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How to Get the Cleanest Possible Sound Out of Your Bass Rig

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How to Get the Cleanest Possible Sound Out of Your Bass Rig, Reprinted Courtesy of carvinaudio.com

We’ve discussed how to get a killer overdriven bass sound at length in previous articles, but what about all the bassists out there who want a clean sound? Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you!  For some serious pocket grooving, stripped down, low volume acoustic gigs, or certain styles of music, such a clean tone is indispensable. Whether you’re a bassist who likes to play with overdrive looking to clean up your act or a clean bassist who wants to make your sound even cleaner, this article will help you dial in your rig.

Dirtying Up Your Bass Tone: A Review

Generally speaking, the formula for getting a gritty sound is to keep the master volume low, then raise the input gain until you get enough overdrive from the preamp. Then, set the master to the necessary volume. Keep in mind though that overdriving the preamp will sound different on every amp, and especially when tube/solid state differences come into the picture. Overdriving a solid state amp, generally speaking, sounds harsher than overdriving a tube amp. On an amp like the Carvin Audio BX1600, turning up the drive increases the harmonic content of the signal in a pleasing way, because of its class A input stages.

Now, Let’s Clean it Up

Now that we’ve reviewed what creates an overdriven sound, we can look at what to do to clean it up. If you are looking to get a clean sound with plenty of headroom, you want to do the opposite of what’s described above. Run the master volume higher than your input gain. Then raise your input gain to the appropriate volume level for your playing situation. By using this method, you ensure that you maintain the highest possible headroom in the power amp stage and prevent clipping the preamp stage. On most amps, this setup will give you the cleanest, loudest, and most dynamic signal, but may add some noise. This noise would be less than the noise generated in a cranked up preamp dirty tone, but there can often be cleaner and quieter dynamics in the music where a cleaner tone is desired.  This means the noise floor may be lower and a lower noise level may be perceived as not quite enough.

Headroom is Key to a Clean Tone:

We have talked about headroom before and it can be the difference from a clean tone and a clipped peak-less present tone.  With your preamp cleaned up, the power amp needs to be able to supply the clean high dynamic peaks. These peaks can be four times the average output power. If you are seeing the clip indicator light up, if you are just hearing dull peaks, or even if you are hearing a clunk or buzz sound on the peaks, then your amp is out of head room. You can turn it down, but this lowers the average output level you need, and it may still not handle the peaks.

The first and best direction is to have an amp and rig that can handle the peaks at your needed playing level. This will have the most dynamic clean sound. The next and very common way to approach this is to use a compressor. The compressor can be set to only turn on if a certain level is reached. This is setting the threshold level. The Carvin Audio BX Series bass amps have a single knob compressor built in for easy and quick adjustments. Set it when you see clipping or hear any overloading of the amp. Using a compressor is a great direction to a clean tone when your rig is covering most of your needs and you only hit the high peaks occasionally. In this situation, you retain your highest dynamics most of the time and on the occasional extreme peaks the compressor kicks in and keeps your signal clean.  If you are in compression most of the time and you are out of headroom, you may need to look into a larger amp or adding more cabinets.  More cabinets will double your output letting you turn down the power amp. This is also adding more headroom, because of the added air moved from more speakers and because the added speaker will load your amp at a higher output power. Note: be sure your amp head can handle the lower impedance of adding more cabinets. Check the minimum loading of the amplifier and do the math on your total impedance of all your cabinets.

You also need to make sure that your bass cabinet and added cabinets can all handle the power of your head, to prevent blowing speakers. You don’t need to bring a behemoth of a bass cab to the show to get a clean sound, but it is important that you have a speaker that can handle the power of your head with room to spare.

BRX10.4 Bass Speaker Cabinet

Right: The Carvin Audio BRX10.4 can handle 1200 watts, which makes it a great match for even the most high-powered of bass heads.

 Advantages of Clean Tone

A clean tone with plenty of headroom tends to sit in the mix better and provides a more “open” bass sound. Especially in a band context, with bashing drums and thrashing guitars, a clean tone can be the key to sitting in the mix, cutting through and ensuring the bass supports the overall sound. As a bassist, it’s important to know how to get both clean and dirty sounds and be able to adapt them in variety of different playing situations.

Visit online at carvinaudio.com

Bass Edu

Approach Notes – Part 5

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James Rosocha

Continuing our lesson of Approach Notes, Part 5…

In continuing with the concept of approach notes being applied to chord tones, this lesson approaches the root, third, fifth, and seventh degree of each arpeggio inversion by incorporating a double chromatic approach from above, and a single chromatic approach from below. 

The first examples approach the root of a G major 7th arpeggio as a double chromatic from above and a single chromatic approach from below -before continuing to the third, fifth, seventh, double chromatic from above/ single from below to the root, continue to the third, fifth, and come back down.

The next example approaches the first inversion of G major 7th arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above/ single from below approaches the third, continue to the fifth, seventh, root, double chromatic from above/ single below to the third, continue up to the fifth and seventh, and back down.

The third example approaches a second inversion of a G major arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above/ single from below approaches the fifth, continue to the 7th, root, 3rd, double chromatic from above/ single from below to the 5th, continue to the 7th, root, and back down. 

This final example approaches a third inversion of a G major 7th arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above and below approaches the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, 5th, double chromatic from above and below to the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, and back down.

Be sure to pace yourself with these lessons to avoid burning out.

Being overly ambitious with your practice schedule can lead to unrealistic expectations. Try learning one approach note concept and one chord type a week. Change your practice routine as necessary and tailor it to your needs as a musician. Good luck!

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Bass Edu

BASS LINES – The Blue Notes (Minor Blues Scale)

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jaime Vazquez

Hello bass players and bass fans! Happy New Year 2024!

In this issue, we are going to study the blue notes.

In blues, jazz, and rock, a blue note is a note that (for expressive purposes) is sung or played at a slightly different pitch from standard. Typically the alteration is between a quartertone and a semitone, but this varies depending on the musical context.

The blue notes are usually said to be the lowered third(b3), lowered fifth(b5) and lowered seventh(b7) scale degrees. The lowered fifth(b5) is also known as the raised fourth(#4). Though the blues scale has “an inherent minor tonality, it is commonly ‘forced’ over major-key chord changes, resulting in a distinctively dissonant conflict of tonalities”.

Blue notes are used in many blues songs, in jazz, rock and in conventional popular songs with a “blue” feeling.

Formula:

The A Minor Blues Scale

1 – b3 – 4 – (#4/b5) – 5 – b7

A – C – D – (D#/Eb) – E – Bb

The grades(blue notes):

b3, (#4/b5), b7

C, (D#/Eb), Bb

See you next month for more full bass attack!

#bassmusicianmag, #basslines, #bmmbasslines, #groovemaniac, #thebluenotes, #minorbluesscale & #bluesscale

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Bass Edu

BASS LINES: Staccato for Bass

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jaime David

Staccato for Bass…

Hello bass players and bass fans! In this issue, we are going to study the technique known as staccato.

When we talk about the staccato technique, we are referring to a form of musical articulation.

In modern notation, it signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence.

* In 20th-century music, a dot placed above or below a note indicates that it should be played staccato.

* The opposite musical articulation of staccato is legato, signifying long and continuous notes.

Fig. 1 – An example of a normal notation.

Fig. 2 – Is the same example but now with the staccato articulation

Fig. 3 – A basic groove played and written in a normal notation.

Fig. 4 – The same basic groove using the staccato technique.

So, at the end of the day, you as a bassist will decide what type of technique you will use depending on the effect you want in your performance.

See you next year for more full bass attack!!! Happy Holidays & New Year 2024!!! Groove On!!!

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Bass Edu

BASS LINES: Legato Slide vs Shift Slide

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jaime Vazquez

Legato Slide vs Shift Slide…

Hello bass players and bass fans! In this issue we are going to study how to read the swing eighths.

When we talk about slide techniques, we are referring to what is known in classical music as the glissando.

• Glissando = a continuous slide upward or downward between two notes.

There are two types of slides, legato and shift.

Legato Slide = strike the first note and then slide the same fret-hand finger up or down to the second note. The second note is not struck.

Fig. 1 – Legato Slide – Upward

Fig. 2 – Legato Slide – Downward

Shift Slide = Same as Legato Slide, except the second note is struck.

Fig. 3 – Shift Slide – Upward

Fig. 4 – Shift Slide – Downward

So, at the end of the day, you as a bassist will decide what type of Slide you will use depending on the effect you want in your performance.

See you next month for more full bass attack!!! Groove On!!!

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Bass Edu

Approach Notes – Part 4

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James Rosocha

Bass Lesson: Part 4 of Approach Notes…

My previous lessons on the topic of approach notes covered approach notes from above, approach notes from below, and approach notes from below and above. This lesson flips the concept around to approach notes from above and below. Don’t make the mistake of only learning this material in the major keys. As a starting point, these exercises should be applied to major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, minor 7 b5, and diminished 7 in all 12 keys for all inversions. If you are just starting this lesson, I recommend you go back to my first lesson on approach notes and follow them in sequence. My lesson on arpeggio inversions lays the groundwork for the approach note concept to be applied. 

The first examples approach the root of a G major 7th arpeggio as a double chromatic from above and below- before continuing to the third, fifth, seventh, double chromatic from above and below to the root, continue to the third, fifth, and come back down.

The next example approaches the first inversion of G major 7th arpeggio. A double chromatic from above and below approaches the third, continue to the fifth, seventh, root, double chromatic from above and below to the third, continue up to the fifth and seventh, and back down.

The third example approaches a second inversion of a G major arpeggio. A double chromatic from above and below approaches the fifth, continue to the 7th, root, 3rd, double chromatic from above and below to the 5th, continue to the 7th, root, and back down. 

This final example approaches a third inversion of a G major 7th arpeggio. A double chromatic from above and below approaches the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, 5th, double chromatic from above and below to the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, and back down.

These lessons take a very long time to complete so pace yourself and don’t give up. Good luck!

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