Hey Guys,

I'm looking for some help with the current tone issues my band is having:

Mine and my bassist's tones clash, a lot!

We're a three-piece Garage Rock/Blues band and our music is quite riff-based, with a large portion of the guitar playing being distorted using various effects (circa Black Rebel Motorcycle Club / Band of Skulls / The Dead Weather).

We've taken on a new drummer who is absolutely fabulous, however our bass player is quite rudimentary in terms of his playing (not a criticism), and his knowledge of amps, EQ, FX etc.

In rehearsal rooms and live (particularly in rehearsal room) it becomes increasingly difficult to hear both instruments in the mix, it becomes a kind of 'low-end mush'.

Now my guitar is reasonably thick sounding, but there are a lot of different chord voicings and solos/riffs to try and break up the usual 'stick to power chords' method of beefing up the sound, and it is by no means 'too' thick, it has a lot of bite.

Often the tone my bass player comes out with is SO deep and thick, it's hard to distinguish the notes, we just get a loud, ear-rattling 'hummmm' on every note played.

When I say to him 'there's a lot of low end on that, it's tough to hear your notes, man', I often get the response of 'It's a BASS, it's SUPPOSED to be bassy' - or 'Well, I think the treble is up pretty high on the amp, so what am I supposed to do?'

Now, I'm a super polite guy so I never want to get into tone arguments in a rehearsal room, especially if we're paying for the time!

I'm not an arrogant guitar player either, I'm open to changing my tone (if that's what's needed) as long as it doesn't come out sounding nasty, I just want what's best for the band's sound in general!

Any advice or help out there? From Guitar players and bassists alike?

Mine and his rigs are below, also if you need to listen to get a frame of reference, I don't think I can paste links in here, but you can Google 'The Twisted Dolls - War Child' & 'The Twisted Dolls - King of the Blues' for a couple of past tunes which showcase the tones I'm referring to.

Guitar Rig:

Gibson 335 - - Boss TU-3 > CryBaby Wah > Bad Monkey > MXR Badass 78 > Little Big Muff > Analogue Delay > Tremolo > Reverb - - Vox AC30

( I usually use either the Bad Monkey, MXR 78 or Little BM on any one song for distortion)

Bass Rig:

Epiphone Jack Casady - Trace Elliot 715 (amp the rehearsal space provides)

Many Thanks for your help!

I would probably suggest that it is actually your fault. If the sound is becoming all low end and details are getting lost then it's almost certainly because you're invading his frequencies more than he is yours. It could also be because there's too much bass in his tone as well.

Basic advice would be to cut a lot of the bass in your tone and trim down the treble a little on his. Keep in mind where you're both supposed to be in the frequency range and EQ accordingly if you're both playing parts that are quite large in terms of harmonic content.

You might also want to consider getting him to cut some of the bass out of his sound, if it's up too high you will lose definition in what he's doing as well; flatten the EQ on the bass amp (you don't need to change much if the gear is decent). Taking a very quick look at the bass gear, it's probably actually very worth taking a little of the low-end off the bass tone, that amp only has a single 15" speaker so it's going to be EQ-ing more on the low-end anyway, accentuating the bass that's already present. It helps in a more diverse rig but on its own you need to correct for it a little in my opinion.

Taking a really quick listen to one of the tracks you posted, the guitar tone at least is very mid-heavy, so take that in to account as well, don't overdo it, play with one hand and turn the mids up on your amp until you get to a sound that you think is all right.

EQ-ing in a whole band situation is somewhere between science and art, and it's not easy. If you pay attention to where each part of the band should be in the frequency range you can get a better idea of what needs to change for everyone to be heard clearly, but it takes a bit of experience as well as knowing what to do in theory.
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Trying to think of something else to add, but Zaphod pretty much covered it.
Your bass player needs to roll off the low end just a bit. I played bass for years in a band, so believe me when I say he should probably dial his volume down, too. He seems awful loud in those clips. You guys aren't covering Primus. The bass shouldn't be quite that prominent.
As for your tone, you need to be running in the mids and higher. The middle frequency is for the guitars.
Maybe have someone adjust your EQ as you both play something familiar?
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Based on those clips I'd say the bass player could back off on the treble and even miss a little and maybe experiment with how much bass is in the tone to find the sweet spot. Even if his amp is set this way already, the tone knobs on the bass itself are not to be underestimated.

Also, with your rig, the MXR badass 78 might be contributing too if you're using it a lot. The rhythm guitarist in my band uses one, I'm not sure if yours is the red one but that's what he has. It took us a while to find the right tone with that one. We both noticed very quickly that it either seems to create a bassy mush or something that's too thin and trebly for rhythm guitar, and it was hard keeping the distortion high while maintaining note clarity. Our solution so far has been to keep the distortion knob low and always keep the crunch on. It still has a lot of bass that way but it's distinct enough from the bass guitar that it works. And my tone has more mids and treble and I'm using a different pedal so we fill out the sound that way.

I don't know what pickup you use on the Gibson 335 but maybe you could try lowering the bass on your amp and switching the pickup selector to the middle position.