6 Bass Tone Fixes (Stop Sounding Like A Newb)

You might not even KNOW that your bass tone sucks right now - but you’ll have it fixed by the end of this lesson.

If you’re doing the Beginner to Badass course, this lesson will be great for you no matter what Module you’re on. (just don’t get hung up on getting the “perfect” tone, 80/20 it and move on)

When I was a beginner, I didn’t really even know what bass tone was. I was so focused on learning technique, theory, and playing songs, that I would have had no idea if my tone was any good or not.

I wish someone had taught me all the stuff in this video in my first year of playing!

Tune Your Freaking Bass

If you need some help getting in tune, here’s a basic walkthrough with a clip-on tuner:

Flatwound vs. Roundwound Bass Strings

Here are those string photos again, I took these myself because I couldn’t find a single closeup photo of what these actually look like!

Flatwound - smoother on the fingers, generally darker, warmer, more vintage-y

Roundwound - rougher on the fingers, generally brighter, more zingy and modern

Which bass tone fix helped you the most? What other tone tips have you found handy?


So far, so good @JoshFossgreen . . . :slight_smile:

I always check for tuning, use roundwounds, and make sure I pluck correctly as you have emphasized. Your most helpful bass tone fix for me is going to be setting the EQ on my amp. That’s something that takes time and effort (and room acoustics into account, etc.)

When I first got my Squier, I just used the neck pickup and could hardly tell if the bridge pup was on or off. I recall you adjusted yours because you didn’t like it either. That might make an interesting video, btw. Also was trying the tone setting at ~ 50%

Now, I turn all three knobs up full and adjust my tone solely with the amp. I’m starting with all the knobs at noon including the master, and adjust the tone (and thus the volume) with the gain knob. So, thanks for the tips about bass & treble which will get me started.

I’m really enthusiastic about my Rumble 100 and look forward to perfecting my tone using the rest of the settings: bright, contour, vintage, and overdrive.

Now, if they just had a “Billie Jean” knob on it, I’d be all set . . . :wink:

All best, Joe


That’s my favorite way to run my Squier Jazz bass too, and if I tweak the pickup blend, I just duck either the neck or bridge down a hair and it changes the tone noticeably. Still love that bass! I like practicing on it in the morning because I have it set up pretty high, so it’s a workout to get around on.


This is a great vid! Thanks for doing this one.

My TRBX has a number of tone options, what with the eq on board. I’ve actually found it best to just ignore the presets and leave the EQ on “flat” and use the knobs, in the end. I generally turn the bass up a little and the treble down a little and then control “brightness” with biasing towards the bridge or neck pickups - that seems to help with string noise and so on, and give a nice rich low end.

And then everything else I do on the amp like Joe (or in the effects processor, but that doesn’t count :slight_smile:

re: plucking, I’ve started to get a bad habit of actually plucking down (like maybe 30 degrees or so, towards the pickup) when I play fast. I think it is due to keeping my wrist a little too straight. It sounds kind of odd. I have my action set pretty low right now too so it’s noticeable.


Hey @howard, yeah I only pluck downward if I’m going for clackey aggressive plucks, normal clean stuff should be straight across the pickup.


Confession: I haven’t really played bass much for the past few weeks (intense, self-inflicted-but-fun work project). This morning, a song that I know how to play came up in the shuffle, I grabbed my bass annnnnd…my fingernails totally threw off my timing on my plucking hand. :crazy_face:

(furiously clips nails)

(my nails grow pretty fast - I kind of am Wolverine in that respect)


Yeah, that’s the downside to playing bass guitar. I like playing upright bass because I get to pluck with the side of my fingers rather than the tips.

Welcome back to bass playing!


I knew you had a secret side…


Thank you! That IS a benefit of playing upright. When I played violin, the nails on my left hand were short and long on my right because 13-year-olds. :grin:


Hey - does X-23 have green eyes, because if yes then perfect.

Also me (a little gender fluid):
Screen Shot 2022-08-14 at 2.11.46 PM

(We all have our secrets :wink:)


Uh. Yeah. And you know “she” does.
Your secret’s safe with us.


Me: (Googles it ) Oh, why yes she does. And thanks for the secret-keeping. Would hate to have to tie up loose ends. :smirk:


Hah, that’s the perfect image.

Anyway, easy solution: pick :slight_smile:


There’s a video for that.
(cries quietly, picks up dusty pick)
I’ll try again


Think of it as muting practice :slight_smile:


Ha! Thank you - that helps. :smiling_face_with_tear: :stuck_out_tongue: :smiling_face: