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Where should your money go?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Zerozeddy, Dec 23, 2004.


What will SOUND better?

Poll closed Jan 6, 2005.
  1. Posh amp, rubbish bass

    18 vote(s)
    64.3%
  2. Hugely expensive bass, tatty amp

    10 vote(s)
    35.7%
  1. I'm confused why so many people insist on playing Fenders when they are so heavy, unwieldy and ugly. The only reason must be the sound. However, IMVHO the things that make the biggest difference to the sound are the strings and amplifier you use.

    I don't want to get into an argument re P/J basses; what I want to get into an argument about is my theory that, given a finite amount of £ or $, you're better off spending as much as possible on a quality amp.

    So: my question is which is going to sound better? Really expensive bass running through a cheapo amp, or a cheap bass and an expensive amp? No 50/50 responses please, that's dull.
     
  2. elros

    elros

    Apr 24, 2004
    Norway
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    In my experience: all factors affect sound. This in cludes instrument (hardware, woods, setup, pickups), playing, amplification and the acoustics of the room you are playing in. And to top it all off, good sound is in the ears of the hearer.

    If you have a poop instrument, a good amp will only reveal that your instrument sounds like poop.

    And the other way around: if you have a bass that sounds excellent, a crap amp can destroy that in a hurry.

    The sound is only as good as the weakest link in the chain.
     
  3. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    Of course, your opinion is your opinion, but wouldn't you think that different pickup and electronics, construction design, and wood choices have at least a good deal to do with an instrument's individual sound? You can take two identical Fenders (I believe Bass Player did this during a review of the American Precision Deluxe) with the only difference being the fretboard (Pao Ferro vs. Maple) and there was a noticeable difference in both the tone of the basses as well as the "focus" of notes on the low B-string due to the change.

    To say otherwise is to dismiss the hard work of hundred of luthiers who use differing methods of construction, wood, electronics, hardware, and other factors... all of which believe that they make, while perhaps not "The Best Bass", certainly one with it's own tone and worth as a unique instrument.

    50/50 answers may be dull, but unfortunately they have a great deal of truth. Amplifying a cheap bass through a Glockenlang rig isn't going to win you any prizes at your local tone awards show, but neither is playing an MTD/Pedulla/Sadowsky/Lull/etc through a Peavey MicroBass. However, playing a midrange Yamaha, Ibanez, Lakland or other mid-level bass through the equivalent of an amp setup (Avatar, Ampeg, upper-level Peavey, etc) will get you much more than a passable sound then either of your answers. I think the answer lies in what's considered a "cheap" bass. For me, it would be one with obvious construction flaws, microphonic pickups, neck issues... the true "bottom of the barrel", which luckily we've seen decrease vastly in the last decade or so. Your average "beginner" bass is of much higher quality and therfore able to amplify a much more solid tone than one of years past.

    ...that being said, during my recent "rebuilding" of my rig for my reintroduction into live playing, I personally chose to put the vast amount of money available into my preamp, an SWR Mini Mo'. At just under 1K it took up the majority of purchasing power by far. This included 2 new basses (which were discontinued models and bought at 73% off list, so that was a lucky strike there and fairly atypical), a QSC-PLX 1604 (again, a major deal in terms of pricematching where the company that matched it said to me, "We're losing money on this sale ;)), a Tascam CD-BT1 trainer, and just under $100 of discontinued D'Addario Prism strings. All in all, the preamp was 1/2 of my expenditures over a three month period.

    But I can't say that I made the decision on the basis of running iffy basses though a stellar rig, because a) My basses, while not boutique, are hardly crap, b) I'm not even playing through an "expensive amp" as I have to pay off this lump o' credit before I can afford speakers, and c) my decision to purchase the preamp first was based on numerous factors, including availability, a "limited-time-only" deal through an acquaintance, and other factors that had nothing to do with your question.
     
  4. I'm with Zero on this one, give me a plank of wood with nice strings plugged into a wall of sound!! IMO I would much rather hear and feel my sound than have a pristine finished bass with exotic doo-dads. :bag:
     
  5. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    Definitely the amp. Plug a Peavey Cirrus into a Rogue combo and it will sound like a Rogue combo. But then (Note: I only added the "then" to avoid the "but plug" jokes) plug an Essex into a SWR Redhead and it will sound like a SWR Redhead.

    Just to see how I liked it, I plugged my cousin's first bass (a $100 +/- Austin P) into my Genz Benz GBE600 through my set of GB 210T-XBs and it sounded perfectly acceptable. But I can't plug any of my Warwicks into a cheap combo without cringing at the sound.

    As you said, the strings matter, as do the electronics. You get a cheap J (like a $100 Essex, for instance) and put used EMGs in it, throw on some D'Addarios and you'll be pretty stoked about the sound. But there's nothing you can do to a bass to make it sound good through a crappy amp.

    I did, however, manage to get my hands on a Genz Benz Intro 50 combo (12", tweeter, 50W) for $175 used once and I will forever kick myself for selling it. Best combo I've ever heard for under a grand. My Warwicks sounded like Warwicks through it. And the 50W was a very conservative rating, too.

    All that said... Considering I once got a Warwick Corvette Standard from 96 with EMGs in it for $325 including shipping, got my GBE600 for the same price used at a local store, and once bought a like new Ampeg BXT-410HL4 with 4 professionally reconed speakers for $300 + tax (to this day, best cab I've ever heard), I completely ignore the "I can't afford good gear" complaints. I'm not gonna try to say that you run across these deals every day, but good deals are only as hard to find as a person is lazy. If you look on eBay, Harmony Central classifieds, bassgear.com classifieds, and of course the Talkbass classifieds, with very little effort and very little cash, you could have a bass and rig that will probably rival some of the best/most established players in your area (assuming you don't live in a huge city).
     
  6. Franklin229

    Franklin229 Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeast USA
    Buy the best bass you can afford. Become one with your bass. LEARN HOW TO PLAY. If you get comfortable with the instrument, you will have it for years to come. Amps come and go, depending upon the different types of jobs you encounter over time.

    Also, from an investment standpoint, I believe that guitar technology has and will not evolve over time the way over amps and rack gear have and will.
     
  7. Franklin229

    Franklin229 Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeast USA
    Sorry-didn't finish. If the bass you buy sounds great in the store-it will sound the same on the cheapest amp at low volumes (almost any amp will sound good if not pushed beyond it's limits) or though headphones.
     
  8. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    I think the "through headphones" argument is wholly unrelated to the question at hand.

    And I beg to differ about any amp sounding good if not pushed hard. If that was the case, everyone would have a Squier Frontman 15B in his/her bedroom.
     
  9. I have to say that when battling against two guitarists and a drumkit I'm thankful to be heard, let alone get a tone I'm pleased with.

    On reflection - I think that whatever git/amp combination I've tried I've always sounded like me, even though they have all sounded different. If you see what I mean.

    The problem is of course that instruments are fascinating and sexy* and fun to shop for, whereas amps are black rectangular boxes [yawn]. I think that (apart from my playing) the amp has the biggest influence on sound, but I'd rather throw money at something beautiful and then find the cheapest thing that'll shift the most air.

    *apart from Precisions.
     
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    My main axe these days is a Fender 5 string FMT - and it sounds good through my Aguilar/Bergantino rig. It also sounds good through my Demeter/Peavey rig. Since most big shows you do get you run through the PA, my money is on the bass every time.
     
  11. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    I agree that basses can be extremely appealing visually, but the idea than an amp has to just be a black rectangular box is crazy! When I see an Eden stack... that's sexy. When I see Jean Baudin's setup with his Stewart World 2.1 and his Accugroove boxes... that's amazingly stimulating visually. Amps can be extremely fun to shop for as well!

    Besides, the question isn't whether or not you will still sound like YOU through any amp, it's whether you will get the BEST sound from having a good amp or a good bass.
     
  12. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    That wasn't part of the equation. :)
     
  13. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    My answer is the same - you'll never get your amp to make your j bass sound like a pbass. Or a pedulla, or a lakland, etc, etc, etc.
     
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I say decent amp, great bass. OHHH I'M LYING! I just hate investing in amps, and the better the amp, the harder it is to carry around. I'm content with my Peavey combo and dont' want to change for better sound. It does the job, though I can't deny that a GK head with 4X10s and an 18 wouldn't sound way better.

    I think people like myself often get more gas over basses than amps because the gratification seems a lot more immediate. I work with my bass, touch it, play it, feel it, live with it. I play it on the toiled bowl, in bed, in my kitchen, on the stage, through the studio's amps, the clubs amps, my house amps, no amps. Amplifiers are huge peiced of heavy wood and metal that take a lot of work to schlep around and then just stand there. Also, amps for the most part act only as moniors in most of the clubs I play. My sound goes through the board.

    Ya know what - I take back the "OHHH I'M LYING" line.

    The bass is more important. Thank you for helping me clarify that for myself. :)
     
  15. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Having experienced both ends of the spectrum; I was much more pleased to get a better rig and thought it more important.