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Les Claypool Sound

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by freshmeat1989, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. First of all, sorry if this thread has been done before. I searched under Les Claypool Tone and only 3 posts come up with no real info on how Les gets his tone. If there is a thread just like this, please point me in that direction. Now, the question: How does Les Claypool get that sound. "Tommy the Cat" being a prime example of this. That kind of harsh sound, I think its awesome. Whats his setup? I know he uses custom Carl Thompsons, but what else. Anything special? Is his tone just how CT's sound, no matter what you run them through?
  2. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Back in the day he used a modified ADA guitar preamp. These days I'm not so sure... I think he used a SansAmp unit for the Col. Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains disk.

    I think it's just mostly his technique though. Les sounds like Les no matter what bass he plays or what gear he's playing through.
  3. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Just beat the sh!t out of the strings. Works for me.
  4. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002

    Having a fretless helps a lot. Having a fretless CT would be ideal, but a lot of his tone comes straight from the fingers. I can cop a pretty good Les (frizzle fry era) tone on my Yamaha BB4 fretless (jazz style pickups) with the neck volume at 10, bridge at 10, and tone at 8. TI Jazz flats for strings. Also familiarize yourself with how he strums in songs like Too Many Puppies, or the main riff of To Defy the Laws of Tradition. He uses his fingers, and strums with them straight down -- put a lot of fingernail into it. In too many puppies, the main line is DOWN-up-DOWN-up-DOWN. The "up" is far less pronounced, but it's integral to it sounding right. In To Defy the Laws of Tradition, there's a slappy bit on the E and the A, and then he strums down twice -- very staccato on the sixth fret of the D and G strings (that's what it sounds like, I might be off on the fret) the first time, and then he repeats the same slappy bit, but goes up-DOWN-DOWN (7-7-6).
    There are a lot more songs where he uses the Les strum, but those are what came to mind.
  5. cosmodrome

    cosmodrome Registered User

    Apr 30, 2004
    ****town, Netherlands
    i've been wondering about that too. also that frizzle fry era. i always thought that 'gargly' sound came from the one emg sort of 'soapbar' pup which is closer to the bridge.

    i haven't really come close to that sound.
  6. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Some tips:

    - play near the neck
    - use an attack that comes from slightly upwards
    - fretless helps
    on amp:
    - cut bass
    - boost lo-mid and h-mid
    - cut a bit highs for some songs, more for others
    - undistorted tubes, also, or tube od on other songs
  7. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    There are threads here of his tour on which he used Ampeg SVT4Pros with 2 410 and 2 115s
    chuck66 likes this.
  8. Dang I just realized that I posted this is Miscellaneous. You guys want me to move it to Bassists?
  9. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    no, I moved it here (sorry I thought I posted that I was moving it... hmmm, I also thought I mentioned the ADA guitar pre). it's not about Les, it's about his gear and tech and effects... hence misc.
  10. Ah, I see. Any more suggestions?
  11. Lean towards bridge pickup.

    Set EQ with bass flat, mids cranked, and highs a little lower than flat. New strings, and getting a technique similar to his. My slapping/strumming technique is very close to his, because I learned how to slap and strum from videoplasty.

    edit:also use light gauge strings. And a crap load of od and distortion modelers.
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Lean towards the bridge pickup with the electronics settings, or playing? When I saw Primus live, he was playing right up at the end of the fretboard.
  13. ApeIsHigh81


    Aug 24, 2004
    I've seen him with Mesa heads and cabs live. In the latest Bassplayer mag if I recall correctly he records at home bass>sansamp DI>console. But who knows what kind of insanity goes on in that console.
  14. I've been checking out the Rainbow bass, and know its fretless, but is the fretboard coated with anything (Does Carl Thompson do that)? Are the woods hard enought to stand it? If so, do you think they are still chipped up?

    Hmmm, I had some other questions, but I forgot them. I will post back.

    Oh yeah! On Have A Cigar,does les use any effects to get that "Vacuum" (as I like to call it) sound? Like that wispy sound, in the intro and throughout the whole song. What bass did he use for that? If he used a fretless, is that just "mwah"?
  15. Here's my take.

    Play towards the bridge pickup, lean the eq towards the bridge(if your bass has 2 pickups), keep bass and highs flat and crank the mids on the amp, have new strings and a fairly growly bass.