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Articulation and EQ on Progress Series IV Fretless
I took delivery of a Progress Series IV fretless 5 string bass on Tuesday. It is a beautiful instrument. I have it strung EADGC at the moment, but will probably revert to BEADG, which I have on my Fender Jazz Elite.
Yesterday, I took it for its first gig at our local church. Due to lockdown, we had a very inexperienced sound engineer, who did not know how to set the foldback or in-ear monitors. Another guy working on live streaming set up the foldback for him. For social distancing reasons, the poor sound engineer also had to operate the PowerPoint.
My biggest concern was whether I could play in tune, but actually after many hours of practice that went pretty well. In the first song, I was really struggling to hear the bass, so I turned it up. I concede that this not exactly helping the sound engineer, but I need a certain level of volume to be sure I am playing the right notes.
The pianist often plays with gusto and by verse 4, she was singing loudly and playing in Rachmaninov mode. The bass was not that prominent in the foldback, so I went with her - really digging in. Listening to the livestream recording afterwards, I realised that I was too loud - though an RNCM graduate told me I was actually too quiet where he was sitting in church. Listening on my Hi Fi, the Progress was not so much cutting through the mix, as smashing its way through like a baseball bat. This might have been fine playing James Brown music, but maybe not on a church hymn!
I know the Progess is capable of a wide variety of sounds, so at last I reach my questions:
1. Have you had any experiences similar to this?
2. Have you moved from a Fender to a Progress? If so, how did you adjust your playing style to fit with the Progress?
3. Any tips on articulation, right hand position, pickup selector position or EQ?
For reference, here is the recording. The song starts 10 minutes in:
Since nobody has replied, I am giving my own update. This is based on my experiments with playing style and adjusting the settings.
The Progress is very sensitive to articulation. This makes a much bigger difference than the settings do. I have found that playing gently using the soft parts of fingers and thumbs gives a lovely smooth sound, which works well for jazz. Plucking towards or over the neck increases the bass and smoothness.
I have set the pick up selector to halfway between the centre and full front pickup. I added a bit of bass and reduced just a bit of mid. I have experimented with the pull bright switch. I like it both in and out - maybe leave it in for comping and pull it out for solos.
As I mentioned in my original post, digging in hard changes the sound dramatically. As Chris says, it is a more articulate instrument than I am used to. Therefore, playing style and technique are amplified more. It also makes it more important than ever to hear clearly what you are playing - obvious I know, but not always easy in my world.