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Why am I never happy with my tone?

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


  1. gkbass13

    gkbass13 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    Chicago
    what about making the jazz's passive, then getting some 12's for cabs? fatten things up a bit and see what happens.
     
  2. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    NY
    Unfortunately I'm simply not in a position to change up my gear for a while. I'll have to simply make due with what I have I think. I have been thinking about bring my MIJ 75 RI jazz back to passive, but as for the cabs I've already tried 12's and I'm not sure they are the answer either. I really liked the epifani 12's, but I sold them and probably won't be getting them again anytime soon.
     
  3. gkbass13

    gkbass13 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    Chicago
    true true.

    ive always been a fan of the idea of turning the 75reissue back to a passive bass.

    shoot me a message if you want to play sometime tony, im always down.
     
  4. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    NY
    will do gk, but it's hard to find an open slot in my book. Kid, work, band, baseball, etc, all leaves me with very few open windows.
     
  5. Elemetal

    Elemetal

    Mar 10, 2006
    Get a Stambaugh. I have not the greatest amp and I can get mad tones out of that bad boy. I can get any tone I'm looking for whether its a deep hip hop bass tone to Steve Harris to Marcus Miller to anything you name I can get it.
     
  6. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    NY
    I'm accepting donations. :D
     
  7. gkbass13

    gkbass13 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    Chicago
    yeah man.

    another thing is, kill the filters on the LMII , boost the low mids a tad...ive always liked that setup with the markbass heads...although whenever i play through them i usually have the filters both around 9oclock.

    to help, as it seems like most of what you mention in your posts regarding distaste for your current tone is dealing with cab choices, what is it exactly that you are hearing that you dont like? i knwo one problem i have with epifani cabs is how extremely low they get, i tend to prefer a tighter bottom (pun most certainly intended) and my hunt for heads is taking that into consideration.
     
  8. gkbass13

    gkbass13 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    Chicago
    in regards to the stambaugh post....i was going to ask if you had ever tried a bass with exposed pole dual coil pickups, like the aero's or nordstrands that chris stambaugh uses. i personally love such pickups and have had similar experiences as elemental. i know you said you arent in a situation where swapping gear is an option currently, but maybe a set of nordstrand DC's for the mtd, and a passive tone circuit for the 75 reissue is a good start...

    i would also say to go for a set of nickle rounds on the Nordy, as ive always thought that you can still get a phenominal slap tone with them, and the steel string thing on a maple/ash bass is a bit too much for me, and sounds too thin for fingerstyle playingimo and ime(one of your tonal problems you mentioned).
     
  9. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    NY
    I almost never use the filters on my LMII, but I don't really boost anything on the eq either. I usually cut the high mids a touch due to the strong high mids on my Berg AE cabs, but that is about it. Speaking of the berg cabs, their tighter, punchier bottom is the reason I kept them and sold the epifani cabs.
     
  10. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    NY
    I can't say I'm really comfortable changing things up on my MTD. The finger style tone is so good that I feel I'd be making a mistake fooling with it. My Nordy has exposed pole big splits in it. I know they aren't dual coils like you said, but they are pretty good. I've actually been thinking about stringing that bass up with DR Sunbeams. I'm usually not a nickel guy, but it can't hurt to try them.
     
  11. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Best response I've ever read here.....thank you. It deserves to be posted onto another page.

    Also, I read every response waiting to read one thing and it never came.......get a teacher, and not just any teacher but the best damn teacher/player that you can find in a reasonable distance. Along with playing as much as possible, nothing can be more beneficial than a great teacher, and keep in mind a great player doesn't always make a great teacher so don't just rely on their playing ability. Having someone there to challenge you, to fill in all of your holes and to encourage you will not only make you a better musician, but it will stop you from thinking about any of the bull**it that just isn't necessary, such as changing up your gear every few months or worrying about your tone. I personally obsessed about bass gear for far too many years and am making up for it now. I come on here to find out about different effects at this point, or to sell things that I'm not using, but I've been lucky enough to have put myself in enough challenging musical situations with musicians that are better than I am to find out that obsessing about gear doesn't make me a better player. Practicing does, and it also improves my sound as well.....now to get some sleep so I can wake up early to put my money where my mouth is and practice. Good luck Tony!

    ......oh yeah, something that has concretely helped me is to practice with an amp that I don't use live. It's simply a dedicated practice amp. I'm forced to get different tones with just the bass because it's not necessarily the amp that gets me the sound that I'm looking for, and I also don't obsess about the amp because I know it's not what I'll be using on a gig....something to think about.
     
  12. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA

    Great post Andy...and I totally agree. I have been playing bass for almost 30 years and still take lessons from time to time to shake up my ideas of what my role as a bass player can be.

    Most recently I have studied with Rufus Philpot who is not only a monster player but an excellent teacher. He forced me to refocus on some fundamentals and change a few minor things in right and left hand technique that opened up my playing.

    I'll be picking up a lesson or two later this month with Rick Fierabracci - another monster player. I think getting more input from different players with different styles can really break us out of our comfort zones and allow us to see the instrument differently.

    Again, good luck!
     
  13. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I completely agree, but I would add that it's crucial to not jump from teacher to teacher as a regular practice. Sticking with one teacher long term builds trust and a strong line of information. I've had a few lessons here and there with a bunch of great players over the years. I certainly gained a lot of different perspectives which I value but my growth was very little on a personal level. Staying with one teacher for a long time allows that person to cultivate all the best areas of you as an individual and also pushes you through any difficult concepts in a way that you feel safe. It's truly invaluable. It's also why it's so important to find the best teacher, someone who is a match stylistically, who is encouraging but pushes you beyond your perceived limits and who is also clear in their intentions with the material given. A friend of mine who is taking lessons with someone here in Boston who has over a two year waiting list explained to me that when he goes to his lessons it's like getting a prescription from his doctor....his teacher sees exactly where his personal trouble areas are and prescribes the medicine needed for each particular "ailment". A great teacher has a vision how to help each individual and their own personal needs.
     
  14. gkbass13

    gkbass13 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    Chicago
    tony....regarding the teacher situation, Mike dimin lives in the area and teaches once or twice a week at Parkway, he would probabaly also do private lessons. Amazing player and a really, really good teacher. He dosnt really post on here much anymore, but i see him around occasionally and i think i would definitely be a great idea for you to contact him.

    Even though i feel like your perceived problems are more in tone and than yourself as a lot of this thread seems to be saying...it would still eb a good idea to get ahold of him, especially as i remember you being interested in giving jazz a try.
     
  15. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    ....oh yeah......be sure to check out Rick's Ristola six string.




    ......and that's how needless gas starts. :D
     
  16. my background is classical guitar, so the way I approach tone on the electric bass is similar to the acoustic classical guitar.

    every classical guitar sounds different, and it's due to the way it's made, the woods used, etc. so I never think about trying to get "that tone" in my head, it's impossible because it's perfect and nothing is perfect in this world, much less a acoustic classical guitar that's made with so many varying parameters that affects the inherent sound.

    what I try to achieve is, do i want to play mellow now, or do I want a bright sound now? Relative to the original sound of the instrument. The keyword is "relative", because I still want that particular instrument to sound like that particular instrument.

    for mellow I pluck close to neck, and use more flesh than nails.

    for bright i pluck close to the bridge and use more nail than flesh.

    for anything in between i just adjust my plucking accordingly.

    So this is how I approach playing the bass. My amp settings and EQ settings are mostly always flat. And I pluck according to the kind of tone I want to get.

    If i'm hearing hmmm this tone is too bright, ok I'll pluck closer to the neck and use more flesh than nail. I adjust my playing until I can get a mellow tone, for example, if I want a mellow tone.

    I don't EQ too much, and I let the characteristic sound of the instrument come through.
     
  17. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Another great post.....I had a roomate in college for a short time that played classical guitar (from morning till night...that's when I learned what could happen with true dedication). I learned a great deal from him including what you're talking about it. We never talked about it but I got it from watching and listening....although we did talk about how Christopher Parkening could play as fast as he could, being very close to the bridge. I always though that he sacrificed tone for speed but I got it.

    I think you also bring up a good point, as did the first responder to Tony's question, that it's good to get out of the mind of our own instrument and look at others. I had a similar conversation with Skuli Sverrison recently and it really opened up my mind. He had said to look at all the other instruments in the guitar family to see what techniques that they use and how they get different sounds....from the flamenco guitar to various Indian and African stringed instruments. It can change the way that you approach your own instrument as well as how you think about playing.

    How this ties in is that with all of these other musical trains of thought you'll begin to enjoy the discovery of your instrument instead of obsessing about the unnecessary. Don't look for tone in different instruments and amps. Look for the small, every day discoveries and improve your craft and the inevitability of better tone will come to you.
     
  18. Human Bass

    Human Bass

    Aug 26, 2005
    Im not satisfied with mine cause im not John Paul Jones :p
     
  19. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73

    May 5, 2008
    Maybe there's many factors in there. Buying gear that is tried out in the store which sounds great there, but sounds different (or less good) in context of higher volumes and being part of a mix of many instruments/sounds in a band/ensemble performance/practice.

    The ideal tones in your head may have changed and may continue to change over the years. You simply may have not found the right instrument/amp combinations, and with all the possible combinations out there of basses and amps, this could be possible.

    I think what we're talking about here is tone, and that is one component of your "sound." Sound, being a combination of tones of the amp and bass (and to some degree your own fingers), combined with your technique and note choices. IMO, of course...

    It is hard to have one bass that does it all, if you are interested in a wide variety of music and sounds. The wider the scope, the more difficult it is. I'd love a bass that gives an upright bass tone and note bloom, but also gives a Stingray slap, but I don't think that's possible.

    I resign myself to the fact or impression (or whatever) that one bass is not going to cover all the sounds I would like to have in one gig, even though I'm happy and confident in the knowledge that I can play most any gig with just one bass. So I bring a couple basses. If I play only one the whole night, it's cool. If I have the opportunity to change/switch basses, then that's cool too. It's just icing on the cake.

    Good luck with it.
     
  20. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    I can agree...to a point. I believe that we need to continually challenge ourselves to grow. We may not always be afforded the opportunity to truly grow with only one outside source of instruction or guidance.

    To me it's like listening to the same music over and over again. You really begin to understand the nuances and can delve deeper into the information that's in front of you but you can get complacent. To me, variety fosters growth.
     

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