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New Club:"I've tried to get that Marcus tone from a 5string and I've given up"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by gimmeagig, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. I'm a big Marcus/Alex Al fan and that is the sound I like.
    I get it with my 74 Jazz that has a Sadowsky preamp a Ken Smith bridge (like a Badass only better) and Fender SCN pickups and a Hipshot Dtuner.
    It sounds ( and plays) incredible but I love the extended range of a 5 string bass.So for decades now I have tried to get that sound in a 5 string.
    I have bought and sold numerous basses and I currently own a Moon JB 5,a KSD that I modified so much that it isn't even the same instrument anymore and an Atelier Z, which after the changes I made to it gets pretty close to the sound I'm trying to achieve.
    In addition to that I have tried countless other 5 string basses. Mike Lulls, Sadowskys, the Fender MM5,Marleux Sandberg and anything else along those lines that i could get my hands on.I listened to zillions of youtube clips and soundsamples and no luck there.
    Now if you are just sort of into that Marcus thing and you heard me play my basses, you might say that I'm splitting hairs and that the tone is in my hands etc.and I certainly agree with the latter part of that.I can play pretty well and have learned a lot of stuff from listening to Marcus over the past 30 years and I can get really close.But just not close enough and to be honest, as much as I have experimented around,at this point I'm wondering if I haven't wasted a whole lot of time,effort and money trying to chase that tone.All that going back and forth, analyzing, changing components, setups... you name it, got me really close but when I pick up my 74 Jazz, the difference to me is huge.
    It's not that I don't have my own identity as a player, I don't want to be a Marcus or Alex Al clone. I just want a 5 string that gets that tone
    But at this point I think I have tried enough and I my opinion THAT sound in a 5 string ( or even in another Boutique type 4 string) is just impossible to duplicate.I don't know what it is, but nothing really sounds like a mid 70s Jazz.
    Now I'm playing my Jazz mainly and I'm working around the fact that it is only a 4 stringer.It feels good to play it, it kicks butt and I think I'm going to stay with it.
    I thought I might share my story with you guys.I can't be the only one here who's gone through this.
    Maybe we can start a club called:
    I tried to get that Marcus tone from 5 string, but I have given up!

    OK I'm number ! :D:bassist:
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think you are splitting hairs, but if you don't feel that a five will give that tone, just play a four. That's what both Alex Al and Marcus Miller do most of the time, and they seem to be getting by alright.:bassist:
  3. Jheake


    Jan 21, 2010
    Gilbert az
    Well if the MM5, the marcus preamp and the swr go light marcus 410 dont get you his tone......

    Then you clearly are chasing a dream that no one else shares. Then in that sence it would be a waste of time. I love his tone too. However as alot of people have said many times its in his hands.

    just my 2 cents.
  4. Either yer doin' it wrong or you're after a VERY precise sound. I think the bass that gave me the Marcus tone with the least effort was a Sadowsky UV70 but I've gotten it from an Atelier Z, and a Lull. I've actually found his tone to be one of the easiest "celebrity tones" to get on many basses. Perhaps I'm doin' it wrong, lol. If you're up for a little more experimentation try dropping some Nordstrand NJ5Fs (maybe custom order some with 70s winding from Carry Nordstrand himself?) into a Fender MM5. However, I'm glad that you've found that works for you though.
  5. I'm just really ultra picky.Must be because I'm German.:)
    There's just something about the sound of a real 70 Jazz bass.
    To most fiddle players a Stradivarius might not sound so different from a regular violin,but to someone who is into that sound it's Day and Night.
    I actually have Nordies in my Atelier Z ( in my Moon as well) and a Sadowsky preamp.It is very close, but the Jazz still has more complex overtones,is zingy but still has a certain kind of mellowness and warmth without loosing clarity and definition.
    I just have not been able to find that in a 5 stringer.
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    You need the right setup and technique to get the Marcus Miller tone regardless of the number of strings on the bass.
  7. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    I have an older Sadowsky NYC5 with maple board, ash body and maple top (no 70's spacing or graphite in the neck) and I have been told numerous times by both players and Marcus fans that it nails the Marcus tone.

    When I had a Marcus 4, it didn't get no where as close as this bass does. I think one of the things you may not be getting is the "clarity" from the 5. I believe that the maple top helps to define the tone a little more than the standard 1 or 2 piece body.

    I have another Sadowsky and have played others without the top and don't get that level of clarity. For comparision I have owned a 76, 77 and currently own a 68 Jazz and the 77, which had maple board, BADA$$ and various pres was no where close as the Sadowsky. So I guess it's just a matter of finding the right one
  8. I suppose my problem might be that i buy basses and then I try to make them sound a certain way instead of trying to look at the bass as what it is and then make it better.
    All the tweaks I did to my basses actually did make them better.The biggest jump was my KSD which was really crappy when I got it and now is a great instrument.So I have three really nice "Marcus like" 5 string basses.
    But in the end the Jazz is still the one bass I would keep if I had to sell all the others.
    Yes, I know somebody brought it up... technique skills hands
    I've been a bassist for over 30 years and I'm working on it.
  9. Akito


    Dec 1, 2003
    Hey man, it's been too long since I've gotten to see you play! Who are you playing with now? You won't remember me but we met at a smallish blues festival, and I loved your version of "Come Together." I don't know if your tone is exactly Marcus, but I do know that it's bad a$$ (in a cool tasteful way lol). I picked up a Bag End stack after seeing you, and I've been very happy with it. I pretty much stick with 5 strings, my left hand tends to get fatigued playing 4s now. In any case, good luck chasing that tone!
  10. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    You know, we shouldn't have to be telling you this at this stage of the game, but all life is a compromise! Of course, you can't get the 4 string sound out of a 5 stringer. The neck is wider and the pickups are longer which means the coils have different values for the various parameters that affect the tone etc.

    But a 4 stringer doesn't have the extended range and the easy fingering. It's not up to us to decide exactly which things YOU want to be anal about.

    So what do you want us to say? That it's OK to play a 4 stringer with a detuner if it gives you the tone you want? Hey. It's OK! Do you want sympathy that a 4 string bass isn't a 5 string bass? Hey. We're sorry too!

    As for me I really don't get the idea of chasing after someone else's tone. My idea is to find YOUR OWN tone.

    And as for the perfect Marcus, tone from a 5 string, you forgot the rule: Never give up!

    So it's impossible. And it'll stay impossible...until some Stradivarius comes along and shows everybody how to do it. That's when you'll want to still be ready to buy a new bass.
  11. Hey Bassbenji,
    What was that all about?I should not have to tell you this, but this is generally a very nice pleasant forum, where fellow bassists share thoughts and experiences in a supportive and mutually respectful way.Then there are people like you, which is the reason why we have moderators.
    FYI:No matter how silly or pointless it might seem to you what someone is chasing after or not.It does not your place to lay into somebody like you just did with me.
    The only thing you made clear is what a (@$%^) you are.
    So,bassbenji,just forget about this thread and go back to your Internet dating site.I think we'll be fine here without your contributions.:D
  12. Hey Akito, thanks for the message it made me feel good, especially after that last guys post.:D
    Glad you like the Bag Ends.
    You probably heard me play the Moon Bass and I still have it.
    The name of my current band is Northpoint and we play Contemporary Jazz,Funk,Latin with the occasional Pop tune thrown in.
    Come see us,let's have a beer!
  13. I Forget

    I Forget

    Apr 16, 2010
    Tried a celinder update 5?
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Things I've learned from this thread: Germans are picky and they consider forms of punctuation to be numbers.
  15. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    gimmeagig - lighten up and lay off the espresso, amigo!
    Your original post stated that you might be going overboard. A little light jibing is pretty much within the realm of this forum. Your reaction to that, with personal insults etc. - off the charts.

    Good luck continuing to chase your tone. You've found at least one source for it, which is more than many do. Maybe you'll break the 5 barrier as well.
  16. I reread that post again to see if I overreacted in my response, but I'm not sure I did. It seems to me that it was more than just a little friendly harassment ( I'm totally fine with that,and used to it too;)). There was just a meanness about it.Kind of an arrogance. Benji might as well have written the whole thing in Caps, the tone would have been the same.
    Humor or cleverness are pretty helpful ingredients in a post when you want to poke a little friendly fun at someone, especially if you don't know them at all.As far as I perceived it it's just abrasive and hostile. A little emoticon might even have helped change the general vibe of the post but without it it's pretty dry and unfriendly.
    As far as what the reason was why I posted this in the first place
    I know I'm not the only one who is into modding basses to come up with the "ultimate killer knockout instrument".
    My point was just to share all the hoops I have jumped through for years to get "The perfect 5 string Jazz Bass"(perfect for me meaning mid70s Marcus sound).All the different attempts and mods only to find that I just could not duplicate the sound of my 74 Jazz.Since I was looking for a such a specific tone it really was a long shot to get there by modifying basses.
    Maybe someone else might be on the way to spending time and money hoping to put that "perfect bass" together, and here is just my take on the whole thing for whatever it's worth.
    I hope to one day be able to try out a Celinder and an Alleva Coppolo or a Low End Jazz.
    But if they don't sound perfect to me when I try them I'll just move on until I find the right one.
    Anyway, I have to go now, I don't want to be late for my anger management class....
  17. just goes to show how we have different opinions on marcus' tone. scn's and a sad onboard pre (im assuming onboard) is a super hifi/hitech combination. theres not enough grit or grind there for me. that might work for that mid 80's glossy david sanborn stuff, but for the last 10 years or so ive heard more grind from him.

    given your electronics choice, you might really like carvin's sb5000. im using an f bass vf5 right now that im pretty happy with. its not exactly like my 78, but its closer in its stock form than any of the other high end guys.
  18. why the nords in the atelier z? if you have scn's in the fender, why not put them in the z? they make a 5 string set.
  19. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
    I actually think if you want to really get that tone then you have to get the real deal 74-77 (10-12 lb "shoulder killer)NorthernAsh/Eastern Rock Maple/Maple made by Fender.
    I have a Fender MM5,but it isn't close and neither was the Sadowsky UV 70 that I own briefly ( too modern for my taste ) suprisingly I was in the store playing a damn 70's Squire that sounded more like a real 70's than the current reissues 70's bass that Fender is putting out currently.
    Now with that being said to me the 5 string that I've heard/played that sounded the closest to a 70's Bass was the KSD 5 Ash/Maple IMO.

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