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Re: Tuning

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Posted by Paul Harwood ( on September 27, 2003 at 13:21:35:

In Reply to: Tuning posted by Kevin on September 08, 2003 at 14:30:18:

: Will someone please tell me how to get the same bass sound as bands like Iron Maiden, or just the basic bass sound. I have a B-15 Hartke amp and I need help please.

: Kevin

Hi Kevin,
Tone is one of the most complex qualities of any musician's playing. Getting a particular sound that has a unique or original quality can be a life's work, and take many years to develop. This is especially true in jazz and classical styles.

However, recreating a sound on a recording is something session guitarists face all the time. I recall reading in Guitar Player a while back, that a great part of recreating a recorded sound was to try, if at all possible, to use the same gear as on that recording. This takes care of the equipment part of the equation, and for recording purposes mostly. Live situations are a whole different set of variables. More on this later.

Touch and feel: Much tone is in the fingers (or pick) touching the strings be it the neck-hand or the picking/plucking-hand. The best way to develop these, is to play a lot without plugging in. Also, I have always beleived that playing acoustic 6 string, nylon and metal strings, is a must, in developing all the neck-hand mechanics and techniques. Without hearing you play personally and seeing where you're at, I can't get any more specific on what you might need to work on, if such may be the case. Such a case could be, if you have just begun to play or are still in your first few years of playing. These cases often require a little more time and practice to get the strenght built up in the hands, so that specific techniques can be tried out. In the case of Steve Harris, whom I saw a few months ago, live, that's a very strong hand, indeed. A bassist will need a few years to catch up to Steve's hand development. If you are a bassist with years under your belt, the best thing to do is to study videos of Steve and try and copy his attack and neck-hand techniques much as possible.

The only thing I'll say about recreating a recorded sound live is : volume. The louder the band, the less chance a bass sound will be controlable, both onstage and in the audience. The bigger the hall, the more difficult it will be to control overall group volume, so that a bass sound can have any specific tone. Loud live playing is often survival. A huge bass drum sound and there goes a bassist's bottom end. The louder the guitars keys and vocals, and there goes the bassist's high end. As example, I heard not one clear distinct note of either guitar or bass, the entire Motorhead-Dio_Maiden show. Not one! I did hear Lemmy's attempt at survival between his band's songs. He was trying an all midrange, no bass, no highs tone, because the drums were so loud in the mix. That unfortunately did not work. I hope steve had a nice stage sound, because the crowd never heard anything but a huge rumble.


As for a basic bass sound,every bass will obviously have a unique sound. That sound, through an amp, for me is as close as possible as the sound of the bass unpugged, heard by sticking your ear flush with some part of the body while you're playing. It's a little unconfortable to crane one's neck to do this but well worth it, in finding out what that bass actually sounds like, and also how your technique makes the strings and body resonate.

In a phrase? An even mix of lows, mids and highs. An even response all over the range of the instrument.

Wait! we havn't talked about strings and action setups......



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