From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Charlie » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:30 pm

Mostly only play 4 string basses. Many of the five strings I've tried have a lot less tension on the bottom B string when it's in tune than the other strings on the bass and I find it a bit off putting. It is nice on occasion to have access to those bottom end notes though.

On occasion when I have used a five string I tend to do a mental key change and play as if the low B string was an E. EG If the song is actually in E I'll pretend it's in A and that the E note at the Fifth Fret on the bottom B string is actually an A.
Charlie
Blues for Allah
Blues for Allah
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:28 pm

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:22 am

Walknbluez wrote:I'd have to respectfully disagree with you there zambiland. My Fender precision has flats and the pickup is series and if I want to drop a bomb I really need to use a double stop. I can usually tell the difference when listening to recordings whether Phil hit the note by itself or if he played a double stop or a chord (when he was playing a four string). I think you can tell the difference. Do you not use them at all?


He means that they have Alembic Series I or II electronics, not that the pickups are wired in series. And I don't think it's just the electronics, my budget Starfire drops the best bombs out of all my basses. If I had to rank them in Bomb order I'd say:

1. Starfire (with Pyramid strings, Dark Star pickups, two Bartolini EZQs, and a Rick Turner preamp/buffer)
2. Sadowsky 5-string J (Stock with Slick Rounds)
3. Fender P (with LaBella flats, Fralin pickup and Sadowsky preamp)
4. Custom Warmoth/Homemade 5-string with D'Addario Half-Rounds (I think) Bartolini soapbars and a ACG preamp

I think the starfire's bombs are probably the best because it's shortscale and such a resonant, responsive instrument. Even though it's just a cheapie Korean-made DeArmond copy, it just plain sounds amazing on stage, I get compliments from soundmen all the time. The P and the Custom sound good in a different way, and they just don't bloom the same way when you really hit them. This goes for either single-note or double-stop bombs.

As far as playing "only a 4 string", don't worry about it. I see so many guys buy 6-strings or Moduluses or whatever and then spend exactly zero time actually learning how to play or sound like Phil. Personally I hadn't touched a 4-string in years but then re-relearned it specifically for my GD tribute band! Phil doesn't spend a lot of time below the G on the E-string anyway.
User avatar
Rusty the Scoob
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2287
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:28 am
Location: Concord, MA

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby zambiland » Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:39 am

Walknbluez wrote:I'd have to respectfully disagree with you there zambiland. My Fender precision has flats and the pickup is series and if I want to drop a bomb I really need to use a double stop. I can usually tell the difference when listening to recordings whether Phil hit the note by itself or if he played a double stop or a chord (when he was playing a four string). I think you can tell the difference. Do you not use them at all?


Rusty the Scoob nailed what I was saying about series (was that a rusty nail?).

As far as double stops go, I use them all the time. Not just 5ths, but 3rds, 6ths, etc. My point is that a bomb is not simply the product of more notes, you don't need a double stop to drop a bomb and I've discovered that in fact, it can detract from its bombiness to use double stops as there are all kinds of harmonics that are generated that can cause intermodulation distortion that distracts from huge clear deep bomb bottom end. It might sound bigger in terms of making more noise, but once you factor in a large bass rig and PA system, double stops actually more midrange than huge clear deep bomb bass.

This is exacerbated by violation of lower interval limits. What I mean by that is that as you go lower, the notes get closer together in terms of cycles per second. So, if you play a 3rd, say, high on the neck, it sounds great. If you bring down low, there are fewer cycles per second between the notes in absolute terms. That means that they interfere with each other more easily as do their harmonics and create a more clangorous sound. So, even a 5th, by the time you get to the low A on the E string, creates more tension than it would if it were played an octave up. This further muddies up double and triple stops low on the instrument.

Of course, most amplifiers just turn this all into mush and you get a big roar coming out of the amp. That's appropriate for some things, but it ain't no bomb.

The beauty of a Modulus, when it comes to dropping bombs, is that every note is very even and the fundamental can be really strong. My Starfire is a little more finicky. Low A, Ab and G bombs are easy. Low F# and F are a little less reliable. For some reason, low E doesn't seem to respond nearly as well. I can see why Phil got in the habit of staying at G or above.
zambiland
Magic Hand
Magic Hand
 
Posts: 498
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:13 pm
Location: Boulder CO

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Walknbluez » Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:53 pm

I just can't seem to get the bombs, or at least what I perceive to be a good, hard bomb, like the ones I'm hearing Phil do in the 70's. At least not while maintaining articulation at the same time. Everything both of you said considered, my ears still hear the difference, and I'm speaking specifically when Phil plays a single not vs. double stops or chords during his four string years. For example, if you listen to this Bertha from 1979 at 2:16 they are playing a C chord and it sounds like he's playing a single note but then at 2:29 it sounds much deeper. I can swear he's not playing a single note there:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1979-1 ... 854.flac16

I am thinking of numerous other examples as well (which I can't link because it's an official release and not available). Take 6/26/74 (Dick's Picks 12) and the "I Know You Rider" from that show. At 2:46 and 2:49 again that sounds like more than a single note to me. Also, Rusty the Scoob, in one of your videos you say "Or you could drop a bomb there" and then you play a chord as an example. I really love his tone during this era. :-)

Perhaps I should fiddle with amp settings? Should I start a different thread to discuss this (don't want to hijack Bassman's thread).
Walknbluez
Blues for Allah
Blues for Allah
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby zambiland » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:34 pm

What's your rig? I feel your pain, as it took me years to get it right. Amps, speakers, pickups, strings, basses. Lots of factors!

Don't forget that Phil has the advantage of a great PA. His stage rig also resembled a PA and certainly had the oomph. Frequency response and lots of headroom are the primary requirements for a good bomb! Nothing wrong with power chords, either....

Too bad we can't have this discussion in person with basses and rigs in hand!
zambiland
Magic Hand
Magic Hand
 
Posts: 498
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:13 pm
Location: Boulder CO

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:02 am

I definitely feel your pain since I spend a lot of time on my P and honestly, it just doesn't drop the same kind of bombs. I don't blame it on the rig in this case although the rig can certainly help. IMHO Ps are built to be pretty tight and controlled... they're better for tight Jamerson grooves than for full dynamic-range melodic exploration.

You CAN get them to drop single note bombs well if you can find lower tension strings and play with a light touch. That's why I usually gravitate toward double-note bombs - I play with a lot of force in my normal style, to the point where if I add much more it just chokes off the vibrations. During quieter songs I do drop a lot of single-note mini-bombs.

Side-note: Edwin's discussion of clashing harmonics is excellent, every bass player who wants to play double-stops develops an intuitive understanding of it, I think. Example: I play a TON of double-stop 3rds, (too many, probably,) but very rarely below the 8th fret or so on the D&G strings. Below that it's almost all 5ths or 6ths. Piano players learn this even more thoroughly. You can play something like the notes C D Eb together as an accent up high on a piano and have it sound good.
User avatar
Rusty the Scoob
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2287
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:28 am
Location: Concord, MA

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby zambiland » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:32 am

You guys are out of my league here, I've never spent more than 5 minutes with a P bass in my hands! Weirdly, I've never gotten along with Fender basses all that well and the one that does work for me is the Jazz. My first bass was an EB2-D and all the instruments after that were non-Fenders except for a Jazz for a year or so in the early 80s.
zambiland
Magic Hand
Magic Hand
 
Posts: 498
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:13 pm
Location: Boulder CO

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:58 am

My first bass was a P copy, and that exact bass later paid my rent for 3 years in college, with a Badass II and SD active pickup swapped in. I still have it but the neck is too unreliable for my taste. Ps feel like home to me!

They're killer for the JGB stuff. Even a Steinberger L2 is really a P bass in terms of string spacing and neck pickup placement.

But they're also pretty controlled in how big of an accent you can hit, almost like you've run it through a heavy compressor/limiter, expecially with flats. I wonder if Leo designed it that way on purpose to accomodate the upright-bass players who would have first used them. More likely he just stumbled on a formula that worked, I suppose.
User avatar
Rusty the Scoob
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2287
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:28 am
Location: Concord, MA

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Walknbluez » Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:24 pm

zambiland wrote:What's your rig? I feel your pain, as it took me years to get it right. Amps, speakers, pickups, strings, basses. Lots of factors!

Don't forget that Phil has the advantage of a great PA. His stage rig also resembled a PA and certainly had the oomph. Frequency response and lots of headroom are the primary requirements for a good bomb! Nothing wrong with power chords, either....

Too bad we can't have this discussion in person with basses and rigs in hand!


I'm playing an American made Fender Precision with D'Addario chrome flatwounds through a Peavey VB-2 all tube amp, 225 watts into a 4 ohm Avatar 212. I know 225 watts may not sound like a lot but it can get loud and has quite a bit of headroom and is pretty versatile....just have to experiment with the settings. I've actually dialed it in a little bit better these last two rehearsals. I've found that actually dialing back the bass EQ and turning up the volume a bit actually is helping me get more of that 70's Phil sound that I like. I am using alot of double stops when I want to drop bombs...mostly just the first and fifth. Like on Jack Straw when it hits the E after "Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down!" or the C during I Know Your Rider on "I wish I was a headlight!....". So it is working for me, I guess I shouldn't say I can't drop bombs, I think I'm just saying that the double note bombs sound more ballsy than a single note bomb.
Walknbluez
Blues for Allah
Blues for Allah
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby tigerstrat » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:34 pm

When I think of single-note "bombs", two tunes that spring to mind are "I Need a Miracle" and "U.S. Blues".

Walknbluez wrote: Take 6/26/74 (Dick's Picks 12) and the "I Know You Rider" from that show. At 2:46 and 2:49 again that sounds like more than a single note to me.


off-topic: Just an incredible "Rider". Jerry goes absolutely bananas in the final lead break!
"There, in huge black letters, was 'The Grateful Dead'. It just... cancelled my mind out."-Garcia
User avatar
tigerstrat
Senior Member
 
Posts: 4628
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:20 pm
Location: Portland,OR

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby zambiland » Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:06 am

Walknbluez wrote:
zambiland wrote:What's your rig? I feel your pain, as it took me years to get it right. Amps, speakers, pickups, strings, basses. Lots of factors!

Don't forget that Phil has the advantage of a great PA. His stage rig also resembled a PA and certainly had the oomph. Frequency response and lots of headroom are the primary requirements for a good bomb! Nothing wrong with power chords, either....

Too bad we can't have this discussion in person with basses and rigs in hand!


I'm playing an American made Fender Precision with D'Addario chrome flatwounds through a Peavey VB-2 all tube amp, 225 watts into a 4 ohm Avatar 212. I know 225 watts may not sound like a lot but it can get loud and has quite a bit of headroom and is pretty versatile....just have to experiment with the settings. I've actually dialed it in a little bit better these last two rehearsals. I've found that actually dialing back the bass EQ and turning up the volume a bit actually is helping me get more of that 70's Phil sound that I like. I am using alot of double stops when I want to drop bombs...mostly just the first and fifth. Like on Jack Straw when it hits the E after "Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down!" or the C during I Know Your Rider on "I wish I was a headlight!....". So it is working for me, I guess I shouldn't say I can't drop bombs, I think I'm just saying that the double note bombs sound more ballsy than a single note bomb.


Another thing you might try is to crank the volume on the amp, play with a really light touch and then when you need to drop a single note bomb, you'll have a much larger amount of headroom available. One thing that can work against a good bomb is that the harder you hit the string, the more you get an initial attack with less sustain. The key to sustain is a light touch with volume coming from the amp instead of trying to hit the string hard.

Ballsy is a little different, but it's what I'd expect with a tube amp into a 212 rig.
zambiland
Magic Hand
Magic Hand
 
Posts: 498
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:13 pm
Location: Boulder CO

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Walknbluez » Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:00 pm

Thanks zambiland, I'll try that. I'm trying to adjust playing with a pic and need to figure out how to play with a light touch with a pick.
Walknbluez
Blues for Allah
Blues for Allah
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby zambiland » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:35 pm

Walknbluez wrote:Thanks zambiland, I'll try that. I'm trying to adjust playing with a pic and need to figure out how to play with a light touch with a pick.


Yeah, that was a hard lesson for me to learn. I started playing with a pick from the beginning, but my amps were woefully underpowered and the guitarist I played with was LOUD! So, I learned to play really hard. It's been a struggle to unlearn that. I decided to give up pick playing when I was 20 or so and started going to Berklee. I thought they'd laugh me out of the place, but I later learned that the founder of the bass dept. was Steve Swallow, who is also a pick player. I got distracted by the thumb thing for a long time, but sometimes I wish I had stuck with a pick all those years. I had experimented with pick and slap techniques that might have gone somewhere and later I discovered that Bobby Vega was doing something kind of similar.

So, if you have something unique in your playing, keep doing it!

Another thing to try might be to pick up over the ends of the frets. It gives a much deeper tone and if you notice, Phil did that a lot back in the day. I'm not used to doing it that way, but when I do, I instantly recognize a certain aspect of Phil's tone.
zambiland
Magic Hand
Magic Hand
 
Posts: 498
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:13 pm
Location: Boulder CO

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:57 pm

Edwin's method of picking closer to the nut is a good one. I'd also add - to get a lighter touch with a pick, try gripping the pick less tightly, so it flexes a little between your fingers. That's a huge part of how Jerry got such a broad dynamic range.
User avatar
Rusty the Scoob
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2287
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:28 am
Location: Concord, MA

Re: From 5-string to 6-string and back to 4.

Postby Walknbluez » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:12 pm

I do play closer to the neck when I remember to do so but what usually happens is I subconsciously end up picking right smack over the pickup. I need to get into the habit of picking closer to the neck.

I have an SWR workingman 400 watt solid state amp as well. Do you think I'd be better off trying that? I really like the sound of the tube amp though, especially on the highs. I also have a Jazz but I tried that and always go back to the P. I noticed that Phil played a Jazz for a bit there though. Any ideas what strings he was using while playing that one?

When recording, I'm direct into the board and so I noticed a difference in the way it sounded while I was playing it vs. how the recording sounds so it's harder to judge what I should adjust when listening to the recordings.

Thanks for the help guys.
Walknbluez
Blues for Allah
Blues for Allah
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:55 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Phil Sound

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests