Bass Tones and Techniques 101 | Page 3 | The Canadian Guitar Forum

Bass Tones and Techniques 101

Discussion in 'Bass' started by Dorian2, Oct 30, 2019.

  1. Moosehead

    Moosehead

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    Jan 6, 2011
    Location:
    Niagara
    Love this, such a cool cat!

     
  2. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    I'll check them out too. Haven't found too many issues at Talk Bass. But I don't spend enough time there to really tell.

    EDIT: Just checked. Every link there is "unacceptable" when I try to click. Guess it's a nogo.
     
  3. laristotle

    laristotle Gold Member

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    Aug 29, 2019
    Location:
    acton
    add the www. into the address bar.
     
  4. Granny Gremlin

    Granny Gremlin Gold Member

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    Toronto - Riverside
    Maybe it got better but there used to be regular flame wars. There continues to be a lot of misinformation and pointless argument about it.
     
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  5. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Just checked again through a different link. All good. Not sure what happened there.
     
  6. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    So I have a question for the finger pickers, but people that use the pick are welcome to put in any insight with how you do this as well. For the last week I've been hacking away at Heaven and Hell with the Cheese Cutter special. Extra thick slices for all. I looked up Geezer Butlers rig to get a sense of the basics he's using for his sound. I wound up dialing in the Hartke setting until I found something reasonably close to my inexperienced Bass ears.

    As I'm listening to him play, and realizing of course it's a studio recording, I found I could get a bit closer to what I'm hearing by changing the angle of my picking hand tighter to the Bass body so the angle was quite narrow. So in essence lowering my right hand wrist angle so my fingers don't quite "pluck" as much. Pluck isn't the best word for how I was doing it as it but it's the best I can come up with right now.

    It would be nice to hear about some techniques used by some of you to achieve a sound, specific or not, either by using the tools you were born with or a pick. On guitar I'm contantly changing the pick angle and thickness for certain sounds so I'd like to get a sense of your approach to this probably often overlooked method.

    Thanks.
     
  7. laristotle

    laristotle Gold Member

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    Aug 29, 2019
    Location:
    acton
    By 'pluck', do you mean perpendicular or 90° to the strings?
    I lessen that angle, 45° ish, which, when striking the string, it sorta 'slaps' and gives a hint of Geezer spank.
    I don't cut my finger nails too short either. I leave just a bit so that it scrapes past on the stroke, getting a Geddy ish spank.
     
  8. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    I'm "plucking" at about a 45° at the moment, but found the tone closer when it was closer to 25° or 30°. It's a little tougher to play at speed that way at the moment but I'm working through it. pluck is probably a poor term to use because I find I'm kinda more "sliding" across the string. It's really F...ing hard to put into words properly. Later today I'll take either pics or video to show you what I mean. You probably already have a good idea now though. I wonder if there's a specific term for it.
     
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  9. _Azrael

    _Azrael

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Rock/metal fingerstyle players will sometimes push the strings down so they bounce off the fret and clank. It’s useful if you want the attack of a pick, but don’t want to use a pick.

    Alternatively, you can use a somewhat low action and just play aggressively. In this case you’re not pushing the strings into the fret, just hitting them hard enough they bounce off anyway.
     
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  10. Dorian2

    Dorian2

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    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Thanks. I'm fairly aggressive already, but for this specific tune it requires a bit less aggression and a slightly flatter angle of attack. It's actually pretty cool for me since I'm starting to listen more like a Bass player at this point than before really digging in like this. Which was a big part of the reason for me to make a thread or 2 here in the Bass section. Weren't you a guitarist at one point in a Maiden cover band? I'll apologise now if I have you mixed up with the person who gave me the heads up on a band a while ago.
     
  11. _Azrael

    _Azrael

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Location:
    Edmonton
    I’ve been a bass player since 2016 when a friend of mine needed a bassist for a project of his and couldn’t find anyone. Before that I was a guitarist and a highland drummer.

    I wouldn’t be the Maiden guy. I’m a bit young for them.
     
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  12. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Thanks Azrael. Never too young for Maiden though....just sayin. ;)

    SO I figured out while I was playing through H&H again that I wasn't actually so much changing the 45° angle of the picking hand. I was changing the angle of the first joint instead. Phone isn't cooperating for a pic so maybe a short video on it later.
     
  13. HighNoon

    HighNoon Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2016
    Location:
    Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia
    You're moving air. Can't see it, but you can feel it, hear it. First thing I do is stick my ear to the horn of the bass unplugged, and hear what vibrations are living in that wood. Then hold it against the chest and check that one. All the amps, effects, and what nots are tools of the trade. They are there to help you transmit what you are feeling inside....about the world, about your life. You're holding down the bottom, creating the glue that set's up the melodic tension in the music. Playing bass is spirit check, 24/7, and is a noble endeavor.
     
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  14. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Highnoon, I get and agree with that. I don't think your post is directed specifically at my last question, but I will say that how you play an instrument and techniques used can directly affect the way your transmission of feelings comes across to those listening. Thanks for noting the same technique of listening to the Bass as I do with guitars of the 6 string variety. Right now, like I mentioned earlier, I'm approaching Bass as a brand new player on certain things. Just to pick the Bass players brains on method and madness. But you've encapsulated the essence in a very good, if not a little "high and mighty" way. ;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
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  15. _Azrael

    _Azrael

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Well... this post ended up way longer than I thought, but once the words started rolling....

    When I first started playing bass I had no idea what it was supposed to sound like. My first bass was a Godin P/J style bass that I occasionally used for recording, and I ran it through a plugin called American Bass that I thought sounded sweet.

    When I got picked up to play bass in an originals band I started thinking I wanted a better bass. Because I hate Strats I played every bass in town that wasn’t a Fender and nothing was really jumping out at me. Active basses in particular were problematic because I didn’t know what the bass was supposed to sound like and all the extra EQ just made the problem worse.

    Eventually, I picked up a Fender bass and my mind said, “So, that’s what makes that sound”. I did some more research, went to the store to buy a P bass, then left with a Jazz because I thought the Jazz looked cooler (Olympic white with red tort guard).

    I had problems with the Jazz at first because I didn’t like the scooped out of phase to I got with both pickups full up. I almost exclusively soloed the neck pickup because it was closest to what I was used to hearing with the Godin bass. Then, one day at rehearsal I accidentally had both pickups up full when the band kicked off and the sound was killer. I cut through and could hear everything I was doing and the rest of the band somehow seemed clearer. That was a learning moment for me as a bass player... as a former guitarist I kept dialling in too much midrange. It was causing volume wars with the guitar players and complaints that I was too loud, yet I had trouble hearing myself. Once I started to embrace a more scooped sound I sat in the mix better, could hear myself better, the band sounded better, and the volume levels dropped.

    Now, months have passed and the band I’m in has started travelling out of town for gigs, and as a budding bassist I felt I should own a Precision to go along with my Jazz. So, I do my research, went to the store to buy a P, and left with a Jazz again. This time I had a better understanding of what a Jazz should sound like and I found one that sounded like a 10 ton hammer. This was my first experience with modern vs vintage style Fender sound, and I feel that I’ve played enough Fenders to say that modern (Am Standard/Professional) is about clarity and articulation while vintage (Roadworn/AVRI/Am Original) is about wool. It’s a thicker, woolier sound that produces more density in the mix but comes at the cost of clarity. I currently own 4 basses, of which my Roadworn Jazz is by far the cheapest, and it’s by far my best sounding bass.

    Fast forward a year or two and now I’m playing with a different band. They were going for an R&B/Neo-Soul kind of thing. I started researching old school tone, so I bought a P bass and put flatwound strings it. Problem is, even though I’ve been playing a Jazz I didn’t know what a good P bass should sound like. I picked up an American Professional because I didn’t know what to get and it seemed like a good starting point (that it was Olympic white may have also been a factor).

    And, like before it turns out that as I played the P bass more and got a better ear for the sound I started to clue in that it was a little light on the low midrange. My Jazz bass kept swamping it in the mix. This is where I finally connected the dots about modern vs vintage Fender tone. So, I went to the store to buy a Roadworn Precision, which turned out to be difficult because they’re popular, almost everyone was sold out, and the only one I could find sounded like garbage. I even had them put new strings on and give it a setup because I didn’t believe it sounded that bad and the strings must’ve been corroded... but it did.

    I wound up running the racks and the bass that spoke to me was an American Original P bass. I even left the store and came back later in an attempt to make sure I wasn’t listening with my eyes (this bass was also Olympic white with a red tort guard), but it was clearly the best sounding bass. I put money down on it and went back to get it when I had more money.

    Lastly, I no longer had a use for my Am Standard Jazz I mentioned up near the beginning. After my various experiences I wanted to trade it for an American Original Jazz or a 5 string Jazz, but I couldn’t find one to demo. What I wound up finding is a Suhr Classic J (oddly enough, in Olympic white with red tort) that’d been hanging on a hook for a couple years that sat nicely between the Roadworn MIM and the Am Standard. It wasn’t quite as thick and wooly as the MIM, and it wasn’t quite as clear and articulate at the Am Std. It was a nice middle ground and gets a lot of use because of it.

    All that said, while I have a clear preference for a thicker, woolier bass tone that tone doesn’t always work well with different bands. Sometimes what I’m left with after all the other instruments slot themselves in sounds like mud and a brighter, clearer bass works better. Other times the guitarists have a brighter, thinner sound and a little bit of wool is what the band needs. Some bands sound better when I use a P, others sound better when I use a J.

    P.S. - I occasionally want a Stingray, but I still have no idea how they’re supposed to sound and sit in the mix, which still makes judging them in a store difficult. Moral: the process of listening and learning apparently never ends.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
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