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This isn't an attack on ERBs-But why havea frequency lower than an amp can reproduce?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tekhna, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004
    I see these basses that go up down to low F# or up another couple of octaces above the normal G string on a 4 banger, and they seem cool as all hell, but if they can't be play electrically, why bother? Is there a special amp/cab trick, or is it just low rumble at some point, because that just seems a little silly to me.
    So, enlighten me ERBassists!
  2. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    part of the deal is this. when a string produces a note (the fundamental) it also produces upper harmonics of the note. While a cabinet may not be able to reproduce a low B (or F#), it will reproduce the upper partials as well as all of the other harmonic overtones produced by the string. The human brain is cool in that it can "fill in" the "missing" fundamental note from the upper partial harmonics. A good examle of this is the telephone. There's no way your phone can accurately reproduce a deep male voice. It only reproduces the upper harmonics. But with your brain's help. you hear your uncle Ned's voice just fine. Same deal with bass cabs. The other interesting thing about this is that you often hear the lack of the super low fundamental as a "tighter" more "defined" bass tone. Compare a bolt on 5 string's B with a neck thru. The bolt on doesn't produce as much of the low fundamental note as the neck thru, and often the bolt on sounds "tighter".
  3. A low F# should be reproducable by most good bass amps. I think F# is like 21 Hz so it's theoretically at the threshold of human hearing. A low F# is something I might use on occasion.

    Now low C#, I don't know. I've never heard one so I can't comment.

    Higher notes are also not a problem for a good bass amp which should have a full frequency response range from 20Hz to 20kHz.

    It all comes down to the quality of the gear. People who own 9, 10 and 11-strings are also likely to have great bass amps to back them up.

    For example:


    I've played through that rig. It can handle a low F# without any problems. I wish I could say the same for the Fox Theater which almost fell apart when I tried the Pac-Man low F# on a similar Accugroove rig at BassQuake last year.


    - Dave
  4. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004

    Ok, the physics makes sense, as does the human response part, but if you are only filling in a sense, why not just play F# an octave up? Maybe I am not looking in the right places, but I have seen very few cabs rated at 30hz, and even fewer at 25hz. Upper frequencies are less of a problem obviously.
    It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me I guess.
  5. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I would think it's more about efficiency of motion than anything else. If you can keep your entire range in one position, you don't have to go flailing your arm about shifting positions to reach certain notes. You can just stay in one spot and reach every note you need.
  6. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Play an F# on the second fret of your E string and play an F# on the fourth fret of your D string. Do they sound the same?

    Why does anyone with an Ampeg SVT 810 or most SWR gear bother with a 5 string bass? By your logic their low B will sound the same as the B on the second fret of their A string.

    They have different harmonic signatures.
  7. oversoul

    oversoul fretless by fate

    Feb 16, 2004
    Some years back to Nu-metal crowd was all detuning to low A, whats wrong with going 3 half steps down... :p
    If I were auditioning for Meshuggha those sub lows would probably be welcome :D
  8. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    Most of the folks who want those really low lows and have the basses that can create them also know to use the cabs that can reproduce the notes. Accugroove cabs and the Bag End ELF system can reproduce them, and are popular amongst the the super-low end players.
  9. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I found this thread VERY enlightening. Thanks guys! :bassist:
  10. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004

    You know it is a completely different case there, and that is not what I am saying.
  11. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    No you're wrong. What he's saying is true and in direct correlation to the "physics and human response" part you said made sense above. Like said before we're not talking fundamentals but harmonics.

    Besides when you're dealing with cabs, the rating is in SPLs.. The cab may not be rated for 30Hz but it can reproduce it.. Just not at as high a response, therefore the note won't "sound out" as much..

    Maybe some of the "speaker techie" peeps can explain freq vs. spl a little better.
  12. The Hammer

    The Hammer

    Jul 13, 2004
    I detune my 5 string Warwick Thumb to ADGCF, I use a 4x10 and a 1x15 with 700 watts going to each cab and you can hear the low A fine. To play a low note you need a lot of power to push it out there. When I play on the A string if you stand next to my cabs you can feel your pants leg moving from the air being pushed out. To make those low note stand out it takes technique and the right equipment but I feel that it is entirely worth it.
  13. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002

    There was nothing disingenuous or asinine about Nick's post at all. If you've heard the low F# through a good speaker, then you know there's just as much difference between it and the F# on the E string as there is a difference between the F#s on the E and D strings.
  14. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Let's not forget something that is VERY important to bass. This comes into play with those extremely low notes. Not only do you hear the note being played, but you FEEL it too.

    Another thing that's important is harmonics. You may need to pick up a book on analog synthesis to really understand how this works and I know that I can't explain it very well, but just because a sound's root frequency is below the range of human hearing doesn't mean that you won't hear anything because any waveform (other than a pure sine wave) creates harmonics at odd octave intervals which ARE in our hearing range. This is very important if your a synth guy because it's important when using filters.

    I can look for my book and post the exact description if anyone wants.
  15. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    what nick man was trying to say, which you missed i guess, is that the harmonic series that make up what you hear when a note is played is different for f#(0) than it is for f#(1). different octaves of the same note have different "notes" that make up their harmonic series, so they don't sound the same at all.

    i use a very reasonably priced pa sub, and while it doesn't do _the best_ job at reproducing the fundamental c# or f# on my basses, it does a great job of making the desired tonality present, and the requisite amount of "pant flap" to be experienced.

    there is no substitute for a low f# - you can't "fake it" with a higher note, it just doesn't work. for folks that want that kind of bass response, there's only one way to go about it - generate that note. some folks try octave harmonizers, but in my experience they don't do the job nearly as well.

    as for pure reproduction, there are quite a few options available to folks who are interested in pursuing them, all of which are very viable at producing the lowest frequencies. accugroove, madison speakers and bag end, to name a few, all provide products with accurate note reproduction down to the lowest of the low frequencies on bass guitars. things have grown by leaps and bounds since i started on 7's 11 years ago, that's for sure :)
  16. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    On a related note, John, tell me about your "ecstatic discharge" (I think I'm going to be sick...) Did you guys cut another album? I couldn't find anything with a search.
  17. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    OT, but does anyone know how low the bass pedals of a big pipe organ go? I know a pipe organ doesn't have to have its tones reproduced (except maybe in recording), because the sound is being generated from the elements of the instrument itself, but it seems I remember hearing one played somewhere, and the the lowest notes weren't so much 'heard' as 'felt,' which I think is a completely valid, and not to be overlooked part of the overal sound. Being able to recognize what the note is isn't as important as the fact that it's there. But you can still tell if it's 'off' somehow, probably because it's a part of a range of frequencies.

    Of course to make those low notes requires a lot of bellows power, so it again comes back to power to move air.

    Just a thought.
  18. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004
    Simple reason (or a little perspective) will show you that yes, for all technical points he is correct, but semantically he is being extraordinarily misleading.

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    I just recenly finished my soon to be released Debut CD and the only Bass I used was my Fretless 4 string Subcontra Bass(Low C# F# B E).the Low C# and F# is very clear.I can promise all one thing,this recording will disspell a lot of Myths about the clarity of the Low C# and F# strings.
  20. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Very cool man! do you have any downloadable samples?