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I have three starter solutions:
1. Use a Jazz Bass-style instrument (with two single-coil pickups). Turn both volume knobs all the way up, or if there’s a pickup blend control, set it in the middle. Why? Precision-style basses (with one split-coil pickup) lack treble edge and typically aren’t focused-sounding enough for hard rock, while single-bridge-pickup basses can sound too throaty and midrangy to mix well with guitars. (Are there exceptions? Yes! Please stop yelling.) A Jazz-type setup— one neck pickup, one bridge pickup—is the best starting point for these purposes. Throw on some new stainless steel strings while you’re at it.
2. Overdrive the sound. Not full-on Big Muff fuzzy distortion, just something that adds dirt. This can come from any proper “vintage” tube power amp, or a decent pedal in front of a solid-state amp. Overdrive adds harmonic distortion to the fundamental note, enhancing your sound’s position in the mix in complex ways. I’ve found the resulting tone sits better with crunched-out guitars. Under normal genre circumstances, you’d kick on the overdrive for heavy or solo parts; in hard rock and metal, though, you leave it on as a default, and kick it off when the guitars go clean.
3. Fingerstrike through the string. This is crucial, and what this column is really all about. Normally when playing fingerstyle, we pluck with the fingers resting close to the strings, and use a combination of striking and pushing down on the string for our attack (shown in Figures 1 and 2). This works well for most genres needing a clean, fat sound. But here we need a stronger “chime” on the attack. In Figures 3 and 4, see how far away my finger is from the string. I’ll wind up from that far out and use the top of my fingertip to strike through the string, as opposed to using the middle of my fingertip to push down and past it. If you do it right, the sound should become way more metal—especially with overdrive on.