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!  

the story of your tone.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jomahu, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. jomahu


    Dec 15, 2004
    Bos, MA
    how has your tone evolved over the years and what/who caused those changes?
    and i mean the actual bass guitar side of things, not necessarily amps or gear.
  2. calebbarton


    Aug 25, 2007
    I manufacture for several companies including but not limited to: Bridge City Sound, Catalinbread, more.
    Mesa 400+
  3. dinghy


    May 27, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    I bought a GSR200 because I had no idea what I wanted. Didn't like it, hocked it for a Variax. That let me decide what I wanted, and it turned out to be a stingray-ish thing. Didn't have the money for a real stingray, but when I played the ATK for the first time I realized I needn't have it. That's been my tone ever since.
  4. Mark Moss

    Mark Moss

    Feb 28, 2005
    Redmond, WA
    Great question. For me it was when I said the hell with what is hip, I'm just gonna get the tone that I, me, like. So I went back to Jazz bass configurations with flat wound strings. Never been happier with my tone.
  5. My tone is ever evolving, it's a combination of different amps and different basses that I've played over the years. In it's current state it's for the most part a deep low end, with low mid emphasis, with punchy upper mid's and stinging highs for popping notes. My graphic eq is set in a smilely face with a little smug toward the upper mids. It tends to work most places that I play, with little or no eq changes.;)
  6. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Tone in the 70's when I started playing was a dull thud (Fender P, flats). Few songs had an edge until Disco and the late seventies.
    The 80's were edgy time, lots of pick work and fast tempos. Hate that stuff now.
    The 90's were return to the 70's in classic rock formats. Found Music Man Stingray to replace Fender. Started using rotos.
    Mid 90's found a fifth string, lead me to jazz, complex arpeggios and more right hand placement issues for smoother tones.
    The 00's are a mixture of sounds: MM Sterling is my rocking growler; the 5 string is my R&B, blues bass; and Fretless is straight ahead jazz.

    Hard to keep up on three instruments and to separate the style phrasing (jazz versus Rock). It takes work and mental discipline.

    My sound remains pretty much the same: Deep bottom; thinner mids; just a touch of edge. The MM Sterling has the best growl, the Carvin 5 the smoothest neckthrough but spacing is tight (less than 19mm); and the fretless is mwah but playing in pitch is challenging.
  7. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX
    Like it's been said before, my tone evolved the very first day I decided to play for myself. That, and surrounding myself with musicians that had a style of their own and respected mine.

    Now, what you wanna hear... The day I played my main bass (78 p, rosewood) through a b-15 (and afterwards, and svt), that was the turning point. Prior to that, I was stuck in a band with a guitarist and drummed who believed (honestly, they really did) that the bass was better felt than heard. I've always pretty much payed fenders and rics, too.
  8. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    My own voice has always existed but I wasn't so aware of it, early on. At first I was swept away by all the usual bass heroes of the late 80's/early 90's.

    Then I got in to vintage R&B. Not got in to so much as recognized: this is some stuff that really turns my crank!! So I picked up some new idols like Paul Jackson and George Porter Jr. That started to affect my gear choices and my physical approach.

    But even before that, I think a more savvy listener could have heard me play and predicted where I'd be heading. (Even if I couldn't have! :D) It was already there in the way I'd keep tweaking with my bright '90s gear till it sounded less "sharp".

    I guess the story of my tone is one of conscious evolution, prompted by sub-conscious urges.
  9. My first taste of great bass tone was listening to everything by John Taylor of Duran Duran. His tone and basslines in the early to mid 80s were very inspiring to me. He grooved hard, yet even as a novice bassist I could understand everything he was playing. Needless to say, I tried to emulate John Taylor's tone for quite a few years after that. Then I discovered Mark King and Level 42.:rollno: That really opened my ears to a lot of new ways to play the bass. The thumping style always intrigued me, but this Level 42 stuff was unreal. I never knew that the bass could play such a pivotal role as almost a lead instrument. Thumping/slapping was never just a fad style for me, I was and continue to be very drawn to that type of expression on a bass. Anyways, I soon discovered that I really liked the very hifi and upfront tone that Mark King had, however it didn't work too well in most band settings ( it was a little light in the booty). At any rate, I did enjoy several years of playing every Level 42 tune that I could get through, however I soon started to move on from wanting to be the next Mark King. I did try to take something away from all that thumping and use it in a musical way.

    A short time later the craving for a stronger, more substantial bass tone was starting to interest me thanks to hearing some tracks that featured Nathan East. I started listening to anything by Nathan that I could get my hands on. He had the groove and simplicity to his bass playing just like John Taylor, but he also had very strong jazz and funk sides to his playing. I was immediately hooked. Best of all Nathan's tone worked in every song that I checked out. Nathan's tone was like the best of both worlds, a workable, hifi sort of tone that worked in a real world band setting. I still try to phrase and groove like Nathan East to this day. I think his playing style and tone are classic and timeless. If your going to emulate a bass player, you can do a whole lot worse than Nathan.

    Over the years, I have tried to emulate many of my favourite bass players styles and subsequently their tones as well. I didn't go as far as being a clone, but I did immerse myself in the music those bassists were a part of. I have to say that I finally figured out that if I didn't walk away from it all with my own style and tone then I still had not figured out what it's all really about. While I am still no where near a place of total contentment with my tone, I have happily accepted it for what it is at this point.

    I have so much to learn still about tone and taste, but that is the fun of it. I have built my present tone around the premise that a bassist's tone can be somewhat bright and articulate yet still lay down a solid musical foundation for the band if he/she is motivated by taste above all else. I feel that the fore mentioned bassists played a huge role in my search for my own tone. In each case I was always trying to emulate other players, I always believed that's how you find your own style and thus your own tone. I know I made several conclusions based on style more often than purely tone, that's because I firmly believe that your tone is the result of your style. All in all, I think I needed to try and play and sound like others before I attempted to do my own thing. First emulate, then innovate - I think that's how someone put it once.:D

    Paul Theriault
  10. Mine changed when I realized my tone was differant way out in the room than it was on stage. I set E.q. tone etc, out from the stage, instead of 3 feet from the amp. There's alot of change 15-20 feet, or more, out.
  11. lowtide

    lowtide Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2006
    Bradenton, Florida
    Owner: Buzzard's Bass Shop
    Fingertips and techniques.
  12. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    Originally I wanted a chunky growl with some edge on it.

    That was for me the sound of a P bass with rounds or a Ray, later an ATK ... that through an SVT and the old SWR Goliath II cabs.

    Now it's smaller light Neo cabs (mine) and the new crop of micro amps usually a Mark Bass LMII or Genz 6.0 300lbs of rig reduced to under 100. Still wanting that growl but now with a broader range more deep bass and a more focused top end that means the Rays and ATKs are gone and it's now Dark Star pickups and Jazz basses both active and passive.

    One other change ... when playing with my band I use a pedal board with compression, low-octave, OD/Fuzz and UniVibe ( Micro Vibe) and passive Jazz Basses with that rig.

    :smug: ... One thing hasn't changed still use that old P bass now and then.
  13. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    I started out with a Hamer Chaparral 5str US EMG loaded. This set the mark quite high. The tone was crispy yet full, but clarity was not perfect on the B string. Then Status Graphite set the mark very very high in terms of a bold B string with amazing clarity, detail and sustain

    Then Dingwalls came and the tone got even better, across the strings and across the f/b. The next step came with Villex pickups that allowed for a full balanced organic tone. Combine the two (Dingwall and Villex and you have the best possible tone)
  14. Oric


    Feb 19, 2008
    Georgetown, Kentucky
    I put some Seymour Duncan Antiquities in my Jazz Bass, then I said some bad words because my tone was that awesome.
  15. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    All Ric, roundwounds, slightly pushed mids, hybrid amps, and the biggest difference,....the right speakers.
  16. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    The story of my tone is being written everyday. Everyday I practice and work on making a beautiful tone. Regardless of which bass I am playing, I am working making it sound great.

    I want my spirit and musicality to dictate my tone, not my gear. A great player can make a cheap bass sing. A bad player with a boutique bass still sounds bad. IMO
  17. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    Good, and interesting queston. Had to stop and think about this one for a few minutes.

    I origianly started out playing primarily with a pick, coming from a background in guitar. Didn't really have any influences, just played the way I thought felt right to me. That basic tone was a P bass through a tube amp. (Fender, and Ampeg). That's where it all started for me, and seemed to work just fine.

    Later on , after a bit of a hiatus from bass, I came back as primarily a finger style player. Again, P bass through a tube amp (Sunn this time), and I just adapted where my fingers went and how I hit the stirngs to form the tone I was hearing in my head.

    The BIG change and evolution came for me when I was asked to step into the role of bass players for The Bruisers, a band that had 3 differnt bass players prior to me coming on board. edit: forgot Todd.. he played on a few cuts too. so I guess 4.

    I wanted the band to sound "right" with me on bass, so I had to pay attention to how those guys played and adapt to it to get that sound.
    Turns out Scotty Davies, the original bass player aloso played an old Precision, but his style was RADICALY different than mine. I don't think Scotty ever played an upstroke with a Pick, and had a ferrocious attack with his right hand. Basicly an American approch to the Oi! style of playing IMO. This took a bit of doing to cover his parts in a convincing manner. This was a MAJOR shift in style for me.

    Next up was Kieth "Ritchie" Richards era of the band. Ritchies style was more similar to my own, and he came up with some great , counter melody type bass lines. Ritchie is also a great guitar player as well. Ritchie deserves a ton of credit for what he brought to the band IMO.

    After Ritchie, John Rioux (now of The Street Dogs) was the final era of that bands music I had to become familiar with. Johnny is a tallented mo-fo IMO and a great player who's style was pretty revved up , and full of energy. Totaly different than Scotty's style, but very effective in the bands later material.

    I have a TON of respect for those three guys, and they all had an influence on my playing now.
    Today, there are all kinds of elements of my earlier style, mixed in with a bits and pieces of stuff that rubbed off being in a band that had 3 GREAT bass players before me. I have a TON of respect for those guys, and they've definitly had an influence on my tone and playing. My owns style and tone is a bit different, but you wouldn't have to look too deeply into my playing to find the tonal, and stylistic influence of those guys.
  18. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    My goal for years has been Flea´s tone on "Behind the sun" (on Uplift Mofo, Spector IIRC). "Round crispness" as I refer to it...

    I first got closer to my goal after buying a Tobias KillerB 5 (which I later had to take back because the neck was twisted beyond repair). But the Trace Elliot cabs I had back then didn´t quite catch the vibe...

    Later, after getting a 55-02 (and replacement Duncans) and two Hartke 4.5XL´s I´m getting closer...

    I was going to get a Spector, but:

    -I only play 5 strings
    -I dislike basses with narrow spacing (got to be 19mm), and custom Spectors are out of my reach, financially...

    Then again, my tone requirements are ever-changing, and i´m not sure the Spector would satisfy my needs totally anymore. I´m very happy with my tone as is...

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.