P Bass: The sound of classic rock?

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I keep seeing references to a P bass being the classic rock sound. One guy asked which bass he should get for classic rock covers and the overwhelming answer was P bass. On the Andertons review of the Mex vs USA P bass the guy refers to them as "the classic rock bass."
BUT, every classic rock bassist I look up seems to use a Jazz bass. What's the deal?

I love the bass on Ramblin' Man! -- Berry Oakley played a Jazz with "a Guild pickup"
I love the bass on Simple Man! -- Not sure what was used on the album but in all the pictures I see of Leon he has a Jazz Bass.
I love the sound of Zeppelin II -- John Paul Jones plays hundreds of things... but I see lots of pictures of him with a Jazz and none with a Precision.

So am I just missing the good examples? Or is a Jazz bass actually the classic rock machine?



I'm primarily a guitar player but have played bass on and off and really enjoy it. I recently bought an old Bassman amp for guitar but it has inspired me to look for a bass too. I'm trying to figure out what I want.
 

Che_Guitarra

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There's no hard and fast rules, but i'll take a P over a Jazz any day. Especially if 'rock' is the primary genre to work around.

No denying a Jazz will be more versatile (more pickups = more tone possibilities), maybe easier to play (thanks to the slimmer neck), but the one sound it can't do is the P sound. And for me, the P sound is the definitive bass tone. I don't need versatility when I have a P going through a SVT.
 

Floyd Eye

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I have never met a P bass I liked. I have a great Jazz bass ( which I rarely use). I do have a P bass, but it's my beater for laying around the house picking out songs. You can get pretty close to a P bass sound out of a J bass and frankly out of a lot of other basses.

P basses get a lot of love I guess and they were used on a lot of recordings, but I think the people that call it "THE classic rock bass" are exaggerating.
 

Floyd Eye

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Yeah, but to be fair Phil Lynott, John Entwistle and Geezer Butler used a lot of other basses besides P basses. I also wouldn't consider anything any of those bassists besides Lynott and Entwistle did "Classic Rock".
 

fuzz_factor

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Off the top of my head, how about Roger Waters on most (all?) classic Pink Floyd recordings, Sting with the Police and beyond, and John Deacon from Queen. Those are all about as 'classic rock' as you get.

If you like Jazz basses better, great! You can get a bright tone with a Jazz, but you can also roll back the tone, knock back the bridge volume a bit and do a decent P impersonation. I have two basses: A Precision and a Jazz. I like 'em both.
 

Floyd Eye

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Floyd songs Dave ( Gilmour played bass on)

(in chronological order)

The Narrow Way pts. 1-3
Fat Old Sun
One Of These Days
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (pt. VI)
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Sheep
Comfortably Numb
Don't Leave Me Now
Goodbye Blue Sky
Hey You
Mother
Nobody Home
The Show Must Go On
The Trial
Waiting For The Worms
Young Lust
Money (A Collection of Great Dance Songs)
High Hopes
Wearing The Inside Out


Most of these were recorded with a P bass the band bought, which Gilmour still has.
 

Khromo

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I think guitar and bass players' choices of instruments are overwhelmingly influenced by high profile endorsement/use, paid or not.

For that last period when rock, fusion, and pop music were driven by musicians, Jaco, Marcus Miller, Larry Graham, and a few other notable bass players played Jazz Basses, or clones. And it's like that was the end of the conversation! Every fashionista had to have a Jazz Bass!

(It seemed like the Punk Movement embraced the Precision Bass just as religiously. Maybe they just had to rebel against what everybody else was doing. I don't know, I don't know anything about that kind of music.)

I rarely play a Precision Bass live, but I use one regularly in the studio. I've never played a gig that couldn't be cut with a Precision Bass with a moderate output pickup and a good amp.

A little lighter, and it has everything you need and nothing that you don't need.
 

fenderjapan

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I was thinking about this when I was in the market for a new bass (I play bass from time to time but more recently have gotten more into it, I had gone a while without owning a bass)

I thought about my favorite bass players and tones... these were the top 10 that come to mind:
Steve Harris (P Bass)
Geddy Lee (J Bass)
Jack Bruce (Fretless, Gibson, Other Stuff)
Donald Dunn (P Bass)
John Entwistle (A little of everything)
James Dewar (P Bass)
Gerry McAvoy (P Bass)
Ian Hill (P Bass with P/J)
Michael Anthony (A little of everything)
David Gilmour (P Bass)

To me, it was a clear win for P-Bass, so I bought a Standard FSR and added the Dimarzio Model-P. Love it. I have the GZR pickup too which I intend to try.

With that said, I'd buy a Jazz and a Fretless in a heartbeat if I had the budget
 

fuzz_factor

Silver Supporting Member
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4,425
Floyd songs Dave ( Gilmour played bass on)
...
Most of these were recorded with a P bass the band bought, which Gilmour still has.

Huh! You learn something every day. I was always under the impression that Waters was the sole bass player in Pink Floyd (but I'm certainly no expert).

(It seemed like the Punk Movement embraced the Precision Bass just as religiously. Maybe they just had to rebel against what everybody else was doing. I don't know, I don't know anything about that kind of music.)

I rarely play a Precision Bass live, but I use one regularly in the studio. I've never played a gig that couldn't be cut with a Precision Bass with a moderate output pickup and a good amp.

A little lighter, and it has everything you need and nothing that you don't need.

A nice, deep thump that sits well in the pocket, or a righteous grind that can keep up with loud guitars! No wonder so many punk rockers used them! Of course, a Ric bass also screams 'punk rock!'
 

Che_Guitarra

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So, what's a recording I can listen to that's a good example of "that P sound"?

Name what era/genres are you most interested in and i'll give you 10 examples.


For me it's all about the recorded tone, and mix context. Whether you're recording Adele or Slayer, nothing fills the bottom end pocket more effortlessly in than the P --> SVT combo.
 

Floyd Eye

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13,838
Name what era/genres are you most interested in and i'll give you 10 examples.


For me it's all about the recorded tone, and mix context. Whether you're recording Adele or Slayer, nothing fills the bottom end pocket more effortlessly in than the P --> SVT combo.


Totally not true. It may have been true in 1963. Many, MANY basses cover that ground easily and effectively.
 

Floyd Eye

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Huh! You learn something every day. I was always under the impression that Waters was the sole bass player in Pink Floyd (but I'm certainly no expert).



A nice, deep thump that sits well in the pocket, or a righteous grind that can keep up with loud guitars! No wonder so many punk rockers used them! Of course, a Ric bass also screams 'punk rock!'


I am no punk rocker. I have been using a 4001 for the majority of the 32 years I have been a gigging bassist. In the day I used it for Classic/Progressive rock and until recently when I got a Spector, I used it pretty much exclusively for Alt/ Hard rock.


With regards to Pink Floyd. I will throw out an often miscredited Beatle quote. Waters wasn't even the best bassist in Pink Floyd. :)
 

AdmiralB

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I bought (traded into, actually) my first bass in 1984. It was a new Precision, the era where everything was white, even the pickguard covers. I was in high school, and while I was really a guitarist, bassists were so rare that I decided to give that a shot.

I didn't really like the bass too much - it was fine as far as build quality, but the neck was really wide at the nut - wider than older ones, and wider than current. And I just never really liked the tone too much. I sold it when I went to college.

But now my favorite bass is a recent AVHR "'60s Precision", with the PJ setup. The neck fits, it's incredibly lightweight for a bass, and it sounds great. However...when I solo the P pickup, I still don't really like the tone all that much when it's just me.

But if I'm playing with others, or I'm recording something, as soon as it mixes with other sounds, it just works. I wouldn't say it's 'the best' or indispensable or even necessary better than this or that. But it just works.

I own, or have owned, an example of most popular basses - Jazz, T-bird, EB, Ricks, even a Steinberger and a Bass VI; I think a Stingray is the only 'classic' I've never had. I like 4003s a lot, especially before they started doing the zero-taper necks. But I think this P is better at simple rock.
 
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sears

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Can I cut this thread and paste it into the Talkbass machine?

Mr. Eye, you play a Rick. You and P bass players are going to have to agree to disagree on most things. I love a Rick -- when I'm listening to someone else play it.
 

Floyd Eye

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13,838
Can I cut this thread and paste it into the Talkbass machine?

Mr. Eye, you play a Rick. You and P bass players are going to have to agree to disagree on most things. I love a Rick -- when I'm listening to someone else play it.


Probably true. Truth be told 95% of the time I am playing my Spector these days. My disinterest in P basses is largely because the neck feels like they cut a baseball bat in half and put some strings on it. I have sold and even given away more P basses than I can count. I don't know why but I always seem to run into good deals on them. I have nothing against the tone that can be coaxed from one, although if I was going to play a Fender it would be my American Deluxe J. That thing sounds great, the neck feels great, it looks great. It's a nice bass. I very much prefer the NS4 and the 4001 though.
 




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