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Your bass tone ... you're equipment or your technique?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by 88persuader, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. 88persuader


    Aug 5, 2007
    I've commented on a few different threads that had to do with using a signature bass to try to capture someone elses tone. My feeling is although the bass plays a role in the tone there are so many other factors involved in trying to capture someone elses tone that simply buying one of their Signature basses doesn't mean you'll have success. So many other factors play into it. The bass amp used, the preamp used if any, the effects used if any, the EQ settings of the preamp, the amp and the bass. And IMO the most important part of a players tone is the players personal playing technique and the SOUND IN THEIR HEAD. Do they use a pick ... if so what kind and what thickness is the pick? Is it plastic or metal? Do they play near the neck or the bridge? Do they use their fingers? How about their finger nails ... do they use them like picks? Are they trimmed short or long? Do they slap or pop? What brand and thickness of strings do they use? Do they REALLY use what they endorse?

    I must have owned 60 basses so far, everything from cheap Fenders to VERY expensive Alembics but I always sound like ME. My attack, my approach, my choice in strings, my TECHNIQUE. PLUS I'm always trying to find that SOUND IN MY HEAD and that sound in my head is always the goal regardless of the equipment I use to get it.

    Case in point ... Mark King (from Level 42) has endorsed many different brands of basses From Fender to Status to Alembic and has recorded with all of them. Regardless what bass he uses he ALWAYS has THAT Mark king sound. Geddy Lee use to play Rics's now he plays a Fender Jazz bass but he always gets that Geddy Lee sound.

    Soooooo I think made my point, I believe trying to get someone elses sound takes much more then using their signature bass and even takes more then using (If you could figure it out) their EXACT setup from start to finish, it also takes being able to COPY their technique and that's usually a lot harder then copying their equipment! ... What do you people think? :cool:
  2. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    I think it is technique first then the instrument and the bass rig.

    I know I sound better now through my Ampeg head, SansAmp RBI, BBE Sonic Maximizer, Ampeg cabs and Fender/EBMM/Lakland basses than I did when I had a Carvin combo and a Charvel Bass. But.... I'm sure Vic Wooten would make my old rig sound like the best ever made!:bassist:

    To really understand how much technique and pure skill can make an artist/recording timeless is to listen to Robert Johnson. Scratchy, poorly recorded 1920's solo acoustic 6 string delta blues that is just breathtaking to listen to.

    This guy had brutal equipment and terrible recording gear but the results are incredible.
  3. Thunderwood


    Mar 20, 2007
    Delafield, WI
    Why can't it be both?

    The strings and pickups in a bass can change the tone. (I won't get into the woods/bridge discussion)
    But so can your touch.
    So can your amplifier,
    your gauge pick,
    your fingers,
    the position you move your fingers from bridge to neck

    There is all sorts of things that can change the way you sound. If someone is going to cop someone else's tone or play the way they play. With hard work they will succeed for the most part, but they don't have said person's mind so they can't react the same way as a professional player like Mark King or Geddy would.
  4. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
  5. I've found technique and a good palete of techniques to alter the tone much more than any gear you could have... Of course, having good gear, that support your desired tone, it's always something good.
  6. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    stylistically i kind of always sound the same, but when i sold my SVT (too heavy) and went solid state my tone took a SERIOUS plunge.
  7. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I sound mostly the same no matter what I play... or play through.

    All the pieces flavor it slightly... but I'm always me.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    90% technique. I've been a bit of a bass whore lately, trotting out my collection one at a time, and while my different basses all have different sounds, it still sounds like it's me playing them, and they all sound pretty similar because of it. That's not to say my Beatle bass sounds just like my Precision, but the technique of the player always comes through over the type of equipment.
  9. vroc38


    Jan 5, 2006
    Big +1.
  10. 88persuader


    Aug 5, 2007
    I guess this is exactly my point James.
  11. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I've read of a pro bassist that got to play a while though John Entwistle's rig... he commented on not sounding anything like the man.

    Another had mentioned playing Tony Levin's main 5 string... and it was set up badly and not nice to play.

    I would own a Tony Franklin or Duck Dunn sig. Not to sound like them, but because an unlined fretless PJ and/or block inlayed CAR P bass are basses I dig.

    Besides, the Tony Franklin stuf I dig, he played Musicman or JayDee stuff :)
  12. nastyn8c


    Feb 7, 2005
    Tampa, FL
    I think it's about 50/50 until you get away from crappy gear. Once you get into gear that sounds at least pretty good, you'll find that your tone has more and more to do with your technique. IMO, the less it colors your sound, the better the gear. Therefore, once you're just comparing high end gear, it's all in the technique.
  13. IngerAlb


    May 11, 2007
    Both count, but like others said, your personal touch makes all the difference.
  14. Thunderwood


    Mar 20, 2007
    Delafield, WI
    I have a technique I use that is rather uncomfortable with my current jazz bass. But a bass with a smooth humbucker or soapbar covering, gives my fingers some ease.

    I can still use my technique it's just bit too uncomfortable with a number of basses.
  15. 88persuader


    Aug 5, 2007
    Interesting point! I haven't had to play low end gear for 20 years so I don't really have a point of reference about this ... but it sounds like it makes sense.
  16. sully


    Aug 14, 2006
    For Tony it may have been set up fine :)

    To answer the original question...equipment vs technique? Technique wins every time. If you take a great bass player and gave them inexpensive equipment they would still sound great.
  17. I have noticed the that the MY sound always comes through regardless of equipment. I came to this realization a while back and posted a similar thread. It is an inspiring realization! :bassist:
  18. All I know is that I'm not equipment.
  19. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    My tone is a combination of a lot of things. My technique is a part of it; my EQ preferences are a part of it, too. The preamp also plays an important part (on the bass, I mean). I generally like the sound of my bass direct, and I avoid shaping the tone once it leaves the bass, except to adjust for the room or mix.

    I think the biggest effect on my tone, though, is the action. I play with *very* low action, and a light touch (classical guitar technique a la Christopher Parkening method). I guess you could say that is technique.

    I can sound like "me" on a Stingray, Modulus Quantum, MTD, Alembic... I have a harder time sounding like "me" on Fenders. That's just not my sound.

    Why do we spend so much time talking about tone? Not that tone isn't important, but in the big picture, the only people that care about bass tone are bassists ;) To paraphrase Marcus Miller, figure out your gear, but do it quickly, and then don't worry about it. The audience cares a lot more - and notices & remembers - passion, locking in, and connecting with the audience a lot more than they care about tone.

    - Dave
  20. +1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

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