TONE IS EVERYTHING!

Been thinking a lot about tone of late. I played a show right before Christmas break that broke my heart because my bass sound/tone was not what I know it should be. Part of the problem was that I was gigging with my back-up amp head that is less-configurable (especially in the mid-range) than my main amp head. I’ll come back to that because I’m a bass player who lives in the mid-range. It is my bread and butter. The other impediment to dialing in my sound and tone that night was to be found in my fingers. If you’re a right-y, good tone starts with how you intonate/fret the strings with your left hand and where and how forcefully you pluck the strings with your right hand. I have a fairly light left hand that likes to mute strings immediately after I fret them. Too, I tend to pluck back near my bass’s bridge. That position naturally gives you less bass, often less volume and (in the case of my 2 main basses) highlights the mid-range and treble in my sound. For live shows (where I’m standing and not sitting) I find I have to adjust my plucking hand and play closer to the neck. Doing so hugely affects my tone. I now know that I have to get in the habit of shedding at home while standing and not sitting. I usually stand and shed a few days before a show, but I’ve discovered that I need to make it a daily habit. Why this just occurred to me after years of playing in bands…I do not know! I espouse the philosophy that “tone (and good time) are everything.” I really don’t care if a player is rocking just 3 or 4 notes in repetition. The tone coming from her/his fingers onto the bass’s neck through the amp/cab should be pleasing to the ear. That player should also be ”locked-in” either with a drummer or with her/his own inner metronome. That’s what we mean by “having good time.” I look askance at those bass players who have riffs for days, but can’t coax a pleasing sound from their rigs, irrespective of how complex or clever their lines are. But that’s just me. *shrug* So…I want to stand up and confess that I’m guilty of having bad tone on that pre-Christmas show night (and possibly at prevous shows) and promise that it won’t happen again.

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