Chasing tone? ( just a little Rant , please Bear with me)

I am not sure but I feel my question may be more like a riddle!
Why do bass players purchase a bass and then want make it sound like another?
I have been told “ Well they are just chasing the tone they hear in there head”.
Would it not be easier if this where true to put pickups in your ears and strum your nose ?

I see this all the time on the net; I want my P Bass to sound like a Ric.
My jazz Bass to sound like a P or ( This is my favourite) my Warwick to sound more American.

This to me is simply answered by doing one thing, buy the Bass you want to sound like.
Was that to hard?
If you play any bass from any where in the world you will find they all have one thing in common and that is, they all sound like you !

So the real tone control is in your approach to the instrument.
Should you not then focus your attention on technique and not just the pick ups?
All the parts of any bass go into making the sound of a that particular model/type of instrument.
So if you want to mould it to match the sound in your head; is that not up to your own hands ?

Thanks Clayton.


That’s the reason why I’ve been fighting myself playing in the middle setting. I’ve got the neutral sounding amp and multiple basses so it helps to know what each bass sounds like.

If I only have one bass I want the widest tonal range, on the other hand having more than 3 dozens it’s best to have the narrowest tonal spectrum.


Marketing (largely) and general consensus has driven people to chase this sense of hyper-individuality. Get your signature tone! (But also buy this musician’s signature bass/guitar/pickups/strings/picks/amp/pedal). X, Y, or Z will get you that signature tone you’ve been looking for! Tone! Your tone! Toney tone tone tone! Tonity!

As far as people buying X bass and wanting it to sound like Y, there are several factors, imo. Cost is probably a big one; some people can’t afford a Warwick, Spector Euro, Rickenbacker, etc. Sometimes it’s how Y bass plays, when X bass feels better or more comfortable to their hands. Some people also like image, how an instrument looks but like another bass’ sound.

I’m definitely a looks person. If an instrument doesn’t have a look I like, I probably won’t touch it :sweat_smile: I also love Schecters, and thankfully they have made me some purple basses I am absolutely in love with from looks, playability, and sound. Woohoo! Trifecta achieved!

I used to chase amps that didn’t color the sound. Or preamps in the bass. I bought a $300 Mike Pope Flexcore to put into a bass because it was said to be very “transparent.” I bought a Phil Jones amp as they were said to be transparent. Let me get my tone from pedals or the bass itself.

Now I am loving Gallien-Krueger, Orange, and Darkglass… :woman_shrugging:t2:

I have also made two completely different basses sound remarkably similar. It can be done if you know what you are doing (it was an accident on my part that I never even noticed or thought about until I happened to record them back to back one day). Out of my three main instruments I have, I like the sound of my Schecter C-5 GT the best, after I put Ernie Ball Cobalts on it and tweaked the truss rod. Run it through my Darkglass B7K (I don’t use it for distortion) and it sounds fucking bleepity bloopy AMAZING to me.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a Daniel Firth Hellraiser-5; it has a solution to this sort of thing, too. Fishman Fluence pickups. They have a J bass mode, a P bass mode I think, humbucker, etc. Sims pickups will do P, J, MM, etc. Active/passive mode.

Right now, though, my favorite combination is an EMG P5 neck and EMG DC bridge.

But I still want a “J Bass sound” (my first bass was a J copy), which is why the Firth signature excites me. I have Fluence pickups in a guitar and think they are great with their voice switching technology.

Anyway, here’s a clip of “the Three Amigos” the name for my three main basses lol

Wut? o.O


I watched Low End Lobster review the bass I just ordered, the Ibanez SR300. He lamented the fact that in certain pickup configurations it did not sound like a J bass or P bass. I think that is the point. It has it’s own tone as do all musical instruments. I did not order it to sound like a P or a J or anything other than itself. EBMM sells basses all the time that sound nothing like anything made by Fender. That is why EBMM can sell them for the prices they tend to get. Same thing with Rickenbacker. It sounds like a Rick. I want my equipment to have their own unique tones.


I have a big favour to ask you guys who reply to my posts.
Please do not use profanity!


I’ll try to f’ing remember.


I’m much more of a “Make the bass sound the way I want” type of person than “own 600 basses chasing tones.” Honestly once you get above a minimum bar for pickup quality you can make almost any instrument sound good.

The only people who listen to songs and care if it’s a J or a P are other bass players. And maybe sound engineers that are more used to mixing one or the other.

I prefer double humbuckers for versatility and tone, but P/J’s are fine for me too. It really matters not so much. Honestly, you can do so much with EQ and effects that tone is by far the most overrated characteristic of bass guitars.

Yeah that falls pretty deeply into “no sh*t, Sherlock” territory.


:rofl: :rofl:


Unrelated to the main topic but when I put IQ36ESM into YouTube this came up.

Do you also play keys?

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Why do dogs chase cars when they never catch them and what would they do with one if they did? Why do people spend more time on the bass forums than they do playing?

I’m going to say that most bass players (and musicians in general) aren’t chasing tone and don’t care that much about it. Pro musicians probably care even less.

I have 6 basses, havent changed anything on 5 of them and only changed the strings on the 6th :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

It’s easier to buy things and change your bass than it is to work on changing you. You look at pretty much any hobby out there that requires some kind of gear and people think the solution is always more/better gear.

Forums only represent a small amount of people who do a thing and for many its a borderline mental disorder :roll_eyes: go look up what people do for coffee as a hobby and tell me if that represents how most people really drink coffee.


Curiously few channels for modding bowed string instruments :joy: I think I’ll try some new rosin this time :smile:


Haha yeah, though I am sure there’s plenty of debate/vertical market/etc for bows :slight_smile:

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That guy does some of the silliest mods I’ve seen… on about the same level as sticking a Merlin engine in a Tesla :laughing:

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I simply can’t take him seriously.


Not from “normal” people :sweat_smile:

Probably far less than what reed or mouthpiece one should use. :slightly_smiling_face:


The only mod I want to do is replace the opamp in the preamp on my GWB35 because it’s stupidly noisy and makes the treble control useless past it’s center detent. The part is about $15, I have to order one and I just done care enough to bother yet :laughing:


I’ve done exactly one mod (swapped pickups on my 6-string guitar) but that was just for fun. It sounds great now but could I have lived with it? sure.

Once you start mixing and mastering, it really drives home how little the original bass tone matters, past a certain minimum.


I think most people asking about: How can I make what I have sound like the bass in this song do it just for that: To be able to play that song as close to the original.

I hate it when people jump onto those questions like “OMG, you can’t! You need to be the player and need to have this specific pedal, bla bla!”. Noone wants to be exactly like the original, they only want to get close and learn in the process.

And that is also a big thing: The learning experience to try and get your gear sound different. What are the possibilities, how can they be achieved? What are the tools available?

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I think most people never even touch the EQ on their amp. You can do a lot even with just a 3-band EQ.


On your live basses, the tone dial is missing; it has a bit of tape over it. You also move the jack over. Why is that?

Live, it is a delusional point of view that the players have of all those dials on their guitars. You have all those dials left, right and centre; treble up, down, different pickups and all of that. Those are the variables. Then you plug into an amp and it changes your sound. Also, if you have a preamp of some kind that’s going to change your sound. Then you go through speakers or you go direct. That goes to the mixer, which does its thing. By the time your playing goes through the sound system, you’re on crack if you think you’re controlling the sound. You’re not.”

MusicRadar: Classic interview: KISS’ Gene Simmons - “Studio bassists who play with their fingers live have no idea that we can’t hear what they’re playing”.