My New Bass Setup

I’ve been having a blast setting up my ideal bass setup as of late. One thing I’ve noticed about my setup is how many more pedals and effects I rely on nowadays as opposed to the old setup I used for many years in bands. If only I knew then what I know now.

You see, I used to play on an Ampeg svt-350 w/ 8X10 cab and that was pretty much it. I think at one point I may have stuck a BBE sonic maximizer on there, but I was very much a meat and potatoes kinda setup bass player. I was never fully satisfied with my tone.. in fact, I never really felt I had a tone. I just plugged in and played as was. I’ve since learned a thing or two about acquiring a particular “sound” or tone that can be not only pleasing but help the bass cut through the loud guitars and drums so it can be heard. There were many a time I felt I was doing all sorts of cool things on the bass, yet no one could hear it. I was right. I needed a few things to help alleviate that problem.

I’ve since sold the 8X10 cab and have just held onto the SVT-350 waiting to see what I might do with it. Within the last few weeks I finally decided what I was going to do with it. I started to record a metal band lately and I had the pleasure of recording the  bass player mic’d to his cab, as well as sending the direct to the DAW. It sounded great. I was impressed. He had a nice tone, but I felt I had control over that tone by throwing a mic on the cab.

When recording my bass, I usually just went from my head, through some virtual FX and came away w/ a pretty good bass. Actually, pretty great. It cut through the mix and very little mixing was needed on the bass part, because I nailed it at the source recording. But…. I alway felt I was missing a little low-end that can only come from a mic’ed cab. My virtual “cabs” were great at emulating that sound, but I just felt it would be great to actually have the cab and mic it up to get that sound much like I did for that metal bass player I just recorded. So, went on a quest to find it and have since bought all the outboard FX needed to finally nail down my bass tone.

Again, if I only knew then… because these FX would have been a great icing on the cake to the gear I had at the time. I was so naive. 😉

At any rate, here is the new setup.

The head. Before picking up pedals, I started here. I dialed in a nice overall sound w/ the EQ knobs & Gain, then fine-tuned it w/ the Graphic EQ. They don’t make this model anymore, but its great! I absolutely love it and always have.
This is the new cab. A 15″ speaker. I probably should have picked up a 4X10 for $100 more, but I really thought putting a mic on that “woofy” speaker would be great . We’ll see. If nothing else, I’ll sell this and pickup the 4X10.
This is the magic pill right here. This thing is truly awesome. I was able to fine-tune the tone from the head even more with this AND dial in a tone that’s very tube-like. Not to mention, the distortion, when instantiated, is great. Most consider this a Sans amp ripoff, but it couldn’t be further from the truth as far as I’m concerned. Of course, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. This little thing packed a whole lotta good when I got it dialed in.
This is my standard tube compressor I use whenever I’m recording. I know it and like it. I would have bought a pedal compressor if I was to be gigging, but I’m not. Just use this to keep my dynamic bass from giving me headaches when mixing and helps to add some sustain so it doesn’t get lost when holding the note.
This limiter also gets a bit of a bad rap, but I found it to be perfect at furthering the “cut through” idea. The enhancer is some sort of EQ setting apparently, but it works well. I do get a bit of hiss from this, but that’s what makes it rock n roll. No hiss is for the Barry Manilows of the world.
This is the last in the chain and this thing cleans everything up. It is a unique device, I had the rack mount back in the day but didn’t know how to use it. Now I do. It’s awesome. It apparently aligns the frequencies of the bass or guitar and in doing so adds a little more clarity and punch.

The most beautiful part of all these little gadgets is that I got most of them at discount prices. That’s always a good thing. The cab and limiter I bought at full price. The BBE I got for $40 – sells new for $100. The MXR I got for $75 – sells knew for $140.  The head and compressor I bought long ago and I paid full for those.

But, in the end I have the tone I’ve always been searching for. Again, if I was to do anything different, I would have picked up a 4X10 cab, but with that said, I’m actually getting a great sound. You can’t go wrong with Ampeg no matter what you get. You really can’t. They are THE bass makers and have been for decades.

That’s all for now.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *