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Why am I never happy with my tone?

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

  1. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    What about using one of those stethoscope-type-gizmos for practice instead of amplification?

    My solution to worrying about my tone (as long as I can hear myself well enough to intonate properly) is to play with other musicians: when I'm serving the song, listening to what my band mates are playing, and concentrating on note choices and dynamics, "my tone" becomes a relatively inconsequential matter.

    If you really want to concentrate on playing instead of tertiary issues, try playing a DB that's strung left-handed as a right-handed bassist :eek:
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    I have a real stethescope, tried it once... I don't like the pressure it puts on my ears. Sometimes it's nice to just have some quiet practice time.

    I started playing bass on a lefty Beatle bass copy... because my friend's bass was left handed.
  3. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    I'll give you my experience Tony as I am in a good "tone" place right now.

    I have an amazing bass made for me by Mark Garza of Garz Guitars. The bass has an alder body, maple/wenge neck and rosewood board, SD Basslines and Aggie pre with passive tone control.

    Now, the bass sounds great but I was still having issues with my overall sound. I finally came to the realization that all of the Class D amps and Neo cabs I was using were coloring the tone I wanted to hear. The rig I just got rid of was a Roland DB210 and 115X. I was really unhappy with the sound in the band setting. I just could not get what I wanted out of that setup. I decided to forego the weight issue with my rig and moved it along... I am a firm believer that neo cabs sound thin and have a forced mid push - that along with the Class D amp really made me cringe. Again, this is what I hear...your experiences may be completely different. I also owned and truly disliked the MarkBass LMK II; that into a neo cab lasted a VERY short time with me.

    I recently did a big amp overhaul and it really did my tone a world of good. I have a great slap tone, thick sweet finger style tone and I can keep up with my guitar players Soldano amp. It's a huge win for me.

    You have a few excellent basses - try taking your basses to a local music store and play around with different "less than boutique" amps and see if that helps.

    I went with Warwick and I am in "tone heaven" right now.

    Good luck.
  4. gkbass13

    gkbass13 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    im going to echo the practice acoustic crowd, even though i have heard some clips of your playing...i think form when your band covered some jamiroquai tunes, and your approach sounds pretty soild. but, i know that when i began playing bass as a 12 year old, i didnt have an amp for the first year of my playing, whihc meant i had no option other than to play unplugged. as result of this i really got to "know" my instrument well. the nuances you notice arent in the hi mids of the AE 4x10 that jim bergentino made, or the levels at which you have your filters set in the little mark head, but instead they are in everything you are doing with your fingers.
  5. faulknersj

    faulknersj Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2008
    Scottsdale Az
    Tony G.....What kind of tone do you seek? Is there a song or recording that manifests the tone in your head? If so what is it? I (we) could help more if we knew what you were going for.
  6. R Baer

    R Baer Commercial User

    Jun 5, 2008
    President, Baer Amplification
    I think Jaco could have picked up a 2x4 with some fishing line on it and had it still sound like Jaco. That being said, there are times when a certain peice of gear can inspire. My Ken Lawrence 5 always seems to bring out my creative side more than any of my other basses. That bass just does it for me. Why? Who knows, but there is something to said for that special peice of gear that works for you.
  7. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    Well I wouldn't know a thing about GAS. Never experienced it, and I've been playing the same bass for the last 12 years. :bag::ninja: OK, I am a terrible lier!!

    I've been through DOZENS of basses over the last few years. I've come to learn I do indeed sound like myself on everything I play. I can't run from myself! If I don't like my tone, it's a me problem, and definitely not a bass problem (unless it's just a bass that isn't even in the right tone realm -- like expecting to sound like a 70s jazz on a p-bass.. you know what I mean).

    Back to basics man, work on learning your current gear. If it is comfortable in your hands, you've learned its nuances, then you'll be good to groove.

    I could be happy with any one of the current basses I own, or probably any bass I have owned in the past. I'm just a bass brat and I want what I want heheh.
  8. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    I really agree with this. The boutique stuff puts you into a tone range that isn't for everybody, especially if your bass is pretty 'wide' sounding. A real deep low end / sizzly high end bass through a hi-fi amp and a flatish cab can be WAY too 'hi-fi', lacking character and 'grunt' if you will. IMO of course!
  9. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    And I think this may be the biggest issue Tony is having. He has the MTD which is a hi-fi sounding bass...I have not played one yet that wasn't, and the Nordy with a a more hi-fi electronics package. These basses through lightweight boutique amps and neo cabs may lack the fundamental and traditional depth that he's looking for.

    They are great basses - and he has a nice rig...but those basses teamed up with that rig just may be the problem.
  10. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    I'd love something in the vein of Tom Kennedy's electric tone specifically on some of Dave Weckl's cd's.
  11. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    I appreciate that, but there is two problems. First, that wasn't exactly a quality recording, and second, I unfortunately don't have that bass anymore. :crying:
  12. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    Hmmm....I'm really not sure I entirely agree with this, but I do understand where you are coming from. While I'm not 100% sold on any of the cabs I've tried, including my current Berg cabs, I'm really pretty happy with my LMII. I consider it to be a pretty warm head for my needs, without getting too warm like something with tubes. You also keep mentioning about Class D amps, when in fact the LMII is a class A/B IIRC.
  13. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    You may be right on the MarkBass, I don't remember. Either way, it didn't float my boat. If you dig what you get from the head, try it with other cabs and see if that helps.

    Again, good luck. I know how frustrating it can be...

  14. Fretlessboy


    Nov 29, 2007
    St Augustine Florida
    Endorsing artist GENZ BENZ/HERCULES STANDS/XSonics
    I have a definate belief in "It starts from within". I have some pretty ok basses and I used to fight it all the time. I was looking for a "Holy Grail" bass that would do anything at any time better than anything else out there. I would show up at a gig with 4 basses because I MAY need them to get the exact tone I needed in my head for a song. Then one day I was coming home from an afternoon gig and got a call for a night gig. I didn't have time to go change basses because I "had the wrong one with me" for this gig. Well I got there paranoid about them noticing I should have brought something else. I set up, with bass set flat I tweakek the amp for a good middle of the road sound. I used my hands and V/V/T controls to the best of my ability and realized "I can get any tone I need though about anything in my stable if I allow it to happen". I now keep a much more open mind to all of it. The tones come from me not the bass. Sometimes I may have to manipulate the bass to get the tone out of my hands but I have faith that I can. Studio is a whole other ballgame...I bring everything.
  15. Ya know what. A nice marinated and smoked flat iron steak is awesome, but there aren't many people who can eat that for the rest of their life and not get bored with it or not have a heart attack.

    I don't think it's that your tone sucks at all. You probably have one hell of a honeymoon phase, then things get mundane.

    I guess I'm really fortunate in the sense that I'm generally happy with most tones. All of my gear sounds good to my ears and I rarely get complaints. If I start to get bored with a given bass or tone, I just switch. Typically I rotate through my gear enough that I don't have the chance to get bored with a given tone. I do the same thing with beer, although constant Fat Tire consumption a few years back still has me kinda tired of the stuff.
  16. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    Well, that's just it as well. Out of all the cabs I've had so far I think I like the Berg's best. However, it has it's pluses and minuses just like the Epifani cabs I used for a good year as well. It is very possible that the sound I like is a good jazz bass tone with stainless round wounds, but I'm not in a situation right now that would let me start experimenting with different jazz basses. I would go back to just playing my MIJ 75 RI, but I've become very fond of having a low B. What I really need to do I think at least for my own sanity is just come to terms with the gear I have and do my best to make it work it's best for me.
  17. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    Where's the fun in that?

  18. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    Yes I do think it's mostly in the head and hands ...

    That said the modern bass plays many roles now and finding what works requires ... well some work!

    I'll leave the whole amp/cab thing alone for now.

    For the most part no matter what bass I play it pretty much sounds like me. Still different tools for the task at hand be it slap, fingerstyle or pick. These days different basses I have are used for specifc purposes, basically with my band (where I use a pedal board) it's a passive Jazz Bass, just works for that situation. Other than that I'm pretty open.

    The OP has nice basses ( I use a 75RI too) never played an MTD or nordy but they sound great, GAS aside you have some nice tools to work with ...

    :) ... Lots of good stuff here, and all of these years and basses later I still play my original 68 P bass can't give it up.
  19. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    This is the gizmo to which I wa referring:

    Anybody use one?
  20. KeithPas

    KeithPas Supporting Member

    May 16, 2000
    I think that if 99.9% of TB'rs heard you play they would enjoy your tone based on the basses you own. I like the idea of listening to other people play your gear. As one with almost constant tone Gas I appreciate how you feel.

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