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Why am I never happy with my tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tony G, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
  2. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    A hug from Lug is better than any drug. Just say no to drugs w/o hugs from Lug.

  3. It's no secret around here that I have owned a LOT of basses.
    But for the better part of my playing like the first 12 years or so I played this:
    (third neck BTW- 70's Jazz modded to hell and back- about to get a Sadowsky pre-amp next week!)

    I know that thing inside and out. Put mostly all the beat marks on it that you see.
    Find one bass and play the CRAP out of it. No matter what the gig/tune.
    And also play the crap out of it not plugged in- acoustic if you will.
    Get inside of it's natural sound. FInd out what it sounds like.
    This IMO will also help you develop YOUR sound. Because the bottom line is, the sound you hear in your head, has to find a path to your hands. And right now, your hands are NOT listening to you head.

    I can pretty much pick up any bass and get the sound I hear, or good enough that I'm happy.
    Well, unless it's a Music Man, then all bets are off!!! :D
  4. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    whenever somebody isn't happy with their tone, I always recommend they buy a new amp. I also recommend it if they ARE happy with their tone.

    Wait a minute....... I can't say that here. :eyebrow::D

    Seriously though, Tony, we all get to the same place where you are. I'm very sensitive to your challenge too because I do a lot of slap and fingerstyle.

    On a more "practical" note, one bass I've found that can do both for me is a J bass and a Lakland 55-94. I love the "flavors" that my Smith and MTD give me but I find I pick up my Lakland and Lull MV4 a lot.
  5. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Uh.....'scuse me.......:rollno:
  6. T-MOST

    T-MOST Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2004
    NJ via NYC
    Because what you hear on the CD is a combo of the bass, The amp, DI, mic (if any) and the $100,000 sound console it gets filtered through. The very same bass on the CD wont sound quite the same through your amp at home or on a gig. With the gear I have now I love my tone!
  7. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    Sorry, you're excused. :D
  8. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Our guitarist is constantly complaining about his tone and he use some really primo gear.

    It sounds Ok to me but frankly, I suspect he's insecure about his playing ability and uses his constant "I can't play because the guitar tone sucks" whine to cover.
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    That's why I recommend letting other people play your gear while you listen. If possible, go hang out with some other bassists, very competent ones if possible.

    It's a real eyeopener to hear what can come out of your gear when you aren't playing it. It can also focus on what you need to work on... if it's not the gear...

    We do this on a regular basis around here, it's nothing to find four or five guys at Atomic putting a piece of gear through it's paces.
  10. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Yes, this thread will continue on because we've all been there. I played through a GK 800RB>Hartke 410>Mesa 115 for almost 20 years and really didn't think about tone too much. Then I got to a point where: A) I couldn't move the equipment, and B) I got on TalkBass. Once you're aware it's hard to turn it off.

    Tony, there's plenty of good advice on this thread, I think some of us are speaking to ourselves as much as to you.

    Good luck,

    PS - The first step to good tone is to sell me your AE410! :D
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Not in my experience. I can still play soft or hard unplugged and it didn't cause any bad habits.

    One great place to do this is in the bathroom. Tile can really liven things up to the point where a good bass can sound good unplugged. Another thing I used to do was play with the headstock against a wall (drywall). That amplifies the instrument pretty well.

    This can help get you tuned into the sound of your bass... and how you effect it. Again, it helps to have a bass that has a naturally good sound acoustically IMO. Makes the job much easier and makes it much easier to replicate what you did the next time you pick it up.
  12. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    Absolutely! I appreciate every single bit of advice given in this thread. I hope this thread does continue as I know I'm not the only one that has these thoughts and it really helps to get as many different angles as possible.
  13. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    Exactly. I'm actually going through a period of "reverse gas" right now, as I kind of wish for a simpler time before I found talkbass when I was happy playing just my Fender Jazz and whatever amp I happen to be playing at the time purchased from my local music store.
  14. Lose dynamics????
    I have to totally dis-agree here.
    If anything I feel you actually build dynamics.

    Say that to an upright player and see the responce you get.
    IMO/IME/YMMV etc.....

    Again, you really get a true feel for the instrument. not a replicated version via pick-ups, pre-amps and cabs.
    All those thigs change the natural feel and trappings of the bass.
    Some for the better, some for the worse.

    But if you don't really get a good understanding for your main bass and how it reacts and how it feels, then you have not a whole lot to pull from when you go to another instrument.

    My old Jazz taught me alot about my sound. Not like my sound is anything mind you. Pretty generic IMO.
    But listen to my MySapce clips and you'll hear how I sound pretty darn near the same even though I'm using a Sadowsky on one track, and Alleva Coppolo on another, a G&L L2000 and my Valenti (at least thats whay I think is up there bass wise- I can't remember which songs I have up at the moment).
    Anyway, dynamics start at your finger tips. not at your speakers.

    And I have to agree with tallboybass on his A & B points. Especially the B point!!! (and well, the A point too!:D)
  15. Oh man, do I TOTALLY understand!!!
    I kinda back stepped a bit as well.
    For a number of reasons, but one was getting back to what I used to always fall back on.
    My old Fender and a Yamaha BB5000.
    I had a black one for years (until I discovered TB, Ken Smith and Sadowsky- then it was all down hill after that!!! LOL!!!).

    Now, my all time fav set up was the first generation SWR RedHead and the Golieth II 410 with my old Jazz and my Yamaha (or Ken Smith later). Just too heavy!!!

    By chance I found a BB5000 and picked it up a little while back. :bassist:

    Simple times. Simple times!
  16. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I don' teven know where/how to begin to respond to this. I spent many years and many thousands of dollars seeking the perfect combination of bass/preamp/amp/effects/etc. to achieve the perfect tone. Not that it was a waste of time or money - I really learned a lot and got to try a tone of stuff - but here I am now with one bass and one small combo amp.
  17. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    One way to cure this disatisfaction phenomena is to record yourself, both by yourself and in a band context. In bands, it helps if you get both a room recording (with a portable recorder) and a recording from the console.

    I'm amazed on how good all my basses sound when I record, from a Rogue Beatle bass copy, to an MTD 535. No matter what venue, method of recording, or bass I use, it always sounds like me! Duh! Of course, there are subtleties and nuances, and basses that have a 3D-like sound, cut through like a knife, and all that crap, but at the end of the day, it's you. This has been dicussed to death.

    It is hard to imagine that you will have a bad bass sound with a 535, and Nordy, and a '75 reissue.

    Lots of times I buy a new bass and take it to the gig, but that particular room might have bad acoustics, etc. So I perceive the sound of the bass as bad. Weeks later I get a hold of a recording of the gig, and the bass sounds amazing! Of course, by then, the bass has been long eBayed. . . .

    So I have learned to be patient and try basses in many situations for a good period of time. Ideally, a bass will give you ""that sound in your head and a good sound to the audience or the recording. But sometimes it is not the case. Case in point was Sadowsky basses. Sounded amazing live and in recording, but did not give me "my sound" when playing at home.

    And not to mention GAS, which feeds off our aparent disatisfaction with gear. I've played with some professional musicians for 10 years and they still have the same exact gear they were playing when I met them. . . I've been through 60+ basses in 10 years. Wonder who's got a problem. . .
  18. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Mike Lull GK Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass
    There was a great response.

    I personally think there is no perfect bass. (Or amp for that matter).

    I have a slightly different take on things. I look at basses as one might look a specific tool for a different job.

    So Tony your 75 RI Jazz sounds like your swiss army knife...and thats ok.

    Your other basses are a bit more specialized and thats cool.
    You will find your voice for what you are doing and then run with it. I almost always bring 2.

    1 Q5 and 1 Jazz type (for my current gig)

    You get criticial of your sound...Just try to learn a new (musicially sounding) and you will soon forget what you where concerened with.

    For the record you gear must sound great...How can it sound bad :smug: Do yourself a favor and don't fret over it.

    Even better go hang with your son for a few and then come back to any of your basses...I bet you might have a different perspective then.

    Cheers :)
  19. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Preach it my lefty brutha!!!
  20. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Mike Lull GK Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass
    Its funny how so many people keep going back to thier older instruments / rigs.

    I found myself using my Alembic Pre and my first Q5 again last night...(That I was using 10 years ago)

    I found my 'common' sound...for better or worse it is what it is.
    (until I need to change it...Then I go back again)

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