Clean Sadowsky tone... Walter Becker... the Dan

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by reens, Jul 11, 2007.

  1. reens


    Mar 16, 2005
    This is an odd post to make, but here goes.

    On Steely Dan's last album, Everything Must Go, you can hear some crisply-recorded Sadowsky tones. It's a very clean-sounding record (almost cold and efficiently mixed) and Becker is a bit of a rote-bassist, or bassist-by numbers who lacks feel and innate groove (cf Rainey's stuff on Aja etc).

    But it's mixed with clarity. You get a good sense of how the Sad. blends in nicely with the whole. Becker plays with a pick (to my ears) and plays like a guitarist doubling on bass ... you know, there's a lightness of touch and no dirt/groove (like when the guitarist picks up your bass and tries to show some line).

    But it's all hifi stuff.

    The album itself is also pretty light and lounge-y, but like all Dan stuff it's such a clear mix. Worth listening to once for the basstones.

  2. Big Dan fan here. Walter did some bass work on their earlier stuff as well.

    I love how Steely Dan is known for the cripest tightest recordings. Every gig I play the soundguy runs a Steely tune through the system to do some preliminary mixing.:D
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  3. bassist15


    Mar 6, 2006
    Im also a big Steely Dan fan. Fagen and Becker are truly amazing. Becker plays what is needed to be played on their earlier albums. He even wrote some of the basic riffs that were used on Aja and was smart enough to just let Rainey go off on his own too. The Dan is great.
  4. reens


    Mar 16, 2005
    right... I'm not a legitimate or 100% DanFan, maybe 60%, hence my apprehension in making the post... but then again you can't beat the freakish precision of Rainey on something like Peg, with its shuffling beat and impeccable backing vocals and real pop smarts. The Dan had great 70s FM values, so clean and crisp.
  5. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Bayside, New York
    Just curious.... how do you know its a Sadowsky?
  6. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    Granted he could have been playing something different, but walter is a Sad endorser.
  7. reens


    Mar 16, 2005
    there's a clear endorsement in the sleeve credits... Mr Becker's guitars by Joseph Sadowsky. And there's a cut-off pic of a white j-style bass. See the full pic here:
  8. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Bayside, New York
    Excellent... I have almost the same bass..color neck ..but mine has the original EMGs from the early 90's..
    It looks like his bass has an ash body?

    A few years ago they did a cable show.... Becker was playing a Sdaowsky Strat and it just sounded great.. Tom Barney? was playing bass on that show.
  9. dave_p


    Dec 20, 2005
    back in recording school mention was made many times about how dry and tight the production on steely dan records was. a lot of isolation, no mike bleed through. a lot of room damping. very little reverb. the production is always just flawless. of course studio work was there forte, and many takes were done for every part until they were satisfied with the result.

    i have loved steely dan since the early 70's when at the age of 5 or so i would sit in the basement with my old man while he'd be doing a valve job on some hells angels bike listening to 'cant buy a thrill' on an endless 8-track loop.

    my younger brother is an engineer and he always brings systems up with either steely dan, or sade's greatest hits (sade's stuff is all very cleanly produced as well).
  10. b15fliptop


    Feb 17, 2004
    I think it was in BP that he talked about tracking this album. It was all on a Mary Kaye blonde Sadowsky through an Avalon pre. Not a U5, I think it was a VT-737.

    In the same article he mentioned that if Chuck Rainey still lived in NY that they would still use him because his playing was so bad ass. I think Becker did a nice job on Everything Must Go. Some tasty lines, and pretty hip fills at the end of Green Book.

    I think a lot of us would be surprised at how much of the old stuff was Becker on bass
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  11. KidFunky


    Jul 15, 2005
    They still do this? I lived in Amsterdam in the 80s and there the album used by sound guys for this reason was The Nightfly :-D
  12. Larry99


    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Is this Roger's brother? :D
  13. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand Commercial User

    May 25, 2003
    Redlands, CA
    You mean ROGER Sadowsky, right? :smug:

    Jon McBass likes this.
  14. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Great tone and I love the playing on the record. My favorite bass track is "Things I Miss The Most".
  15. "Peg" is THE bass line. I listened to that line over and over, early in my playing, with the bass high in the mix and just soaked it up. The turn around part Rainey does before the chorus just always turned my toes up.
  16. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Fun to play, too. :)
  17. Sadowsky

    Sadowsky Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 1, 2000
    New York City
    Owner: Sadowsky Guitars Ltd.
    Here is a nice photo of Walter with one of his 3 Sadowsky basses.

    Steve Boisen likes this.
  18. reens


    Mar 16, 2005

    I did, my bad. The old liner-notes recollection faculty ain't what she used to be... Sorry Rog!
  19. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Listen to bass tone on "Snowbound" (Kamakaraid -Donald Fagen). It's Becker and the tone smokes. I'm not that sure he uses a pick, has anyone confirmed that? As far as production, what I like about the Dan albums is they never sound dated. No gated Snares, reverb heavy vocal, orchestra synth hits, or any of the other date signatures so common in pop music. You can put on a CD like Katy Lied and the production values are so consistent, it could have been made last week. GREAT STUFF.
    2luvthebass likes this.
  20. b15fliptop


    Feb 17, 2004
    In the BP article he stated that me played most of EMG with the side of his thumb for a phat, thumpy old school sound.
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