Join Gretsch-Talk Today

how to balance your fingerpickin' tone / bass line vs. melody

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by jagROAR_63, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. jagROAR_63

    jagROAR_63 Gretschie

    450
    Apr 20, 2016
    Germany
    I wasn't sure, where to place this topic, since it has to do with possibly everything (playing technique, pick, pedal, amp, guitar, etc.)

    When I play fingerpickin' / fingerstyle with amplifier - especially with serious volume - I feel almost always, that the bass response (bass line) is too loud and my melody is not loud enough. The balance is not right !

    my axes are vintage
    - 6120dc
    - Double Anni
    - Rally with vintage Dynasonics loaded
    - sometimes a Telly
    - Jag

    Amp usually a brownface fender.

    When I listen to Doyle Dykes playin' a Gretsch and a Fender amp, it just sounds awesome and great bealanced.

    So I know, there are many variables, which influence that. So my question is - who had or has the same prob and how do you guys solve it ? I list some ideas...

    - Amp (brownface Fender has a lot of bass - might be too much - maybe better to use blackie instead !?)
    - guitar and pickups (filters vs. Hilos vs. Dearmonds - I think the Hilos are the least bassy / boomy ones and I get along better !?)
    - Pickup height (bass strings-magnets lower than the high strings magnets !?)
    - picks - after recommandation here I tried the Fred Kelly speed picks and they help to get more defined / highs in the bass line
    - Can a compressor help ? (is that, what some guy use it for ?)
    - playin- technique. Train your thumbs sensitivity !?
    - any other ideas !?
    - volume of the amp (I think, the louder I play, the more I feel this prob)
    - more !?

    Advice is highly appreciated from all the experienced fingerpickers.
     
  2. Dave-B

    Dave-B Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    710
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    I'm not terribly experienced, but have been thumbpicking long enough to know exactly what you mean :)

    Personally, I have found that balancing string volumes at the source by adjusting pickup and pole heights is far more effective than tweaking elements further down the chain, like amp settings or compression.

    But then, consider that Doyle can pull any guitar from the wall and sound great through any amp! That probably tells us it's largely in the fingers - having the level of thumb independence and control where you can dial the dynamics of the bass and melody up and down at will.
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  3. russmack

    russmack Gretschie

    479
    May 1, 2017
    ballina australia
    Yep. I have exact same problems when I pick on electric guitars. Of course, with amps.

    Dang funny thing, those problems go away while I'm pickin' on acoustic instruments.

    But like you, I'd really appreciate being able to fingerpick electrically.

    Chet could do it. So it must be possible.

    By the way, I use thumb and steel finger-picks. Which seems to be the only way to put some gutz into my acoustics.

    Could be the answer is right there. Do away with steel. Pick with nails/fingers.

    But it's taken me a helluva a long time to controls these steel thingies. Basically, I'd hafta go back to square one.

    Time's running out.

    I need a decisive fix - pronto.

    Anyone else have suggestions?

    Russ
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  4. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Age:
    36
    Aug 15, 2008
    england
    Practice practice n more practice.
    It's all in the right hand.

    You need full independent control of you thumb n fingers
     
    Gretschmen65 likes this.
  5. jagROAR_63

    jagROAR_63 Gretschie

    450
    Apr 20, 2016
    Germany
    of course, I know that this is a big part of it.

    But some tricks concerning gear / tools do help ! (for example the right pick)
    And like russmack says - I think this problem is much more present, when you play electrically (with amp) and with more volume. When I play acoustically, this problem is not really there.

    So - at least in my detection - there is something MORE going on with amplification and the bass strings compared to the higher strings, which increases this problem.

    For example:
    take your rig, which you are usually using in your band. In my band I'm an ordinary "plektrum"-player doing some funk / blues / rock. Now try to fingerpick in band-volume with that rig ! WHOOOO it's nearly impossible - the bass line will kill you while the melody is too quite. Of course it's the fingers, but I doubt that even Chet or Doyle would get along with such great unbalance-ness.
     
  6. Dave-B

    Dave-B Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    710
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    If it's that bad, then first try dropping the height of the pickup (and the pole screws) on the bass side.

    If you have access to recording software, it can help to record the clean guitar and examine the waveform to see which strings need adjusting.
     
  7. jagROAR_63

    jagROAR_63 Gretschie

    450
    Apr 20, 2016
    Germany
    Well - it's just an example, how bad it CAN be depending on the rig & volume (using a Univox Ripper Frankenstrat with a Fender Concert amp and playin' loud). When I play at home I get much better results with other guitars, thumbpick and (most important in my feeling so far) lower volume.
     
  8. jagROAR_63

    jagROAR_63 Gretschie

    450
    Apr 20, 2016
    Germany
    Maybe I should have mentioned, that I like my guitars sound generally tight and not too bassy :)
     
  9. Dave-B

    Dave-B Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    710
    May 23, 2016
    Scotland
    Could it be that your amps are just introducing enough natural compression at high volumes to accentuate the problem? For a more balanced clean sound at volume, perhaps you could DI into the PA for your fingerpicking songs, instead of going through your amp?
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  10. Axis39

    Axis39 Country Gent

    Age:
    49
    Jun 2, 2008
    Falmouth, Va
    You mentioned lowering the bass pole pieces... Are you lowering the whole pickup (bass side)? Or just lowering the pole pieces. You might try a combination of both?

    I tend to lower the bass side of most pickups and some need it more than others. On my Strats, it seems more extreme than other guitars... But, I do it to almost all of my guitars to balance highs and lows. Then, I will go in and tweak the pole pieces for each individual string.
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  11. benjwri

    benjwri Country Gent

    Age:
    79
    Oct 27, 2011
    Central ON Can
    An equalizer works for me!
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  12. jagROAR_63

    jagROAR_63 Gretschie

    450
    Apr 20, 2016
    Germany
    It is possible, that my amps are voiced a little too bassy. My amp tech likes 'em that way. Have to ask him, to check doin' a bit different.

    Yes - I tend to do same as you describe (same experience with Strats too). Haven't tried much with Gretsches so far (as I think adjusting PUP height is much more complicated / effort).

    I think - only a combination of various (partial) solutions will do the trick. :confused: Thanks for all your inputs so far :)
     
  13. Henry

    Henry Friend of Fred

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    How is your amp set up physically? I found my amp to be boomy when on the ground and facing my shins. Raised up and facing my upper body provides much tighter bass to me.
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  14. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Sounds familiar, I think it's mainly technique or lack there off. I don't seem to have this problem when flatpicking.
     
  15. mbkri

    mbkri Synchromatic

    591
    Sep 22, 2012
    Chicago
    I just dropped the poles on the dynasonics on my Roundup this afternoon and it sounds WAY better. The e and a strings were too boomy before. Simple fix for me on this particular guitar
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  16. Henry

    Henry Friend of Fred

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Btw a compressor can help but its a trade off of a type I error (inconsistent volume) versus a type II error (raising string noise). Personally I find it less fatiguing to reduce string noise than to focus on picking in a balanced way so I like using a compressor.
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  17. Arky

    Arky Gretschie

    160
    Feb 4, 2012
    Texas
    Palm mute the bass strings?
     
  18. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Age:
    36
    Aug 15, 2008
    england
    That should be obvious is your playing the style
     
    jagROAR_63 likes this.
  19. Arky

    Arky Gretschie

    160
    Feb 4, 2012
    Texas
    Well, yeah, but he's complaining about bass too loud...
     
  20. jagROAR_63

    jagROAR_63 Gretschie

    450
    Apr 20, 2016
    Germany
    Yes palm muting is given ! (of course)