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How to get the best reggae bass sound
The reggae bass sound is the bass sound typically associated with roots reggae.
It’s often described as deep and hypnotic.
Below are some tips to achieve this coveted sound.
In order to get the reggae bass sound; you have to know what the reggae bass should sound like.
Familiarise yourself with this sound by listening to a boat load of roots reggae music.
I am aware that some of you reading this may not know what roots reggae is – you are forgiven.
Listen to Marley, Tosh, Burning Spear, Culture, Morgan’s Heritage, Gentleman, etc to familiarise yourself with
roots reggae and the reggae bass sound.
It’s very important you do this; otherwise you will miss the whole essence of reggae.
After all it is the reggae bass sound that gives reggae its foundation and uniqueness.
After you have done listening, grab your bass and try to make the reggae bass sound you listened to.
This is a simple task, but it does work.
If you find that you are not getting the sound, chances are there’s something else you need to do, so keep
Use old or dead flatwound strings.
To get a good reggae bass sound you could use any strings whether flat.
But, you may struggle to a degree to get the sound.
New strings generally tends to sound too bright for the reggae bass sound that we are after; but the old or dead
strings have no sheen to them, which eliminates the brightness and to a large extent darken the sound.
So try them.
I personally think that the guys back then could not afford strings and just kept them on the guitar for as long as
possible and hence developed a fondness for the reggae bass sound they produced.
Use the neck pickup.
Again this may have being discovered through trial and error, but the reggae bass sound produce by the neck pickup
is out of this world.
At this point don’t worry about the type of pickup, that’s a reggae tone issue.
And while the reggae tone is very important and is related in many ways to the reggae bass sound, I will deal with
that in an upcoming article that will link to this one.
Just remember to use the neck pickup; it really does make the sound big, deep and dark.
Play close to the neck.
Playing too close to the bridge will make the reggae bass sound too high, which is really not ideal for
Look at the hand position of the top reggae bass players and
you will see what I mean.
Get a decent reggae amp.
See reggae bass for some recommended amps.
Your practice amp may or may not give a decent reggae bass sound, so get a professional amp if you want to sound
like a pro.
It will also hold its price if you wish to sell it later.
I am not going to be picky about the bass you use, so long as it’s a very good one.
If it is not, get one that’s good!
Sorry for shouting.
A Fender Jazz or P-bass is a start.
Remember to roll off the highs to keep it deep and sweet.
And that's it, take care!
For more on the
reggae bass sound and how to play reggae bass