Punch Brothers, Paul Kowert, and Shen - An Interesting Anecdote

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by sixpants, Nov 2, 2020.

  1. sixpants


    Dec 15, 2015
    Northeast Ohio
    This is BARELY interesting. But what the hell, I'm sharing.

    I just finished Chris Thile's 2nd on-line "lecture" of sorts. He was talking about how the song Mint Julep was written.

    He said he was sharing a hotel room with Paul and after Paul assembled his travel bass he started playing a few notes to test the setup. Chris heard this and a song was born.

    How does Shen factor into this when Paul plays a Daniel Hachez Bass?

    Because Paul has a Shen SB180 travel bass with a removable neck.

    Being the Sherlock I am, I put this all together. I find it most interesting that a Curtis grad finds a Chinese hybrid bass good enough to gig across Europe -and- it was instrumental in writing one of their most popular tunes.

    Please continue with your regularly scheduled morning...

    Attached Files:

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  2. nogbert


    Jul 18, 2010
    Denver, CO
    Shen makes good basses full stop. Many pros use them as touring basses.
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  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I'm not sure I really understand your question. A lot of players with really nice basses don't have the travel budget of, oh let's say The Stones, and they have to use public transportation like airlines and trains and buses or vans etc., so if they were to take their really Nice Basses (let's just say RNB from now on), they'd have to use a big travel trunk that's both overweight and oversize so they'd be constantly fighting with airlines about whether or not they could check it or it would have to shipped separately as air freight and finding some place to stash the trunk once they get to, oh let's say Belgium, and they'll be in a bus or a van for that part of the tour. And even then, there are SO many stories of folks having their RNB trashed by some mishandling accident or another (one guy got to watch as a forklift tine went through the side of his trunk). So folks like Ron Carter and Rufus and scores of other cats you may not have heard of have a travel bass that tends to be newer, off the shelf, plywood or hybrid, and may or may not have a removable neck or be chopped down (like Dave Holland's Czech-Ease), or even an electric upright bass. So that the RNB can stay home where it's safe.
    Other folks take another route - the Bass Du Jour (BDJ, OK?). And they'll rely on the promoter or the venue or bassists they may know in the area or Alert and Generous Bassists (like me!) to rent or loan gratis an instrument for them to use at every different venue they play. I know Neal Miner was doing this when he was out on tour with Jane Monheit, but for a more personal example when Branford Marsalis did his most recent tour (back in January) I asked if Eric Revis was bringing his bass or doing the BDJ and when I found out it was the latter, offered him the use of my German bass. The two basses that the venue procured were OK for student plywood basses, Eric ended up using mine. While talking with their road manager I found out that Eric stopped traveling with his bass after the third time it was damaged while out on tour and had to be dropped of for more than a week with a local (European) luthier for stop gap repair and then sent to Eric's luthier when they got back to the States.

    As far as "instrumental in writing", pretty sure what Chris was responding to was the notes being played, not the make of the instrument they were being played on.
  4. My hybrid Chadwick is basically the same thing. Hybrids don't hold you back. A Shen hybrid is solidly adequate. A well set up & broken in Shen Hybrid is a couple cuts above solidly adequate. A lot of pros banged it out on the Czech-Ease, a far inferior bass to a Shen Hybrid!

    In my opinion, the real work is in the practice room, that is where a fine bass matters more. Most of us can get through a gig on anything.
    For the day to day druggery of the practice room, a well set up nice bass is going to push you harder.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Besides, he's Paul Kowert and could make a washtub bass sound great.
  6. sixpants


    Dec 15, 2015
    Northeast Ohio
    I think marching bands get it. They have their concert instrument and their marching instrument.

    After a near-death gig experience with my good mandolin, I decided to begin employing that philosophy.

    Also... I own, play, and love my Shen SB88. I think they're great for rank amateurs like me. My research into the SB180 upgrade is how I made the aforementioned connections.
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  7. Michael Drost

    Michael Drost Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2009
    Grand Haven, MI
    Another factor to consider is that the PB’s use in ear monitors. This can be a neutralizing situation for sure. The electronic intervention can make a great bass sound bad and an ok bass sound ok’er. Haha. If the Shen is set up well(which I’m sure it is) and is sounds half way decent he should be good to go. Shen’s are solid and with the removable neck, definitely road worthy. Incidentally, I believe he uses some combo of a Full Circle/Krivo/Dpa.
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  8. Also, like me, he is using solo strings, although he seems to tune them in solo tuning. When you really have a string and set up preference like that it makes bass du jour a lot less viable. A reasonable bass with your set up that you know is often the important part.
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  9. Ryan in PDX

    Ryan in PDX

    Jan 14, 2020
    I caught the Puch Brothers in 2018. Paul switched between two basses, several times throughout the set. I wouldn't have known if I hadn't seen him do it... but with vocal harmonies as tight as those guys have, it's hard to pay attention to the nitty gritty! It was a great performance from the band, and one of the finest live mixes I've had the fortune of hearing. "Julep" sounded great that night.
  10. laslo panaflex

    laslo panaflex Guest

    Jan 30, 2019
    Paul tunes the Shen solo. He tunes the Hachez normal. I read where he said the Hachez sounds better tuned EADG.

    also, notice the Shen has a solo fingerboard extension and a C extension. I can’t be sure but I might remember that A. Schnitzer did the work. Maybe it’s an exceptional setup?

    what a wonderful player.
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  11. Ben Rolston

    Ben Rolston Supporting Member

    Aug 30, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    I mean the Shen sounds REALLY good --

    I mean ... Paul sounds really good

    I mean ...
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