being equal, what else could be the deciding factor?

    On the bright side, as long as some (heck, most) people don't understand this, music stores will flourish as people continue to try and buy their way into better tone. Plus it really helps maintain the flow in the used gear market.
  9. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I agree that some of your tone is in the hands, but certainly not all of it, or even most of it. Try playing an EB-0 with flatwounds and a Ric with SS RWs through the same amp and tell me they sound the same.
  10. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    I can make them sound quite close with proper technique :p

    And the thread starter also said that the "Amp and cab + bass is 50 percent of your sound, the rest 50 percent is your hands." He didn't say you wouldn't notice a difference with unique-sounding basses.
  11. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    I want Jaco's hand! Hopefully someone preserved it! :hyper:

    Says the man with a bazillion basses :eyebrow: :D :D
  12. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    I second Brad on the point that it's not exactly the hands, but what you do with them.
    And I'll add the notion of comfort : skilled hands generally give better results on basses they feel comfortable with.

  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    Mostly cast-off basses and several very inexpensive ones;)

    I don't look for the basses to do anything but meld with my playing style.
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Better yet, make it a banjo and a flute.


    I can make a Ric with SS RWs sound like an EB-series bass. Making an EB sound like a Ric is a bit more difficult.

    NO ONE is contending that ALL of your tone is in your hands (or more specifically what you do with them).


    Most of MY tone is in MY hands. That's why, when I listen to old recordings, I sometimes can't tell if I played a Fender Jazz, pre-Gibson Tobias or whatever else I owned at the time, even though those basses have distinct sounds...

    I sound like me.
  15. AJ has always sounded like AJ through the years. His basses have differed widely in that span.

    Victor still sounds like Vic. He's had different amps and basses.

    Alain Caron is still the same Alain. From the time that he used Eden to Roland.

    My teacher still has the same "sound" now with his Nordstrand 7 as he did with his Ken Smith 6. Nuances of the bass are different of course. But I can still tell it's him right away.

    These guys have a tone that only they can reproduce. Equipment can only do so much.
  16. Dincrest


    Sep 27, 2004
    Behind you!
    I believe that a good part of tone is in hand manipulation. I'm sure many of us have seen, or been part of, incidents where a beginner is frustrated by his/her instrument and then a more advanced player asks to give it a go and really makes it sound good.

    I believe that each player can sound like themselves on various basses. My housemate is also a bassist and we've noodled on each other's basses, unplugged. Our basses are pretty similar (alder bodies, maple bolt-on necks, rosewood fingerboards.)

    He and I sound totally different on his bass. He and I sound totally different on my bass. Our basses both have dual soapbars and 2 band active EQs, but even plugged into my Ashdown combo (he doesn't have his amp with him,) sound completely different, with everything flat and the blend centered.

    It's gotta be the hands and how the player manipulates them. Hand position's key too. When I play near the neck, I can get a nice stonery fuzz without effects. When I play near the bridge, I get honk...and this holds true with most any bass I pick up.

    I do believe there are some cases where the hands can't help you.

    But for me, I'm not much of a knob tweaker. I'm a low maint set-it-and-forget-it kind of guy so I prefer any variations in my tone to come from my hands before anything else.
  17. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    Guitar boards always have these discussions, and guitarists normally have their signal going through a lot more in their signal chains than bassists do. They get the same gear as their favorite players and still don't get the sound they want and perhaps it comes down to hands = voltage = tone.

    The main part that's left out of the equation (and the signal chain) is the first moment (the attack) of the string's motion and the related voltage created. Everything in the signal chain degrades or boosts (depending) that initial voltage, but the very beginning of the sound is the thing that's normally overlooked. Beginning players strike the strings either too softly or too harshly. As they mature they get a more 'even' signal going out from their instrument (from their touch), and then things seem to smooth out a bit. THEN all the tweaking of the units in the chain become consistant and useable. Until then, day to day differences in touch make the settings in everything else in the chain more or lless useless - it still comes down to the initial signal created by the individual player.

    So yah, hands (or touch). +1
  18. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    I say this is in the wrong forum. ;) Moved.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Some basses are much more sensitive to right hand technique then others but you have to know how to use your hands in the manipulation of those tones.It just takes time with carefull listening and experimentation.
  20. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I can get pretty much any bass to sound like how I want it without gear. With gear, I can get any bass to sound crappy.

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