Bob Babbitt playing roundwounds

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by ronlitz, May 22, 2012.

  1. ronlitz


    Apr 20, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    This is from the book/CD "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown" - it is Bob Babbitt playing the James Jamerson bass part for "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing". This is a perfect example of an awesome, mid-rangey bass tone that sits well in the mix. I assume this is a Fender Precision. The thing I find most surprising is that you can hear some scrape sounds when Bob changes position - indicating that he is using roundwound strings! If you take this clip an send it to a mixer, then blend the bass-only track with the backing track, you'll see how well this tone sits in the mix.
    It may be true that to sound like Jamerson, you need to use flats - but - maybe rounds are a better choice for that style of music. Jamerson used what was available at the time - it seems like Bob is using a later technology to achieve a tone that is similar, but maybe even a little better?

    Attached Files:

  2. jarrydee


    Oct 22, 2011
    I agree!! Now let the war begin!
  3. ronlitz


    Apr 20, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Just a polite discussion - no need for battle! :D

    And for the record - I'm not a flatwound hater - in fact, I love them. Well, I love the way they feel - it makes playing my bass more fun than with roundwounds, IMO. BUT - I do sometimes dislike that the low E through A range on the E string is kind of mushy and indistinct. Hearing Bob's tone with rounds is making me reconsider my decision to use flats.
  4. I'm a flatwound freak; I absolutely love them. But I also know that you can get a decent, mellow tone out of rounds by choosing the neck pup, playing with fingers/thumb, and plucking near end of the fingerboard.

    Rounds are versatile. But flats are better ! :D :bag:
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    A good player is a good player no matter what they use, and it's all in how you play, not what gear you play. I have my preferences, but I always end up making every piece of gear I've ever played through sound like me.
  6. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Played an old P-bass in a 9 piece horn band doing lots of Motown. I worshiped at the shrine of St. Jamerson since I was a teenager and first heard Heatwave, and I used D'Adario, GHS, and Fender round wounds. It still killed. The music is just so great: You Really Got A Hold On Me, and What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted are unsurpassed.
  7. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    I don't think that clip sounds particularly great myself.

    He usually uses flats and I love the thick and round tone he gets.

    I agree there are many ways to sound good playing 60s Motown music, but the most important to me is that the notes are for the most part muted, just seems to work better with the way the songs are arranged and the way they flow, and their particular rhythmic structure.
  8. ronlitz


    Apr 20, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    I'm talking about tone, not style or technique. Gear does have a drastic effect on tone. For example, play a jazz bass with the bridge pickup off and the neck pickup on full. Then turn off the neck pickup and turn the bridge pickup on full. I can hear a difference, and it is not subtle. How is that possible if gear doesn't affect tone?
  9. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I think what Jimmy means here is that most players will adjust whatever gear they're using to match the Ideal Tone that they hear in their heads, so they end up sounding similar, regardless of what gear they're using. Instead of capitalizing on a piece of gear's signature sound, they'll compensate for it in order to bend it to the will of the sound in their head, so to speak.

    I know I do it to some extent. I think everybody does.
  10. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Flossin'? I thought your name was Munson!

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH

    This became extremely clear to me when I went to a guitar store and played through a number of very different basses, from vintage P-basses to hi-tech Modulus 6-strings... they all had a sound in common... me.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    That is correct.
  12. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Oct 24, 2021

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