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Flea's sound on the Blood Sugar Sex Magik album

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by hoel, Jan 9, 2004.

  1. hoel


    Jul 16, 2003
    Oppdal, Norway
    ---Maybe this post should be moved to the Recordings section?---


    I love Flea's bass sound on this album.

    It seems like it's destorted?

    Is it the characteristic Stingray sound?

    How is it EQ'ed?

    I have a Jazzbass on a Eden WT-800, 2x 2x10" cabs - could I get a similar sound?

    Greetings from Norway,

  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    ain't nuthin gonna sound like that cept a Music Man.

    i hear rumors that you can coax that sound out of a lakland, but i dont' believe it. :)

    never seen any kind of jazz bass even come close.
  3. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    I have the "Funky monks, the recording of BloodSugarSexMagic" DVD and it is revealed that Flea used two basses, a long scale two pickup Wal Bass (which can be seen in the video for "Suck my kiss") and a Musicman five string (which can be seen in the "Under bridge" video although he actually played the Wal on that track)

    The funny thing about BSSM is the fact that it DID NOT feature that typical Stingray sound, the tracks that DO feature a stingray: his five string on "Funky monks" and "The Righteous and the wicked" have the highs tamed down a bit and Flea is playing them fingerstyle, not slapping.

    It's funny to see that Flea used his Musicman as his main bass on live shows (before switching to Modulus) but on recordings like "The uplift mojo party plan" and "Mother's milk" he used his Spector four string as his main recording bass. And with "one hot minute" he used an Alembic save for "Aeroplane" where he used a Stingray, giving that track that typical Stingray sound.

    Here's the tracks which do feaure that Stingray sound.
    "Me and my friends" - Mother's milk
    "Backwoods" - The uplift mojo party plan
    "Aeroplane" - One hot minute
    "Show me your soul" - What hits?
    "If you want me to stay" - Freaky styley
    "Jungle man" - Freaky styley
    "Stone cold bush" - Mother's milk
    "Pretty little ditty" - Mother's milk

    And about "Pretty little ditty" if you listen to that one you'll probably recognize the "Butterfly" song of Crazy town. "Pretty little ditty" is the song they sampled for that track.
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree and hear lots of different bass sounds on that album - so "Sir Psycho..." is completely different from "Under the Bridge" !!

    But I think Flea is a great example where it is obvious that he gets the sounds he wants, regardless of which bass he chooses to play - so he has used Wal, Alembic, MM, Modulus etc. etc. - but always retains his own distinctive sound!!
  5. Fleas sound is bassically a stingray with a 2 band eq...maxed out.....with full compression...thats what gives you that distorted type of sound.....it can be easily copied on a ibanez atk with the humbucker mode...full bass and treble and almost no mid....i have the funky monks video and it shows him using his wal...stingray 4 and 5's....the only effect he used was a phaser??? on sir psyco sexy....i go for a more bootsy style sound on this song by using a auto wah with slight fuzz distortion (zoom 506)

    flea uses gk heads with mesa boogie cabs...his usual stage cabs are 6 15" cabs and 3 2x10"s...

    i use my ibanez atk (which is for sale $800aus) and i can get a really close sound through my 1x15.... but now i use my kubicki ex-factor and use about 75% bridge pickup 25% neck...on the low boost active channel...very close to the live flea sound..

    cheers heath
  6. im not sure that flea used an alembic?...but in the early days i think it was a silvertone bass....as seen in the higher ground film clip...then came the stingrays and way...and now he has his modulus signature....and he occasionally uses a mid 70's fender jazz or new american standard jazz's...but thats all ive seen him use
  7. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Yes I'm sure about that, he's telling about it in a 1995 interview he did in Bassplayer that he used an Alembic Epic for the entire "One hot minute" album save for "aeroplane"

    Here's a part of that interview

    Did you use an Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay on the album?
    I may have played a StingRay on "Aeroplane," but I used an Alembic for most of the record. [Ed. Note: According to Alembic, Flea's bass is a stock Epic 4-string with a mahogany body, flame-maple top, and a three-piece maple neck with an ebony fingerboard.]

    Did the Alembic make you play differently than the Music Man?

    Maybe. It was the bass I had in the studio, so I was like, "Let's record, let's rock." The Alembic isn't as in-my-face as the Music Man, but the high notes are as loud as the low ones, from the bottom of the neck to the top, which is a problem on the Music Man. I probably could have used the StingRay for the entire album, but when we go to record, I always think I need the best bass for recording.

    and here's a part of a Guitarworld interview.

    For most of the new record Flea plays a new Alembic 4-string. "I'd never be caught dead playing it live," he shudders. "I always use a Music Man Stingray onstage. But the Alembic is like the Wal I used on the last record. I didn't really like it either, but it was so easy to record with-you get a tone, boom.
  8. A bit off topic, but,

    BSSM is one of the best engineered/produced albums of all time. Unbelievable.

    That is all.
  9. In the Chilis' early days, Flea played a Music Man StingRay of unknown age, painted in wild psychedelic colors and sprinkled with glitter, through an Ampeg SVT head and two SVT cabs. Video footage from the "Freaky Styley" era shows he kept a Peavey bass onstage for backup, but I've never seen him use it.
    Tiring of the warp-prone necks on his Music Mans, he switched to Spectors after "Uplift," mostly because he had money to spend on nice basses. But after problems with the Spectors' preamps, which kept shorting out, he switched back to Music Man.
    The Silvertone was used only for videos, probably because they sound like ****.
    For BSSM he wanted a different tone, not feeling Music Mans went onto tape well, and so bought a baby-blue Wal which you can hear on the record along with the MM fiver, as mentioned above. He didn't like the way it sounded live, plus the fact Wals are typically quite heavy, so he soldiered on with Music Man for gigs despite the persistent neck problems. Flea says he's picky about the action on his basses...while sometimes he wants the action high so he can beat on them while feeling confident, at other times he wants his action as low as possible so the bass is easy to play.
    For "One Hot Minute" he used a stock Alembic Epic, as noten above, but thought it looked dorky, and used the Music Man live. He then struck a deal with Modulus to put out his signature bass.
    Up until BSSM, Flea's gig rig was a pair of G-K 800RBs, each powering a Mesa Roadready 210 from the 100W high output and a companion 215 cabinet with the 300W low output. The amps' internal crossovers were not used, nor was any compression. EQ was flat, except a bit of high-end boost on the bass' active electronics. For the BSSM tours he added a third, identical stack and later replaced the 210 boxes with 410s before going to four stacks of GKs powered by their top-of-the-line 2000RB amps, with a fifth amp kept as a spare. He also apparently had a flirtation with a trio of Ampeg SVT cabs stacked on their sides (just before John quit) and six blond SWR 6-by-10s (just after John returned).
    Then there are the pedals, but I'm not gonna go into that...
  10. If you want that slightly distored sound, of all the basses used by flea, his modulus gets that sound the best imho. Which is also probably why that is all he plays now.
  11. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Nope his backup bass in those days was a late seventies Fender P bass, I happen to have a complete performance taped in 1985 of the Peppers on tape where his Stingray had a shorct circuit and he played the whole thing on the fender (footage of that thing is seen in the "Jungle man" video)

    Nope his Wal was a natural finished walnut model, eventhough the "Funky monks" DVD is in black and white, you can clearly see that it's a dark colored bass, where did you get the info that it was a baby blue one?

    His Musicman five string was a blue one but a dark metallic blue.
  12. Superdave


    Apr 20, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    BSSM is definately the best 'pepper's album. His bass sound is so funky and in your face. He can groove for days, it's too bad it doesn't show on their new stuff.
  13. Mental Octopus

    Mental Octopus

    May 24, 2003
    I think Flea can still groove, it's just different. But I agree, the older stuff is alot better in my opinion. I hope their next album is funkier than By The Way.
  14. as in the total guitar bass special...interview with flea....the go with the newer stuff and i quote flea, "ive been trying to play simply since bssm, i played too much prior to that".

    i think that this is both good and bad....good in a way that flea realises that to be good that you dont have to show off, just lay it in the pocket...but also bad cos its good to see him go off:p
  15. miccheck1516

    miccheck1516 Guest

    Feb 15, 2003
    This might seem the case bruce but i have many GB's of video footage of the chili's from 1985 to presentday. There is one video in which fleas sound is particulary awful, he comes on stage with a sting ray, which goes out of tune VERY quickly, he then snaps a g-string, and continues playing till the end of the song(id probobly do that too) Then he whips out a fender jazz, and attempts to slap on it, all i can say is mud mud mud. It was during this same show the george clinton came out stage with them and sang hollywood.

    It was refreshing to see that even the 'best' bassists can have slip ups.
  16. miccheck1516

    miccheck1516 Guest

    Feb 15, 2003
    See if you can get a video of stone cold bush live on snl for this one, john starts off the song smoking, and ends it getting smacked up the face by a microphone, poor john.
  17. Sorry to have to correct you but Flea's Wal is indeed blue and it's a Mach II four string with figured maple facings and a hard-poly finish. I've read this info somewhere in an interview.

  18. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    I have seen that performance too, and taped it. that wasn't a fender jazz, it was a Precision. So it's not really a surprise that it sounds muddy, Precision basses aren't meant to be slapped on.
  19. miccheck1516

    miccheck1516 Guest

    Feb 15, 2003
    oops, your right
    If anyone is interested the file name is 'Red Hot Chili Peppers - 1985-08-18 - Live - RockPalast, Germany' and its available in the FF cummunity hub in DC++
  20. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    I just have to chime in and agree that BSSM is probably the best rock bass recording ever. Beautiful all the way!

    ....Yeah, I know this doesn't contribute a damn thing but it had to be said again because it's so true.:spit:

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