Why do my basses sound so different?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pestopasta, Nov 28, 2022.

  1. pestopasta


    Nov 28, 2022
    I've got a Sire D5 with Tomastik Jazz flats. It's got a soft, smooth warm sound to it that I love.
    I bought a Sire P5 recently and haven't liked the sound of it so far. The sound is 'twangier' if that's a word. I put another set of the Tomastik flats on to get a better comparison with the D5 and it's still vastly different. I can clearly hear the difference even unplugged.
    I know basses will sound different but I'm trying to learn why. In this case these basses have the same necks, same wood in the body. Only the bridges are different - could that be the reason?
    InhumanResource and AlexanderB like this.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Different pickups, no?

    The single coil format in the D5 is believed to be thumpier, while the P5 split is more midrangey. Perhaps this is what Low End Lobster meant in his P5 review about the pickup not being as bassy as he likes? Not sure...
  3. pestopasta


    Nov 28, 2022
    I can hear the difference unplugged so it’s not the pickups or electronics
  4. pestopasta


    Nov 28, 2022
    Anyone want to buy a P5 haha
  5. CoughSyrup

    CoughSyrup Supporting Member

    Jun 23, 2022
    The D5 has brass saddles while I believe the P5 has steel.

    And yes, I want to buy your P5.
    JeezyMcNuggles likes this.
  6. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Hard to believe that'd make such a noticeable difference, but it's got to be something like that. Tone Woods or Tone Metals? hehe
  7. The magic and aggravation of wood is that it just varies. That you can hear this unplugged is the dead giveaway, even if they are made out of the same wood species.

    You could line up 10 consecutively serial number P5's and D5's and while they would sound similar, one or two would be stand outs, and maybe one or two would be dead as hell, relatively speaking, and the remainder would be good.

    You're also comparing a humbucking pickup (the split pickup) sampling a longer length of string than the little skinny single coil sampling a shorter length of string: They're going to sound different. The bridge might contribute a tiny bit of difference if you could isolate just that out of the overall tone, rarely makes as big a difference as most people think.

    Basses vary, and if you bought these two thinking they ought to be fairly close in tone, that just rarely happens. It may simply down to NOT using the same string set on these two, and pay attention to setup, especially in your pickup clearance.
  8. ClusterFlux


    Apr 11, 2018
    103 kg/m3
    That seems highly unlikely.

    The most obvious difference, as already noted, is the pickups. The D5 has a 50s style single-coil pickup. The P5 has a split-coil pickup that is a little closer to the bridge than the D5. Pickup height can also affect the tone of the bass. So can the location where you pluck or pick the string.

    I'd also add that, well, newer strings are brighter than used strings. I don't know how often you change your strings, but if you've had those flats on the D5 for a long time, then a bass with a brand new set of flats will sound brighter. It's not clear how long you've had the strings, how much you've played them, how long you've given the P5 etc.

    Plus, well... This is all assuming there really is a detectable difference, which is not as solid an assertion as you might think -- i.e. it can just be in your head. Your ears are not spectrum analyzers, and mere expectations ("this bass will sound different!") can easily influence assessments of subjective qualities such as timbre. Doing the standard "A/B" test in Madison Square Bedroom is also of limited value, since it's a methodology that tends to exaggerate any differences (especially if you are actively looking for differences), and isn't done in a blinded manner.

    So, I'd make sure the strings are worn in, the pickup heights are the same, and that any alleged differences between the two can't be wiped out just by tweaking an EQ knob....
    Marko 1, mcnach, OldShark and 3 others like this.
  9. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Aside from the pickups the newer set of strings are going be brighter. Also isn’t the P5 through body strung?
    MrClassicMetal likes this.
  10. They call it psychoacoustics because you'll go psycho trying to get it perfect ;)

    IMO - brand new strings vs some more used strings is probably most of it.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2022
    mcnach and MrClassicMetal like this.
  11. Eddie Jones

    Eddie Jones

    Sep 18, 2019
    Sylacauga AL
    New TI Flats sound zingy at first. If they are new, they should mellow a little
  12. JeffTCS

    JeffTCS Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2021
    Why have two different basses if you want them both to sound the same? Different basses sound different, that's kind of the point.
    ADHD librarian, bpc, Marko 1 and 9 others like this.
  13. red_rhino

    red_rhino Currently on Double Secret Probation Gold Supporting Member

    This. You can only generalize about the tone of any given wood type. There are too many variables, and too many overlapping qualities, to make definitive predictions or statements. (And no, I don’t care how many times people post YouTube videos of someone anchoring guitar strings between C clamps on a workbench and claiming that wood has no impact on tone.)
    bass12, TyBo, HolmeBass and 4 others like this.
  14. 2thAche


    Sep 22, 2018
    Link to the vid where the guy proves that tonal differences are all pickups and electronics?
    Artorious Rex likes this.
  15. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    That is not relevant because unlike your ears, pickups don’t pick up sound waves. The tonal difference between your two basses is mostly due to different pickups.
    ROOTSnFIFTHS, SunByrne and sotua like this.
  16. thewildest


    May 25, 2011
    Florida, USA
    It is a difficult case when two similar basses sound different to one person.

    The one mystery that has not been solved yet is why one bass sounds different to two different people.
  17. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    To any audience, there is no difference between the tone of your basses, or for that matter between your sound and mine.
    SakuBass, Jackcrow, Snert and 2 others like this.
  18. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    IamGroot likes this.
  19. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    What video did that? If you're talking about the video where the guy "proved" tonewood wasn't a thing by attaching strings to 2 WOOD benches, and saying, "it still sounds like a guitar", well..... to prove that the tonal differences are all in the pickups and electronics, you need to remove all the other variables, and I haven't seen anyone do a controlled experiment that does that.

    I'm a Scientist (My degree is in Acoustical Physics, so it's relevant here), and I hate it when people do an uncontrolled, unscientific test, and their confirmation bias makes them think they've proven their assertion.
    oaklandthumb, bass12, Marko 1 and 8 others like this.
  20. Gorilla Monsoon

    Gorilla Monsoon Magician...Can turn a car into a driveway... Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2022
    The Swamp
    I’ve kept a trash bag with a dozen sets of strings, easy, looking for the right sound. Never threw a set away except for the Tomastik Jazz flats. Hands down, the least consistent worst sounding most expensive set of strings I bought for years. $87 in the ‘90’s, for a set of four. Not one string sounded like another.