Knobs on Bass and amps

Once I get a sound I like, I dread accidentally twisting a knob or flicking a switch on the amp or bass because I have to fiddle around with said knobs, to get back to where I was. Is there a “Book for Dummies” on the subject of reconciling knobs on bass and amp, or electronics in general. Key word is “For Dummies” I admit to being dummy on this subject. I would appreciate any recommendation.


@cajarmj61 for amps the professional method is painters/insulation tape with your settings marked. :slight_smile:


Unfortunately not, @cajarmj61 . . . :frowning:

Same here . . . well over a year later, I’m still fiddling around with settings! :grin: It’s all up to the individual user . . . i.e. what sounds good to you.

The problem is, once you get the sound you like, it will all change when you move your equipment to a different venue because of the different acoustics.

In the meanwhile, as @Jamietashi pointed out, you can always use bits of tape to mark the settings on your amp . . . :slight_smile:

Cheers, and best of luck, Joe


Never thought of that. I will try it for the short term. But I’d like to know a little bit about the reason why it sounds better in such and such position. Thanks


Tape is fine, but…
Taking the time to repeatedly dial in your sound is the real life “book for dummies” you are looking for. You, no, I won’t stay that to you, I I’ll usemyself as an example since I am pretmuch at the same level as you.

I am the dummy, as I read the book (I.e. continually dial in my sound) I will eventually get to the end of the book, and understand how each non works to get the sound I like.

Keep notes as you go, so you have reference to go back to. The sound can change from your bedroom to your living room, to your garage. As you write down the settings for each room, to get the right sound, you will start to be able to know how another room, say a bar you are playing at, may sound. The dials may change on way from small Er room or bigger room to bigger garage. So you play a bar 2x the size of the garage, you may need to start doubling he adjustment from bedroom to garage to equal the bar.

Of course the are other factors in the room or bar that will affect it, but you have a starting point.

I not only HTH, I hope it made any sense.


I have a few techniques :

  • note the settings on a paper (I always carry some paper and pencil to take notes on everything) with a short description of the sound / the context / the song / the use you made of this tone … anything to make the sound memory “pop” in your mind when you’ll read your note in the future
  • take a photo of the amp panel with your phone … lazy teenage method but I used it more than once !
  • if you have found some definitive settings, the tape and pencil mark is a must. I’ve done that multiple times on amps and pedals, especially the ones I don’t always use
  • and if it’s really definitive and on your main gear, you will very naturally remember your settings

… for exemple, bring me a Telecaster and a Vox AC30TB and in one second I’ll have : volume to 8 , bass to 5 , treble to 6 , cut to 3 (yes, that’s pretty agressive) and I will tweak the cut for a few seconds depending on the acoustics of the room. and that’s how it works when you’re in a very well know territory with some particular gear.

and this little post is an opportunity for me to give an advice for all my fellow bassbuzzians : know your gear ! in first approach you might use a modeling amp/preamp and find that the “preset 38” sounds perfect for you, that’s cool but that’s not enough because you will be totally lost if you ever have to play on another amp (and, believe me, it will happen). so, if you really like a tone (no matter if you created it from scratch or not), some analysis about the amp and the settings will help you a lot in the future !

I’m not saying you have to learn and understand the electronic circuitry of the amp, of course. but it will be really fundamental to know that you like “the tone of an early 60’s Ampeg with the treble rolled off” or “the tone of a Mark Bass with a little notch in the midrange” … well I hope it makes sense and could help some of you



This is difficult to respond to, but it could be very important.
So, I have some questions.

When you move the knobs do you have a clear idea of what parameter the knob is controlling?
Do you feel like you know what EQ is, and what the different frequencies do to affect your bass sound?

Lemme know how you sit with those questions, and we can collectively help to bring more information to you!


Hello Gio. I was only half way joking about a dumb book, but seriously, what I was hoping for was a book, or site that dealt with the basics. I want to delve into the hows and whys. To answer your question, No, I don’t know any of those things. I like researching and reading about what interest me. So I’m not looking for a quick fix. Moving on, I glean from your posts that you are an experienced bassist, so I ask you, do you get attached to a certain brand of basses or the individual bass.


Thanks for the reply and the answers.
I’ll try and get you started on this. But first:

I get attached to the feel of a bass in my hands first, then the sound, then the price. Never the brand.
Playability is always the most important thing for me. If I like how it feels, I’ll enjoy playing it. Then - it has to sound good. BUT! If it has the feel, I may be able to change pickups / strings / amps to get it to a place I like the sound more. The feel is in the materials of the bass, something I can’t change.
And then, of course, I have to be able to afford it. I’ve fallen in love with some amazing basses that are too expensive. Alas.

For learning the controls of your bass and your amp - you need to look up tutorials on EQ (equalization) and how it affects sound.
Here’s the search I put into YouTube:
I imagine any of these videos will help.

Once you know what EQ is and does, describing the functions of the knobs will make sense, and you should feel much more in control of your sound.