Charlie Haden’s Gear

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Alain Martin, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. Alain Martin

    Alain Martin

    Oct 21, 2018
    Hi y’all!

    Everyone knows that Charlie Haden had one of the biggest and warmest tones ever and yet I’m keep getting surprised to see him using a small Gallien Krueger combo which in my experience is one of the less warm amps I’ve tried so far and yes I know he had gut strings which I also have. Anyone know what pickup he used? Cause I hardly ever see him with a mic except for recordings and orchestra playing. How could he get that sound with just a pickup and that Gallien Krueger?

    Thank you very much to all in advance

  2. LaFaro01


    Aug 27, 2018
    I don't know much about the gear of Charlie Haden, but I think, that a real big part of his superb tone comes from the bass, he used... and his abilities to form and shape this tone...
    A friend of mine had the possibility some years ago to play the instrument of Charlie Haden.. and he was overwhelmed and stunned by the sound, which filled the room.... Unfortunately I couldn' make this experience in person :p
    Winoman likes this.
  3. Alain Martin

    Alain Martin

    Oct 21, 2018
    Thank you for your reply. Yes I was acquainted with the fact that he played on a Jean Baptiste Vuillaume. He later on had a “smaller version” with sloppery shoulders made by Jean Auray. Both very expensive basses of course. He was an exceptional musician and double bass player with an extraordinary sense of melody, harmony, structure, sound and tempo.
  4. Earl

    Earl Supporting Member

    Well, for one he used the GK 200mb which sounded much better than the later GKs. He used the Barcus Berry pickup and then switched to the Schertler Stat B. But really, his sound mostly came from HIM.
  5. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Agreed, he came to St. Louis Preforming with Quartet West. He was using an original Schertler Stat B, with dual elements. The closest pickup to that design is the Leig from france, if he still builds them. I think he was playing the Valliume at the time. He came later with Song X and they put him in a plexi isolation booth with headphones. He suffered from Tinnitus and Hypercusius. He had a bass built for him by Jean Auray that he left in Europe when he toured.
  6. koricancowboy

    koricancowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    I took the liberty of circling the secret piece of gear Haden had that made his tone what it was.

    Attached Files:

  7. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    How true, below is a picture of the Lieg Pickup made in France by Hubert Legos
    Liegos DBA Pickup.jpg

    You can really hear what Charlie sounded like in those ECM duet recordings with Keith.
    There is a recording of him playing with Quartet West at Webster University in St. Louis.
    It's up on iTunes. I was there for that performance, and that evening he was using the
    Schertler. It's tltled the Private Collection. A friend of his from Chicago drove down
    and recorded the concert.
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    The friend was likely Ken Christiansen of Pro Musica in Chicago who did live to two track recordings for Naim Audio (which the Private Collection is from) and recorded Charlie many, many times.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
    nbsipics, Sean Riddle and Ric Vice like this.
  9. Those amps, especially the older ones like the 200mb can give a big warm sound - I saw Mario Pavone pull a huge, warm sound with one. Most of us just don't push them hard enough in the low end. Haden (& Pavone for that matter) ALSO had very nice big bass - the bass puts a lot of sound in the room in small jazz groups, especially someone like that who learn how to project before amps. So, add in a very high end old bass as well decades of experience projecting before amps into any equation regarding his tone!

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  10. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I have a whole set of Naim recordings with Charlie and various pianists of note including Lawrence Hobgood, John Taylor, and Chris Andersen. Great sound. Just looked at the liner notes and Ken recorded all of them. Nice.
  11. Darek Oles told me once that Haden’s Vuillaume sounded like a church bell. That bass didn’t have its upper bouts cut down later on in life, so maybe there’s something to that.

    In the end though, it was all him. David Roitstein, who helped Haden in creating and running the jazz program at CalArts, always tells this story about how once during a class in the early days of the program, Haden played an electric bass for a moment to show a student an idea because none of the double bass students around that day and because Haden decided to not bring his bass. Apparently Haden got that electric bass to sound exactly like he did.
  12. flatback


    May 6, 2004
    I worked for Charlie for a number of years and the sound of his pickup going thru that GK 150mb was pretty electric and middy. But that was just like a monitor so he could hear himself, it really had nothing to do with the sound the audience heard. On some albums you can hear his schertler going direct to the board and it is pretty identifiable but mostly his sound guy would send a mic to FOH and very little pickup. I had his Vuillaume in my house for a month once and played it everyday. Definitely in his hands, though it is a killing bass. Look at a video of the way he touches the strings, he thought alot about that sh it, but in a very unconscious way. He would express it like this, "Find the notes that YOU like to play,....and play THOSE notes." That Sh it was simple but all encompassing, like E=MC2, Jackson.
    Ommman108, Fat bob, Earl and 7 others like this.
  13. lurk

    lurk Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    I always think of Haden when I read discussions about whether or not to get a ply or carved bass, and it's all in the hands blah blah blah. He had very very expensive instruments for a reason. One of my favorites BTW, and an indispensable genius.
    nbsipics likes this.
  14. Is the 300K + bass that Robertson is/was selling
  15. With LMO -the only live Charlie Haden I saw - he was just using the GK combo (120 watts). That was a big band with a loud drummer and he cut through. I had that combo for a long time (sold it in 2008). I did not feel inadequacy when AI was coming out with their DB specific combos back then. GK always engineered their amps to cut through
  16. CryingBass

    CryingBass Is that an Elephant Fish on the corner over there? Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    Sound reproduction is important, but Charlie Hayden is the source. :)
  17. koricancowboy

    koricancowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Sure makes it easier but in terms of the sentiment regarding expensive instruments, I tend to think of Dave Holland. I’ve seen him play on both his main axe and a Czech-Ease. Sounded pretty much the same each time. I also think about my main teachers’ (CSO and Lyric Opera) abilities to coax a sound I’m still after on my, at the time, fairly inexpensive instrument. The player really makes the sound. An expensive instrument is icing on the cake. Especially amplified.
    pioneerp61 likes this.
  18. lurk

    lurk Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    Got a good point with Holland and that travel bass, but though he sounds and plays great, you don't luxuriate in the beauty of one note the way you do with Haden. A great example is that Country Boy album where he pumps out roots and fifths. That ain't no Nashville ply sound.
  19. lurk

    lurk Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    Sorry, it's Rambling Boy

    Charlie Haden Family & Friends - Rambling Boy:
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