i'm Andrew. i play bass in a hardcore/metalcore/powerviolence mashup.

we recently decided to go from C standard to drop B. in doing so, i really took a notice that my rig sounds incredibly muddy on the low end and insanely poppy on the high side. i am currently playing and gigging with this setup:

Fender (Mexi) J Bass
GHS bass Boomers
Hartke HA3500
Hartke VX410

my EQ is currently set at pretty normal on the sliders and as i mess with everything, i have noticed i don't really have a nice middle ground. it's either really harsh and punchy or realllllly muddy. i won't be able to purchase "better" gear for quite some time. is my issue with the strings/bass or can my head/cab simply not handle the sound.

i am going for a sludgier tone and will be picking up a distortion pedal soon. so i'd rather not adjust my sliders and knobs to produce a sludgy tone on the amp.

i hope i posted this in the appropriate section and listed enough info for some help! thanks guys.
// f l a t l i n e 6 1 4 . b a n d c a m p . c o m //
Last edited by andrew614 at Oct 3, 2013,
what gauge strings are you using? you might be on the limits of having a manageable c standard sound, but that slight drop to b might have gone beyond that point. might be a good chance to change strings anyway.
i also find that having a slight bias towards the bridge pickup helps with a muddy low end
just an aside, if and when you do get a distortion tone, look for something that has a blend knob. otherwise you'll probably lose all of the low end.
You have good gear thats not your problem.
Get thicker gauge strings, a lot of the punch and power comes from strings with sufficient tension, floppy strings have no presence.

Start with a flat EQ, back off the low end (30 - 64hz) a touch boost the high mids (500 - 1khz) a little. These are only subtle slider adjustments but will help. When you drop tune you produce more low end so you some times need to cut it a little so you sit in the mix well. You gear will be able to handle the tuning.
I'm assuming you already play with a pick.
When you get a distortion, depending which you get, as long as you don't go too crazy with it, it should help define your bass. It should complement your tone rather then be your tone. If that makes sense? depending on it too much can make you sound synthetic and you can loose definition and power.

Have a look at the Sansamp, MXR M80, these are quality pedals, very easy to get good tones from and are used be tons of artists. Standard gear for all rock, metal, core music, defiantly worth investing in. Or as a cheaper option, the Boss ODB-3, Ibanez PHatHed PD7, there are lots out there, go try as many as possible.
I'm playing this stuff with standard tuning on the bass (I've got both a 4 and a 5-string and the bottom string on the 5 is, of course, a B). It's certainly possible for you to get the equivalent of the bottom four strings of the 5 string for your 4 and then just tune UP the other three strings.

But you're the bass -- there's absolutely no reason for you to downtune to match the guitars.

For starters, the Hartke cab can't reproduce the fundamentals of those tones anyway. That's not a knock on the Hartke -- most of what we actually hear in that region is the pattern of harmonics that *indicate* that frequency.

The Hartke amp head, though, is trying to reproduce those tones and is sending a lot of power toward the cabinet, and that power is being wasted. As a result, what the cabinet *can* reproduce is being shortchanged. What you want to do is get a high pass filter (HPF) involved to eliminate everything below what the cabinet can actually reproduce. That's probably going to suggest a serious rolloff of anything below (at the very least) 35Hz. This may sound counter-intuitive, but stopping the head from trying to reproduce those tones will mean that you'll get more power to the tones it CAN reproduce, and that includes those "indicative" harmonics that tell the ear that you're intending a very low note. In short, you'll sound lower by eliminating some of the actual...uh...lower <G>.

This is just by way of saying exactly the same thing that JKing138 said in the previous message. You might consider a bit of a bump in the low mids. If your high end is sounding very harsh, you can back off what goes to the tweeter, though usually the tweeter is more responsible for "air" than for the high mids that may be giving you fits.

But here's the other piece of that. You don't really need to go that low. Your guitar players are fighting the same issues; they are generally using 4x12 cabinets that won't reproduce their low notes, either. A standard tune low E (E2) is around 82Hz. Most 4x12 cabinets have long since given up doing anything much below 100Hz, and 100W, while it sounds loud when you're playing mids, simply doesn't have the punch to produce low notes, too, if you're playing loud. Their amps are wasting power trying to produce those notes, so they're actually producing mud (and moreso if they're using lot of gain). You, on the other hand, have the opportunity to define, with great clarity, what they're intending on that end of things. You've got the strings, the scale, the pickups, the power and the cabinet to do what they can't. My suggestion is that you stay tuned standard with standard bass strings, cut a bit of the low end to give you even MORE power in the space in the mix in which you fit. Second piece of advice: *reduce* the gain, and cut the fuzz pedal on the bass back much more than you think you should when you're playing. All of that is produced by harmonics and over tones, and you lose a lot of definition in your end of things if it's overdone and you end up sitting in the downtuned guitars' spot in the mix. Overall mush coming out of the PA. Sonic Oatmeal. Find Your Spot In The Mix.

The thump should be coming from the kick. Get out of his way sonically, get a mike or a pad on the kick and run *that* through the PA to give you the gut-pounding crunch through the subs.
Also, i would add play nearer the bridge (with the strumming hand i mean) if you want more definition for your tone...
Quote by FatalGear41
When you break a bass string, that snapping sound is the sound of six dollars going down the crapper.

Sterling Ray 35
Hartke Ha3500 head - Gallien Krueger 212MBE cab
Tech 21 VT Bass
Zoom b2
Back in the late 90's i played in powerviolence/screamo/emoviolence/genrelablessoundsilly bands.

I actually never tuned below drop-D.

The tricky part, for me, was filling out my sound. Unfortunately, that required more gear. I usually went for the cheapest, rattiest, beat-to-hell amps and cabs i could find.

I ended up with a Kustom200 head into an Ampeg 2x15 and a Sunn Concert Bass into an Acoustic 6x10. I used a '95 Ibanez ATK300 bass into an old stereo Ibanez Chorus pedal, with one of the sides also going through an old green russian muff fuzz pedal.

It sounded absolutely bananas, and had no trouble being heard over a guitarist using a Peavy VTM120 and 2 4x12s.

If you want a big sound, you need more speakers pushing your sound. It sucks, but them's physics for you.

You CAN get your rig to work. It will just take some EQ finesse, and the other contributors here have given good advice.

Good luck!
"Punk Rock should mean freedom, liking and accepting anything that you like, as sloppy as you want, as long as it's good and has passion."