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You think the audience doesn't notice? Think again!

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by JimmyM, Dec 23, 2017.

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  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    EDIT: Sorry if posted in the wrong forum. Had no idea where to post it.

    Did a gig last night at an outdoor venue at The Villages in Fla (a big giant retirement community) that I play once a month, and we get a lot of regulars. I've been using my Hammersmith with a very dead set of Dunlop Super Bright Nickels there pretty much exclusively most of the year. Tonight I got a wild hair and brought out my modded 76 Precision with a newish set of the same strings instead. Both these basses have Geezer PJ's, and to me they sound about the same when the strings have comparable wear. Everything else was the same as usual...REDDI into the PA, same pedals I've been using all year set the same way and used in the same songs, same sound tech we usually have there and the same PA, which is a decent but not particularly great PA (a souped-up and somewhat customized Bose PA...one of the bigwigs of the Bose family lives at the Villages and has the ear of the family who owns the Villages).

    I probably had 20 people who are regulars at our gigs come up to me on break and ask me how come the Fender sounded so much edgier and aggressive than the Hammersmith. Only one of them plays an instrument, and while most were guys, plenty of women said the same thing.

    So if I ever hear any of you jokers try to claim that the audience doesn't know or care about your sound again, I will tell you that you're a very arrogant person who has zero respect for your audiences. Of course, I have been saying that for years, but now I've got proof. A big outdoor venue with about 3000 people there in various states of inebriation, and several non-musicians noticed that the strings on the Fender made it sound edgier.

    The lesson I learned is I need to change my strings more often :D The lesson YOU should learn is that if you think your audience is so stupid that they can't tell the difference in your sound no matter what you use, maybe they're not the stupid ones.

    Happy holidays, everyone!
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    To be fair, all that you've proved is that the audience in that specific locale notice changes in your tone.

    It may be something in the water.
  3. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Nice one Jimmy, and I have to agree, although I've always worked without proof on this one. Respect for one's audience is 101. It includes a presumption of a love of music on their part - after all, why else would they be there? And a presumption that a lot of people with any love of music also play to some level or other - after all that's probably what drove us to play so why not them? So they will see/hear us not caring about them, and when (not if) they do, why should they care about us?
    Seasons Greetings to all...
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  4. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    If I had a sample size of one event and claimed that was proof of anything I'd probably avoid calling skeptics arrogant. Different strokes for different folks.
  5. Props to the sound person if the audience can hear the difference.
  6. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Maybe your guitarist is trolling you and paid those 20 people $5 each to come ask or comment about your tone.

    I'm not saying you aren't right, I just think it's odd that anyone would want to talk to the bass player.
  7. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Jimmy, it definitely sounds like you did your homework, regarding the observations made in a somewhat controlled test environment... we all know how the introduction of certain variables can skew the results of our findings, making it difficult to alter our biased perception of phenomena, such as this...

    ... I think your conclusion can be verified with a wee bit more information...

    ... it is an accepted fact, within the scientific community, individuals wearing both socks and sandals, in a warm environment, will both amplify, and in most cases, will cause aural sensitivity within the control group, allowing them to differentiate between minute deviations, most notably the manufacturer of certain instruments and the exact name of the individual who wound the pickups...

    ... if you have to, Jimmy, lie... tell us the women were not wearing both socks... and sandals...
  8. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    If I can hear the difference, and I have concrete blocks for ears, why can't they?
  9. Gustaf Hagel

    Gustaf Hagel

    Aug 6, 2017
    I'm more impressed that 20 people knew that you had another bass than usual.
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It's not that the audience doesn't notice or care about tone, it's that they don't notice or care nearly to the same degree that some OCD bassists do. Same way some guitarists "need" four guitars for every gig, because some songs "need" a Telecaster, while another "needs" a Strat.

    Find a tone that fits the mix and stick with it.
    grrg63, CB3UK, Tom Magri and 7 others like this.
  11. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    I think you just proved that tone is in the wood. Mic. Drop.
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Half the audience never change the batteries in their Beltones and the other half thought you were their grandson.

    Glad that some people do hear a difference. I know for fact that some rock 'n rollers from bygone days have retired to Florida.

  13. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The Villages!!!! OMG!!! Don't get hit by a wayward golf cart while you're there.

    For those of you who have never been to FL and visited this place, it is beyond description.
  14. 10cc


    Oct 28, 2013
  15. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I agree, the audience can tell. If your tone is good and you hit the right notes the audience can tell. I have had people tell me, “I was watching you and you didn’t hit a single bad note.” I love that. Also, I think a good bass tone makes the whole band sound better. People pick up on it.
  16. FugaziBomb


    Jun 5, 2017
    Ugh. I played a show last night to a regular crowd but using a fretless for the first time and no one said a word. Some guys get all the luck ;)
  17. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I feel like I have been defending this point with Jimmy M since I joined Talkbass!

    Your audience isn’t going to know a bunch of detail and subtle nuances in your tone and style, but they’re not dumb. They know when they hear something they like or don’t like, and can certainly tell when you’re on point.

    I think every time we tell ourselves “the audience won’t notice” we take a little step towards short-changing the whole experience we’re trying to sell.
  18. tubedude


    Jan 19, 2015
    If it was your first time with a fretless, maybe they were being polite.
  19. RCH


    May 24, 2015
    Perhaps TB does need a new forum specifically for posts regarding the arrogance, stupidity and whatever of those that might not reach the exact same conclusions as the OP. That way, I could start ignoring it immediately.
  20. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    I pretty much strive for the same tone whatever gear I'm using, so have not had this experience. As mentioned above, people seem to notice when I am using a different bass, more than anything else, and they are usually other musicians.

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