What does flat EQ mean? Knobs at noon position?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jtaing562, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Jtaing562


    May 24, 2013
    I always hear people saying that they set the EQ flat on their bass amp and was wondering what that means specifically?
  2. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    It depends on the amp.

    Flat refers to the frequency plot, going from low to high, having the plot line "flat" all the way across.

    When it comes to knob settings, it depends on the design of the EQ for that particular amp. With some amps, yes, it's noon with all EQ knobs. With others, such as those with a Fender tone stack, it's more like 2-10-2 with the bass, mid, and treble knobs (since mid is cut-only with that design). Check with your amp manufacturer. And when all else fails, just twirl the knobs until you like the sound you are getting.

    Btw, even with the knobs set for a flat EQ curve, most amps still don't actually generate a flat response. That's why (IMO) it's not worth worrying about, and is why my philosophy is to crank those knobs however you like to get the sound you like. That's why those knobs are there (IMO).

  3. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    This is an excellent question. Lots of folks assume that all knobs pointing straight up is flat. In many cases this is far from true. First, even if the eq section is set to the flattest position for that type of eq, almost every amp has a built-in voicing. In other words flat is not flat. Now consider the type of eq. One very popular amp eq type, called the Fender passive tone stack is flattest at 2/10/2. In other words bass at 1-2, mids at 10, and treble at 1-2. In other words 5/5/5 results in very scooped mids.
  4. Cycho


    Nov 30, 2010
    "EQ" means "equalization". The thing that can be equalized is the frequency response -- that is the gain can be made approximately the same in some number of frequency bands. Of course you may wish to enhance the frequency response in certain bands to get the sound you want. The correct settings generally depend on the bass, the amp, and the room.
  5. Mousekillaz


    Nov 25, 2009
    Anacortes Wa.
    No boost and no cut. No more.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Whether or not you need to get all caught up in it all depends on your style of EQing.

    (By the way, BFunk and Sacto are both exactly right.)

    I choose to start as flat as possible at every sound check. The only reason I do this is because I mainly play fill-in gigs. So I end up playing in all kinds of buildings (and outdoors) with all kinds of bands playing all kinds of music. So a "set-it-and-forget-it" EQ wouldn't work for me. I really have to go out of my way to dial in what works for a given band/style/venue. I am also pretty easy going about EQing to what the band asks for (within reason).

    For many, dialing in one primary tone that they like and only tweeking a little bit if the room demands it works just fine. And some players are very emotionally caught up in having "their tone" at every gig (which is fine as long as it sits in a mix well). I am not that guy. There is no such thing as "my tone". I dial up whatever I need to for a given situation.

    But the shortest version is there is no such thing. Every amp has a signature tone. That tone comes from the fact that the circuit is designed with an outcome in mind. But to set an amp to "flat" is to set it in a way that the circuit is doing as little as possible to the natural tone of the bass. Usually this is done by making sure all buttons (like "deep", or "scoop", or whatever a particular amp has) are NOT engaged, and (like Sacto and BFunk said) finding out what the flat setting of your particular amp is and starting there.

    Hopefully this answers the question "Why the heck should I even care?" for you.
  7. jeff7bass

    jeff7bass Inactive

    Apr 9, 2009
    Exactly. Let your ears guide you. It's difficult to get the right settings in a house or any smaller room however. The first time you gig with an amp, get there early and jack it up a bit, then start twisting. Once you get a feel for the amp, finding the right tone for the room/stage comes fairly quick.