How to Set Up Your Bass Guitar for a Live Performance

bassist has his own set of gear that he or she uses. If you are just starting out as a bassist, then you will want to try out any and every piece of gear you can get your hands on. I’m going to give you a simple layout that you can use for the bass and change the gear up if you want to. Here are some things you should have:

  1. A direct box. I like the Boss DI 1. A Direct Box stabilizes unbalanced instruments to make them balanced. That’s another article in itself.
  2. An effect box, for the option of different sounds and a tuner. Not all bass players use the effects on an effect box, but having a tuner at your feet is very useful. There are countless effect boxes out there. I use a Zoom B2 effect box.
  3. 3 bass guitar cables.
  4. An amplifier. I like the Gallien Krueger 700RB-II with an Avatar speaker myself.
  5. A Shure SM57 microphone.

Start by inserting a cable into the bass guitar and then plug the other end of that cable and into the input of the effect box. Then take your second cable and insert it into the output of the effect box. Now take the other end of the cable that’s in the output and plug it into the input of the direct box. Use your final cable to plug into the output of the direct box. From there, plug in to the input of the amplifier. Your amplifier will generally have 2 input options. It will have an ACTIVE option and a PASSIVE option. This refers to the pick up on your bass. If your bass uses a battery for the pick-up, then it is active. If no battery is required, then it is passive. Once the amplifier is on and the volume is up you should be hearing sound coming out of the amplifier when you play. Find the effect you want to play with and get the volume and tone the way you like it on the amplifier.

You now have 2 options, you can either go to the mixing board directly from you D.I. box or you can use a microphone which you place in front of the amplifier. The benefit of going straight from the D.I box is that you don’t have to worry about the microphone picking up other sounds. The direct box is a solid line to the mixer. The benefit of using a microphone is that you know the sound you are hearing when you stand in front of the amplifier is what you want you’re bass to sound like. It may not sound like that going straight from the D.I box. It depends on how well your mixer knows your style and what you want. Try both and see which you prefer.

Using the Microphone Method

Once you get the sound you’re looking for out of the amplifier, take the Shure SM57 microphone, in a short microphone stand, and put it in from off the amplifier about 2 – 4 inches from the speaker cone, slightly off center. The microphone goes directly to the mixer and will pick up the sound from the amplifier which is set just the way you like it.

Now remember that the speakers out front of the stage are different then the ones in your amplifier. They may have a higher or lower character to them so you have to play and have someone listen out in front of the stage. If it sounds like it’s too thin and needs more bass then move the microphone closer to the amplifier. If the tone isn’t bright enough then move the microphone to the side, closer towards the center of the speaker cone. For a softer tone place the microphone more towards the outside edge of the speaker cone. You will need to play around with the positioning of your microphone to find where you get the best sound.

There is no set way to set you Bass guitar up. It all depends on your gear and your style. This is just one of many ways to do it. You can use this set up as a starting point for your own set up. Depending on your budget, developing your own personal set up can take awhile. Just keep playing and trying new things. As time passes you will develop your own sound.

 

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