Friday, September 21, 2012

MY EARS!!!!! - or, EQ for dummies

It is amazing how many bad videos there are of bass playing on youtube.  And I’m not talking about bad skills or anything, simply poor tone and poor EQ.  I was watching videos of covers of Chop Suey! by System of a Down.  And they were so CLICKY and bleh.  So I’m here to espouse my wisdom!  DADADAAAAAA!

So I decided to talk about EQ, what it is, and how important it is to your playing.

Some notes: I am not a professional bassist.  I consider myself very very amateur.  BUT, I am experienced enough to know that EQ is very important, so I’m gonna try and give some advice, but please take it with a grain of salt.  I am not an expert.  Here we go!

The best way to figure out your EQ and what it all means is play with it!  I’m assuming you have a 3-band EQ on your bass, your amp, or both.  Turn 2 all the way down and just jam with one band of the EQ boosted all the way.  Also, for these purposes, turn your bass’ volume all the way up, as well as the tone knob if you have one.  Let’s start with the treble band.

Hear that?  Kinda clicky, but a nice clear tone from the high strings?  That’s called treble.  Also, if you are using a pick, you’ll hear a lot of clicking from it, especially when you play fast.  Do the low strings sound empty, or lacking in OOMPH?  That’s ‘cause there’s no bass, silly!  So let’s fix that.  Turn your treble ALL the way down, your tone knob all the way down, and bass ALL THE WAY UP!  ROCK ON!

So you might have a headache now (I get headaches if I boost the bass too much :’(  )  but everything sounded hollow?  Everything sounded muffled, right?  But we have no attack.  So let’s get some chunkiness, some body to our tone.  Turn everything down but your mids, boost those, and turn your tone halfway.

That sounded pretty good, huh?  Mids are CRUCIAL to your tone.  But there wasn’t any thump, and not much attack, right?  Obviously we need all 3 to make some seriously good tone.

So let’s start combining.  slightly cut your highs; turn it to a little below midway.  Turn your mids slightly past half, and your bass a little more.  THERE it is.  That’s pretty good tone, right?  Now, tune down and start playing some metal hard and fast.

Not that good, huh?  Let’s try turning the mids down and boosting the bass and highs.  Now try it.

Better?  You got some attack, but you don’t have much clicking.  Also, this is a good EQ for slapping and popping.

Conversely, if you want to play some punk, you gotta bring back those mids, and add some treble to taste (don’t lose your bass).

Anywhos, this is my guide to EQ for newbs.  And these are just suggestions.  Of course, it is all personal taste!  Now get off your computer and play!