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Motown bass sound thin and tubby.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by n1as, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    Years ago I didn't like 60's Motown stuff because the bass sounded tubby. Sort of thin. Not much meat.

    Do you think that was just due to recording technology the limits of the day?
    Rumbledore likes this.
  2. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Thin and tubby?
    Can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone say that.
    MrLenny1, GregC, jimb213 and 9 others like this.
  3. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Hummm...I hear thick and groovy myself.
    GregC, Gunga Din, Wisebass and 2 others like this.
  4. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    I think Motown, I think warm and thick precise.

    Thin only comes to mind when some one mentions jazz bridge pickup soloed.
    pcake, rohi, cataract and 1 other person like this.
  5. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    If you were listening to it on AM radio; yeah it was kind of thin (don't know about tubby, though). But, so was everything else. Music back then - a lot of it, anyway - was mixed to be optimized for the small, POS speakers hooked to car radios and in little transistor radios. The level of bass you'd hear on a hi -fi home sound system - or live - would have destroyed a car speaker/transistor radio in short order. '60s British Invasion Rock was the same way. I was fortunate enough to be living in England back then, and got to see a lot of the big groups before they got big. And, trust me; live, groups like the Stones, the Beatles and the Who, had bass that could loosen your fillings...:whistle:
  6. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    In all my years, I've never associated Jamersons' bass with the words thin or tubby. ;-)
    pcake, lowdownthump, jamro217 and 4 others like this.
  7. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Hi n1as :)


    I am not a big Motown fan! I am a metalhead! :bassist:
    (And I will kill the sound guy, who makes me sound like Jamerson!)

    But….. Tubby? Thin? Not much meat?

    You must be kidding! Right?

  8. growlypants


    Nov 10, 2012
    Well, years ago, when Jamerson laid down those parts, "transistor radios" were what most folks listened to back then. Plus, lets face it, Fender Precisions didn't do much besides establish the bottom end. The actual "BASS PARTS" that he played, were phenomenal, but the actual mix left a lot to be desired. (Sound quality wise.). Things are different today. Thankfully. Now, get to work!!!:thumbsup:
    Rumbledore, n1as and ppiluk like this.
  9. AboutSweetSue

    AboutSweetSue Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2018
    Lebanon, TN
    A lack of meat? If Motown lacks meat, what does a song with protein sound like?
    GregC, Wisebass, Yahboy and 1 other person like this.
  10. Where’s the OP? @n1as
  11. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    As said above it was made to sound good on equipment that is no longer state of the art.

    Listen to some Staple Singers to hear some wonderful bass drive the song. Massive lowend like Leon from Skynyrd live? No, but plenty thick for those songs.
  12. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    Still here.
  13. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Throw on a 2 band on a P when you play covers and dial in whatever you want.

    Try playing a small amp of it's era, not a whole lot there in any directions but mids.

    Imagine how drummers go on about trap kit recordings vs modern cannons.
    Gaolee likes this.
  14. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    Staple Singers were recorded either in STAX or Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Their famous album (I'll take you there) was recorded in Muscle Shoals. Bass part was performed by David Hood on Fender J bass. Sound man was Jimmy Johnson. I know personally both of them and their better half(s), if that means something. They recorded tons of music in that studio including Stones, Rod Stewart, Cher... pretty much, who is who in 70's was there. "Muscle Shoals sound" was infamous for heavy bass lines. There are lot of videos about FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, including couple of my videos, which were used for PBS series called "Soundbreaking". Not all of 70's sound was "Motown" produced and recorded. Btw, Skynyrd recorded their first album there, also.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  15. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    Let me be clear - I'm not talking about the music, but the audio fidelity of the recording. It kept me from giving 60's motown serious consideration in my youth. These days it is one of my favorite music styles.

    Again, I'm talking about recording quality, not music quality or (sheesh) bass performance.
    Rumbledore likes this.
  16. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    The whole thing was recorded in Analog technology. Most of the tapes are still available. Audio distribution was done in analog form. If you want to hear real sound, you need to have records and proper analog record player, All of these CD and MP3 things around, pretty much have distorted original recordings. It is not recorded in today's standerd. But, for the time being, standard was very high... This is original board from FAME studio B:
    This is original 16 channel tape recorder in FAME studio.
    Large number of today's "celebrities" going there and recording their hits in analog form. Many of them go there without loud fanfare and than mix it back in some other place for "cellphone sound".
    "Fidelity" you hear is not from recordings itself, but from many audio transformations and forms.
  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Jamerson's bass was the reason they got an eight track recorder. Not for the multiple vocals, multple, keyboards, multiple drums, multiple horns or multiple guitars. For the single bass.
    Tvrtko likes this.
  18. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    Yes indeed and amen! Go Swampers! Sounds like a fair amount of the Staples music had some Pbass. Talk about some killer bass lines.

    The second LS album was don in LA (Cal) and lacked some life.

    Thanks for the clip. Cool.
  19. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Was the technology of the day. Most of that stuff has been remastered in some form or another. Bass was a leading component of the music from Motown. A P Bass was typically used plugged straight into the board via DI (Ampeg fliptop in the studio). Tube pres gave it some grit and drive. I still felt the bass was full and present.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  20. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    Second album was done in Atlanta (Doraville Studio One). I've been in almost every studio in the South (including Capricorn, Ardent, Fame, etc...), except that one, which does not exist anymore.

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