Phil's Early 70's tone.

Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby schmidtz » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:05 am

I have decided to switch over to bass (every band has twelve guitars...)
The tone I want is Phil's early 70's tone (think Dick's Picks #35).

I want that tone that sounds like the speakers are going to blow up with each note. Is that the Gibson EB-3 or can I cop that tone with a P-bass? Was he still using a showman head at this point? What about speakers?

Thanks.
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:17 pm

DP 35 was 1971 which would be the modded EB3. I'm actually in the process of duplicating that instrument using a basket-case 1969 EB0, Dark Star pickups, and other tweaks. For now I'm using a DeArmond Starfire with Dark Stars, Bartolini EZQ filters, and a DTar eclipse buffer.

What I believe are important to getting the 1971 sound, in this order, are:

1. Flatwound strings. Roundwounds with the tone rolled way down are a mediocre substitute.

2. wide pickups, preferably darkstars. Wider pickups pick up more frequencies, for a fatter, rounder sound. Darkstars or Mudbuckers are ideal, J-bass pickups are the oppposite example.

3. Short-scale neck. (The Epiphone Jack Casady seems to be a great way to get close to the right bass on a budget and possibly also the closest way without getting custom work done)

4. Warm, flat-frequency amp, preferably with a little grit. Personally, rather than going with a Showman or similar heavy, unreliable and underpowered Fender head I'd go with any modern bass amp with a good, neutral tone and put a Sarno Earth Drive pedal in front of it for warmth and grit. http://www.sarnomusicsolutions.com/products/ed.html The fender head may work if your band is way less loud than most of mine. :lol:

For speakers you'll want 15"s in as neutral of cabs as you can find. The ideal would be JBL D140s in cabs that duplicate the designs of the era. The closest commercially available would be http://www.hardtruckers.com/HT215B.html I've heard great things but have not tried it myself.

I have played Phil on my P-bass. It works ok in a pinch but I find myself altering my physical playing techniques to try to approximate the sound, whereas on my Starfire, even though I'm less comfortable on it overall, the 70's Phil sounds come out of it more naturally.
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby jeffm725 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:32 pm

Ah but Rusty, you forget that Alembic makes 2 products to combat the underpowered (from a bass standpoint) Showman.

an F2B or F1x are both based on the Showman Preamp. Just plug it in to the Poweramp of your choice and youre good to go.....

But if you are thinking about an F2B or F1x, may I also recommend another Sarno solution:
The Sarno CTP. Works great for bass too as I understand it (and again, another Fender Preamp circuit)
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby brbadg » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:03 pm

Rusty always nails this,it warms my heart that someone else listens as much as I do.Although Ihaven't formally introduced myself to this forum,I watch over it every day.Phil is running two outputs from that bass as I recall.Each pickup goes do a different amp,and I still think they were showmans at this point.I can't ever try this in my environment,but you should still try an eq pedal This is possibly the most unique bass player on this planet and no one ( IN THE REAL WORLD) wants to talk about his shit ,amazing!
You can get real close with a precision I still think...
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:09 am

jeffm725 wrote:Ah but Rusty, you forget that Alembic makes 2 products to combat the underpowered (from a bass standpoint) Showman.

an F2B or F1x are both based on the Showman Preamp. Just plug it in to the Poweramp of your choice and youre good to go.....

But if you are thinking about an F2B or F1x, may I also recommend another Sarno solution:
The Sarno CTP. Works great for bass too as I understand it (and again, another Fender Preamp circuit)


Great points there, Jeff! I just can't make a personal recommendation on that point..... YET :twisted:
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby TI4-1009 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:20 am

Rusty the Scoob wrote:(The Epiphone Jack Casady seems to be a great way to get close to the right bass on a budget and possibly also the closest way without getting custom work done)


The one that they won't make as a lefty.... :-x
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:21 am

brbadg wrote:Rusty always nails this,it warms my heart that someone else listens as much as I do.Although Ihaven't formally introduced myself to this forum,I watch over it every day.Phil is running two outputs from that bass as I recall.Each pickup goes do a different amp,and I still think they were showmans at this point.I can't ever try this in my environment,but you should still try an eq pedal This is possibly the most unique bass player on this planet and no one ( IN THE REAL WORLD) wants to talk about his shit ,amazing!
You can get real close with a precision I still think...


I believe you are correct that Phil was running each pickup of that bass to a separate output. I haven't decided if I'll do that with mine or not, but I'm leaning towards not. His later basses starting in 1979 were all more conventional with both pickups blended into one output, and all of my multiple-pickup basses are wired this way, so I'm not really seeing a drawback.
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby zambiland » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:15 am

jeffm725 wrote:Ah but Rusty, you forget that Alembic makes 2 products to combat the underpowered (from a bass standpoint) Showman.

an F2B or F1x are both based on the Showman Preamp. Just plug it in to the Poweramp of your choice and youre good to go.....

But if you are thinking about an F2B or F1x, may I also recommend another Sarno solution:
The Sarno CTP. Works great for bass too as I understand it (and again, another Fender Preamp circuit)


This is all true and I'm a huge fan of the CTP (and own or have owned all of the Alembic rack mounts). That said, there's something about a real Showman into JBLs that is just different. The output section provides a lot of the character. Phil had 4 of them in the 1971 era with 4 double 15 cabs. While the Showman is woefully underpowered by today's standards, 4 of them through reasonably efficient cabinets should raise quite a ruckus.

I'm also taking a slow boat to the EB3 world. I've got a 60s basket case base (with a horrendous paint job. Ewww) and some Dark Stars sitting around waiting for some time.
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby ugly rumor » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:37 am

Fender also made a somewhat rare amp in the '70s, I can't remember how it was designated, but Berry Oakley used it, that had plenty of power, and sounded good, too. Sorry I can't remember....it is just one of those moments.
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby zambiland » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:08 am

ugly rumor wrote:Fender also made a somewhat rare amp in the '70s, I can't remember how it was designated, but Berry Oakley used it, that had plenty of power, and sounded good, too. Sorry I can't remember....it is just one of those moments.

Ah, yes, the mighty PS400. Berry's was up for sale on ebay a while back. In order to get all of the power out of it you had to run 3 sets of speakers as it had three independent speaker outputs. I've only played through one, but it belonged to a luthier (Jim Mouradian in Boston) and he didn't want to let go of it, so I never got a chance to really let it rip. A classic for sure. Apparently it's beast to keep running properly as it needs tubes that can handle running at very serious voltages.
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby mpace » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:27 pm

Hey there!
Wondering if any one can help- I am trying to move towards a '73 sound and I was wondering if the new Gibson Midtown Bass would be a good place to start instead of the reissue Guild. Right now I am running a p bass through a GK with some various pedals- Tech 21 VT, Boss EQ, Compressor - so any tips on how to get closer to the creamy overdrive that Phil had at this time would be great (maybe an Eden pre amp?)- thanks!
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby seanc » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:36 am

damn!!!

the bigger question is why don't you send some of those guitar players MY way!!!!

still looking for a band here!!
Worcester/ Providence area Bass player, looking to hook up and play some tunes!!
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby zambiland » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:15 pm

mpace wrote:Hey there!
Wondering if any one can help- I am trying to move towards a '73 sound and I was wondering if the new Gibson Midtown Bass would be a good place to start instead of the reissue Guild. Right now I am running a p bass through a GK with some various pedals- Tech 21 VT, Boss EQ, Compressor - so any tips on how to get closer to the creamy overdrive that Phil had at this time would be great (maybe an Eden pre amp?)- thanks!


Interesting. I've never played one, but it might do the trick. I'm a little skeptical of a long scale bass really capturing that sound. I think part of the secret is the pickups and electronics, which were super wide frequency and very high headroom.
In '73 Phil was using Alembic preamps. It's possible he was cascading the channels for overdrive. Hm, I'm going to have to try this. I've been trying to get that sound as well. I've got an Alembified Starfire and it does a lot of it, but the distortion tone has been elusive. The Sarno Earthdrive has been fun, but it's not quite right. I'll bring along my F2B to my gig next weekend and see how it goes.
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby mpace » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:59 pm

Thanks for the reply!
I've been doing some tinkering since my last post and I am going to save up for a Tone Hammer pedal that can simulate the cascading of the sound- so in all I am going to use a Pbass>tuner>boss eq with a higher mid range setting and volume to simulate active pups>boss bass overdrive for volume boosts (phil bombs)>boss chorus, mostly for a reverb effect and maybe mix it with the overdrive to get a sustained fuzz like '73 phil space had>eventually the tone hammer as a pre amp>VT bass as an amp simulator: SVT combined with a tube like sound>GK amp
I have left a compressor only on the amp (taken out the pedal) so I can protect the smaller travel amp (I usually just use a mb115 for club gigs) from heavy bombs or gain swings. - its a light compression so its not totally squashing the sound.
Without the tone hammer I am doing ok with generating a defined high gain sound, but I want the low ends to be deeper but tighter and respond to heavier playing instead of volume change so I am saving for the TH.
Also with strings, right now I have roundwound fenders and that is to off set me using fingers instead of a pick.
This is the backwards way of doing it I know, but its a fun way of searching for the sound....
Any tips on my approach with the equipment I have would be appreciated! Thanks!
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Re: Phil's Early 70's tone.

Postby zambiland » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:07 pm

I'd try a Tone Hammer out before you put all your eggs in one basket. The Aguilar sound that I've experienced has been more Ampeg than Fender, so it doesn't really do the GD thing that closely. I don't think Phil had distortion boxes back in '73 (although in one interview he does talk about being able to get a "fuzz" sound with tremolo) and all his preamps were Fender based.

I'm also not sure what you mean by using the chorus for a reverb effect. They are pretty different.
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