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jimwin

P Bass - am I missing something??

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Watching Reading and Leeds at the weekend, reminded me how popular the P Bass is. I know this is not breaking news (as it is used by so many great bass players and on so many classic recordings) but  am I missing something? I mainly play either a MM Stingray or Sei Jazz. A few years ago I bought an American Precision - but rarely ,if ever, use it. It just doesn’t have enough bite - and doesn’t cut though the mix anywhere like my other bases - doesn’t seem to have enough ooomph!. I recognise it is passive and I therefore use it with a SansAmp DI but still doesn’t do it for me. I only play with fingers and never use a pick.

I know it must be me (so please dont shoot me down!) - but wondered whether anyone else has found the same?  I would love to gig mine more as I think it looks and feels great .

Look forward to your views (tin hat at the ready!)

Jim

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Not need to run for cover, the other two will cut through no doubt, by it totally depends on what other instruments you play with and what your goals are.

The P will ‘sit’ in the mix Fine and dandy, and you may need to EQ differently to what you are used to to pop through, whereas MM’s have a nasal honk and Preamp to rip through, and jazz has the bridge placement for bite (for want of better terms).

The other question is - way out in audience land and not just on stage - how does/will it sound with a P once projected - it may not come into its own till you stand out there.

Ate your ears more used to the Jazz/MM and hence a different sounding P is alien?

Maybe you haven’t found the strings that suit you and the P bass best.

No right or wrong, variations on what works

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I have a P, a J and an MM type. They are all usable, but one will be better than the others for a particular band setting, musical style, etc. @Cuzzie makes a good point about being out FOH for a true picture of what each bass does away from the stage area. For recording, a P is hard, but not impossible, to beat, as it has a knack of really anchoring a track.

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Thanks Cuzzie - you make a valid point about how it sounds in the audience. I will try again at the weekend - I really want it to work. I will be using an Eich Bass Board for the first time so I reckon I will “feel” it now anyway!

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I’d maybe try to get away from the sansamp for a bit and just go with the bass on its own. I have a BDDI on the end of my board but it’s generally turned off all the time and only used as a clean DI. Every time I turn it on and play with the tone, I seem to end up with something that’s more pleasing in isolation but less useful in a mix - a ‘bedroom tone’ if you will. If you’re used to MM and J sounds, you might be inadvertently using the sansamp to try and make a P bass sound more like a MM/J, which it’s not and will in my experience gut the P bass of its particular brand of mid presence that makes it cut through. Just a thought 🙂

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I've been a P bass player since I bought my first in 1969, but since moving to 5 string basses, in the 90's, my preference has been for the extra dynamics and range of a 2 pickup bass, basically a Jazz bass sound. I do have a great 5 string P bass but my goto basses for gigs have been MM, Wal, Lakland and now Sadowsky. On the few occasions I record these days, I still prefer the sound of a P bass.  

It's OK to prefer one or the other, or both. . . . or neither!!

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9 minutes ago, Ed_S said:

I’d maybe try to get away from the sansamp for a bit and just go with the bass on its own. I have a BDDI on the end of my board but it’s generally turned off all the time and only used as a clean DI. Every time I turn it on and play with the tone, I seem to end up with something that’s more pleasing in isolation but less useful in a mix - a ‘bedroom tone’ if you will. If you’re used to MM and J sounds, you might be inadvertently using the sansamp to try and make a P bass sound more like a MM/J, which it’s not and will in my experience gut the P bass of its particular brand of mid presence that makes it cut through. Just a thought 🙂

Not a bad shout, don’t get me wrong I love a bit of Tech21, strip everything back to native and see, and then build in pedals/boxes as required

And Sound aside - which is the best and most joyous to play?

What you will end up with is, which sounds best native and with band, which sounds best with pedals and band (don’t change this sound even if playing in isolation and it sounds rubbish, as then you’ll lose your settings, or at least mark them).

Then you have the balance of, this is my fave bass to play, and even if the sound is slightly worse than the other, it’s good enough.

Or have a bass for different seasons, we are all mellower and happier in summer, a nice P in the mix could be the ticket!

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I have to say I have a homemade P with a Creamery 58 P pick up in (they are phenomenal) TI flats went straight to desk, no amp- one of May fave sounds, but it was a small acoustic type thing - killed any jazz I had with boxes infront etc

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There's possibly an aspect of your own playing style to it as well. Never been sure quite why it is, but there are certain popular basses I've just never got on well with. I've heard plenty of of bassists who get great sounds out of a Jazz bass - from fellow BCers up to the likes of Geddy Lee - but when I've played around with one myself, I've never been entirely happy with the sounds I was making.

It's like borrowing someone's shoes that are ever-so-slightly too small; by comparison, picking up a Precision or a Thunderbird is like slipping back into a pair that fit properly. And I'm sure the opposite will be true for a lot of people on here. It may just be that you're used to the way your 'ray and Sei respond to your playing, and the Precision will feel like a different beast.

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As @Ed_S says, try it without the Sansamp. The classic P sound has that big low mid rich kick that sets it tonally apart from classic J and MM type sounds, but the Sansamp has a huge void in the mids that will be detracting from the classic Precision sound. A Precision through a Sansamp is a tried and tested sound that a lot of guys use but it's not the same as a P through a clean amp. Just don't scoop out those mids 😀

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I’ve found that in order for my Precisions to really cut through the mix I boost the upper mids at around 3kHz. The Sansamp really scoops mids so is removing a lot of the main area of the Precisions sound, may be why you find it’s not cutting through so well in comparison to your other basses.

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Old P bass with La Bella flats - killer combo!!! Have 'em on all mine. Play through a DB751 and Barefaced 610 which no doubt helps but man the sound is epic!

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9 minutes ago, walshy said:

Old P bass with La Bella flats - killer combo!!! Have 'em on all mine. Play through a DB751 and Barefaced 610 which no doubt helps but man the sound is epic!

Napalm in a good way

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I have a mex P bass that was ok but I then put some new pickups in it and it gave it the old school sound with a lot more bottom end. Also has a crunchier top end when the tone is full wack.

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I love my Precision, but I find it takes a bit of EQ on the amp in order to get the tone I actually like, which generally finding the sweet spot of adding a bit of bass/lower mids (around 300-500Hz) and taming the upper mid and treble 'clank' by rolling off the tone knob ever so slightly.

This is opposed to an active bass like my Sadowsky, where I can pretty much dial in a tone on the bass and the amp EQ is basically untouched. If my first serious bass was a Musicman with a really powerful active EQ, I would perhaps have struggled if I then went back to a passive Precision armed with just a volume and tone control. 

A passive Precision sits wonderfully in the mix with a sound engineer who knows what they are doing (well so should just about any quality bass). Also, I'm pretty sure that the Fender marketing team will have gone to great efforts to ensure that as many bassists as possible were using Fender basses during the Reading and Leeds festival. 

There is nothing wrong with not liking Precisions though. There are plenty of other basses out there.

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Am I missing something?

Seems to me you're trying to make your P bass sound like your MM and Sei. It won't, because P basses don't do that.

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11 minutes ago, OliverBlackman said:

I have a mex P bass that was ok but I then put some new pickups in it and it gave it the old school sound with a lot more bottom end. Also has a crunchier top end when the tone is full wack.

Hi Oliver, What pickups did you fit 🙂

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For several years it seemed every time I heard a live bass sound I loved, it was a P bass.  I just had to have one.

Now, there are very, very many great sounding bass guitars but often all you need is a P bass.

Personally, I could easily play just a Fender Precision for the rest of my gigging life. I still like to gig other basses though, just for a change.  :)

Frank.

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The P bass is definitely having something of a renaissance these last few years. 

These threads are like bingo. 

"Sits in the mix"

"P with flats" 

"A P bass is a you need" 

"A Jazz sounds better at home, a P sounds better with a band" 

We're nearly at a full house! 

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11 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

We are if nothing predictable 

If it ain’t broke....

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17 minutes ago, walshy said:

If it ain’t broke....

I can't believe I missed "Leo got it right first time" from my cliche list! I particularly enjoy that P bass trope since his "first time" bass wasn't even a P bass. 

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There's always the PJ compromise.

It's where I've ended up with my Precision Deluxe.

Push the pan control all the way on to the P pickup for some classic thump, start blending in the J for more modern/jazz bass tones.

I can't quite get a Stingray tone out of it, even with the active preamp but that's mainly because it has the wrong type of pickups in the wrong positions, but it'll cover most other ground pretty well.

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