How I EQ my Basses

Tone is a highly subjective matter of taste with no universal rights and wrongs. How you should approach the tone of your bass depends on many factors such as your gear, technique, band, style of music, acoustics and size of the stage & venue, etc. I can’t guide you through a walkthrough of absolute tonal success, but I will talk about my approach which might inspire you to develop your own.

Please remember that a good tone starts with a good setup; check How I Setup My Basses if you need to.

Principles

I do my main tonal setup by leaving my bass flat and tweaking the EQ of the amp. I use the EQ of my bass for minor tweaks during the gig, which involves tiny boost & cuts here and there (we will talk about this later). The idea is, it is hard (sometimes impossible) to turn back to your amp, tweak the sound, and get back to playing. But it is very easy to make a small adjustments via the onboard EQ with a small hand gesture.

Another reason is; once you cut a frequency, you can’t put it back any more. Think of old dirty strings that don’t ring that well any more – no matter how much you boost your treble, you can’t make them sound sparky when slapping. The same applies to your bass EQ. If you cut some frequencies onboard, you can’t put them back on the amp. Therefore, having a flat EQ on the bass initially is important in terms of frequency abundance as well.

The distance between the amp & your standing point is very important. Assuming that you have a mid sized amp, you should be staying around 2m away from your amp in order you can hear yourself. If you are too close, you will be standing behind the point where the sound is actually formed, and you won’t hear yourself well while your band members complain that the bass is too loud. If the stage is small and you can’t get the ideal distance, you might be better off using the amp as a DI only and mainly hearing yourself from the monitor speakers. Or, in-ear monitors. So, keep your distance (if possible) while shaping your EQ and playing on stage.

Your rig isn’t the only factor shaping your sound. The venue size & shape, ceiling height, stage material, amp placement and many other factors play a role on how you sound. You should imagine your bass + head + cabinets + the entire environment as a big giant rig producing your sound. Whatever you setup on the amp is only a starting point for your sound. Since you can’t shape your material environment, you’ll shape your amp EQ so that the amp -> material environment will produce the sound you want. Whatever EQ sounds good at home might sound bad on stage, or some EQ sounding good on a certain venue can sound bad on another venue. This means that you can’t have a fixed global EQ setting which works everywhere. You can have a certain sound you like, but how you’ll achieve this sound EQ-wise will differ from venue to venue. So you need to learn and love the EQ.

How you sound alone will differ from how you sound in the mix. After doing your initial EQ, be prepared to tweak it further after you play all together. Another point is; how you sound outside will differ from how you hear yourself on the stage. After setting your amp EQ to your taste, you are going to need to trust the sound guy for how you sound outside. Talk to him/her about your sound preference, but let him/her be the final judge. I also recommend sending him/her your flat signal so they can add / subtract frequencies more accurately (another reason to leave your bass EQ flat initially). Many amps have a pre/post switch or a dry out output (pin or XLR) to enable that.

Amp EQ

Having covered the principles, we can move forward and tweak the EQ on the amp.

Start of by setting your bass flat. If you have a passive bass, you’ll want to leave the EQ wide open. If you have an active bass, you’ll want all EQ knobs centered. If you have a StingRay Classic and don’t have a center detent, good luck finding the flat spot.

Set your amp EQ flat as well. If you like the sound coming out with the flat setup, then fine! Don’t play with anything. You may get off with a good sound using a flat EQ at times. However, you’ll need to tweak the EQ in many other cases.

You need to be aware of the gain knob that most amps have. This knob will set the strength of the initial signal coming from your bass. A very low gain setting will leave you sounding weak. A very high gain setting will overpower the amp so you can’t distinguish the nuances of your technique. You need to find a sweet spot inbetween; where you sound strong enough to be satisfied while you can still hear your nuances. In many cases, gain & volume on the amp need to be balanced simultaneously. This means, the amount of gain you’ll need will be different on low & high volume situations. On my Aguilar ToneHammer 500, I tend to set the gain at 10 o’clock while the master volume is around 12.

In terms of EQ setup, you need to know what each frequency does. In case your amp has 4 EQ knobs;

  • Bass will define how boomy your sound is – think of the subwoofers
  • Low mid will define how punchy your sound is – think of the Precision Bass sound
  • High mid will define the nasal / bite amount of your sound – think of Jaco
  • Treble will define your presence in terms of string / fret noise – think of the top end of slapping

In case your amp has 3 EQ knobs;

  • Bass will command your bass + a bit of the low mids
  • Mid will command your low + high mids
  • Treble will commad a bit of the high mids + your treble

In case your amp has 2 EQ knobs;

  • Bass will command your bass + low mids
  • Treble will command your high mids + treble

Different amps will have their knobs set at different frequencies; the information above is just a casual general guide.

Some amps have the option to switch to a graphic EQ. Now this is where you have the most control, but it might be overkill for many players which are not sound engineers. Talkbass has a good explanation of frequencies , but I rarely get there on live situations. If I’m in the studio, I leave that level of granularity to the sound engineers anyway.

As a general principle, cutting gives better results than boosting. If your bass sounds too boomy and you can’t hear your highs, cut the bass instead of boosting the treble. If your bass sounds too punchy and you can’t get enough bite, cut the low mids instead of boosting the high mids. You get the idea. Perceived frequency balance is as valid as actual frequency balance – when you cut the treble, people will perceive the sound to be “boomier” despite you didn’t boost the bass frequencies, and you don’t overpower anything, ending up sounding cleaner.

Most of the time, a little cut or boost goes a long way. If you feel like you need extreme EQ changes, chances are you don’t have the correct rig to produce the sound you like.

Bass EQ

Fender American Deluxe Jazz Bass

After making the guitar flat and setting the amp to give a traditional Jazz Bass tone, I did the following tricks to expand the tonal palette.

  • Passive mode, 50% balance, treble on gives a traditional Jazz Bass tone. Ideal for many genres like latin, pop, funk, etc.
  • Passive mode with emphasis on the bridge pickup gives a good Jaco tone.
  • Passive mode with emphasis on the neck and treble cut leans towards a vintage Precision Bass tone. Can be used on blues, classic rock, R&B, reggae, etc.
  • Active mode, 50% balance with flat EQ gives a modern finger style tone which cuts through the mix. Add some mids to taste.
  • Active mode, 50% balance with a slight bass & treble boost gives a good slap tone, leaning towards Marcus Miller.
  • Active mode with emphasis on the bridge pickup and slight bass & treble boost gives a nasal bite leaning towards StingRay.
  • Active mode with emphasis on the neck pickup, bass & mid boost and treble cut gives a modern warm bass tone; suitable for loud rock bands.

Fender Marcus Miller Jazz Bass

I used this bass in active mode. By default, I boosted the bass & treble knobs by about 20% and setup the amp accordingly because the knobs are boost only.

  • Cutting the bridge pickup by 10% and boosting the treble by 10% leans towards a warm sound; ideal for rock & blues.
  • Cutting the neck pickup by 10% and boosting the bass by 10% leans towards a biting sound; ideal for nasal soloing or cutting through the mix.
  • Cutting the neck pickup by 10% alone leans towards a Jaco sound.

Fodera Emperor Standard Classic 5

Here is how I setup the initial tone of my Fodera. Leaving the bass and the amp flat, I leave the pickup balance at 50% and switch to single coil mode. In this position, I tweak the EQ of my amp aiming at a good slap sound leaning towards Marcus Miller. Once I’m happy with that, I can tweak my bass from song to song aiming at different sounds.

Examples:

  • Humbucker mode, %100 neck pickup, slight treble boost will lean towards a precision bass sound. Passive tone cut gets me into motown territory.
  • Single coil mode with centered pickup balance will give me a good Jazz Bass tone. Great for finger style & slapping.
  • Single coil mode, %75 bridge pickup, mid boost will give a nice solo tone.
  • Humbucker mode, %75 bridge pickup, slight bass boost will give a nice StingRay-ish tone. If I don’t boost the bass, I get a good framework for compressed fuzz effects as well.

Lakland 55-02 Deluxe

Here is how I setup the initial tone of my Lakland. I start toning my instrument by leaving the EQ flat, balancing the neck & bridge coils at 50% and tweaking the amp until I get a 70’s Jazz Bass sound. Starting from that point;

  • Neck pickup solo, slight treble cut and slight mid boost gives a good classic P sound. This setting got a lot of praise at my first rehearsal with a rock band.
  • Neck pickup & front bridge coils balanced at 50% with treble cut gives a good sub bass sound. Ideal for reggae, R&B, dance and similar genres.
  • Neck pickup & back bridge coils balanced at 50% with flat EQ gives a good J sound (starting point). Ideal for finger style, funk and slapping.
  • Back bridge coils at 75% balance with slight treble boost gives a good solo tone.
  • Humbucker at 75% with flat EQ produces an agreeable Jaco tone.
  • Humbucker at 75% with slight treble & bass boost produces an agreeable StingRay tone.

I never solo the humbucker pickup; because compared to a StingRay, it’s position is slightly closer to the bridge. I advise mixing the humbucker with the neck pickup to preserve the punchiness you’d expect from a StingRay.

MusicMan StingRay Classic

Here are some tonal approaches I used when I had this instrument.

  • For a balanced mid oriented tone, leave bass & treble flat or reduce equally. Ideal for latin, jazz, pop, etc.
  • For a vintage tone, leave the bass flat and cut the treble. The idea is; vintage amps couldn’t produce the treble tones like the tweeters today; therefore it is vital to cut the trebles. That’s ideal for vintage blues / rock songs. A slight bass boost would lean towards a warmer sound.
  • For a modern rock tone, boost the bass and leave the treble flat. That will fill the lower frequencies like a wall.
  • For a sub bass tone, boost the bass and cut the treble. Ideal for R&B, reggae or electronic situations.
  • For slapping or soloing, leave the bass flat and boost the treble. In a 3 band EQ, I would prefer to boost the bass & treble and leave the mids alone; but on a 2 band instrument, this is the best I onboard approach I could think of.
  • For chords, cut the bass and boost the treble. That gives a baritone guitar oriented sound if you play beyond the 10th fret.

Those are not hard wired rules, of course; just my experiments on my former StingRay.

In case you have a hard time pinpointing the flat spot, you can measure the 50% spot of each pot and put a sticker there which points up. That way, you can tell the flat spot easier when playing live.

Sandberg California VM5

Some songs from the pop rock oriented repertoire of The Flat Band;

  • RHCP: 0% blended humbucker. Thats’s how I lean towards a StingRay.
  • Fly Me To The Moon: -50% blended single coil. That leans towards a traditional Jazz Bass sound.
  • All Shook Up: -100% blend (neck solo), mid boost, treble cut. That leans towards a traditional Precision Bass sound.
  • Ele Güne Karşı: +25% blended single coil, bass boost. That leans towards a nasal Jazz Bass sound.
  • Hung Up: -100% blend (neck solo), bass boost, treble cut. That gives a deep sub bass suitable for pop and electronic.
  • Walk of Life: -100% Blend (neck solo), treble off. That gives a motown oriented Precision Bass sound.

Some songs from the latin oriented Jozi Levi Brazil Project;

  • For a deep surdo tone; I use -50% blend in Humbucker. That gives a low-mid emphasized tone which resembles the Brazilian surdo drums.
  • For dynamic latin songs like Mais Que Nada or Ponteio, I use a 0% blend (balanced) in humbucker mode. That gives a Jaco-ish nasal tone in steroids. Single coil would lean towards Jaco.

I never solo the humbucker pickup; because compared to a StingRay, it’s position is slightly closer to the bridge. I advise mixing the humbucker with the neck pickup to preserve the punchiness you’d expect from a StingRay.

For soloing, +25% blend in single coil gives the best result. For Muse oriented tones, +25% blend in Humbucker mode gives the best result.

Misc.

Active basses with 2 / 4 band EQ’s or passive basses will require different approaches, obviously. But how I approach my basses can inspire you into the right direction.

Note that your hand placement and technique also plays a great role in terms of shaping your tone. Leaving your pickup balance centered, try playing close to the neck and attack the strings softly with the meaty part of your fingers – this will produce a very warm and deep tone. Now, play close to the bridge and attack the strings with the top of your fingers as if you would scratch / claw the pickup. This will produce a very bright tone and will also allow you to play 16th notes tighter. Now, play between the neck – bridge pickup with the side of your fingers. This will produce a low mid oriented balanced sound.

The combination of amp EQ, bass EQ and your hand technique will define your initial sound output, and the venue will shape the rest. I have provided my own initial preferences, but you’ll need to work out your own over time and with experience.

Pedalboard EQ

After you are happy with your amp EQ and how you can shape the sound with your bass, you can set the EQ of individual effect pedals. Don’t attempt setting the EQ’s of your pedals earlier.

Muse Bass

In case you would be interested in getting an agreeable Muse tone, check my post Muse Bass Sound where I share my hits and misses.

Solo Bass

I published a video, where I take two short bass solos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1B1Cb6JK_c . I received a few questions about my bass solo tone, so here is the answer.

I was using a Fender American Jazz Bass V with alder body & rosewood fingerboard, all stock. The neck pickup was about 25% off, bridge pickup was on full, and the tone was about 50% off.

The signal ran into the EHX Freeze pedal, which I used to freeze the bass note before starting the solo. That ensures that the bottom end doesn’t get lost during the bass solo. Note that the pedal can be used in chord change situations as well. In my case, I was soloing over a single chord.

After that, the signal ran into the most vital element of the chain: Mr. Black Supermoon. It is a hauntingly beautiful reverb / sway pedal, and this pedal is probably what you were wondering about. That’s how I create the atmospheric sound of the solo. Reverb was pointing at 1 o’clock, and sway & decay were pointing at 3 o’clock.

Finally, the signal ran into my Mark Bass amp. The EQ was flat, VLE pointing at 8 o’clock and VLC pointing at 10 o’clock.

The combination of Freeze & Supermoon can really open up new horizons. I highly recommend tinkering with them.

For the record, here is a picture of my entire pedalboard from that gig: https://www.instagram.com/p/BGYVVZZrgnB/?taken-by=keremkoseoglu . Before you ask, yes, the cat is also part of the board and is named as “ToneCat”.

Lakland 55-02 Deluxe Review

If you have read my past blog posts, you probably know that I have purchased & sold more basses than I would like to admit. Each bass I buy looks promising in some way, but I get dissatisfied by some other aspect; so I replace it with another one.

With every new replacement, I got closer to perfection. This time, I have a Lakland 55-02 Deluxe; which feels like the closest I ever got to the perfect combination of my criteria. I would like to share them with you.

Price

First of all, Lakland 55-02 Deluxe is an affordable bass. Even if it’s broken or stolen, it can be replaced with a broken heart but without a broken bank account. I can also leave it to the roadie or at the stage unattended without worrying too much. If you ever owned a boutique bass, you know the struggle: The stress of caring for your instrument can overcome the joy of playing it. As an active musician on the go, I ended up playing my backup instrument more than my main. However, an affordable high quality stunt bass is like the best of both worlds: You love your instrument and don’t worry too much about it.

For the record, here is a guide on deciding if a commodity is too expensive for you: Is That Too Expensive?

Quality

Don’t let the price tag fool you. Lakland 55-02 Deluxe is not your typical low profile overseas instrument. Although the woodwork is done in Indonesia; the final assembly, plek work and QA is made in the USA. Once again, you get the best of both worlds: A high quality instrument with an agreeable price.

And I can really feel the quality. The plek work is good enough to support a very low action setup without buzz, and the 35″ scale provides a very clear B string which I happen to use a lot.

The high quality feeling depends on a good setup though. In case you are wondering how I setup my Lakland, check my post How I Setup My Basses

Versatility

Tonewise, this bass is a chameleon. It can mimic the P, PJ, J, Jaco and StingRay sounds very nicely. Lakland fairly admits that the bass was designed to mimic those classic models in the first place. The overall design of the bass and the advanced coil split capabilities of the humbucker offers a tonal versatility second to none.

In case you are wondering how I tone my Lakland, check my post How I EQ my Basses

To increase the versatility even more, Lakland lets you select your mid frequency via a dipswitch on the board of the guitar. In case you are wondering about the frequencies, here is a comparison chart of Lakland with some alternative preamps (source).

– LH3: Bass 12dB @ 125 Hz, Mid 18dB @ 225-1100 Hz, Treble 12dB @ 1.250 Hz
– OBP-3: Bass 18dB @ 40 Hz, Mid 16dB @ 400/800 Hz, Treble 16dB @ 6.500 Hz
– NTMB: Bass 14dB @ 30 Hz, Mid 10dB @ 250/500/800 Hz, Treble 16dB @ 1.000 Hz

For the record; there is a famous video of a Lakland demonstration where its tone is compared to the respective classic bass guitars. Lakland has also published sound samples recorded with a 55-02.

Silence

Beyond the versatility of this bass guitar, one thing that really pleases me is the silence. Due to the pickup design, there is no hum involved. The neck pickup has two coils with opposing polarities within, and the bridge humbucker has four coils with opposing polarities within. As a result of that design; you don’t get any hum whichever pickup combination you choose. Considering that even some very expensive high end basses have humming single coil pickups, that’s a major benefit for me.

Delicacies

To be fair, I would also like to share some of my observed delicacies.

35″ is a good choice for a nice tight B string; however, it also means that the rest of the strings are tight as well. This can be tiring for unaccustomed fingers. I started using a pick on fast paced rock songs; which is luckily something that I’m used to.

Talking about strings; stringing a 35″ bass through the body means that I have limited options of XL strings. However, stringing through the bridge is also possible – I simply prefer otherwise. Not because of any tone difference though – I merely like the idea of the strings pressing the bridge to the body more than strings pulling the bridge off the body.

Conclusion

Lakland 55-02 Deluxe is so good that it makes me wonder about the 100% USA made 55-14 or 55-94. After a certain price point, you get diminished returns for your instrument. I expect the physical and tonal differences between a 55-02 & 55-94 to be much less than the price difference. That’s also the case with batch produced vs custom shop instruments of other brands. With a custom shop instrument; the wood and workmanship consistency and quality is definitely there. However, a lucky purchase of a production instrument of the same model can get close enough to make you wonder why the other one is so expensive. In my conjectural opinion, the comparison between 55-02 and 55-94 would be similar because they share the same specs, the exact same electronics and production after-touches such as plek implementation.

A quote from the forums says “A Skyline is all you need, a USA is all you want.” Another quote says “85% of the bass at 50% of the cost”. I think that those summarise the deal. I owned & sold a 55-02 before, and regretted it over time. As of today, my Lakland 55-02 is my main stunt bass.

In case you are looking for an affordable high-quality instrument with unbeatable versatility, I definitely recommend listing the Lakland 55-02 Deluxe among your alternatives.

If you live in Turkey, I can recommend getting one from Limon Muzik. I ordered my Lakland in the afternoon over WhatsApp, and I had it in my hand on the next morning. Great staff too.

How I Setup My Basses

I would like to share how I maintain and setup my beloved bass guitars.

Although this article focuses on the basses I possess, the same approach can be projected to any bass.

Topics in this post contain highly subjective preferences. Your might (and probably will) differ from mine, but the general principles will be useful.

Specs

Detailed spec options of my Fodera ESS5 can be found at http://www.fodera.com/emperor-standard-classic/ . My bass happens to have an alder body with black finish, maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. I have two Fodera/Duncan alnico humbuckers which can be switched to single coils.

Another bass I will cover in this post is my Lakland 55-02, which can be inspected at https://www.lakland.com/55-02.htm .

Generally speaking; ash + maple produce a brighter tone with a pronounced top end, typically preferred for slapping. However, slapping is not the only application – many non-slapping bassist prefer this combination as well. Alder + rosewood produce a warmer tone with pronounced low mids. In both cases, you can even out things to a certain degree using EQ. Maple reflects too much of the fret & finger noise for my taste, so I prefer alder + rosewood.

Ceramic humbuckers produce a modern tone typically preferred by metal / progressive / etc players, while alnico (“al”uminum + “ni”ckel + “co”pper) produce a vintage tone. I seem to prefer alnico.

Rest of my gear can be seen at Pinterest .

String Choice

I prefer to use medium gauge uncoated nickel roundwound strings.

Light gauges feel like rubber under my hands, and heavy gauges consume a lot of finger stamina. Medium gauges provide a happy balance.

Coated strings have a longer life span than uncoated strings. However, the ones I tried so far sounded dull to me. They also have limited grounding capabilities because the metal of the string can’t touch the skin. On certain situations, I hear sparky electric clicks through the amp when I move my hands up & down, which is obviously not desirable. Therefore, I prefer uncoated strings.

Steel strings are too bright for my taste, and they wear the frets much faster than some other materials. They also have a very strong magentic pull – the pickups of my Fodera seem to pull steel strings so much that the B string sounds off-pitch despite the perfect setup. I assume that cobalt strings would have an even greater magnetic pull. Therefore, I prefer nickel strings.

Flatwound strings provide have a very warm, deep tone with no finger noise. Roundwound strings provide clearer high mid & treble frequencies, which I happen to like a lot. That’s also suitable for the music styles I play. Therefore, I prefer roundwound strings over flatwounds.

On my 35″ Lakland, I got to lean towards XL strings because I prefer to string it through the body. With flatwounds, I would have to string them through the bridge though.

Some typical strings I reach out for are;

 

Setup & Maintenance

I change my strings whenever they sound to sound dull to an extent where it can’t be fixed with EQ (what is lost, can’t be put back). If the string change is not part of my periodic maintenance, I change one string at a time to keep the neck constant and apply the maintenance steps (below) after the point of string change. Otherwise, I remove all strings so I can run through the entire maintenance procedure.

Normally, I run a full maintenance once every 6 months, which is based on the following steps.

Wood Maintenance

First of all, I remove all of the strings.

I start with the body. I use an air duster to blow the dust off the cavities of the bass. Then, I clean the body of the guitar with a good guitar polish applied to a clean soft piece of cloth. Afterwards, I dry it off with another piece of cloth.

Next step is the neck maintenance (not fingerboard!). On the basses with finish or gloss necks, I simply clean the neck like I clean the body. If you have a neck without finish, you would need to apply gun stock wax to it as well; the same way you would apply lemon oil to a rosewood fingerboard (coming next).

Next step is fingerboard maintenance, which applies to rosewood only (Fodera). The deal is, rosewood has tiny little horizontal dents all over the fretboard. If the neck gets too dry, those dents tend to grow and turn into cracks. If things get further and the cracks grow as well, you might end up having a ruined neck. Therefore, you need to oil the rosewood fingerboard from time to time. I use lemon oil for that, which I apply to the entire fingerboard generously. Wood between each fret interspace should “drink” a fair amount of lemon oil with the help of a clean cloth. After the entire fretboard is oiled, I let the guitar rest and dry for a day or two. At the end of this period, I dry off any remaining oil from the fingerboard and frets using a clean soft cloth.

If you have a maple fingerboard (Lakland), the fingerboard can simply be cleaned with orange oil.

Jason from Fodera Guitars has a wonderful video on oiling the fingerboard; which you might want to watch if you have never done this before.

String Installation

Next step is to put on the strings. Not much explanation needed here; except keeping the neck in balance. I start with the A string (the middle string), and add an additional string to either side sequentially – which looks like A – E – D – B – G. Then, I tune the strings.

On my Lakland, I particularly start by changing the A string to see if the string is long enough to run through the body. On the headstock, A is the farthest peg; so if I’m good with A, I’m good with any other string.

Neck Relief

Next step is to setup the neck relief. I apply a capo to the first fret and press the first string at the 24th fret. Using a feeler, I measure the distance between the first string and the 8th fret. I have a light touch, therefore my ideal measure is 0.25 mm. In my opinion, this is as close as you can get without any buzz. If you have a harder touch, you might need to adjust the relief as needed.

Neck relief: 0.25 mm @ 8th fret when 1st and last frets are pressed

You need to re-tune your strings after each truss rod adjustment.

If you are not experienced with this setup, get help & training from a luthier or more experienced player on the first few times. Jason from Fodera Guitars has a wonderful video on the subject; which you might want to watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgmoRHr2cD8 .

String Height and Spacing

Next step is to adjust the string height via the bridge. Using a measurement tool, I measure the distance between the end of the string and the top of the last fret for each string. Due to my light touch, my ideal distance is 1.25 mm for A D G, 1.50 mm for E and 1.75 mm for B string. The reason why E & B have different heights is; they are stronger strings and they need to be a bit farther away so they don’t overpower weaker strings. If you have a stronger touch, you might need to raise the strings according to taste.

String height: 1.25 1.25 1.25 1.50 1.75 from G to B @ last fret

Most bridge saddles have 2 screws for each string. Make sure that they have the same height. And you need to re-tune your strings after each height change.

If your bridge supports string spacing adjustment, you can adjust to taste. My Fodera has a string spacing of 19mm, which provides a wide comfort. The key is, distance between the middle points of string should be equal. For example, distance between B – E should equal to the distance between E – A. My Lakland has fixed string spacing, which is also fine.

In case you need instruction, I recommend the string height video of Jason from Fodera Guitars.

If you lower a string as much as the bridge allows you to, but still can’t get as low as mentioned above, then your neck angle might not be properly setup. That wouldn’t be the case with a high end boutique bass; however, you might experince that on production basses. The solution is to remove the neck, apply a thin piece of card / wood between the neck & the body at the spot closest to the bridge, re-attach the bridge and re-run the maintenance procedure. A very thin shim goes a long way. This will change the neck angle and let you lower the strings further than before.

If you do a shim operation, you obviously need to go back and restart the setup with the neck relief. If you are not experienced with that, you might get help from a luthier. In case you need instruction, the commercial video of StewMac can give you a good idea.

Buzz Check

After setting up the neck relief and string height properly, you shouldn’t experience any buzzing. Play around some with your regular touch. If you experience buzz between the 1st-12th frets, the neck might need more relief. If you experience buzz between 12-24, the string height might not be enough.

Please note that another reason for buzz might be unleveled frets. Ideally, each fret should have the exact same height all over the fretboard – that’s usually achieved with a plek machine. If some frets are higher than others, those might buzz despite a perfect setup matching your playing style. The quick but poor solution is to increase the distance between the string & frets by playing with the relief or string height. The good solution is to have your frets leveled by an experienced luthier. In case you are wondering, you can watch Stew Mac leveling frets. That’s not something I’d recommend doing on your own.

Pickup Height

Next step is to setup your pickup height. Again, this is a matter of taste. If you set your pickups close to the strings, they will sound hotter. Set them apart, and you’ll get the opposite effect.

Please note that pickups produce magnetic pull. If the pickups are too close to the strings, the magnetic force of the pickups will affect the oscillation of the string and you’ll start to sound out of tune. Some string materials, such as steel and cobalt, are more susceptible to magnetic pull. Some materials, such as nickel, are less susceptible. Pickup type is also a factor: Ceramic pickups tend to produce stronger magnetic fields than alnico pickups.

In any case; the distance between bass strings & the pickup should be greater than the treble strings & the pickup. You wouldn’t want the stronger strings to overpower the weaker strings. We make up the power difference by making the weak string get closer to the pickup so they get heard better.

Here is the string to pickup height chart for my Fodera where the strings are pressed at the last fret:

Front pickup: B: 2.5mm, G: 1.75mm
Back pickup: B: 2.5mm, G: 1.75mm

Here is the string to pickup height chart for my Lakland where the strings are not pressed:

MM pickup: B: 3.969mm, G: 2.778mm 
J pickup: B: 4.366mm, G: 3.572mm

After setting the pickup height, play around your bass through your amp and ensure that all strings sound even. Due to your technique, you might be hitting some strings harder than others – or they might be other factors affecting the string to string balance of your bass. Minor pickup adjustments might be needed accordingly.

In case you need a demo on pickup height, you can watch Jason from Fodera Guitars adjusting his pickups .

Intonation

After making sure that your bass is in perfect tune, it is time to check your intonation. We need to ensure that each string produces the desired frequency on the 12th fret. For example; your E string might be in perfect tune, but if the string length is not correct, it will sound off at the 12th fret and won’t be in tune overall.

For each string;

  • Let the string ring and ensure that it is in tune
  • Press the string on the 12th fret and check your tuner
  • If the note is in tune, move to the next string
  • If the note is flat, you should shorten the string via the bridge
  • If the note is sharp, you should lengthen the string via the bridge

 

In case you need a demo on intonation, you can watch Jason from Fodera Guitars intonate his instrument.

Battery

If you have an active bass, changing your battery every 6 months is a good idea. It is also important not to leave the jack on the bass, otherwise the batteries will drain extremely quickly.

Conclusion

I feel like this is one of the most comprehensive articles I wrote about bass setup. When it comes to music, there are no universal rights & wrongs. What sounds good to someone can sound bad to another person, and what works in a certain context might not work so well in another one. Having said that, I hope that my approaches will give some inspiration to the entire community of bass players.

Note that a good setup is only the first step of a good tone. I recommend you to continue with How I EQ my Basses .

Gitarda Dip Gürültüsü ve Çözümleri

Eğer gitarınızdan dip gürültüsü geliyorsa, bunun genelde iki sebebi olabilir: Manyetikleriniz veya bulunduğunuz mekanın elektrik sistemi. Bu yazıda, bu problemleri inceleyip olabilecek çözümleri tartışacağız.

Manyetik Kaynaklı Gürültü

Single Coil bir gitar manyetiğinin içerisinde, tek yöne doğru sarılmış bir bobin bulunmaktadır. Bu bobin soldan sağa doğru sarıldıysa +100 polaritede, sağdan sola doğru sarıldıysa -100 polaritede olacaktır.

Manyetiğiniz, radyo antenlerine benzer bir şekilde, havadan yayılan elektromanyetik frekansları algılamaktadır. Eğer odanızda elektromanyetik dalga yayan hiçbir cihaz yoksa ve elektrik tesisatınız da temizse, Single Coil manyetiğinizi hiçbir dip gürültüsü olmadan kullanabilirsiniz.

Ancak; sahneye çıktığınızda işler değişir. Mekanda; buzdolabı, ışık sistemi, ekranlar, vb cihazlar bulunacak ve elektromanyetik dalga yayacaktır. Gitar manyetiğiniz bunlara maruz kaldığında; hiçbir nota vurmasanız bile bir dip gürültüsü yaymaya başlar.

Farklı yönlere dönerek elektromanyetik dalgaların gitarınıza çarpmamasını sağlayabiliyorsanız ve konser boyunca o yönde çalabilecekseniz, sorunu basit bir şekilde çözebilirsiniz. Ancak; bu yöntemin işe yaramayacağı pek çok durum olabilir.

Humbucker manyetikler, bu tarz bir dip gürültüsüne sahip değildir. Bilmeyenler için; Humbucker manyetikler iki Single coil manyetiğin aynı anda çalıştığı bir manyetik türüdür. Humbucker içerisindeki manyetiklerden biri soldan sağa (+100), diğeri ise sağdan sola (-100) sarıldığı için, birbirlerinin polaritesini sıfırlar ve elektromanyetik dalgalardan etkilenmez hale gelirler. Humbucker tonlarını seviyorsanız, Single Coil yerine Humbucker manyetik tercih ederek manyetik kaynaklı dip gürültüsüne sonsuza dek veda edebilirsiniz.

Telecaster veya Jazz Bass gibi iki Single Coil manyetiğe sahip gitarların da manyetikleri genelde ters sarılmıştır (biri soldan sağa, diğeri sağdan sola). İki manyetiği aynı anda etkinleştirerek Humbucker efekti yaratabilir ve dip gürültüsünden kurtulabilirsiniz. Aynısı, Stratocaster gitarların Neck + Mid veya Bridge + Mid şeklindeki ara pozisyonları için de geçerlidir.

Precision Bass‘ta ise Split Coil bir manyetik bulunur. Yani; ikiye bölünmüş tek bir manyetik vardır ve bu parçalar yine birbirinin aksi yönünde sarılmıştır. Humbucker mantığına sahip bu Single Coil manyetik sayesinde, gürültüsü önlenmiş olur. Bu mantığı takip eden ve geliştiren Aguilar, kendi içinde iki zıt sarıma sahip ama Single Coil özelliği taşıyan Jazz Bass manyetikleri üretmektedir. Başka gitarlara yönelik benzer manyetikler üreten başka firmalar da var elbette. Bu tarz manyetikleri tercih ederek; hem Single Coil sound’u alabilir hem de dip gürültüsünü kesebilirsiniz.

MusicMan, HS modellerinde Single Coil manyetiğin yanına bir de Ghost Coil manyetik eklemektedir. Bu manyetik, gövdenin içine gizlidir ve herhangi bir ses üretmez. Tek görevi, Single Coil manyetiğe ters sarımlı bobini ile Humbucking etkisi yaratmak ve dip gürültüsünü kesmektir. Ghost Coil barındıran bir gitar tercih ederek veya gitarınızı modifiye ettirip bir Ghost Coil ekleterek bu çözümü uygulayabilirsiniz.

Lakland 55-02 modellerinde, her bir manyetik Split Coil olarak sarıldığından, hangi manyetik kombinasyonunu seçerseniz seçin dip gürültüsü gelmemektedir.

Ancak; Humbucker, Split Coil veya Ghost Coil çözümlerinin her biri, ton değişikliği anlamına gelmektedir. Vintage Single Coil Sound’undan mümkün mertebe feragat etmek istemiyor ancak yine de dip gürültüsünü kesmek istiyorsanız, o halde yardımcı pedal kullanmayı önerebilirim.

Önerebileceğim ilk pedal, Electro Harmonix’in Hum Debugger pedalı. Bu pedal, manyetiğinizin dip gürültüsünü tespit ederek 60 Hz civarındaki dip gürültüsünü EQ modifikasyonuyla devreden çıkarır ve sisteme temiz bir ses gitmesini sağlar. Forumlarda bu pedalı kullanan bazı kişiler gitarlarının tonunu değiştirdiğini, bazıları değiştirmediğini, bazıları ise ton değişikliğinin (özellikle mix içerisinde) gözardı edilebileceğini söylüyor. Ben bas gitarımda pek bir ton değişikliği hissettiğimi söyleyemem, gayet memnundum.

Bir diğer pedal türü ise, Noise Gate olabilir. Pek çok marka Noise Gate pedalı üretmektedir. Bu pedalların özelliği, belli bir Volume seviyesinin altındaki sinyali sisteme hiç göndermemektir. Bu sayede; gitarı çalmadığınızda, görece düşük bir ses seviyesinde olan dip gürültüsü sisteme gitmeyecektir. Çalmaya başladığınızda dip gürültüsü de sisteme gidecek, ancak kendi notalarınızın Volume’ünün çok altında kaldığından izleyici bunu muhtemelen hissetmeyecek / duymayacaktır. Noise Gate’in dezavantajı ise; dinamik bir çalıma sahipseniz, görece sessiz çalmak istediğiniz notaları da kesme riskidir.

Elektrik Kaynaklı Gürültü

Bu ikinci tarz dip gürültüsü, gitarınızın manyetiği ile doğrudan ilişkili değildir. Daha ziyade, mekandaki elektrik altyapısı ve topraklama ile ilgilidir.

Türkiye’deki prizlerde iki soket bulunur. Bunlardan biri elektrik, diğeri topraktır.

İdeal durumda; elektrik sistemine bağlı tüm cihazların elektrik / toprak polaritesi aynı olmalıdır. Ancak; pozitif ve negatif polariteye sahip cihazları aynı altyapıya bağladığınızda; elektrik ve toprak savaşmaya başlar. Bu savaş, hoparlörlere dip gürültüsü olarak yansıyacaktır.

Bu problemi elimine etmenin yolu, cihazları sırayla fişten çekerek problemi neyin yarattığını anlamaktan geçer. Problemli cihaz vazgeçilebilir bir cihaz ise, konser sırasında fişe takmayarak veya (varsa) alternatif bir tesisata takarak problemi çözebilirsiniz.

Bazı DI Box / amfilerde “Ground Switch” diye bir düğme bulunur. Bu düğme, cihazın polaritesini ters çevirmektedir. Tesisattaki cihazların Ground Switch’ine basarak polaritelerini çevirmeyi deneyebilirsiniz. Pek çok örnekte, dip gürültüsünü bu şekilde hallettim.

Metronom Tutturmak

“You can’t hold no groove if you ain’t got no pocket” (Victor Wooten)

Gelen sorular üzerine; enstrüman çalarken metronom tutturmak hakkında ufak bir kılavuz hazırlamak istedim.

Hızlanıp yavaşlamadan sabit bir hızda çalabilmek, müzisyenliğin önemli kriterlerinden biridir. Bu görev daha çok vurmalı çalgılara yüklense de, aslında gruptaki herkes zamanı tutturmaktan sorumludur.

Bu iş, “Inner Clock” denen içsel bir kasa dayalıdır. Bu kas, aynen spor gibi, egzersiz yaptıkça güçlü kalır, yapmadıkça zayıflar. Diğer bir deyişle; sabit hızda çalabilme egzersizleri sürekli yapılmalıdır.

Bu konuda farklı seviyeler vardır. Bazı kişilerde bu kas o kadar gelişmiştir ki, herhangi bir metronom kaynağı olmadan sabit hızda çalabilir. Bazıları tek başına zamanı tam tutturamaz; ancak metronom klikleri üzerine sabit hızda çalabilir. Bazıları metronom kliklerini tutturamaz, ancak bir davulcu veya altyapı üzerine çalıyorsa biraz dalgalanmakla birlikte zamanı tutturabilir. En çok çalışmaya ihtiyaç duyanlar ise, sabit davul / altyapıya rağmen dalgalanma yaşayanlardır.

Peki; bu içsel kasımızı nasıl geliştireceğiz?

Bu işin ilk adımı, metronom ile çalışmaktır. Metronomu (mesela) 90 BPM gibi sabit bir hıza ayarlayıp, sevdiğimiz bir motifi bu klikleri dinleyerek çalabiliriz. Hızlandığımız veya yavaşladığımız noktalarda tekrar metronoma döneriz. Bu şekilde, beyin metronomla senkron olma konusunda eğitilir ve yukarıda bahsettiğimiz kas kuvvetlenmeye başlar. Bu egzersiz, 90 BPM’den farklı hızlarda da yapılmalıdır elbette.

Teknolojinin gelişmesiyle birlikte, “Inner Clock” kasını geliştirecek yardımcı uygulamalar da çıktı tabii. Bu konuda örnek olarak Time Guru adlı uygulamayı verebilirim (başka uygulamalar da var).

Bu uygulama; standart bir metronomun işini yapmanın yanı sıra, metronom vuruşlarının arasında belirleyeceğiz oranda boşluk da bırakabiliyor. Örneğin; “90 BPM’de metronom ver, ancak %50 boşluk bırak” diyebiliyoruz. Bu şekilde, metronomu “TIK TIK TIK TIK TIK TIK TIK TIK TIK TIK TIK TIK” şeklinde duymak yerine “TIK TIK TIK (boş) (boş) TIK TIK (boş) TIK (boş) (boş) TIK” şeklinde duyuyoruz.

Bu da, bizi metronom üzerine çalmaktan metronom olmadan da çalabileceğimiz bir noktaya taşımış oluyor. Beyin; sadece iki vuruş arasında değil, boşluklar üzerinden de senkronize olmaya alışmaya başlıyor. Uzun vadede boşluk oranını arttırarak, herhangi bir metronom kaynağına ihtiyaç duymadan zamanı tutturabileceğimiz bir noktaya yaklaşabiliriz.

Ancak; yürümeden koşmamak lazım. Önce altyapı üzerine sallanmadan çalabilmeli, akabinde metronomla sallanmadan çalabilmeli, ondan sonra bu boşluk bırakma egzersizlerine başlamalıyız.

Aguilar AG 5J-HC Pickup Review

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I modified my Fender American Standard Jazz Bass V with Aguilar AG 5J-HC pickups. Although I was hesitant at first, I’m completely satisfied with this modification. My bass sounds a bit more modern now, which is a subjective plus for me, and the notorious single coil hum is completely gone! Other musicians also commented on how nice my bass sounds. Unless you are a die hard vintage fan, can’t recommend them enough.

Although I love my Jazz Bass, one of its typical problems was buzzing me off every now and then. Yes, I’m talking about the single coil hum, which is also known as the 60-cycle hum. In plain English; most jazz basses will produce a hum when you emphasize / solo one of the pickups. But when you turn the pickup volumes full simultaneously, the hum disappears.

This happens due to the complex nature of magnets and electricity. In basic words; one of the pickups is wired clockwise, and the other one is wired counterclockwise. When you solo the bridge pickup, it exposes a polarity of +100 and produces a hum. When you solo the neck pickup, it exposes a polarity of -100 and produces a hum. When you turn them both on, +100 – 100 = 0, so they balance each other out and the hum disappears.

This is not the exact physical model of what happens, but rather a mathematical analogy to help you understand.

Precision basses don’t have this problem, because they have a split coil design. It has the single coil pickup split in two, and guess what? One of them is wired clockwise, while the other is wired counterclockwise. Therefore; in terms of hum, a precision bass is dead quiet because +100 – 100 = 0.

Why did I prefer a Jazz Bass then? Well; if I wanted that deep low-mid emphasized bass sound alone, I would probably end up with a Precision Bass, but that’s not the case. The reason I purchased a jazz bass in the first place is its tonal versatility.

Emphasize the neck pickup, you get close to that Precision sound; ideal for low-mid thumping. Emphasize the bridge pickup, you get that nasal burpy Jaco sound; ideal for soloing. Emphasize both pickups, you get a nice funky tone; ideal for funk / slap / pop / etc.

It’s all fun and games until you try this out on stage volume. Especially with a fuzz pedal or something. When you emphasize either pickup, the small hum on your practice amp becomes a colossal noise; inducing raised eyebrows from the band members and dissatisfied head shakes from the sound guy.

It all comes down to how you feel about the hum. Some players don’t care about it. Some find workarounds. Me? I totally dislike the hum and started looking for ways to get rid of it.

That’s not the first time I have encountered this problem; I have experienced alternative solutions before – with varying degrees of success.

I owned an American Deluxe Jazz Bass with N3 Noiseless Pickups in the past. It is a subjective matter of taste, but those pickups didn’t sound very organic to me. Some basses have a phantom coil, which is actually a hidden pickup inside your bass – its only function is to provide a -100 polarity to your single coil pickup with +100 polarity. That works fairly well for me, but I don’t want to start digging my beloved Jazz Bass. Using a noise gate pedal is also common; but I dislike this option because it modifies your tone and the hum is still there when you start playing.

Therefore, I started to look for alternative hum cancelling pickups on the market. Being a proud owner of an Aguilar based rig, it didn’t take me long to end up in Aguilar’s website, inspecting their AG 5J-HC pickups. They had a very clever approach to get rid of the hum. This pickup looks like an every day single coil Jazz Bass pickup from the outside. However, it actually has two distinct coils inside – one wired clockwise, the other one wired counterclockwise. Much like a Precision Bass, you can say. The coils mutually cancel out their polarities (+100 – 100 = 0), so each single coil is hum-free on its own.

In plain English, you can solo / blend the single coils however you want – but you won’t get a 60-cycle hum out of them.

Due to my former dissatisfaction with other noiseless pickups, I started listening to sound samples of Aguilar’s hum cancelling pickups. To be honest; despite being hum-free, the sound samples in the videos were good – but not great. Now I see that it’s probably due to loss of sound quality somewhere in the digital world, because they do sound great actually, but didn’t know it back then.

Nevertheless, it didn’t take me long before I decided to see what those pickups can do for me, so I hit the road to visit a music shop & luthier. Just before my next rehearsal, the pickups were installed and ready to play. I was still tentative about my decision, but I figured that I can switch back to stock pickups anytime. So I walked into the rehearsal, unpacking my bass with a hesitant emotion.

And what a rehearsal it was… Although the pickup heights weren’t balanced yet, the tone was amazing. All of my band members commented on the great tone I had. There was absolutely no hum, that’s one thing. But the tone was also very organic and real. Unlike any other noiseless pickup I have tried before. They sound very organic, transparent, alive, and respond great to dynamics. They sounded great in the mix too.

Tone-wise, I can’t put them into the same category with traditional 60’s Jazz pickups. They lean towards a 70’s Jazz sound, with a modern touch. Taste is a very subjective matter, but I have simply loved the tone. It was almost like a tasty meal which you can’t stop gnawing on.

I knew I did the right thing then. I could blend the pickups any way I want, they all sounded great (samples settings available below) – and without any of that frustrating hum! The more I played, the more I wanted to play – that’s the feeling you get when you nail the correct gear.

My only complaint is; the pickup covers have relatively pointy corners and sharp edges – unlike the stock jazz pickups which have rounded corners & edges. They don’t feel as good as the stock covers when you rest your thumb on the neck pickup. That’s not a major issue, but I might change the pickup covers at some point; or stick a tiny cushion on top of the cover. Time will tell.

Coming back home, it was time to set up the pickup height. Fender suggests 8/64″ (3.6 mm) for bass side and 6/64″ (2.4 mm) for the treble side for their stock pickups. That’s the distance from the bottom of the string to the top of the pole piece when the strings are depressed at the last fret.

However; I contacted Aguilar and they had a different suggestion. For their 60’s, 70’s, HC J and Super Single pickups, they suggest 6/64” (2.4 mm) on the bass side and 5/64” (1.9 mm) on the treble side. That kind of makes sense because some of their pole pieces stick much further than stock Fender pickups. Marco Passarelli from Aguilar customer service also said: “I actually set them a little bit higher, but you will not have an issue with too much magnet pull.”

Now, let’s inspect some of the tones I seem to enjoy with those pickups.

Neck 100%, bridge 75%, tone 100%: This is my Precision oriented tone. Lots of thumb, emphasized low mids and transparency. Ideal for Motown, blues, pop, rock, reggae, etc – anywhere a Precision Bass would go, actually. To reduce finger noise, tone can be slightly dimmed.

Neck 100%, bridge 75%, tone 50%: This is my dark tone where I eliminate most of the upper frequencies, leaving a deep bass. Ideal for electronic, dance, new age, R&B, etc – where I only want the bass sound; without anyone noticing that it’s coming from a guitar. Tone can be reduced even further if you like.

Neck 100%, bridge 100%, tone 75%: This is my Jazz Bass tone for times I want my Jazz Bass to sound like a Jazz Bass (doh!). Balanced sound with emphasized high mids – with a little treble cut to reduce clickiness. Ideal for funk, slap, fusion, latin, progressive, etc – anywhere you intend to play the bass a little more melodically and / or cut the mix.

Neck 100%, bridge 100%, tone 100%: This is my StingRay oriented tone. Obviously, your Jazz Bass will not duplicate the classic StingRay sound, but that’s as close as I can get. This tone covers the same ground with the tone above, but with a different vibe – imagine Flea instead of Marcus Miller. Has more clickiness to it, and cuts the mix a little more.

Neck 75%, bridge 100%, tone 75%: This is my Jaco oriented tone. You won’t magically start playing like Jaco, but your tone would get one step closer to him. That’s also my default solo tone. I sometimes increase the tone to 100% to make the sound more trebly and help with cutting the mix. A rough analogy would be; tone at 75% leans towards a Les Paul’s neck pickup, tone at 100% leans towards a Les Paul’s bridge pickup. At times I use an octave-up pedal, the difference is more dramatic.

Aguilar is a great company, focusing on bass alone, with great products. AG 5J-HC was no exception for this. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for an organic, transparent, semi-modern, hum free 70’s oriented Jazz Bass sound.

Remember that they have AG 4J-HC for 4 strings and AG 6J-HC for 6 strings as well!


Turkish speaking readers would be interested in my post dedicated to guitar hum.

Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 + SL 112 Q&A

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After watching Ozan Musluoğlu use them live on our gig with Kenan Doğulu and getting a suggestion from Volkan Hürsever , I have decided to upgrade my rig to an Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 + SL 112. This is great stuff; the tone is amazingly transparent yet powerful, and the adjustable tweeter is a nice touch.

After experimenting with my new setup for a while, I had some questions for Aguilar customer support, and they answered me very quickly & throughly. I would like to share their reply with everyone; it could be useful for other players out there.

Question 1) Since the amp outputs 2x 250W @ 8Ohm and each cabinets is 250W @ 8Ohm, I think that there is no chance that I might blow the cabinets; assuming that I connect a passive Jazz Bass directly with flat amp settings (drive off)? My intuition and the manual tells me that if I connect one cabinet only, the amp sends 250W to it, so I can max out the amp level without any risk of damaging the speaker. If I connect two cabinets simultaneously, the amp sends 250W to each cabinet, so I can’t damage them that way either. Does that make sense, or am I missing something?

You are correct, when using two of the SL 112 cabinets with the Tone Hammer 500, each cabinet will get 250 watts. The SL 112 can handle 250 watts of continuous power but will handle peaks at almost double that! So you will have plenty of power handling for many situations. It is always possible to overpower cabinets – especially as you mentioned if you “max out the amp” – but your ears would certainly let you know if you are doing this as you would hear them “farting out” as you play.

Again, you will have plenty of power and should have no restrictions on performance volumes.

Question 2) This question is about the tweeter volume of SL 112. I understand what the tweeter does and how I can turn the tweeter up / down. My question is, what is the balance point of the tweeter? I mean, is the tweeter volume a cut-only control – like the tone control of a passive Jazz Bass? Or, is it at unity on 12 o’clock so I can cut / boost it? How does it work?

The tweeter in our cabinet is flat in the fully counter-clockwise position and then as you turn it clockwise, it brings more of this in. It does not actually cut from the flat position but you can use as much as you need. Many of our players set the tweeter in the middle position – set at noon.

I think at noon that you are going to have plenty of highs in your sound BUT you can set this however you like.

Question 3) This is a combination of 1+2. Is there a risk of damaging the tweeter due to excess volume from the amp if i turn the tweeter all the way up, or is the tweeter setup in such a way that it can handle whatever the rest of the cabinet can handle as well?

Very similar to what I mentioned above, if it is set to maximum and you are playing at high volumes while slapping or using a distortion pedal, it might be possible to overexert the tweeter diaphragm but that is a small easily-replaceable part.

Question 4) I know that it is a matter of taste, but I am curious about the general preference on how players usually setup the tweeter balance on two cabs.

The vast majority of our artists keep the tweeter on the bottom cabinet off and then the top cabinet at noon.