Are you a bassist tired of sounding dull in a metal band just because you don’t know how to get a killer metal bass tone? In this guide, we’ve gathered all the knowledge to help you get the decisive tone that your ears have been dying to hear!
To get a killer metal bass tone, make sure to play aggressively. It’ll automatically make you sound a lot better. Along with that, you’ll need to dial in the amp settings, distortion, and effects. Finally, proper tweaking of the tone will guarantee a destructive sound.
These are the stuff you need to be looking for when you’re in search of the perfect tone. So, let’s dive into the details!
Basics of A Metal Bass Tone
A pure metal bass tone is presumably pretty aggressive. Bass usually works in the low frequencies, which gives it a nice punch. But the metal bass tone also has a unique harmonic quality which builds up because of the added distortion.
Now, the first step is to get a bass guitar that has fresh strings installed. It’ll improve your sound and offer better tonal quality.
The things you’ll need next are amps and distortion pedals. These will take the raw sound of your bass and elevate it to another level. But you have to know how the amps and the pedals work because it’ll help build your tone exactly how you want it to sound.
Your target should be to get that meaty bass sound and the bright high frequencies that add to the aggressive flavor of the tone.
A proper metal bass tone will need you to follow a few steps. Although these tones are very specific for a genre, they might be different based on one’s choice and preference of sound.
Nonetheless, you have to look out for the particular things you want to have in your tone and what that requires you to do.
Metal bassists have always been picky about their instruments in terms of their looks, appeal, texture, sound. These things matter in the big picture as it helps set the tone of your band and complements your presence on stage.
There are genre-specific bass guitars that are solely made for metal. These have the killer looks and texture required for a metal guitar. They also have outstanding sound from a technical viewpoint.
But if you don’t want to stick to the specific genre and keep your options open. You can also go for a bass guitar that is suitable for all sorts of genres.
Many bass players tend to look past this point, but it undoubtedly is the most crucial part. You have no idea how a fresh set of strings can change the entire sound of your bass and make you sound like a pro.
There are all sorts of strings that you can choose from. But for metal music, the stainless steel type is hands down the best choice. It helps you sound more aggressive by bringing out the attack of your performance and also has a bright tone.
Also, as you’re looking for a metal tone, you can go for comparatively thicker strings as they will ensure the low end and the texture of a metal tone.
The amp is the first thing into which your guitar input will go. It’ll be the base of your tone. It’ll set the foundation of how your tone is going to sound after the whole process is done.
Initially, you should boost the low end a little bit. Though it’s the base of your tone, you should keep in mind that a bass guitar has a built-in low tone. So, you might want to bring the bass down a few notches. That’s because too much low end will muffle your tone.
Now, the mid-range of your bass guitar is the central part of your tone. It will help shape your tone and cut through the mix. Look for the frequencies that you think are essential for the tone you want and boost them up.
The high end gives your tone a bit more texture and sharpness. It brings out the aggressiveness of the player. Although too much high-end will cause it to contradict other parts of the mix.
Going for a separate cabinet and amp head is the best option for you as it gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of shaping your tone. So, you should put equal emphasis on picking the right cabinet for your amp.
The size of the cabinet will also affect how your tone sounds. The larger the cabinet is, the more powerful low-end you will get.
The distortion adds a bit of grittiness or dirt to your tone, which is required for a metal bass tone. As a bass player, you should always stay in your territory and avoid getting in the way of other band members.
Since a distortion pedal boosts your bass’s mid and high frequencies, it’ll make the guitars sound a lot worse. So, you have to be aware of this when you’re tweaking your tone. You should leave room for the guitar to take its place in the mix and move behind it along with the drums.
Hopefully, this guide will help you get the idea of how to get a killer metal bass tone. Once you get a hold of it, you’ll easily be able to shape your tone and build different derivatives of it.
Lastly, you should never forget to make space for the other instruments in the mix. Your bass tone will indeed sound massive and destructive on its own. But if it doesn’t go with the overall arrangement of the band, then you should try to reconsider and come up with something that is best for everyone. Cheers!