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BassAdder27

Amp volume vs Bass Volume

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Posted (edited)

In my guitar days turning your guitar volume down always had a negative result on the sound / tone 

So question do you find backing off on the Bass guitars volume control make any difference to the general tone of your sound ?

It’s nice to able to back off on the volume control on certain songs or perhaps when reverting to pick playing and then back to fingers etc

Comments ??

Edited by BassAdder27

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I don't think it has a negative result on bass, just different tonal option. 

Depending on how hard you play, turning the bass volume down but the amp up (to get the same volume) will often remove some of the clankiness. 

Also when in a band setting, starting the gig with the volume on your bass a bit lower gives you some leeway for subtly turning up later without being seen going to your amp in the volume wars! 

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I'll set everything up at sound-check and have a quick double check during the first number. After that I rarely touch the controls on the bass. I might crank up the amp if the guitarist screws around with his volume and skews the balance of the band, but normally I don't change my sound once it's set. Differences in volume are controlled by me and how I play.

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I generally use the volume knob as an on/off switch. The level is set at the amp, and I near refuse to increase it once the sound is balanced. I know that creeping upward will only make matters worse, and I'm fortunate to work with very few who think otherwise.

Having maximum volume on the bass be the correct level means that I can't exceed it if adrenaline carries me away, and moreover I can be a bit fidgety with the controls, so absent minded or inadvertent messing up of my settings is always a threat if controlled from the bass!

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Most of the basses have hi-Z (passive) volume control, and turning it down cuts some highs. Turning down the volume also lowers the signal level and increases noise. I do not see many benefits of volume control overall except the scenario OP described. I could manage with an ON-OFF switch or even without it. @KiOgon has built a rotary switch with four positions: OFF - tone 1 - tone 2 - ON. That is something I could suggest to any bass.

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Wide open on the bass, always wide open. If my sound needs tweaking, then my amp will do a far better job of it than a volume knob or tone control will ever manage.

 

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I use the volume control for swells and muting, otherwise wide open for minimised resistance. The tone control gets far more use.

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I'm as happy as Jack when it comes to the volume control. Always flat out and I vary the strength of my plucking to achieve dynamics. It's not difficult to play at a whisper with everything flat out.

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Volume and tone on full, if I need more from the bass I’ll hit it harder. 

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It's not the instrument, it's the pickups. Passives have a loss of highs when the instrument volume is turned down, actives don't. It's one of the downsides inherent to passives.

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I'm usually flat out on the bass volume wise and use a volume pedal for swells. However, my luthier (Andy Viccars) swears on rolling the volume off just a tad when gigging which he claims finds the pickup's 'sweet spot'. He has better ears than I!!

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3 hours ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

It's not the instrument, it's the pickups. Passives have a loss of highs when the instrument volume is turned down, actives don't. It's one of the downsides inherent to passives.

As most of the "active" electronics have passive blend and volume right after the pickups, I have found three manufacturers whose signal chain is completely active: Audere, EMG (some systems), and John East. Noll has Mixpot, so their signal chain can also be fully active, or rather lo-Z. In other words, passive pickups work like buffered actives in these few systems.

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My basses are active with no passive option some have a single volume and others have a volume for each pickup. The ones with single master volume have no change to the tone when changing it up or down.

The ones with individual pickup volumes do not change the tone of the pickup output it controls either. However it does alter the ratio between both pickups in the output so in that respect you would expect that the tone at the output of the bass would be different even though you have not changed the tone of an individual pickup by changing it's level.

As for my amp I tend to run a separate preamp and power amp ( this is usually on full), so if I need more or less volume on stage I change the preamp level and since i never get anywhere near the saturation points on it i doubt if there is much if any change in tone.

 

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6 hours ago, jazzyvee said:

The ones with individual pickup volumes do not change the tone of the pickup...

The signal path of a bass is simple:

pickups - blend (or another vol) - vol - tone - output

Usually an active (lo-Z) bass has active tone circuitry and everything else is passive (hi-Z). When the signal comes out from the pickup, it meets the blend which is just a simple pot = high impedance = passive. This kind of blend affects the sound more or less at every pot position. This is the same with the next adjustment in line, the volume.

So called active basses have active tone tweaking circuitry (B, M, T, etc.) driven by a battery. There the pots are not in the direct signal path and thus do not affect sound. As I said, there are few systems where even the blend is low impedance = real mixer. Those do not load the pickups and the frequency spectrum stays the same.

It should be noted that the passive mixing can be seen as a benefit, too. Some like the change in sound, or do not care about those subtleties. But they are there and if you want to mix the pickups, your choices are limited to few manufacturers. No, nothing like Sadowsky, nor Artec, but those few I mentioned in my previous post, and maybe some others that I have not seen or just forgotten.

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Hi itu, im no electronics expert so maybe you clarify my understanding. I use alembic basses that have onboard low impedance pickups and individual preamps using low pass filters for each pickup. I have been under the impression from their web forums that the tone is unaffected by the position of the volume controls. I certainly don’t hear any change in tone when alter the master volume control, but i know that ears can be misleading. Cheers

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2 hours ago, jazzyvee said:

I use alembic basses...

OK, my bad, Alembic is in a class of its own. Their electronics are interesting from many points of view. And no, volume adjustments do not affect frequency response.

As I said earlier, I forget some brands and Alembic is pretty rare beast. But also an absolute top of the line. If I ever have the chance, I want one.

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Not bad at all, I have to confess my knowledge of basses is limited to alembic really, bass electronics  bass rigs outboard gear like effects and cabs is really limited  and one of the reasons I joined this forum and Talkbass was to gain a wider understanding of the business of bass. Just recently I have been rewiring my bass rig and got issues with gain staging so that's still a work in progress.  😁

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On 31/03/2021 at 16:33, Lw. said:

I don't think it has a negative result on bass, just different tonal option. 

Depending on how hard you play, turning the bass volume down but the amp up (to get the same volume) will often remove some of the clankiness. 

Also when in a band setting, starting the gig with the volume on your bass a bit lower gives you some leeway for subtly turning up later without being seen going to your amp in the volume wars! 

Always used to do this during the sound check so either the guitarist and sound engineer wouldn’t catch me turning round and turning the amp up! 😂

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I run my basses wide open as most of then don’t have much in the way of markings on the volume knob, so this is the easiest way to get a consistent level. The exception (there had to be one, right) is my Jack Casady bass which seems to louder than all of my others. Fortunately it has numbers on the volume knob and so it lives between 7 and 8 to level match my others.

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Never noticed a difference in tone. I roll it down a bit for the odd occasion I use a pick, then back up to full for finger style. 

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I find on passive basses (P or J), I run wide open. On any active bass I have owned, about halfway is a good place to start...the MPV sounds really happy at this setting, and not so much wide open. 

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