Paul Kowert - Punch Brothers - gear

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Ovibe13, Mar 26, 2014.


  1. Ovibe13

    Ovibe13

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    Mar 26, 2014
    Hey, I was wondering if anyone knew the specifics of Paul's setup for playing live with Punch Brothers. I am a huge fan of his sound and have been researching his gear. I know he uses a combo of pickup DI and a mic, and uses an in-ear monitor. But I am more wondering about his sound setup as far as pedals or effects.

    I play in a similar style group and am trying to find ways to harness my orchestral bass in a live stage performance setting. I would love to avoid using an amp, but I struggle to control feedback from the resonance of the bass. I have been looking into compressors, and any input would be appreciated. I play both pizz and arco live. String recommendations are welcome too!

    My setup:
    -2012 Aaron Reiley bass
    -Realist pickup
    -Boss Chromatic Tuner
    -LR Baggs acoustic DI
  2. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

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    Oct 8, 2007
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    Boston, MA
  3. Ovibe13

    Ovibe13

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    Mar 26, 2014
    Any ideas about his pedal board he tours with? I have seen some stuff that the whole band uses Line 6 modelers, to adapt their sound for different songs and venues. But how about compressors, effects, etc?
  4. dbass87

    dbass87

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    May 16, 2010
    I saw them a few weeks ago at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington, IN. It was a great gig, Paul's bass sounded amazing. I was floored by his tone actually. One thing I noticed though was that I could only see one chord coming down off his bass, and I believe I could see his clip-on mic...so I figured he was possibly just running mic only through the house? Unless his pickup has some sort of wireless setup? No amp either. I'm curious about his pedals as well.
  5. robobass

    robobass

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    Aug 1, 2005
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    Cologne, Germany
    Disclosures:
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Punch Brothers played in Cologne awhile back and Paul played my Pfretzchner. We set it up with the strings and FC like he describes on his site. I don't remember any effects unit. I'm pretty sure there wasn't one.
  6. dbass87

    dbass87

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    May 16, 2010
    He definitely plays with some effects now...but there's no info on his site about them.
  7. robobass

    robobass

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    Cologne, Germany
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    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I'm trying to think back. Maybe he did have a pedal board, but he didn't make any "electronic" kind of sounds, just what fit to the music. The band I think is very picky about balance and transparency, and they are in good hands with Dave, their soundman. Yes, Paul's sound was always very present and clear, without ever stomping on anyone else. What I took away the most was how much they could really "rock" in a bluegrass setting. I bet at least half the audience never noticed that there no drums!
  8. dbass87

    dbass87

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    May 16, 2010
    He is pretty subtle with them. At the show I really didn't even see him engage any pedals while playing, that I can remember...I know he's using a tuner between songs sometimes. If you listen on the Who's Feeling Young Now? album it sounds like he's using some sort of sustain effect at times, nothing major but you can hear a little bit of an overdrive, like in the song New York City, at the breakdown around the 2:08 mark:

    Attached Files:

  9. MaxJohnson

    MaxJohnson

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    Brooklyn, NY
  10. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    May 24, 2006
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    Crescent Beach, BC
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    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Nice track but I don't hear any effects on it. I didn't see any when we saw them live here in Vancouver, either...
  11. dbass87

    dbass87

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    May 16, 2010
    It's not anything major, but if you listen to the 2:08 area of the song, there is definitely some sort of light overdrive or something, giving a little more sustain (may not be noticeable without headphones)
  12. dbass87

    dbass87

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    May 16, 2010
    This is another cool project he did a few yrs back with Jordan Tice, called the Secret History. He has some really nice bass work, and the arrangements are great.
    Jordan Tice Trio – Forest Waltz
  13. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    It just sounds like a really good bass being played by a really good player to me.
  14. dbass87

    dbass87

    Joined:
    May 16, 2010
    He seems to be going through some sort of effect, or maybe they just did some effect from the board, but that run he does right at 2:18 on New York City, that's really the spot I hear something like an overdrive coming through a bit. It's subtle though...it's not like he's hitting a wah pedal or something...just a slight "boost" or "drive" to the sound.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
  15. Ovibe13

    Ovibe13

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    Mar 26, 2014
    Well, I took my questions about gear setups to another trusted source for this particular genre of music, I met Mark Schatz (award winning bluegrass/folk bassist) after he played with Nickel Creek. I asked him about his setup and we talked for a long time. He eventually sent me a great little read regarding his setup and choices throughout his career for getting the best upright sound when playing pizz and arco and how it relates to the stages and spaces he performs.

    Long story short, he has arrived at using a Fishman Full Circle pickup and a SM-98 mic. He sends the mixed signal to the house, an amp for an on-stage monitor, while only the mic signal through the monitor mix if any players need him in their mix. He has a blender which he uses to mix and send the two signals. He has a foot switch that he hits to turn off the pickup signal for when he plays arco. I would have just posted the tome he wrote, but I want to ask his permission first. He ends it with saying that by no means is this the "best setup", but it is what works for him and he loves it.

    And just to get back to the Kowert discussion, he does use an overdrive for a few tunes, I am forgetting the actually make of the pedal, but I think it is from Pigtronix.
    dbass87 likes this.
  16. dbass87

    dbass87

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    May 16, 2010
    That's a cool idea to have a foot switch for the pickup, arco does sound much better miked than pickup-ed. Thanks for sharing!

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