Current bass is a 1978 RD-77 Gibson, which has been my favorite for over 20 years. Although I have had several other basses, up to 6 at one time, including a Fender Jazz, the RD does everything any of them could do except one. It cannot be light, as the Steinberger was. I also wish it had 24 frets instead of 23, but otherwise, to me it is perfect; my other half, so to speak. When I sold off, this is the one I kept. I am frequently complemented upon my tone (almost never my playing ). I use D'Addario Half-rounds, and play through a Thunderfunk with a Meyer 15 and a H&K 4-10.
Gone are the days we stopped to decide where we should go, we just ride...
I'm strongly favoring P-basses with flatwounds and EMG PA (Alnico magnets - warmer and more traditional "Fender" than the classic EMG sound) pickups lately, and I really like the slim profile necks with graphite reinforcement that Fender puts out as the Highway One or now the American Special. Also the Gotoh 201 bridge, which is pretty close to the AM standard style - a little beefier than a vintage bent-steel model but not a huge chunk of brass like an Badass II. That combination really projects well into a big room but retains the Precision character.
But for 70's Phil it's hard to beat a short-scale semi-hollow bass.
Rusty the Scoob wrote:I'm strongly favoring P-basses with flatwounds and EMG PA (Alnico magnets - warmer and more traditional "Fender" than the classic EMG sound) pickups lately, and I really like the slim profile necks with graphite reinforcement that Fender puts out as the Highway One or now the American Special. Also the Gotoh 201 bridge, which is pretty close to the AM standard style - a little beefier than a vintage bent-steel model but not a huge chunk of brass like an Badass II. That combination really projects well into a big room but retains the Precision character.
But for 70's Phil it's hard to beat a short-scale semi-hollow bass.
We've talked before about P-basses and their woofy, woolly mids. Does the EMG pickups change that? Also I'm looking at trying out my Jazz bass for some of these Dead/Jerry band applications. Although I wouldn't think it would be a fit, one of the last Dead tribute bands I saw had a bass player using one and he was nailing the early 70's tone. After their set, I went up to him and asked him about the strings. I was expecting flatwounds and they were rounds. Anyway, I was thinking of trying EMG's in the Jazz bass, although I'm not sure what kind yet.
Traditonal EMGs with the ceramic magnets do scoop out some mids and boost lows and highs, but I have ones with Alnico magnets in both P-basses that I travel with now, plus my new primary has a reverse-P with Ceramic and Steel magnets in a soapbar housing, and it definitely has a smoother high-end than the Ceramic-only version that I tried first, which was very harsh and nasally. (although it is really close to the bridge so not a fair judge) It's a copy of a Steinberger pickup, in a different housing.
The Alnico ones I use really retain the P-bass character nicely, but with EMG's amazing ability to project and cut through while not sounding harsh. I suspect they copied Alembic's pickup designs or at least the basic concept but that's just a wild guess on my part. They're definitely a Bay Area company, when I called them up to custom order my bridge pickup they were super helpful and the guy even told me some firsthand John Kahn stories!
Anyway, this is really a tangent if you're trying for that 70's Phil tone, but you asked about our current basses and this is mine. I should probably make a whole new thread about it like I've been meaning to, but for now here are the specs:
* Fender American Special neck and tuners (slim profile, graphite-reinforcement bars under a glued-on maple fretboard). Has a satin finish and late 70's style logo. Great bang for the buck neck at $350 or so with tuners. *Warmoth Alder body, rear routed control cavity, some custom woodwork inside cavity. Dual battery-box, Alkaline batteries last about 3-6 months. Lithiums don't fit and are getting harder to find, which sucks. *Custom extra-thin nitrocellulose laquer finish - should age nicely and quickly and also seems to be extra lively and responsive. Already has quite a few dings and scratches and some chips through the paint. * Fender pickguard. I think. It's Parchment, sort of an off-white. * Gotoh 201 bridge. I put one of these on the Highway One and it really tightened up the lowest 3 notes and made the whole bass more solid and responsive than it was with the vintage-style. I don't like the Leo Quan Badass II despite having had one on my touring bass for years... It's a nice bridge but it doesn't quite sound like a Fender anymore and the feel changes pretty drastically. * EMG PA neck pickup. I have the PAX in my older (2009) Highway One, someday I'll A/B them and figure out the difference. Supposedly a newer internal preamp design. * EMG 35P CS bridge pickup, basically a Steinberger pickup in a soapbar housing. Should be 1/4" closer to the bridge to be exactly in the right spot but sounds and looks good where it is. Custom ordered but no extra charge. What a great company! * Mike Pope Flexcore preamp - onboard 4-band EQ. I use this to cut high and low mids, and boost lows and highs for that 90's John Kahn sound. I find myself using the bridge pickup exclusively with this setup, sounds nice and tight and sits in the mix right where it belongs. Then I switch it off and solo the P pickup with or without a little tone rolloff and it's a great P bass. I put the blend knob and EQ on-off switch right next to each other, hidden in the black area between the curve of the pickguard and the bridge pickup so I can reach down and switch modes almost instantly, about as quick as reaching for the traditional tone knob. It's really two basses in one, it responds totally differently in each electronic configuration. * LaBella Deep Talkin' flatwounds, .45-.105.
This is the Steinberger mode. You can see through the first verse and chorus I'm fine tuning the high end to try and get the clarity without the Twang when I pull hard on the strings. I'm still not that happy with it but I'm getting into the ballpark.
P bass mode. Plays just like a P and sounds pretty much like one too, to me, but projects into the room so nicely. These are just the built in mics on a Zoom video recorder. Skip ahead to the solo around 4:20 for the best tone example, although I was purposely quiet in the mix, because it was Gomorrah.
Classic P growl when I push it a little, but still smooth in the mix.
Back on topic, Phil used a Jazz for a lot of '82, still sounded like Phil although it's a little odd to hear him using one.
I'm not a bass player per se, I use it for recording at home and occasionally when we have someone sit in that needs a bass. It's '73 P-Bass. I got it from our old bassist who bought it new. Nothing original but the wood but it's been restored as it was when it was new. There's nothing like a P, there's prettier sounding basses but Ps have balls. This one's has a cool pedigree among others was used on the last recording Junior Wells made before he died.
My upright is my primary bass in my current band. Its a Romanian ply, w ebony board, Tomastick Superflexable Solos tuned downed to standard, and old BP 100 pickup glued to the bridge into a Baggs PADI to the board. My backup/alternative is a Rondo SX P/J strung with Labella Deep Talkin Flats. Its not a Dead band, its an alt country/americana originals deal with a few covers sprinkled in. I've gotten them to agree to try Uncle/Big River. Amp is a 71 SF Bassman head into a 400w 1-15 Carvin bass cab. Also have an old SWR WM12 combo.
Im looking to add a hollowbody shorty. The new Guild Newark Street Starfire is callin my name. But Ive gotta unload a couple of extra elec guitars laying around to swing it. Alternative Shortys(new anyway) are the Gretsch 5422, Artcore ASB180, & Hastrom Viking. Also in the runnin but long scale is the epi Casady and Aria Tab 66.
Rondo has a 32 incher thats pretty darn tempting. I like my SX ok, its solid. With some set up work Im happy with it. But I'm trying to avoid getting another cheapy.