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12 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

Bass Guitar

If you aren’t getting the bass sound you want, you may immediately consider investing in some new pedals, a new bass, or even a new amp. But before you do that, spend some time adjusting your equalization. Understanding how each of your amp’s equalization controls affects your bass tone can help you achieve a sound that sits perfectly in any stage or studio (and it’s free)!

Your amp’s equalization (EQ) controls allow you to boost or cut the volume of certain frequencies. Since every venue, room, and band is different, you’ll likely find that your EQ settings will constantly need to be adjusted. For instance, some smaller rooms may be boomy, so you’ll have to turn down the bass control. If you’re playing outdoors, there are no walls for the bass to reflect off of, so you’ll probably have to give your bass EQ a little boost. EQ lets you account for any deficiencies in room acoustics.

Here is a rundown of common EQ frequencies and what they sound like, using a Carvin Audio B1000 bass amplifier as a guide.

Carvin Audio B1000 900W Bass Amp Head

The EQ knobs on this amplifier are labelled Sub Bass, Bass, Low Mid, Mid, Hi Mid, and Treble. These knobs are centered at 40Hz, 100Hz, 400Hz, 800Hz, 2kHz, and 6kHz, respectively. While it’s not critical to know exactly what these frequencies are, it is extremely helpful to know how they affect the tonal characteristics of your bass.

40 Hz - This is the bottom end of your bass. It is more felt than heard and affects the low, low end of your bass. For reference, the E string on your bass guitar is 41Hz.

100Hz - This is the fatness or girth of your bass. Cutting here can help your bass be less boomy, while still keeping the bottom end power.

400Hz - A lot of your bass’s body, warmth and fullness lies in this range. Cutting too much here can make your bass sound thin, while boosting too much will make it sound woofy or muddy.

800Hz - This is where your bass “growls.” Your pick or finger attack is accentuated if you boost here, and your bass will cut through with added midrange.

2kHz - If you’re a bassist who wants an edgy tone, this frequency will do it. It adds clank and definition.

6kHz- This frequency really accentuates clarity and crispness, really bringing out fingerboard noise and the nuances of your playing.

It is important to note that boosting EQ affects the overall gain structure of your amplifier, so you likely will have to adjust the drive and/or master volume with any EQ changes. A good way to start is to set all your EQ knobs to the 12 o’clock position, and then reduce the EQ of any frequencies you don’t want. Applying proper equalization to your bass is something that you will master over time and with experience, so don’t be afraid to turn some knobs and find your tone!


  • Posted On July 29, 2016 by Donny

    I am finding the EQ is the solution to many guitar issues, including Genre, Mix, and player feel. I have been focusing on 800 for smooth low gain sounds. I play guitar, I would like more EQ tips, voice, guitar, drums, etc
    Also, watch amp drive by not boosting is a good tip.

  • Posted On May 25, 2016 by Boni

    Thanks, useful tips

  • Posted On May 25, 2016 by Jim Colbert

    Very,very helpful my main amp is a Carvin MB 1515 beautiful sounding amp great tone and the EQ on this guy is simple to use yet gives my bass a sweet range of sound.I don’t obsess with turning EQ knobs,however,with this amp’s onboard EQ I can optimize my sound to the sound that fits the venue and or the stage sound with the band.
    Thanks for the nice EQ class well done.
    Jim Colbert

  • Posted On May 25, 2016 by Raymond W Bennett III

    I have a very clean attack due to I leave my finger nail just a little bit long, and incorporate that with very hard finger attack which cuts through any mix with out going nuts trying to eq everything. Also I use a Jazz bass and depending on which pickup you play over will give you different tones for instance if I dig hard over rear pickup It will be a little bit mid rangy if that’s a word, and if I dig hard over front pick up it will result in a more fuller bottom sound, so just learning play around with you’re bass fist will help you have an easier time with EQ.

  • Posted On May 25, 2016 by Tulsa Tom

    Great info
    I learned right away I was taking out low mid when I should have backed off mid.
    I’ve got to keep experimenting.

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