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nailing that John Wetton-style sound?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by El_JimBob, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. El_JimBob


    Oct 31, 2007
    Kent, UK
    In particular the raging sound on his albums with King Crimson and UK.... Anybody have any tips on how i might do it with effects? I'm playing a G&L L2000 into a Markbass SA450.
  2. fightthepower


    Jan 7, 2008
    San Diego
    There are probably more than a few people willing to help, who are not familiar with the raging sounds you speak of- links to specific tones would be helpful.
  3. I think I read somewhere he was using some ****** solid stage amp to get high gain sounds at some point?
  4. I've seen videos of live performances where he used a Hiwatt 100 watt head and a miked Sunn cab...
  5. DrKagemusha


    Jan 14, 2008
    Whetton's sound was due to Hiwatt head and 4x12 cab and of course a p-bass. I can achieve that king of sound with my p-bass with really low action, roto swing bass strings, a lot of mids for the growl and slight distortion. In the end, i think a p-bass with rounds and something like a line 6 pod on the hiwatt simulator would do the tricks. They say that he wasn't using a bass amp but a guitar amp. I think this is true because the best time i've achieve this sound was with my brother's crate guitar amp with 10 watts.
  6. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Your profile is blank. What gear are you using now?
  7. El_JimBob


    Oct 31, 2007
    Kent, UK
    Not using anything to approximate the sound at the moment - save for having a fiddle with some fuzzboxes - but it's more overdrive than fuzz.

    My L2000 with low action does get some nice grind, but it's missing the 'bark' on top :D

    It's just a sound i really like and would like to replicate in some way as cheaply as possible, hence the request for a pedal that can get close. Not looking to buy myself a stack of tube amps (which i'm sure is what he used) - hey, maybe i'm just looking for a good excuse to buy - or build - myself a new toy :)

    If i can find some clips of his sound on YouTube (that don't sound like junk) then i'll link to them later.

    cheers for the input so far....
  8. Swift713


    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    A P bass would help with his basic tone, and a pretty hard attack. I can get a Wettonesque tone with a Stingray copy and a BJFE Blueberry. I think I read that Wetton used some kind of fuzz box as well as the Hiwatt amp.
  9. Mr. Ray

    Mr. Ray

    Feb 20, 2009
    I know he also used Taurus Moog pedals in unison with his P bass to get that low growl/sustain.
  10. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    The thing is, not knowing what amp you're using, it may be quite impossible to achieve any sort of "power crunch" tone. Pedals aside, the main ingredient to that sort of tone is power. Lots of it. Using a small practice amp, even a moderate sized practice amp, will never really get close to the tone you're after. A fuzz pedal through 30 watts and a 10" spkr will never get there. As much fun as it is to try out new sounds, and buy effects pedals, an amplifier is first and foremost the most important "effect" we can own.
  11. BassJunkie730


    Feb 3, 2005
  12. Sound Chaser

    Sound Chaser

    Mar 19, 2005
    Lockport, NY

    52-55 seconds in, sounds really close to me.

    REALLY great tone. Really incredible player. I'm the only bassist I know that likes Wetton, he's so under-rated.

    Definitely absolutely use Rotosound Swing Bass strings.
  13. I saw Wetton play last year with the original members of Asia. He was awesome... he plays with a thumb pick taped to his thumb... I have been told that he has terrible carpel tunnel in his right hand and has adapted this strange strumming technique with this thumb to compensate... it looked like he was beating the daylights out of his white Zon all night long. Awesome tone, awesome performance, all around good show. His voice was also very good... he nailed the old material.

    I bought a couple of thumb picks to experiment with... but I just can get any accuracy with it.
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
  15. El_JimBob


    Oct 31, 2007
    Kent, UK
    Thanks for the input guys:

    @RickenBoogie - my amp is the SA450 i mentioned in my first post - it's real clean, which suits most of it's applications (not this one however, haha), and not short of power....

    Normally, copping other people's sounds doesn't suit me at all, but there's something magical about Wetton's 'basic' tone. I was kinda hoping someone else would pop along and say "yeah, xxxx is what you need, that'll definitely get the sound" but it looks like it may require a bit more experimenting. It certainly seems some people have got close, so there's hope!
    Thanks for all the suggestions of what equipment i might try.
  16. jblock

    jblock Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Sorry, Wetton never used bass pedals with Crimson or UK.

    Playing a Pbass really loud through a solid state amp will get you close enough. If you already have an amp that's too clean a little overdrive should get you there as well.
  17. El_JimBob


    Oct 31, 2007
    Kent, UK
    Yeah, that's what i'd figured, but was looking for a particular pedal that would get me at least 'close' :)

    I've noticed that somebody had posted some VT Bass settings that got them close and - well - i guess i've been looking for an excuse to buy one of those for a while now :D

    Maybe i'll add it to the list.
    Mind you, i'm liking the fact that the secret of his sound appears to be so well guarded. No fuzzy photos of his backline and pedalboard, like alot of todays bass heroes :)
  18. The Lurker

    The Lurker

    Aug 16, 2002
    probably because there wasn't much of anything to photograph! :D Can't photograph a pedalboard if he hasn't got one!
  19. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    For both that over-the-top distortion that he used on some of the interjections in "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part 2" as well as the fuzz-wah gruel of "The Talking Drum", I've found an Electro-Harmonix Talking Pedal with the overdrive knob maxxed gets pretty close. Almost doesn't matter what bass you run through that pig!
  20. bhagiti


    Mar 10, 2005
    NW Ohio
    In his own words (From Bass Player interview):

    "Being that I was sort of balancing lead and support roles, I went with a sound that was quite sharp and ringing. It came courtesy of my fingers, sometimes a pick, my ’61 P-Bass, Rotosound strings, a Hiwatt amp, and a cheap little Italian wah-wah/fuzz pedal. At the time, [Yes bassist] Chris Squire and I were really into the outrageous bass tone that Ace Kefford got with the Move; it was like the bottom strings on a piano. That’s what we were going after."

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