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mick karn: tuning and strings

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by sloppysubs, Apr 3, 2005.

  1. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    so i was listening to a mixture of all things karn today, and i was curious what does he tune to? sounds like to me in japan hes in standard, however, on his solo stuff and some of the dali's car material hes kind of tuned all over.

    also, did/does he use flatwounds or roundwounds. sometimes his sounds seems 'flat' and sometiems it sounds 'round'. i also heard a rumor the strings he did used were new, but aged 14 years.

    thanks for the help
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I remember being intrigued by Mick Karn's sound, when I first heard Japan and this encouraged me to get a fretless bass and try to emulate that style - with varying results!! ;)

    Then there was an interview with him in "International Musician" Magazine (Bass Player didn't exist then!) - which asked him about his sound.

    So - he explained how in Japan, David Sylvian would write tunes and record them with Richard Barbieri and then Karn would add bass lines - but invariably they were out-of-tune and out of key.

    However Sylvian and Barbieri, liked this chaotic element and as they always started out with just keyboards, they were able re-tune and re-programme to fit Karn's line - so they actualy rebuilt the song around Karn's out-of-tune fretless bass lines!!
  3. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    thats bad ass. so i guess im kind of stuck then huh? well ill have to give that stuff another listen and see what i can figure out.
  4. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I read a artical on Mick, where stated that he dosen't even bother tuning his bass :eyebrow:
  5. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    well that being said, i am stuck. thats awfully strange. :confused:
  6. Nocturnal

    Nocturnal Abuser of Thunderbird Shaped Objects. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2002
    Chandler, Arizona
    In Bass Player many years ago he mentioned that he had really old strings on his bass. If he had to replace them he would use DR's (don't remember which type tho) because he could break them in quicker.
  7. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    hmm. well ive been doing my research, and just shy of calling mick up on the phone im stuck. but yall have been good on the help thanks.
  8. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Old set of DR Low Riders.
  9. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    From the stuff I've read and the tunes I've listened to (quite a few!), he tunes either to standard tuning or drop-D.

    Old DRs are his string of choice, as far as I know.

  10. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    hmm. i thought he tuned up. or at least it seems that way. anyway, ill have to do some more research. im very interested in all that. i was trying to listen to "suburban berlin" so i could play it, but not knowing what hes tuned in does make it harder.
  11. PSouth


    Mar 15, 2003
    He has a new official website with a board that he occasionally posts on. Here's a link to the forum:


    If he doesn't answer, someone else will probably know.