You can’t quite put your finger on it, but for some reason you’re just not happy with your sound. You’ve been playing for a while and have decent gear, but something just seems to be missing. Sooner or later you may be seduced by advertisers and decide that a new piece of equipment will ‘fix’ your sound woes.
It probably won’t. Why? Contrary to what advertisers want you to believe:
- Money can’t buy happiness
- Having lots of stuff won’t necessarily make you happy
- Just because (insert famous bassist here) uses the product, that doesn’t mean that you’ll sound like them if you do.
Sure, there’s the initial rush of excitement with a new purchase (at least until the credit card bill shows up) but eventually that ‘shiny new stuff’ will become ‘normal stuff’ and eventually the ‘same old stuff’.
Somewhere between ‘normal stuff’ and the ‘same old stuff’ phase, you’ll probably think it’s a good idea to buy something else to ‘fix’ your sound again. When the honeymoon is over you’ll be back to square one – dissatisfied with your sound.
You want to be happy and have righteous tone you say? You can have both and here’s the trick:
- You have to choose to be happy with what you have.
So your bass is a little banged up – the ‘broken in’ finish adds character. Your amp may not be state of the art and light weight, but it’s been reliable gig after gig. Chances are there’s somebody, somewhere, who would love to have the gear that you take for granted.
Besides, there’s also a good chance that your unhappiness has nothing to do with your gear.
- You may be frustrated by a perceived lack of growth and development as a player
- You may not have anything to ‘say’ as an artist
- Are there tensions between you and a band member(s)?
- You may not be happy with where you are in life
Any of these things may be colouring the way you feel about your bass gear. Buying a new piece of equipment isn’t going to fix any of these problems. Ask yourself the real reasons why you’re unhappy and take action – it will make a world of difference.
Now look at your gear again and appreciate what you have. Sure, there may be one or two items that you’d like to upgrade, but for now let go and just be thankful.
There, that wasn’t so hard was it?
Now that you’re content with your stuff, you can get better bass tone by:
- Practicing more often/learning new techniques
- Break out the manuals and get reacquainted with your equipment
- Research online (Don’t know how to EQ your bass amplifier? Learn how!)
You’re not a victim of bad tone, waiting to be saved by the next person peddling bass gear. Flea sounds like Flea whether he’s playing a vintage Fender, a Musicman Stingray or his Modulus Graphite Signature bass – why do you think that is? No, it’s not the amp he uses – it’s his hands!
You have control over your tone – once you accept that responsibility, you may be surprised at what you can get out of your gear. Start from scratch, neutralize your bass EQ settings and experience your equipment again for the first time. You’ll sound better, you’ll feel better and it won’t cost you a dime.
Achieve righteous tone and attain true happiness, or settle for lackluster tone and discontentment – ultimately the choice is yours.