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What is 'Punchy' Tone?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by westland, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    My sincere apologies if this question is answered elsewhere (I could not find any descripion, though) ...

    ... but can someone help me define a 'punchy' tone. I have an idea (the term 'punchy' suggests to me a sort of rounded attack envelope) ... I see it often used in the phrase 'classic, warm, punchy tone'

    In particular, I'm trying to dial 'punch' in on my Thunderfunk 550 ... increasing the the Timbre dial is supposed to provide 'punch' ... but I'm not sure if with my basses (Ritter Roya, Variax 700 on several settings) that this matches up with my understanding.

    What do TBers do with their EQ to dial in 'punch'?
  2. gruuv


    Jan 23, 2004
    I once heard punch described this way, so I will quote directly (Emperor Elite here on TB). It wasn't from TB originally, nonetheless here it is:

    I couldn't agree more. I think my ash/maple Sadowsky is pretty darn punchy (many feel bolt-ons ~in general~ have more punch than neck-throughs with which I also tend to agree, although there are exceptions), but it has not compared punch-wise to an old heavy (northern) ash Marcus Miller 4 I had or my heavy walnut bass. Its punch is largely due to the ability to dial in heavy bass on the Sadowsky pre, which I love, but to my ear this is different than that of a genuinely punchier wood than I feel swamp is. It's more of an artificial punch, still awesome, just different. I may get flamed and that's fine, just my opinion :D The TF550 is a fantastic amp so you're definitely going to be getting a sweet tone, as long as what you're plugging in has it going on.

    ** I also believe that certain fingerboards lend themselves more to a punchy tone... rosewood more so than maple, etc... my opinion, ad nauseam :bag:
  3. For me, a punchy tone comes definitly from the low mids.
    Highs gives you the attack(extra highs the presence and articulation), high-mids great for attack but the sound goes "poiiiiik" if you see what I mean.
    Low mids the puch and the lows the boomyness or warmness depends on what you're looking for.

    Note that some basses have different reactions depending the EQ. So it's not an accurate observation.
  4. boosting the low mids provides punch. if you cut back a tad on the bass and cut back a lot more on the upper mids, you get a really defined low mid sound, which i usually classify as punchy. also, punchiness really sounds "punchy" if you have really good time and as stated, lock into the drums.
  5. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    My limited experience re: woods and punch is opposite that stated above. I have two basses identical except for body woods. Both have bolt-on maple necks, rosewood boards, and identical active electronics. One has a very heavy ash (listed as "swamp ash" but it's pretty heavy) body and one has a mahogany body, which is noticably lighter. The mahogany one is the much more punchy bass, and the ash has the "throaty upper mid growl" (great description). My all-mahogany EBO has a lot of punch with its TI Jazz Flats, too. So I kind of associate mahogany with punch. Definitely has to do with mid-bass or lower mids.
  6. When I think punchy tone, I think Flea's tone when he plays live, that's punchy to me.
  7. RE:PEAT


    Jun 24, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    IMO, classic and warm contradict punchy. I would equate punchy with bark, bite, etc. Don't know if it is possible to get a consensus on these adjectives. Just by reading vairous posts on this forum, 'growl' has several different meanings. Ever hear the audiophile adjectives? Yowza :eek:
  8. John Coxtosen

    John Coxtosen Music Geek/Bass Nerd

    May 25, 2005
    Duluth, MN
    I associate punch with an immediateness in the lows and low mids.
  9. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Thanks for all the response ... Lows and low mids seem to be important

    Would you suggest any recordings with 'punchy' basslines?
  10. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    That's how I think of 'punchy', as very defined, maybe a bit harsh or agressive.
  11. KYJazzy


    Nov 10, 2004
    Lexington, KY
    On your bass, boost low-low mids and play with a fairly strong attack and some muting. Punch-punch.

    Some Popular Punchy Songs (off the top of my head):

    Fleetwood Mac - The Chain (locked in with the kickdrum, solo)
    Green Day - Holiday (solo)
    The Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
    The Police - Message in a Bottle (driving line)
    The Police - The Beds too Big Without You (driving line)
    Billy Idol - White Wedding
    Red Hot Chili Peppers - Around the World

    there's a weird varied list, haha, those just make me think 'punch'
  12. FireBug


    Sep 18, 2005
    When I think of punch I imagine wearing a bullet proof vest and being shot. The low end is defined and literally punches you in the chest. It rattles you. Ever been shot with a paintball in the chest?

    Not only the lows and low mids but the highs too. I like my high end punch spiked with the sound of a stick snapping (some attack). There's a little taste of low end on the upper register that I like to be boosted.

    I guess my definition of it is a sound that is not only present in the lows. It can't be rumbly and have clear highs either. It has to be clear all through the spectrum.

    Right now the only recording that comes to mind is "Subway to Venus" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Listen to the intro. It clear bass starting at the top that sounds pretty neat.

    Anyone from Houston listen to 90.9? That station is kind of underground, but the new funk they play every now and then is awesome. Try to find a station that plays jazz and blues. Every now and then you might find some bassists going nuts. They are the ones you should turn to when looking for a definition of punch.
  13. lean yourself back against a wall and have a friend put his/her palm flat and your chest and push on it softs in short sharp movements. This is what a live, punchy tone does to you. Well it happens to me anyway.
  14. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    I always try to take words and translate them into frequeny
    so "punchy" could be described as 500-800hz.
    41-300Hz is a good general bass frequency range but the harmonics between 1 and 7 Khz add clarity and words like "bang" "snap" come to mind. It depends on how you want your "punchy to sound.
    IME,usually punchy was always above 250hz but under 1KHz
  15. jacove


    Apr 12, 2003
    Aalborg, Denmark
    Thunderfunk+Berg NV610+TI jazz flats = PUNCH
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Excellent point. Punch doesn't necessarily have to come from the bass. Strings, amp and speakers (especially a sealed cab like the NV610) can have a dramatic effect on punch.

    I'll add that the player can also have a huge effect on punch. Just one example: the use of left and right hand muting to provide strong note definition.
  17. gruuv


    Jan 23, 2004
    As someone said, and to me also, I associate punch with live playing; it's hard to replicate that "pound you in the chest" vibe on a recording. I can think of a couple of examples of punchy tone, what I'd expect to pound you in the chest if it were live:

    A lot of Stu Zender's lines with Jamiroquai, like "All Right" - track 5, "High Times" - track 6, "Travelling Without Moving" - track 10, and "You Are My Love" - track 11. All are from Traveling Without Moving.

    "Playa, Playa," "Send It On," "The Root," "Feel Like Makin Love" -- hell, the whole CD is nasty: D'Angelo's VooDoo. A lot of it is Pino with his jazz/flats, I think Raphael Saadiq (sp?), and Charlie Hunter cover the low end on a few tracks, as does D'Angelo himself. But, check that CD out, it's punch-city! :bassist:

    Check out Chaka's Naughty. Anthony Jackson ("Move Me No Mountain") and Willie Weeks ("Get Ready, Get Set"), and Marcus on the title track (although his tone actually sounds thin compared to AJ's :eek: ) lay down some punchy nastiness on that CD.

    I'm sure there are tons more I'll think of later
  18. gruuv


    Jan 23, 2004
    Amen. . .
  19. epoxo57


    Feb 17, 2005
    Perrysburg, Ohio
    My G&L 2000 thru Ampeg....... :D :D
  20. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Thanks ... great forum