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What makes a bass sound good?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by artistanbul, Oct 12, 2003.


  1. artistanbul

    artistanbul Nihavend Longa Vita Brevis

    Apr 15, 2003
    Turkey-Istanbul
    I am thinking to myself, what makes a bass sound good. And can come up just with these: (except the player so no clever remarks :))
    -pickup(s)(with the positioning)
    -electronics
    -strings
    -body wood&cut&paint(?)

    so, if I take the pickup(s) I like and load the strings I like to the body I like will I get a sound I like? I mean what is the difference between all those basses out there. I don't get it. Please correct all my wrongs..
     
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    E-ve-ry-thing counts.
    I usually say 1/3 strings, 1/3 electronics and 1/3 everything else.
    The final result is also the process of some kind of black magic. It's not always rational. Sometimes a rather crappy built instrument will sound incredible.
    You can orient the final result but can't be 100 % sure of what it'll be.
     
  3. artistanbul

    artistanbul Nihavend Longa Vita Brevis

    Apr 15, 2003
    Turkey-Istanbul
    Hm.
    One more question. If there are two basses. And they have the same specs and one is double the price of the other they probably give the same sound anyway.. right?!
     
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    If one is double the price, you can be sure they don't have the same specs. :)
     
  5. artistanbul

    artistanbul Nihavend Longa Vita Brevis

    Apr 15, 2003
    Turkey-Istanbul
    well lets say except a gorgeus spalted maple top and ebony knobs and pickup covers and and... :)
     
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    YOu can make a very good bass without spalted maple on top. :)
    Now, you can't replace good craftmanship and nice dry woods.
     
  7. Jazz Ad, EXCELLENT analogy. I'm impressed with your view. I agree 100%.



    [​IMG]
    Treena
     
  8. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Ahem.
    Thank you ? :)
     
  9. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    As much the musician as the materials can make any instrument sound good.

    If you start with a nice instrument, that helps.
     
  10. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I agree entirely with this, although i think that people overlook the importance of the strings. My brother said to me one day "basically all bass strings sound the same right?" and i went off on him.
     
  11. All of the above plus you and your fingers.
     
  12. Larry Kaye

    Larry Kaye Retailer: Schroeder Cabinets

    Mar 23, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    To me the best sounding basses are those that are neutral sounding with superb balance between strings. Where all the strings sound the same and are the same volume. I let my amp and speakers do the rest.

    However, I feel that it's the player most of all....because he or she is the one that has to recognize what sounds "good" and what doesn't for the specific style of music being played and the venues being played in. It includes am I balanced properly, is the room boomy or dry, am I playing stylistically or technically correct for that type of music, do I need more highs or mids to cut through, do I really need THAT MUCH BOTTOM END? etc. etc.....and then having the combination of technique AND ability to adjust your bass, amp or preamp's tone controls/graphic/whatever, or speaker placement or crossover, OR your strings, pickup balance, or whatever else is available to you to make it happen.

    I really feel that this is 75% of what makes a bass sound good, not the brand, wood, pickups,strings, or guitar chords,,,Obviously, of course they contribute...I would guess that they better the player's ability to recognize and adjust, the more these controllable elements will contribute.

    But, I just heard so so many of our fellow bassists's sound totally disappear, even in smaller to medium sized clubs, even though they were using the highest, high end basses, amps, and speakers because they had not a clue what their rig sounded like more than a foot away from it.

    I've also been to major concerts including seeing Earth Wind and Fire, Bela Fleck and Flecktones, Yellowjackets, FourPlay, as we know featuring some of the top bassists out there, and guess what....all you could hear was the bass drum and everything but the bass. Everyone is lacking "punch" and "clarity". Now this is not necessarily just the fault of the player becuase he or she might have a nice, pleasant neutral tone going direct or miked into the PA system, but there are a lotta soundguys out there in general that have nada clue how to make a bass guitar sound "good" through their PA systems.

    I think you need to go hear a ton of people, see which ones you like/love their tone (and hopefully their playing too!!) and see what they have equipment wise and what they may be doing techniquewise to make that equipment sound the way it does. Finger style? Pick? where are they plucking? How's the eq set? How's the tone controls on their Active EQ's? What effects. These are all nice things to know, but what it comes down to is How did they figure out that this was "the" sound for that style and venue? Interesting question to pose to someone on a gig.

    LKaye
     
  13. furiously funky

    furiously funky Guest

    Dec 28, 2002
    Toronto
    what makes a bass sound good? what do you think "good" is. good to me may be "way to bassy" or "sounding thin" to you. good is personal preference. so maybe the question would be what most affects an instruments sound? in that case, i agree with jazz ad.
     
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The player.

    Seriously.
     
  15. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    To be even more specific:

    Hands.

    ;)
     
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    A decent amp.

    Really. I like a LOT of different basses, and that includes low-priced models such as MIM Fenders and import MTD's. When choosing a bass, playability is my top criteria, not tone. If I like the playability, I can get tone.

    A buddy of mine played his Samick through my amp rig and sounded awesome. OTOH, I've played through amp rigs I didn't like at all, not even with my favorite bass.
     
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I've seen a bassist play with his feet:D
     
  18. Aaron

    Aaron

    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    I have a friend (who is a phenomenal bassist) whose arm went numb in the middle of West Side Story (the full musical, not the buddy rich version or anything) so he started playing with his chin.
     
  19. LA

    LA

    Oct 17, 2001
    Michigan
    I think it starts with the wood first, then the electronics. The native, or acoustic, sound of the bass has to be there so that the electronics and everything else will complement it nicely.
     
  20. If Paul McCartney picked up any bass.....it would sound great.

    Think about it!

    [​IMG]
    Treena