Entwistle on Quadrophenia

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by bluesfordan, Apr 16, 2020.

  1. bluesfordan


    Sep 3, 2009
    through a nice set of phones, listening to from my computer. "Cut My Hair" is rumbling in my head. When they say an entire album was written by one person, did Townsend write those lines for him?

    What's getting those tones? Flats? Too bright for them? How did he get that authoritative thump without clanking? Would a p-bass with flats get there with the right amp sims?
    mikewalker likes this.
  2. amphlett7


    Feb 27, 2008
    Basywater, Western Australia
    Audiofly In-Ear Monitors And Headphones
    I don't know if this source refers to his live rig or studio but it has some good info.

    1973 was apparently the year of the Fenderbird
    1960jbass likes this.
  3. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    John Entwistle Gear: 1971-1974 | John Entwistle Bass Gear | Whotabs
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    My guess: Entwhistle wrote his own bass lines.
    "Written by one person", I assume, = chords, melodies, lyrics?
  5. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    554D9148-9BC1-4E04-88DA-2D8228EDD678.jpeg 78E030BB-74F5-4893-AA88-EF83E6AF2DD8.jpeg

    Never forget that John Entwistle is the Godfather of Roundwound. Their earliest recordings, from I’m The Face and Zoot Suit, through to the “My Generation” album sessions would have been flats, but the tide turned with the title song, and that led him to work with James Howe of Rotosound to develop a Duane Eddy tone for bass.
    Pete was one of the early users of home studio equipment; from all that I’ve read he would work out songs and song parts in basic form in one man band fashion, and then bring the rough sketches into rehearsal. What would get added later by the other three would depend on the individual song. In the 80’s, Pete released a series of albums called “Scoop” that were comprised of several of those demos(sometimes just song snippets and otherwise unreleased tunes as well)...

    Some of this stuff goes way back...

    As you can hear, what Entwistle brought to the table varied from extrapolating on Pete’s guidelines to composing entire counterpoints that Pete would never have come up with.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
  6. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    There is a deluxe release of Quadrophenia that includes Pete's demos for the entire album, plus songs that weren't used. It's almost as good as the final Who album. A great listen.
    AlvarHanso, REMBO, fenjazz and 4 others like this.
  7. bluesfordan


    Sep 3, 2009
    cool, I'll have to try to find that. I love Quadrophenia. In my college freshman English class ('79 or '80, forget which semester but I think it was spring), I wrote a paper about this album, which required much listening to it on the stereo systems in Dimond Library at UNH, Durham NH. I enjoyed the heck out of that assignment and the teacher loved the paper as well. Probably one of my favorite As of my scholastic career.
    AlvarHanso, REMBO and mikewalker like this.
  8. bluesfordan


    Sep 3, 2009
    That's what is confusing me. I know of John's Roundwound usage but how did he play like that without the clank? Hence my question about trying to use flats.
    dkelley likes this.
  9. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    In that Whotabs survey of his equipment that I posted a link to, he discussed how he was modifying his sound at the time.
  10. David McIntire

    David McIntire

    Apr 5, 2020
    I play steel rounds lots with no clank. A mix of setup, technique and eq. Back then, I don't think anyone was playing basses with action as low as we expect today. Entwistle was called Thunderfingers. Not for his sound, but because of how hard he attacked those strings. Early rounds, I suspect, would age very quickly. Maybe in an hour or two for him. Plus, recording gear back then was not quite as HiFi as it is today. Layering tracks on tape also ate some of the HiFi up after awhile. Tons of reasons he didn't "clank". But he certaiy did later. Once basses, strings, amps, recording gear, caught up with Mr Entwistle. Who was far ahead of his time, for certain.
  11. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    A couple of things wrong here.

    Entwistle used very low action and a gentle touch when he played. He was not one who would dig in when he played (like I do). He played gently and let the amp do most of the work.

    By 1973 everyone was using 24 tracks or more. Bass would have its own track. The layering you are referring to - recording on top of existing tracks (as sometimes occurred on Beatles recordings) - was a thing of the past. There would be no degradation in the tracks.
  12. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Despite the 4005 that I recall seeing in the album liner book somewhere - I just read recently he used a thunderbird ( not a fenderbird) for that record(??) That might explain the darker tones... :)
  13. David McIntire

    David McIntire

    Apr 5, 2020
    I'm not exactly an expert, but I did see the man play, and read an awful lot of interviews. He never mentions being gentle. And was not known for it. A quick search led to these words, I'm looking for some of his own, too.

    Entwistle's playing technique incorporated fingerstyle, plectrum, tapping, and the use of harmonics. He changed his style between songs and even during songs to alter the sound he produced. His fingering technique involved plucking strings very forcefully to produce a trebly, twangy sound. He changed his thumb position from pick-up to the E string and occasionally even positioned his thumb near the pick-up. His plectrum technique involved holding the plectrum between his thumb and forefinger, with the rest of his fingers outstretched for balance

    I'm not exactly an expert. It's just what I read in my day. And what lots of my peers talked about. His hand strength.
  14. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Everything you need to know is in that Whotabs link up above, post #3.
    4 Strings Good and mikewalker like this.
  15. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    Plucking forcefully with fingers does not create a trebly, twangy sound. If it did, that would be my sound because I often play hard. Entwistle's treble and twang came from roundwounds and turning the treble way up on his amp.
  16. David McIntire

    David McIntire

    Apr 5, 2020
    Heh. Respectfully? I disagree. Steve Harris played WAY hard, too. And got the twang/slap sound. Out of FLATS... Regardless? The question was, "How does Mr Entwistle play steel rounds and not get twang." The twang was in the strength of his attack, but he changed techniques to get the sound he was looking for. Point being, I play steel strings. Very hard. But with control. Partly from learning Mr Entwistle's lines, but also from reading the man's words. I can get that sound, or very clean sounds. It's all in the technique. That's all.
  17. Peteyboy


    Apr 2, 2018
    Los Angeles
    John wrote his own basslines. Bass players do that, uncredited, all the time. But if the question is "can I approximate his recorded tone using a p bass with flats" I'd say there's a better tool for that job. For 25 bucks you can string it up with rounds and split the difference.
    PsyDocHill and mikewalker like this.
  18. Michael4bass


    Aug 20, 2011
    Florence, MS
    I read many interviews with John where he talked about his low action saying, "I like the strings on the other side of the frets." Yes, he used new strings for every gig and would change them often in the studio.

    Bassically, Michael
  19. Yes... BUT... missing the magic of Entwistle and Moon... Daltry just sang Pete's vocals, not particularly better than Pete did imho (I always thought pete was a better singer than he got credit for and Roger is a good copycat but not particularly inventive or clever singer)....
    WestyBassBob likes this.
  20. Thing with the tone is the engineering, I believe.

    If you listen to exposed led zeppelin bass tracks soloed... NOT mixed... you hear that JPJ's bass was seriously hifi and intense sounding on many of the songs, then completely deadened by the mix engineer with tone controls. Also, his DI tone was super bright, but his AMP (Acoustic brand Horn bass amp) sucked out a ton of the highs and zing in the tone.... so mic versus DI is a big thing too.

    Based on that, and on my own mixing experience, I think it's safe to say that his tone could be totally altered by the studio recording and mixing styles and we really have no idea waht his actual direct-from-bass tone was for this song.

    But ANY bass, even a zingy one, can be tamed down with tone controls and playing style.

    He played precisions, fender"birds" (his neck replacement trick), alembics, and it ALL sounded like him, particularly once he co-invented round wound bass strings with rotosound right around when he started doing his first bass solos on record. Good call too - it would have been way less fun without that tone.

    The Who: 3 brilliant soloists who brought their own inventive energy to every song that Pete Townsend (and occasionally Entwistle) wrote.....

    ..... and a 4th guy named Roger Daltry.
    Iristone and SpyderX like this.