Truly bizzare tone phenomenon

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Obsius29A, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. Obsius29A


    Dec 20, 1999
    Huntington, NY
    Okay, so my main bass is a 4 string Alembic that was made during the 80s. I purchased it from a nearby guitar center without doing too much research because I needed a really great bass sound for a record I was doing, and this was the only bass I found in 3 guitar centers that spoke to me. It's heavy as hell, seems like standard Alembic character but isn't as "exquisite" as some of the ones I've seen. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may have been one of the old Fernandez copies, but I haven't checked up on that yet. Twould be interesting if that were the case.

    ANYway. The bass sounds good through my mPulse/4x10, and we tracked the record and got a very respectable "picked bass" sound. Well I broke the strings for the first time last night and swapped them out for a set of Dean Markley BLUE STEEL strings. When I tuned it up, turned on the amp, and played through our set with the group, we were all literally DUMBFOUNDED by how much better the sound was. Literally night and day. It was the sound I've always wanted from a bass guitar rig- full, clear, defined- wheras the usual sound sounded and FELT restricted and cloudy.

    Now here's the truly bizzare part. We came back down an hour later to run the set again, and the sound/feel had returned a good portion of the way to the "cloudy/not right" position. Is this just the result of the strings settling in? We couldn't figure it out. But it seems like the bass now fluctuates between sounding absolutely incredible and sounding just "pretty good" and it's driving me crazy.
  2. There are actually more factors to count with here, not just physical ones. The longer you listen to a sound, the more your ears will get used to it, and after a while get an idea of how it sounds. They also get tired after loud volumes for long periods, which also affect how you experience the sound. This is a problem that many have, they found "the perfect sound", just to find that it's gone next time they plug in.

    That could be one of the problems, if we gp beyond physical matters.
  3. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Is it possible that it's your amp instead of the bass? I'm thinking the change of strings may have changed your sound enough that you're hearing what your amp is doing more accurately...with muddy sounding strings you're gonna get mud no matter what your amp is doing, but once you have the punch of new strings, the fluctuations in your amps performance may be more noticable. Do you have the same problems when you use a different set up? While you said you were tracking at the time, you do mention your's also possible that there are other things in your signal chain that are robbing you of tone.
  4. Obsius29A


    Dec 20, 1999
    Huntington, NY
    The reason this is so bizzare is because it's not my perception, necessarily, that's changing. It's something fundamental in the tone, and the change in tone makes me percieve the string 'feel' differently, that much I can admit to, but the tone is changing. It fluctuates from extremely great to just 'okay' within 30 minute shifts, and it's something everyone in the band, even our newbie keyboard player, can detect. By the time we launched into our second run through of the set, the 'great tone' was gone, but when we took a break in the middle of one of our songs to fix this transition part, our singer/guitar player said "wow, Ben, the good tone is back, what the hell?" and it was something we all noticed. This has been happening off and on for the past 2 days now.
  5. Obsius29A


    Dec 20, 1999
    Huntington, NY
    I definitely think it's possibly the amp/other things, and that the new string benefit is making those other things apparent. But whatever it is, *something* is happening.
  6. Obsius29A


    Dec 20, 1999
    Huntington, NY
    Only 3 knobs, and the pots are scratchy sounding, but not any more so than my Les Paul Custom, both need to be cleaned but it doesn't seem like necessarily an electronics problem with the bass. Is this the kind of thing a tech could easily diagnos?
  7. Obsius29A


    Dec 20, 1999
    Huntington, NY
    Thanks for all the feedback guys. The bass is in to my local genius tech, and hopefully we'll come to a conclusion fast. No changes being made on either amp or guitar EQ, it's just happening on its own. I opened up the electronics cavity and I have a feeling there is some minor work to be done there.
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    If you want to rule out changes in perception, then record some riff (solo) when it's sounding great, and record the same riff when its sounding bad. Do that as it seems to shift back and forth, and then listen to the recording at the end of the night to confirm whether it's your ears or the bass.

    Sometimes the difference could be something like which cymbals the drummer is using during the song, something masking the "good" part of the sound. Or varing rehearsal volumes.

    If you do that recording, it would also be something to play for your tech for diagnosis.
  9. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    You could also check to make sure all of the pre-amp tubes in the M-Pulse are propperly seated.

    Hope you get that awesome tone back, I'm really digging my M-Pulse tone :).
  10. frigo

    frigo burn in hell!

    Dec 8, 2003
    can it be that you leave the jack in and it gets your batteries down?
    Sometimes the solution is under our noses and we don't realize.

    99% i'm wrong, but it hasn't been mentioned yet
  11. bigbajo60


    Nov 7, 2003
    Laredo, Texas
    If when you loaded the Blue Steels it sounded clearer, brighter, and more present... then it later sounded dull, muddy, obscured... make sure that you're playing with clean hands. I used to use Blue Steels many moons ago... loved 'em! :hyper: Bright, bouncy, "hi-fi".

    Well "once't upon a time" had the bright idea to have the lead vocalist play my bass just a bit during soundcheck so I could go out front to see what the mix sounded like. :) Five minutes later... dead loose rubber bands for strings. :bawl: The difference? :confused: Seems that our intreped singer had been munching on Doritos right before sitting in on bass! :rollno:

    Moral of the story? Keep grungy fingers away from Blue Steels (or any other strings for that matter!)

    PS - If the tone is coming AND going, back and forth... well... in the famous words of Gilda Radner as Miss Emily Laetella...

    Never Mind!!! ;)
  12. The Thinker

    The Thinker Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    This crossed my mind as well. You might not be changing anything, but if your guitarist dials in some different eq or a certain effect it can definitely affect how your tone is perceived.
  13. NCorder

    NCorder Smoke-free since 4/3/05

    Dec 26, 2002
    Dayton, OH
    FWIW, I had a similar experience with a set of BlueSteel strings. I usually use Warwick Black Label strings on my basses, but my local dealer had none in stock and suggested the BlueSteels in their place. I restrung before a gig, loved 'em at the beginning of the set, but they felt and sounded dead within a 45 minute set! It was my 1st and last time I bought the BlueSteels, so I don't have any other experience with them. I was sure there was some other factor involved in my experience that night, but after reading this initial post I thought it was oddly similar.
    Things that make ya go hmm..
  14. Obsius29A


    Dec 20, 1999
    Huntington, NY
    This is exactly what I'm describing- strings went dead within say an hour and a half. I've got pretty sweaty hands so maybe these BlueSteels are just really reactive to that. The odd thing is their getting back to the "snappy hi-fi" sound (and it has nothing to do with battery, checked that, or the other instruments, because this is something that happens both in the middle of a song and also just when I'm sitting there playing the thing solo). Maybe it's just a quirky brand of strings?

    Anyone got any other suggestions for a great hi-fi sound?
  15. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    Perhaps you should try out a set of Ritter Swordsteels :)
  16. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Interesting. Flats usually stay live for a week or two before settling in for the long haul. I don't play rounds but I'd never imagined them going TU in an hour. Seems you said this came and went numerous times though, not just once.

    At any rate, there's are thread called "what kind of strings do you use" that's been going for every it seems. Pages of responses, many on the same strings of course. You might try a search about the Bluesteels and see if they've had something similar.

    My thought was playing to different tunes or altering the composition. There are a myriad of other factors though - like power supply variations, intermitant fluctuations in electronics, and personally I've noticed changes in tone with changes in the air (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc.).
  17. My thoughts are that you could be playing the bass in a slightly different way which accounts for the change in sound. Like AJ says "its all in the hands". If all other variable remain constant then it could be how you are attacking the strings or where you are plucking ie over a pickup, nearer the bridge or neck etc. Even a small movement in where you play can make a huge change in the sound.

    Just my 2c


  18. Obsius29A


    Dec 20, 1999
    Huntington, NY
    Matthew I wish it were that easy but I'm a very consistant player and I just don't think that's it. =(
  19. I hope I did not come across as being critical of your playing, it was just a thought. Sorry it was not the answer to your tone problem.