Did Rocco use flats in the old days?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by tommybass64, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. tommybass64


    Jun 23, 2008
    Okay,I've scanned through quite a few threads but can't come up with a definitive answer...I've listened to "East Bay Grease" ,TOP's first album through headphones a few times recently. To me Rocco's tone sounds very full,kinda thuddy,like flatwounds....I've read he only uses rounds....Maybe in the old days he used flats,then switched to rounds? How many companies made roundwound strings circa 1970....Rotosound,Fender,maybe GHS ?....Maybe Rocco used heavy rounds with high action and had a very resonant P-bass,so the tone was more flatwound-like,if that makes any sense....Course,I know Rocco plays very strongly with a heavy hand,which could account for a lot...Another question,I just got got the TOP Live At Iowa State DVD. Rocco played a Mocha colored Fender P-bass with a maple neck...Could this be Paul Jackson's old Fender P,the one pictured on the "Headhunters" CD? I know Rocco has said he has a Fender P-bass that Paul gave him...Sorry, it's a rainy Saturday and I'm bored...
  2. tommybass64


    Jun 23, 2008
    OK,a whole week and no replies...well,I'd be satisfied knowing which roundwound strings he used....I've heard Dean Markley,I just don't know which specific strings...I know he uses his sig. half rounds now,but I want to stay with rounds for slap 'n pop when I need it...Rocco got a great warm full tone on "Children Of The Earth",just wondering which strings produce a similar vibe...ampwise,I'm guessing Rocco used an SVT like everyone else....Wishing Rocco the best in my thoughts as he's facing some health issues...
  3. MR PC

    MR PC

    Dec 1, 2007
    Maybe rounds. Maybe flats. With his left muting hand technique, either would work fine, especially with the old SVT. Frankly, some of those guys were so deep into music and heroin at the time, I doubt that minute details like string brands really were very important.
  4. tommybass64


    Jun 23, 2008
    Point taken....So probably a Fender AVRI '62 Precision with rounds or flats,and an SVT with the 8x10 cab would get me close ...I've heard Rocco may have used an Ampeg B-15 in the studio as well....Thanks for the reply...
  5. paparoof

    paparoof Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2011
    fEARful koolaid drinker
    Do a search on the same question, but for John Paul Jones instead of Rocco. Lots and lots of discussion about that question. Same time period, sure sound like flats to me, but JPJ swears he only played rounds at the time.

    I believe a big cause of this confusion is that the stuido engineers of the time were used to the flatwound sound so they were still EQ'ing for that sound. Roll off the highs, boost the low-mids, mic the cab, rounds end up sounding more like flats.

    Combine this with the technique based answers above and there ya go.
  6. tommybass64


    Jun 23, 2008
    OK,that makes sense,I know Rocco dug a more vintage tone ala Duck Dunn for instance....I know raising the action on a bass can also have a big effect on string tension and tone. I've heard Rocco uses higher action,so I'll raise mine a bit and work on gaining some speed and accuracy with the higher action...it's amazing how fast Rocco, and Mars Cowling also,can play with high action and beefy strings...(.105's..?)
  7. MR PC

    MR PC

    Dec 1, 2007
    He used a 57 P Bass in the early days. Those instruments are famous for having a very aggressive and bright tone, even with flats.
  8. tommybass64


    Jun 23, 2008
    A '57 P-bass...cool....can't find more vintage tone than that...I've noticed Rocco seems to play basses with maple fretboards a lot. Having one in the arsenal is a good idea and a good excuse for buying another P-bass...:D
  9. DingoBlues


    Dec 17, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    East Bay Grease is a great album. I got a copy in 1970 and wore it out. Sure sounds to my old ears like a P bass strung with heavy flats. Always loved the melodic bass line on "Sparkling in the Sand". I saw them live in 72 but can't remember any specifics on his gear at that show.

    His web site http://www.roccoprestia.com indicates he's presently using strings made by MJC Ironworks in San Jose, CA.

    Also, anyone who wants to help fund Rocco's kidney transplant can donate using a PayPal link on his page.

    OP - If you like TOP check out the first Cold Blood album with fellow bay area bassist Rod Ellicott. Super fat, funky tone only using a pick to get a more percussive attack.
  10. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    I saw Cold Blood's first album tour. He was using a Hofner Beatle.
    Rounds can sound like flats. You're not stuck with a Chris Squire early Yes tone.:)
    In fact rounds could deliver live, the highs and complicated mids you hear from flats in sessions.
  11. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    I have some Bass Player magazines from the early 2000s and he was endorsing the regular Fender nickel plated rounds 45-105. You can't get those anymore, but nickel rounds it was at the time.

    I think he sounds very much alike over the years regardless of the strings.
  12. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    Rocco will always sound like Rocco, his technique is so unique that he will always get his sound regardless.
  13. Nice trend! Even more for me to learn!
  14. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    I agree. A very nice, mellow 'flat-like' tone can be had by playing with the onboard controls, amp settings, and technique.