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OMG, what is the bass and rig? AMAZING tone!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bob atherton, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    After over 40 years of playing electric bass I have recently had an epiphany moment.

    I’m kind of happy with my tone, but never knew what was THE tone that I might be missing until now.

    The Herbie Hancock album Secrets has Paul Jackson playing some of the grooviest bass with the most amazing tone that I have ever heard recorded. It is his tone that has totally blown me away. Rounded, punchy, tight, focused, sits in the mix perfectly… I could go on but this is THE tone that I am now going all out to try and get myself.

    I don’t know anything about Paul Jackson, what bass? Strings? Amp? Cab?

    Does anyone know the answers to these questions? If I could achieve this tone then I would have reached the Holy Grail, for my taste anyway.

    Thanks, Bob
  2. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005
    First thing come to my mind is precision bass with heavy gauge flatwound + compression of course. Perhaps old school string mutes near bridge could also be used. I get a similar tone with my jazz bass's neck pickup using heavy gauged flatwounds.

    Can't comment on amp and cab... it could most probably be bass -> <effects/EQ/compression/DI> -> into mixing board.
  3. jim777

    jim777 Tarantula Lobbyist

    Aug 7, 2006
    South Jersey
  4. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    Good idea jim. Have just the sent the great man an email. Will let you know if he gets back to me. :)
  5. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    This is music to my ears as I'm very much a Fender Jazz player. I have never used compression and only once tried flats about 10 years ago. I use nickle DR Lo Riders 45-105. Good tone but nothing like that Paul Jackson tone. My rig is a Markbass LMIII into 2 TC 2x10 cabs. Again a nice tone but not the PJ one.

    How heavy a gauge flat does one need to get into this tonal ballpark?

    Thanks, Bob
  6. Dragan


    Oct 5, 2009
    for most recordings,Paul used his 70something Precision bass sahara taupe finish and maple neck. roundwounds strings,as Paul stated that he hated flats. not sure about the amp but probably some Fender bassman and direct for studio.
  7. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005
    I try to use heaviest/thickest flatwounds that I can find. This way I believe I am more close to old sounds because I am also very fond of old school 70's groovy bass tones.

    Right now I am experimenting with Fender's heaviest gauge 9050M steel flatwound set however most folks here in talkbass forums say that "La Bella" brand flats give more old school type "thump" that we hear at the song link you posted. Didn't try La Bella's by the way, but it's definitely on my future list.

    For amplification I wouldn't rely on Markbass's LMIII head for particularly old school tones. It would be too much "Hi-Fi" sounding. I would recommend a tube amp or a tube preamp or at least a hybrid amp to get more natural response preferably used with sealed cabs. I use tube preamp by the way.

    As for compression I recommend http://www.ovnilab.com/ site for excellent source and review of many compressors available. Owner of that site is also a regular forum member here in talkbass.
  8. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life.

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    It's a studio recording.
    Not necessarily his live tone.
    There's sound board magic in there.
    Possibly unattainable.
    Nick Cage's head wasn't really on fire in Ghost Rider.
  9. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    Unless I'm wrongly informed, this is the bass PJ recorded Chameleon with:

  10. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    Wow, what pups are those? Must be a very early Badass
  11. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    Those are Hi-A's, which is to say early Bartolinis.

    ED: Plus some kind of midi trigger system at the bridge.
  12. I, for one, believe you can get a similar tone with your current rig. His bass may likely have been direct into a console in the studio. If that's the case, I think your LMIII is perfectly capable. It has a nice, warm, clean character that I think would be very good for emulating a tone achieved by going direct into a console. The key to getting there is the VLE knob. That's exactly what it's for...Vintage Loudspeaker Emulation. It knocks off the "hi-fi" edge.

    Just remember that above and beyond gear, tone is in the hands. The gear will get you close, but pay attention to what position Paul plucks the strings, how deeply he digs in, etc. Things like that have a far greater effect on tone. If you can find any recorded footage and watch him play, it will help you immensely in achieving that tone.
  13. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Even though PJ is credited for the whole Secrets album, that sure sounds like Louis Johnson to my ears. I've never heard Paul Jackson thump on a bass.

  14. what I've read some years ago (and can recall) in an interview w/PJ from that era (ca 1975) is that his live rig w/the Headhunters was a P w/flats and a Crown D300A power amp biamping a Bose 901 for the highs. Might have been a Cerwin Vega for the lows. Tube preamp and again I don't recall what it might have been, perhaps the Alembic F2B.

    Note bene: those pickups were quadraphonic output! :eek:
  15. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    p bass direct...

    recordings from the analog days just sound "like that" sometimes.

    i dont know thats what he used, but thats what i hear.
  16. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
  17. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    Thanks for all the quick and very informative replies guys. The reason that I got the LMIII was for it's almost old school warm tone compared to all the other class D amps that I tried.

    Back in 1974 I used to use a Hiwatt Custom 100 with a Hiwatt 2x15 cab. I have never been able to get close to this tone since and my back would not thank me if I got this type of rig again. I like the LMIII and if anything I think it's the TC RS210 cabs that lets the tone down.

    I will give the rig a good work out tomorrow night and see if I can anywhere near this tone.
  18. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    Sage words. As you say most of it is in the fingers.
  19. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    Curiously this recording, rather than the one I had in my first post, sounds much warmer and closer to the recording I get through my home hi-fi.

  20. jongor


    Jan 11, 2003

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