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Bass for a really tight, low, punchy sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jbutler1982, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. jbutler1982


    Jul 15, 2007
    Hey All,

    I am an electric bass player and I am looking to change my bass up. I have recently begun playing in a band that is very demanding on my skills as a bassist (i.e. its been a real struggle and required a ton of practice, but I'm improving - its a motown tribute band) but the money is very good as are the musicians, so it is really worth it.

    I first gigged with a fender jazz, but it doesn't have the same sound (and broke down finally after a gig almost every week for five years or so, good for a $400 MIM bass I got used). For the last two years I've gigged with originals and done some limited studio stuff with a Musicman Bongo 5-String. However, the new songs are at the limit of my ability as it is (all Jameson basslines) and the 5-String is really hard to play on. Plus, we do some slap funk stuff from the 70s for weddings occasionally, and I never learned to slap a fiver. The Bongo is a fantastic bass (and will be in the classifieds soon) but I just can't pull off the lines on a five-string.

    So, I am coming to y'all for help. I am not a very good "gear monkey", I want a really, really tight sounding bass (probably a P?), that is very easy to play fast that I can "set and forget" for a gig. I plan to string it with LaBella '54 flats. The fender precision reissue 1957 is probably the limit of my price range at $1350 new. Any ideas?

    I really like the bass sound on Stevie Wonder's "signed, sealed, delivered", and would love to be able to copy it if I can find anything in my price range.

    I've posted a few times about specific basses, but I wanted to throw it open to all suggestions. I can go demo fenders and musicman, but not Lakland or Gibson.


  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Pretty much any Precision is what you're looking for. You don't have to get a vintage or a vintage reissue to cop that sound. However, those American vintage reissues are ultra-sweet! I almost got one until this 79 I got popped up at a good price. But really, you could buy a Squier VM and get the same sonic results. Of course, you'd have to like white w/rosewood, but it's not a bad bass at all for $250.

    Alternately, you could also fix your Jazz up. What's wrong with it?
  3. dean82


    Aug 14, 2007
    I have a late 1980's MIJ Fender P that has no dead spots that can be heard and has tons of punch. It even looks like Jamerson's funk machine with the tortoise pick guard. You can find them on ebay for around $450-$600 if you're o.k with used, and ebay;) . Also the necks are slightly slimmer than most U.S P's I've played which is cool with me. Anyway that gets my vote for Motown stuff.
  4. jbutler1982


    Jul 15, 2007
    Well, the jazz has been sold. I do have a SX jazz that I have fixed up myself with vintage custom shop pickups and a nice bridge. However, it just doesn't give me the tight sound I want - it sounds really nice, but not like a really tight, clear, punchy bass sound that really holds a groove. Its more melodic and warm... plus, we do backing work sometimes for local guitarists/singers and I've had two ask me about playing an SX, so I'd like to get something more name brand, even though that might seem lame on the forum. Especially since the fender custom shop pickups are not obviously custom like bartolinis or DiMarzio's would be - they look just like stock.

    The MIJ is pretty interesting idea... I was also looking at the Hwy 1 and the just normal American P.
  5. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    jbutler, this is Lakland. Lakland, this is jbutler. There, now that you two have met, I'll let you get more acquainted with each other ;)

    EDIT: OK, so here's something more worth your while to read. I highly recommend a 44-02 for your purposes. It has classic look to it, is smooth as silk to play, not a ton of bricks and also is very versatile tone-wise. It does a couple of pretty good impressions of the Leo Fender fella and them basses he made (jazz, p-bass, music man, etc.).

  6. the_fooj


    Feb 15, 2007
    Chevy Chase, MD
    If you like the sound of the Bongo, why don't you just get a used Bongo 4 string?
  7. jbutler1982


    Jul 15, 2007
    Maybe its different with the four-strings, but I don't like the neck. Its too thick and the back is slow. I might just do that though if I can't decide on a new P.

    I've been thinking about the Bob Glaub or the Duck Dunn. Sure wish I could play one before I bought...

  8. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Bob Glaub or a DD if you prefer the Jazz neck (though I think the original Ducks had regular P necks.) I'd be confident buying a lakland Skyline sight unseen based on the ones I^ve played.

    The '62 Fender AV is better for you than the '57- a bit mellower and still really punchy. it's the classic '60s P sound to my ears. The MIM Classic '50s P is very similar and is equal in quality to the AV reissues as far as I'm concerned, though the finish is poly.

    With the Jamerson LaBellas, or a 760FL set, you'll be halfway there- the rest is in your fingers and heart, of course.
  9. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I've never been all that doctrinaire about gear. But if I were playing in a Motown tribute band, there's only one make & model I'd consider: a Fender Precision Bass - preferably a vintage or vintage reissue. End of story.

  10. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    Hard to argue with that one. That is if he was talking about a bass which he stated needs to be at a 1350 limit. Re-issue is the only option unless you decide to save up for some of the boutique type basses which really get into the sound you are seeking. Like the Alleva-Coppolo or sadowsky, celinder or even a 64 P bass. You will get closer to the sound you are seeking. But hey Im sure you are saying you are crazy and I don't want to pay all that money. But if the sound is still in your head after you pay the 1350 for the re-issue you will probably get one anyway. Oh by the way when Im say the word "you" I mean "JBUTLER82". Because you did said either a vintage or re issue. Personally I think The Alleva-Copollo is the way to go. I got one and its not a sale pitch just what I feel. I have a LM5 and its vintage. A great friend of mine got a Alleva Copollo P and I am telling you the truth. I never heard a better P yet. You may have to pay twice the money but to me its well worth it and the sound is incredible.
  11. MM Sterling is what I think you'd like. It has a similar neck to a Jazz and MM tone.
  12. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    So if I'm reading this right, you'd like the Fender P sound, but a Jazz neck. If that's the case, there are a fair number of options. Fender has put out a fair number of PJ basses over the years that have a slim, Jazz style neck. A new bass they put out recently is the Aerodyne Classic Precision. It's a sexy looking thing, and while I've only had 10-15 minutes playing time on one in a store, it seemed to play and sound great.

    There is also the Reggie Hamilton bass, another PJ with a Jazz neck. Older models such as the P Bass Lyte, might work for you, too.

    Of course, there is always the option of getting a good old Precision Bass and putting a Jazz neck on it. Many people have done it. Many people have been happy.

    Good luck finding your own, personal "funk machine.". The band situation you are in sounds like a LOT of fun. Enjoy yourself!!!
  13. JumpKing


    Mar 4, 2007
    A Fender American Standard Precision fits your needs AND is within budget AND it is a great bass. Sounds very Motown with the tone-knob down and takes care of those '70-sounds too. Of course a Lakland will allso do the trick, but i think it's totally cool to be in a Motown-tribute band playing an American Fender bass. Damn I wish I was in a Motown-tribute band, you lucky bastard :)
  14. Fender's re-issues are pretty much the only Fenders I like. They're also designed to be *exactly* like the basses that were used during the Motown and funk heyday. If you feel it's got to be a Fender, then I'd pony up the bucks for that re-issue P you saw. Or you can find out if there's a $ difference between the 57 and the 62. I say this because there's a difference between the two RI Jazz basses.

    Personally, I'd buy one of the Lakland Skyline P-basses, just because they seem to have fewer QC issues than Fender does, and they cop the Fender sound pretty damn well.

    And yes, you'll probably want to use flats.

    EDIT: Oh, and I'd love to be in a Motown tribute band, you great big jerque...;)
  15. jbutler1982


    Jul 15, 2007
    Thanks guys! I appreciate all the input. Fortunately, the decision was kinda made for me. I went down to Guitar Center who is having an "anniversary sale" today, and the Highway 1 P I had my eye on (in the rare white finish, no less!) had been changed to dent and scratch and sure enough there was now a large scratch by the pickup (maybe someone dropped it)? That knocked the price down $150, and because of the sale, I got no tax, and after asking the salesman if he could do anything, he knocked ANOTHER $50 off and switched the gig bag out for a hard case. Seems like they really wanted to unload it now that it was scratched?!? (I didn't think it was a big deal, but it is pretty noticable).

    So, I'm the proud owner of a new 2007 Fender Hwy 1 Precision in white with a white pickguard (changing to tort) that plays great and sounds great for $549 out the store, no tax.

    Thanks for all your help. Since I'm roughly $700 under my budget, I can afford to grab a new head to replace my Ashdown MAG600... I'm thinking either Ampeg or MarkBass...

    So, i'm very happy with my bass and my local guitar center.

  16. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Sounds like the perfect score, well done!

    Should look something like this, when you add the tort guard (I use this for all my attempts at Motown stuff, btw. Also with LaBella flats on ;) ):

  17. jbutler1982


    Jul 15, 2007
    Thats the plan! Should look just like that except no bridge or pup covers and it has the seventies-style headstock with the large "Precision Bass".

    Any suggestions for a head Fender32? (EDIT: Or anyone, of course!)

    I've been playing this through my ancient Ampeg 4x10 since I got the new bass. It sounds sweet! A new head and i will be good to go.

    There is no feeling quite like scoring a great new instrument... and a P was the way to go. Thanks again all.
  18. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    To be honest, jbutler, I don't think you'll have a hard job finding a head to give you that low and punchy sound as (IMO) most of it comes from those strings!

    I'd steer clear of any predominently "hi-lo" amps (SWR) and look to Ampeg, Ashdown or (if you really want big mids) Eden.

    Of course, for your budget, your easily get yourself a brand new Markbass LMII (or the even smaller F1), which is a really versatile amp, that can really deliver a vintage tone, if you turn the VLE (vintage loudspeaker emulator) up a bit. It's what I use, but not with an Ampeg 4x10", so I can't give you a first hand review of that entire set-up.

    Perhaps you should go to the "Amps" part of the forum and do a search, or start a thread there - you're sure to get a good range of well-informed opinions!

  19. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Sorry jbutler, I forgot to mention something in my previous post.

    A very imporant part of the Jamerson tone (if that's what you're going for?) is the "damped" effect that he got by having the string mutes installed under the bridge cover. He played quite a lot of open "A"s and "D"s in his lines and they can sound a bit uneven, if played finger-style without any string damping.

    Just a thought, but if I were you, I'd either think about adding the bridge cover, or simply stuffing a strip of foam under the strings, at the bridge - it really helps in producing the "upright" kind of sound.

  20. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    First of all, congrats on the new instrument. You made a great choice...

    If I were in your shoes, I'd go Ampeg all the way. I don't know the Ampeg product line (since I generally don't go for that sound), but for you, I'm thinking a vintage-style tube head with one or two 15" drivers. That should do the trick nicely... :cool:


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