1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

John Entwistle!

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by polo3378, Dec 11, 2000.

  1. polo3378


    Nov 21, 2000
    Hello folks
    Every time I listen to John Entwistle playing live, during the 70's of course, how did he get that nice trebly and loud sound? Was there a pedal involved?
    Inquiring guy wants to know!!!
    Take care everyone!!!
  2. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Rotosound strings right from the factory before they had been polished. They ate the frets very badly but that is a huge part of the sound he got back then.
  3. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Entwistle's known for his sophisticated amplification systems. During the '60's, he used guitar amps more than bass amps, such as Marshall. Then, in the '70's, he did a lot of bi-amping, with a guitar-style signal on the high end, with a more traditional bass signal on the low end. He actually split that even more in the late '80's, so that the high-end ran in stereo and the low end in mono. I've attached a link to his web page that discusses his equipment. His setup is a bit different now, as he has switched from Trace Elliot to Ashdown. But, this will give you an idea of his setup in recent years...


    Another thing he does is play with the strings so low that there's a certain amount of fret buzzing. (I got that one from Mica Wickersham years ago).

    EQ wise, his recent setups featured a "frown" setting on the high end, so that 1K was virtually wiped out. I'm sure focusing on those mids really helps him cut through.

    Of course, with Pete's guitar, John's sound is largely interrputed by other instruments (not that that's a knock on Pete...)
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    If you're after that "My Generation" solo sound, jeffbonny's got it right. I sat not more than 20 ft. from him at a concert on their 2nd US tour. He had no pedals or boxes that I could see/hear - just a Fender P, Rotosound roundwounds, and a quarter acre of Sunns. He seldom even twiddled around with his pots.
  5. polo3378


    Nov 21, 2000
    Thanks very much for the info guys. I never thought he did so much to get that sound. I just thought he pretty much turned the treble up and let her rip. I am motivated to learn some more and experiment with his sound!
    Take care!!!
  6. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    It's not just strings that'll get that sound. It also has to do with the setup and his amp. You said he was using Sunn amps...were they tube? How was his gain set?

    They didn't need pedals back then, just as now to get distortion. If you saw his signal path even then, you'd get confused. A cheap way to do it is to biamp, with a guitar amp on the high end and a bass amp on the low. It'll get a similar effect.
  7. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Yoiks! I'm not the world's biggest John Entwistle fan, but "Eminence Front" just blows me away. Everything about the bass line - tone, timing, technique - strikes me as perfect. His tone is very sharp and bright on this tune, but without losing the bottom. I find the song mesmerizing, but the Moon/Entwistle combination gives massive punch as well.

    Does anyone know what bass he used to record this song? Also, if I'm not mistaken, he commonly uses a technique of "slapping" the strings with his fingers, like playing fingerstyle, only harder. Does that sound right?
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...I thought Kenny Jones played drums on that recording.
    I'm not sure what bass Entwhistle used, either. He was infamous for his "Frankenstein" basses(like a Thunderbird body coupled with a P-Bass neck, etc).
    FWIW, there's some killer bass playing on The Who's QUADRAPHENIA cds.
  9. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    He had a few custom-made Alembic Series 2 basses at the time that "It's Hard" was released, and I believe he used them almost exclusively throughout the late '70's and early '80's.

    His techniques are extremely diverse: He switches between so many to get a tremendously dynamic tone. Among his techniques are
    -plucking with two fingers,
    -four fingers,
    -five fingers,
    -picking with a Dunlop .1 mm (black),
    -popping (pulling the string straight out from the fingerboard and letting it slap back),
    -flamenco-style strumming with the back of his hand,
    -a version of tapping where he strikes the strings at the base of the fingerboard with his fingers instead of his thumb, but to get a similar tone of slapping,
    -and another version of tapping where he gets a lot of that harmonic thing going...
    -Furthermore, according to his bass video (Hotlicks), he sometimes strikes the strings hard, other times very soft.

    If you think this list is long and incredible, you should SEE this guy play!!! :D:D I almost quit playing after seeing him!

    By the way, every version of Eminence Front is different. Some radio stations in Chicago have an alternate studio version than the one on the album "It's Hard". The alternate is even better than the one on the album! You can also hear the bass even better!!! :D:D:D
  10. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego

    Yeah, you're right, it was Kenny Jones. It's been so long since I bought any Who stuff, everything I have is on vinyl. Quadrophenia might be a good addition, but I need more King's X and Flecktones first. :D
  11. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    JimK, you are correct, sir. That was Kenny Jones. Unmistakable drum kit in the video for that with the big huge gong in the background.
  12. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Here's an MPEG that I've copied from http://www.johnentwistle.com that features The Ox playing a song of his called "Horror Rock". His right hand technique in this video blew me away...see if it does for you as well:D:D


    IMO, this might be even better than his playing in the movie "Tommy", for those who remember THAT scene...;)
  13. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000

    The only consolation is that it's taken hom about 40 years to get to that... I'd better go and practise!
  14. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego

    That's pretty wild. Another thing I noticed was that he just seemed to be in total command of his instrument. Just completely comfortable with whatever he needed or wanted to do.
  15. yea i could play just like that if i had the 7 grand for a buzzard bass :D

    max did you get your name from a hair dryer like homer did?
  16. YIKES!!! I think I feel sick...

    Amazing...his fingers were almost a blur!! Methinks young Master Usul doth have a "new" favorite bassist! :)

    Hell he`s almost as good as Fieldy!! LMFAO!! *ducking* j/k

    Thanks for the link RAM ,really kewl! ;)
  17. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL

    The scary part is that you ain't seen nothin' yet...Believe me, this was remedial playing compared to what I've seen him do live! If he ever gets to your area with his solo band, it'd be a serious mistake to miss him!!!
  18. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    It is scary how effortlessy Entwhistle plays. I better go practice. BTW can anyone recommend a solo cd or a cd w/ another group besides The Who.

    I don't know if I could play like that with a buzzard bass
    but I wouldn't mind trying.
  19. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I've seen the Who twice in concert, and the whole time I was captivated just watching his hands. (Ok, so the second time I wasn't close to enough to see his hands, but I REALLY listened). He just blew my mind, and he's one of the reasons I started playing bass. Does he have any videos out?
  20. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I too, would like to play that Buzzard! Just once!

    Entwistle has done some stuff. You can check out his website for some more info. There's also an "alternate" John Entwistle page...http://www.steamroller.com/theox/.

    If you want some more music, check out his two live CDs. One is with the John Entwistle Band circa 1996. The music is okay, but his playing is amazing. The other recording is from the King Biscuit Flower Hour from the 1970's.

    Oh...and he just announced that the John Entwistle Band is touring the US in Summer of 2001...here's the link...http://www.johnentwistle.comJust scroll down to where it says "Wistlestop" and go to that link. It'll give you some info regarding the tour...:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D