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Question regarding tone

Posts: 14
12 months ago
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So, I've only been playing bass since about March this year, and having fortnightly lessons, but my teacher hasn't mentioned anything about tone. I see a lot of you talking about the tone, and a lot of youtube comments about the tone of a guitar…this might be a dumb sounding question, but can someone please explain tone to me.

(Sorry, I feel like an idiot asking this question, but I thought better to ask here with all the knowledge you guys have, than to sit in the dark feeling like a complete noob).
LoudLon [moderator]
Posts: 1476
No such thing as a dumb question, especially if you're just starting out.

Tone basically relates to clarity and timbre. Crisp and sharp, or muddy and thick, or a slight fuzz or light distortion, what-have-you. Just play around with the gain/treble/bass knobs on your bass and amp until you find a sound that works for you.

I prefer a thicker, muddier sound myself, but then I'm not the cleanest player; I do lots of slides, arpeggios and what-not, and a thicker/muddier tone makes for a smoother sound, IMO. But that's just me. Whatever works for you.

Listen to different musicians, check out bass master tracks on YouTube, you'll hear the differences in tone from one player to the next.
Posts: 14
Thanks Lon
If I think about it now, I have a thicker sound as well, and I'm not a clean player…but that could just be because I'm still learning lol…I'll have a play and see what I can come up with.

Thanks again.
LoudLon [moderator]
Posts: 1476
You're welcome. I really can't encourage you enough to check out bass master tracks on YouTube (there are tons of them). This can be hugely beneficial in developing your ear. So many times you listen to a particular song and can't make out the bass, either because it gets buried under heavy guitar or blends in with a piano or synthesizer. But the more bass tracks you listen to, and the wider range of tones you experience, the better your ear becomes at recognizing and locking onto the bass beneath all the guitar and everything else.

In fact – and I'm not just doing this to soothe my ego – I have a YouTube page where I upload isolated bass tracks to accompany tabs I submit so the player can compare the track to the tab. I don't have a whole lot right now, and I've no idea what your preferred style of music is, but maybe they can be of help:


Posts: 14
Thanks, I will definitely check it out…
Posts: 2151
Check out ‘Walk On By’ by the Stranglers, Jean Jacques Burnel gets that tone by cranking the Gain all the way up and picking close to the bridge, its tone to die for
This site might be helpful as well. I watched lots of Scott's videos.

I think a clear tone is best for practising, so you can hear any sloppyness.
Btw, at speed I'm pretty sloppy too, so fuzz and overdrive are my friends. This is what I do (please don't copy my style ).

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