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What is a good reggea bass sound?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Thurisarz, Jun 3, 2005.

  1. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    I have a gig at graduation and i wonder how do i get a good sound for reggea with the things i got. I got a 100w Fender bassman amp with a 15" speaker and tweeter, i'm not sure if i'm taking my Warwick corvette with rounds or Warmoth tele with flats, there both great players.

    How should i fiddle the EQ on amp and bass?
  2. I'd say use the Tele with the flats, boost the bass on your amp, mids to suit the room and cut most of your treble. Experiment with cutting the treble on both your bass and amp to hear which combination you like best.

    I'm no authority on reggae, but I'd say most reggae bass has a deep, percussive, non-trebly tone to it. Almost the exact opposite of a slap tone.

    Let us know what you decide on.

    Good luck.

    Mike ;)
  3. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Another cool thing to add some "dub" to your sound is to mute the string you are playing with your palm while you pluck it with your thumb. It will bring out the low "thud", as well as eliminate some ring and resonance.
  4. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    Would you say this would suit for a great ska sound too or are they different kind of sounds?
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Ska and Reggae are different sounds unless you're playing for the Skatalites and your name's Brevett.

    If you really need to play both Ska and Reggae, get yourself a Jazz bass or other bass that's got both good boom tone and also that high end cut that Jazzes have. You'd need to do some re-eqing between songs too.

    You'll do much better with your tele bass than a Warwick.

    I would roll the tone all the way back on your bass...for a start.

    You're going to have a very hard time reproducing the lows you'll need with a 100w amp...you need to boost the low end on your amp pretty high...I'd have your mids close to flat and attenuate your treble.

    Don't use any compression.

    Play your bass up near the neck joint (your plucking or picking hand).

    True dub sound doesn't come from muting strings, it's the same as roots bass tone. Most of the true nature of dub comes from the mix.

    All of this refers to the 'classic' 70's roots reggae sound. If you have a more specific era that you're trying to reproduce: Mento, 60's ska, Rock Steady, Skinhead, Dancehall, Ragga, or 'SingJay'...there are other tweaks for your sound.
  6. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    I don't know if you have heard it, but think the bass from the song "Gangsters" by the specials, that's the sound i'm looking for. I know Horace played a Fender Precision back in the days with a rosewood fingerboard. How should i EQ the bass and amp, BTW for the gig i'm borrowing that 100w fender at home i have a Ahdown 30w w/ a 10" speaker, how should i fiddle that too. Is that tone made with a big or small speaker best?
  7. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    The tone on those Specials albums (great stuff, by the way...that first one produced by Elvis Costello) and his live sound from what I can remember was pretty traditional.

    Tone turned back on the bass, so you're not getting treble from the instrument, Bass on your amp turned up, mids left flat or so, then the treble should be turned WAY down. In my old set up, I had a 10 band graphic EQ and the 3 or 4 band on the right hand side were pulled all the way down.

    My current set up has not as much bass boost and more mids, for my own hearing pleasure, but otherwise I have almost no highs.

    Lots of people are going to tell you that you should use 15's for speakers, and you'll do fine with them, but I'm more of a fan of a 4x10 to tighten up the sound just enough. Right now I'm using a rig of all 12's.

    By the sound of things, you're in a situation to use what you have, so I'd start with that Tele bass, roll back the tone, then start fiddlin' with those EQ knobs on the Fender to get as close as you can. You want to keep your sound as clean as you can, which is going to be a precarious balancing act with these ingredients:

    100w amp +
    Gig playing Volume+
    Boosted lows+
    Clean tone
    = ?

    To get enough volume without clipping or distorting, you may not get the lows you want.
  8. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    Thanks mate! Very good info :)

    The Ashdown is very sensitive and starts distorting very easily on the lows, don't know about the fender, i know next week on rehearsal. Again thanks. Do you recommend flats or rounds for this sort of sound, i play only flats but havent changed strings since i bought the corvette. Should i keep playing them flats? Gauge maybe?

    *Edit:* The fender amp have low mid and high mid knobs, should both be around flat?
  9. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    You should be fine with your flats.

    I would probably set up the tone controls to ramp down, with more low mid than high mid. If you were to think of those knobs as a 4 band graphic eq, it would look like a diagonal line with the upper end on the left side and the lower end on the right.

    low mid
    High mid
    Treble-pulled way back

    I don't know if that helps...
  10. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    Okey, thanks again! Gonna try it and see how it sounds!
  11. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    Get the cheapest bass and amp/cab combination and you will have the perfect rig for reggae.
  12. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    Hey, nice putdown.

  13. Although BurningSkies is definitely giving good advice here, you may want to avoid making such drastic changes to your EQ simply because you don't have a lot of power. I think a lot of the reggae sound comes from the feel of your playing, not the tone of your bass. It would be great to kick out huge lows, but I don't think you have the power for it. Using flats and giving the bass knob a slight boost has given me a passable sound for reggae in the past. In addition, using a more aggressive attack with these settings will get you a decent ska sound without fiddling with too many knobs.
  14. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    I'm just wondering, would the corvette be better for the "job" if i put the flats on it?
  15. It's really up to you, but I'd go with the Tele with flats.

  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    I don't think so. It's tone doesn't lend itself to the sound you're looking for.
  17. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    A lot of reggae tone comes from flatwounds (old flats). Moving your plucking hand toward the neck helps (I usually rest my plucking thumb on the side of the fretboard and pluck over the 20th fret position). I agree with boosting the lows, adjusting the mids, and cutting treble, although your lows will be limited with a 100-watt amp.

    Reggae bass is about tone AND style. If you have really great reggae tone, but play too many notes, it won't sound much like reggae. You must leave a lot of space in reggae, and make each note count. The basslines usually don't vary much at all from the basic groove (definitely not "chops" music), and you need to sound solid and confident.

    You have to be willing to take a leadership role when playing reggae. The bassline largely provides the melody of the tune, and the guitars are relegated largely to a rhythmic role playing upbeats. When the drummer plays a "one-drop" rhythm, there is no kick drum on the one. Since the guitarist is playing offbeats, so you are the only instrument coming in strongly on the one.

    (Sorry... I got off the subject.)
  18. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    In true one drop, there's no bass on the one either.

    Much of what you say is true, but um...not all the way. I've seen, heard and played with a lot of amazing reggae bass players...and while there should definitely be space and groove, there's also a place for some speed. It's the combination of those things that makes stuff work. Familyman could throw some mean groove down, but he also had some fast fingers. When we shared the bill with the Fat Man Riddim Section (AKA Inner Circle) there were plenty of super quick and punchy bass grooves. Not to mention two of the best, most recorded and well known of riddim sections...Sly & Robbie and Roots Radics...they both play stuff that is just as quick and nimble as anything in rock music.

    I think you're talking about a very specific type of reggae...70's roots, which given the fact that "popular" Jamaican music has a history that is only 5 or so years shorter than that of American rock music, is an over generalization. :)
  19. ERIC31


    Jul 1, 2002
    Maricopa, AZ
    I just recently got a copy of the Reggae On The River DVD. Great live performances by a variety of artists.

    One thing I noticed is that there was such a variety of different basses being played...Steinbergers, J-Basses, Ibanez Soundgear, Modulus, Ken Smith. Also there were 4, 5 and 6 strings. All had great tone and solid groove. So once again it comes down to whether you can play the music or not. Not what kind of bass you have.

    Have fun! :bassist:
  20. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Right on, brother.

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