Amp vs. Bass Setup

Firstly sorry if something similar may have been covered in some other thread in the past.

I am new to setting up a bass with an amp, so have some nuts and bolts basic questions.

My question is not really specific to particular brands of kit, as the situation I need help with would apply to most setups I think. Anyway I have an Ibanez SR300E bass and a Fender Rumble LT25 bass amp.

My questions relates to how best to set up my bass vs. the amp, given a lot of controls are duplicated across both bits of kit.

Firstly, as both bass and amp have duplicated tone controls for bass, mid and treble frequencies, which kit (amp or bass) tone controls should I use to set the tone I want (leaving the other controls centred I assume?). Any advantages of going either route?

Then there’s the issue of volume settings and also amp gain. Both amp and bass have volume pots, and the amp also has a gain pot.

So similar question to the above question on tone controls - how to configure the volume and gain across both bass and amp?

Firstly the gain on the amp, what’s best for this, say a 25% or 75% setting maybe? You don’t want it at zero (!) and I assume you don’t want it max’d out, so is it better towards the low end or high end of the amp’s gain range?

Once you’ve chosen a gain, then is it best sonically to turn the volume pot on the bass fully up, and just use the volume on the amp as needed? Or is it better not to max out the volume pot on the bass completely?

Advice and comments welcome, cheers.

Edit: I’m talking about a setup where the amp is close to me in a solo practice situation only, so I could just as easily make adjustments to the amp settings as to the bass.

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If you are just using the amp and the bass with no pedal chain between them, then adjusting EQ on the amp or the bass will have similar effects. (This is not true when you add pedals.) So, leaving one flat and adjusting the other is fine for now.

Once you add pedals, it’s best to think of the EQ on the bass as adjusting the tone of your bass, and the EQ on the amp to correct for the sound of the room you’re playing in. EQ on active basses is super useful precisely because it allows you to alter the tone of the bass before it goes through a bunch of pedals, each of which can change the sound a lot based on differences in the input tone.

For volume I would recommend using the amp to control master gain/volume and have the bass turned up to a fixed (not full, but like 3/4) level. This allows you to control the specific volume on the amp and use the volume on the bass to correct for small changes in EQ on the bass, if you’re using its EQ. For example, if you turn up the bass EQ on the bass, you will likely want to roll the volume off a small amount. I find this convenient to do in the same place. Meanwhile, you use the amp control to set the overall volume.

This is, of course, far from the only way to do this :slight_smile:

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Another advantage of controlling the master volume on the amp - you always want to turn the amp all the way down when messing with cables.

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Many thanks @howard for the advice.
Yes at present I have no effects pedals, so the chain is simply the bass and amp. I’m likely to be in that config for quite a while, especially as the amp itself has virtual pedals that can be selected.

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Is there any rule of thumb on where to set the amp gain? Once set, what would be the reason to change this?
Or is that only an issue if my setup gets more complicated than just a bass and amp alone?

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No rule of thumb that I know of. As you play around with both you will notice that some things are noisier than others. The amp will amplify pickup or preamp noise from the bass, etc. Basically it’s playing around by feel to get a good balance of volume vs noise vs tone.

I could be wrong though, this is just my understanding. Nothing I am saying here is bass specific, it’s how I’ve always understood this with other instruments as well.

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As far as I know, at some point, too much gain will start to distort your signal. It’s then up to you to decide if that is what you are going for.

Also, if your amp has virtual pedals, it might also have virtual amp models etc. and most of these might have their own gain setting, i.e., independent of what you set on the control knobs of the amp - at least, that is how the Rumble Studio 40 works.

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Thanks again @howard

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Yes @joergkutter I wondered too about what point the amp would start to distort. That’s why I was assuming maybe the answer was to choose say 25% or 75% of the gain setting but not max. What I didn’t know was is it better higher or lower.

You make a good point about the virtual amps built into my amp , I think these do have a preset gain setting, I’m not sure if that can be overridden by the physical control, I assume it can be.

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Yes, on the 40 Studio they can always be overridden - the name of the preset then changes color in the display, indicating that it was edited/changed. But, unless you save the changes they are only temporary and if you move to different preset and then back, the changes will be undone.

Being an experimentalist by training, I would just play around with these (and other settings) and find out. Someone with more fundamental knowledge about how amps work might be able to give you a more specific answer :smile:

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