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Getting "that" sound

Big Bottom Willie

OK, this is a little far out there, but hopefully I can get some responses and some help.
I play bass in a cover band; old rock, softer rock, and country, with some originals thrown in. 2 guitars, bass, keyboard, drums. None of us use our own amps; we all play through multi-effects units into the PA (4x 15" tops and 2x 18" bottoms).
My problem/question is this: How can I get a sweet bass sound using only the PA? Is it even possible at all? It seems that with every other band I see that has "good" sound, they're all using their own amps, even if mic'ed through the PA. I will admit, not having to lug around 3+ different bass/guitar amps is nice, but the sound issue can be frustrating. It just seems like my bass is too boomy and lost in the mix. I've tried tweaking the EQ on the board but can never seem to get it just right...
Any suggestions are appreciated; thanks.
August 18, 2010 @05:42pm

I know several bass players that play through an Avalon U5 preamp before hitting the PA system. Even thought it's more popular in the studio, I see it more and more on live shows. Sounds sweet! It's not cheap but it's very nice.
August 18, 2010 @06:51pm

Have you looked at the Tech 21 SansAmp stuff? Looks like they might be an option for what you want to do- I saw a recommendation in another thread. I'm also wondering if there is feedback from other users- I'm thinking about buying one of them for our church.
August 23, 2010 @04:40am
Big Bottom Willie

Thanks for the input!
The Avalon U5 is a little too salty for me right now, but I picked up a Tech21 SansAmp Bassdriver DI, based on all the good things I've heard. I'll let you all know how it works out...
August 27, 2010 @05:53pm

Geddy Lee of Rush has been playing live without an amp for a few years now (he uses a Tech 21 SansAmp RBI) and has had clothes dryers, vending machines and most recently, a sausage grinder where the amps once were... :)
Actually most "big name" bassists go into the PA using a direct box - the amp is simply there as an onstage monitor for the player. The front of house engineer usually compresses and EQs the bass signal to level off volume peaks and taylor the tone of the bass to the room.
You can use something like the Tech 21 that simulates a bass amp and add a compressor or you could go the route of something like the Boss GT-10B; a modeling unit that makes your direct bass sound as though it's running through the amp of your choice with vintage studio compression, EQ and effects. Either will would work quite well.
April 22, 2011 @07:31pm

The best live bass sounds I've heard were all the PA (no bass rig, or a rig so small that it had no meaningful effect on the sound in the house). None were using a fancy DI.
April 23, 2011 @05:01am
Big Bottom Willie

Thanks for the further input on an older thread.
Since my last posting I've tried a Boss Limiter/Enhancer into a SansAmp DI, and have gone back to my Zoom B2.1U for most gigs, using either a WorkingPro12 or LowDown110 as my monitor.
When all is said and done I think my biggest problem is that we do our own sound without the benefit of a FOH engineer, and I am at the mercy of our guitarist who owns/operates the PA.
I guess when I start playing to Rush-sized audiences I can then worry only about whether to play through washing machines or chicken roasters.... :)
April 25, 2011 @08:35pm