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How do I get this P-bass sound?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by seratone, Feb 27, 2004.


  1. seratone

    seratone

    Feb 27, 2004
    I have been trying to get this elusive aggressive P-Bass sound (well I think it’s P bass!) for over ten years. Here is a run down of some of the recordings I’ve heard it on.

    Soul Asylum – Someone to Shove
    Concrete Blonde – Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)
    Anything by the late Vancouver band Sons of Freedom
    Some of the Smiths
    Killing Joke - Love Like Blood
    The bridge in I Melt with you by that 80’s band – I can’t remember their name - Come to think of it most these songs are from the 80’s. Perhaps even John Whetton from U.K. had this sound.

    It’s sort of like Chris Squire’s sound but it was definitely a P Bass and not a Rickenbacker. I use a 72 Precision with a 1973 Ampeg SVT and still can’t seem to get it. (it comes close though) The only time I did is when I borrowed a friends cheap Tokai P-Bass (I believe called a ‘Tokai Hard Puncher’) for some reason I thinking the lower quality pickups sounded that way.

    I’ve tried Sans Amps, compressors, Pods, various gauges of new stings, metal picks etc…..to no avail. I think it’s funny that the aggressive percussive Bass by Brian Maby on Joe Jackson’s ‘Is she Really Going Out with Him’ was an Ibanez Bass with those black nylon strings.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated….C’mon people this is achievable!!!!

    Thanks seratone
     
  2. marc40a

    marc40a

    Mar 20, 2002
    Boston MA
    Do you play w/ a pick?

    The tunes I recognize off of that list are picked.
     
  3. seratone

    seratone

    Feb 27, 2004
    Oh I don't normally, but I do when trying to capture 'that' sound.... I think it's an upper Mid thing I've never been able to get no matter how I EQ it.
     
  4. seratone

    seratone

    Feb 27, 2004
    Oh I don't normally, but I do when trying to capture 'that' sound.... I think it's an upper Mid thing I've never been able to get no matter how I EQ it.
     
  5. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    Instead of buying, and trying all kinds of gear, can you just get a P-bass that gives you the tone you want?

    -Mike
     
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Cut some low mids, boost some high mids, Rotosound strings, pick.

    A lot of those records were probably recorded with the bass DIed rather than miking an amp.

    The band that did "Melt With You" was Modern English.
     
  7. that doesn't sound like a P bass to me- you can hear it more clearly on the 12in mix.
    it sounds more like a Jazz bass, or even a Stingray with a lot of high-mids boosted (Paul Raven used a Stingray with Prong after Killing Joke).

    otherwise Brianrost's suggestions cover it.
     
  8. seratone

    seratone

    Feb 27, 2004
    Thanks guys, you're right about the Killing Joke bass sound it's been years since I've listened to that song. I realize all P basses are slightly different. The one I have now (my third) I bought on Ebay and it turned out to be a bit of a piece of crap. I found a really good Bass guy in Toronto who sorted it out for me on the condition I bought Seymour Duncan Vintage "P" P/U's for it....it wonderfull for many things but not 'that' sound. I never play with a pick these days and generally go for a warm 'fat' sound... I'll try the Rotosounds and do eq'ing on my Behringer and Pod ...could the right compression have something to do with it?

    seratone
     
  9. The Lurker

    The Lurker

    Aug 16, 2002
    Ankh-Morpork

    Might help if you play really cloe by the bridge, too, and have the treble part way up.

    Just as an aside, I ran into the former bassist for Sons of Freedom and Econoline Crush over on HC the other day. Nice guy:)
     
  10. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    UK
    He played a Status headless bass for this album and tour. They sounded great live too. I remember you could feel the bass
     
  11. is your 72' P bass one of the very heavy examples?
    some of those can be quite dead-sounding- lots of sustain and lows, but lacking in high-end snap.

    maybe swapping the p/up for a Seymour Duncan quarter pounder would help.

    I have a Warmoth maple-neck P bass with a heavy ash body, BadassII bridge and EMG select p/up and it gets the classic clanky P bass sounds - Steve Harris, Andy Rourke, Derek Forbes, JJ Burnel, John Entwistle.
     
  12. seratone

    seratone

    Feb 27, 2004
    My 72 P, is right in the middle (weight wise) with an Ash body It came with a Badass, which I replaced with an orginal m(looking, not year)...

    I think to day I'm going to go out and try a bunch of P's, (real ones and copies) at Capsule and Songbird....

    Come to think of it I was, doing some recording a couple of years ago and the studio I was working at had an older Warwick that came close to that sound - goofy bass , but great tone.
     
  13. seratone

    seratone

    Feb 27, 2004
    So from what I get here, the bottom line is in the core sound of the bass and whatever the producer did to 'treak' the EQ, not Amps, effects, or strings.... is the secret

    Oh, another example of this sound is 'Cordelia' by The Tragically Hip...I think I'm going to try more P-basses and buy a set of Rotosounds...

    seratone
     
  14. zazz

    zazz

    Feb 27, 2004
    Cebu
    i have been on a similar mission to try and tie down the early stranglers bass tone. The secret to this sound involved an acoustic 360 stack with a torn speaker. I managed to come damn close using a POD xt (ampmodel/overdrive/cab model ) going through a fairly neutral ebs combo using the ebs eq and a stingray..still not quite there on eq.
    Anyway the point being that early on the way to this sound I was definitely very much in Love Like Blood territory...no doubt about it.....oozing it was....in fact it acctually reminded me of the track. I think a stingray is needed to keep the sound clean ,punchy and percussive/muted with a pick although this probably wasnt required for the stranglers.The ebs also maintains this punchy feel.
    Saw the joke at the hammersmith palais during that tracks release..very loud gig as i recall..literally bumped into raven and that jazz dude needed some serious anger management...i wonder what hes doing now??
     
  15. Wood = Basses

    Wood = Basses

    Jun 19, 2003
    the new self-titled Killing joke (its a different record than the 1980 one, but it has couple of songs off of the original self-titled), KICKS ASS! I dont even listen to punk/hard rock/"blah-blah"-core or what ever kids want to call it these days, but I love this album.
     
  16. Wood = Basses

    Wood = Basses

    Jun 19, 2003
    Thats why I posted the previous post, I thought you old dudes (hahah) wouldnt even know that the new record was out.

    Just a side note... I found out about the new record last year in CMJ New Music Magazine, oddly enough. They had a nice interview (I dont know if there was actual coversation but it had Coleman rambling about what hes been doing lately.) in a follow up a couple of months ago in the same magazine.
     
  17. JJ Burnel used a Hiwatt amp with Marshall cabs including a torn speaker.
    his P bass had a very low action with Rotosounds- you can hear lots of string-fret contact on the Black & white album, which I think was a maple-neck P.
     
  18. zazz

    zazz

    Feb 27, 2004
    Cebu
    wow ..thanks for the new info....how did you find that out? I dont no where the lead about the acoustic stack came from but it did sound like one...but the 1x18 cab didnt make a lot of sense. Cheers . :ninja:
     
  19. seratone

    seratone

    Feb 27, 2004
    I know this thread has moved into the Killing Joke / JJ Bunell territory, but the original was more of 'deep clank' and less of a 'snarling snock' (I can't believe I just wrote that!)....someone suggested I switch strings...I honestly thought (other than the real cheapo's) that all round wound strings were pretty much the same.... I'll pick up some Rotosounds tonight... Does anyone know the guage that P Basses are shipped with? (med-light?)....seratone

    P.S. I was in a band that covered "Love Like Blood" in 87' pretty faithfully - except our singer did an ill advised roto-tom solo in the middle bit...
     
  20. seratone

    seratone

    Feb 27, 2004
    I know this thread has moved into the Killing Joke / JJ Bunell territory, but the original was more of 'deep clank' and less of a 'snarling snock' (I can't believe I just wrote that!)....someone suggested I switch strings...I honestly thought (other than the real cheapo's) that all round wound strings were pretty much the same.... I'll pick up some Rotosounds tonight... Does anyone know the guage that P Basses are shipped with? (med-light?)....seratone

    P.S. I was in a band that covered "Love Like Blood" in 87' pretty faithfully including the keys - except our singer did an ill advised 'roto-tom' solo in the middle bit...