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Thread: Blues Bass

  1. #1
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    Cool Blues Bass

    Hi everyone!
    I couldn't find a post specifically for bassists, so decided to start one.

    There seems to be a whole lot of different tones and instruments used for blues bass - The days of foam mutes, semi acoustic or telecaster basses and flatwound strings as a standard tone seem well and truly over!

    I see active basses, five stringers and lots of top end out there.

    I'm currently using a Mustang Bass with flats, through an Orange Terror 500 head, and Genz Benz 600 watt 4x10 - plenty of bottom end with enough edge when required.

    I've used PBass / Jazz / Musicman / Dano / Thunderbirds / Peaveys (T40 and Foundations) and Rickenbackers - never been in a position to keep a collection, but enjoy turning the basses around in order to try out new instruments and sounds.

    I'm not a busy player, lots of roots / fifths and lots of pattern playing, I'm far from virtuosity, and prefer to keep it simple, groovy and on the beat.

    I have a distinct lack of technique, don't use my pinky, and avoid open strings - I'm a basic bassist!

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    BluesHawk (08-13-2017)

  3. #2
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    I play live and record with Jazz Basses and J-Type basses primarily, all strung with roundwounds - I use a Fender USA Deluxe Jazz V (active) and a a Sire V7-5 (active) five stringers as my primaries and a USA 2004 Jazz (passive) four-banger when needed.....There are many bass players that swear by flatwounds but I gig mostly in contemporary dance groups and a function band and I like the contemporary bass sound and I apply this to the blues as well when gigging in those situations or recording my own stuff. Theres just as much modern blues and urban blues where I hear roundwounds (like in many Keb Mo, Koko Taylor, and blues that feature slap bass) out there as there is Classic, traditional, or Texas Style bands where flats/fundamentals are more prevelent. I cant tell you how many times Ive heard a guy with a P-Bass and flats nailing a sweet fundamental on traditional blues but then the band kicks into something modern blues or modern/funky and that tone is just horrendous for those styles and makes them sound like a garage band (imo, of course) -- theres a simple rule of thumb for myself: I can roll back top end or move plucking hand position neckward if theres too much top end with rounds but I cant dial it in if needed with flats, so I stay with fresh rounds. There are Pressurewounds, which are flats that sound like rounds, and I like them a lot but they have a spongy response for slap bass to me so I dont use them...... Johnny B. Gayden is a HUGE influence on me and I love his tone, which is (usually) a Jazz bass


    However, in the studio, I use four extra instruments on occasion when needed - a 1995 G&L ASAT bass strungwith rounds, Squier P-Bass strung with rounds, a Squier Jazz bass strung with black tapewounds, and a 1970 Sekova EB-3 copy strung with roundwounds. I use these basses in studio only, as they produce more fundamental in tone - very effective for classic and traditional blues and classic R&B (although I may opt for the Jazz for a more modern tone if the spirit moves me). Lately, the EB-3 copy gets the first call for fundamental bass tone - although strung with rounds, I use both pickups (the bridge and mudbucker) but roll down tones...what I get is a fundamental classic tone thats P-Bass like but more articulate than the Precision yet has a great classic tonality all its own

    For Fingers: Usually Jazz Basses or G&L -- By soloing pickups, switching hand positions, and can get a variety of tones (example: soloing bridge pickup, rolling down tone (passive) or highs (active) and sliding into notes, produces a Jaco type sound - great for finger soloing if and when needed)

    For Slap Bass: Jazz basses with roundwounds, hands down, no contest, unless I want more of a Stingray type sound of which i will opt for the G&L ASAT

    I no longer own the Carvin LB75 in my avatar...I guess I need to change it

    one last thing -- I also play Chapman Stick, but I havent recorded with it yet (I do use it live on select cover songs to play bass and rhythm figures simultaneously)

    Amps are mostly irrelevent to me: Although I use Genz Benz GBE-750 as well as GK combos (depends on gig), I set my rigs EQ as flat as possible...To me, amps are more important to guitar players as they integrate an amps color as well as speaker breakup as part of their sound - For myself, I just want to reproduce the instrument itself as clean and transparent as possible (The Genz Benz works best here) so the less color, the better. My cabinets absolutely have to have a high-frequency driver...In the studio: No amp...just direct

    I run a Compressor as a Limiter (10:1 ratio or so) to reign in transients and keep slap bass from ripping ears off with the pops. I keep it on 100% of the time

    If anyone reading this cares to hear differences in tonality, click Solomons Disco 44 link below and here is the list:

    Hey Pretty Baby - Sire V7/rounds
    Ready or Not - Squier Jazz bass strung with black tapewounds
    Down - USA Fender Jazz Bass Deluxe V/rounds
    Respect Yourself - 2004 USA Fender Jazz 4-String/rounds
    Here I Am - Sire V7/rounds
    Junkman - This was an Ibanez Talman TMB-300/rounds...it was a very strange bass and I meant to re-record it but kept the track as is
    Last edited by klothos; 07-18-2017 at 12:51 AM.

  4. #3
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    Great post! - I've used tapewounds quite a lot too - mainly on a Jazz bass back in the 90's - they very definitely have a sound of their own!.
    I agree that flats can get left behind a bit in a modern setting - I think each set of musicians creates its own set of sonic challenges (and opportunities).
    I'm a pick player almost exclusively, this helps lift the flats when required, and vice versa the flats tame my often over aggressive style when a fatter tone is required. I'm 100% in agreement about amps - if I can get the bass itself sounding sweet, then all I need is a flat EQ, and a powerful reproduction through the cab.

    The Movers is my main band, but I'm also doing Prog / Space Rock, and the usual Covers to pay the rent.

    Here's some of my stuff over the years - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...Bd5YgLSo1LvV0m
    Last edited by cornishmusic; 07-18-2017 at 04:55 AM.

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    BluesHawk (08-13-2017)

  6. #4
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    Great posts...we need these to educate us 6-string guitarists to more of the nuance you bassists work with...so many who play other-than-bass toke your role for granted.

    I really learned to listen to music by focusing on the bass sound. Listening to the bass helped me hear each of the other instruments more distinctly, as if they were arranged around the bass. I've played at bass and love that feel. And now own a 1960s single pickup Memphis bass...and no bass amp.

  7. #5
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    lol Welcome to the bottom end BluesHawk!.
    I agree the attention in blues is very often focused on the singer or guitar player, with the rhythm section often relegated to backing musicians or sidemen.

    I think Willie Dixon may have thought otherwise

 

 

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