The Hartke Kickback Series Bass Amplifier gives you control over shaping the sound of your bass, using a process called equalization. To understand how this works, it’s important to know that every naturally occurring sound consists of a broad range of pitches, or frequencies, combined together in a unique way. This blend is what gives every sound its distinctive tonal color. The Kickback Series EQ controls allow you to alter a sound by boosting or attenuating specific frequency areas - they operate much like the bass and treble controls on stereo, but with much greater precision.
The Kickback KB12 and Kickback KB15 offer three bands of equalization. Each EQ knob, labeled Bass, Midrange, and Treble, affects a different frequency area of the audio. We carefully selected these frequency areas because they have maximum impact on bass guitar signals. The Bass and Treble controls are shelving EQs, which provide boost when the control is moved clockwise from the center or cut when the control is moved counterclockwise from the center. The Mid EQ control is a peaking EQ. As the Mid control is turned clockwise the frequency area is boosted; as it is turned counterclockwise the frequency area is attenuated.
In many instances, the best way to deal with equalization is to think in terms of which frequency areas you need to attenuate, as opposed to which ones you need to boost. Be aware that boosting a frequency area also has the effect of boosting the overall signal; specifically, too much Low EQ boost can actually cause overload distortion or even harm the connected speaker.
The Shape Control
The Kickback’s unique Shape control enables the sound of your bass instrument to be enhanced at the touch of a button. When the front panel Shape switch is pressed in, a special equalization curve is activated that is designed to enhance the sound of most electric bass instruments. This curve provides moderate boost at certain frequency areas and deep attenuation at other frequency areas. Furthermore, the Shape control adds a filter to a selected frequency area within the Shape curve. As the Shape knob is turned clockwise, the filter is applied to higher frequency areas; as it is turned counterclockwise, the filter is applied to lower frequency areas.
Even when Shape is activated, the front-panel EQ controls remain operational. When all three EQ controls are set to their “0” (flat) position, they add no boost or attenuation to the preset Shape curve. However, when any EQ controls are turned left or right of their 12 o’clock (“0”) position, their boost or attenuation effect is layered upon the preset Shape curve. In this way, you can customize the sound of the Kickback amplifier further still to complement your particular bass instrument and playing style.
Note that, when the Shape switch is out, the EQ controls operate on the “flat” signal coming from your bass (that is, there is no preset equalization curve imposed).
The specific EQ you will apply to your bass signal is very much dependent upon your particular instrument and personal taste and playing style. However, here are a few general suggestions:
Vintage Deep Bass
As you experiment with the EQ and Shape controls of the Kickback Series, don’t forget that your bass also provides significant EQ control in the form of its pickup and tonal settings. This can be particularly effective in instruments that have active circuitry.