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!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

"The tone knobs are my friends"-repeat

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by badgrandad, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. Why do I have this idea that you should only play with your tone set flat on everything ( or said differently it is something somehow "wrong" with your equipment if you have to turn your tone knobs much) ? I have actually gotten into a search for a new bass just because my current one only delivers the tone I like with some tweaking on the tone knobs.

    After sitting down with my gear last night I was able to coax a much "better" tone out of it with my bass tone knob at 75%. Maybe a support group needs to be formed for those of us who have a "problem" with using the EQ.

    Any others have this disease?
  2. I don't. I love my tone knobs. I love the way the shine, and I love to hold them and caress them and turn them. But hey, I'm sure we can help you out. We may even have to start a 12 step program, or a tone knob turning 101 class.
  3. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast

    Jul 16, 2005
    Belfast, UK
    I don't know, I think there is something thet some of us find comforting in simplicity. I've been using a bass with 3 band EQ for two years now, and used to do tons of tweaking, but now I have it all set flat.
  4. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I think the best reason to strive to get a good sound with a flat EQ is that it keeps you from fighting your tone so much. If you play out a lot at a lot of different venues, you are almost always dealing with a room that booms at this freq. or swallows all of that one, etc. Natural resonance and reverb can drive you nuts.

    If you are flat to start, you have a little more range of options to fix a bad room.

    Although, most what I am talking about is on the other end of the cable. I actually do make subtle tweaks to the bass's controls from tune to tune and back again. It's quick and easy way to set a better tone mood for a particular tune. It usually just panning the PUs or a little bump in the bass. Maybe back off the treble a bit. Nothing off the wall.
  5. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    So, there are two sources of the "flat is better" notion:
    1) Some of us are so happy with our onboard EQ that we brag about leaving our amp EQ flat (like me with my Stingray 5). :)
    2) There's a practical approach to EQing when you're playing in a lot of different places with varying acoustics: start out with your EQ flat and adjust from there, as opposed to becoming "married" to a setting that doesn't get adjusted no matter how bad the room sounds. I subscribe to the "start out flat and then adjust" theory.
    Having said all that, there are no rules! Just use your ears. Experience helps, of course. For example: You may love how you sound onstage and find out later that your tone was so fat no one in the audience could hear you. After a few of those experiences, you start learning.
    Good luck!
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've played basses with no tone knobs at all!!

    Like the Ibanez Gary Willis signature bass!!

    The tone is in your hands!! ;)
  7. Well I have to say that I tend to subscribe to Chasarms theory of tone use, changing for particular songs or mood, but its for the 70% of my playing on my band's original stuff that I tend to use the "flat" tone of my bass that has always seemed a little thin or sterile (a Carvin tone). I know that the tone out to the audience is rarely what I hear on stage and it needs to fit well with all the combination of the instruments, but its hard to feel good about what you are doing when it sounds thin to me on stage. I know that there are those (BRUCE LINDFIELD!!) that chant the tone in your hands mantra, but a thin sounding (or "off" - sounding) bass is just uninspiring.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well don't buy one then!! :meh:

  9. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I usually play my carvin flat, and it has never sounded sterile. But whatever, I now find myself boositng the bass and trebble just a touch. But I almost never adjust it beyond that.

    For some reason On my passive Jbass, I am messing with the tone knob much more now that I have installed a series/parallel push/pull pot. Even going from song to song, adjust the volumes, tone and series/paralell to fit the music.
  10. :eyebrow: And the problem is....
  11. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    I use only the Blend knob most of the time (except for resetting volume if it moved in the gigbag). I rarely touch the tone knobs. My next bass will be all passive; but, as it will probably have a brighter tone with more highs, I'll put a vtc-type tone pot on it.
  12. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Seriously. Would you only buy a car if the seat was already adjusted to angle you wanted it when you gave it a test drive?
  13. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Moving the tone controls off of dead flat doesn't make anything more complicated. I've found a sound I like for most of what I play, and I leave my tone knobs set there almost all the time. That's simplicity. I'm not fiddling with them. How could it be any simpler than that? I don't give a rip whether they're set to the midpoint or not. They're set the way I like them, end of story.

    I suppose if I was obsessing over having everything "flat" I could just get knobs with pointers on them and put them on so that with the sound I like everything would line up at noon. Hey presto, I'm set "flat!"

    IMHO this is silly. Controls are there to be used. If turning the knob makes the bass sound better to your ears, then why not turn the knob?
  14. Whenever I have a gig, or when I'm practicing for that matter, I often begin with boosting the bass, I like the bass high. If it gets too muddy, I add treble instead of lowering the bass, and spice it up with some mids.

    BUT after a while, I usually set the EQ flat, just to hear the difference, and see if I can alter my playing and technique to get different sounds.

    Then I'm able to find an EQ setting that I'll stay with during the gig or session.

    I'm the kinda' guy who doesn't like to fiddle with the amp during a gig, so I love having an active EQ on the bass. My Warwick has an active/passive switch and passive tone, that I also use a lot.
  15. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    My guess is that many of you hear actually like your basses. I have an Ibanez EDB600, and I refuse to play it without Smith strings and a tweaked EQ.
    I think that its perhaps best to buy a bass where the tone you like comes out of a flat EQ. That gives it a lot more versatily in your own comfortable playing zone. For instance, I have very little versatility with my bass because I need my mids low, and my bass/treble relatively high. Theres not much to play with there.
    So dont feel too guilty, I guess, if you like tweaking your tone knobs. Do feel guilty if you bought a bass that youre not happy with... like me (it was actually a gift... but I did have some say in what it was going to be.)
  16. JAL


    Dec 15, 2004
    Cleveland, Ohio
    On my Warwick passive vette fretless, I use three tone knob settings. Pure bridge volume, no tone (for a great fretless sound)
    Pure neck volume, full tone (for great grungy rock sound)
    Flat all across (for a good, solid, transparent bass sound)
    On my Spector, the tone knobs are used a lot to help room acoustics, etc...
  17. DubDubs


    Aug 23, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I only use the tone knob when recording to take out some of the harshness. Otherwise if I want high rolloff I'll use the high knob on my preamp. I also never use active controls. Whenever I pick up a bass in the store if it's active first think I do is make sure the active eq is flat and if it's passive first think I do is make sure the volume and tone knobs are all the way up.
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Sure, when I'm testing a bass or amp I always start with the controls flat... that's kind of a "duh". But if there's EQ, I tweak it soon enough. I want to see how it's voiced, how powerful it is.

    When I'm gigging: I twist the knobs until I get good tone. Doesn't matter to me which way the knobs are pointing. And tweaking is no trouble at all: if I don't like my tone due to room acoustics or whatever, I know how to fix it.

    I don't obsess over a particular tone. Fact is, I enjoy a wide range of tones. Sometimes I set my tone for the situation (mellow for blues, aggressive for modern rock, etc), or sometimes I just set it for how I'm feeling that night.

    To me, blending in tube emulation/overdrive can be trickier than EQing. But if I ever have trouble I just leave it out, no big deal.
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Interesting point. It's related to something said in a slightly different thread a few months back.

    In that thread, a couple TBers said they change tone with their technique instead of EQ, even when adjusting for room acoustics. That's fine, of course... whatever one does to change tone is personal preference. My preference is to tweak tone with both EQ and technique. And when it comes to a bad room, I'd rather compensate with EQ, which in effect leaves my technique "flat", so I still have my full range of options there. Example: you could compensate for a boomy room by playing closer to the bridge, but that leaves your options limited in those instances where you want to play closer to the bridge to achieve a more aggressive tone.
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    P.S. Heck, anything that changes tone is my friend: bass EQ, amp EQ, technique, tube/solid state, clean/dirty, sealed/ported, tweetered/non-tweetered...