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Bass to get me close to Phil Lesh's tone on Europe '72

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by denton57, Oct 8, 2013.


  1. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    As the title says, I am looking to get close the tone he has on the live album. I assume I need a short-scale hollow body, but I've never owned one. I have a 62 RI jazz and a parts P, so it is time for a hollow body.

    The new Starcaster looks pretty cool, and I also like the Gretsch hollow body and the Guild. I know the Starcaster is brand new, so not many people have had a chance to play it. Curious to what the TB dead heads have to say. I'd like to stay in the 1K or less range.

    I will use flats (labellas), and I have the Fender tone stack (100T head with 410 NEO).
     
  2. Not entirely sure why exactly, but the first one that came to my mind after reading the above is Epi's Jack Casady sig bass.
     
  3. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    North East Texas
    There is a phil thread, and you might have some luck over there. I think it is called the philzone or something.

    To me, a lot of Phil's tone comes from the fender amps, so I think that's a good start. I love my 60s Jazz with a fender tube amp. I feel like I can get a lot of Phil flavor that way.

    Getting the same gear as someone to get the same tone as them is a little bit of a Red Herring. Sure Phil had X bass and Y amp, but... pickups, speakers, re-wired electronics, recording technique, what mics were on the cabs, how was the recording processed... those people were on a lot of heavy drugs, and did some pretty weird stuff.

    My advice is to use what you got, and learn to dial in that fender to get you in the neighborhood, and then find a similar tone that is your tone.

    Gibson just put out a 335 Hollow-body bass, FYI. The Cassady is pretty nice, and cheep too. Enjoy playing mine live at quiet type shows. Not so much for the studio though.
     
  4. DasClyde

    DasClyde Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
  5. StephenR

    StephenR

    May 21, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    This has definitely already been discussed in a different thread. Do a search for Phil Lesh in the "Bassists" section.

    Casady bass would be a great choice. They aren't very expensive and good candidates for the kind of mods that would get you close to that sound.
     
  6. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    Makes sense. I just picked up a Jazz after 4 straight years of playing a P only. The Jazz does get in the range..better than the P does. I think I'll stick with the Jazz with flats and the Fender tube head and go from there.

    I understand all the posts on technique, drugs, etc. I didn't say I wanted to be him or mirror his note choices.. Just trying to cop the tone as close as possible from that album.
     
  7. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    North East Texas
    Just messing with you a little on the drugs thing;)

    I really like my Jazz with the fender amp. It's a great combo IMO.

    The fender tone stack is a different beast. Mine is an old one, so different from yours, but I would try the vintage channel. Deep switch on,, bass at 2,, mids at 10,, and treble at 0. Crank the master way up, and then use the volume as, well, your volume. This is a great place to start and is "flat", or pretty close on a fender amp.

    Good luck with the sound. I think you've got a great rig, and can get some Phil flavor if you play with it.
     
  8. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    No prob! I didn't mean to come off snarky..

    What's weird is that I was a heavy pot smoker and dabbled in other stuff for my entire 20's and never listened to the Dead. Now, 8 years later, I'm discovering the Dead and LOVE the early 70's era stuff.

    I love the 100T, and think I'll use the Jazz for that Phil vibe. We are working up Tennessee Jed and Sugaree right now in my new group, and I'm hoping to add Cumberland Blues, he's gone, and Jack straw.. And brown eyed woman.. And..
     
  9. Box Of Rain.
     
  10. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    MKE
    I play a couple of basses through an Eden Navigator and cop different parts of Phil's tones from over the years, different basses. The Europe '72 tone seems to be part bass, part rig. The bass part is a certain portion hollow/semi hollow sound, part high gain pickup and part worn-in Pyramid flatwounds. I have a stock Casady with a Hipshot Supertone bridge (more solid than the original and easy to intonate). Sure, it's a long scale, but I've tried Dark Stars and short scales and never got as close as the Casady pickup brings me. Don't overlook the Pyramids - sure they're expensive and tend to break off when stringing them up (call the vendor - they replace them no questions asked). Phil and Casady used them on their Guild Starfire basses (including Phil's Alembic mod) back in the day.

    Phil's E '72 tone control was deceptively complicated -- at it's core was a Fender/Alembic preamp section driving a Macintosh power amp. But there were lots of mods in the bass itself. Essentially, the bass contained the guts from one or more Alembic Superfilters. So you could put a SF2 in line with the rest, but the settings aren't that easy to figure out. I tried with a SF2 and the only thing I'm sure of is that the giant, but tight low end used a band pass filter centered around 45-50z to boost the low fundamental, but not the undertones. I found an alternative filter by accident (and at way lower cost). Rick Turner's DTar Equinox filter has three band pass filters and two notch filters. Great for the low boost and fine tuning the mids - a big deal at getting the resonance Phil got. What's better, is the Equinox costs about $250 new (often less used). Don't be thrown by the fact that it's billed as an acoustic instrument device - the filters work for everything.

    And, yes - check out the threads mentioned above. But this is what's working pretty well for me. :ninja:
     
  11. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    North East Texas
    No problem man, you didn't come of snarky.

    I didn't like the dead when I was younger either. It was the albums American Beauty and Working Man's Dead that got me into them. There is little to no "jamming" on those albums, just good, well recorded songs. That kind of opened the door for me, and then I started to explore all the Live '72 stuff. Amazing live recordings. They were just killing it back then.

    Good luck on your tone quest. I have been playing my jazz for about 4 years now, and the bassman for about 2+. I am still discovering cool tones. Have fun!
     
  12. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    It didn't hurt to have help from the CSN guys when it came to vocal arranging, recording and mixing on those two albums. I enjoy specific years, and 72 can be a tough one for me...I do like 73/74 and 77/78 and if you're really into the AB/WD era stuff, they did a run of shows in 70 where they played both acoustic and electric sets...those are worth finding, including the NRPS sets (featuring Bobby and Jerry too).
     
  13. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    North East Texas
    I know Jerry played some on Deja Vu, but didn't know that. Very cool, and out of the box vocals on some of that dead stuff from that time.

    Those albums are great and kind of opened the door for me... got me over the whole "jam band" thing, and once I started exploring I started to get it, including the "jam" stuff.

    Listening to a show from '78 as I type this!;)
     
  14. 48thStreetCustom

    48thStreetCustom

    Nov 30, 2005
    Colorado
    Wasn't a big part of his sound a McIntosh 2300 stereo power amp?
     
  15. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    On XM? I was listening to that while at lunch a few minutes ago! That's how I discovered I liked the dead.. Listened to that station when I discovered that I liked the tones and sounds that I was hearing. Now it's my go to station on XM.

    E72 vol 1 is all I have currently. But, I just purchased vol 2 off iTunes and it's downloading right now :)
     
  16. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    North East Texas
    I'm listening on youtube. there are some great shows on there.

    I have a record called "stepin out with the Greatfull Dead." It is 4 discs of the best of the best from Europe '72.

    The XM station is great... I don't have XM, but have some buddies who do.
     
  17. I think he played pedal-steel on 'Teach Your Children'.
     
  18. StephenR

    StephenR

    May 21, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    The recently released "Sunshine Daydream" (8/27/72 show) is an excellent example of the Dead in one of their prime periods... waited for many years for an official release and it is highly recommended. Three great sets remixed from the 16 track masters. The movie only has part of the show but what a treat to watch them on stage. The Dark Star is amazing and has great shots of Phil doing his thing including one of his rare bass solos...
     
  19. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    He did. They 'traded' services during that era.

    That's why all the vocal harmonies are so out front and way more 'precious' on American Beauty and Workingman's. One of the things learned was how to sing together around a mic so as to have the 'air' for the voices to combine together, that's a CSN tactic.

    Really, on my short list are:

    Cornell 77
    Raceway Park Englishtown NY 77
    (actually most of the May run and the fall of 77) .

    This is intriguing me, although I balk at buying what I once got for free. I may find alternate sources for the shows I don't have. When the Archive first made available all the Betty boards in pristine form, I downloaded about 60 or 80 shows, I should have done more.
     
  20. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    North East Texas
    Man,,, I forgot about archive... you are talking archive.org, correct?

    Just pulled up the show from Cornell University in 77 and listening right now.