The top list of things for YOUR tone!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Coelho, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. Coelho


    May 10, 2006
    Astoria, NY
    Let's start by saying that "tone" is a group of things. It starts by making a string vibrate. The strings will vibrate differently depending on:

    1- Your hands - Where do you pluck the strings, how hard, at what angle. Where do you press the note with your left hand (close to fret, not so close), how hard you press, any vibrato, etc.

    2- Action - Higher or lower action will modify a lot how strings vibrate, how they "interface" with the body, neck, frets (buzz, no buzz), etc.

    3- The string itself. Is it nickel? Stainless Still? Something else? Rounds? Flats? Something else?

    4- Bass construction - Here it is a combination of types of wood, bass design, neck joint, and it has to do with resonance. The bass construction will resonate better on some frequencies and not so good in other frequencies. This will change how strings vibrate. The effect is not as pronounced as in acoustic instruments.

    Then this vibration needs to be converted to electric signal:

    5- Pickups. In a simple way, pickups are "magnets" that pick up (duh) string vibration and transform in an electrical signal. What pickup (single coil, humbucking), how many, where it is located, how it is wounded will make difference on how the string vibration will be converted to an electric signal.

    6- Internal "Eqing" - Some basses are passive, some basses are active. Passive basses have usually a passive tone control that removes high frequencies. Active basses have an internal preamp that can boost overall signal or boost or cut certain frequencies.

    Since this is the Basses thread, I won't go into other aspects (cables, effects, amplification).

    Please share your ideas! Is there something missing? Do you disagree with something? Why? Would you like to go into more detail on a single item?
  2. MadMan118


    Jan 10, 2008
    Vallejo, CA
    Well lets see what bass im going to use for this example.. My Ibanez SRX 500. I use it for a lot of metal.
    1.)Play with a pick, or with thumb on the neck pickup. I usually dig in hard right up against the fret. Use wide vibratos often at the end of riffs.
    2.) Acton is set as low a possible. Speed and ease of playing is key.
    3.) GHS Bass Boomers Heavy gauge 115-65. Nickel/Stainless alloy, roundwounds, noncoated.
    4.) Basswood body, flamed maple top, 3 piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard.
    5.) Two humbuckers ceramic magnets. Neck and Bridge.
    6) Controls: Volume, Pickup Balancer, Bass cut/boost, Trevbbe cut/boost. Setup: Pickup: 1/4 from concentric center towards neck. Bass centered, slight treb boost.
    Also used: Monster cables, Line 6 bass pod, Peavey 450 tour head, Ashdown 4x10 Cab.
  3. rarbass


    Jul 3, 2008
    1) Plucking depends on style and sound. Varies from over pickups to close to the bridge. For slap, closer to the neck a la Marcus. Left hand, close to fret.
    2) Action = LOW
    3) EB Slinkies, just got into those recently and LOVE them.
    Don't really base my decisions off body, pickups, or passive/active configurations, depends on how I like the bass when I pick it or not.
  4. bThumper38

    bThumper38 brian ebert

    thumb&finger plucking, with a willis ramp, bartolini pick-ups, expirimenting with pre-amps right now, Two fender jazz basses, aguilar preamp,and 800 watts. oh yeah, and really light touch
  5. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    For me, it's first and foremost in the hands. Since I'm self-taught (on bass anyway) my techniques range from "correct" to "huh?" Pretty much whatever is both comfortable and gets the sound I want.

    After that it's EQ. I rarely if ever use pickup pan. I need the highs to be *just* bright enough to make slapping sound "right" and the lows to be as full and rich as I can get without being overwhelming of everything else. After that it's mids to make sure that it cuts through in the mix. That's usually a minor adjustment if at all.

    In other words, I want the EQ to accurately reflect and handle the range of sounds that my hands are producing.

    I let the bass speak for itself as far as other characteristics. All my amplification is intended to be as transparent as possible.
  6. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    I think the time I spent as a kid listening and figuring out how to play nearly every bass part I heard on records and radio is number one.

    Second is certainly the performance experience I've had--again starting when I was a kid.

    Third I'd say is the music education I fought to acquire over a number of years, including quite a bit of classical double bass study. I'd also include in that the Jazz listening, performing and study I've done (never enough).

    Specific gear has little to do with it. To me, musicianship is the source of a tone ideal and the musical tools to pursue that ideal.

    Bottom line: listen and practice.
  7. mrtn400


    Dec 6, 2008
    Carmichael, CA
    1- Your hands - Normally above or in between the neck and bridge pickup. I rest my thumb on the neck pickup. I play pretty lightly, and i press down pretty lightly on the strings too. I put my fingers about halfway between frets.

    2- Action - I prefer "stupid"-low action.

    3- The string itself - Elixers all the way.

    4- Bass construction - I seem to be fond of through-necks.

    5- Pickups - I like pickups that reproduce everything, and don't turn my sound into mush. Preferably Js.

    6- Internal "Eqing" - My Dean is active and has 5 knobs: #1: Neck PU Vol @ 100%. #2: Bridge PU Vol @ 0%. #3: Bass Tone @ 100%. #4: Mid Tone @ 100%. #5: Treble Tone @ 100%.
  8. allexcosta


    Apr 7, 2004
    Fairly new strings. Fodera Diamonds Steel 045 does it.
    Med-high to high action
    Pickup config can be either JJ or Reversed PJ
    Can't live without my J-Retro
    A good drummer
  9. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    New-sounding strings
    High action
    Sadowsky onboard pre (the exception being that I play P-Basses passive)
    Speaker cabinet with a horn
    Note choice, note duration, and articulation
    A keyboardist that knows not to step all over the range the bass guitar usually is in
  10. ghiadub


    Jan 17, 2006
    Auburn, CA
    I like to have a few basses to cover all the basses. :rolleyes:

    For Dub, Reggae, or Blues, my tone is a P bass with flats and the tone off. Amp does not matter too much. It is mostly in the fingers.

    For Jazz, Fusion, and Rock, I go with A Jazz bass with rounds. Again, mostly in the fingers, but the amp matters a lot more for getting a cutting but not clacky tone.

    Upright; (Jazz, Blues, and Bluegrass) Metal cores, no weed whackers.

    Low action all the way around, very light touch (except on the upright).

    The fingers make my sound, I move them around to get tones from playing "on the fret" or behind the fret and fingerpicking near the bridge or moving closer to the neck.
  11. New sounding strings definitely. Dean markley blue steels ML sets. I boil them every 4/5 gigs till they don't stay in tune anymore.
    I prefer lower action and fret my notes close to the fret. I prefer J type configurations and use fingerstyle just behind the neck pickup. On my musicman I play just in front (toward the neck) of the humbucker.
    I'm not particular to any one brand or style of pickups but I do like a nice onboard preamp.
    I've tried many different wood combinations for necks fingerboards bodies tops etc. but I keep going back to the good ol' alder body maple neck with rosewood FB as my favorite sound (even though I prefer the look of a maple FB).
    I turn my amp loud and pluck with a fairly light touch digging in a little more for volume when needed.
    I almost always use a comp. pedal and prefer an amp with a tube pre.
  12. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    I'm still looking...

    What I have figured out, is I sound best with a pick, I usually play right over the bridge pup and I like my action as low as it can go.

    I play both active and passive basses, and use each for different things. Pups are either P/J or two soapbars. Either neck-thru or bolt on.
  13. jomahu


    Dec 15, 2004
    Bos, MA
    what great questions.

    1- my right hand is all over the place, depending on what sound i want. i fret right above the...well, fret. i'm still working on not pressing so hard.

    2- my action is medium low. just enough pull so i can dig in a bit.

    3- I LOVE NICKELS! not picky about brands.

    4- i like jazz and p shapes. not really picky about anything else as long as it's solid. the lighter the better.

    5- I like two pickups, doesn't matter which ones. exposed poles are sexy!

    6- passive all the way. anything with more than 3 three knobs and i get confused. i tend to self-EQ with my fingers. :p
  14. 1- Your hands - when i use pick, i strum downwards in between the neck pickup and the bridge pickup. i find if i pick before the neck pickup it sounds too woody and if i pick around the bridge pickup it sounds too nasaly. when i play fingerstyle my thumb is on the neck pickup and i pluck the strings directly where the neck pickup is.

    2- Action - i like low action

    3- The string itself. always fresh roundwounds. i dont like dead strings. ill probably go 2-3 months THE MOST with one set. currently i have nickels strung on my basses but i'm gonna switch to stainless in search of a brighter zingier sound.

    4- Bass construction -
    hmm i dont really mind wat the bass is made of and how its constructed. each bass is unique. i do love maple necks tho :)

    Then this vibration needs to be converted to electric signal:

    5- Pickups.
    i like to have 2 pickups, neck and bridge on my basses but not strictly. just a preference but every bass is unique so depends really on the bass. i dont really like P pickups..

    6- Internal "Eqing" - passive basses? EWWW. active only please :)
    i like to leave my controls on the bass flat. overall tone i go for with amp and preamp, etc is a slight midscoop and treble and bass boost. slightly more on treble side
  15. 1- Your hands: Right over the neck pickup with a thin nylon pick ... always. Floating wrist as gauge similar to David Ellefson / Jason Newsted.

    2- Action: Medium height - not too low / not too high plus I get a little rough at times & Hate buzz - especially on the upper strings.

    3- The string itself: Nickel plated rounds - medium to heavy gauges for deep tones.

    4- Bass construction: I obviously have a couple favorite manufacturers - that's what I go by. MUST HAVE very thin/narrow necks.

    5- Pickups: Must have two [2] - Neck / Bridge Humbucking passive with 3 band Active EQ.

    6- Internal "Eqing": Active 3 band EQ. Bass/Treb boost at Max with Mid cut ... Don't like excessively "midrangy" sounding basses / MUST HAVE thunderous lows & crisp sparkling highs.
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