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Looking for that Chris Squire sound on a budget

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sartor, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. sartor


    Mar 22, 2009

    Let me first say that I'm a guitarist who's new to the bass world.

    I love Chris Squire's sound on Yes' "Fragile" LP, and I'd like to emulate it on a budget.

    Was he using a Rick with Rotosounds?

    I can afford the strings but not the Rick. Should I go for a one-piece Guild or am I way off?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. boondox


    Oct 8, 2008
    Schecter makes Ric looking basses, but I have not played one and have no idea if they sound anything like Rics. They look pretty cool, imo. GC carries them if you have one nearby.


    Look for the stargazer 4 to get an idea of what they look like.
  3. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    1. Learn to play the "air bass".
    2. Sync to a really good recording of Chris.
    3. Rock on.

    Gunga Din and MrLenny1 like this.
  4. sartor


    Mar 22, 2009
    Re: boondox: It certainly looks the part. Thanks for the tip, I'll give it a listen and see how it sounds.

    I know I can save cash and play just about anything with a Peavey Fury, SX or what have you, but if there's any cheap way of getting Chris tone I'd love to hear it.
  5. What MM said, plus some thoughts --

    I'm a huge Geddy Lee fan, and while growing up I realized that some of Lee's style/sound derived from his Squire influence. So then I listened to Squire as much as I could. From that, I learned a lot --

    The obvious stuff is that 1) Squire used a pick, rotos, and a Rick. But these can be deceiving. Ie, Squire's Rick had been sanded/shaved so many times it wouldn't sound exactly like a new Rick. I personally don't use a pick, but using my index fingernail (similar to Lee up until the early 90s), bright tone w/growl with some EQ can get you in the ballpark. Then there's Squire's post-1970s Tobias/bartolinis tone, but it sounds like you're not interested in that, so I'll move along. :)

    Stuff with Squire that people often don't talk about is his groove/sense of rhythm. He approached it from a kinda quirky angle, which I love. And, he also seems to swing between the extremes of a stacatto or legato vibe. My recommendation, which some people would scoff at -- don't necessarily try to learn Chris Squire's parts, but learn to play along with Bruford.

    Lastly, it's often overlooked that Squire has an incredible sense of harmony from his days as a child in the church choir. When breaking his parts down, keep his harmony background in mind.

    Have fun!

    woodyng2 and GTHintz like this.
  6. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    here ya go, budget that's another matter...
  7. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
    Here is an old school shortcut to getting there: Split your signal (stereo chorus pedal
    works nice, or if your amp has a 1/4" line out) EQ your 'bass' amp to boost some lows,
    low mids tapering off the highs (3K and up) send the split to a moderately powered
    (40-60 watt) guitar combo (tube/solid state, either) EQ'd for high mids and highs only,
    going through a fuzz/distortion/overdrive, tremolo/vibrato on the way to the high pass
    will complete the "South Side Of The Sky" vibe. Just work with the EQ to find the same
    frequency points that Eddie Offord goosed to make that grinding, elastic spring loaded
    sound that fish is famous for. Have fun with this. No crossover necessary!
  8. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Buy a late 70's Peavey T-40 (if your back can handle it) and crank the treble! My old T-40 nailed Squier's tone when I played Roundabout and And You and I. An Ampeg SVT helps.

    A good used 78-82 T-40 should be in the $250-350 range max.
    Lee Kirkham likes this.
  9. Sticky Novax's reply for a quick-n-dirty Squire tone!

    For Squire, it's all about the split signal, treble, attack (think pick or fingernail), overdrive (grimy but NOT muddy), tweaking of mids and tasteful use of 70s-era effects. Plus the intangibles I mentioned in my previous post.

    One last thing -- you didn't mention if this was for live, recording or personal stuff. Some amp modeling software might help you too depending on your needs.

    Thanks Novax!
  10. sartor


    Mar 22, 2009
    Thank you everyone for the wonderful advice!

    I'll hunt for an old Peavey and look into splitting.

    Re: swartzfeger: I'm concerned with gigs, not recording for the time being.

    It's that exact quirky angle that's inspiring me to pick up the bass guitar. It's just perfect (in my opinion).
  11. Then definitely Novax's post, and like Baird mentioned (which I thought of but forgot about) an Ampeg definitely wouldn't hurt!

    You might get some good feedback in the FX forum too...
  12. Bassgrinder77

    Bassgrinder77 Banned

    Jan 23, 2009
    Save up and get a Rickenbacker.
    You can't get Squires sound without one.

  13. bdgotoh

    bdgotoh Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    Pacific NW
    Signal splitting is the only way I've gotten close to CS's tone. I wired a Jazz bass for stereo and it worked really well when I took the bridge to a guitar amp and neck to a bass amp.
  14. willsellout

    willsellout Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2002
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Sweetwater Sales Engineer
    Yeah I think you could get close with this setup, although a lot of work:D
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    Actually most of the time Squire soloed the neck pickup
  17. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
    Absolutely. A lot of Squire's sound is in those monstrous five inch fingers that he carries
    around. Remember: he is also a master at tastefully adding Taurus pedals to his mix.
  18. ronniequeue


    Oct 22, 2006
    Orlando, FL
    A great deal of his sound has to do with the angle at which the pick intercepts the strings. Don't attack them at an angle, rather strike them straight on, and dig in a little. You might have to wear the bass a little higher than normal. He also does this weird thing where his thumb lightly touches the string after the initial attack. Mostly just work at good plectrum technique. My jazz w/ rotos sounds pretty close to the Squire sound if I want it to. Watching him play on some YouTube videos might give you some additional insight.
    PaulJSmith likes this.
  19. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I admire Chris Squire as much as any bassist I've ever heard. During the heyday of Yes, his musicianship was much more than simply an inspiration to me - it was a revelation...and the main element in my realization that the bass guitar could be a truly transcendental instrument...in the hands of the right player.

    That said, the days when I tried to emulate him - much less imitate him - are long gone. I've come to realize what every mature musician discovers: that the most meaningful thing you can ever accomplish - with any instrument - is to find and to develop your own unique musical voice...

    Gunga Din and Artman like this.
  20. Tripper


    Aug 7, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I like the signal-splitting idea - I've wanted to do that for a long time but never did.

    One more thing to think about: On songs like "Roundabout" he doubled his bass lines with a picked guitar (I think a Gibson ES-175) direct to a preamp and the console, which make up part of the signature tone of that song. I remember reading that in an interview with him back in the mid-90s.


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