Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #26312  by shakedown_04092
 Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:03 pm
Anyone out there know what kind of pups Phil used/uses? Just curious, trying to help my brother upgrade his sound on bass.

Also, any suggestions for a bass head,speaker cab, and/or amp?

Muchos Garcias. :smile:

 #26314  by shakedown_04092
 Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:31 pm
Well, after doing what I should've done in the first place (check around), I found some info on dozin's site:
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Phil's Quantum 8 Throughbody TBX:
It uses EMG pickups, except for the Gotoh 510 piezo at the bridge.  That feeds into six EMG modified acoustic guitar preamps that all sum together on a balance knob.
Also found info on his strings:
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Phils bass strings:
D'Addario Half Rounds, gauged at .045, .060, .075, and .090. He previously used Framus and Pyramid strings. He always puts on new strings before going into the studio to record, but on tour he changes them only as necessary.

 #26315  by shakedown_04092
 Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:31 pm
PS - if anyone has any other info, I'd love to hear it.


 #26335  by waldo041
 Mon Oct 08, 2007 6:56 am
i'll give it a shot!

what phil use's now is an Eden World Tour Head (tube preamp, solidstate amp) into what i believe is a 4 ten SWR cab, with an eden 15 or 18 bottom cab.

IMHO, from what i have learned from phil, is a clean tube preamp, clean power and seperation to the speakers. 2 or 3 way? kinda like a mono PA system.

hope that helps, :smile:


 #26359  by shakedown_04092
 Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:54 am
Thanks Waldo!

Anyone else have any pup info?

 #26390  by tigerstrat
 Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:37 pm
shakedown_04092 wrote:Anyone else have any pup info?
If you are interested in the '68-'70 primal Phil sound, look into Dark Star pups by Hammon Engineering, which are recreations of old Hagstrom Bi-Sonic pups.

Most of the 70's, Phil's basses had custom Alembic single-coils... his Irwin (79-81) had what appear to be P-Bass pups... both his Fender Jazz(mid-late 81) and his G&L(all of 82) appeared to have stock pups.
 #106114  by zambiland
 Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:58 pm
That string info is ancient history from the 70s. He used Ken Smith slick rounds on the Modulus for a while at least. I know the Ritter had Ritter flats. I'm not sure what he's using on the Modulus these days.

As far as pickups go, he's got custom EMGs. Mike Gordon got a set of them for his Modulus TBX, but had a kind of ambivalent reaction to them.

The Eden is all good advice. These days I use an Eden WXT500 for small gigs, which has a great tone. For bigger gigs I go between a SMS Classic and an Eden Navigator, sometimes both! The Classic is more old school and has nice smooth midrange, whereas the Eden has a more modern, scooped tone. If I had to choose....well, I don't! Get them both!

For speaker cabs, especially if you have any carpentry chops at all, I highly recommend the fEARful cabinets. Much more hifi than the Eden.
 #106125  by Rusty the Scoob
 Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:37 am
Custom EMGs? What's different about them than any of the 5 or 6 different kinds of regular EMG soapbars that they make these days?

My ears say he's still using the Slick Rounds. They really are THE tone. I'm having issues with dead low Bs though. I think the place I buy them from stores them just in the paper envelopes.

My fEarfuls are in progress, by the way: ... 981291853/ I went with the 15/6/t and 15/Sub to get it down to 4 ohms.
 #106405  by zambiland
 Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:54 pm
Are you ever going to love those cabinets!

From Mike:
RE: pickups
The new ones are more midrangey, more guitary, more fendery... But the snappiness/twanginess that I was seeking and had heard ended up being hard to control, and the low end ended up being lacking and not as full and warm and dynamically changing with the notes as my other bass. But a lot of what I was hearing might be the bass and not the pickups......

He also mentioned in the same email that Phil has been using Ritter strings on the Modulus. I've pretty much given up on the Slick Rounds. I spent a lot of money on a set and the E and B strings are useless. I'm going to have to write to them and complain. In the meantime, I'll probably go back to Sunbeams. My Modulus gets no use in Shakedown St., it's all about the Starfire!
 #106425  by Rusty the Scoob
 Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:52 am
Sunbeams eh? Can you get that Mike slap tone with them? I'm doing more and more Phish tribute stuff lately. And that's interesting about the Ritters... haven't tried them.

Frustrating... the Smiths would be so perfect if only the low B didn't suck so bad.
 #106462  by zambiland
 Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:45 am
Ah, well, the real question is whether Mike can get my slap tone! :cool:

When it comes to those kinds of things, I'm not really trying to cop any else's tones. I spent years getting my own voice on that stuff, so it's a hard thing to lose and after sitting down with Mike and teaching it to him, well, it's its own thing.

I tried to track down some Ritter flats a couple of years ago with no luck. If we had a connection in Germany, maybe we could track some down. I'd love to check out a set, as I think the Smith strings are going to be relegated to backup.
 #106467  by Rusty the Scoob
 Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:57 am
:shock: I forgot that you taught him that!

Well... do they get YOUR slap tone then? Or any good slap tone really.... better than pure flats is all I really want. But I also want that pick attack with the high-harmonic content adding clarity.

I really like Mike's slapping... he uses thumb/root movement in a cool way. I can sometimes approximate it but the amp has to be right... decently powerful low end with clarity. I'm sure having a Modulus doesn't hurt but my Sadowsky is ok for those few gigs a year.

About the Ritter flats... anything special about them? I always figured he used them on the Ritter because they were long enough to accomodate that huge tail section.
 #106473  by zambiland
 Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:12 pm
Sunbeams get a slap tone I love. They are rounds, but nickel rather than stainless steel. I like a slap tone that has decent brightness, but isn't really clanky or metallic. I can get a very good slap tone on the Thomastik flats on the Alembic, it's just really hard to play because of the low tension and feel on the string. So, I'd say the Sunbeams are a great choice. They feel right and they don't have too much clank. Plenty of spank! They are also a great fretless string. I think that one of the things I like about them is that their midrange is really versatile.

Sunbeams also get a pretty good pick attack. It's different from a flat or a modified round like the Smith strings, but closer than a lot of rounds. This is helped a lot if you use an Eden pre with the magic knob turned up. There's a lot of the tone that Mike and Phil get that comes from that.

As far as the Ritter strings go, I've never touched a set, so it's all speculation for me, but I'm always game to try something new!
 #106481  by Todd GT5
 Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:26 pm
It's interesting to here you guys had the same problem as I did with the Ken Smith Slick Round B strings. I had them( send me a replacement once, but it sure is a drag that they don't come with reliable B strings. I've since switched to D'Addario Chromes(flats). I don't slap at all though, but I get some great tones. My main bass, my graphite necked GGS with Nordstrand Big Singles and three year old Chromes gets some similar tones to Phil's earlier years and can pull off the recent tones pretty well too. Of course I'm just trying to get my own tone, which is inspired by Phil, Mike, George Porter Jr., Steve Adams, Andy Weis and the songs.

I would like to know more about the Ritter flat wounds, I hadn't heard much about those. I know that Phil used Ritter strings on his Ritters.