Pino Early 80's sound: How-To? (Personal story included)

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by NickInMesa, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. How did Pino Palladino achieve his early 80's sound, for instance in this Paul Young cover of Wherever I Lay My Hat (jump to 00:30):

    Fretless MusicMan Stingray and what? Anybody knows what brand and type of strings, effects, how they recorded it?

    So that you know, it's the album that made me want to take bass.

    Here is the story:

    Summer of 1984, I was vacationing at relatives in Germany to improve my German. They let me ride a bicycle around the German countryside, which is actually quite pretty. I lost the bike in a turn full of loose rocks, I gave myself a nasty road rash on the knee, actually IN the knee, as the doctor had to fish the pebbles in the flesh with tweezers -and no anesthetics, of course, because the Germans are weirdly proud of being so tough.

    So and I could not walk, all I could do was watch the stupid Olympics (without the Eastern bloc nations, extremely boring) and listen to the few records I had, including this one (one of my cousins thought that Paul Young was cute), which I probably listened to several times a day, and wow I got hooked to the sound of that bass guitar, I had to play that instrument.

    So many years later, I don't even remotely sound like that, but I'd like to push my band to cover one of these covers (!) and if could sound somewhat like that I'd be happy :D

    It does not mean I need to buy a fretless Stringray, but I have my eyes on a couple fretless basses out here already, it would probably be half of the equation
  2. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    He was using real light gauge Rotosound stainless rounds, the 'Ray (a pre-EB with the 2-band EQ BTW), and I think it was Trace/Elliot amps at the time. Except he said the secret to a good stage sound was "bribe the sound guy to put the bass in the side-fill monitors", so the amp wasn't critical.

    He's said the only effect he owned then was the Boss OC-2 octave pedal, and that's not on this track (but he rules with it on "Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down"). It does sound like there's some light chorus or flange on the bass, however, which could have been added post-recording.

  3. Thanks, JTE. What type of Rotosounds exactly? Or anything approaching would be fine...
  4. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Stainless steel is all I know. Paul Young played locally, and a buddy of mine was on the local crew. He was a bass player too, and he got Pino's old strings when Pino restrung the 'Ray. Larry brought the strings into the store the next day to show me, and they were really light.

    I'd think any good stainless steel roundwound would get you into the territory. And I don't even think the pre 'EB 'Ray is critical as there's a lot of active basses that'll get you into the territory. The real key is the varied right-hand attack, the space in the arrangements (a huge factor in how you can EQ a bass to get sounds), and copping the feel and the notes.

  5. By light gauge what are we talking about? .95? .100? .105?

    I read he uses Rotosound Swing strings, I could always order a set and see

  6. I read that Pino used .95's Rotosounds. Producers usually put chorus on his tone too. I wouldn't try to recreate his sound from back then. It's outdated.
  7. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I wouldn't call a .105 a light, but like SteamerDavid says, it's the really lght ones, probably a 0.95 or maybe even smaller.

  8. It's for a cover. And it's only outdated if you think so.

    I just love this sound, I know it's outdated, and officially so is blue-eyed soul, yet there is still a strong scene.
  9. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Things only seem outdated for a little while, I remember when nobody would touch Rhodes, Wurlitzers or B3s. Everything comes around, keep playing the "outdated" stuff until it spins in your direction and you will seem ultra-hip to have "foreseen" the trend. ;)
  10. Now with a .95 I suppose I would have to put more tension in the string, and that could be a big change from my usual (I use 105s instead of one my Jazz bass, which has 110).

    I still did not find a good fretless bass to buy, and I have decided to stop buying things for a month, but knowing in advance can be a good thing.

  11. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    Back when he was playing the Stingray fretless, Pino used the classic orange package Rotosound Swing Bass stainless steel set in the .040-.095 gauge.
  12. Ezbass


    Apr 3, 2008
    I played that Stingray when it was in for service. A truly "I'm not worthy" moment. Pino is the reason I wanted a fretless back in the 80's and still have one now. Add chorus and octaver and you're in Pino heaven, a sound that has inspired numerous players, check out Guy Pratt on the end of Madonna's Like A Prayer, Pinotastic!
  13. I hate you!
  14. Ezbass


    Apr 3, 2008
    Fair comment :smug:
  15. Heh-heh. Listen to the harmonic slide he does at 0:43. Wicked. He's a scary player.
  16. I know. HTF?
  17. I was with the Paul Young band once.

    OK, I was only with them in a bar in Luton, which is where my band used to rehearse in the 80's and is where Paul Young comes from. Bumped into him in the pub just down the road from Quest Studios (which may ring a bell for bassists of a certain age and locality). The drummer in my band (who was also from Luton) knew him vaguely from we had a beer and hung out for an hour or two. Pino wasn't there though....otherwise I would've whacked him with a pool cue and stolen his talent.
  18. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
    Endorsing artist- Suhr basses, PedalTrain, GHS, Ultimate Ears
    Remember also that Pino had an ebony fingerboard on his 'Ray.
    Something EBMM doesn't do/offer anymore.

    I LOVE his fretless tone.
    Outdated????? I don't think so.
    I don't think a good sounding fretless can get out dated.
  19. fretless Bob

    fretless Bob If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

    Nov 27, 2005
    London, U.K
    pino"s stingray has a rosewood fingerboard, they didnt make ebony boards until 80" and his is a 79" it sounds like the bass is recorded direct with possible a bit of reverb, it also sounds like theres a tiny bit of vibrato on the bass track as well.

    if i was trying to cop that sound the stingray is the important thing, i wouldnt worry about gauge too much, maybe getting a vibrato pedal might help but i dont even think thats even that important, theres loads of live versions on youtube where his tone is pretty dry.

    btw i had a look at Pino's stingray a while ago as well, seriously lovely bass.

  20. dominic


    Aug 7, 2005

    very light strings by the look