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The Versatility Issue

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CaptainWally, Jul 2, 2001.

  1. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    Here's an interesting question (hopefully one that hasn't
    been asked TOO much). There is much discussion concerning
    the versatility of a bass. The L2500, for example, is often
    lauded for its wide range of tones. I guess that's true, but
    a more fundamental question is just how much are we
    required to change our tones to begin with? I usually don't
    mess with mine much except to turn up and down my
    high and low freq. bands....do you guys require versatility
    because you play in different kinds of bands?
  2. By-Tor


    Apr 13, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Different songs, different tones.
    Different moods, different effects.
  3. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    For me, a versatile bass is important because of the different types of music I play. I want a good jazz bass (bridge pickup) on some of the tunes, blended for others (both fingerstyle and slap), blended towards the bridge for a snappier tone and passive for a vintage sound.

    That said, there are times I don't need to change it at all. Really depends on the song.

  4. Rockinjc


    Dec 17, 1999
    So, what bass has been played with more syles of music?
  5. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I need versatility because I don't really want to own a bunch of basses (hard to believe, huh?). Over the course of a year, I'll play classic rock, blues, country, funk, and oldies with my electrics. The size of the bands vary from 3 to 8 pieces, and I need to be able to eq the bass to sit correctly within the mix (which might vary from song to song). Sure, I could do it all with a Jazz bass if I had to...but why should I? Most of these tunes may have originally been recorded with a Fender of some type, but the original group wasn't the same as the ones I play with...I need different capabilities. I don't like to have to screw with my amp all night...it's easier in a situation like that to have on-board eq or a very responsive passive that gets REAL tone changes with pickup panning. I'm pretty happy with my Laklands in this role.
  6. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    This is a great question. I see a lot of people getting basses with a volume, tone and Q-switch for each pickup, piezos in the bridge, synth modules embedded in the straplocks, etc. Myself, I'm moving in the complete opposite direction. I've found that I prefer passive basses with the volume turned all the way up, and once I find the sweet spot on the tone knob, I never touch that, either. So why have controls at all? The next bass I get (in the works) isn't going to have any knobs. I'm leaning toward having two humbucking J pickups with the bridge pickup hard-wired to the output jack, and an on/off switch for the neck pickup. The signal path on this bass will be about as pure as it can be.
    I think the versatility should come from the player. Want a different tone? Play closer to the neck, or the bridge, or with your thumb, or use muting, etc.
    But this is just me, in my situation.. I don't need, or want, any tonal variation. YMMV.
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Yak yak yak Dave...you Own a CT, so what's this "next bass" crap you're feeding us!?;)

    Just looking for something else hu Dave? Man, if you're minimalistic like that, man, the electronics that are going into my DP would make you sick...one question...with no volume knob, what how can you be sure the signal would be strong enough to not need a volume; active electronics then? I mean, wouldn't you hate going back and forth between the amp?

    Wouldn't it be Ironic if you hardwired the pups to the output, and then absolutly hated the tone?:D
  8. kezekiel


    Sep 24, 2000
    I'm with you. All I'm interested in is a volume and blend knob, preferably stacked. I think that's how I'll do my next setup.

    You really can get an awesome range of tone using just your hands, as I'm learning more and more. It's much more fun and rewarding to get new sounds solamente con los manos than by twiddling with knobs.
  9. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    You know how loud your bass is when it's turned up all the way? That's how I know the signal from my bass will be strong enough. It's going to be on 10, all the time. If I'm too loud, I'll turn my amp down, same as I do now, because I run all my basses on full volume. I'm having some nice, hot pickups wound for this baby, and the guy who's building it is a total pro.. he says what I want to do will work, so it will work. No active electronics. This bass will sound like itself. And it's going to be awesome. And that's all I'm saying about it until it's done!
  10. I *try* to be as versatile as I can be. When it's time to play covers, I just bring up my "Good enough" Tone. Flat on the onboard EQ, 50/50 blend on the PU's. Enhance on the LMB-3 at 12o'clock. A bit more mids on the hartke, take the lows down a touch, and leave the highs pretty flat. Use only the tube side. By varying my playing style, I can get a "good enough" sound to do whatever cover.

    But when it's time to play our stuff, I figure out how I feel the bassline should go, then I spend time until I feel that the sound coming from my amp is correct. This includes playing around w/ the chorus, overdrive, enhancer/limiter, and synth. I'm not happy until it fits correctly. And by trying to replicate that sound you have stuck in your head, you come across many other ideas as well. Which in turn leads to further inspiration. I am not a pro, but I take pride in how I sound.....even if the sound guy will just yank my levels down in the mix...

    Now if I could just instill that idea firmly into either guitarist I play with. Between the two of them, they only have a chorus and a distortion effect. And one tuner. Ughhhhhhh.
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Hey Dave,

    Since you're digging passive more and more, how 'bout giving up that J-Retro to me? :D
  13. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon

    I have a similar mod on my '97 MIA P-Bass... I replaced the volume knob with a push-pull pot from Stewmac,


    and wired it so that the up position is an 'All Controls Bypass' with the pickup output going directly to the output jack. There is a noticeable difference between this setting and having the volume and tone dimed. More open and pure. I don't use it as much when I play in low volume situations, (coffee-house, church, etc.), as when I'm clubbing, but I can get a ton of tonal variation by hand placement, plucking technique, etc. All of my basses will eventually get this treatment.

  14. JimM


    Jan 13, 2000
    Northern California
    I think of Jazz basses as being versatile,but I talked to a guy in a local band who has an on board preamp in his '70s Jazz.I think he said it's an EMG with matching pickups.
    He said he needs the versatility of adding or removing midrange as the song call for.The funny thing is that to me he always sounds the same.I don't mean that as a cut,he always has a great low end thump.I have a '76 Jazz that has a brighter tone.He uses peavy amps with a 2x10 over a 1x18.It makes me wonder if anyone but the player hears the subtleties of our tone.
  15. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    Well said, ditto.
  16. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Well, you can buy the J-Retro.. but you have to buy the rest of the bass with it! ;)
  17. I really think this versatility thing is, to a large extent, in our heads. Before someone pulls a Derringer, let me explain.The sounds we like are *MOSTLY* just that; they please US. We all know how differently a Jazz Bass sounds from an EBO, but, when was the last time you played something and a band mate or memeber of an audience told you that your tone sounded terrible, and it was completely inappropriate for the song you just played? Think of a Precision's tone. It can and is used for all types of music. If Geddy Lee washed his hands of Jazz basses forever, and started playing a Musicman, honestly, would the difference in tone make you stop listening to him?

    I'm not trying to start a brawl here, all I'm saying is I think all of us should worry less about little differences in a certain bass' tone, and just enjoy playing. Did you ever notice that the prettiest girls who could never look bad always ask you, "How do I look?" That's us with tone.

    Happy 4th of July to all.
    Mike J.

    P.S. The above is just my opinion. If however, someone responds loudly, and to the contrary, I'll simply say: DON'T TAKE THAT TONE WITH ME!
  18. The Fender P-bass is probably the most played bass, and maybe the most played instrument there is.
  19. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    A P bass could replace almost any other
    bass in any song and less than 1% of the
    people would notice. Fewer than that would

    Even for us well honed tone monkeys, I wonder
    how many of us could identify (w/o looking)
    which was a MusicMan and which was
    G&L2500 ---- I don't think I could. Of course,
    I'm only a Level 1 tone monkey :D

    At anyrate, I think it's little w/ tone, more with
    feel, and mostly the 'new toy' factor :)
  20. I own a G&L L2500 and use the same setting 99% of the time, is that wrong? It's just the one i like best, once in a great while i'll take it off active go passive for a while, but i always go right back. Trent

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