Where does your tone come from?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by count_funkula, Sep 5, 2002.

  1. How much does your amp really affect tone? I recently bought a SWR Workingman's 15 Combo and I'm finding the tone I'm getting is really no different from the Carvin 600 watt head and 2x10 cab I was using before. The SWR is a bit brighter but thats about it.

    I'm convinced there is not a lot of difference between all of the big amp manufacturers. No matter which you go with your probably going to come out with a pretty nice rig.

    I'm also starting to think the opinion that you need a lot of power to get good bass tone is over stated. This SWR is a 160 watt combo and as a stage monitor it sounds great.

    I used to have a 50 watt Ampeg combo and that thing sounded incredible with a 5 string even at loud volumns.

    I guess the real source of tone is in the bass. Why then do we spend so much on amplification?
  2. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    tone comes from the preamp and cabs..

    But mainly from your hands...
  3. Sprinkler

    Sprinkler [account disabled]

    Jul 31, 2002
    i think the directly most influencing source is the pickup, and it's location.
  4. I believe your tone comes from your fingers. Amps and basses color it somewhat, but your tone is in your hands.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Tone ultimately is a function of your brain controlling your fingers using your ears for feedback.

    Equipment does affect how close to ideal you can get, but except in really extreme cases I can always get pretty close to what I want out of any rig I use. That doesn't mean the tone is IDENTICAL, just in the ballpark.

    Speakers are the single biggest variable, much more than the amp or the bass. The bass is next, the amp third.

    As far as the pickups they can't give you anything that the bass and strings aren't providing, so they are much lower on the list.

    That's my opinion, I'm sure most will totally disagree :D
  6. Johnalex


    Jul 20, 2001
    South Carolina
    I think that strings can affect the tone too, and setup. But of course your hands and bass are the biggest factors.
  7. Deep


    May 8, 2002
    Basically,the tone is from your brain to your hands to the instrument. Then of coarse you have a bunch of variables like, strings, pick-ups, wood, etc. Also, if you perform at large venues all your rig is, is a big monitor for you and the band. The crowd up front does not hear your rig. Unless they are right at the foot of the stage. So you can have a three-thousand dollar rig or or just go through the board through a DI. All they will hear is the bass going through the sound system. So a good bass with good electronics (or it could be passive)is important.It will give a good clean signal to the sound engineer. If you have a head with a good DI that is important too,or have a good DI box. Many times they will mike your amp and use a DI together. The amp sound though will be changed to what the engineer wants in the house. So the crowd still won't hear what you hear.
  8. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I have a 1967 Fender Bassman 50 and an Eden D210T that sound very nice to my ears. I'm not in a "loud drummer" band so I don't know how it would sound in that situation.
    I think the player makes the biggest difference. The bass the next biggest, and the amp the third.
    You need power. Different people's playing styles and sounds have particular needs, for some the amp with power power power is more important. Personally I'm finding that I play softer with every year that I play. It's easier to control dynamics when you play real soft and jam the amp. My needs would be different than someone who digs in bigtime. Of course, I'm usign a low power rig to begine with... :)

    Not sire what I'm saying... :confused:

    Funny thing is...

    If a player has a "signature" feel, you can tell it's them playing. I could pick out John Entwistle a lot of the time no matter what he's playing.

    Of course, if a particular instrument has a "signature tone" you can pick it out as well. I could pick out a P bass tone very often in anyone's hands.

    And what about a signature rig? An old 70s SVT maybe?

    Cool there are so many options.
  9. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, as insteresting as this is, it's not really bass related, so i'm sending it off to miscellaneous.
  10. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    i think its the color of your bass that has the greatest tone affect. Like Red gives ya a warmer tone than blue.
  11. And having Gold tuning keys will give you a richer sound.;)

    :rolleyes: :p :D
  12. this may be a tangent, but noteworthy nonetheless.

    i find this somewhat annoying at times, but...

    the room and the stage has a dramatic effect on bass tone. usually, imho, my bass rig sounds like god, other times, in certain clubs, it makes me go


    and the ONLY thing that has changed is the environment.

    am i alone?
  13. I'd say it's more the player's touch than anything else.

    I also think that the louder you play almost any bass, the more they loose their individual character. Do you know what I mean?

    A P-bass has an absolutely great tone when played at low to moderate volume levels, but, when turned up VERY loud, it starts to lose some of its "Precision Identity." Certain basses remain easily identifiable at any volume (a Rickenbacker comes to mind) but I find at very loud volume levels it's much harder to tell alot of basses apart.

    Do you agree?

    Mike J.
  14. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Lemme tell you my 70's SVT rig sounds a LOT different than my Peavey amp from before. (I just got it... gotta brag about it when I can.)
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    No offense meant, but IMHO the "tone is in your hands" statement is often overstated. It does apply when different players play through the same gear, but that's about it. When telling different players apart, it isn't just hands, or gear either: the major factor is style and phrasing, and these are primarily mental choices. But we are discussing tone, not style.

    Unless heavy tone processing is used, the bass is the biggest factor: electronics, materials, and method of construction. When heavy tone processing is used, the bass is less important (and so is technique).
  16. TRU


    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    I agree. Most decent amps and cabs don't have nearly as much effect to the sound. Different eq sections and other tone processing means have the next biggest influence.

    I have too setups: A warwick 1x12 combo and Glockenklang 4x10 rig and they sound basically the same. The Glock rig is of course much louder and has somewhat more bass to it.
  17. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    The strings, the bass, the rig are there only to amplify your fingers.

    It's funny how it's said that "I play bass", when in truth it's not you working the bass, it's the bass working for your mind! :cool:
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - yes I have said much the same thing before many times. I want an amp/cab setup that accurately reflects the sound of my bass.

    But the trouble is that most cheaper amps/cabs do colour the sound and change the tone; so you have to pay a bit more to get an amp/cab that just amplifies your sound clearly and cleanly.

    So I went through loads of amps/cabs and hated the ones like Trace Elliot that have their own sound that colours the overall effect.

    I remember first trying Eden stuff in the Bass Centre in London and the assistant was saying - these are a step up in class from the usual stuff - and I was thinking - Yes, this actually sound like my bass and not the amp!

    So I have a mixing desk and monitor speakers at home and I always buy basses for how they sound flat through the desk, but it is very hard to get a bass amp and cab(s) that actually reproduces that.

    So the answer to the question is that you have to spend the money to actually hear the sound of your bass when amplified and not just the sound of that amp/cab!!
  19. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I have a Bass Pod, and it is interesting to try the different amp models to see how different they sound. I was using the Eden Traveler model in practice the other day (very fat and warm sounding), and another bass player came in. He said he uses a Gallien-Kreuger, so I switched to that model, and he was impressed by how much it sounded like his GK, very clean and full range sounding, and very different from the Eden model I was using. To my ears, there are pretty big differences in the sound of different brands.

    On the other hand, with some tweaking I can make pretty much any amp (and bass for that matter) have "my" sound.