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how to get a phil lesh/sir paul sound?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by nate 0 jt, Aug 24, 2002.


  1. right now I am playing a fender jazz deluxe with a pick, what are some tips to get a similar sound to them?

    Sorry mods, i wasnt sure where this should go...

    Thanks, nate
     
  2. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    If you want Phil's sound start by getting rid of the pick. Then drop 400 mikes of acid (just kidding).
     
  3. phil doesnt use and rick but he does use a pick, sorry for the rhyme. Paul used other basses and not just a rick. I am looking for that sound they get, i cant quite describe it but I am out of ideas on how to get it, any other ideas? Thanks, nate
     
  4. DinoSco

    DinoSco

    Mar 8, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    The problem, at least as far as Paul's sound goes, is that many people have tried to imitate it over the years and very few have come close. His distinctive thuddy tone, to my knowledge, has never really been adequately explained by anyone involved in recording the Beatles' most distinctive songs, much less by Paul himself. About the closest you can come is finding out about the recording setup and equipment used, but that won't equate into Paul's "signature sound" on its own.

    (By the way, Paul's Beatles tenure was divided almost equally between the Rick and the Hofner, with very little else used. The Hofner is distinctive from the early recordings, and the Rick was pretty much everything post-Rubber Soul, save for Let It Be, where he went back to the Hofner. The Rick sound is probably what you're chasing.)

    My best guess, and it could be way off, is that his typical tone is a unique combination of his playing style, his gear, and the way it was recorded -- which means that unless you reproduce those exact variables, you won't nail it properly. While this might seem like common sense at first, some basses, players and/or equipment are so distinct that copying the tone is mostly a matter of copying one variable. With Paul, it's more likely an equal combo of a bunch of variables.

    I've heard stories that he spent so much time and effort chasing a certain sound for particular songs that he ended the recording session with bloody fingers, but I don't know how true that is. If that's the case, it makes your quest that much harder. I also have heard a suggestion of putting a piece of foam or cloth under the strings near the bridge to dampen the string vibrations and produce the thud -- I've never tried that, but it could work.

    The closest I've come on occasion -- and it still hasn't been that close -- is to use the palm of my right (plucking) hand to mute the strings while plucking with my thumb. It results in a thuddy, upright tone which is pretty cool, but it's still not the Holy Grail.

    All I can really say is that it's damn near impossible to cop McCartney's tone exactly. It's one of the things that made him unique, and the quest to copy it has frustrated other bass players for a long, long time. But best of luck!

    Dino
     
  5. I don't remember where I heard it, but I heard that in the studio, Sir Paul compressed like crazy.
     
  6. freigeistler

    freigeistler

    Sep 1, 2002
    Most important thing is: Use FLATWOUND STRINGS. Additionally boost bass frequencies quite a lot, cut middles, cut highs. Play towards the neck.
     
  7. Hmm...Phil Lesh...pick, pickup mix 60% towards neck, two month old roundwounds...on the eq cut highs and boost a little bass.

    It's even easier with a P-bass.
     
  8. warmflash

    warmflash

    Jul 4, 2005
    Sir Paul applies a healthy amount of compresion ( start at 4:1 and increase from there ) on his bass. Especially the Hofner. They have a mic on his amp, and also use a DI ( direct injection ) box at the same time. I've seen him play live a couple of times at close range. He pretty much uses his thumb ( lightly ) exclusively.
     
  9. thewanderer24

    thewanderer24

    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    Paul's tone has been covered pretty well here. Flat strings on a Ric. He played either with a pick or his thumb almost all the time as far as I know.

    one thing also that wasn't mentioned here yet, pluck the strings more up towards the neck higher up on the strings than either of the pickups. You might also want to experiment with blending the pickups a little towards the neck one, too.
     
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Warmflash, not to nitpick but DI actually stands for "direct input," not "injection." Also, Paul may occasionally use his thumb but the vast majority of what he does is done with a pick.

    You want Paul or Phil's sound? My advice is to implant their brains into your head. OK, I'm joking about that, but there's a whole lot more to playing like they do than just equipment. You can't get it by just using equipment that they use. Quite frankly, I find questions like this one defeating the purpose of playing music. You should struggle to find your own sound rather than someone else's.
     
  11. thewanderer24

    thewanderer24

    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    The point is, for most people, a big part of finding your own sound is learning to get the sounds of other people that you like. I have my own sound for sure, but a huge part of developing that was learning to get the sounds I admired in other people's playing.

    For sure, though, the most important element to anyone's sound, is their hands, not their equipment.
     
  12. Dasein

    Dasein

    Jun 19, 2005
    Georgia
    I was surprised when I got a very Phil Lesh tone from a Gibson EB-O (i think thats what it's called, ya know the SG bass) that had a mute on it. It was muted only slightly and was plugged in a Fender Bassman. I only played it for like 10 minutes but that was the impression that stuck in my mind. MAN, that "Cocaine" by the greatful dead ROCKS.
     
  13. 70% fingers...30% technique and settings.
     
  14. slappindebass

    slappindebass

    May 7, 2010
    Both McCartney and Lesh used a short scale bass back in the day. Pauls Hofner 500/1 is a short scale bass. Phil's modded EB3 and Guild Starfire basses (both modded by Alembic) are also both short scale. Flat wounds are required for the tone of both bassists. I use a Guild Starfire II reissues with Hammond Dark Star pickups and flat wounds. I can get very close to BOTH sounds with that bass.

    McCartney still uses his Hofner and Phil has been using 35" Scale Modulus 6 string basses for many years now.

    Both players also use a pick, but Phil sometimes used his finger back then.
     
  15. wow, this thread is a real Lazarus, back from the dead after six years.

    Sir Paul and Lesh are both on my "influences" list but I find it odd that they'd be combined for a thread like this. I go with what Jimmy M said, in the sense that you should forget about replicating their exact sound and concentrate more on understanding their musical ideas as bass players. They're both ground-breaking and still a lot to learn from them. :bassist:
     
  16. Bassmanmike1

    Bassmanmike1 Sittin' In Limbo

    Jan 13, 2011
    Cool, CA
    I believe Phil used an EB-3 around 1970-71 for a while. So if you're going for that particular sound he had at that time, pair that up with a Dual Showman and you're in business.

    Phil's sound has evolved through the years, depending on the gear he was using at the time. My favorite was when he was using the wall of sound set up and his Alembic
     
    ianuaditis likes this.
  17. Bassmanmike1

    Bassmanmike1 Sittin' In Limbo

    Jan 13, 2011
    Cool, CA
    Do'h! Didn't see the date on the earlier posts. Oh well, it was fun.
    :bag:
     
  18. It's all good. The Lazarus threads are one of the fun things about this place. :bassist:
     
  19. sammyp

    sammyp

    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    besides the fact that much of the tone is due to the player ....i beleive if you try micing and recording your amp you will get the essence of sir paul ....the old beattles stuff has that "almost too much low end' that a mic will give you.