Chris Squire's sound

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by JeremyBender, Oct 24, 2001.

  1. JeremyBender


    Oct 22, 2001

    Debating with friends on what Chris Squire used to get that crazy sound on the song "Starship Trooper".. I don't know what the hell would make a bass sound like that.. any ideas?
  2. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    If you're talking about that wacky in-and-out kind of wavering effect, that's just tremelo. That's a really cool effect, especially on "Starship Trooper". Normally an effect used by guitarists since the dawn of time (or, at least since the dawn of tremelo), this works well on bass also.

    Of course, if you're talking about Chris' sound in general in that song, that would be his Rickenbacker 4001 through his Marshall bass amps. (Yeah, that's right. He used Marshalls back in his pre-Ampeg days.)

    That's one of my absolutely favourite Yes tracks, from a truly brilliant album. It's great how he moves from a gritty, ballsy tone to a more mellow sound in the "Speak to me of summer...." part. With the tremelo effect maintained throughout.
  3. JeremyBender


    Oct 22, 2001
    cool... it's one of favs as well..

    It has to be more than just tremolo though.. one of my older bass player friends said something about a "Harmonizer" which I never heard of.. I tried emulating that sound with every effect I could find. The folks in Guitar Center keep throwing me out. What kind of effect would give that level of tremolo anyway?

    The depth in the lows sounds amazing...and the wavering alomst buzzes at times. I am gonna pull my hair out if I don't find out. I borrowed a friend's 4003 to figure the song out.
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Could be a delay unit. Figuring out studio stuff by big names is so hard anyway. The studio can do incredible things to sound and big name musicians often have custom made units, or at least tweaked by a tech.

    I found Squire's sound tough to approach because of his technique. Years ago, he said he positions his picking hand/thumb in such a way that the Herco pick hits the string first and a milisecond later, his thumb hits it. It just came to him naturally.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Are we talking live or studio here? I mean Starship Trooper is really old and comes from a time when there weren't many effects about - flangers hadn't even been invented then!! ;)

    I saw Yes in London in 1974 and Chris Squire's sound was truly awesome and was what made me want to start playing bass - it was mostly a standard Rick sound though - although I thought he used Sunn amps then - as I remember constantly thinking about this at the time - although we are talking about over 25 years ago now! :confused:

    So if I listen to Starship Trooper on YesSongs it all sounds pretty straighforward to me and I can identify every sound in the mix - lots of "phasing" on the drums and guitar - like on the Doobie Brother's "Listen to the Music", but when you hear bass guitar it's pretty much clean Rick sound to my ears.

    What I can hear on the live recording and what I remember from seeing the show, was the Taurus (Moog) bass pedals - so Chris Squire was playing these bass pedals in the show with his feet and you can hear them on this track.

    He used a Wah pedal for the Fish, but otherwise I rememebr his sound as being quite clean in terms of effects although always on the edge of being overdriven. So I'm really not sure what you mean?
  6. JeremyBender


    Oct 22, 2001
    I was referring to the studio version.. I saw them live 10 or so years ago but regretfully they didn't do Starship Trooper so I didn't get to see how they do it live. I would have to agree with ricbass1 and say that it would be impossible to figure out. It just does'nt sound right when I play it. I guess that's because I sure as hell ain't no Chirs Squire.. thanks for the feedback though!
  7. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    Chris Squire is my absolute favourite bassist. He has held that position for 20 years and probably will continue to do so for years to come.
    The things I find interesting is that over time, as those Yes songs become more and more ingrained into my subconscious, the basslines eventually lose some of their initially unattainable, "what-the-hell-is-he-doing" quality, and become (dare I say it) quite understandable.
    I never even tried to figure out the lines to my favourite Yes songs for fear of taking away any of the mystique or coolness. (Plus, I just didn't feel that I was good enough.) But now, with years of experience and listening, I have a much better handle on the situation.
    Don't allow yourself to be too paralyzed by what seems to be a daunting task. Even Chris Squire is reproduceable. But that, of course, doesn't make him any less fascinating as a player.
    As far as the "Trooper" sound, I'm sure I read in an interview with either Chris or his tech that he used the tremelo effect way back then. But, to be sure, try and track down any kind of article on him that you can find. Bass Player Magazine has featured him on occasion. Try to ferret out a copy of one of those articles.
    (Tech Point: Remember that tremelo has been around for ages, and that Chris frequently made use of the Rickenbacker's stereo feature. It's quite possible that he just ran the treble pickup into a guitar amp with tremelo on it. But, as is the case with a lot of those instrumental illuminaries, they could easily have had an expert build them whatever they wanted if it didn't exist yet as a production-line model of equipment.)
  8. i was a huge yes fan for years and years.

    i enjoyed his solo album "Fish out of Water", which was put out quite some time ago. it probably sounds a little dated now, and a little lovey-dovey in parts, but tunes like "Hold Out Your Hand" struck a chord with me. chris has a decent voice, too. different.

    did he ever get past his notorious imbibing? coz my boy was seriously bloated a few years back.

    'to attack is to retreat!'

  9. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2000
    The other thing about Chris Squires sound is that it really can't be duplicated exactly from an off the shelf 4001 or 4003. I read an article in which he was talking about how everyone wanted to get his sound and how everyone was going out and buying a Ric. He explained in his article that his Ric is much lighter that the average due to the fact that the finish on the guitar had been shaved down many times due to various paint jobs and stickers that he had put on his bass in his pre-Yes days with Mabel Greer's Toyshop (sp). So, even though you may have a Ric with the same set up, his sound could not be exactly duplicated.
  10. He's a lot better now. My brother saw Yes a couple of months ago and said that Squire is almost as thin as he was 25 years ago. Evidently, his new wife has weaned him off the bottle.

    Winston: if I'm not mistaken, Squire did do the stereo trick which Geddy Lee repeated more famously. I think he ran the neck pickup to a Sunn pushing a 2x15 or maybe an Acoustic 360/361 setup, and the bridge pickup to a Marshall Plexi pushing a pair of 4x12s.
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I was a big Yes fan since the mid 70's (Close to the Edge), I even bought his first solo LP. Never got a chance to play any of the stuff I learned with anyone.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This sounds like the setup I saw him using in the 70s - the Sunn logo stuck in my mind.

    I must say that I remember seeing Rush on TV and all of us who were Yes fans vowed not to buy any of their albums as it was obviously such a Yes rip-off.

    Nowadays I don't really listen to this sort of music anymore and find it a bit embarassing - especially the lyrics. ;)
  13. I know what you're talking about, man. A friend and I started a prog-metal band (what can I say, we're all 18 and 19) and we're having a devil of a time figuring out what we're going to do about vocals and lyrics.

    I mean, I love Rush, but between Geddy's voice and Neil Peart's adolescent-Plato lyrics, it can be too much for some people. At least Yes lyrics sound good when you're on drugs :rolleyes:
  14. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I've loved Chris Squire since about 1977. I worked at a grocery store after school to save money for a brand new blue Ric.

    Did any of you read the article BP did on Chris a few years ago? I was so excited to read it, but I got very pissed about the way it was written. It sounded like it was written by someone who didn't really appreciate him.

    I think a lot of his tone is due to the stereo setup: deep lows and slightly distorted high mids and highs.
  15. fabian


    Jan 3, 2008
    Hi Guys

    I love Chris Squire sound is unique,but just 1 tip..try "malekko B-assmaster" is a perfect copy of the Maestro brassmaster,used by Chris for decades.

    I own the 4001 Chris Squire Limited edition and a 4001v64,try routing the Malekko or brassmaster or any GOOD bass fuzz pedal to a 2nd amp,and a clean bass to another one,you can use a chorus flanger or wha wha to the main amp. BUT the fuzz is the secret,with the Maestro brassmaster you can do everything,and get the same sound,check youtube or google video for demos,I have ordered mine a few days ago.

    Rotosound strings are a must, and a stereo wired bass, or a "Y" cable from the bass to the diff amps or effects.

    All the best and have a great 2008

  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Wow a 6-7-year-old thread! :eek:

    Soon... people will be resurrecting threads that are older than they are! :p
  17. mfchild


    Apr 13, 2010
    Im currently in the studio where Yes is writing. I have seen Chris's rack. Pretty cool. I'm not a bassist and Yes is not the type of music I produce but I do love vintage gear. Chris's tremelo pedal was made in 1968 by a fan or friend and is one of a kind. It has no name, serial number or logo. Chris also uses three EH pedals, a mutron III plus, and a vintage maestro fuzz pedal. he has rack gear that looks to be from the 80's and uses stero output from his bass. One amp is for the effects and the other for his bass. Pretty cool set up on his pedal board. The famous bass,,, Yes I've touched it and Chris does have that amazing sound still. Im into the jamerson, lucky scott sound but will be checking out some yes records since it appears many people love their work. Oh, alan is a monster on the drums and they are both really great guys who still love music. Ill look more into the effects in his rack later today. Very nice guys to be around and learn from.
  18. You gotta remember also Chris invented a pedal or something like that so as far as sound good luck getting it truly.
  19. weemac

    weemac Guest

    Feb 27, 2010
    He used a custom made Tremolo (He calls it Vibrato) on Starship trooper.
    Another thing is on that track the sound you hear is not "The" Rickenbacker but an late 60s or early 70s one which was one of the rare 21 fret models. It was out of Chris's hands for a number of years but I believe it is once again in his colection.

  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Yep he used the 21 fret model on that album I think it was a 71.

    Also Chris would often solo the neck pickup and turn up the treble.