Tone woes -- is it my cab?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ishouldbeking, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    I'm convinced I'll never truly be happy with my tone, but lately I've been on a quest to isolate the source of my tone woes. When I play through my rig there's just something, i dunno, ugly going on in my tone. A certain sterile harshness that I find hard to pinpoint. I'm a pickstyle player going for a vintage sound (sometimes bright and trebly, oftentimes not, i like some versatility)... currently playing a tricked out SX P-bass through a GK2001RB into a 410rbh.

    I've done a lot of the easy things to tweak my tone: tried a number of strings, experimented with hand position and type of pick, I just put some nordstrands in the P, changed the wiring etc, got a setup and have played it on a few different rigs and I'm quite happy with the tone coming out of the bass (MUCH nicer than stock), so i'm thinking my issues must be coming from the amp or cab. Ideally I'd like to get an Ashdown ABM 500 (maybe a tube head down the road), just something with more of an inherent vintage sound, but my budget is limited and I know the 2001RB is a really solid head with a pretty versatile EQ, which makes me think that I might just hate the tone of my cabinet. And yes, I keep the tweeter switched off.

    Anyone have any experience with these 410RBH cabs, and if so, what did you think of them? To me it seems harsh, more suited to hard rock than what I'm using it for, and there's something generally unmusical I hear through it. I've got a few ideas for a better cab, but I don't wanna go in the wrong direction either... someone on here said that the cab is one of the things most directly responsible for tone, so I'm hoping I can find the perfect replacement for this GK. (sure do love the idea of those berg nv610's...)
  2. kaiser_sosea

    kaiser_sosea Inactive

    Feb 24, 2007
    grab up the Fender Bassman Sivlerface in the classifides, that should cure your vintage tone woes
  3. I am not an expert, but my understanding is that every cabinet will have its own uniquie coloration which will vary on a number of different factors. By obtaining a cab that is more transparent, you can hear more clearly the sound that is going into the cab. PA cabs are notorious for replicating exactly what goes into them. Any chance you could try your head through a PA cab? Or, just take your bass and head to the local shop and try a couple of different cabs?

    Also, back in the day the most common speaker config was the 2-15" or 8-10". You might want to try out a couple of those. You might have the wrong cab for what you play, but there could also be other problems in your signal chain.

  4. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Yeah, i'm just struggling to be happy with my tone and it's driving me nuts. I keep improving on things, and I've definitely made a good deal of progress (figuring out which strings I like, putting some fantastic pups in my P-bass, deciding that my stingray really wasn't right for this band, getting a fantastic OD pedal for certain parts), but there's just a fundamental character to my tone which I don't like. Since I've used multiple basses (which sound great through various other rigs), I'm pretty sure my issue is either coming from the head, the cabinet, or bad EQ on my part. I'm beginning to suspect a lot of it is the cab, and some of it is my EQ skills (or lack thereof). The main thing I want to add to my tone is warmth... but if I add any substantial amount of bass in the EQ it will wind up getting a bit farty when I hit a low E (or F#, for that matter, which gets used in a lot of our songs). I'm sure part of my problem stems from the fact that my 2001RB has a relatively complex set of controls... I'm going to try messing around with the contour and presence next time at practice and see if that helps me at all.
  5. JonathanD

    JonathanD Guest

    Dec 13, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I think many of us know your feelings.
    In my experience (15 heads/preamps, 12 or so cabs, 8 basses) the thing that changes the least of my sound is the head. That is if the EQ is flat. The cab is where it is at.
    The best advice I could ever give is...take you head and bass to GC and play the hist out of everything. See what happens. Even bring your cab to compare.

    Also, do you leave your cab on casters? try putting it on the floor. If its a wood floor your cab will get a huge bottom. Try your cab in the corner and tucked into it close to the walls.
  6. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Hmm, I do keep it on casters. I'll try that at my next rehearsal. Unfortunately one of the reasons why I've never taken my amp or cab to a shop to mess around is because it's a heavy and unwieldy beast. The head I can manage (a little over 70 lbs in its rack case), but the cab is just miserable to move. It clocks in at 100lbs even, and due to the side ports its incredibly wide and makes lifting it a hellish chore. Which is another reason I want a new one! Even a bigger cab would be easier to move if it were balanced properly, which is why i'm considering a 610 with tilt back casters. I appreciate all the advice.
  7. anderbass


    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    I think you should go hit some music stores and try out a bunch of different cabs with your amp and bass.

    After reading your posts, I think you'd love this cab.
  8. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Booger Guy

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    I put my money on the head being the weak link. The GK heads are great, but the exact opposite of where you are looking to go.

    The Ashdown would very nicely fit the bill. For the budget minded, a Little Mark 2 ($599 @ GC) would be warmer than the GK.

    You might also try adding a Sansamp BDDI to your signal chain. That might just do the trick.
  9. I agree with those who said to look at cabs.

    I have an 800RB which sounds great through Ampeg cabs, not sterile or harsh at all. Its been a while since I tried a GK cab, but I remember it having no warmth.
  10. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Man, I wish GK had a better resale value. Last I saw the 410rbh was going for like $400 or so on ebay, which is just sad considering how much they cost new. I doubt I could get $1000 for the head... makes the idea of getting new stuff that much harder to stomach.

    I tried out a used ashdown abm 500 evo ii the other day, and liked it quite a bit, though the accompanying ashdown cabs didn't seem all that great. It kept farting out... of course I was at a GC, and the incessant tone of infantile shred-meisters made hearing anything accurately a near impossibility.

    I've been considering getting a custom Low Down Sound cab built in the style of one of the Berg NV cabs since the LDS would be several hundred cheaper (plus I could tailor the aesthetics to my choosing, which would be fun). Do you guys think an LDS would work in this situation? My other idea was to get a matching 410 cab and a 115 to stack (or to be used separately, depending on the occasion). Could I get a decent sounding sealed 410 and 115, or is the 610 more what I'm looking for? Unfortunately most of the stores around here have a pretty limited stock of decent cabs, though I plan to take everyone's advice and try out as many as I can.
  11. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    get the Ashdown. NOW!!

    and try Bag End cabs. you'll love 'em.
  12. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    I like the look of the Bag End's, but to get a configuration I'd be happy with I'd probably have to spend over my poverty-imposed limit... plus I'm hoping to trim back on the size of whatever cab/cabs I wind up with, as I have a small car and the GK doesn't like to fit in my back seat.

    Here's a question: I've been considering all kinds of cabs lately, but I'm thinking I could get a pretty rad setup by choosing one of the four options:

    *** 1.*** Dr. Bass 310 and a 115

    *** 2. *** Having Low Down Sound make me a 410 and a 115 (in cool vintage tolex/grillcloth, always a plus)

    *** 3. *** Berg NV 610

    *** 4. *** Low Down Sound 610 (again, with tolex/grillcloth to my liking)

    All four of those sound like perfectly valid rigs for me... I'd love the flexibility of having two smaller cabs to use together (or the 115 for cafes, the 310/410 for small bars), but I have no idea what the Dr. Bass cabs sound like. They're definitely set up like a more modern cab, but could these pull off a decent vintage sound too?

    The Berg would undoubtedly be an awesome cab, but an LDS 610 is significantly cheaper and I could customize it to my liking. Any recommendations or advice based on the above four options? (And yeah, i know the 610's are bigger than my 410, but the 610 dimensions fit my car much better.)
  13. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Booger Guy

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    You're still left w/ one of the least warm amps on the market. You sure the cab is the right way to go?

    I imagine GC stocks your cab, so could you bring your bass down there and test the cab w/ different amps, e.g. Ampeg or Little Mark 2 and see if that does the trick?
  14. wingnut

    wingnut Guest

    Apr 18, 2007
    Las Vegas Nv.
    That's one monster of a head you're running there! If you can find one in your area you may want to try an EA NL210. Realistically, the head you have is happiest when run "hot", you probably will need two cabs to make it sound better. These heads definately sound better when run at 4ohms. For what you are trying to do I think you would be better served with an 800RB.
  15. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    Probably the fingers.
  16. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Well... I want a new head too. Last few times I stopped by GC I played with different heads and got a sense of a few of the amps I had been considering... didn't really care for the SVT-CL all that much, but I'm not sure which cab I was running it through (love my friend's vintage 70's svt though). I liked the Ashdown ABM 500 that I tried quite a bit, but I'd definitely need to mess around with it a bit more to be sure.

    My GK head always served me well when I was playing different kinds of music, so I guess i have some kind of sentimental attachment to it as "my first big amp", even though it's not working for me. I took some time to mess around with the EQ again last night at practice... and got nowhere. I managed to get my bass sounding really terrible for awhile before I finally just returned the settings to the way I had them, which resulted in the same "ok" sound I had before. I wonder how an Ashdown would sound through my GK cab? For whatever reason I rarely see these cabs in stock at the local GC's... maybe because they're huge, ugly, and obnoxious to move around? I had to special order mine when I originally bought it 5 years ago.

    At the end of the day... I don't really know what I want. Probably a new cab and a new head, just not sure which order I should go (since I can't afford both at the same time. All I really want is a tone that I'm happy with.
  17. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Yeah. That's another thing I've had to come to terms with since joining a band and trying to play in a different style.

    My technical ability is completely up to par for the stuff I'm trying to do, and I have no trouble accomplishing it with a pick, but unfortunately my tone suffers for it. I've been trying to teach myself to play fingerstyle, and I've gotten a little better over the past several months, but my chops aren't nearly good enough to play any one of our songs straight through, and fingerstyle has always felt incredibly awkward to me, whereas picking is completely second nature.

    I remember a thread a little while back where someone asked "how can I make it sound like I'm using a pick" and everyone said "just use a pick". I feel that guy's pain.

    At least when i was playing though the Ashdown it seemed like that fat, round tone was relatively easy to dial in with or without a pick. My GK just seems to accentuate the trebly output of pickplaying, making it very difficult to "compensate" with EQ. This worked well when I was playing my stingray strung with rotos and going for an 80's cure type of sound, but doesn't suit me anymore.
  18. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    My 2001RB is far more power than I need, without a doubt. I bought it years ago at a point in my life where I was making a lot of money. I knew very little about gear, and my only source of info at that time was harmony central (uggggh). I decided that I wanted to invest in "something I'd never have to replace", which to me meant the biggest and loudest thing imaginable.

    It came down to either an Ampeg SVT-II Pro or the GK 2001RB and the GK won out due to some meaningless harmony central reviews that claimed GK reliability was superior at that brief moment in time. I'm still glad I bought it (even though I had no idea what it was I was buying) for the simple fact that I wouldn't be able to make a purchase like that these days. At least I do have a very nice amp, even if it's not entirely suited to me. When I dusted off my bass gear earlier this year (after a few years of musical non-activity), I was just really grateful to already own an amp and cab that would allow me to play gigs right off the bat. But... yeah, I could easily get by with a 1001RB or smaller, especially since I'm only running it through one 8 ohm cab. (not only did i know nothing about tone or the things that affect it when I made this purchase, I definitely had no understanding of ohms or how to pair cabs to an amp).

    I won't lie though... there is a certain kind of silly satisfaction I get when my band plays a tiny venue and I roll out this 1100 watt beast... the level of sonic overkill might be ridiculous, but hey, guitarists do this kinda stuff all the time when they break out their marshall/mesa stacks at the tiniest of venues.
  19. 62bass

    62bass Guest

    Apr 3, 2005
    The head is a very good one. Those who claim it's sterile or not warm sounding don't know what they're talking about. I used the 2000RB and what I did was run it into a pair of 1x15 cabinets with no tweeters. I was using a P bass. Great big warm sound. I got the same sound with less headroom using the GK400RB. I'm not a fan of 4x10 cabinets though I've used them when I had to.

    Strings are important too. For pick playing try the Thomastic JF344 flatwound strings. Don't use a flexible pick-a Fender hard or any stiff pick 1mm or more thick will do it. And don't flail away down by the bridge. Pick accurately closer to the neck. You'll get that vintage sound.
  20. butchblack

    butchblack Life is short. Do good. Find and do what you love.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Waltham Massachusetts
    I bought my backline 600 used with an Ashdown 410 cab. After awhile I decided that the sound was too sterile (and I wanted a smaller cab) so I bought an Avatar SB 112 neo. What a difference. However, I play fingerstyle and I play a very bright sounding bass (old Fernandes "The Function" bass). Even then I had to switch to flats, roll off the treble on my bass and keep the tweeter all the way down on the cab to get a nice fat sound. I think a change in cabs may help, I would look into a couple of 8 ohm Avatar 212's ( you could ultimately run up to 4 cabs) line X recommended. Where you play with a pick you may never get the same fat sound you can get fingerstyle but I think going with a cab with larger speakers may help. You may also want to look for some used 15" or 18" cabs

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