Bass musings and thoughts..... Amps, basses, gigs, frets, fingers... LOL

FortyEight

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So last night we played at the Wisconsin State Fair. Which when I was in my 20's it was like a big deal to play at State Fair or Summerfest. So somehow after 30 years I ended up playing there in a country cover band. LOL. I guess whatever gets you there.......

Anyways... I don't post a lot on here and I apologize about that. I should more. I feel like since my kids grew up and moved out I have less time than I ever have to go on the computer.

So... part of my thoughts in this thread about amps is this: A gig like that will make you wanna streamline your gear as you get older. We had to transfer from our cars into the drummers trailer at a park and ride because the State fair park only allowed 2 vehicles from every band. We have 7 guys in this band. Yowza. So we transferred our gear from our cars to his rig. Then from his trailer to the shuttle vans at the park. Then from there to a staging ground, then from there to the stage when the other band was done. Thankfully when we left the park was dead so they allowed our guys to drive their trucks to the stage we played at so we didn't have to transfer to their shuttle bus in the whole process outward.

I really wished I was playing a direct box yesterday. LOL. I play a gen II, 76 pound rumble 100 2x10 on casters. Most of our gigs are at bars and I'm not in the system. I carry my newer rumble 40 as a back up in case the older one goes kaput. I play a P bass but carry my Jazz as a back up. And then cuz I sing I carry my microphone and cords and crap like that in a pelican case. And stands. For most gigs we just roll out of our cars into where ever. And I just leave the back up stuff in my car.

But sometimes It's like, do I really need all this crap? Especially like yesterday. I feel like a better solution would be a small class D 200 watt head (don't even know if there is such a thing but for our stuff I don't even think I need much more than 100 watts. 200 would be a good buffer if someone makes a smaller head that doesn't cost an arm and a leg) and a 12 or 15 inch cabinet with a new neo speaker to keep weight down. Then carry a DI box for a back up..... These shows where there is a sound guy, which we have been playing a lot, the amp seems unnecessary. Or, use head type amp as a direct in without having to haul out a speaker cuz if they got mains and monitors......

I'm curious if any of you have come to a similar conclusion eventually.....

I don't have a ton of money but I could probably manage to swap some things around and spend some, and sell some stuff to achieve this. But I would only do that if the new stuff sounds as good and works. And would have to make sure. Cuz the older rumble 100 does have a certain, thump that the leader of the band seems to love. I have played the 40 at smaller gigs but it's lacking....

I could go on about a ton of things since I'm hear to type, but I don't know if anyone cares or wants to hear it all. I always like hearing the thoughts of you guys cuz it helps me sift through some of the info my mind is mulling over.

My P bass is starting to have a good amount of flat spots on the frets. Well maybe more accurately said, the frets are flattened pretty much everywhere. And a few sunken holes in a few spots. I play all up and down the neck but still a lot around the D for the country band. So on the 5th fret A string theres definitely a divot, and a few others not quite as bad. That bass does really well for this band and it's a smoooth player. I play it well and love that bass. But it's gonna need some TLC soon. I can hear some of it's life being sucked out. I also haven't EVER changed the strings and I think I'm gonna. (I think that's mainly where the life sucking is coming from) We have two more gigs in the next 10 days and I then about a month break.

I THINK, I'm gonna take it to see if I can get someone to recrown the frets and put on the D'Addario Flats I bought. 45-100 chromes. I liked the way they felt on a bass I played at a store. I just read an article about a lot of different flats and I think will likely fit what I want. I don't want to lose all the zing of a rounds but the ones I have are so old and played over, that I think new rounds would sound a LOT different and I'm not wanting that.

But I'm interested to hear if there are any thoughts on the flats.

I've been using my Jazz for my own stuff lately and plan to continue to. And have really been enjoying it. I go hot and cold with it though. It's a LOT heavier than my P and I think the smaller nut actually makes the jazz harder to play for me. I think the P spacing might be more intuitive for my fingers... But now I'm starting to really dig the more interesting sounds I can get out of a jazz.

I think if I had a perfect build it would be a P body and neck, with jazz electrics. I see that G&L's JB-2 seems like it's just that.... Anyone have one of those?



I added a pic of one of my favorite musicians right now. Mitch Rowland from Harry Style's Band.

Thanks in advance for any input if you feel led.
 

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elihu

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I enjoyed reading your post FourtyEight. If you’re not absolutely stuck on that Rumble there’s never been a better time to buy a lightweight, good sounding bass amp. I recently bought a Hartke HD 500-imagine 500 watts through two ten inch speakers and 34 lbs! With a 2 wheel dolly and a bungee cord I think I could go anywhere and I’m 64. I’d really like to hear the Ampeg Rocket Bass too. And there’s a ton of others. And yeah, get that P-bass up and running. For strings I use GHS boomers 45-100’s for exactly the reason you mentioned-not too much zing. But flats and a P Bass go together likes peas and carrots!
 

Call Me Al

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I definitely like a minimalist load in, and set up. I can’t always rely on the PA monitor, but I love a light combo (Markbass CMD 121p, ATM,) gig bag, backpack for cables n such; one trip load in! I used to bring a backup bass, but I just don’t anymore. Maybe I’ll eat my words, but it just doesn’t seem necessary to me.

Change your strings! Lol. I like a broken in round, but a new set can be quite refreshing. I like the tone of flats but could never get down with the feel. I do like chromes, but EB cobalt flats might be the zingiest. I found they EQ differently; bump mids if they’re sounding dull and a hair of dirt can really make them come alive.

I haven’t had to do a fret level/crown on a bass (maybe I don’t keep ‘em long enough? Lol) but in your shoes I’d probably get the tools and learn diy. Maybe 5 years ago I got fret end files, and it’s pretty freeing to never have to worry about fret sprout again!

As for the bass, I vote neck swap! I’m the opposite, prefer a J neck on a P bass. But it’s super easy, and you can get parts a few different places. Build that dream bass! AFAIK, GL tribute JB2 is a 1.5” nut, but they’ll custom order necks on the US ones.
 

Call Me Al

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I’d really like to hear the Ampeg Rocket Bass too.
They’re freaking sweet! To me it’s what a bass amp should sound like. Transparent but the right amount of warmth. I just love the mid knob (bump) at 500Hz. Tried the 210, 112 and 110 and they’re all awesome.

I don’t need any more amps but I sure want one! 🤣
 

PhredE

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But sometimes It's like, do I really need all this crap? Especially like yesterday. I feel like a better solution would be a small class D 200 watt head (don't even know if there is such a thing but for our stuff I don't even think I need much more than 100 watts. 200 would be a good buffer if someone makes a smaller head that doesn't cost an arm and a leg) and a 12 or 15 inch cabinet with a new neo speaker to keep weight down. Then carry a DI box for a back up..... These shows where there is a sound guy, which we have been playing a lot, the amp seems unnecessary. Or, use head type amp as a direct in without having to haul out a speaker
The TC Electronic BAM200 is a Class D amp head that is super portable (about 6"x5"x1.5", weighs maybe 1.5lbs and has a direct out (xlr). It's single channel with simple 3way tone stack. I use one for guitar with a Joyo and a reverb pedal in front. It supports cabinets from 4 ohms on up. Disclaimer: I play clean most all the time. They are no longer in production AFAIK but some of the bigger online sellers still have them in stock. They are still going for < $200 most places.
It's a very useful and fun 'little' amp.
 

aging_rocker

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I tried the Trace Elliot ELF amp out a few years ago, because there was a lot of chat about it and I wanted to know what the fuss was about. I didn't try it with the 'matching' TE cabs, as they weren't available then. I think I used a MarkBass 2x10 in the shop.

I thought it had a good overall sound, was simple to fly, has a decent headphone output and an XLR direct out, puts out 200w into 4ohms, and it really would fit into your cargo pants pocket.

I think you'd need to stick it down with some blu-tak or something, it weighs nothing.
If I was in the market for a new bass amp, I'd go back and seriously look at these.

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FortyEight

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Great suggestions guys. I looked up markbass last night and all the info reads a bit like an infomercial. But I mean if they work, who cares..... I will have to look up the TC electronics head and the ELF one too.... get some input on those. Youtube vids or what not...

I think likely a decently powered combo with 1 speaker that is light, would likely fill all the roles. Gigging, practice, recording my own original music. For this post I'm mainly concerned with the gigging. That markbass 60 watter seems like it could POSSIBLY do what I need it to do. The big question is when we're playing our smaller gigs using our system, it's not the best and biggest system and I don't go through it. We just rely on my amp. Which I think basically works with the rumble 100. A smaller amp for when I'm in they system, almost anything smaller would do, given it has a decent preamp sound / color. The rumble forty seemed to do fine the times I did go through a system with it. And I notice whatever system is being run also colors the sound some too. I'm not super picky about that exact sound thus far in the country band. As long as it's clean and low end and thumpy.

I see some combos in the range of power I think would cover both scenarios, but are running 12" speakers. I have an Ampeg BA-112 at home I got used and have used it for recording. It's 60 watts and has a 12" speaker. My ears tell me it's less punchy than either of my rumbles and a bit louder than my rumble 40. I don't think it would work for the gigs where I'm not in the system. I haven't tried it cuz it too is pretty heavy and has no casters. So the rumble 100 is the easier one to cart around. Even though it's heavier.

I also played a newer rocket bass amp at a store recently that was warms and did seem to have plenty of power but I did not remember what speaker size it was. I think it also was the 12"er. Thus far my impressions of the 12" combos is that they're less punchy than the 10"ers rumbles I have. They can be warm but I'm not sure I'm sold on 12" bass speakers that Ampeg uses.... IDK. That being said I never tried one in a band setting. Other than recording.

The newer lighter rumble 100 also uses a 12" speaker......

I think my big question is if 1-10" speaker of the right kind would be enough for both scenarios, with the right head or power. In and out of a system. Obviously in a system, I think it's fine. I like the idea of the right head with a 10" speaker cabinet. Or 12" Or a light combo of either. But it still remains to be seen if a single 10 or 12" would cover the ground of not being in the system. So far the rumble 40 is I think lacking in low end power the bigger places where I'm not in the system. We play some gigs outside and more is better there too. And one bowling alley where the small rumble 40 doesn't quite do it. They put us on the approach part of the lanes at that one. Kind of a cool set up.

It kind of makes sense to have a head with enough power with 2 seperate 10" cabinets. So I can choose 1 or 2 depending on gig. That probably would be ideal. Or a 12 and a 10? Or a 10 and a 15. IDK. Or maybe just a light 15 that would cover all scenarios.... Hmmmmm...... The rumbles with a 15 are starting to get up in price.....
 

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noname_dragon

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If your primary frets are dented bad, have your p bass completely refretted by a great luthier, not too much $$, it would be worth it IMHO.
The live sound for bass players comes down to whether the monitor system serves all band members. Ideally it would, with no amps onstage and a satisfying mix for yourself and the rest of the musicians. Not talking about IEM's ,which are fine, but a whole other trip.
So few gigs where you need to fill a big space with un-miked bass amps. Other than that, I like a solid sound on stage, and a 1x12 bass amp up on a box as my monitor, and a Tech21 DI to the system. My amp is an older GK 400RB and an pretty lightweight Avatar SB112... it's enough to have a solid, if not loud, presence to support the other players. The band I'm in uses old school vocals-only floor monitors.
Nothing worse that realizing the amp rig you brought to a gig ain't enough. Playing bass is such a blast!
 

PhredE

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Just a suggestion on the issue of speaker..

Try to find the specific brand and model of ones in cabs you like. IMHO, the relative success and quality of bass amps is even more dependent on a quality speaker (the driver, not just the enclosure). It is pretty rare to find a high efficiency LF bass driver that has high power handling and great sound.

It might be worthwhile to research the most common ones in hopes of honing in on one that will work well for you.

Good luck.
 

swarfrat

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I tried flats but I've always loved bright strings. Chromes are bright enough for me. And after picking up my fretted roundwound bass for the first time in ages I immediately ordered a set of chromes for it too. It was gross. They're basically new but 2 years old. At least I thought I changed them when I bought it. Now I'm like flats for everything. I don't think I could put dark thumpy flats on everything but I love the chromes. And they still last.

I'm trying to put together a passable rig. I bought a used Ampeg PF-500 for like $300 a while back And just bought a used Hartke HD112. Liked it so much I ordered a 2nd just because of how crazy things are - didn't want to be hunting down a used one in 5 years if it was only in production for a couple years before some screw shortage caused them to discontinue it next year.

They're small cabs. I see guys talk about one being enough for a monitor but I think for any sort of rock you'll want two even if it's just for you. But I love the sound.
 

FortyEight

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Well last night was our last of 3 gigs in 10 days and were off for a month. the conversation at the pizza table was the leader of the band would like to eventually go to in ears only. less stuff for him to haul and set up.

i personally dont like the idea of it but im kind of a dinosaur when it comes to this stuff. i feel like it will lose some excitement, authenticity and be a pain to sing with crap in your ears. (i sing harmony which are all higher notes and not always the easiest to sing well. of course maybe it would actually be easier to sing without all the stage sound.

i also dont get how u have an acoustic drummer blaring away and jus sound in your ears from everyones instrument.

i record my own original music and while i get why people like doing stuff direct, i dont think it sounds the same. i've only done bass once that way and i prefer amps. its a lot more fun to me and sounds more like..... i dont know, something.

another funny thing is the lead singer is a young guy, kinda has a lot of strong ideas about looks. like the guitar chords i use are colored. i have a light blue one and a tweed one. and my bass is red. he kind of hints about my chords sometimes and he likes everything black. lol. and my p bass is red and he would prefer a more neutral color like black or white. lol. ugh. usually color is the last thing i consider in a guitar. im usually picking one on feel and playing and sound and not focused on the color.
 

BigDaddy23

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IEMs are worth a try - I found them to be an absolute game changer with our usual digital PA system (soundcraft UI) - allows us to dial in our own mix precisely and really keep the stage volume down. This might sound silly, but I feel heaps better the next day with little to no sonic assault on stage. There’s no right or wrong answer - like Elton said: “whatever gets you through the night, is alright!”

On the amp thing, I totally get where u are coming from to simplify your rig and setup. I’ve moved to a HX stomp that runs direct for that reason. The sound is awesome and the options, limitless! I can split the signal so it also goes into a conventional amp/cab chain if I want/need more than the PA can deliver or the space demands.

I run chromes on a P Bass and love their feel and attack…..fingers or with a pick. The extra tension works well for me. Just be aware of that extra tension and keep an eye on your neck relief/action as a result.
 

Killing Floor

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My bass amp rig is usually a Mesa Class D head that’s 800W and about 8 lbs. I have several options but usually take a 212 cab that’s compact and under 40 lbs. I use a small pedal board with a compressor and a tube based preamp pedal and sometimes an envelope filter and/or a modulation pedal that does chorus or other. Dirt comes from the preamp overdriving if I need dirt. Even though I’m medically obsessed with dirt and delay pedals I do not carry excess gear to gigs.
If you want a very powerful but compact cab check out Boom Bass Cabinets. I use that and Mesa cabs depending on need. I DI out of my amp and it’s just fine even if I don’t use a cab it’s still a good signal for FoH.

Also, did you get a funnel cake? I love funnel cakes but only get one at the fair or the rodeo.
 

emptyminded42

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My bass amp rig is usually a Mesa Class D head that’s 800W and about 8 lbs. I have several options but usually take a 212 cab that’s compact and under 40 lbs. I use a small pedal board with a compressor and a tube based preamp pedal and sometimes an envelope filter and/or a modulation pedal that does chorus or other. Dirt comes from the preamp overdriving if I need dirt. Even though I’m medically obsessed with dirt and delay pedals I do not carry excess gear to gigs.
If you want a very powerful but compact cab check out Boom Bass Cabinets. I use that and Mesa cabs depending on need. I DI out of my amp and it’s just fine even if I don’t use a cab it’s still a good signal for FoH.

Also, did you get a funnel cake? I love funnel cakes but only get one at the fair or the rodeo.
What tube preamp pedal do you use? All my stuff is solid state (with good modeling, IMO) but I’ve always wanted real tube tone but don’t want to plunk down the cash to get a tube head since I don’t gig anymore, just mess around at home.
 

Killing Floor

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I like a couple from a small builder in Chicago area called Sushi Box. My favorite is a JCM 800 clone with 2 12AX7 tubes. But it’s not perfect for bass on it’s own, loses a little low end. So I come and go with it. The other is called Underground Accelerator, it’s got a Fender/Alembic style tone stack so it sounds like a tube bass amp.
Check him out. No affiliation.
There are a lot of small builders making tube pedals. For a couple hundred bucks you can put tube warmth and a little breakup if you want. It’s the way to go unless you have someone to help carry gear.

There are sound demos for most if his pedals.
His Black Eye is based on a Soldano front end and is the best guitar distortion pedal I own.
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Twang-ineer

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Yes, bass amps have come a long way... but physics is still a thing. No replacement for displacement, even when you are not trying to fill the room.

I have the older 60W Markbass, and I absolutely love it. Tone for days and just two knobs. I also use their 1x15 and 2x8 cabs. Everything they make is awesome..... That glowing review aside, if you do country and intend to use flats on bass you will get only frustration with 60W. You need inexpensive, light and powerful. Bang for the buck, the TC Electronic 2x8 cabs are really incredible and two of them, with a single ultralight amp (I use a 250W DV Mark head) and you can move serious air win just one trip from the car for bass stuff. Two small cabs gives you the option to use just one if needed. A pair of 2x8 speakers is a tad more than the surface area of a 1x15. I find that the smaller speakers feel "faster" like a 10 but the TC cabs get nearly as deep as my Markbass 15s, at a fraction of the cost and weight. Those cabs definitely prefer the voicing of my guitar head used for bass. The PF500 Ampeg really points out their shortcomings, but without the ultra low button in the mix, they tend to keep up.

When I want big bass, I split the signal at the pedalboard and use the PF500 to power the MB 1x15 and the DV head to power the pair of 2x8 cabs. Using two differently voiced amps really makes for a full and complex sound especially with a little bit of grit on the high cabs.

I also have the 2x8 by DV mark, and I will say that setting my Tubemeister on top of that is sonic bliss for bass or guitar. Clean, clear present and deep. That is what got be in the 8" speaker camp. Then I got a few 8" combos... the the TC 2x8s were on blowout so I got them because my DV Mark 2X8 will just never leave the house again. When I fire that HK/DV up, the wife will meander into the room, just sit on the floor and play with her phone and listen, it sounds that good in the room (acoustics help... room/cabinet coupling). She ignores my playing most of the rest of the time.

So yeah.... consider 8's. By DV/MarkBass or the TC.
 

Skyhook

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I tried the Trace Elliot ELF amp out a few years ago, because there was a lot of chat about it and I wanted to know what the fuss was about. I didn't try it with the 'matching' TE cabs, as they weren't available then. I think I used a MarkBass 2x10 in the shop.

I thought it had a good overall sound, was simple to fly, has a decent headphone output and an XLR direct out, puts out 200w into 4ohms, and it really would fit into your cargo pants pocket.

I think you'd need to stick it down with some blu-tak or something, it weighs nothing.
If I was in the market for a new bass amp, I'd go back and seriously look at these.

View attachment 1015257
The matching TE cab has a dent on top which just happens to fit the ELF perfectly so no Blu Tack needed if you go TE all the way.
 




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