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Preamp and Fhole plug musings

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Forgive this incoherent ramble, might be of interest to someone.

First, an odd observation. I use f-hole plugs to stop feedback. Can't recommend highly enough. The other day I was pulling them out for some reason or another, or maybe putting them in, cant remember. Anyway, I started playing with JUST the G-side plug in place. Wow! For some deeply complex audio-physics reason, to my ears as player (which as we all know is not the optimal place to hear your own bass tone) it suddenly boosted the bottom end into a huge rich soft bloom. I pulled out the other plug and that bottom end faded away again. I tried it on another bass - same effect. Tried blocking just the E-side ... didnt work. Who knew?  Wanna hear your own tone - block up the G side f-hole.

Now, here's another thing. I've been a happy Fishman Platinum Pro pre-amp user for many years. Crucially, I also use a Line 6 wireless. I'd always known this kinda acts as as an impedance buffer, meaning you don't strictly need a preamp. But I like the EQ, and phase, and HPF and tuner etc etc all in one little box. So I stuck with the Fishman.

But recently I started getting frustrated with those times when I couldnt quite cut through mix at gigs, and with the constant fight over honky mid range, especially when slapping. 

I know you should never make multiple changes all at once ... but I did. So first thing, I've switched from Gut/nylon combinations to EP Weich + gut G. Right from the outset, no surprise, I have much better definition to cut through mix. Have to change playing style a bit, and slapping is a bit more sensitive (cant beat gut for a nice slap tone).

But then I noticed how the Fishman coloured my tone - for a start it cuts the strength of the signal, a lot. I dunno, it doesnt like what's coming out of the Line6 receiver or something. I'd always run it at full volume, with no trim. But if I plug the Line6 straight into amp, I get a much hotter signal. So, hmm I thinks. I dont want to lose the extra EQ control the Fishman gives. If anything I'd like a bit more flexibility. So I went low fi ... in fact back about 25 years to when I used a Polytone pick up with steel strings and a really ancient wireless set that needed boosting - so I ran through an EQ pedal and whacked up the gain. So I just swapped the Preamp for an old Boss GE7Bass EQ pedal. Then I stuck in another (standard) GE7 for good measure, and gained an extra 5 frequencies on my EQ chain. I dont need to touch the gain on the EQs becasue the signal from the Line6 is hot enough.

Without the beloved Fishman pre-amp in the chain I'm actually finding the mid range much less problematic from the ouset. And in any case, with 12-band EQ (including multiple hi-mid bands) it's much easier to selectively tame when I do need to.

I've compromised my authentic retro Willie Dixon slap tone a bit, with the EPs, but in all honesty that tone is at its best acoustic anyway.  But what I'm left with, combining EPs with new EQ chain and wirless ...  is really clear, punchy, beautiful rich tone. Rest of the band have all commented.

So there you are.


Edited by PaulKing
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I am SO going to try unplugging the E-side F-hole looking for a G-spot.


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After reading this thread, getting ready for tonight's gig...

Don't usually get feedback EXCEPT for last gig in a pub with a wooden floor and everyone jammed into a corner. Anyway, it doesn't look great I know, but it's a dark sweaty club tonight 😉

BTW I don't usually play with a sock on the strings, that's my home made mute for practising at home.




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