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Volume knob on 75% of full power!!!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by adisu, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    Hi all

    Yesterday I've herad it for the first time.
    Somebody told me that i should play my Bass with 75% on the volume knob and not all the way up.
    He said it's good because then you don't need to ask the sound man to increase and decrease your volume when you go in and out of a bass solo part.

    Is it true?? Does anybody familiar with this claim??

    Input please...

  2. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    I can understand the reasoning behind it, absolutely. Especially if you have an active bass, the volume control (usually) responds evenly without any change in tone at all. The problem though with soundmen is that they, at least on occasion, compress the hell out of the bass, so any on-the-fly volume adjustments done by you on your bass won't yield any difference in volume to the audience - only an even more heavily compressed tone. So if you have a compressor freak behind the desk, don't bother.

    But if it's a good tech, sure, it could work. But be sure to talk this through with him before the gig, and do soundchecks on both the normal and the "solo" volume levels!
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That's a good question. There's some who do that and some who don't. I personally don't because I'm usually loud enough at all times to where I don't need to do it for solos. And there's a school of thought that the pickups always sound better up all the way, which I don't necessarily buy into because whether you cut the volume at the amp or the bass, it sounds pretty much the same to me.

    So I guess what I'm saying is use your own judgment.
  4. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 in general. If you have a passive bass, not running the volume up full really can change the tone (to the negative IMO), with a roll-off of treble response. I've even found some active circuit volume controls to result in a different sound.

    In my case, I set my volume pretty much once and control dynamics with my tough and finger placement.... I always leave the bass volume control all the way up.
  5. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    it might be appropriate under certain circumstances, but I don't think it'd be suitable for me personally:

    I use a compressor so turning up the bass volume changes the tone more than the volume

    our sound guy knows when and when not to nudge the bass up

    I don't want to knock the volume during a particularly aerobic performance and have to be thinking about setting a level during a song

    my basses sound better turned up full :)

    we don't have any quiet bits in any of the songs we play
  6. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    SO TRUE!!!!

    I learn sound engineering at school and you are so right(I should have thought about it by myself)!!!
    So many sound men just over compress everything , sometimes in order to get certain sound ,most of the time because they don't know how to use the compressor properly.

    My aim is not to be a soundman in shows but to be the performer but I swear to god that if I'll ever be the guy behind the console I'll try to be very gentle with the compressor. :cool:
  7. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    i generally keep my volume rolled off a bit from 100% for similar reasons. If I am having trouble hearing myself, I can give myself a quick bump in stage volume. The soundman can adjust accordingly if necessary.

    Very helpful to have the option to bump up if you need it.
  8. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I generally use the volume on the bass. I have hall active basses, and there is not really a tone change in any of them. So I generally use the volume quite a bit. If I really need to give myself an on stage boost, I can use the level control on my amplifier, because it has an independent DI level control.
  9. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks!

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    Moved to Misc.

    Chris A. :rolleyes: :bassist:
  10. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    I used to leave a little volume left on my active bass just in case I might need it but if I was playing a passive instrument I would always peg the controls wide open. James Jamerson states in the book, Standing In the Shadows of Motown that engineers always had him play wide open for the best tone. With the tone all the way up, they could then roll off the treble to their liking. Some time ago, I read an article about the benefits of bypassing the pots altogether on a passive bass. *I changed this a little from the first time I posted now that I remember. The mod requires that you either connect the pickups straight to the output jack or with a switch of your choice between them. Although I tried going straight to the output I preferred having an on/off switch. Unfortunately that means that you can't blend the pickups but I liked the sound so much that it didn't matter. I played it this way for several years until it was stolen. :(
    I would have to say that playing sans-pots preserves the integrity of the signal better. It's stronger and all the frequencies seem to speak better, especially the mids. I have yet to try the new stuff I hear about like the no-load pot. Live, I usually play passive in single-coil mode at 100%. I've tried kicking in the 18V preamp mid-song for soloing but it's so much louder that I waste another move by having to mess with the vol knob. In rehearsals I end up playing mostly active to better hear myself. +1 to Ken on the letting your fingers do the work part. I noticed that in the last few millimeters of travel on my volume pot there's quite a bit of gain. With the increased S/N ratio and efficiency, I find that I don't have to turn up my amp as loud to get the same SPLs. On the same token, I am totally down with Anthony Jackson's onboard setup. Pickup -> XLR out. Done. It makes me want to request that for my next Fodera but knowing that the new Pope preamp is on the horizon screws that notion all up.

    As far as live engineers go, yes, they certainly can be heavy-handed with the compression. After working on both sides of the desk for many years all I have to say is that you should be prepared for anything. If you have no prior experience with a crew or particular person running your sound, get to know them! Often just making small talk (if they're not too busy) is just enough to break the ice and let them know that you're not an ***hole. If you are, good luck. This usually gives me an opportunity to request specifics for the entire band so he just has to hear it from one person instead of all of us. When you're one of many bands playing in one night it can be hard to spend enough time with them to make things right but try and try again. Whenever I introduce myself and politely request something I am almost always met with an eager and attentive individual rather than a bitter and lazy one.

    As far as solos, who needs 'em?
    I think it makes a lot more sense for the band to accommodate the soloist rather than for the soloist to have to accommodate the band. Kind of goes along with the idea about EQ where it's better to subtract than to add. I try to work with people that know how to play well together. They could have just met, it shouldn't matter. That kind of interaction lets you focus on the music. If I'm distracted with my knobs or whether the soundguy is paying attention I'm totally missing the point.

    Just whatever you do, turn up loud enough to be heard! :p

    Brad (sorry so long)
  11. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I might end up modifying my passive controlled bass to a no load type pot, or a pull up full on switch. I need to be able to control my volume on the fly at church where I play. The setup I am planning on having soon will have a buffer preamp with a volume pedal at the end near the amp. Then maybe I will play a full-on bass, allowing me to get consistent effects sounds and easy volume adjustment.
  12. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'd rather just use a boost pedal for that added solo volume.
  13. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    I run a volume pedal after my effects and usually leave the bass on full. That way volume changes don't affect my compressor or envelope filters and I get the best tracking from my octave pedal. Convenient too.
  14. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Vintage: I have my '72 telebass wired direct from pup to output. My reasoning: in passive basses, pots only take away...I want all the tone and punch going direct out of the instrument.
    KJung: with all my basses, active or passive, I run everything pretty well wide open. Partly for the reason above (I understand some active basses have boost and cut eq), and partly for your reason...I make most of both my dynamic *and tone* changes with how I attack the strings with my right hand, and even to some extend my left...
    By laying more or less of your finger of your "picking hand" on the string as you attack it, you can fatten, thin, tighten, brighten, add bass.
    The same sorta applies to your fingering hand. A "claw shaped" left hand gives you a very focused witness point on the fingerboard..this does have tonal implications as well as intonation implications...A flattened left hand has a different sound. This is a more subtle effect than right hand, but it's there.

  15. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    I run all the volumes on my basses and amps dimed, I adjust the output volume on the pre amp.

  16. From doing my own sound to having others do it; it wreaks havoc on the mix when a guitarist uses the ole' leave headroom on the volume knob trick.
    Soundcheck like you are going to play and communicate with the sound person even if they are clueless if you need more or less of something.
    Solo volume is best done with a pedal and should be soundchecked.
    You benefit when you have your signal wide open for recording and mixing.
    I keep my amp knobs around midnight and like having knobs at my fingertips to to dork with EQ.
  17. thepontif


    Apr 24, 2004
    Designer Fodera Guitars/Michael Pope Design, Inc., Trickfish Amplification
    Hey guys. Volume on an active bass may or may not affect the tone depending on whether it's before the preamp or after. If it's before, it will load things down. I don't think there's any such thing as a "non loading pot" for 2 PU basses but I could be wrong. Not passively anyway. You can wire a single PU volume such that it won't reduce the impedance to ground as you lower it, but you're still adding impedance to the PU be virtue of the added resistance in the line, so you'll change the characteristics of the PU in a non-linear way no matter what. If the volume is buffered by the preamp, you'll have no loading on the PU, but that's not to say that the preamp will drive the volume pot the same way at all settings. It should, but it might not...pots are VERY imprecise pieces of equipment in the world audio. They just are.

    To my way of thinking, the sound man has a much better perspective on how loud you should be than you do. He's out front where the listeners are and you're on stage. What works for you on stage may not be right out front. No amount of screwing around on stage will override what a sound man wants to do with you. You might as well make it easy and send him a flat, clean, predictable signal so he doesn't have a hard time chasing your levels around. If he's a bad sound guy, you're screwed no matter what.

    I send two signals out of my bass...one is pre volume and one is post. The pre volume goes to the DI. My "on-bass" volume changes don't affect the house. It works REALLY well and sound guys love me for it. I have some EQ on my bass and when I need to tweak a tone, I make the change there. I use the EQ on the amp for more local issues like getting the right blend on stage etc.

    My volume is buffered from the PU's and it doesn't affect the sound unless the bass is passive which it never is unless my batteries die on the gig which never happens because I don't let it. I keep it on 10 (because the bass goes to 11) so I have room to move up. I think this is the most logical way to deal with the problem. The next best would be to make sure you're preamp has a buffered volume control and can drive the volume pot without changing the sound, or use a volume pedal with an appropriately stiff preamp that won't be loaded by the pedal. But for sure, forget about trying to override a soundman. He's got WAY more power than you do and sending him a messy and inconsistant signal will only serve to cause you greater frustration.
    -Mike Pope
  18. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    +1 zillion!

    Laying out is a lost skill in many circles, it seems.
  19. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    I hear ya loud and clear! :D :meh:

    Mr. Pope, thanks so much for letting us know the particulars. As always, you've graciously taken the time to provide us with your invaluable advice!

    I am very interested in modifying my existing Pope preamp to the same specs as yours (pre/post outputs, etc.). I have been mulling this over for a while now and this confirms that it could be a great solution to some of my problems. Mike, is this an easy modification on a stock Fodera preamp?
  20. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    i always keep my nobs on 75%.

    not for solos.

    but for the songs that are more bass driven, that need that extra punch.