Jaco and harmonics

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by scottos150, Aug 13, 2003.

  1. How did jaco get some of those harmonics(like at the 2.5 position) to come out so loud and clean?
  2. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I think he used distortion on some of his stuff, I know distortion brings out harmonics....
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    No - not at all - he only used distortion rarely and usually only in solos.

    Jaco's classic way of getting harmonics to ring out is - new, bright Rotosound roundwound strings, plucking close to the bridge and above all - left hand accuracy!

    The more accurate you are with harmonics the louder they sound - the further away, the more choked they are!!
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Also, boost the mids slightly, and a touch of compression will help too.

    correct my if I'm wrong but wasn't Portrait of Tracy recorded with gobs and gobs of compressions to bring out the harmonics as clear as possible?
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - Jaco said in interviews that he recorded straight to the desk with no effects - but I think this is irrelevant anyway as you can hear exactly the same sound on live recordings - like on the recently released Weather Report live and unreleased album, which has Portait of Tracy on it.

    The harmonics ring out loud an clear from a very 'clean' sound (no distortion)and I think it's pretty clear that it is Jaco's accuracy which is important. (I can't believe there is any compression on this particular recording, as there is a very wide dynamic range in the solo)

    You can try it yourself anyway - if you are accurate in left hand placing, then they will ring out provided you have fairly bright roundwound strings - if you are slightly 'out', then they choke!
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    He may or may not have been using compression in his signal chain for that performance, but there will almost certainly have been compression used in mastering, at the very least, if not mixing too.

    Anyway, I don't think it's compression that makes Jaco's harmonics so clear, like you say, it's his technique, his strings, and his left hand accuracy.
  7. Kid Charlemagne

    Kid Charlemagne

    May 29, 2002
    The instrument is also a factor.
    On some basses, especially old jazzes, I find that the harmonics tend to "jump out" easilly - with correct technique of course.
    Also, harmonics usually sound less present to me when I play them on a bass without a bridge pickup.
    All this said, I have to agree that the premier reason thet Jaco's harmonics sounded so clear was his outstandingly precise technique.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - I'm talking about the Live and Unreleased album - so while I admit that most pop records use compression at mixdown at least - I'm not sure that Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter would need or want to do this - they mention in the sleeve notes that often the takes are from DATs recorded directly from the board - and I don't see how they could have compressed Jaco's live slot for Portait of Tracy without limiting the dynamic range, which is notably wide on the CD?
  9. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    They couldn't compress it without limiting the dynamic range, that's what compression does, as you know. They may have used only subtle compression, and it wouldn't greatly impact the noticeable dynamic range.