Best bass for metalcore

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LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
edited July 2 in Bass
So after playing bass a few times for a mate's band (initially only did a few dep shows) its getting to a stage where I'm getting to play more often. I use the original guy's bass, an Epiphone Firebird, which is tuned to B E A G (it should be B E A D, I know but as he normally uses a 5 string he's tuned the thinnest string to a G as he uses some notes on a song that wouldn't be possible to reach if it was a D). They play in drop b but the bass isn't set up for a drop tuning.

I been thinking of getting my own one as its a bit confusing transposing from guitar (I sometimes fill in on guitar) and some of the riffs have to be played 2 frets down. Also I'm not in Motley Crue so the bass looks a bit weird in a metalcore band!

How would I set the guitar up for a drop tuning? I don't think bass strings are as popular as a custom drop tuned gauge, and should I go for a 4 or a 5 string?
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3369
    How would I set the guitar up for a drop tuning? I don't think bass strings are as popular as a custom drop tuned gauge, and should I go for a 4 or a 5 string?
    Down tuning on a four string bass guitar will involve big strings and some attention to the nut. At the very least, the string slots will need widening. If your strings are extremely heavy, it may be necessary to have a new nut cut from a blank in order to achieve the necessary clearance over the frets.

    Epiphone Thunderbird, which is tuned to B E A G (it should be B E A D, I know but as he normally uses a 5 string he's tuned the thinnest string to a G as he uses some notes on a song that wouldn't be possible to reach if it was a D). 
    This arrangement is not helping either of the main players of the Epiphone bass. In the long term, any string tension mismatch could lead to a twist in the neck.

    should I go for a 4 or a 5 string?
    If you have no strong preference either way, I suggest that the owner of the Epiphone should sell it to you and get himself the five string that he so obviously needs.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
    Down tuning on a four string bass guitar will involve big strings and some attention to the nut. At the very least, the string slots will need widening. If your strings are extremely heavy, it may be necessary to have a new nut cut from a blank in order to achieve the necessary clearance over the frets.

    I usually have my guitars set up for drop tunings by filing the nut and the slots. This guy is a lazy skint motherfucker and never does it!

    This arrangement is not helping either of the main players of the Epiphone bass. In the long term, any string tension mismatch could lead to a twist in the neck.

    Yep, as mentioned above he can't be bothered to sort out his other 5 string!


    If you have no strong preference either way, I suggest that the owner of the Epiphone should sell it to you and get himself the five string that he so obviously needs.
    He does have another 5 string (Warwick or something) but the pickups are fucked and he hasn't fixed it since.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3369
    In the event that you become the full-time bassist in the Metalcore band, would you need to be able to reach those same high notes as the knackered Warwick guy?

    If so, then you definitely need a five string bass guitar. (Few would welcome the mindfuck of a four string bass tuned in fifths.)

    What colour/version is the Epiphone Thunderbird? I can easily imagine how a brown sunburst or the natural finish Pro model are unlikely to fit the Metalcore image.

    5 string Warwick (or something) but the pickups are fucked and he hasn't fixed it since.
    Could that be a Rockbass By Warwick? Spector basses look similar. Either would be easy to modify/upgrade.

    If the five string bass is a Warwick and the pickups are MEC Dynamic Correction passive types, they are not so much fucked as shite. No amount of active EQ can rescue their lack of tone. Replacement aftermarket pickups and controls should restore the bass to full health.

    I would imagine that the LSMF will be reluctant to part with the Epiphone until his five string bass is up and running again.




    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
    edited July 2
    In the event that you become the full-time bassist in the Metalcore band, would you need to be able to reach those same high notes as the knackered Warwick guy?

    If so, then you definitely need a five string bass guitar. (Few would welcome the mindfuck of a four string bass tuned in fifths.)

    What colour/version is the Epiphone Thunderbird? I can easily imagine how a brown sunburst or the natural finish Pro model are unlikely to fit the Metalcore image.

    He uses that string for 2 songs in the current set, he recorded with it for a new EP but I wasn't there so I don't know if he used it on those new songs. The note would be too high on a 4 string with a D, hence why he tunes it to a G so no, I don't think I would.

    Its this one I believe:



    Could that be a Rockbass By Warwick? Spector basses look similar. Either would be easy to modify/upgrade.

    If the five string bass is a Warwick and the pickups are MEC Dynamic Correction passive types, they are not so much fucked as shite. No amount of active EQ can rescue their lack of tone. Replacement aftermarket pickups and controls should restore the bass to full health.

    I would imagine that the LSMF will be reluctant to part with the Epiphone until his five string bass is up and running again.

    I don't know why I said Warwick, I can't actually see what the brand is as I wasn't involved with the band when he was using it.

    If I was to get a new bass I'd change the stock pickups, as I usually do that with guitars.



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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3369
    The note would be too high on a 4 string with a D, hence, why he tunes it to a G so no, I don't think I would.
    Can the LSMF not get that high note with a hammer-on from a finger of his picking hand? ;)

    If you like the Epiphone Thunderbird and can get it cheaply, it could probably serve you well. You know how to tweak everything. If the pickups suck, one professional quality replacement might be enough. e.g. Duncan Blackouts For Bass humbucker plus, possibly, matching active EQ.

    If you feel no obligation to come to an arrangement with the LSMF, choose a bass guitar to please yourself. If you only need one noise-cancelling pickup and minimal controls, get that. If you can play the band's music on four strings, get a four string. 

    Truth be known, you could probably do it all with a Precision Bass sound. The problem with a P would be the look. Not pointy enough!




    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    Nope, no matter how hard I try I have no idea what LSMF stands for.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3369
    LSMF
    Lestratcaster said:
    lazy skint motherfucker
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7096
    I play drop tuned 4 string basses tuned B F# B E, and do heavy modern rock stuff.

    If it’s in budget look at a Dingwall Combustion. I don’t think you can beat their low B’s for heavy music, the fan fret gives a much tighter low B than anything else I’ve tried or owned in a similar price range.

    For outright aggression you want passive pickups on a bass for metal IMO, the high end is grittier vs what you get with typical actives like EMGs (which I like, most of my guitars are EMG). My preference is for single coils over humbuckers just because they’re less prone to mud. Jazz or Precision style pickups comes down to taste, you can’t go wrong with either.

    As a really simple rule I’d go Jazz bass for heavy scooped sounding bass and Precision for fatter and more up front driving bass tone but less sub than a Jazz.

    You will most likely want to be using steel strings for metalcore. I make up sets of pro steels from individual strings.. it’s expensive unfortunately, but there’s nothing off the shelf that fits my needs 


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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    LSMF
    Lestratcaster said:
    lazy skint motherfucker
    Ahah!

    oh, and to the OP - metalcore is the only exception to the “bass has 4 strings” rule. Get a fiver. 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3369
    Bridgehouse said:
    Get a fiver. 
    Sell out. :-p
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    Bridgehouse said:
    Get a fiver. 
    Sell out. :-p
    I’ll never play metalcore so I can justify it. It means there’s somewhere for all the fivers to go. Plus the fact they need those massive power cable strings for the lows, innit..
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
    The note would be too high on a 4 string with a D, hence, why he tunes it to a G so no, I don't think I would.
    Can the LSMF not get that high note with a hammer-on from a finger of his picking hand? ;)

    If you like the Epiphone Thunderbird and can get it cheaply, it could probably serve you well. You know how to tweak everything. If the pickups suck, one professional quality replacement might be enough. e.g. Duncan Blackouts For Bass humbucker plus, possibly, matching active EQ.

    If you feel no obligation to come to an arrangement with the LSMF, choose a bass guitar to please yourself. If you only need one noise-cancelling pickup and minimal controls, get that. If you can play the band's music on four strings, get a four string. 

    Truth be known, you could probably do it all with a Precision Bass sound. The problem with a P would be the look. Not pointy enough!




    I haven’t tried it so I wouldn’t know haha.

    I look a bit silly playing the thunderbird, would rather have a Fender jazz on, all the other bands we play with have such nice basses actually drop tuned. Not sure what pickups I’d put in there at the moment.

    Well that’s why I want to look at getting my own one as he seems to like buying cheap shit gear that breaks easily. How he managed to record the ep with it I will never know lol.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7096
    What kind of bass tones do you like?  Are you planning to use a gritty/overdriven tone?  What is your budget?
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    What kind of bass tones do you like?  Are you planning to use a gritty/overdriven tone?  What is your budget?
    I was actually wondering the same, and whether the bass isn't the question, but whether a really decent overdrive is the answer. Hmmm.. Darkglass..
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
    edited July 3
    What kind of bass tones do you like?  Are you planning to use a gritty/overdriven tone?  What is your budget?
    I like Mark Hoppus' bass tone, like quite clean but some grit in there for choruses.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJTld_Qi-Bk&ab_channel=Blink182Tunes

    Or something like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aYmEsArgTY&ab_channel=ThomasTroccoli

    Clicky and locks with the kick drum.

    Budget, around £700 maybe?
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    What kind of bass tones do you like?  Are you planning to use a gritty/overdriven tone?  What is your budget?
    I like Mark Hoppus' bass tone, like quite clean but some grit in there for choruses.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJTld_Qi-Bk&ab_channel=Blink182Tunes

    Or something like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aYmEsArgTY&ab_channel=ThomasTroccoli

    Clicky and locks with the kick drum.

    Budget, around £700 maybe?
    Well, you could get a Sterling Stingray 5 for within budget - the MM hum bucker will certainly get you there tone wise. For live use you need a good o/d or preamp to really nail that tone - and I'd suggest one with some sort of built in compression or a compression pedal to go with it. 

    I think Hoppus's sound is a Jazz but with a reversed P bass pickup - again, that tight hum bucker thump. 

    Given what you've said, I'd go down the route of finding a bass that gives a good solid deep punchy tone that you like playing and feels right - and then work out how you are going to shape your tone 
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7096
    Well those are two very different bass tones.

    You're probably going to want to get a preamp pedal to get the top end grit.  Sansamp BDDI/RBI's do well for that kind of high end if you blend it, but be aware down in B they don't like the low end being turned up on a subby preamp (like the Stingray would have).  The other option would be a Darkglass B3K which is tighter and glassier, but it gives you less EQ options, you have to get the more expensive B7K to get the EQ.

    I think it's hard to go wrong with a P bass if you like the Blink type of tone.  Since you're in B, if you can find a used US Precision with the graphite rods in the neck that will help get a good low B.  In my experience the stiffer the neck the better the low B.

    Stingrays are very much their own thing though, the top end on them can't easily be replicated by another bass, if you specifically like the top end from a Stingray then get one of those. 

    There's quite a big difference in how a P and a Ray will sit in a band mix especially when you grit/distort them a bit.

    The Ray tends to lean towards deeper sub and cutting top end sizzle.  The P will have more thump to it, less sub, and less top end.  in descriptive terms I'd go P to drive the guitars along and Ray to envelope around the guitars, if that makes any sense.


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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
    LSMF uses a Sansamp to get his dirt, by turning the gain on the amp down. With certain cabs it sounds pretty good actually.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15849
    I personally never got on with the Stingray tone. 

    I'm in the process of converting my ACG to active as I want the flexibility - but the Stingray just never sat right for me in the mix.

    This might be a good reason for you to have a serious look at a Stingray..
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7096
    I personally never got on with the Stingray tone. 

    I'm in the process of converting my ACG to active as I want the flexibility - but the Stingray just never sat right for me in the mix.

    This might be a good reason for you to have a serious look at a Stingray..
    I pretty much ignore the preamp on my Stingray unless I want to bring out that high end grit. I find the bass knob is voiced too low, and the treble voiced too high. Since I already tune low I don’t want more sub, and since I’m usually using an overdrive I don’t usually need much more high treble.

    But left in the centre (I have a 3EQ) it’s got a good starting point which I’ll use a preamp pedal to shape into what I want.

    My favourite pairing is with a Darkglass Vintage Ultra, but that’s my favourite pedal in general, it’ll work for pretty much anything.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7096
    LSMF uses a Sansamp to get his dirt, by turning the gain on the amp down. With certain cabs it sounds pretty good actually.
    Yeah it’s a good sound. Just from experience if you feed it with a lot of sub low end and try and distort it then it can get a bit loose sounding. The Stingray bass control is centred at 40hz IIRC, so low.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
    LSMF uses a Sansamp to get his dirt, by turning the gain on the amp down. With certain cabs it sounds pretty good actually.
    Yeah it’s a good sound. Just from experience if you feed it with a lot of sub low end and try and distort it then it can get a bit loose sounding. The Stingray bass control is centred at 40hz IIRC, so low.
    I don't add that much bass from the amp, and its important to keep the drive pretty low otherwise it does sound fuzzy.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7096
    LSMF uses a Sansamp to get his dirt, by turning the gain on the amp down. With certain cabs it sounds pretty good actually.
    Yeah it’s a good sound. Just from experience if you feed it with a lot of sub low end and try and distort it then it can get a bit loose sounding. The Stingray bass control is centred at 40hz IIRC, so low.
    I don't add that much bass from the amp, and its important to keep the drive pretty low otherwise it does sound fuzzy.

    The issue is the Sansamp will get fuzzy/loose sounding if you increase the bass before the sansamp, e.g. from the Stingray Preamp, or by just having a very subby sounding bass in a low tuning (e.g. Jazz bass in B or lower with both pickups on).

    When I use my Jazz bass I use a high pass filter (micro thumpinator) to keep the subs under control to make the RBI I have behave more at higher gain settings.

    Typically a P bass does better with a Sansamp BDDI/RBI in lower tunings because it has less sub to begin with.  A jazz with both pickups on has the most natural sub out of those 3 instruments, but increasing bass on the stingray makes that the most sub heavy.  If you leave the bass flat on the Stingray it should do ok.  

    Bass at the amp is just to taste and won't affect how the Sansamp distorts.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
    Not sure what strings he uses on there but the lowest is 130 I believe. That's pretty thick?

    As the guitars are so high gain I need a cleaner sound than both of them.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7096
    130 is what I use for a low B on all my instruments.  I feel like 135 and bigger loses a lot of attack, 125 is too thin for my tastes.  There's a noticeable difference between string types though, for example Pro Steels are more flexible than nickels at the same gauge.

    As for which strings to try, Pro Steel D'Addarios are a good start.  That's what I use most of the time.  In general you get a clearer and crisper sounding low B with steel strings.  Nickel tends to be warmer, which can be the opposite of what you want in heavier genres.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 443
    He uses Rotosound I think, on his weird tuned bass lol. I keep saying I like the Dunlops but he seems to prefer those. As its not my bass I can't exactly tell him what to put on there.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3369
    Not sure what strings he uses on there but the lowest is 130 I believe. That's pretty thick?
    I have something thicker than that on my Warwick Streamer V. 

    As the guitars are so high gain, I need a cleaner sound than both of them.
    < Strokes beard >  Under these circumstances, what would Lemmy use? ;)
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7096
    Which Rotos? They do both steel and nickel. I like the steels a lot but the brightness dies faster than D’Addario Pro Steels so I don’t use them. Their steels are stiffer and less scooped sounding than Pro Steels.
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 689
    edited July 4
    Something active. It'll only need the lowest string, and it'll only need the first 5 frets. Lack of an output jack socket will also improve the sound.
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 689
    Also, every middle-of-the road metalcore band's bassist plays Ibanez SR300 series basses. Don't add any dirt whatsoever or you'll lose it in the mix alongside the Line 6 Spider guitar amps.
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