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Tone Archives

Troubleshooting a Clicking Sound From Your Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Troubleshooting a Clicking Sound From Your Bass

Q: I read your column on active vs. passive basses. I have been playing for a lot of years and am having issues with any Bartolini preamp/pickup combination that I use. I think one thing missed in the article was active vs passive pickups (or maybe I overlooked that). Anyway, I’m hearing a clicking sound. I know what you’re thinking:...

How To Play Relaxed While Getting a Good Sound
Ask Damian Erskine

How To Play Relaxed While Getting a Good Sound

Q: When I listen to people playing bass, I always notice two things: 1) They play relaxed with their right hand and don’t use a lot of force and 2) while they do this, they STILL get a good volume and tone. When I play bass, I use quite a bit of force with my right hand (plucking) because when...

Getting the Most Out of Your Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Getting the Most Out of Your Bass

Q: I use a Fender American Standard Jazz bass and have Labella Flats on it. It’s a great bass, but not suitable for the type of genres that I play. I am seeking for a fatter and tighter sound, as deep as possible but with a lot of clarity. I have been looking into different pickups too. What should be...

The Lightbulb Moment: Studio Tones
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Studio Tones

For most musicians, walking into a professional recording studio is like setting foot in Disneyland. There are so many colors, so many shiny microphones, so many synthesizers! You want to touch everything, including those knobs on the console that are so perfectly aligned. The faint scent of aged wood, treated walls, and ghostly vibrations transport you to a world of...

How To Get “Your Sound” In The Studio
Ask Damian Erskine

How To Get “Your Sound” In The Studio

Q: I was recently listening to your newer album and was really loving the tone you get. Can you talk a little about how make sure to get “your sound” in the studio? Also, any general tips for recording in the studio would be helpful, too. I’m about to record our band’s first album and want to make sure I’m...

Finding the Right Tone Setting For Slap Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Finding the Right Tone Setting For Slap Bass

Q: I have seen a lot of Slap Pop tutorials, but none of them cover which pick up on the bass to use or tonal settings on the bass or amp. I am still working on proper striking technique, but I am wondering if part of getting the proper sound might be that I am not using the right pick...

Dealing with Different Environments and Bass Tone
Ask Damian Erskine

Dealing with Different Environments and Bass Tone

Q: In 25+ years playing, one problem has plagued and perplexed me the entire time… from one band practice to the next I swear the tone of my bass changes. One day my bass tone sounds like it’s dialed in right where it needs to be the next my strings sound dull or my amp tone isn’t punching they way...

A Discussion on Slap Bass Tone and Technique
Ask Damian Erskine

A Discussion on Slap Bass Tone and Technique

I get a an insurmountable number of emailed questions asking about slap tone and technique. While I have mentioned dozens of times in various columns that I never really explored the slap side of bass, I have fiddled with it enough, in addition to knowing quite a few fantastic slappers. I know how to get the tone, I just never...

The Lightbulb Moment: A Tale of Two Pickups
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: A Tale of Two Pickups

It was a humid, mid-summer night in 2010. Navigating to the venue seemed to take forever as the streets were bustling with 20-somethings heading to this restaurant and that, celebrating their two-day vacation from the confines of their offices. This particular club was familiar… I had played there once a month for almost a year and was confident in my...

Maintaining Your Tone Between Fingerstyle and Slap
Ask Damian Erskine

Maintaining Your Tone Between Fingerstyle and Slap

Q: Most of the time, I play fingerstyle, but sometimes in the middle of some songs, I change to slap-style. In those situations, I find I just don’t have enough punch to come through. I don’t think that’s a matter of technique or strength. What do you suggest? Do I need a gearbox to augment the volume when I switch...