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Paul McCartney and his Basses

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by JD Supernatural, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. Where does he say that? There are documents online claiming otherwise; it seems to be common knowledge (whether or not it's correct) that the Beatles first used DI for bass on 1 February 1967 while recording the title track for Sgt. Pepper. See here, for example:

    The Beatles' recording technology (Wikipedia)

    That article cites as its source a quote from Abbey Road engineer Ken Townsend in Mark Lewisohn's Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.

    That same article notes that British producer Joe Meek and Motown had both used DI for guitars and bass earlier, which means the Beatles were not actually the first to do so, though Ken Townsend apparently thought they were.

    Anyway, it seems from this that even if the Beatles did use DI for bass, they did not do so until Pepper, so there are no DI bass tracks on earlier albums such as Revolver and Rubber Soul.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  2. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Motown studios was recording bass direct as early as '64, I believe.
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  3. Quote from Babiuk's book The Beatles Gear, pg. 199:

    "During the St Pepper sessions a new device designed by EMI engineers at Abbey Road was used for the first time in order to record the bass guitar more clearly. It was called a direct injection transformer, later known as a DI box."

    The book then goes on to say that the DI was first used on a Beatles session, which is recorded in studio documentation. Studio maintenance engineer Ken Townsend says that a mix of DI and a mic on the amp would have been used. As mentioned in my previous comment, Geoff Emerick says he never used DI on bass, only a mic.

    I agree that both Townsend and Emerick may be incorrect in what they remember, but that's what's in the book.
  4. And yes, Lewisohn's book does quote Townsend for the use of DI on the Sgt. Pepper track, 1 Feb 1967 (pg. 95).
  5. Lowendtech

    Lowendtech Trending in no particular direction Supporting Member

    Maybe that some people thought they were first because they didn’t know what Jamerson and Babbit were doing in the studio. Or maybe it’s two concurrent happenstances.
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  6. guygorilla


    Apr 11, 2017
    "first used by" and "invented by" are two different things
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  7. bbjonz

    bbjonz Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    Found this pic at "Meet the Beatles for Real." Really cool site where fans upload their own or found pics.

    Not sure when this pic was taken but he obtained that Jazz Bass during or just before the White Album sessions. Seems a post-fab pic but will find out more on that site when users post comments. I play mostly Jazz Basses and not surprisingly I love the sound he gets on the White Album. I know he used the Ric on some cuts, too. It's also the case they started recording on an 8-track machine, so the bass often had its own track. That certainly helped.


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  8. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    This looks like a 70s photo. Based on the the burst, I'd say this is a different bass than the Jazz he used with the Beatles (see below).


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  9. bbjonz

    bbjonz Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I've seen both of the pics you posted and I agree the one from MTBFR that I posted is from the 70s. Doesn't seem like a pic from his Scottish retreat (Low Ranachan?) but might be from Lagos? But IIRC, he used Denny Laine's right-handed jazz on BOTR. As to whether it's the same jazz, I'm hesitant to say it's not without better evidence. He's notorious for holding on to his instruments, so my guess is it's the same and that the photos might have changed the nature of the burst a bit.
    nixdad likes this.
  10. I don't think it's the same. In all the known '68 photos (usually with George in attendance), he's playing what clearly looks like a 66-67 Jazz because it has the lollipop tuners:


    Also, the Fender logo is closer to the end of the headstock than the one on the 'Meet The Beatles For Real' or the 80'ish photo:

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  11. bbjonz

    bbjonz Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    Good eye. Forgot about the lollipop tuners. And yes, the logo looks to be in different positions. So the one from the '80s photo seems like the one in the pic I posted. Also this one from another TB thread--the same bass as in the pic I posted. Probably in Lagos?

  12. That could be Lagos. Obviously he's also seen playing a righty Jazz upside down, but I don't recall if it's possible to tell if it's restrung or not. But that aside, I think it's clear we're looking at two different LH Jazzes:

    One is a 66-67 with lollipop tuners and possibly a tort pickguard (like my avatar). The headstock decal is positioned mainly under the D string tuner.

    The other one has typical clover-leaf tuners, a black pickguard and the decal is mainly under the A string tuner.

    I wonder if the second bass is Japanese; the decal looks right, and that would date it to no earlier than the early 80's, which would fit in with the photographic evidence of when Paul is pictured with it.

    I also seem to recall that the first Jazz was used as a backup on the 1976 Wings Over America tour. I think you can see it in some photos lurking about.
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  13. I found this link: Unseen photos of Paul McCartney’s Kintyre hideaway to a story that says the photo is from the "Speed of Sound" rehearsals at Paul's farm in Kintyre. That would put it at 75-76.

    Also here's the best image I could find so far of the Jazz backup on the '76 tour (between Paul's legs):


    Of course, the question is, which Jazz is that? The 60's version or the 70's version?
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  14. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    Here's a somewhat better shot...

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  15. Paul's Rick backstage:
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  16. guygorilla


    Apr 11, 2017
    I happen to own both, and love them both for different reasons (rounds on the jazz, flats on the hofner)... the one advantage of the Hofner is the size and lightness..after almost 30 yrs of playing the Fender jazz, my shoulder is in really bad shape, so anything to help ease the pain is what Im looking for...
    PS ....recently bought a u-bass, so I've gone for even smaller and lighter
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  17. Note that the string ends on George's Casino are neatly clipped, but John's are just wound up. Also spot the Hofner above the Rick.
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  18. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper Grosbeak, Yamaha, Fender, BSX. I’m Marc! Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    East Meadow, NY, USA
    That's some impressive detective work on those Jazz Basses! It looks like the paddle peg Jazz may have only been used for those late Beatles sessions, possibly only the White Album. Any other shot of a lefty Jazz with Paul is always one with standard clover leaf tuners and no bridge and pickup covers. Band on the Run, Wings over America, McCartney II, that photo he did for that book, etc...

    I have a theory - since the paddle peg Jazz has only been photographed in that White Album session (as far as we know), is it possible that Fender gave the bass to EMI for Paul to use, and then after the sessions, Paul got his very own and started using it on Abbey Road on?

    Also! With all those smiley faces Paul has using the J, you'd think he'd play it more often rather than a backup to his Rick and Yamaha...
  19. I was thinking along similar lines myself as a result of the recent discussion in this thread; that he only used the lollipop Jazz on the white album. It may have been stolen, borrowed, damaged, etc. It's known that Fender did give a boatload of gear to the Beatles in the summer of 1968, including some electric keyboards, amps, a PA, and the six-string VI bass (in 1969, they also provided more amps and a right-handed Jazz bass). It's not a stretch to suggest they also sent along a left-handed Jazz.

    But I'm not aware of Paul using a Jazz bass anywhere on Abbey Road; there are few photographs of the sessions, and the ones I've seen only show the Rick. The only J-bass shown during that time is the right-handed one (usually played by George). The LH one may have dropped out of the lineup by the end of 1968. Paul may then have gotten a replacement sometime in the mid-70's.

    And I know he talks a lot in interviews about the weight of his instruments; the Jazz may be alright for the studio and/or photo sessions, but not his preference when it comes to gigging. In 1976 it might have been the only other bass he had besides the Hofner and the Rick; he had more or less retired the Hofner due to intonation problems (and probably the close association with his old band) in favour of the Rick. So the Jazz was the logical backup. When Yamaha later gave him a bass, he might have then made the Rick the on-stage backup (like it was in the mid-60's) and the Jazz remained a studio instrument.
    Steve Boisen likes this.
  20. Wouldn't it be sweet to have a definitive list of which bass Paul used on every track?
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