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John Paul jones tone anyone?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Bassist519, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. Bassist519

    Bassist519 Guest

    Feb 6, 2003
    Albany,New York
    I just got a new Ampeg 4x10 cab and an SVT 5 pro head and it sounds great. I play a precision bass, but i was just wondering how does jpj get that tone.. Its bassy but when he needs it its not muddy.. Is that the jazz bass or is the settings on his amp. If u can, give me some settings.. thanks
  2. When I think of JPJ I think of round and not punchy. Probably need some 15 cabs to do this right.

    I would start by turning off tweeter if you have one and try boosting somewhere in the 200-400hz area. This is just a semi-educated guess.
  3. chiplexic


    Apr 21, 2004
    If you are talking about JPJones sound of early Zeppelin then you would have to wonder if he was using flat wound strings. Rounds were made by 1968 ,I believe ,but would he be using them since they were a new thing at that time ? Also if you listen to say... The Lemon Song on a decent stereo you can definately here the Jazz bass sound in its classic form . Not a sound easily reproduced by a Precision. If your talking about his sound with Led Zep in general then it could be something you could get out of your amp since he used various make basses by then including an early Precision.
  4. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    The "classic" JPJ sound is a Jazz strung with Rotosounds going through an Acoustic 361 rig (one 18" speaker in a folded horn enclosure). Check out the Led Zeppelin DVD set for some shots of his gear. Later on he switched to Alembic basses. Currently he uses Manson basses into SWR gear.

    As far as how to copy the tone... first, check out how he plays the bass. Nothing on the amp can make up for how you actually play the thing. Second, tone is about midrange management, tweak the mids, cutting the frequencies that mask out what you want to hear. To my ear, JPJ's early tone was missing a lot in the 1khz range, later he had a more hifi tone. DON'T ADD A LOT OF BASS.

    I've had a few...sorry if I'm incoherent.
    kkaarrll, Sartori and Jbassrockboy like this.
  5. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses

    Great question, too. I've got no idea how he did it! His tone was warm but it had enough definition to cut through. Amazing! :cool:
    IMO his tone from the early Zep records came from: 1. His touch 2. His bass, amp, and strings 3. The recording techniques of the era.
    I've also read he was influnced greatly by James Jamerson, so it's possible he was going for a more Motown-type of tone. How he did it, I'd like to know too.
    chadds likes this.
  6. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Add a series/parellel switch to your bass. The new MIA P basses have them and they do a decent job of getting a J tone.

    It would be a step in a new direction.
  7. HMZ

    HMZ Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2003
    First you need a jazz bass use the neck pickup on full and add a little bridge pickup.
    Next pluck the stings over the fret board (if you look at any of their live performances his right hand is always playing over the neck.
    Jbassrockboy likes this.
  8. chiplexic


    Apr 21, 2004
    >>>(if you look at any of their live performances his right hand is always playing over the neck.

    That's true. I took a look and he rests his thumb on the very end of the neck which puts his plucking fingers over the pickguard at the base of the neck. At one point during How Many More Times in the Danmarks Radio Show gig he starts to play with his thumb on the neck pickup and jumps over to the neck again. He also seems to strike the string in an across stroke with the pad of his finger as opposed to a sharp down stroke with the tip of his finger. This gives you more of that warm tone when your finger tip doesn't create those sharp,snap "peaky" fingering high tones. (if that makes sense)
  9. chiplexic


    Apr 21, 2004
    OK...so after looking at more still pictures and concert video I see JPJ plays a few plucking styles including using a pick from time to time. He does also play at both pick ups. All this does is prove the theory that a lot of your tune is achieved with your fingers !
    bobyoung53 and Jbassrockboy like this.
  10. Rock&Roll


    Jul 21, 2002
    It's pretty risky to say what was going on with Studio records. There are times that he would use Flatwounds, but I've read him saying that it was mostly roundwound rotosounds. And on studio albums, there's no telling that he used an Acoustic 360. You know he did live. But who's to say he wasnt using an Ampeg Portaflex or any other amp in the studio. There's no way to really know HOW he got his studio tone. I will bet that you're hearing more that just the amp and his guitar. A little studio magic applied, I'm sure.

    The only tone that is really for sure is his live tone. Like on TSRTS movie. There he would use a slighly more raspy and punchy tone. That tone is more of the natural Acoustic 360 tone. And with some quick tone adjustments and moving of the picking position, his tone could get warm and fat for songs like "Dazed and Confused"

    I guess I feel I'm comming from some base of knowledge. I own a 2x Acoustic 361 rig, and a Jazz bass with 1962 custom shop pickups; Rotosound RS-66's as well. All of JPJ's live tone's can be had in no time. His sound really isn't all that complicated. That's why I've always loved it. But I think he comes second to James Jamerson for tone. :bassist:
  11. Robman


    Mar 19, 2004
    Sherman, Texas
    I had a friend that was after the JPJ tone for a LedZep tribute. He used an Ampeg B2R head and an Acoustic 4x15 cab, you know, the one that looks like a coke machine. He also used my old Peavey Foundation S -P/J outfitted with SD Quarter Pounder Pickups and Rotosound RS77 flats. I was most impressed with how it all turned out. Thick and heavy with definition.
  12. I don't see why you wouldn't be able to approximate a JPJ sound by rolling off the tone on the Precision a touch.

    I've heard he used a pick quite often. I don't hear it on the earlier stuff, but... FWIW, the picks were supposed to have been Herco Flex .75mm.
  13. What he said. That sound comes from plucking the strings over the fret board. "It's all in the hands"
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  14. Bassist519

    Bassist519 Guest

    Feb 6, 2003
    Albany,New York
    thanks everyone for your responses. they really helped.

  15. I'm the late one in here so... agreement on the observations posted on his technique, but for me, and having seen Zep live a few times early on, the real and defining part of JPJ's LIVE sound was a Jazz bass through an Acoustic 361. For the period that amp gave him his "signature" sound.
  16. Blue


    Jun 19, 2004
    Central NC
    If I have my story right, Jimmy Page got his studio sound through a low-powered Supro with a 15" speaker ... so ya never know!

    There's another story I read recently: The guy that produced the early Cream Records also did the later Layla record. For Cream, it was mostly live in the studio, with Full Marshall Stacks. When he was hired for the later stuff - he pre-set the studio for a similar assault, and was shocked when Clapton and crew came in with a bunch of Champ-type amps.
  17. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    I've resently been involved in a led Zep thing and this has beeNon my mind.

    Not the old round tone but all the different tones on spesific songs like.

    Black Dog. Round Wounds,Pick, overdriven 360?svt?

    Ocean . Pick or no?

    Imigrant song, Grinding svt pick or not?

    Heart Breaker. 8string? serious crunch. How?

    Funkster Plays in Zep Tribute Mabye he'll chime in.

  18. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I use my modified Jazz bass with DiMarzio Ultra J's. Both pickups all the way up. Worn in roundwound strings. I play over the neck pickup for the finger-style tunes like Ramble On, Lemon Song, etc. From there it's all in the fingers - the sound on record is in his bass and fingers, IMHO. Don't need any eq'ing. For D'yer Maker I boost the lows, play with a pick and mute the strings with my palm. Got to get that reggae "click" thing going but need to have the bottom. I don't know exactly what he did on record but it's in his fingers anyway. Everyone was using the same gear back then but didn't sound alike, so it has to be in the fingers. :bassist:
  19. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass

    I'm not sure I agree . I think his tone evolved a bunch and he had specific songs where he got more adventurous. I think he was very tone consious and used alot of toys as well as his "hands"

  20. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Did a serch online came up with


    Basically supports the minimalist gear idea.

    Still I listen to heartbreaker and theres no way hes running the same signal chain as the lemon song. (even if just some knobs turned).

    Ok new question, whats Pick ,whats fingers?