This month’s article will be short but precise and straight to the point…
I will start this article by writing this quote:
“In my opinion, the last thing we have to do on stage if we want to modify the sound of our bass is moving the eq knobs… which, let’s be honest, is the first thing people usually do”.
This list is based on a precise, proposed order… so in this case “The Order of the Factors might alter the Product”.
1) Know your sound
I said this once long time ago on an article named “The Chain of Sound.” Knowing your sound at a mental, abstract and conceptual level is crucial… knowing what you want and knowing which the sound you are looking after is. If you haven’t solved that… the following tips might have no purpose for you….
2) Know where you’ll be playing
This means getting the most possible information about the place you are going to perform… If possible, be there at least one day before the show, get on the stage and scream, whistle and clap your hands and listen to what happens. Look at the walls and the ceiling, the angles they have, the materials of the room, consider the “audience effect” which will “dry” the room adding more bass sound to it. The place where you are playing affects enormously the outcome of your sound.
3) Choose the right amp configuration
Once you know where you’ll be playing, consider the right speaker configuration and the proper Bass Head Handling Power and their entire characteristics so to know what to bring there. As an example, usually a 2×10 cabinet has less low frequency response compared to a 1×15 cabinet. Tube amps are warmer and with less transient, etc.,
This advice is really simple… before turning your amp on for the sound check (if you are playing in a large venue with high stage volumes) PLUG IN YOUR EARPLUGS! After a few years of not doing so you’ll regret it. Also, do the whole sound check and modifications to the sound with your earplugs plugged in, because this will be “the real sound in your brain at the concert”, not the one without the earplugs.
5) Height and Angling of your amp
Once you have your amp on stage, “where to place it” and “how to place it” is a crucial action. As the higher you put the cabinet, the less bass content you will hear and quite the opposite if it’s resting on the floor… so take this into account. If there’s no way to place the amp over some rack, case or something like that, consider getting some “object” and angling/tilting the cabinet like a monitor if you want to hear more “Presence” from it. If for some reason the producer needs your amp over some box so to be seen for let’s say “esthetical reasons”, and you don’t like what you hear because you hear more highs than you need or you hear it too loud, the solution is quite simple… “Just move the amp (or you) a little bit to a side so you won’t be standing in front of it”… always remember that higher frequencies tend to be “Unidirectional” and lower frequencies tend to behave “Omnidirectional”… the difference is outstanding…
6) Gain Volume vs Master Volume
You already turned your amp ON… ALWAYS set the Gain control first right before the clipping led lights, and then go to the Master volume to set the final volume you need.
7) Distance from your amp
Consider that you’ll be able to feel and to hear the lowest frequencies of your amp by increasing your distance from the speakers… if you stand too close to the speakers the length of the low frequency wave won’t complete itself in relation to you and it won’t be felt by your ears… Lower frequencies are quite longer than higher frequencies, so they need more distance to “Express themselves in your ears”.
8) Sound of your Bass varies depending on the volume
It’s very important that you do all your sound checking at almost the exact volume you’ll be performing. The higher the volumes the more bass frequency content on your sound… always consider that!
9) Eq knobs of your amp
If NONE of this advices were enough… well… only then attempt to SLIGHTLY adjust the eq knobs of your amp to add or rest what you need.
10) Stage Monitors
Once you finished the whole process of getting the best sound you could from your Bass amp, only then see if you are going to need any Bass sound in your stage monitor. Avoid this as much as possible… consider that stage monitors are generic and not dedicated, they were designed to “do the best they can” with all the different textures of the sound that is passing through them. that means they have to deal with the Human voice, Drums, Sax, Trumpet, Bass, Keyboard, etc., but were not built specifically for getting the best bass sound possible. Also beware of the Stage monitor’s tweeter, many times they are terribly “un-warm” and can really harm the core of your Bass sound.
See you on the next month my friends!