music, music.bass, music.guitar

How I Got Rid of Pedalboard Noise

I had a terrible and constant low frequency whistle noise coming out of my bass pedalboard; even if the guitar is completely turned down. I solved my problem by plugging individual power adapters into problematic pedals.

Detecting the Source of the Noise

Rig hum can have many reasons. Three most significant reasons are; guitar pickup hum, ground loops and power issues.

My bass has split coil pickups, so guitar pickups couldn’t be the source of the noise. Besides; the hum was still there even when I turned the guitar down. So, the bass wasn’t guilty.

Ground loop could have been the reason; however, the hum started after I added some new pedals (not before).

Therefore, I suspected that there was a power issue. The fact that my pedals wouldn’t start up before blinking on and off for a while reinforced that idea.

Detecting Guilty Pedals

For this test, I removed each and every pedal from my pedalboard, and plugged my guitar in directly. No noise / hum at all. Good.

Afterwards, I started adding pedals one by one. Eventually, I discovered that 3 EHX pedals were the source of the hum: Pitch Fork, SuperEgo and Freeze.

When I power any of those pedals individually via my Joyo Power Supply 2, they add up a little hum. Powering all of them end up producing a powerful hum.

Solving the Problem

I figured out that there was nothing wrong with the pedals. The only problem was; the power supply didn’t agree with the power demands of the pedals.

I disconnected those pedals from the power supply completely, and powered them through their original individual power adapters.

Wham! The hum disappeared. My rig went dead silent.

I figured that I needed a larger multi outlet for my pedalboard now; but it is a small price to pay for rig silence.

Using batteries instead of power adapters is also an agreeable solution, but I don’t want to worry about batteries going dead in the middle of some gig.

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music, music.bass

Fodera vs Fender Custom Shop

In this post, I will subjectively compare two high end basses.

One of them is a Fodera Emperor Standard Classic 5 with an alder body and rosewood fingerboard – everything is stock. The other one is a (discontinued) Fender Custom Classic Jazz Bass V with an alder body, rosewood fingerboard and noiseless Bartolini 57J1 L/S pickups.

Before reading further, you might want to check the following posts for some technical details:

Comparison

Versatility: Fodera enables me to switch between humbucker / single coil and active / passive modes. It also has a passive cut control which works in both active / passive modes. Therefore, it has more onboard tonal versatility than the Fender.

Noise: Fodera has 60-cycle hum in single coil mode; which can be eliminated in humbucker mode. Fender is totally noiseless. Therefore, Fender has an advantage in cases I need to play in soloed single coil mode. For the record; stacked noiseless pickups are notorious for being weaker – that’s why I keep split coil Bartolini’s on my Fender.

Articulation: Overall; single coil articulation of Fodera is clearer than the Fender.

Effects: Fender has ceramic pickups, which (in my subjective opinion) work better than Fodera’s alnico pickups in case I need to use high gain. The advantage intensifies in single coil mode due to the hum of the Fodera.

Sound: I mainly use 4 sounds.

  • P-bass sound: Fender nails this sound better because I must use the Fodera in humbucker mode when I solo the neck pickup (due to hum).
  • J-bass sound: I would say that Fodera and Fender go head-to-head producing an acceptable J-bass sound.
  • Jaco sound: Emphasizing the bridge humbucker, the Jaco sound of the Fodera pleases me better than the Fender.
  • Solo sound: Single coil bridge pickup of the Fodera is more articulate and preferable than the Fender. However, it will hum. Therefore; Fender takes the lead in case noise would be a problem.

Neck: Fodera has the most comfortable neck I have ever played.

Price: Fodera is more expensive than the Fender – I think that it is worth it though. Having said that; I should add that they belong to the same price segment.

Conclusion

The Fodera is more versatile, articulate, comfortable and has the edge on bridge sounds. The Fender is completely noiseless, works better with effects, can be carried around insouciantly and has the edge on neck sounds.

As you see, none of the basses is absolutely better than the other. They are simply different. As discussed in Diminishing Returns on Bass Prices ; this would be the case in most situations where you compare two basses from the same price segment.

Frankly; I could pick either of them as my desert island bass. So how would I pick the bass to leave home with?

Currently, my decision mostly depends on the following question: “Can I keep my bass with me all the time today?” If the answer is yes, I pick the Fodera. Otherwise, I pick the Fender. Me being a Fodera artist, this may seem like an obvious choice. However; since the Fodera is harder to replace, I’m holding on to it.

I hope to play them both for many years though. Thus; I keep a spare Yamaha TRB 1005 as a stunt bass for obviously dangerous situations, such as gigs on the beach.

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music, music.bass, music.guitar

Diminishing Returns on Bass Prices

I talk about diminishing returns on multiple posts about bass prices. I would like to explain what it means. Basically; “diminishing marginal return” means that the difference you get per $ decreases dramatically after a certain price point.

I would expect the quality difference between a 500$ bass and a 2.000$ bass to be much greater than the quality difference between a 2.000$ bass and a 6.000$ bass.

In other words; I would expect a 2.000$ bass to have a much higher quality than a 500$ bass. However; a 6.000$ bass wouldn’t differ that much from a 2.000$ bass.

After a certain point, we can’t even speak about a “better” bass, but we can speak about a “different” bass which is not necessarily better or worse than the cheaper one.

Makes sense, right?

My Fodera vs Fender Custom Shop comparison provides a “case in point” demonstration of diminishing returns. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but none can be considered absolutely “better” than the other.

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life, music

Agartha Festivali’nde Sahne Al(a)madık

Shamoon olarak, 25-30 Ağustos 2017 tarihleri arasında Salda Gölü’nde yapılan Agartha Festivali‘nde yaşadığımız mağduriyeti kamuoyu ile paylaşmak istiyoruz. Amacımız, benzer mağduriyetlerin yaşanmaması.

Festival organizatörü İlker Ayas ile festivalden uzunca bir süre önce temasa geçerek, 26 Ağustos Cumartesi günü sahne almak ve ulaşım maliyetimizin karşılanması konularında mutabık kaldık.

Yol ücretini gelmeden önce istememize rağmen, Salda’ya vardığımızda alacağımız belirtildi. Durum bize alışılmadık ve şüpheli gelmesine rağmen; aramızda konuşup bu riski almaya karar verdik.

25 Ağustos Cuma günü Salda’ya vardık. Ses sistemini incelediğimizde; bize vaadedilen ekipmanın mevcut olmadığını gördük – ancak belki de başka yerde muhafaza ediliyordur diye İlker Bey’i aramaya koyulduk.

Festival alanına gecenin geç saatlerine kadar 3-4 kez gitmemize rağmen İlker Ayas’ı bulamadığımız gibi; sahne almamız gereken 26 Ağustos Cumartesi günü de kendisine ulaşamadık. Neden sonra telefonla ulaşabildiğimiz İlker Bey; bizi arayacağını söyledi ancak aramadı.

Sonuç olarak; sahne alamadığımız gibi, ulaşım maliyetimiz de karşılanmadı.

Tesellimiz; Salda’nın muhteşem doğası & samimi güzel insanlarıyla tanışmak ve küçük bir tatil yapmak oldu. Oraya kadar gitmişken biraz da çekim yaptık.

Gerek yüz yüze konuştuğumuz kişilerden; gerek Ekşi Sözlük, Facebook gibi sosyal medya sitelerinden edindiğimiz intiba; festivale giden pek çok kişinin de mağduriyet yaşadığı yönünde idi. Bilet başı 300 lira ödenen bu festivalin parasını haketmediği konusunda pek çok şikayet var. Salda sakinlerinin gürültü sebebiyle emniyet güçlerini harekete geçirdiği de kulağımıza geldi.

İlker Ayas’ın herhangi bir organizasyonunda bir daha sahne almayacağımızı kamuoyuna duyururuz. Benzeri mağduriyet yaşamak istemeyen müzisyen arkadaşlarımızın ve takipçilerimizin dikkatine sunulur.

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music, music.bass

Is Fodera Worth The Money?

There is a great debate on the price segment of Fodera basses. Some people think that they are overpriced, some think that they can justify the price tag, and some people own multiple Fodera basses. Apparently, the only consensus is that they aren’t exactly the cheapest purchase option in the bass market. Being a Fodera artist myself, I would like to talk about this matter.

Many other renowned custom builders work within the price range of Fodera as well; therefore, the title of this post could have been “Are custom basses worth the money?”. However; I didn’t want to talk about basses I’ve never played before, so I focused solely on Fodera.

Value

First things first: Value is a subjective concept. Some people drive a Mercedes and can justify its high price with tangible or intangible factors; while others think that it is overpriced and any middle class vehicle can get them from point A to point B.

Same applies to the value of bass guitars; where Fodera can arguably be seen as the Bugatti of the market.

At Fodera, very talented luthiers hand-produce bass guitars using very high quality wood and hardware in a relatively expensive area of the world – NYC. Wage, material cost and overhead per instrument is probably much higher than a typical mass produced factory instrument. Add some profit on top of that. Add some customer service percentage too. Considering that Fodera has a backlog of 9 months on custom instruments, the demand – supply balance certainly seems to be favoring Fodera in terms of an increased price based on brand value as well.

The combination of those factors naturally lead us to the hefty price tags of instruments made by Fodera.

Is it worth it?

To some, yes. Some people enjoy the sound, playability, overall quality, image, etc. of a Fodera so much that they will find the instrument worth it. Some of those are financially fortunate enough to buy one, some not.

To some, no. Some people will find the instrument overpriced and claim that they find a similar sound, playability, overall quality, image, etc. in another instrument.

It all boils down to what you seek in an instrument, and where you can find it. Tangible or intangible; some people seem to find their criteria in a Fodera, and find the instrument worth it. The equation is that simple. Others might find their criteria in another brand (expensive or cheap), which is also totally fine.

Check my Fodera vs Fender Custom Shop comparison to see the reasons why a particular player might prefer the Fodera over a Fender CS or vice versa.

Diminishing Returns

To be fair, we have to consider the law of diminishing marginal returns.

Assuming that a good production bass costs 2.000$ and an entry level Fodera costs 6.000$; some people will find the difference of Fodera worth the additional 4.000$ because this is what they are looking for. This is fine.

Some people will happily settle down with the 2.000$ bass and think that Fodera is overpriced because both sound & play almost identical for them – considering their own requirements. Those people will think that a Fodera is not worth it for them, personally. This is fine as well.

Some people will make a lucky purchase of a 500$ overseas instrument, where the perfect combination occurred; and be perfectly happy with it after a few modifications here and there. They will think that neither the Fodera nor the 2K bass is “worth it”. This is also perfectly fine.

My Subjective Opinion

Although I bought my Fodera second-hand, it cost me a small fortune. But was it worth it? To me, yes. Fodera has always been the holy grail of bass guitars for me, and I feel privileged to possess one. The neck simply plays itself, the tone speaks to me, its versatility is very high, and I simply enjoy having & playing a Fodera; it motivates me to play more and better. What more can I ask for?

On the other hand, my secondary bass Yamaha TRB 1005 costs the fraction of a Fodera, and is still a very good bass guitar I happen to enjoy playing a lot! If I can’t take my Fodera to some gig / practice for some reason, that’s where I play my Yamaha; but it also plays & pleases very nicely. The difference is evident, but not dramatic. Despite that, I subjectively think that Fodera is worth its price. Given the choice, I would take my Fodera for most gigs or sessions; and it is the first instrument I reach for when I’m at home.

I was notorious for buying & selling too many basses, seeking the instrument that speaks to me. My Fodera has been the final destination of my search; I wish that I could have one earlier. The cost of buying & selling too many instruments could be more than the difference between a decent production bass and a Fodera – another point of view in terms of value.

Conclusion

All in all, the world would be a boring place with only one brand and model, wouldn’t it? We are blessed to have so many alternatives corresponding to different needs and financial positions. The instrument that fulfills your subjective hygiene criteria will be “worth it”.

That being said; I think that it is important to distinguish between needs & desires when making a purchase, and decide wisely what is within your budget and what is not.

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music, music.bass

How I EQ my Basses

Tone is a highly subjective matter of taste with no universal rights and wrongs. How you should approach the tone of your bass depends on many factors such as your gear, technique, band, style of music, acoustics and size of the stage & venue, etc. I can’t guide you through a walkthrough of absolute tonal success, but I will talk about my approach which might inspire you to develop your own.

Please remember that a good tone starts with a good setup; check How I Setup My Basses if you need to.

Sound Principles

Amp EQ vs Bass EQ

Ideally, I do my main tonal setup by leaving my bass flat and tweaking the EQ of the amp. I use the EQ of my bass for minor tweaks during the gig, which involves tiny boost & cuts here and there (we will talk about this later). The idea is, it is hard (sometimes impossible) to turn back to your amp, tweak the sound, and get back to playing. But it is very easy to make a small adjustments via the onboard EQ with a small hand gesture.

Another reason is; once you cut a frequency, you can’t put it back any more. Think of old dirty strings that don’t ring that well any more – no matter how much you boost your treble, you can’t make them sound sparky when slapping. The same applies to your bass EQ. If you cut some frequencies onboard, you can’t put them back on the amp. Therefore, having a flat EQ on the bass initially is important in terms of frequency abundance as well.

Having said that; I must admit that I occasionally have to leave the amp flat and use my onboard EQ to shape my tone. Typical cases are:

  • I might be using multiple basses. In that case; I wouldn’t want to tweak the amp every time I change my bass. Therefore, I leave the amp alone and shape the sound of each bass on it’s EQ board.
  • Other players will immediately use the same amp. In that case; the sound guy typically makes a default setting on the amp and prevents you from touching it. In such a case, I’d rely on my bass EQ to shape my sound.
  • The soundcheck needs to finish quickly. Sometimes, I’m not given the time to walk back and forth to the amp to shape my sound; first without the drums, then with drums, etc. In such cases, I rely on my bass EQ so I can quickly shape my sound as I’m playing on my feet.
  • The amp is peculiar. Some amps simply won’t seem to work well due to their complexity, placement, frequencies, etc. In such cases, I leave the amp be and turn to my good ole bass EQ.
  • Lack of an amp. In case I run through a DI, I shape my basic sound on my bass EQ if the sound guy is OK with that. If I change something after losing my sound check spotlight, I let the sound guy know because he might have to adjust something on the board.

Distance

The distance between the amp & your standing point is very important. Assuming that you have a mid sized amp, you should be staying around 2m away from your amp in order you can hear yourself. If you are too close, you will be standing behind the point where the sound is actually formed, and you won’t hear yourself well while your band members complain that the bass is too loud. If the stage is small and you can’t get the ideal distance, you might be better off using the amp as a DI only and mainly hearing yourself from the monitor speakers. Or, in-ear monitors. So, keep your distance (if possible) while shaping your EQ and playing on stage.

Venue

Your rig isn’t the only factor shaping your sound. The venue size & shape, ceiling height, stage material, amp placement and many other factors play a role on how you sound. You should imagine your bass + head + cabinets + the entire environment as a big giant rig producing your sound. Whatever you setup on the amp is only a starting point for your sound. Since you can’t shape your material environment, you’ll shape your amp EQ so that the amp -> material environment will produce the sound you want. Whatever EQ sounds good at home might sound bad on stage, or some EQ sounding good on a certain venue can sound bad on another venue. This means that you can’t have a fixed global EQ setting which works everywhere. You can have a certain sound you like, but how you’ll achieve this sound EQ-wise will differ from venue to venue. So you need to learn and love the EQ.

Mix

How you sound alone will differ from how you sound in the mix. After doing your initial EQ, be prepared to tweak it further after you play all together. Another point is; how you sound outside will differ from how you hear yourself on the stage. After setting your amp EQ to your taste, you are going to need to trust the sound guy for how you sound outside. Talk to him/her about your sound preference, but let him/her be the final judge. I also recommend sending him/her your flat signal so they can add / subtract frequencies more accurately (another reason to leave your bass EQ flat initially). Many amps have a pre/post switch or a dry out output (pin or XLR) to enable that.

Amp EQ

Having covered the principles, we can move forward and tweak the EQ on the amp.

Start of by setting your bass flat. If you have a passive bass, you’ll want to leave the EQ wide open. If you have an active bass, you’ll want all EQ knobs centered. If you have a StingRay Classic and don’t have a center detent, good luck finding the flat spot.

Set your amp EQ flat as well. If you like the sound coming out with the flat setup, then fine! Don’t play with anything. You may get off with a good sound using a flat EQ at times. However, you’ll need to tweak the EQ in many other cases.

You need to be aware of the gain knob that most amps have. This knob will set the strength of the initial signal coming from your bass. A very low gain setting will leave you sounding weak. A very high gain setting will overpower the amp so you can’t distinguish the nuances of your technique. You need to find a sweet spot inbetween; where you sound strong enough to be satisfied while you can still hear your nuances. In many cases, gain & volume on the amp need to be balanced simultaneously. This means, the amount of gain you’ll need will be different on low & high volume situations. On my Aguilar ToneHammer 500, I tend to set the gain at 10 o’clock while the master volume is around 12.

In terms of EQ setup, you need to know what each frequency does. In case your amp has 4 EQ knobs;

  • Bass will define how boomy your sound is – think of the subwoofers
  • Low mid will define how punchy your sound is – think of the Precision Bass sound
  • High mid will define the nasal / bite amount of your sound – think of Jaco
  • Treble will define your presence in terms of string / fret noise – think of the top end of slapping

In case your amp has 3 EQ knobs;

  • Bass will command your bass + a bit of the low mids
  • Mid will command your low + high mids
  • Treble will commad a bit of the high mids + your treble

In case your amp has 2 EQ knobs;

  • Bass will command your bass + low mids
  • Treble will command your high mids + treble

Different amps will have their knobs set at different frequencies; the information above is just a casual general guide.

Some amps have the option to switch to a graphic EQ. Now this is where you have the most control, but it might be overkill for many players which are not sound engineers. Talkbass has a good explanation of frequencies , but I rarely get there on live situations. If I’m in the studio, I leave that level of granularity to the sound engineers anyway.

As a general principle, cutting gives better results than boosting. If your bass sounds too boomy and you can’t hear your highs, cut the bass instead of boosting the treble. If your bass sounds too punchy and you can’t get enough bite, cut the low mids instead of boosting the high mids. You get the idea. Perceived frequency balance is as valid as actual frequency balance – when you cut the treble, people will perceive the sound to be “boomier” despite you didn’t boost the bass frequencies, and you don’t overpower anything, ending up sounding cleaner.

Most of the time, a little cut or boost goes a long way. If you feel like you need extreme EQ changes, chances are you don’t have the correct rig to produce the sound you like.

Bass EQ

Fender American Deluxe Jazz Bass

After making the guitar flat and setting the amp to give a traditional Jazz Bass tone, I did the following tricks to expand the tonal palette.

  • Passive mode, 50% balance, treble on gives a traditional Jazz Bass tone. Ideal for many genres like latin, pop, funk, etc.
  • Passive mode with emphasis on the bridge pickup gives a good Jaco tone.
  • Passive mode with emphasis on the neck and treble cut leans towards a vintage Precision Bass tone. Can be used on blues, classic rock, R&B, reggae, etc.
  • Active mode, 50% balance with flat EQ gives a modern finger style tone which cuts through the mix. Add some mids to taste.
  • Active mode, 50% balance with a slight bass & treble boost gives a good slap tone, leaning towards Marcus Miller.
  • Active mode with emphasis on the bridge pickup and slight bass & treble boost gives a nasal bite leaning towards StingRay.
  • Active mode with emphasis on the neck pickup, bass & mid boost and treble cut gives a modern warm bass tone; suitable for loud rock bands.

Fender Custom Classic V

After making the guitar flat and setting the amp to give a traditional Jazz Bass tone, I did the following tricks to expand the tonal palette.

  • Centered balance gives my default jazz bass finger style / slap tone
  • %25 neck pickup gives a good P-bass sound
  • %25 bridge pickup with slight bass boost gives a good Jaco-ish sound
  • %25 bridge pickup (without bass boost) gives a good solo tone

Fender Marcus Miller Jazz Bass

I used this bass in active mode. By default, I boosted the bass & treble knobs by about 20% and setup the amp accordingly because the knobs are boost only.

  • Cutting the bridge pickup by 10% and boosting the treble by 10% leans towards a warm sound; ideal for rock & blues.
  • Cutting the neck pickup by 10% and boosting the bass by 10% leans towards a biting sound; ideal for nasal soloing or cutting through the mix.
  • Cutting the neck pickup by 10% alone leans towards a Jaco sound.

Fodera Emperor Standard Classic 5

Here is how I setup the initial tone of my Fodera. Leaving the bass and the amp flat, I leave the pickup balance at 50% and switch to single coil mode. In this position, I tweak the EQ of my amp aiming at a good slap sound leaning towards Marcus Miller. Once I’m happy with that, I can tweak my bass from song to song aiming at different sounds.

Examples:

  • Humbucker mode on %100 neck pickup will lean towards a precision bass sound. Treble cut gets me into motown territory.
  • Single coil mode with centered pickup balance will give me a good Jazz Bass tone. Great for finger style & slapping.
  • Single coil mode, %25 bridge pickup, mid boost will give a nice solo tone.
  • Humbucker mode, %25 bridge pickup will give a nice Jaco-ish tone. This provides a good framework for compressed fuzz effects as well.

Lakland 55-02 Deluxe

Here is how I setup the initial tone of my Lakland. I start toning my instrument by leaving the EQ flat, balancing the neck & bridge coils at 50% and tweaking the amp until I get a 70’s Jazz Bass sound. Starting from that point;

  • Neck pickup solo, slight treble cut and slight mid boost gives a good classic P sound. This setting got a lot of praise at my first rehearsal with a rock band.
  • Neck pickup & front bridge coils balanced at 50% with treble cut gives a good sub bass sound. Ideal for reggae, R&B, dance and similar genres.
  • Neck pickup & back bridge coils balanced at 50% with flat EQ gives a good J sound (starting point). Ideal for finger style, funk and slapping.
  • Back bridge coils at 75% balance with slight treble boost gives a good solo tone.
  • Humbucker at 75% with flat EQ produces an agreeable Jaco tone.
  • Humbucker at 75% with slight treble & bass boost produces an agreeable StingRay tone.

I never solo the humbucker pickup; because compared to a StingRay, it’s position is slightly closer to the bridge. I advise mixing the humbucker with the neck pickup to preserve the punchiness you’d expect from a StingRay.

MusicMan StingRay Classic

Here are some tonal approaches I used when I had this instrument.

  • For a balanced mid oriented tone, leave bass & treble flat or reduce equally. Ideal for latin, jazz, pop, etc.
  • For a vintage tone, leave the bass flat and cut the treble. The idea is; vintage amps couldn’t produce the treble tones like the tweeters today; therefore it is vital to cut the trebles. That’s ideal for vintage blues / rock songs. A slight bass boost would lean towards a warmer sound.
  • For a modern rock tone, boost the bass and leave the treble flat. That will fill the lower frequencies like a wall.
  • For a sub bass tone, boost the bass and cut the treble. Ideal for R&B, reggae or electronic situations.
  • For slapping or soloing, leave the bass flat and boost the treble. In a 3 band EQ, I would prefer to boost the bass & treble and leave the mids alone; but on a 2 band instrument, this is the best I onboard approach I could think of.
  • For chords, cut the bass and boost the treble. That gives a baritone guitar oriented sound if you play beyond the 10th fret.

Those are not hard wired rules, of course; just my experiments on my former StingRay.

In case you have a hard time pinpointing the flat spot, you can measure the 50% spot of each pot and put a sticker there which points up. That way, you can tell the flat spot easier when playing live.

Sandberg California VM5

Some songs from the pop rock oriented repertoire of The Flat Band;

  • RHCP: 0% blended humbucker. Thats’s how I lean towards a StingRay.
  • Fly Me To The Moon: -50% blended single coil. That leans towards a traditional Jazz Bass sound.
  • All Shook Up: -100% blend (neck solo), mid boost, treble cut. That leans towards a traditional Precision Bass sound.
  • Ele Güne Karşı: +25% blended single coil, bass boost. That leans towards a nasal Jazz Bass sound.
  • Hung Up: -100% blend (neck solo), bass boost, treble cut. That gives a deep sub bass suitable for pop and electronic.
  • Walk of Life: -100% Blend (neck solo), treble off. That gives a motown oriented Precision Bass sound.

Some songs from the latin oriented Jozi Levi Brazil Project;

  • For a deep surdo tone; I use -50% blend in Humbucker. That gives a low-mid emphasized tone which resembles the Brazilian surdo drums.
  • For dynamic latin songs like Mais Que Nada or Ponteio, I use a 0% blend (balanced) in humbucker mode. That gives a Jaco-ish nasal tone in steroids. Single coil would lean towards Jaco.

I never solo the humbucker pickup; because compared to a StingRay, it’s position is slightly closer to the bridge. I advise mixing the humbucker with the neck pickup to preserve the punchiness you’d expect from a StingRay.

For soloing, +25% blend in single coil gives the best result. For Muse oriented tones, +25% blend in Humbucker mode gives the best result.

Yamaha TRB 1005

Leaving the bass and the amp flat, I leave the pickup balance at 50% and switch to single coil mode. In this position, I tweak the EQ of my amp aiming at a good Jazz Bass tone. Once I’m happy with that, I can tweak my bass from song to song aiming at different sounds.

Examples:

  • %75 neck pickup, treble cut and slight mid boost will lean towards a precision bass sound.
  • Centered pickup balance will give me a good Jazz Bass tone. Great for finger style & slapping.
  •  %75 bridge pickup with slight treble cut will give a nice Jaco-ish tone. If I don’t cut the treble, I get a good framework for compressed fuzz effects as well.

Misc.

Active basses with 2 / 4 band EQ’s or passive basses will require different approaches, obviously. But how I approach my basses can inspire you into the right direction.

Note that your hand placement and technique also plays a great role in terms of shaping your tone. Leaving your pickup balance centered, try playing close to the neck and attack the strings softly with the meaty part of your fingers – this will produce a very warm and deep tone. Now, play close to the bridge and attack the strings with the top of your fingers as if you would scratch / claw the pickup. This will produce a very bright tone and will also allow you to play 16th notes tighter. Now, play between the neck – bridge pickup with the side of your fingers. This will produce a low mid oriented balanced sound.

The combination of amp EQ, bass EQ and your hand technique will define your initial sound output, and the venue will shape the rest. I have provided my own initial preferences, but you’ll need to work out your own over time and with experience.

Pedalboard EQ

After you are happy with your amp EQ and how you can shape the sound with your bass, you can set the EQ of individual effect pedals. Don’t attempt setting the EQ’s of your pedals earlier.

Muse Bass

In case you would be interested in getting an agreeable Muse tone, check my post Muse Bass Sound where I share my hits and misses.

Solo Bass

I published a video, where I take two short bass solos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1B1Cb6JK_c . I received a few questions about my bass solo tone, so here is the answer.

I was using a Fender American Jazz Bass V with alder body & rosewood fingerboard, all stock. The neck pickup was about 25% off, bridge pickup was on full, and the tone was about 50% off.

The signal ran into the EHX Freeze pedal, which I used to freeze the bass note before starting the solo. That ensures that the bottom end doesn’t get lost during the bass solo. Note that the pedal can be used in chord change situations as well. In my case, I was soloing over a single chord.

After that, the signal ran into the most vital element of the chain: Mr. Black Supermoon. It is a hauntingly beautiful reverb / sway pedal, and this pedal is probably what you were wondering about. That’s how I create the atmospheric sound of the solo. Reverb was pointing at 1 o’clock, and sway & decay were pointing at 3 o’clock.

Finally, the signal ran into my Mark Bass amp. The EQ was flat, VLE pointing at 8 o’clock and VLC pointing at 10 o’clock.

The combination of Freeze & Supermoon can really open up new horizons. I highly recommend tinkering with them.

For the record, here is a picture of my entire pedalboard from that gig: https://www.instagram.com/p/BGYVVZZrgnB/?taken-by=keremkoseoglu . Before you ask, yes, the cat is also part of the board and is named as “ToneCat”.

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music, music.bass

Lakland 55-02 Deluxe Review

If you have read my past blog posts, you probably know that I have purchased & sold more basses than I would like to admit. Each bass I buy looks promising in some way, but I get dissatisfied by some other aspect; so I replace it with another one.

With every new replacement, I got closer to perfection. This time, I have a Lakland 55-02 Deluxe; which is promising in terms of fulfilling my criteria. I would like to share them with you.

Price

First of all, Lakland 55-02 Deluxe is an affordable bass. Even if it’s broken or stolen, it can be replaced with a broken heart but without a broken bank account. I can also leave it to the roadie or at the stage unattended without worrying too much. If you ever owned a boutique bass, you know the struggle: The stress of caring for your instrument can overcome the joy of playing it. As an active musician on the go, I ended up playing my backup instrument more than my main. However, an affordable high quality stunt bass is like the best of both worlds: You love your instrument and don’t worry too much about it.

For the record, here is a guide on deciding if a commodity is too expensive for you: Is That Too Expensive?

Quality

Don’t let the price tag fool you. Lakland 55-02 Deluxe is not your typical low profile overseas instrument. Although the woodwork is done in Indonesia; the final assembly, plek work and QA is made in the USA. Once again, you get the best of both worlds: A high quality instrument with an agreeable price.

And I can really feel the quality. The plek work is good enough to support a very low action setup without buzz, and the 35″ scale provides a very clear B string which I happen to use a lot.

The high quality feeling depends on a good setup though. In case you are wondering how I setup my Lakland, check my post How I Setup My Basses

Versatility

Tonewise, this bass is a chameleon. It can mimic the P, PJ, J, Jaco and StingRay sounds very nicely in the studio (not so much in a live situation – read further). Lakland fairly admits that the bass was designed to mimic those classic models in the first place. The overall design of the bass and the advanced coil split capabilities of the humbucker offers a tonal versatility second to none.

In case you are wondering how I tone my Lakland, check my post How I EQ my Basses

To increase the versatility even more, Lakland lets you select your mid frequency via a dipswitch on the board of the guitar. In case you are wondering about the frequencies, here is a comparison chart of Lakland with some alternative preamps (source).

– LH3: Bass 12dB @ 125 Hz, Mid 18dB @ 225-1100 Hz, Treble 12dB @ 1.250 Hz
– OBP-3: Bass 18dB @ 40 Hz, Mid 16dB @ 400/800 Hz, Treble 16dB @ 6.500 Hz
– NTMB: Bass 14dB @ 30 Hz, Mid 10dB @ 250/500/800 Hz, Treble 16dB @ 1.000 Hz

For the record; there is a famous video of a Lakland demonstration where its tone is compared to the respective classic bass guitars. Lakland has also published sound samples recorded with a 55-02.

Silence

Beyond the versatility of this bass guitar, one thing that really pleases me is the silence. Due to the pickup design, there is no hum involved. The neck pickup has two coils with opposing polarities within, and the bridge humbucker has four coils with opposing polarities within. As a result of that design; you don’t get any hum whichever pickup combination you choose. Considering that even some very expensive high end basses have humming single coil pickups, that’s a major benefit for me.

Delicacies

To be fair, I would also like to share some of my observed delicacies.

35″ is a good choice for a nice tight B string; however, it also means that the rest of the strings are tight as well. This can be tiring for unaccustomed fingers. I started using a pick on fast paced rock songs; which is luckily something that I’m used to.

Talking about strings; stringing a 35″ bass through the body means that I have limited options of XL strings. However, stringing through the bridge is also possible – I simply prefer otherwise. Not because of any tone difference though – I merely like the idea of the strings pressing the bridge to the body more than strings pulling the bridge off the body.

I should also add that I’m not really satisfied with how this bass sounded in a live situation. In my home studio, this bass did mimic other famous basses acceptably well. However; the nuances that define the versatility of this bass got digested and stepped over by loud drums and guitars in a rock band situation. My expectation was to switch from P-Bass to J-Bass to StingRay from song to song, but frankly, I ended up sounding similar in every setting.

A real P-Bass has more emphasis on the punch, a real J-Bass has more emphasis on the growl, and a real StingRay has more emphasis on the snarl. Although the Lakland can lean towards either direction, it didn’t sound exactly like those basses at all in a live situation. Maybe that’s just me; how a bass sounds is a really complex formula including the room, PA, amp, etc. But for the first time in my life, I experienced such a gap between my home studio and a live situation. Don’t take my word for it; read opinions of other people and play the bass for yourself before making a final decision on that matter.

I also felt like this bass sounded a little thin, possibly due to the ash + maple wood combination. I seem to be an alder + rosewood type of guy.

Conclusion

Lakland 55-02 Deluxe is so good that it makes me wonder about the 100% USA made 55-14 or 55-94. After a certain price point, you get diminished returns for your instrument. I expect the physical and tonal differences between a 55-02 & 55-94 to be much less than the price difference. That’s also the case with batch produced vs custom shop instruments of other brands. With a custom shop instrument; the wood and workmanship consistency and quality is definitely there. However, a lucky purchase of a production instrument of the same model can get close enough to make you wonder why the other one is so expensive. In my conjectural opinion, the comparison between 55-02 and 55-94 would be similar because they share the same specs, the exact same electronics and production after-touches such as plek implementation.

A quote from the forums says “A Skyline is all you need, a USA is all you want.” Another quote says “85% of the bass at 50% of the cost”. I think that those summarise the deal.

Lakland 55-02 was my secondary bass for a while, but currently I use a Yamaha TRB 1005 instead – due to my disappointment in the live setting. In case you are wondering, my main is a Fodera.

In case you are looking for an affordable high-quality instrument with unbeatable versatility, I still recommend listing the Lakland 55-02 Deluxe among your alternatives.

If you live in Turkey, I can recommend getting one from Limon Muzik. I ordered my Lakland in the afternoon over WhatsApp, and I had it in my hand on the next morning. Great staff too.

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