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What contributes to "punchy" sound ?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jwendt99, Feb 11, 2005.


  1. jwendt99

    jwendt99

    Oct 20, 2004
    Northern CA
    This is a bit of a broad topic. I'm interested in which factors contribute most to a "punchy" sound. To me, punch is a fast and strong initial attack on notes - almost a kick drum like impact. I can think of a number of potential contributors:
    * bass wood
    * strings
    * pickups (passive / active pups / active eq / 9V or 18V)
    * string plucking technique (fingering style and slap/pop)
    * preamp (tube / SS / make&model)
    * power amp (transient response / power supply design / make&model)
    * speakers (10s vs 15s / make&model)
    * EQ (a slight boost in the low-mids - naturally or via EQing)

    So, what are everyone's thoughts about which of these factors, or any other factors, that contribute the most to a "punchy" sound.

    Jim
     
  2. I think those are the two biggies right there, Jim. Someone more knowledgeable than me should chime in soon with specific frequencies, but boosting the mids will certainly help achieve a punchy sound, as will your choice of speaker size and quantity. I'm getting a very punchy sound out of my 6x10 cabinet, and a 2x10 + 2x12 set-up also has yielded good results.
    Of course, your bass, choice of strings and playing technique can also factor in, but I've gotten punchy sounds using a wild variety of different basses, everything from a solid wood Warwick Thumb to a semi-hollow Reverend.
     
  3. I think self-confidence can play a huge part. Knowing you can make or break this groove(& you're gonna SO make it), knowing the tune inside & out, & playing for the people who haven't even made it inside yet for me often yields pizzzuntch- ! All the above stuff helps, too, but ya gotta know what to do with it. (James Brown voice on)UNHHH.

    (J.B. voice off)
     
  4. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Yes. If your playing doesn't have punch, your equipment isn't going to put it in.
     
  5. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    EQ! ;)

    seriously, a nice goose in the 180-250hz range with lots of headroom should give you that lower mid chest slam.

    but like everyone alluded to, if your playing/technique cant keep up, there's only so much the externals can improve.
     
  6. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    all of the above.........opinions as to the particulars will vary considerably.
     
  7. ESP-LTD

    ESP-LTD

    Sep 9, 2001
    Idaho
    I really don't know what folks mean by 'punch' but I'll take your definition; to me I'd call that 'fast transient response'. I'd say that comes from 'fast' speakers (large magnets, short voice coils) like a Peavey Black Widow 15". Normally I'd choose smaller speakers for speed, but the BW has a big motor assembly. I'd think that sealed cabs with low group delay would also contribute to 'punch' as you define it (Ampeg 8x10 comes to mind).

    The easy and cheap way to get 'punch' as defined above is to use a pick and flatwounds for a fast attack on notes.
     
  8. jwendt99

    jwendt99

    Oct 20, 2004
    Northern CA
    Thanks for the info. I've got the fingering portion of 'punch" working (and popping for that matter), but it does seem that some amp/cab combination accentuate it.
    Probably a lower-mid boost helps (a good reason to get an amp/preamp that has a tone control in that range or a parametric/semi-parametric).
    I would think that 10"s would give more punch (lower group delay / faster transient response due to their small cone size and weight), so it's interesting to hear that the BW 15" delivers on this also.
    I'm still wondering if a power amp with a traditional power supply (crown, crest, ampeg B4) gives more kick than an amp with a switching power supply (qsc plx) - but I'm asking this in another thread also.
    Jim
     
  9. Slater

    Slater Bye Millen! Hello?

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    When playing live, just "locking-in" with the drummer's kick will give you tons of perceived punch.
     
  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    + five million :cool:
     
  11. Tash

    Tash

    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I'll see that +5 million and raise you 10....

    Listen to albums with really "punchy" bass, 9/10 times the bass will be locked in very tightly with the kick drum. Its a favorite trick of a lot of metal bassists: Harris, Burton, Ellefson: match the pitches to the guitar melody, but the rythym to the kick drum. Works wonders.
     
  12. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i remember this track i did where my bass had this awesome punch to it - turns out i locked solid with the kick -solo the bass track and the "magic" was gone.
     
  13. MBIYF

    MBIYF

    Oct 6, 2004
    The Netherlands
    So it is:
    1. Interaction with other instruments
    2. Playing technique
    3. Gear

    hmn... Makes sense.
    What I miss is compression. My sound gets a lot punchier when I compress it a bit.
     
  14. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    I've noticed many recordings and live performances where the bass is "punchy," yet often quite varied in EQ and tone from one to another. The common denominator is that the players--even with their varying styles--all play with punch: their attack, their lock with the drummer (particularly kick, as mentioned), their notes and the spaces between them, etc.

    Sometimes a little compression, using a moderate attack and not too long a release, can help give you a little snap on the attack of each note because the compressor will be open at the leading edge of each note. This works best if you're a really clean player.

    Read on:
    http://www.looperman.com/tutorials_eq1.php
    http://www.prorec.com/prorec/articles.nsf/files/AFFCBC3A0382C83A862565D6001E69A8