Too much speaker for DB?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by FidgetStone, Nov 9, 2003.

  1. FidgetStone


    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    I have been renting a plywood DB of unknown origin for three months and love it. I now think about DB almost as much as a teenage boy thinks about girls. I bought a K&K BassMax from Bob G. which I use in a mostly rock style praise band. This particular band does not lend itself to DB really but they are great people and I think that things are evolving to a more DB friendly format over time.

    My situation is this: I have a great EB rig which is the classic Ampeg SVT-300 tube amp with an Ampeg 4x10 cabinet. It sounds great with the MusicMan electric but pretty bad with the DB. I have to use the graphic equalizer and take out almost all of the low end to get any volume at all. Even then in sounds pretty bad and I can't get enough volume to be heard along with the guitar army and keyboards. I always have the amp volume as high as it will go without the UMMMMMMM . . . feedback but the bass disappears as soon as the rest of the band kicks in.

    I'm sure that many of you know how frustrating it is to not be able to hear yourself play in a live situation.

    My questions is this: could I get better sound and / or higher volume with a smaller cabinet or smaller combo amp? I've read a lot of the newbie stuff already and would appreciate your opinions and experiences.

    Thanks . . . Jim Watkins
  2. I have been trying to get a sound that I love for years now. I will settle on something for a while, then my concept of what i would like my sound to be evolves or mutates in some way. I think it is a continual process of improvement.

    There is oodles of info in past threads here as far as equipment - pickups, preamps, heads, cabs, combos. Also good info on volume playing at

    However, I believe it is crucial to focus first on the most important piece of equipment - the bass itself. People coming from your frame of reference need to learn to play the bass without an amp. You need to develop the technique and strength to produce as big and as good a sound on the instrument as possible, then augment that with amplification. If it's not loud enough, dig in and play harder. If it's still not loud enough, then turn up.

    The sound pressure level that you're used to hearing from your EB cannot be achieved with the DB. If you want that sensation, and you're playing louder than f**k, you may as well be playing EB anyway. Or EUB. I feel that EB is better for certain styles of music. The acoustic bass sounds best with other acoustic instruments playing at reasonable volume levels. Similarly, I always find it unnatural when I hear recordings with EB, keyboards, electric guitar, drums, auxiliary percussion, and then on top of all this you have a flute or violin. It just sounds phony.

    Sorry if I sound like an old fart. Just remember, your sound comes from your instrument, not your amp. If you have a crappy bass going through a $3000 rig, it will still sound like a loud crappy bass.

  3. FidgetStone


    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Thanks for the input guys. A cello player friend of mine has a Fishman preamp that she rarely uses and she will let me try it out. If that doesn't do the trick I'll start playing with the fit of the K&K pickup. It is in there rather tight.

    Cheers . . . Jim W.
  4. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    My rule of thumb is that if you tap the transducer with your finger, it shouldn't move, but if you grasp it with thumb and forefinger, it should move readily.

    I'm surprised at your comments as I know of a few rockabilly guys who like 4x10 cabs, and I prefer smaller drivers such as tens myself. The darkness you're encountering is also a surprise as the Bass Max is pretty linear with very present mids and highs. Regardless, at higher volumes you can't be standing in front of your rig, pickups turn your bass into a giant mic, and if you blow the sound at it, you're going to have feedback. Rolling off some of the lowest frequencies (centered around 30 hz) without killing the mid-bass can also help a lot. I hope you've consulted the back side of the red supplement I included with your order, that provides some feedback fighting tips.

    T-Bal makes some good points about the starting point-- the bass itself, as well as the fact that this is a completely different animal from bass guitar. Amplifying them has been a life-long challenge for me-- I'd work on tone and balance at lower volumes first, and then advance the volume a little at a time to try to understand where things are going wrong.
  5. FidgetStone


    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Bob G.,
    Without the additional instructions you include with the K&Ks I would have probably blown my brains out along with the rest of the band. You are truly a "value added" reseller of the product. All of the information is helpful.

    I do need to work on my tone to say the least, and I think that I tend to play with a little less authority when amplified because it sounds so different than the bass by itself in my living room.

    Not to pass the buck, but the army of guitar players all playing with a "full sound" meaning too much bass between three guitars, is also a contributing factor. I am trying to coax them into playing a more trebley sound to cut trough the mix instead of trying for world domination. Wish me luck on this one.

    I'll report back on my progress. Thanks to all . . . Jim W.
  6. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    I think that at a certain point it makes more sense to use an electrically produced sound
    (EUB or bass guitar) than to fight the barrage of
    vibrations attacking an upright bass. Eventually you lose the real sound of your instrument anyway.
  7. I couldn't agree more. A heavily amplified double bass does not sound like a double bass anymore. Of course, it still looks very nice to play a double bass in such a setting, but it won't sound acoustic.

  8. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    I have a friend who at one point filled a bass with foam. Still looked like a DB, but no vibrating wood. No feedback, no natural tone.
  9. Getting your guitarists to ditch some of the bass in their sound is a wise move. This will help you considerably. Also, big tube heads are not really satisfactory for DB. I've experimented with them myself, and I found they tended to be too warm. A hybrid head, with tube preamp and ss power section is a much better bet. I play rockabilly, and I can go as loud as I like with a hybrid Eden WT400 head into an SWR 4x8 and SWR 1x15 cab. I've never had to tape up my f holes, or stuff the bass with towels etc like some players do. I think the reason is that a ss power section has a tighter, punchier bottom than a tube power section. I tried a Mesa 400+, a Trace V6, an Ampeg SVT, and a Fender bassman, all tube heads, and the Mesa was the only one that was close, but the Eden is way better.
  10. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    yup, Bob's the man... dunno what i'd do without his help! :cool:

    and i can feel your pain. as much as i love the brothers/sisters in my praise team, its rather obvious they're the "but, it sounded fine at home!" type, who dont quite understand when it comes to gig time, there are consessions to be made. :(
  11. soularis


    Jul 3, 2003
    Illinois, USA
    a preamp might help, I use Sadowsky outboard and the volume/balance is great.