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Emulating JPJ's Tone

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Fake Trees, Mar 8, 2003.

  1. Fake Trees

    Fake Trees

    Feb 9, 2003
    Hey, im a huge Zeppelin fan. I love John Paul Jone's sound. I'm looking to sound more like him (we are covering ten years gone, song remains the same, and ramble on, and maybe celebration day), and i have a passive bass and an ampeg B2R bass amp to do it with. Do any of you bass 'elite' know how I should set my eq to get his sound (the b2r has a 9 band graphic, and three nobs: bass, ultra mid, and treble). I also need to buy new strings, which type of strings will give me the best JPJ sound?
  2. For most of Zeppelin's career, JPJ used Rotosound flats or tapewounds on a Precision or Jazz, and recorded straight to tape.

    Anyhow, you might want to try using a pick and flatwounds to cop the "Ten Years Gone" sound. Roll off your tone knob a bunch.
  3. Fake Trees

    Fake Trees

    Feb 9, 2003
    Thanx, but there is no way i'm gonna play with a pick (is that going to be a problem in reproducing his sound?)
  4. JPJ used his fingers and a pick just about equally with Zep. In the later years, when he was playing 8-string bass (doubled 4) exclusively, he only played with a plectrum.

    A pick will be vitally important for getting that sound. Anti-pick attitudes get a great big :rolleyes: from me--I don't use one myself, but I think a quick listen to Steve Swallow or Anthony Jackson should dispossess you of the notion that only idiot punk-rockers use picks.
  5. anthony jackson uses a pick?
  6. Um, yeah. His classic sound was a Precision strung with flats, played with a pick, and run through a phaser.

    He still uses one on about 50% of the stuff he plays on.
  7. man i never knew that :cool:

    thanks for the info. i thought he was always doing that palm muting stuff and plucking with his thumb.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well he did on funk records in the 70s (!) but more recently he has developed a different technique, which he explained in a Bass Player interview:

    BP One increasingly prominent aspect of your playing is a muting technique involving your right-hand palm and either a pick or your thumb.

    AJ There are several aspects to right-hand muting. The use of what I call the "palm mute with pick" dates back to my early association with Di Meola. Al is quite simply a virtuoso in just about any technique involving the flatpick, and his use of mute-and-pick was, when I first saw and heard it, a revelation. I spent some time trying to cultivate it for myself and had many opportunities to apply it because of his propensity for writing parallel lines for guitar and bass guitar. I recall some mute-and-pick duets on Elegant Gypsy, and I gave it major prominence on Splendido Hotel [both albums on Columbia].

    As for the "palm mute with thumb," that seems to be much older. Around 1972, I began falling heavily under the sway of Latin music, and I became enamored of the old Ampeg Baby Bass. Although it sounded pretty awful in nearly every other context, in Latin music no other bass sound could touch it, and I wanted it. I wasn't comfortable with the idea of playing an instrument with such a stylistically limited range-or perhaps I should just be honest and say that I was determined to force my instrument to give me the sound of the Baby Bass. One way or the other, thumb-and-palm emerged as a personal technique giving me what I hoped was a compatible and effective sound for Latin music. Over the years, I've gotten comfortable with it, and I feel confident using it in non-Latin situations as well, although the peculiar problems of coordination due to the non-standard right-hand position have taken a lot of effort to overcome.

    I'll sometimes use thumb-and-palm for the majority of a particular recording project, often surprising my associates, who can't figure out why such an unusual approach works so well. It doesn't always work, of course, but it's great to have it available as a creative alternative. There was also a period when, in an attempt to acquire something resembling Jamerson's sound, I would carry a piece of foam to insert under the strings just ahead of the bridge. The resulting sound is similar to that achieved by the thumb-and-palm, with the advantage of full mobility for the fingers of the right hand. Lost, however, is the ability to switch quickly from muted to open strings and back, and the subtle gradations of muting, whether from string-to-string or note-to-note on a single string.

    The desire to use muting as an expressive stylistic device, as opposed to a simple technique, has prompted me to attempt to cultivate a more elaborate version of the thumb-and-palm method. I'm trying to integrate my right-hand fingers into the operation of picking along with the thumb, while maintaining the palm as an increasingly mobile and sensitive mute.

  9. Do you have the B2R combo or the head?

    Roll off your tone knob full or close to full, and I think those old strings may actually help with his tone. There's not a whole lot of brightness there in general, although I haven't learned the tunes you're asking about.
  10. Thanks, Bruce! I'd forgotten about that.

    I know that on some recent Michel Petrucciani and Michel Camilo records, AJ uses a plectrum fairly often--but it is very muted, as he mentioned.
  11. "for the love of money" doesn't sound like a P bass, so i dug out the interview in the Bass heroes book- he says his Fender was a Jazz bass body with a Precision neck.
    also it sounds like roundwounds on that track.
  12. you know peter, come to think of it, i have an old buddy rich tape live with anthony jackson playing bass. on chameleon, the tone reminds me of what you described.. an old P with flats and a phaser played with a pick.
  13. I think it sounds like a Precision--maybe he soloed the neck PU?

    In any case, I know that he's playing a Precision in that Simon & Garfunkel in Central Park concert movie from 1981, and I'm fairly sure that it's a P with flats on the classic Al DiMeola records, if only because it sounds like some other classic P-with-flats-and-a-pick sounds from that period (Steve Swallow).

    Pics would be nice.
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    AJ looks like he's playing some sorta Jazz on the back covers of the Eyewitness band's earliest albums(very cool-looking wood grain).
    If I recall, I thought it was a Jazz on that live DiMieola album cover, too. I'll have to dig it out & look!
    What did he use with Steely Dan & Chaka?
    I'm assuming it was his modified Jazz(strung to BEAD)?
  15. Well, I'll be damned. I went back and read the big BP interview and:

    -He used roundwounds on "For the Love of Money" and most of his '70s outings (I figured he was just using really trebly flats);
    -He used a Precision on "For the Love of Money";
    -He also used a Fender of some sort on the Chaka Khan albums, not one of his contrabasses.
  16. found the Anthony Jackson interview here-

    unfortunately the pic of his "career girl" Fender isn't included- was this the hybrid J bass w. P bass neck?

    I suppose it was brand new rounds and a precise, controlled picking technique on "for the love of money" that gave his P bass more of a single-coil-esque clean tone than a typical P-bass grunt.

    also I read in the Bassist article on JPJ that he used rounds on his '52 P bass- which he says he used on "black dog".
    I'd dare to say he also used that setup on the song "houses of the holy" - maybe "whole lotta love" and other songs eg. "Immigrant song" with a treblier tone too?
    it sounds like the same tone on "hots on for nowhere" on Presence.
  17. I recall from a Guitar World article written by JPJ that he used only an 8-string Alembic with a pick on Presence.

    I can see him having used rounds on some songs, but most of Zep's classic material is flats all the way--of course, Jimmy Page might have just done some sick EQing to get it like that.
  18. hmmm, I gave the album another listen and I can't hear the octave strings on "hots on for nowhere".
    maybe he used a 4 (on second listening it sounds more like the Jazz)on that as it's the trickiest riff to play on the album.

    I noticed in an online interview/tuition video clip with JPJ he got the basslines for "what is and what should never be" and "ramble on" mixed up......

    here it is-
    he talks about fingerstyle vs. pick on this.

    I agree that most of Zep's stuff was flats though eg. "Ramble on", "what is and what should never be", "dazed and confused"- mellow with a quick decay .
  19. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses
    . I get that "dazed and confused" sound by muting the strings with my palm (at the bridge) and playing only with my thumb. eq flat.
  20. Dazed and Confused works well plucking between the neck pickup and the neck I find.

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