Want any famous players "tone?" Read this...

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by TomRichards, May 14, 2015.

  1. TomRichards

    TomRichards Member

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    Okay, after reading yet another post on another forum about getting Geddy Lee's tone, I just had to post this. Most of the older guys and gals here probably already know this though.

    IF YOU WANT TO TRY AND EMULATE ANY FAMOUS PLAYERS TONE, ESPECIALLY THE LEGENDS, LOOK NO FURTHER THEN A STUDIO QUALITY PRE-AMP/EQ AND A P BASS, J BASS, DANELECTRO 6 STRING BASS OR RICKENBACKER. And then, don't expect to ever really get their tone.

    Just about every bass player from the 1960's was recorded direct, through a studio provided pre-amp or for the west coasters Fender bassman amps with mics. Read about Motown's Studio A and the hand built pre-amp that everyone recorded through. Or Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn in LA. Or Chuck Rainey and crew in NYC. Pretty much most, if not all, direct.

    And, of course, to this day, 99% of the recording studios expect a player to bring, or have on site, a P or J bass that they all just about force you to record with. Listen to any Cheap Trick record. With the exception of Live at Budokhan, you will not hear any 12 string bass. P bass. Jamerson, Palladino, Kaye, Rainey, Sklar, Glaub, yada yada, all P bass. Geddy, Squire, McCartney, most British Punks, all Rickenbackers or P basses. Nashville? Usually P bass doubled with the Dano or Tic-Tac bass.

    So, tone is all in the players hands, fingers, picks and palms.

    So, forget what you read in the magazines, as the stage rig is what you usually get as their "gear." And live, none of them sound like the albums because they have FOH sound guys making the room or stadium balanced.

    My best example is to listen to The Jam, and Listen to the first Jam album and then the last. If you are an expert, you can hear the difference between Foxton's Rickenbacker on the early stuff and his P bass on the later stuff. But, you will see, they both sound incredibly similar, if not the same. Basically same studio engineers and Foxton listening to play back and helping adjust.

    Sorry if this bursts anyones bubble, but I hate seeing people asking what equipment to buy to get "XYZ" tone, and wasting money in the long run.

    Go play and buy the bass that sings in your hands and talks to you. Then develop your own sound.
     
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  2. Brian Scherzer

    Brian Scherzer Staff Member

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    I indirectly learned this many years ago. I bought a used bass in my early bassist days and it really didn't sound good. I walked into the store I bought it from, began taking it out of the case and another bassist asked what kind of bass it was. I took it out and handed it to him........and he then handed me my ass! He started playing that bass and it sounded incredible. It was the only lesson I ever needed about tone being in the hands of the player!

    I've been fortunate to have played with a couple of heavy-hitter guitarists and no matter what guitars they played, I knew who was playing it without looking. A truly good instrument just gets out of your way better than lesser instruments. If you're really lucky, you find an instrument that exactly fits with what you want.
     
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  3. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

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    Great post, OP.....I completely agree!
     
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  4. olejason

    olejason Supporting Member

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    It definitely happens among rock n roll players but, in general, I think you'll find bassists a little less obsessed with copying tones from their heroes than guitarists.
     
  5. CharlyG

    CharlyG Play It Forward

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    I've had Pedulla and Rickenbacker in the past, but in my retirement I have an Epi Tbird with P/Js and a 70s Yakima Pbass.. Both great tones.
     
  6. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    So tone is in the fingers for bass players?

    [​IMG]


    :p


    (this kind of thread would have been 10+ pages in an hour in the guitar section)
     
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  7. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

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    You ever visit TalkBass.com?
     
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  8. CharlyG

    CharlyG Play It Forward

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    Boutiquey amps for bassists seem to be mostly Class D, which keeps the cost down over the tube amps.
     
  9. Endr_rpm

    Endr_rpm Member

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    Since your most recent example is the Jam, you're missing roughly 30 YEARS of development in bass instrument technology. I don't disagree that for vintage tones (pre 1980) your advice is correct, but post 1980 to present, you have a lot of iconic bass tones (Tony Levin, Pino Palladino, Marcus Miler, Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, Cliff Burton, Duff McKagan to name a few, and I am still just in the 80s/early 90s) that at the very least used active basses, fretless, or Music Man style basses, or miced solid state and tube amps. I'll agree that a lot of tracks are DI, but it is more common in the bass world to get 2-3 tracks, one dry, one EQd DI and one mic on an amp, to get the right mix of sounds.

    And generally, the Class D/Switching power amps aren't boutique any more, as brands like Ampeg, Mark Bass, GK, and Genz Benz (now defunct) have rolled out mass market versions of these wonderful tools. I LOVE my LM2, 500W, fits in my gig bag, and sounds great.

    But there are also a number of small tube amp builders (Verellen, Reeves, Matamp) and a bunch of newer all tube designs from Ampeg (Reissues of the V4B), Fender (100T and 300T), Peavey (VB series) Orange, etc. I play a 90 Watt tube head from EBS designed to sound like a loud B15. I can use it's DI out to reamp through my Markbass, giving me ~600 total watts, all tube tone, and reigning less than 120 pounds for the whole shebang. Just an SVT weighs 95 pounds :)

    Where bass and guitar REALLY differ is cabinet design. While guitarists usually want a 60s sound that is more portable, a number of bassists want a full range, Studio monitor/PA like response from a 2 or 3 way cabinet with crossovers and a ton of clean power. Between modelling software and newer Neodymium speakers, bass players can get a 75 pound 2x15 w/ a 6" and 1" for mids and highs that handles 1,000 watts and produces super clean sound that can bury pretty much anyone else on stage.

    So, please do go on about classic bass tone, we'll be over here pushing the art forward :)
     
  10. olejason

    olejason Supporting Member

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    Sure, I've been a member for close to 15 years. I understand what you're saying and yes there are plenty of Jaco/Victor/Tool/Muse wannabes. That said, even in the context of a place like TB it is nothing compared to the hero tone worship practiced among guitarists IMO.
     
  11. hobbes1

    hobbes1 Member

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    Geddy uses Jazz, not P basses. Don't forget the Wal bass in the 80's and Steinberger bass as well.
     
  12. JWDubois

    JWDubois Member

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    For the most part, I agree with you.

    Except when I'm trying to cop Dug Pinnick. I've never been successful getting a good layered, distorted-over-clean tone like his.
     
  13. s2y

    s2y Member

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    I'm extremely partial to the Steinberger and Wal sound.
     
  14. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

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    Are you trying to tell us that TGP will not be coming back after this weekend?
     
  15. teletran1175

    teletran1175 Member

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    I don't think you're saying anything that really isn't common knowledge amongst bass players. For a few decades after the electric bass was first marketed by Fender, the designs you mentioned really didn't have a ton of competition in terms of reliability and quality of sound. When Alembic and Musicman came on the scene in the Seventies, they certainly found a home in the studio fairly quickly. As for plugging into a preamp and then straight to the mixing board, not much has changed there.
     
  16. treeofpain

    treeofpain Supporting Member

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    They are just different sounds. I have a nicer Ibanez bass with active electronics that I use for certain sounds, and I have a P Bass and J Bass for more classic sounds. Whatever best fits the song I am playing.
     
  17. s2y

    s2y Member

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    Think Manring and Wooten get told to leave their gear at home and use a P bass? :crazyguy
     
  18. Endr_rpm

    Endr_rpm Member

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    Ah, the holy grail of Dugs tone. Got to stand about 15 ft in front of his rig on last year tour during sound check. One clean sub low cab, one swooshy midrangey mess, sounded like crap solo. But once the band kicked in, velvet hammer of teh GODS!!!
     
  19. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Member

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    I think he has missed a few decades of studio economics, too.
    Back in the day, when engineers were out of their comfort zone (not competent enough or just too damned lazy) to deal with anything other than a Fender, and just getting into a studio was a major accomplishment, they could get away with that nonsense.
     
  20. TomRichards

    TomRichards Member

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    Please, understand, I'm not pointing out Bruce Foxton as my most "current", just as a perfect example of how a recorded bass, no matter what brand, sounds nearly identical in the hands of the player, that the stars "tone" is about his or her approach, hands and fingers, and its less to do with the equipment. I point to Bruce because it is documented and well known that he used three different basses to record in his prime years, that being a Rick, followed by a P Bass, and for a short time an Aria Pro II (I think it was the SB 700, and I don't count Town Called Malice, as that is the Epiphone Rivoli). You can listen to any Jam record and CLEARLY hear the bass, and you can hear how nearly identical his sound is album to album.

    As for getting 2-3 tracks the way you prescribe, only in really expensive situations and becoming more rare then you think. Especially now that there is a ton of really decent amp/speaker cab emulation software out there. My buddy Dave Swift is now down to bringing only his Monique tube preamp head by Jules Amps to recording sessions, and normally he is only shot once. I have been doing tons of work of late, and finding a bass amp mic'd is almost like the lepruchan finding that pot of gold. And again, even going way back, just about everything was direct.

    And, so you guys know, I haven't missed any development in the instrument. Hell, I work with some of the most forefront builders now. Unfortunately, the recording engineers have never learned how to deal with it, and, unfortunately, you must still have the Fender-like instrument when you walk in or they will not even think about recording whatever you carry in. Roy Vogt and I did a whole half hour discussion at a bass clinic a couple of years ago about this very interesting legacy in the studio.

    As for Victor, with the exception of the Flecktones, most of Woot's stuff is Woot, just as Manring is Manring, Bromberg is Bromberg, and hell, Jonas is Jonas. Of course they can record whatever instrument they want, they are known for that and their label is paying specifically for that a bass album with their desires on it.

    My point, from the start, is that searching for the elusive stars tone, especially in the bass world, has much less to do with the equipment, and more to do with the player, period. That is not to say there aren't notable exceptions:

    1-McCartney playing with the Beatles and his Hofner, McCartney playing with Wings and his Rick.
    2-Mick Karn and his fretless Wal
    3-Any country played with Tic-Tac bass (Danelectro or Jerry Jones 6 string bass)
     

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