Wild mood swings?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by bassteban, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. Not the album by The Cure- and not full-on bi-polar disorder. I'd like to hear from players that have totally reversed their position on things like tube vs SS, 4 vs 5,6,7+strings, active vs passive,etc. For example, I bought a D-180 from natrab(insert excellent feedback here), & though I haven't used it live yet, I'm wondering if I'd rather go super-clean not-a-tube-for-miles tone, which would seem more or less the opposite of the Mesa.
    Have you ever changed your mind?
  2. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    When I first started playing bass, Chris Squire was it. I played a Rick with a pick. For years I wanted that kinda tone. Or just more bright really. Used EMG's for years, and played a Stingray for about 7. I was into all kinds of preamps and whatnot. Now almost all my basses are passive. My main bass has Aero J's with a simple passive circuit.

    (Rant coming):bag:

    Especially recording, I really dislike the sound most guys get taking an active bass (insert whatever brand you like here) and going straight from a DI to the board. No EQ, nuthin' man! Or better yet, staright to hard disk!:rolleyes: Yeah, it's the pure tone man; the acoustic sound of the instrument only louder...totally clean! Yay...

    Why oh why do bass players seem to be the only people like this? Guitarists don't do this. Keyboardists always want a Leslie, or a real rhodes for the "character" they have. A guitar player doesn't show up to a session with just a guitar and plug straight into the board for that "pure tone man; the acoustic sound of the instrument only louder". Why? Because that sound is about as exciting as watching paint dry...there, I said it.

    You want the (pure tone man; the acoustic sound of the instrument only louder)? Stick a mic near you bass guitar; there ya go. I hear so many jazz/funk/fusion type recordings these days where the bassist has the most uninspring tone I could imagine. All clack and click, no warmth, no balls, no character...no thanks!

    A friend of mine who was a trombonist but also a decent bass player once picked up a bass I had at the time (in my EMG days) and gave me a line I never forgot. "Man, I think all active pickups do is amplify fret buzz". Gotta say; gross oversimplification but some truth in that.

    I know there's a lot out there who vehemently disagree and that's cool; whatever floats your boat. It's just that....ARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!

    I'm sorry, what was the question again...?
  3. ...I still like your piccolo.
  4. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I actually laughed out loud with that one!

    Thanks. :D
  5. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Huh, never really thought about it like that. (BING!! -sound of light-bulb lighting-) I guess it's an ego thing, like finding the right bass with the best tone by itself so you can brag about it. Hmmmm, something to think about. Funny post though...when I come up with a theory I'll reply again...

  6. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    OK, I'm calmer now....but not much.

    DISCLAIMER: The following is my opinion. Please resist the urge to tell me how wrong I am or to point out how I'd feel differenty if I just heard hot bass player X.
    I think part of the problem is that bass players...lemme clarify...electric bass players wanna treat their instrument like it's an acoustic instrument (like an upright) and that the electronics serve merely to amplify this inherent acoustic sound. Uh huh.

    It's an electric bass folks. The signal starts out as an acoustic signal, sure but so does an electric guitar. Instead of bemoaning our guitar playing brethren, I try to learn from them. Any guitarist worth squat knows of one basic concept (are you ready? here it comes):

    Rhythm tone and lead tone.

    WOW...what a concept!! :rolleyes: Why would any musician have such an idea? Because when you are playing different roles, you use different tones (with electric instruments, obviously). If a guitarist is comping (rhythm), he will (hopefully, if he's a good musician) use a tone that blends with the ensemble and is part of the unified whole.

    When he starts blowin' (soloing), he will probably add some distortion, some verb, maybe a little chorus, this that and the other. Hmmmm....why? Because his role has changed at that point. His role is not to blend in at that point but to stand out; exactly the opposite. So you want a sound that is dramatic, exciting, intense and that draws attention to itself.

    (I am speaking largely of the rock/pop genre. True, in jazz and other genres a soloist might use more-or-less exactly the same tone for both roles, (somone like my hero Pat Metheny). But even then, his tone will probably inlcude some alteration like reverb and whatnot to add to the character.) Yet so many "bass" albums, by guys I really admire and some I know personally have this idea that when they step up to the plate, it'll be the sound of an electric fretted bass straight into a DI...yawn.

    The bass is a great instrument in the mix and in the hands of a skilled player can make a huge contribution to the music. When it comes to soloing, it needs a little help. To me, when that moment comes, I think what would a guitarist do? After all, it is a bass guitar. I think of different tones. Backing off the neck pup to make the sound cut more. Maybe a little FX for spice...whatever, but make it sound interesting, not pure. I want purity in the water I drink. I want excitement and drama in my music, otherwise, why would I even listen?

    One of my favorite CD's is U2's Achtung Baby. If you listen to Lanois' production on that disc, it's about as far from pure as you could get. Distortion is everywhere. Sounds are muffled and muted. It's all screwed-up. And it sounds awesome. So much character and personality. That CD ROCKS. I shudder to think what it would sound like with the pure unaltered tones of the instruments recorded.
  7. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I agree to a certain extent... the "direct", totally dry bass tone doesn't appeal to me all that much (most of the time. In some instances it works.) For my own needs, I want at least a hint of "miked amp twang" (whether from a real amp or a SansAmp) in my tone. You're right about guitar players; they always talk about a "Fender through a Twin" or a "Les Paul through a Marshall". In the bass world there's the tried and true "P-Bass through an Ampeg" sound, and I'm more in line with that school of thought than the "active bass through a DI" one. But I'm a rock guy after all. :D

    But getting back to the topic at hand, when I first started out, I wanted that really clangy Squire/Geddy sound, and indeed I ended up with a Rickenbacker that I have and use to this day... but nowadays I try to coax a different sound out of it, one with more lower mids and less harsh in the highs.
  8. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    I think a lot of bass players obsess about their "Dry" tone because thats all anyone gives us.

    Most of the engineers / FOH guys I deal with will screw with guitars for hours.....swap amps.....put up with static noise and buzz fron strat and tele pickups...and think it's all part of the job.

    Then I get handed a $20 passive POS DI box and I got about 90 seconds to get what I get and if there is one hint of noise in MY signal chain....everything above 1k gets pulled out on the spot.

    I would love it if just once a sound guy would kiss my tonal ass the way they do a guitar players
  9. metalguy2


    Dec 26, 2004
    I only like adding effects(like distortion) when my strings die. I feel as though when you start putting effects on a bass with new strings your covering up all the tonal goodness. But with chorus or reverb.... O man.. Thats the good stuff.
  10. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    tough week, buddy?
    kidding aside, i used to be all about adding things: chorus, etc. now i like it dry, but...
    i'm always tweaking to find the right sound for the moment. i got actives, and it's hard to find 'the sound' for me. i can't go spend money on a bajillion basses to fit each song, so i gotta just dance with what i'm with.
    (i also admit i'm never, ever satisfied, and too ignant to know why.)
    saying that, last night, at a blues jam i occasionally go to, the 'host bass' player has a ric that makes me drooool.
    i've never liked rics; played one that sounded like crap once. this one, though...sounded like what ric players must love, so i'm gonna have to try one agin.

    +1. i've been in the studio before...only a few times, but, dayum... :rollno:
    studio twinks treat bass like a redheaded stepchild.
    i would love to do the miked amp thing, so i can play the tone i dial in instead of having to deal with DI, but that seems to be too difficult a concept for engineers to wrap their pointy little heads around.
    i'm sure there are myriad good reasons they do this, but...i'm not buying it. if the drums can take days to get right, and the geet playing babycryer can play through an amp, why can't the bass even get time to tune?
    my god, when i did tuba on one cut, they damned well took the time to figure out how to mike it. why not bass?

    sorry, folks...got a bit hot there...
  11. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Every week is tough playing behind a lame Elvis wanna-be...but I digress. ;)

    daofktr...to an extent I've found the solution in the V-Bass. A virtually unlimted sound palette, especially when combining with onboard pups. Very cool. I can dig it about the money tho...I've spent way too much building different basses searching for "the" sound. I'm pretty happy with my current J5 with Aero's tho.
  12. Bassred


    Jun 9, 2005
    I am a bit confused about this thread, or some of the posts on it. I have pretty much been an active bass guy since the get go (my very first P-bass copy was passive) there is just something about flexibilty that you don't get with a 'Tone' control. Look at it this way: Even portable CD players have more than one tonal adjustment now-adays. Sure, my first 5 string was also passive, and it did great, I had to make adjustments on the EQ of my amp for certain changes, no big whoop... Now, I twist a knob this way or that way just a little and we are ready to switch from 'tight and pingy' punk stuff to 'full and rolling' slow song. I am completely in the school of 'whatever works for you' and understand that these posts are your opinion, I don't think that it should take up so much space, though, stick with the 'whatever' posts and look for a tone thread to argue your point on. As far as going straight to the board, ugh, I like to have a bass amp in line, even if it means running through the amp and pluggin in a cable to the headphone jack to kill the speaker, something about that buffer I just love. Argued many times with studio jocks who were concerned with isolation, and refused to understand that 'No sound will be coming from my speaker'. anywho. ROCK ON, HOWEVER YOU LIKE TO ROCK! :hyper:
  13. -if the thread gets hijacked, I mean. I had started it after getting a Mesa/Boogie D-180 & a couple of cheap 1x15s(dreaming of a Bergie NV-215), then feeling like I might want to go full solid-state clean high-power tons-of-headroom instead. I've since decided to wait until after I gig w/the 180 to do anything. I guess I was interested in hearing from people who totally changed their stance or opinion on one thing or another- bands, styles, whatever. Thanks, Bassred for waking it up.
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    I prefer passive bass...and live I usually use the DI on my amp for amp color.

    Never had any complaints from anyone.
  15. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    For a while I thought that neck-thru basses were superior. End of story. How could a bolt-on, with a neck joint that can do nothing but rob energy from the system, be as good?

    Then at some point I realized

    - yes it sounds different
    - if you like it better, so be it
    - if you don't, so be it

  16. I did pretty much the same thing in reverse- meaning I used to prefer bolt-ons, now I like(& own)both. :)
  17. Sold my D-180, ordered a CXC-110 combo(against solicited advice :rolleyes: ). Mini-review sometime after the 27th.
  18. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    This is why I love playing with the guitarist that I am. He spends just as much time tweaking his effect patches as he does actually learning the songs. We try to cover songs as closely as possible to the original and having a similar tone is very important.

    I generally dislike the simple sound of a Marshall with a few stomp boxes. I like to hear the full tonal pallette.

    As far as active vs. passive - I like the higher output that comes with active pickups.
  19. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA

    I totally follow your rant.

    I'm a similar fight in my church for our main worship band.

    I play either my Lakland, or my Michael Kelly for worship... In both cases I run into hassles.

    BOTH of them have a pretty dry, dead "acoustic" tone. The AEB's pre-amp does an ok job of re-producing the tone, but with more high-end stuff, that I have to EQ out. The Lakland is typical split-coil bass sound.

    I prefer running my Lakland through my Ampeg, and adding in Chorus and reverb. It's ALWAYS a big fight because of the space I'm given. And don't get me started on monitoring... I tried to go in-ear because they ALWAYS tell me to turn down... Our band leader and soundguy give us 10 minutes for a sound check... NOT enough time to check myself and the drummer into an in-ear mix AND mix the band into a wedge mnix for the vocalists... It's not happy times...

    I'm getting a SansAmp to see if that will help resolve some of the issues... meh... I guess I'll just deal with not hearing myself, except through the vocal wedges that are 20 feet away with the drums, vocalists and piano in front of me...