Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #111857  by Walknbluez
 Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:30 pm
I currently play a Fender P-bass with a '62 reissue pickup (passive) with D'Addario Chrome flatwounds through a 225 watt tube amp and a 212 cab. I play with a pick. I then EQ the amp with the low down to about 3, mid at 0 or 1 (P-bass is mid heavy anyway), and high at at least 4 and sometimes even higher. Then use the tone control on the bass to dial it in depending on the song and mix. When recording I go DI into the board, post EQ. Sometimes I'm a bit frustrated with the sound while playing but then when I hear the recordings, sometimes have a changed of heart and think it suffices in terms of Philness, at least one of the years.

I've thought about all sorts of changes....getting another P-bass with rounds, trying my solid state 400 watt (but the highs sound brittle), thought about getting a new cab. So I'm trying to see what you think would be a good first step. Or maybe no changes are needed. I've posted some sound clips so you can hear what my bass sounds like in the mix.

Here is Franklin's Tower ... Tower.flac
and here is Promised Land

The Promised Land has the bass high in the mix and the vocals didn't make it into the mix (except for bleed through) on this song, so it's somewhat isolated.

Please let me know if you think I should make any adjustments. My cab is an inexpensive Avatar and I've been thinking about a 4x10.
 #111874  by eric
 Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:54 pm
I'm no expert in Phil-tone, but I thought it was very, very Lesh-ish. If anything, maybe it seems a tad "stiff" in the mids..But that could just me the shite speakers I'm listening through. I really thought that you were bumping around nice. I wish my bass guy had even 1/2 that tone or ability...

Phil's tone has sometimes reminded me of a hollow bass with tons of compression...for some reason...and I don't even know if that's a real instrument. I also think it's not all that common to hear a bass (like Phil) that plays such an upfront role in the music. Keep rockin man....
 #111880  by hgregs
 Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:17 am
first - nice playing. your sound is typical p-bass with flats. my take is that your missing some zing/drive/heat whatever you want to call it. some ways to get a little more in that direction: more preamp drive on the tube amp, boost your mids, use half-rounds instead of flats - one or a combination would help, IMO.. YMMV.
 #111884  by hippieguy1954
 Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:42 am
I think you sound excellent!
I can actually hear you pretty well too. The biggest problem I have with most sound clips and vids I hear on here is not being able to hear the bass. When I listen to the Dead, Phil is right up there with Jerry as far as volume and clarity. And with Furthur, Phil is leadin that band!
:smile: :smile: :smile:
 #111910  by Walknbluez
 Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:44 pm
damn guys, thanks. I wasn't expecting all the compliments.

I do have a SWR 1x15 that I'm not using. One of the reasons I've avoided that is due to things I've read stating that it isn't good to mix cabs from different manufacturers due to phasing issues but to tell you the truth I don't really understand all that.

hgregs, thanks for the tip....I'm going to try increasing the gain some next time out.

I really wish I had another P with half rounds just to see what it sounds like.
 #111985  by Rusty the Scoob
 Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:43 am
It sounds unmistakably like a P with flats, no doubt about it, those "Woofy", woolly mids leave no question about what bass you're playing. It's certainly not a bad sound though, and you're definitely playing it well enough that it'd take a very fussy band to complain. Still, you could get closer to Phil's tone, and I think without buying much gear.

Is your tone knob all the way up? Sounds like it's on about 8 to me. Full on might sound even more p-basslike or it might bring out the pick attack a little more, which is subtle with your setup. It may just be the natural rolloff of a tube amp with no tweeter though.

What pick are you using? Sounds like a Gator Grip or maybe a Clayton, or anything Derlin or Plastic or Tortex. I'd try an Adamas, or Telefunken, either in the 2.0mm Jerry/Trey size or the 1.6mm big triangle. They both give a clearer front edge to the pick attack, which I think would do wonders for your tone.

These: ... 050wt_1396

Or These: ... 077wt_1396

The second pick is what I'm using in this video to get a fairly convincing 90's Phil tone out of a P with LaBella flats, Fralin pickup and a Sadowsky onboard preamp that I added. (also available as an outboard preamp. GREAT tone-shaping tool! I boost both the lows and highs a little to get a kind of mid-scoop, which takes a lot of the characteristic P-bass sound out of it. It's still got a little high-end growl but it's in the ballpark.

As a contrast, here's my P-bass's tone as it is more naturally. It tends to have a little more growl to it than yours, which seems smoother, which is a good thing!

 #112036  by Walknbluez
 Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:21 pm
Damn Rusty, you hit the nail right on the head! I am playing with a Dunlop Gator Grip. 1.5mm. I didn't really realize that the type of pick could make that big of a difference, I'll have to give what you are recommending a try. But what does "a clearer front edge to the pick attack" mean? I'm going to listen to your clips later when I have better speakers and can hear the bass real well.

I'm not 100% sure on those recordings because I'm always moving the tone control around, but I'm pretty sure it isn't all the way up. Sometimes I'm worried about getting too trebly.

Also, is "woofy and wooly" bad?

Finally, when I compare what I'm hearing live to what I'm hearing on the recordings, i.e. what is going direct in, I like what I hear on the recordings better. Then, this last weekend I played a non-Dead gig and used an amp of one of the other player's in another band there, a small Ampeg combo with 2 10's, and I couldn't believe how deep the bass sounded with my P-bass compared to my 225 watt tube amp. I'm thinking a better cab or maybe I need to tweak some EQ settings (which I suck at....bandmates always teasing me calling me Bobby because I"m always fiddling and can't find the sweet spot). What cabs do you all use?
 #112040  by Rusty the Scoob
 Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:37 pm
:cool: I cheated a little, as 2.0mm Gator Grips are my go-to pick around the house and in most live settings too. And I LOVE P-basses and playing Phil, as you can tell! :lol:

There's nothing wrong with Woofy and Wooly except that to me it announces to the world "I am playing a P-Bass!" I prefer to keep my Phil tones not quite as identifiably Fendery when possible, but really the bottom line with Phil is that if you play like him, you'll sound mostly like him no matter what gear you use. If you don't play like him, you could sneak on stage with Furthur and pick up his Modulus through his own amp and not sound like him at all.

What I mean about the pick attack is hard to describe in words. Have you ever heard a soundman EQ a bass drum? Sometimes it goes Thump Thump Thump, then he'll add some highs and it adds a kind of Thwack Thwack Thwack where you can distinctly hear the pedal hitting the drum head, almost like a touch of snare-drum added to the bass drum. Then with the band it blends in so you mostly hear the thump but with a little clearer definition. Modern bass cabs take a similar approach by adding tweeters. I'm guessing you don't have a tweeter from your description but the Graphite picks that I linked to will give a very similar effect. You'll hear what I mean on the Youtube, I think, it's a little bit exaggerated.

For cabs I have an Eden 1x15" and an SWR 2x10" with tweeter. The tweeter is usually only on about 20%, but I'd miss it if it weren't there. I currently use an SWR/Groove-Tubes preamp with a 6-band EQ section: high and low shelving plus four bands of sweepable mid, and I almost never touch it. I'll change the lows or highs to suit a weird room a couple of times a year, and the rest of the time it's set flat. I'm not really a fussy guy when it comes to amps, whatever gear is loud, clean, mostly uncolored, and doesn't blow up under heavy use is what gets the nod from me!
 #112042  by Walknbluez
 Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:50 pm
Ah, great explanation with the bass drum analogy. By the way, my bass cab does have a tweeter and I've always kept it off. I don't really remember why...I thought I remember several recommendations on to not even use the tweeter but then again it wasn't coming from people who play Dead. Maybe I'll try putting it on a little bit next time. Still, I'm tempted to try a different cab. But for rehearsal, I don't really want to drag a 15 and 2 10's around which is why I was thinking about a 410. But then I might miss the larger speaker. I don't know how to describe it but my Avatar 212 just seems a little "loose" and not as deep as I'd like.
 #112073  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:59 am
I've had a couple of 4x10s and have never once enjoyed moving them. I doubt I'll ever buy another.

For rehearsals I either use the mini rig that I keep at home, or my 2x10 cab with the Genz-Benz Shuttle 9.0 head that I travel with as a backup. None of my bands really rehearse all that often and when we do, it's never at full gig volume.

That Eden cab would do a great job! Looks like a 210 XLT. The SWR 2x10 is exactly like mine as well: I don't hate it but I don't love it either, it just does the job. Both look like they have their original speakers, which is hugely important in bass cabs.

 #112087  by Walknbluez
 Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:55 am
Rusty, your post and brbadg's bring up a couple more questions. First, why do people use preamps when the amp already has one? More EQ control?

Second, both you and brbadg said no to 410's. But that is what Phil is using. Also everything I've read says that you can get just as much low end with 10's as you can with a 15.

Third, I could get 210's and put it on top of my SWR 1x15. But everything I've read from the techy guys on talk bass talk about phasing issues when mixing driver sizes.

The Eden 210 was sold. But I would like to experiment with a different cab and thus my questions above. I need some definite cab recommendations for a 225 watt tube amp.
 #112090  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:04 pm
I use a preamp because I use a separate PA-style poweramp with no preamp built in. With 2,000 watts I can finally keep up with all the Fender Twins. :lol:

4x10"s sound great, no doubt, I just don't care for moving them! Which is not a problem for Phil. To me, 10" speakers are best for stage-monitoring, where 15"s are better for filling a room - but that's just a generalization, not true in all cases.

The phasing issues that you're worried about usually come into play when mixing different brands, not sizes. It's a pretty simple matter of reversing the polarity to get them back into phase, even more so if you use banana-plug hookups. (which I hate, but they do make it really easy to change polarity). You shouldn't have an issue with mixing Eden and SWR, or really most brands in my experience. Be very careful if you run three cabinets though, you can run into impedence issues and fry your speakers and amp. Two cabinets, both rated at 8 ohms, is ideal.

I'm the wrong guy to tell you about specific cabs that are currently on the market. Personally I'm interested enough in the fEarful series that I'm building a pair, but they aren't done yet so I can't give a personal review.
 #112092  by Walknbluez
 Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:16 pm
Rusty the Scoob wrote:I use a preamp because I use a separate PA-style poweramp with no preamp built in. With 2,000 watts I can finally keep up with all the Fender Twins. :lol:
Damn, that's alot of headroom. Can you give me the pros and cons, i.e. why I should consider going from my tube amp to something like what you have set up. Do you have a pic?