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Old 06-22-2013, 11:28 AM   #1
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Bass amp settings for live/rehearsals

Hi UGers, for the past month my band, which plays mainly metal, has started rehearsing in a proper rehearsal room with stacks, drum kit and a PA for vocals. The band has 2 guitars which may be a factor. My problem is that no matter what i fiddle about with, I cannot seem to get my bass to cut through. I can feel the basslines on the low B through the floor but when I do fills or a short solo on the other strings it gets completely lost. And i'd rather get this sorted sooner than later.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks in advance

My rig is an Ibanez SR505 with active pickups straight into a Trace Elliot 1215 600W Combo.
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Old 06-22-2013, 12:25 PM   #2
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turn the guitars down a bit. if you just keep adding volume you'll just make a loud mushy heap of awfulness. i like to stand as far away from my amp as is practical too.
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:31 PM   #3
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Thanks, i should of though of that before lol
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Old 06-22-2013, 02:02 PM   #4
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Seriously, professional musicians must protect their hearing. All of you should only be playing loud enough so that you can hear the vocals clearly (I mean every word). The vocals are limited by the gain before feedback of the PA and should give you a reasonable level to work with. You should always use professional musicians ear plugs for loud rehearsals and on stage.


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Old 06-22-2013, 02:12 PM   #5
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Also, make sure to have enough of highs on the bass. Otherwise those fills just becomes a muddy mess and you won't hear them even without the guitars.
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Old 06-22-2013, 02:17 PM   #6
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Get the drummer to play more quietly then lower the guitars down to that volume
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:04 PM   #7
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high-mids are gonna be your best friends

it's also that you're competing with their frequencies. when you're playing up an octave, and they're playing on their lowest strings, you're playing the same notes - it's gonna be hard to cut through, naturally. that's why most of the time bass fills in metal are done while the guitarists are playing wide, open chords, leads high on the fretboard, or in a short break of silence
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Old 06-22-2013, 06:44 PM   #8
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Boost the mids. High mids in particular are useful for note definition and cut if you're playing fills etc.
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Old 06-23-2013, 03:19 AM   #9
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To solve these problems you need to understand them. There are two classes of problem, the physics of sound and the psychology of musicians. Oh, and the first couple of posts are almost certainly right, you are probably playing too loud and damaging your hearing, do it enough and you won't be a musician, you'll be a deaf person.

The psychology problem is simple enough, ask any musician to set their ideal levels in the monitors and almost universally they set the sound so they are just a little louder than all the other musicians in the band put together. This is perfectly natural as to play well you need to hear the rest of the band to play with them but much more of your own sound to control what you are playing The trouble is that in a limited room you are all sharing and vibrating the same air. You can't have a special corner with just bass in it any more than you could have a swimming pool with a special pissing corner. Sharing you see.

The inevitable result is a volume war. You can't hear so you turn up, this means your guitarist can't hear and they turn up, so you can't hear and turn up again. the person with the loudest amp wins the contest but no-one wins a war. The only way to do it is to share and all play at the same volume. The quieter it is the easier you'll find it to pick out sounds and a trained ear will pick out sounds better than an unpracticed one. You do get used to picking yourself out of the mix.

The next problem to understand is the physics. Bass is really hard to hear, our ears are tuned to the human voice and we hear mid-range sounds as being louder than really deep or high sounds. If you google Fletcher Munson you'll see the equal loudness curves for the whole frequency range and you'll see that we hear low E at least 10dB down from the midrange. This means you need 10X the amplifier power to make the same noise level, Low B is almost inaudible! If you play down there a lot you really are going to feel it more than hear it. Fortunately real bass notes have lots of other harmonic tones in them and so that is what you are actually hearing when you think you hear low E or whatever. This is why boosting the mids is so important in hearing your playing.

The second problem of physics is that speakers are directional. They propagate sound in a narrow cone until it hits a hard surface and is reflected and bounces around the room. Think of them as being like a torch beam, much brighter and more focussed if you stand in the beam. Confusingly the beam gets narrower at higher frequencies (it's to do with the wavelength of sound and the width of the speaker) so it is worse for guitarists. They stand close to their amps with the speaker pointing at their knees which means they are out of their own beam of sound and can't hear. Across the other side of the room where the beam has opened out you are in the full spotlight of their sound and it blinds you to your own speaker which is probably pointing at your own knees, but blinding them. The solution is to point the speaker at the ears of the person who most needs it. Get tilt back speaker stands or raise the speakers to your ear level. That's why stacks sound so good, the speakers, some of them at least, are at ear level.

The only way you can solve this is to work together, not a bad thing for a band anyway. Tilt the cabs back, add a bit of judicious mids and get some skill at picking your own sound out of the mush. You all need to stop pissing into each others space.
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Old 06-23-2013, 11:59 AM   #10
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I have another question along the same lines. I have read on various websites that professional bass players use their parametric EQ settings on their amp to adjust their sound to the room/venue they are playing in. The general concept as far as I understand it is that depending on the shape, size, building materials, etc. of a room, there may be certain frequencies that deaden or reverberate funny.

However, I have never been able to find anything on how you actually learn how to do this quickly and efficiently during a sound check. I assume that a lot of it is a matter of ear training, but I was wondering if anyone has any tips to help me out. For example, are there any frequencies that tend to be effected by a narrow room or whether the stage is fairly solid or hollow underneath.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 06-23-2013, 01:07 PM   #11
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Have the guitarists turn their bass down a little, metal guitarists love cranking the treble and bass up for a big thick sound, but that then competes with the bass guitar. Boost your mids, add some treble, reduce bass 50hz and below if you have a graphic eq. This will help give your bass a more even sound so there won't be as big a difference when you leave the low B. You don't really need to add bass when playing that down tuned as it will just become a mush of undefinable bass.
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:45 AM   #12
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that's pretty much how I use the graphic on my amp. It's almost impossible to give instructions for each room because there are so many possible variables, you are stuck with your ears unless you can afford an expensive Real Time Analyser (RTA) usually used on the PA rather than an instrument stack.

Get a long lead and or a female jack/jack connector to join two leads, get as far away from your stack as you can so you hear what the audience will hear, the sound close up is quite different. Most of the mush in your sound is reverberent bass and I inevitably end up cutting the lowest frequency on the graphic as the post above says. I often end up boosting the next frequency centred around 100Hz (yours may be centred on a different frequency) to give the illusion of bass. then I look at the top end. Personally I try to leave the middle and balance to that, if you change everything at once you soon lose track of what you have done.

In the end you have to trust your ears. Just try sliding each frequency up halfway and returning it to centre listening to the changes and you'll soon get a feel for what each does.

After each adjustment try turning the eq off to check that what you have is an improvement.

Good luck.
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