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Bass sound on Gabriel's Big Time

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Ezmar, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. Ezmar

    Ezmar

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    So this might not be the right place for this, but I thought I'd put it here. As usual, mods can feel free to move this.

    I'll add a link later if you want, I'm on mobile now, but in Peter Gabriel's Big Time, there's a section right before the first verse, it's slapped, it's got a really deep, fruity growl, and a little more "overdrive" than "J-bass growl". It sounds almost exactly like Claypool's Antipop tone.

    Anyway, my question is what would help me get that tone? I'll obviously experiment on my own, but I thought maybe I could save myself a bit of grief by asking you folks.
  2. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

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    I heard they used drumsticks on the bass strings for Big Time. By the sound, I believe it.
  3. preside

    preside

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    Look Up Funk Fingers By Tony Levin. it also sounds a bit like an octave pedal if memory serves me right
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

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    Yes, originally drummer Jerry Marotta drummed on the bass strings while Tony Levin played them. Later, Tony developed "funk fingers"--drumsticks attached to his fingers--to replicate the sound. See http://www.papabear.com/pbtlff.htm
  5. Ezmar

    Ezmar

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    That's pretty neat, I might have to take a look at those. Although they don't look like they'd bee too convenient in a live performance setting, if you just needed them for part of a song. :p

    But as far as the tone goes, is it going to be mostly the EQ, or is there something I could do effects-wise that will give that aggressive-yet-deep sound?
  6. fraublugher

    fraublugher

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    And one drumstick , I think he used the stick near the bridge.
  7. elgecko

    elgecko

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    If I remember correctly, there was also some doubling/tripling of parts with other instruments going on.
  8. LaBassGuy

    LaBassGuy

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    I saw PG at Hollywood bowl in October. And if I remember correctly, Levin used a synth for the entire song. But he did use the sticks in other songs--like secret world.


  9. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Supporting Member

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    I saw them during the original So tour, on that song TL played a silver fretless Music Man (no surprise there), no drumstick that I could see, and played the synth bass on a DX. I don't think the funky fingers were developed at the time, they came a few years later.


    Great show BTW, very memorable. Mercy Street was very chilling.
  10. AaronBass4

    AaronBass4

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    This would have been many, many years ago so my memory could be flawed but I'm pretty sure I saw Big Time performed on SNL and it seemed like he had what looked like aluminum tubes on 2 of his fingers that looked to be about 5" long.
  11. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    QFT, it's important to note that Gabriel's recordings from this period are like 50 tracks deep, with each "instrument" being a mix of many sounds.

    To the OP, I really don't think EQ will do much to get you there. Maybe an octave pedal, maybe some compression (like a parallel setup with uncompressed and heavily squeezed channels mixed together), maybe a synth pedal. And try making your own Funk Fingers. :)
  12. Ezmar

    Ezmar

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    Yeah, my goal isn't to duplicate the recording sound, I'm hoping I can play a live cover version of it, and I just want to get more of that tone, more because of the feel it has. I'm playing the rest of the song with regular fingerstyle. I'll probably use some compression, a bit of crunch, and try EQing the sound. I'm using a Zoom G2.1u, which I got when I was playing more guitar, but it works for bass, as well. I'm finding especially the "Marshall Crunch" setting, adding the crunch at the higher guitar frequencies, making for a great Geddy or Squire tone.

    I'll fiddle around with it. I don't suppose you guys know of anything that could be done about the drum sound short of using electronic drums? We'll probably have to re-imagine a Rock/Funk version of the song.
  13. metaball

    metaball

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  14. Swift713

    Swift713

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    I'm pretty sure there was an earlier credit of drumstick bass on one of Gabriel's first two eponymous albums.
  15. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

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    ^^^This. It's perhaps worth noting that Jerry & Tony developed a drummed bassline for the entire tune -- and presumably there's a rough mix somewhere in Gabriel's archives that has that bassline throughout -- but subsequently during the production process 90% of that part was deleted in favor of the keyboard synth-bass that's heard on the final mix. iow, that four-bar drumstick bass solo that you hear in the original studio recording of "Big Time" is just a tiny fraction of the part that Jerry & Tony originally played.


    It's definitely not on the 2nd album, and I was always under the impression, based on the hubbub surrounding its implimentation (see above) that "Big Time" was the first appearance.
  16. blueacid4l

    blueacid4l Supporting Member

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    Yeah, this is the story I heard as well.

  17. winterburn69

    winterburn69

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    I absolutely love this song. The instrumentation is so rich. For playing the synth-bass, an octave works pretty well as long as it tracks that low a chorus (alone, or with the octave) also sounds good IMO. If you don't have any funk fingers, you could make some, or improvise. Personally, I use AA batteries attached to my fingers with hair elastics. Slapping sounds similar to the funk fingers and could be used as a substitute. It's what I usually do when I play it, pulling out batteries and elastics is annoying.

    For the last several tours, Tony has played Big Time on a synth (Nord Lead, IIRC) but still uses a bass with funk fingers for the drummed bass part (there's videos on YouTube). But to answer the OP, the part was originally done by Jerry & Tony, with the drumstick bass. Funk fingers or a substitute can get you there.

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