Disliking the tone, and how would I fix that?

I’ve been playing bass for a little bit, but I dislike the tone of my Epiphone T-Bird. I was looking for a solution, be it new strings or different bass, I’m willing to turn it in for a bass more suitable for what I want.

A specific tone I really enjoyed is during songs 5-6 of the “10 Songs that Taught Me Bass” video, hence why I’m on this forum specifically

I was wondering what bass (and strings if that affects it, too) he was using there, and was also hoping it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’d be willing to trade in my current bass and throw in a bit of cash, but I’m not exactly made of money. If this is a crazy expensive bass, what are some similar alternatives I could look for?

Apologies if this isn’t the right place to put a question like this, I’ve never been on this site before today.

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Welcome to the site. This is absolutely the right place to ask this question. I will let someone more knowledgeable give you a more complete answer, but the short answer is that everything you mentioned and more help to make the tone. Bass, strings, playing style, amp, amp settings, effects chain/pedals can all make a major impact. Start with you amp settings and you can probably find a tone you like better for free!

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What are you playing through?
The T-Bird is known to have a particular “rock” sound that sounds great with a pick, but some don’t like it for more than that.

Your amp, EQ, strings also play a huge role.

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My amp is just a small Fender Rumble 15. Spent all my bass budget on the bass itself and had to get a tiny amp haha. I’m only playing in my room to myself so size doesn’t really matter. I’ve fiddled around with EQ settings a little bit, but kept it around mid for everything currently

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For those two songs Josh is playing a Fender Precision Bass with flat wound strings.

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Just checked out the video. Josh is using a fender P-Bass (precision) on those songs.


You can do well with the Squier P (even the affinity will be in the ball park, but the Classic Vibe series is better).
Some of us, including myself have a cheap Glarry GP (they just upgraded to version 2 with better materials).

As far as your Rumble, a few things you can try is to boost the Mids, and lower the bass a bit. Also, it will brighten up if you tilt it back so that it’s not flat on the ground. I would start with this and isolating the neck pickup of your T-Bird before you go out and spend money.

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Strings might play a role as well. The bass has flat wound strings :wink:


EDIT: didn’t see your post, @eric.kiser

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I may have won the speed battle but @Anderson definitely gave more helpful information.

Let us know if you need help dialing in those settings.

A bit of a warning on this. The P Bass with flat wound strings is a pretty distinctive sound. You won’t get the same sound with the Thunderbird but with making the adjustments @Anderson mentioned, it will get you as close as your bass can get. Which is a good place to start before deciding whether to trade it in.

Also, try using headphones with that amp and see if that helps you get closer to the sound you’re looking for.

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You don’t want to brighten a T-bird to sound like a P :slight_smile:

I’d suggest to roll the tone on the T-Bird off to deaden/thump it up a bit closer to a P-Bass; it doesn’t need to be brighter, it needs to go in the other direction. Roll treble back on the amp and boost mids a little and bass a little more, and see how it sounds.

I’d also sell the T-bird and buy a P-bass instead, but that’s just me - not a huge Gibson fan :slight_smile:

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me too actually :grin:

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I love T-birds, but they have a very colored sound - they’re not as versatile and changeable, but they sound great for that midrange growl and punch.

If you like the sound of those songs in the video, I’d say -

+1 to all that.

If that doesn’t do it, you could try a set of flatwound strings on your T-bird.
That will seriously change the sound and feel.

If THAT doesn’t work, it might be time for a new bass.
Famous T-bird players are from The Who, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Mike Watt, U2 - all bands with really bass-forward, bright and cutting (lots of mids!) sounds, all with round wound strings.

The sounds you were drawn to are more of the classic 60s soul vibe, which is a Fender P-bass with flat wound strings on it.

Again, I’d try all the stuff at the beginning first to try and shape the sound darker and less bright. And if it doesn’t work -

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I’ll admit I’ve never played one, but when I see videos on Thunderbirds, they sound a bit… muddy in comparison.

Here’s a quick video of what I mean:

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That definitely did sound muddy for sure and that P sounded awesome. One thing I think you’re hearing is pickup quality there too.

And you can fix a muddy tone somewhat but while muddy, that T-bird had a lot of treble and mids as well.

When I think of a T-Bird I usually think of mids-heavy growl.

That P was very bright and defined sounding, I love it. He mentioned it had new rounds on it, sounded like it. Sounded awesome picked.

But the question was how to make a T-bird sound like a plucked P with flats, kind of a motown sound, not that awesome tone of a picked P with new rounds that drove most punk :slight_smile:

You’re gonna want to deaden almost any bass up for that tone. First for the flats, which sound dead compared to rounds anyway; next just for the thump of the P. You want to have a low-mids heavy thump, with little treble. At least that’s how I would approach it.

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I have a Ltd - 50 bass that I had to get new strings, replace them all. Yet, the most important thing I did was carry it to a professional to get my guitar knee set up. After I got my guitar back it stays in tune and it pure sounds. I now hear each I tune it up. To replace it only should take place after a professional has suggested to get rid of it.

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