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Tone tutorial?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Fletz, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. Fletz


    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    I've been playing for 28 years, have all pro basses and pro equipment. What I don't have is a complete love of my tone. It always sounds a little thin or too bassy with no definition. I have a Genz 6.0 head and an Ampeg 410hlf cab. I play a Ric, a MIA P and a Ray HH - but mostly the P. I know I have good gear but am still looking for that perfect tone.

    I am a realist, I can't give enough info here to have someone say, "oh, do this this and this." And I am willing to put a couple hours in the garage messing with options and settings. Is there a good how to or checklist to read before investing that time? A good video online? Any advice?

    Thanks and please don't flame. Just looking for some thoughts as I always feel dissatisfied even though I have top grade gear. (at least for a bar band bassist)
  2. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Can you give examples of bass tones you like, what you're shooting for? Also, how's the EQ on your head set, and where's the tweeter set on the 410HLF?
  3. Fletz


    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    The bass tones I like are varied, depending on the song. I love Geddy's tone on Counterparts (the album, not the tour) - specifically I think "Cut to the Chase" has one of my favorite "usable" Geddy tones. Bassy but with character. A little Green Day-ish (American Idiot era) would be good too. The top end is bright enough to cut through but enough bass to carry the bottom and drive the band.

    I have the tweeter set on about 11:00. The EQ has been all over the place but basically Low 1:00, Mid noon, Freq 1:00 and High at noon.

    It's important to note that I am also using a Sansamp to get a little drive and presence. I know that's a whole other ball of wax...
  4. alec


    Feb 13, 2000
    Perth, Australia
    Use a parametric EQ to sweep the frequencies with a narrow boost or cut and see if anything sticks out as particularly good or bad, and extrapolate from there.
  5. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Just curious; how long has it been since you took your bass to a shop and asked to try out a bunch of heads through the same cabinet?

    I'm not usually a big fan of big-box music stores like GC, but they often have a big selection of amps and cabs in stock that you can try.

    There were a number of years during which I, like you, had pro gear but was unhappy with my tone. It took a lot of trial and error to find a combination of head and cabs that sounded good to me with all my basses. I could tell you what didn't work for me and what did but it wouldn't get you anywhere as your tone ideal may be much different than mine.

    I think a good starting point when testing heads is to run them with the EQ as flat as possible and compare them that way. The one that sounds the best to your ear without touching the EQ will get you where you want to go. Try different heads through the same cab as yours. When you find one you like, then try that head through some different cabs.

    Even if you spend two hours at GC (which is no fun, I'll admit) and end up not buying anything, I guarantee you'll learn a lot about tone.

    Good luck in your search!
  6. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Like the other have said, IMO EQ is what you want to start with. Set it flat and adjust from there. I have a Ric and the 410HLF myself and I set the tweeter off as I think its too "shrill". I was not entirely happy with my Ric, it was good but not "omg I love it" that I wanted. I started adjusting my eq and boom, there it is. And since its so subjective, you are going to have to figure it out on your own.
  7. Fletz


    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    Excellent, all! Thanks. If nothing else, I've learned that I should turn the tweeter off (or at least extraordinarily low) as a 410 has alot of high to begin with. And, I'll just go with flat and then tweak ... for hours. No worries. Thanks.
  8. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I found my P Bass to actually be the center of my tone issues, specifically a long pickup search involving many common choices because it was always too middy and weak in the lows. I lost hope in my SVT-II/810E when I had them and as it turns out, it was all because of the pickups in it! I found what I wanted later with John's (JWorrellBass) prototype P, a more "modern" tone as we conventionally call it-clean, clear from bottom to top, and still a P.
  9. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
    I know I'm opening myself up to flames, but I went to a GTG a few years ago and spent some time with a GB 6.0, and I could not get it to come even close to my Mesa rig for achieving a nice thick and meaty bass tone.

    My advice, consider a new head... the Mesa Carbine series is famous for clean, thick, meaty tone.

  10. PSPookie

    PSPookie Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    I think the Shuttle 6.0 he has can get him the tone he's looking for but that 410HLF is what's holding him back; they suck all the mids/cut right out of your sound.
  11. Fletz


    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    I am considering a Hartke Hydrive 410 ... same issue?
  12. PSPookie

    PSPookie Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    AFAIK, the Hydrive 410 has a much more even frequency response, though I have not had the chance to play one myself.
  13. Fletz


    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    So, would that mean I would have more control from EQ-ing, etc?
  14. PSPookie

    PSPookie Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    Yes, in a sense. Because the cab will be reproducing the signal from the head more accurately, adjustments to EQ should be more noticeable, particualrly in the mids.
  15. Phatbottom


    Jan 22, 2010
    +1 I've found that most of bass "tone" is in the mid characteristics. Boooo scooped EQ :rolleyes:
  16. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Don't know if this helps any, but I find that the punch is at around 100-120 Hz, for me. But in a live mix I find that I need to watch the lows and boost some low mids a tad to cut through and have more definition. My problem is that I hate having to find the perfect tone every single time. Each venue is different. Also, whoever you set up beside onstage makes a difference, too. I find that I don't like being beside the keys because his tone almost runs into my notes sometimes. I'm always giving him a look to roll off his lows, and threatening to tie his left hand behind his back, LOL.

    If you find a tone you like at home, forget it. Most likely it won't work when playing a gig.
  17. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    For some EQ starters read the EQ thread linked in the amps FAQ sticky. There are lots of other good EQ resources on the net.

    It does sound like you're having a midrange issue though. I'm not familiar with the cab you're using, so I can't comment, but It would be worth it to take your bass, head, and cab to a store and try out other heads with your cab (to compare to your head), and try other cabs with your head (to compare to your cab).

    IME the current voicing of GB heads is a bit on the shrill side, sort of akin to SWR. This doesn't mean you can't get bass out of them, but it can be hard to get a "meaty" tone. However, using the sans amp often can help with that (I use a sans amp DI in the effects loop of my SWR head half of the time). That said, the sans amp is notorious for a "mid suck" - in fact I only like to use one in an effects loop that lets me blend the amount of sans amp "effected" signal with the dry signal from the amp. The blend control on the sans amp does NOT do the same thing. Only the presence and drive portion are affected by the blend control - the tone section (including the bass and treble controls) is always full on. IME, this is where the mids get a bit veiled.
  18. georgestrings

    georgestrings Inactive

    Nov 5, 2005
    Just out of curiosity - is that the SVT-410HLF or the "B" series 410HLF??? I ask, because even in your profile you never specified which...

    - georgestrings
  19. Fletz


    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    It's the SVT-410HLF ... thanks for asking. Big diff, right?
  20. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    +1 again if you're playing a P-bass! It's as if you take a beautiful, powerful bass tone and castrate it when you scoop the mids!

    On a more serious note - and not to talk down to you, you've been playing longer than I have - but how does it sound when you just plug the bass straight into the amp and keep all the settings "flat?" That is, set the guitar volume and tone at 10, set all the EQ's at 0 (i.e., no cut or boost), turn off any compressors, limiters, etc that might be built into it, and set the gain and master somewhere moderate. What comes out? Play it a bit, twiddle the tone knob on your bass and see how the sound changes.

    Want to warm it or make it cleaner? Try cranking the gain, or backing it off a bit.
    Sounding thin and wiry? Set your tone about halfway, take a little bit off the treble or boost the bass & low-mids.
    Sounding muddy? Maybe try cutting the low end.
    Play around with the mids as well, I do agree that most of the "personality" of a bass sound is in those frequencies.

    Obviously, it's hard to prescribe something when we can't hear your current bass sound and don't really know your ideal bass sound. However, the one thing I can be certain about is: keep it simple to start with. You've clearly got some sexy basses so keep the amp settings nice and simple to let their natural tones shine through!
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