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How to get a tone like Jack Bruce (Cream)

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Gearhead43, Dec 12, 2008.


  1. Gearhead43

    Gearhead43

    Nov 25, 2007
    NorCal
    I just joined a band playing 60s style Rock n Roll and electric blues, etc.

    I picked up a cheap, but very good sounding Epi EB-0, and it sounds perfect for the style of music.

    Anyway, I have been using a BDI21 for a bit of overdriven tone. It sounds good, but not like Jack.

    Anyone a big Jack Bruce Cream era fan here? and is there a good way to approximate a tone similar to his, outside of playing thru multiple Marshall 100watt tube amps with 4x12 stacks? (his live rig, hahaha)

    I just want to get close, tone wise with the right effects or combo of effects. I use an SWR head w/two 2-10 Avatar cabs so the rig alone isn't going to do it.

    I want to try the VT Bass Sansamp, I have an idea that might get me close enough.

    Thanks for any ideas.
     
  2. The Disraeli Gears tone? I dunno, turn down the tone and drive it a bit to make it fuzzy I guess... I never really saw the appeal of Jack Brucks bass tone back then. Fantastic player though.
     
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    What will get you closest to sounding like Jack Bruce is playing like Jack Bruce. On the Cream reunion DVD clips I saw, he was using Felix Pappalardi's old Gibson EB-1 into a wall of Hartkes and he sounded like Jack Bruce. On the Ringo Starr clip of him playing Sunshine Of Your Love with Peter Frampton, he played a fretless Warwick into a stack of Hartkes and he sounded like Jack Bruce. So rather than looking to equipment, you're better served looking to how he plays the bass itself.
     
  4. Toastfuzz

    Toastfuzz

    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I play an active Ibanez 6-string with a 3 band EQ...when I want that oldschool 60's/70's vibe, I put my Ibby PD-7 overdrive pedal in the lowest OD setting possible, boost the mids slightly, then boost lows/cut highs until it fuzzes without sounding like distortion. The final product is a very Jack Bruce/John Paul Jones sound.

    (also to mention, its more of the JPJ sound from the albums. I love the live Zeppelin disks, cuz JPJ has a way more distorted highs sound that sounds more like Chris Squire from Yes...trying to remember a few, he plays Out on the Tiles, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, and Achilles Last Stand with a super sweet Yes bass tone live sometimes.)
     
  5. gweimer

    gweimer

    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    After that, crank the piss out of the amp...
     
  6. JTE

    JTE

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    He's a big fan of mids. Looking at his two Hartke rigs from the Royal Albert Hall Cream reunion gigs (one pair of amps was for the Gibson EB-1, the other for the Warwick fretless) he's got a distinct frown in the graphic EQ on those heads. That combined with a pretty hard attack at the bass will get you into that very very wide territory that is Jack Bruce's Cream sound. There isn't one, or even a small range or "Cream sounds" when you really look at it. There's the wonderfully blubbery bounce in the sound of stuff lke "Badge" and "I Feel Free", there's the grunty midrange of "White Room", there's the extreme speaker desctruction of the live recordings on "Goodbye" especially "Politician"....

    Get into the right territory with the hard attack and the boosted mids (the SWR head with it's characteristic mid cut may be an actual impediment- and I generally look to gear last when it comes to this stuff), the rest is the note choice, rhythms, and attitude.

    jte
     
  7. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Well, the reunion stuff on DVD obviously is about board mix, just as most recordings are. Backline is not that indicative of the final sound.
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Unless, of course, the soundman tries to match the FOH sound with the amp sound, which any good soundman would do.
     
  9. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Yo Jimmy,

    I'm talking recording board mix BTW, but a lot of this pertains to the FOH it's probably derived from. I'm listening to the DVD through a good system. That's largely correct as regards the midbass and up through the midrange, where a lot of tone actually exists. But let me assure you, pretty much a handful if that of commerical bass cabs actually can make sub-80 Hz bottom end like what I'm hearing there ; }

    So yes to sound engineers and recording engineers caring about the details of a bass guitar's and rig's tone - but a lot of times the PA or the home system can be asked to do additional heavy lifting that isn't realistic for bass rigs or onstage generally.

    Ox being an exception of course ; }
     
  10. BAW

    BAW

    Aug 1, 2008
    Long Island
    i have a hartke catalog laying around my room somewhere with a very good pic of jack bruce and his rig.
     
  11. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    THAT type of tone comes from overdriven tube amps. Though the comments about "It's all about his playing" are cute, the tone is all in the fingers... we know we know, that tone comes from overdriving a tube amp. There aren't too many effects pedals I can think of that simulate that properly.
     
    sailor645 likes this.
  12. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Don't forget the onboard diode ; }
     
    sailor645 likes this.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    OK, so tell me on his Hartke rig where there are any tube amps.
     
  14. bassvi

    bassvi

    Jul 12, 2005
    Iowa
    +1

    Jack's live tone from the 60's with Cream was alot more obnoxious (and I mean that in a GOOD way:cool:) than his contemporary sound. The attitude was way different too, he has mellowed a great deal since then and has refined his playing in the group context but he's definitely still got his style and soul. If you are going for his sound from the 60's, I recommend an EB-3 (not the Epi- unless you get an Elitist model) and a tube amp with sealed cab(s). Boost the mids, cut the deep lows and highs. Lastly, as noted you may need to adjust your playing technique. His right hand attack was quite vigorous- he played hard into the strings, favoring the bridge pick-up. Check his right hand attack in their live videos from the 60's (my favorite is from the Revoloution Club in Paris- lots of close-ups of his right hand and good shots of the Marshall Stack he played through, too) He also liked to bend the strings, probably more so than he does now since he's become primarily a fretless player.
     
  15. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    One good reason to play fretless. Vibrato and gestural stuff isn't done with bending there, unless you want to grind up your board, and it sounds great. He actually made choices to get away from what he considered limitations of the old rig gear as well.

    Anyway, you are right: two periods of Bruce are actually being discussed here, but if you hear the reunion stuff Jack is playing the old material and with the current gear choices is sounding an awful lot like the old Jack. Funny how that works.

    Final words: don't forget the diode! ; }
     
  16. KPAX

    KPAX Banned

    Mar 22, 2005
    The only way to get that hard midrange bark that Jack got with live Cream, Goodbye, first solo albums, West Bruce & Laing ... (also Andy Fraser with Free) is to get an EB3. Jack used both pickups and that bridge pickup is the key to that hard sound. The EB0, EB1 and EB2 won't do it because that don't have the bridge pickup. I saw more recent vids of Jack using the EB1 viol bass and although it sounded like Jack ('cause he was playing), it didn't have that awesome tone he used to get. The Marshalls (or similar tube amp), 4x12 cabs and flatwounds are important but the tone starts with the EB3.

     
  17. ga_edwards

    ga_edwards

    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    AFAIK, he tends to favour the very tight sounding bridge p/up sound, eg the EB3, EB1 and his custom warwick Thumb. Your EBO only has a woolly sounding neck p/up doesn't it? Maybe worth looking into another bass. No amount of amp tweaking will get you a p/up tone that isn't there.
     
    sailor645 likes this.
  18. bassvi

    bassvi

    Jul 12, 2005
    Iowa
    Looking at your post again I see you are looking to approximate his sound with a pedal or something-
    In which case I have to agree with Jimmy M that it's got to come from your fingers- if they could put Jack Bruce tone in a pedal I would have that one!!
     
  19. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    LOL! :D Yeah, tell me too.

    The Crossroads sound was probably a cross between tubes and the speakers breaking up.
     
  20. Gearhead43

    Gearhead43

    Nov 25, 2007
    NorCal
    Thanks for the info and opinions.

    Just to clarify, I am not trying to sound exactly like Cream era Jack Bruce. There's about a snowball's chance of doing that anyway, as I am not but a pimple on his..... and I am not going out and buying a $2000+ vintage Gibson EB-3 and a stack of Marshalls either. :D

    I just like the overdriven sound and the tone of his bass, he used alot when he was in Cream. I am usually not a fan of overdriven or distorted bass tones, but the sound he got back then was friggin awesome and majorly powerfull sounding. I have been getting into different tones and exploring more aggressive but vintage sounds.

    My new band is drawing it's influences from Blues based 60s Rock and electric blues from that era, so I just want a sound "inspired by" Jack's old tone to blend with my own sound. I won't be using overdrive on every song either.

    I love the way this little EB-0 sounds. I got it used for $120. :) When you consider these are "budget" basses, it almost doesn't make sense (?). This one is gorgeous, all mahogany and the finish is flawless. Nice chrome hardware. It's super woody and fat sounding, but still has a clear tone with the tone knob full on. You gotta love old-school tone to appreciate this kind of bass though I suppose. It needed some setup work, but I learned how to do that stuff a long time ago.

    I would love to try the Gibson SG re-issue though. I bet that thing is insane.

    Thanks for the inspiration guys. I am already having alot of fun with this new project.