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Paul McCartney and his Basses

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

  1. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Something like that does exist - I've seen it once, but didn't keep the reference. Keep searching! It did acknowledge a few less than certainties, but was pretty thorough, if I recall. Maybe somebody else here knows what I'm referring to - it was comprehensive work on Beatles gear, not just Paul's.
    ICM likes this.
  2. It would be, from Rubber Soul onwards, but of course, Paul is completely devoid of technical info or interest. I can't remember what bass I used on tracks two years ago, never mind what a guy with his back catalog would have to keep track of. And it's certainly no good listening to the tracks, since there is such wide disagreement on many of them from 'expert' to 'expert'.
    Axstar and ICM like this.
  3. You're not referring to the Babiuk book Beatles Gear, are you? It's the standard reference, but it is both incomplete and not a instrument by instrument list of the songs.
  4. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    ...not sure - I perused it but didn't retain much. Is there something better? It's a pretty wide & deep topic on the internet, but I haven't studied it, just surfed.
  5. I see a lot of sites that seem to regurgitate the same material over and over, but a lot of it seems unsubstantiated ("It sounds like the Hofner to me..."). Most of the research seems to center on 1966-1969, and even then, without details to provide backup (like photos or video evidence), it can be difficult. But it's also a problem in other timeframes of Paul's career where documentation is thin on the ground. Some periods post-Beatles are very well documented, though. Some late-period Beatles songs are the subject of fierce debate even to this day. Many people agree that almost any bass Paul plays sounds "like McCartney".
    ICM, 12BitSlab and TomB like this.
  6. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    For sure. Back in the pre-internet days, even many of us who had played bass for some time had no idea which tracks featured which bass. It all sounded like Paul's bass. In retrospect, I can pick out differences, but at the time...
    mcarp555 likes this.
  7. bbjonz

    bbjonz Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I ran across a Will Lee interview about the basses he uses in the Fab Faux. Will’s point was that he tries to use the same basses that PM played on the original tracks in order to sound authentic. Here’s a link: https://www.axs.com/interview-will-lee-talks-beatles-and-basses-with-the-fab-faux-128743. He claims that PM’s jazz, the one used on the white album, had roundwound strings! I’m sure Will and Paul have met on several occasions, so maybe Will got that information directly. From what I can tell, Rotosounds were introduced in 1962, so time-wise it’s possible. I’m sure Fender shipped it with Fender flats (not sure Fender made roundwound bass strings at the time), which means that, if true, Macca had someone install the rounds. More to chew on!
    nixdad likes this.
  8. Recall that when Paul first started to play bass, using his guitar(!), they would cut strings out of pianos and use those. They might qualify as the original roundwounds.
    ICM likes this.
  9. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    I recall the interview where mentions that, he said that they were "Murder" because of them being so rigid. And that he and Stuart would have blisters on their fingers.
  10. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    When I think of Paul playing his Rickie with the Beatles, THIS song comes to mind.

    But when I think of him using that same bass with the Wings, THIS song comes to mind.

    I know many people HATE this song but boy is he ever being the bad ass on bass we all recognize him as being.
  11. guygorilla


    Apr 11, 2017
    yeah, it's one of the most annoying "ear-worm" songs ever, but I've always thought the bass line in that song was one of his best
  12. I, like everyone else, wish that these controversies about which bass Paul played in what song could be resolved once and for all. Having said that, in Mark Lewisohn’s book “The Beatles Recording Sessions” there’s some information about the song “I’m Only Sleeping. “
    Apparently, Paul had a fight with the others and walked out of the session making this song the only band track he’s not playing on. If this is true, then it can’t be his Ricky sound and was probably George on a Burns Bison Bass.

    (I don’t have access to my copy of the book at the moment so I’m going by memory.)
  13. I think you're thinking of "She Said She Said". That's the song Paul didn't play on due to an argument about the arrangement.
    ICM likes this.
  14. You are probably right, sir!
    My bad......
    The last thing I want to do is spread false information so please ignore my previous post.
  15. I have my copy of The Beatles: Recording Sessions open in my lap. She Said She Said is detailed on pg. 84 and there's no mention of any kind of argument over the arrangement in that book. It does say there were three takes of the rhythm track (drums, bass and two guitars). John's lead vocal and John & George doing backing vocals were also dubbed on. Then a reduction mix freed up a track to add organ and additional guitar.

    The Burns bass (a NuSonic, not a Bison) was only ever seen at the session in mid-April for Paperback Writer. She Said She Said was recorded in June. I know some books speculate about it being used here, but I should point out there's absolutely no evidence to support that. If it is George playing bass, it could be anything from a Fender borrowed from another session to Paul's Ric played upside down. Listening to the track now, I would favour the latter. But again, there's simply nothing to indicate for sure who or what it is.
  16. The Recording Sessions book is great, but it's far from the only source. The McCartney bio Many Years From Now by Barry Miles (the editor of the British underground paper "IT" (International Times) in the '60s) contains this from Paul about "She Said She Said":

    "I'm not sure but I think it was one of the only Beatle records I never played on. I think we'd had a barney or something and I said, 'Oh, shag you!' and they said, 'Well, we'll do it.' I think George played bass."

    The repeated "I'm not sure... I think... I think..." seems a bit uncertain, but this is the source of the idea that Paul didn't play bass on one track of Revolver. I don't know of any published source that says anyone other than Paul played bass on "I'm Only Sleeping".
  17. Thanks for the refresher. Yes, I read that story in the book “Many Years From Now,” not the recording sessions book. Whether or not it’s true is anyone’s guess.
  18. As much as Paul has been a major influence in my life, I've learned over the years to approach his comments with a large bucket of salt handy. He is a master manipulator of his public image, and has often said things that simply weren't true (he claims to have directed Ringo on what to play for his drum solo in The End, for example). His evasiveness in regards to She Said, She Said is also typical. I can appreciate that he may not be able to recall a specific session that would have taken place over thirty years ago (at the time of the Miles book), but if that's the only source of any controversy over Paul's involvement, I wouldn't necessarily take it as gospel. Beatle scholarship has reached a stage (with sources like Lewisohn's sprawling All Those Years Ago and Korinth & Dieckmann's highly detailed A Is For Apple series) where many oft-repeated myths are being deconstructed.
  19. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Here's the isolated bass track for While My Guitar Gently Weeps. This absolutely sounds like roundwounds to me:
  20. terr0rgasm


    Oct 8, 2016
    Phoenix, AZ

    I love how Paul occasionally plays chords, and that doubled guitar in the Bridges sounds insane... almost like a 12 string!
    ICM likes this.

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