Les Claypool sound

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by NevertheMachine, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. NevertheMachine


    Oct 18, 2005
    I am a huge fan of Primus and would like to get the type of sound Les has. I can't really explain it, but Les fans should know. I need to know the type of amps, strings (heavy or light), the different effects I should add, etc.
    My bass is an Ibanez BTB550. I just started playing about 2 years ago.

    Thank you.
  2. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Lots of mids, bridge pickup, light strings, and slap slap slap. You're gonna want a distortion pedal, like a Rat, and an envelope filter. A delay pedal is good too.

    Keep in mind he uses a 6 string for a lot of stuff too.
  3. NevertheMachine


    Oct 18, 2005
    I'll see what I can do.

    My Ibanez BTB550 Prestiges specifications:
    * 5pc BTB4 Maple/Walnut neck
    * Maple top & back/Mahogany body
    * Medium frets
    * MR-2 bridge (19mm string spacing)
    * DFR-N4 neck pu
    * DFR-B4 bridge pu
    * Vari-Mid IIIBII 3-band eq
    * Elixir® equipped

    It has a Bass boost/cut, a balancer, treble boost/cut, then two knobs basically on top of eachother, the top one a mid boost/cut and the bottom a mid frequency.

    On my bass, I did not turn up the bass, treble, balancer and frequency. I put the mid boost to the highest it can go. My amp really sucks. It has treble, middle, bass and contour. How should I adjust these? (sorry, I am a beginner)

    And I should play near the bridge, not the neck?
  4. i use a fender bassman and for a sound like les claypool i put the bass at about 7 the middle at 9 the high at 6 or 7 and the treble at 5 at it sounds how he does. and even though most of his stuff is on a six string doesnt mean there arent lots of stuff with fours.to defy the laws of tradition is really fun to play.:hyper:
  5. stu FORD

    stu FORD

    May 22, 2004
    les uses ampeg amps, and a lot of his punch when he plays live comes from that. also keep in mind that he uses carl thompson basses which are very unique. i too wish i sounded like less, but if you ask me, no one can sound like les as well as les does, so make it your own sound, playing les's lines
  6. reitedasc


    Jun 23, 2005
    I guess you could change the stock pre and p/ups to EMGs, but it's really all in the fingers and you'll prolly be better off buying all his albums and learning all his songs. Get into some of the funk/disco stuff les used to listen to too. And of course you should consider getting a fretless if you like his fretless playing...
  7. dadodetres


    Dec 19, 2004
    also ad LOTS of compression
  8. Watch how he plays in videos and live stuff to get a feel for how his style works.

    His finger technique is farily unique, but not hard to get a hold of. Also his fingerstyle can be a bit heavy, but not like Flea heavy.
  9. Given the variety of equipment and styles he uses, it's pretty hard to nail down one sound as the definitive claypool sound.

    In early days he used an ADA guitar preamp, modified specifically for him. More recently he's endorsing Ampeg and I believe he uses the SVT stuff, don't know which one though. I've heard the Systech Harmonic Energizer being mentioned, I've heard about Q-trons, Line 6 delays, moogerfoogers, tape delays etc etc etc. You name it, he's probably used it.

    But you'd have to say, ignoring his technique for a second, that the biggest signature to his sound comes from those Carl Thompson basses and EMG pickups.

    Then you have to consider that the fretted six string has a non-wound top C making for a very, very light set of strings and very unique playing action and hence, a very unique sound from that bass - even among all of his Carl Thompsons.

    So, assuming you just wanna get a flavour of his sound and not a facsimile, I would suggest judicious use of upper mids. Sadly, not many amps offer this kind of control and you may need a graphic EQ.
  10. schmittuml

    schmittuml Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2004
    Lowell, MA
    didn't he use mesa 15" back in the day? and mesa 400's i believe....
  11. bass-shy


    Jan 11, 2005
    He also uses as many fingers as possible to play his lines. I read an interview with him and he says that is his secret. He plays in altered tunings rather frequently and records a lot of songs using a Carl T. and a SABDDI. Good luck.
  12. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    I could've sworn that he said that he NEVER uses altered tunings?
  13. bass-shy


    Jan 11, 2005
    It is possible that he doesn't use altered tunings. There is a lot of poor information online. However, most of the TAB I have found suggests dropping below standard tuning. Perhaps it is a means to approximate the extended range of his basses on a four string. To be on the safe side, disregard my previous statement. I would rather you find the correct information to accomplish what you need to without sending you on a wild goose chase. Good luck.
  14. It seems like on most of his Primus/CCBOBB/Frog Brigade etc... albums, there's not a lot of effect use... it's just him doing his funky, Les-like thing.
  15. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    From a strictly OD pedal perspective, Check into the Digitech Bad Monkey. By cranking the highs and boosting the lows slightly, you can approximate some of his "grit". The rest will have to be accomplished via the specific bass and amp you use.

    I actually have a setup which allows me to mimic his tone quite nicely. I run a stingray copy with basslines pickup and preamp through said Digitech, into a Guyatone MD3 delay into a GK RB700II. This really gives a nice approximation when I tweak the EQ just right. Sounds great when I play Southbound Pachyderm (a great tune to use in tweaking your sound to mimic his).

    The problem with trying to mimic his tone is that you typically have to go through a lot of trial and error. All of the posts above mine are right on, which is good and bad, because it illustrates the inherent complexity in trying to cop his sound.

    I have spent years trying to find the OD pedal that would give me a nice subtle, dynamic "grit" and I finally found one that works for me (at least) in the Bad Monkey. But again, it's more than just the pedal - the bass and amp are at least as critical, if not moreso.
  16. Hmm, well, that's debateable. Comparitively for a bass player he uses TONS of effects.

    Plus, you apparently haven't been listening to Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People which is full to overflowing with whacky effects and atmos.
  17. dadodetres


    Dec 19, 2004

    you mean Wynonas Big Brown Beaver`s grit ?
  18. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    ^Yeah, but I'm thinking more along the lines of My Friend Fats...
  19. andrewd


    Sep 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    claypool definitely uses standard tunings for his 4 strings and 6 strings
  20. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    I remember that too, good call.

    I've played some Fender Bassmen that had kind of a Les sound to them, even though its not what he uses. I'd imagine that the string guage, technique and pickups are the most important to copying his sound other than the obvious EQ change.