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Obtaining the classic Jazz Bass tone!!!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rsrhcp, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. rsrhcp


    Feb 23, 2007
    I am an avid Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, and that their 2006 album Stadium Arcadium changed the way I listened to bass. The tone of his '61 Fender Jazz Bass is so incredible, and I want the absolute closest thing I can get to it, and this is where I need your help and input.

    What will give me this classic Pre-CBS J Bass tone???

    I bought a Darryl Jones 4 Lakland, with Lindy Fralin J pup upgrade. There is a hint of Flea-ness in my bass, but its not that real chunky sound in a lot of there new songs. Below is a song that is a perfect example of what I want to sound like.

    ^"Mercy Mercy" - Red Hot Chili Peppers, B-side song off their Tell Me Baby Single

    What else can I do to get close to this sound? Should I get a new bass? New amp (currently running a Fender Bassman 100 combo). I bought some D'Addario half-rounds (I have been playing rounds my whole life and thought going from rounds to flats instantly was too big of a change) and they make it sound a bit better, but still not close. Would a different body wood, such as Alder help to achieve this sound (I have a Swamp Ash currently)? Does my bass just need to age? Should I go ahead and get flats? What about pickups, best jazz pickups in your opinion? Or fret pearl inlays (which I currently have) vs. dots?

  2. TrevorOfDoom

    TrevorOfDoom Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Lakland JO!!

    and if you say "but i've got the DJ", i will tell you that the pickups are in different places on both basses, and the JO has the same pickup spacing as Flea's 61 Jazz, plus if the JO has the Fralin's, it will sound as close to the same as you can possibly get.
  3. rsrhcp


    Feb 23, 2007
    Ok, thanks for your input! I had a private instructor who had the JO, and it played a lot differently than the DJ did. I'm guessing it was the Alder body, but not quite sure. It had a lot more beef and chunk to the sound. Also, it ressonated ALOT better! Thanks!
  4. dubstylee


    Feb 9, 2007
    I put these on my Jazz, I'm totally getting Flea's vibe. As a matter of fact, I read in an article that he recorded the album using his '61 Jazz strung with GHS precision flats. They have they're own character, and quite frankly I think thet sound bad ass! I use them for funk, reggae, blues, whatever style really. That's my knowledge on the subject. By the way, I'm using a Fender FSR Jazz, (Ash Body, Rosewood Fret Board). Good luck in your tonal journey.:bassist:
  5. mike_Ro11


    Dec 17, 2007
  6. If you have a boat load of Cash you can buy my 65 Jazz - it is one of the good ones that sounds amazing - I have owned it since 1986. :D
  7. rsrhcp


    Feb 23, 2007
    Yeah, that's what I've heard too. I heard Flea used an old set of GHS Flats on this new album, but I wasn't sure if that was true or not. I wonder if string aging (is there such thing) also takes a factor into his tone.

    And I'll have to try out those Fender pups! I had no idea they made these! Maybe some store around me has them on a bass in their store, hmpf. They're a bit expensive, but I'll try 'em out and see.

    Ha, I appreciate the offer, but I don't think I could afford something of that caliber. I'd love to get that, but I am high school student, who is currently unemployed. So cash is tight enough as it is. Though some day down the road, I'd love to get a nice old Fender.

    Thanks for all your input!
  8. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    Alder Body
    60's Pickup spacing.
    using an old wiring diagram will help. Something about wiring a bass differently changes the tone a bit.
    Yes the wood does need to age.
    The bridge that his bass has also helps that tone a bit.

    But really, those pickups he has are what you are hearing. As far as Lakland, the JO is close. Fralin would be my recommended pickup for that tone.
  9. bassnug47


    Oct 7, 2007
    Birmingham AL
    life is good, Dead is better
    get any fender jazz bass to start...
    new pickups, flatwounds, possibly a BadAss bridge,
  10. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Tone is very subjective, and I do agree that a Jazz bass is the starting point, but to my ears I'm hearing a certain ballsy tone quality that I'm not so sure good pickups alone are going to totally reproduce. What I'm hearing is more along the lines of great sounding pickups perhaps with a series modification rather than the traditional parallel wiring that you'd normally find with jazz bass pickups. Check out this sound clip (Position #3) from Rothstein Guitars showing their series wiring sound sample, to me it sounds very close (sample is with Nordstrand pickups):


    A less expensive series/parallel jazz bass harness can be found at http://www.bayoucables.com/custom-wiring-harnesses-c-34.html?osCsid=378cc03bc873e36170c76e5518bae7d1

    Hope it helps.
  11. Honestly.....I really dont hear a sound that is that far outside the domain of what one would expect from a typical early model jazz bass, strung with flats and played with a pick ...favouring the front pickup slightly. Sting sounded exactly the same on all that early Police stuff. He played a '62 I believe. There are hundreds of recordings out there with this bass sound.

    Listen to Bobby Vega playing on SLy and the Family STone's later stuff......especially the tune "high on you" ...exact same tone to my ears. Early model jazz bass played with a pick.

    The sound you are hearing is really not THAT elusive
    jcsk8 likes this.
  12. emesen


    Jan 3, 2007
    Lake Forest, Ca
    Does Flea's GK add to this at all? I've got Seymour Duncan Antiquity II pups
    in my Jazz strung with ernie balls through a 1001rb-II and is is outright Flea nasty at times. Truth is you could play through Flea's rig with his bass and it'd sound different as a lot of his tone is in the way he plays.
  13. I donnow, my JO nails it. TO the point of actually clipping if you push it hard. Stock oem Lakland skyline pups. I dont prefer it actuallu, and am putting AEROs in for more clarity. But its defintely old skool jazz now. Complete with buzzing.

    Dude, my 55-01 could nail that tone in the clip. Favor the neck pup, might actually use ONLY the neck pup. Use the tone and volume controls and be mindful where you pick the strings and you'll nail it with your DJ.

    You do ahve a maple fretboard dont ya!?
  14. ljazz


    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    Seymour Duncan Antiquities.........

    Fralins just don't quite get there.

    A/B'd with one of my guitar players pre-CBS J's ('64 I believe), my '92 MIA jazz nails it. The only way we could tell the difference was that mine had a touch more sustain and wood in the tone (Maybe due to the BAII on mine). Both were strung with Fender flats. It was remarkable, and slighty curbed my coveting of one of his fine vintage axes.

  15. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    take your DJ to the local GK carrying store and plug into a GK head, preferably hooked into one of their non-neo 4x10s.

    I think it'll get you a lot closer than stuff like alder vs. ash, fralin vs. SD or blocks vs. dots (I really hope you were kidding about that).
  16. gillento


    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    Apparently that's not true. The JO and the DJ both got the same PU locations. It seems that the DJ having the 70s PU placement is a common myth. I read somwhere on TB that even Dan Larkin commented on this.
  17. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004

    Maybe it's that they're *vintage* dots...:p
  18. hansC


    Nov 8, 2006
    Clinton, NY
    How can you possibly get the exact sound that was produced in a studio. Who knows what type(s) of compression, limiting, gating, other effects, etc... was used on the recording to get "that sound"
  19. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Well, that's a good point & always a factor to contend with when trying to cop a sound heard on a CD. But if the inherent tone of the bass can be made to sound as close as possible through pickups, wiring style, etc., then the rest can usually be tweaked in to taste with the usual outboard toys (compressors, EQ, etc). I think the ultimate goal here is to get the bass to sound as close as possible on its own, without all the outboard gear, as a good jumping off point towards this particular tone.
  20. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    very true.

    espiceally if you consider that flea is already notorious for not recording with what he goes with on stage.

    besides, I have seen lots of cases were a certain bass would give me a very close (I dare not say exact) tone to a recorded tone of a bassist that uses different equipment to get his sound so I guess same woods, pups and dot type arent always the only and best way to achive a certain tone.

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