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That oldschool thash metal bass sound

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I grew up on bands like Overkill, Exodus, Anthrax etc. and always liked the way the bass sounded on many thrash bands - a "ringing" clanky tone.
Anyone knows if it's the amp settings, effects or string action that brings out that tone?

Tommy Goober from Toy Dolls has his own way of getting a very unique sound, very low string action 😉

Edited by isteen
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The effects of setup will vary from bass to bass, but less relief in the neck and low action should help, you can even incorporate a little fret buzz if it makes a sound you like. Reasonably fresh roundwounds are the strings to go for, and those sounds are often very compressed. Not that I play thrash, but something like a Boss CS-3 fits well! You have to be careful as it smashes the sound pretty hard, but that helps with the ringing sustain, and opening up the attack really empashises the front of the note in the right way. Amp-wise, Ampeg, Gallien-Krueger, and Hartke seem to be genre mainstays.

Of course, technique is king, but the right gear can give you a little nudge in the right direction.

Edited by Jus Lukin

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Roundwounds, mainly clean with lots of treble will get close to early Anthrax and Megadeth bass tones, I suspect that both Dave Ellefson and Frank Bello also tended to lean heavily on the bridge pickup for their sound on the early albums.

Ellefson is a pick guy but Bello plays fingerstyle as well.

Other bass players of the era such as Cliff Burton tended to go heavy on the overdrive, which, combined with poor production is why it can be difficult to hear what the bass is doing on a lot of early thrash, it just gets lost among the distorted guitars.

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FWIW , I thought at the time that the bass of dd verni ( overkill ) had the best cutting twangy sound from the '80's thrash era. You could actually hear it cutting through . Could be wrong , but I would think active bass  makes a difference . You wouldn't get that sound on a telecaster bass for example . 
I have the demanufacture  cd from fear factory which also may appeal .
On a slight tangent , I managed to find the drivers to my line 6 toneport ux1 which features pod farm line 6 . There are loads of presets for guitar more than bass, but the sound you want is on that .

great for home noodling on your computer . Maybe the sounds would be available on the bass pod ? Not too expensive .

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A PJ bass with a pointy headstock and strung with rounds, played with a pick into Sansamp.

Also, some tight jeans.

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Guest oZZma
11 minutes ago, Graham said:

A PJ bass with a pointy headstock and strung with rounds, played with a pick into Sansamp.

Also, some tight jeans.

🤣

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Playing with my amp, I thought one way to get that sound, was to cut the mids all the way (directly the other way of Lemmy's sound).

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Depends on the thrash band you're after. Ride The Lightning-era Metallica you'll want a very hard string attack, low action, and a good amount of grit or overdrive. I think compression is important too. (Not counting the solo tone which is fuzz, wah, distortion, delay, harmonics...)

Ellefson's sound in Megadeth was pick playing(obviously), and sounds more trebly and sparkly to me. Also a bit cleaner, not much grit to my ears. I don't know as much about his gear though, there's some good YT videos on it. 

I suppose the general themes of thrash playing are to play hard whether you use pick or fingers, low action for a bit of clank, and then maybe some grit or distortion. 

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There's generally less distortion in thrash metal bass than assumed. Too much distortion kills attack and that's what you don't want as the music is usually too quick to let notes ring and develop.

Low boosted a bit, mid cut to taste, treble boosted on the amp and the gain cranked near clipping, tone open on the bass. Roundwounds struck with gusto near the bridge pickup with a plectrum or fingers in typewriter-ish style. 

Any bass will do although a MM humbucker may need more tweaking than others.

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2 hours ago, Bolo said:

There's generally less distortion in thrash metal bass than assumed.

Right. I use only a very small amount of distortion when I play, I think it ruins the way my bass supports the music

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Low action, fresh roundwound strings, heavy finger or pick attack and plenty of hi-mids. Don't scoop the mids - it may sound good in your bedroom but you'll disappear onstage. GK, Hartke & Darkglass are good amp choices....

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Dd verni was endorsed by bc rich basses ghs strings and peavey/Marshall amps.

I think the difference in their sound was the active pickups and they mixed their albums so you could hear the bass.

W f o has a very loud bass sound for a metal album. 

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Just don't go for Greg Christian's tone on Testament's Practice What You Preach.
My god I hate that sound...

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On 11/11/2019 at 13:18, cetera said:

Low action, fresh roundwound strings, heavy finger or pick attack and plenty of hi-mids. Don't scoop the mids - it may sound good in your bedroom but you'll disappear onstage. GK, Hartke & Darkglass are good amp choices....

Def, I think the supposed scooped  sound in the mix comes more from the fresh rounds, they just emphasise the highs and lows, some brands more than others.

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On 13/11/2019 at 16:16, bartelby said:

Just don't go for Greg Christian's tone on Testament's Practice What You Preach.
My god I hate that sound...

I actually quite like that tone, if i was being picky I would say it could do with a little more low end but overall I like it

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On 10/11/2019 at 15:56, isteen said:

Playing with my amp, I thought one way to get that sound, was to cut the mids all the way (directly the other way of Lemmy's sound).

That's another matter- the flattest one may get on a Super Bass is to turn Bass and Treble to 0, and Mid to 10. Then he would crank it right up to filthtown, and that is LOUD. With a modern active EQ, flat is 5, 5, 5, so much more flexibility is available.

Seems ironic that Lemmy's EQ is the most Hi-fi available on the amp he was using, but then again, there's that volume to blow everything to bits!

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I’ve just put a fresh set of Bass Centre Stadium Elites Stainless steel strings on my bass. 
 

I’m not playing thrash but if I was I’d be putting fresh set on every few weeks. In the 80s we were using Rotosounds. They lost their ‘zing’ very quickly. 
 

Don’t forget the spandex trousers. 

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On 15/11/2019 at 14:33, TimR said:

I’ve just put a fresh set of Bass Centre Stadium Elites Stainless steel strings on my bass. 
 

I’m not playing thrash but if I was I’d be putting fresh set on every few weeks. In the 80s we were using Rotosounds. They lost their ‘zing’ very quickly. 
 

Don’t forget the spandex trousers. 

Spandex was more glam rock than thrash tbh Metallica might have worn some in 1981 though 🙄

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40 minutes ago, megallica said:

Spandex was more glam rock than thrash tbh Metallica might have worn some in 1981 though 🙄

There was spandex AND leather....:crazy:

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