It’s been 13 years since I’ve been playing electric bass guitar and I’ve come a long way and still have much more to go. I’ve asked tons of questions during my time and have also been asked tons of questions. One question that has been resounding over the years is the age old question of tone. What is tone?
I did a little research to come up with a working definition and the two definitions that stuck out were found in the A&R dictionary online. They are as follows:
Definition: Sound, or the character of a sound, or a sound considered as of this or that character; as, a low, high, loud, grave, acute, sweet, or harsh tone.
Definition: Accent, or inflection or modulation of a sound as adapted to express emotion or passion. *
Now, there are many different interpretation to the definition of tone but once again, these are the ones that stuck out. It should be noted the 2nd definition was modified. It originally read ‘modulation of a voice’ but the word sound makes it more inclusive.
The bass guitar is an extremely unique instrument. The most stand-out characteristic about the bass guitar is that the actually a mid-ranged instrument and not a ‘bass-ranged’ instrument. Don’t believe me? Check out the musical staff and look in thee range that the notes fall. I sincerely believe that the first step towards achieving your tone is accepting this fact. That’s the end of the post!!
I’m just kidding, we’re not done. i had to get that out of the way though.
The next aspect of achieving the right tone is understanding the tone you’re trying to achieve and understanding your equipment.
I recently spoke to a young man that told me that he’s looking for a sound. This is a young man that as been playing for a while and has been playing professionally and at a level that I’ve admired. When he asked me the question, before he could finish the question I knew what he was going to ask. I knew this question because I’ve asked it at one point in my life. The first thing I asked this young man is “What is it that you want to hear?” He quickly confirmed some names of the industry’s great bassist and what they sound like. They all used a particular bass, and had a similar sound. Ironically, even though this young man didn’t have the bass that they had, he had a bass with similar pickups and electronics. Well..he understand the tone he’s trying to achieve so the next step is understanding his instrument.
Understand ones instrument is an intimate act. You have to take it out for dinner, buy it some flowers, a gift, maybe a little champagne…Oops, wrong blog. Forget what everything from the ‘taking it out to dinner.’ You are, however, required to understand the make-up of your bass though. What type of wood makes up the body, the frets, the neck? What type of strings are used and which ones give the sound that supports the tone that you’re trying to reach. What type of pick ups (PUPS) are you using? What type of electronics do you have? What are your controls on the bass? WHAAAATTT!!!…… Don’t be alarmed. This is just the sweet ingredients that make up your tone. Just like tweaking a good stew by adding items to make it a great stew , you need to know what you’re working with.
TO BE CONTINUED…..
If you don’t already know, then go do your homework and find out more about your instrument..ask it out on a date…haha. God Bless
If you have ever visited a music store and stood in front of their drum stick display then you know just how many options are out there these days. 7A,5A,2b, Fusion, Signature Models, 55AA, 55BB,3A, etc. It can be intimidating at first, but once you know what you're looking for the confusion will go aw3ay and then making your selection will become much easier. This article will help you decide which stick is best for you.
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