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What does "bad tone" sound like?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by COLDGLU, Jun 18, 2017.



    Aug 29, 2016
    Yes, this question is subjective to the individual.
    So, I'm asking what you personally consider to be "bad tone".

    I'm not entirely sure myself, other than that it would sound thin or muddy.

    What is "bad" bass tone to you?
    In contrast, what is "good" bass tone to you?

    Post examples if need be!
  2. The less tones in a timbre, the thinner it sounds.
    Generally a good broad timbre (with many tones in it) sounds more pleasing to the ears.

    Also, with a broad timbre you can easily remove that part of the timbre you don't like, the high end or low end.
    It is possible to add tones to the timbre, if the default timbre is thin/narrow, but it generally sounds better if the instrument itself is creating the timbre.
    BassmanMetzger56, TyBo, Oddly and 3 others like this.
  3. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    To me bad tone would be a deep,deep muffled thump.
    Or an all treble metallic clack.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    "Bad tone" is genre/band/song specific.

    Chris Squire would have sounded every bit as ridiculous playing Motown as Jamerson would have sounded playing Yes. But they both sounded amazing in their element.
  5. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I now mostly play nylon strings on super-short scale instruments I DIY convert from guitars so I'm not going for a lot of zing.
  6. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Ah, bad tone...I have a gig on Friday. C'mon by. No further explanation will be required.
  7. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Bad tone?

    No body, heft, definition, fatness, fullness, clarity, life, soul. . . . .warmth.

    A sound that's missing any combination of these.
  8. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Any bass tone that makes notes difficult to distinguish. For me that's most distortion of any kind. If I can't tell note from the other or all the bass is adding is low frequency rumbling, I'm not interested.
    gebass6, CooWoo, RaggaDruida and 4 others like this.
  9. Scooped.

    All low end or all high end.

    Overly clean.
    petrus61, gebass6, chaosMK and 8 others like this.
  10. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    Any and every tone that sticks out of context without this state of affairs being the specific intention of both the player and the band.
    gfen likes this.
  11. honeyiscool

    honeyiscool Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    On one hand, this is probably everyone's idea of a bad bass tone.

    On the other hand, it's perfect for the song, this sound was immensely popular then, and this band was bigger than any of our bands.
  12. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    pretty much any weekend at GC
  13. I don't think it's perfect for the song at all.
    Loring likes this.
  14. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i love fieldy's tone on this entire album, actually. i doubt i'd like it as much if it were played with a blues band, but it's a tasty tone.

    bad tone varies depending on what the listener enjoys and the needs of the song.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
    JRA, andruca, aah_scary and 5 others like this.
  15. A lot of the tone the hi-fi folks here love I think is pretty bad, to my ears.
    aborgman, petrus61, Brian D and 5 others like this.
  16. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    Not only is it dependent on the individual's ears, it also depends on the genre and band. A bass tone that works for, say, Meshuggah may be disastrous for Sturgill Simpson and vice versa.
    HolmeBass, RaggaDruida and knumbskull like this.
  17. Bad tone to one is good tone to another. I dislike tone that is muddy and not distinct. I also dislike bass tone that has too much treble added and creates a lot of fret noise. But mostly, I hate a bass tone that gets lost in the mix. Turn it up and it is too loud and covers the other instruments, turn it down and you can't hear it at all. Bad tone.
    CooWoo, IconBasser and JRA like this.
  18. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005

    and this:

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  19. Super Bass

    Super Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2017
    Alberta, Canada
    Are you implying disrespect?
    Flaked Beans likes this.
  20. I agree completely. I really don't like a lot of the tones the jazz cats here enjoy, and classic rock tones in general, guitar and bass, irk me for some reason. But get a little crunch or grit on it and it's like the sound has a soul now. Or put it through some gnarly fuzz and rock the whole neighborhood from your basement jam. :smug:

    General "bad tone" criteria for me:

    Anything unbalanced without reason (it just sticks out)

    All fret clank (it sounds great augmenting notes just not as loud / louder than the notes)

    Overly clean and balanced (it's just dull; it should have some character to it one way or the other)

    Quirky effects. I seriously hate this. I keep seeing avant-garde guys with so many auto-wahs, flangers, chorus effects, delays, and phasers layered over their 16th licks a proper, in-key pitch never sounds on the notes.

    I will also say, I have mad respect for true jazz players and most have good tones. It's just a lot of the "new age, avant-garde" crowd gets too heady and weird. I'm all for experimental, but it's like poetry: When it strays too far away from the fundamental rules of the language your message gets lost.
    gebass6 and Sartori like this.