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Interesting perspective - Ben Kenney

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ryan Mohr, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    I found the second part of Ben Kenney's interview with Mesa Boogie very interesting. He talks about the importance of tone, and his opinions on bass. Here's the video http://www.mesaboogie.com/gallery_artist/video/BenKenney-part2.html

    Tell me what you guys think!

    For those who don't know, Ben Kenney is the bassist for Incubus. He also has released a few solo albums, and played guitar for The Roots in the past.
  2. K-Funk


    Sep 24, 2007
    Auburn Hills, MI
    I've been a huge fan of Ben and his work for a few years now, and his playing style has inspired me a lot. I was lucky enough to meet him before his show in Pontiac, MI last November; he's a great guy with a really relaxed perspective on music.

    As far as those interviews, he hits the nail on the head. :smug: I dig his tones; his bass sound on his solo albums is pretty subdued, but with Incubus it gets pretty crazy. His guitar work is phenomenal as well.... he doesn't go crazy too often, most of it is just smooth and smexy :D
  3. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Anyone else?
  4. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    Wow... he 'gets' it.

  5. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    What's your point?
  6. as a bassist.. i really wish he would go away. seeing him talk takes the edge off my disdain for him, but i still want him to go away.

    unless he has active EQ's on his amps, all the knobs at 12 isnt flat. normal EQ's are cut only filters, so all the way up is the amp's default.
  7. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    i certainly don't want to offend anyone :bag: but i'm not a fan of mesa amps. as a bass player and a tech, i never liked their build quality, use of components or their sound, so its hard for me to listen to what he's saying.
  8. uaudio


    Apr 11, 2008
    Not to be pedantic, but Ben has used a stack of Walkabout Scouts in the past...among other gear. The treble and bass controls are in fact active, just like most of their new hybrids are. To your point, mids are passive. So there you go.

    I think "twelve o'clock" is just a euphemism for "flat" but who knows what he really means. The basic point, at least for me, is valid - get as close to the amplifier's natural voicing.

    Good interview. I like the guy. And Mesa.
  9. Bassgrinder77

    Bassgrinder77 Banned

    Jan 23, 2009
    I really do like Ben but it's funny - when I last saw Incubus he used a Gibson short scale EB3 (or SG) reissue with flatwounds on some songs and that thing was NOT HAPPENING in the room I saw them in. It was buried in the rumble. It made me think dude, that's a FAILED EXPERIMENT and made me want to hear Dirk with his wiry tone cutting through the mix.
    The classic 60's flatwound tone sounds cool on those old RECORDS but there's a GOOD REASON Entwistle and Squire and those cats innovated the more modern tone. They wanted to be heard and have some zing. You can't go for that Motown sound in an arena playing Incubus songs with Jose Pasillas on drums and be heard. Ben's primarily a guitar player and it kind of shows in some of the bass tones he's attemped live. It's like he's naive and hasn't had much live bass experience. Maybe that interview was after the Light Grenades tour and maybe he was speaking from learning from some mistakes. If he hasn't done so already, I really think he should re-examine what Dirk was doing tone-wise because it worked.
  10. depends entirely on the amp. but in a normal amp, with a normal EQ, knobs at full is the preamp run flat.

    ive never played a mesa bass amp, so if they are active, he's right.

    im just not one to give him the benefit of the doubt because i dont like him :)
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That makes no sense. He didn't invent the gear.

    OK, here is the deal...Mesa uses the classic Fender tone stack, which means the midrange is passive (cut) only and the bass and treble are active (boost) only. So flat on a Mesa head is mids on 10, bass and treble on about 1 1/2.

    And in a normal amp with a normal EQ, which the vast majority of bass amps are, all controls are both cut and boost, so flat is usually halfway up on all controls. Not all amps have dead flat response when set in the middle, but most bass amps are most definitely NOT flat with all the tone controls up all the way.

  12. This is not true. On Mesa bass heads, the bass and treble control are active (standard active shelving boost and cut). The mid control is a strange combination of an internal active mid boost that can be 'cut' by the passive mid control. So, that's why it is described as a 'boost only' passive control (strange way to put it).

    Most consider the Mesa tone stack flat with bass and treble and noon, and the mid control at around 10 o'clock. I believe this was verified by a few people on the scope.

    +1 on most (if any) bass amps or pre's 'flat' with the tone controls all the way up.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Interesting...a few people told me a few months ago that Mesa still uses the Fender tone stack in their bass amps. But seeing how it's been a long time since I used a Mesa bass amp, I guess you would know better.
  14. It's a strange tone stack, and the manual makes it even more confusing. You are correct that it's surely not the standard 'everything on noon for a relatively 'flat' response (or at least the response that the amp designer had in mind as a starting tone for the amp).

    The mid control is very strange, since it's that unusual passive control that impacts an active circuit.

    The EQ seems much more 'interactive' than most, which does remind me of the Fender thing.
  15. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Maybe it was one of those gigs where he didn't have his Mesa gear so he had boom.
  16. Bassgrinder77

    Bassgrinder77 Banned

    Jan 23, 2009
    It was here in the USA. He had all his Mesa gear - saw it.
  17. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Oh, I do think he sounds muddier when he plays the Gibsons or Hofners. His main bass is a Lakland USA Joe Osborn with flats, and I think it sounds great in the mix. Here's a video
  18. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    I think BK is great. I'm a huge Incubus fan since the beginning. I think Incubus canned Dirk just at the right time. His tone wasn't evolving with the band's creativity.

    As a player, Ben adds a lot to the band and I think is part of the main reason they're STILL around doing huge shows and writing creatively.

    If you guys haven't seen the LOOK ALIVE DVD by Incubus, I recommend it (whether you like them or not). There's some amazing bass playing and cool stuff going on. He also has a killer solo towards the end of their performance during Sick Sad Little World. He is definitely a guitar player by heart though - you can tell in his approach. Dirk just had a different style that got the band launched...it's apples and oranges really.

    Thanks for the vid - that was really cool.

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