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REM Mike Mills strings of choice

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by the low one, Mar 13, 2009.


  1. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    UK
    Mike Mills of REM always gets a good punchy and growly tone from his Fender basses. What strings does he use on his various fretted and fretless precions and jazz basses ?
     
  2. stephenq

    stephenq

    Jul 23, 2009
    Kansas City
    i would def love to know.. find anything yet?
     
  3. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    UK
  4. stephenq

    stephenq

    Jul 23, 2009
    Kansas City
    ya i have seen this site to, just wish i knew the strings ha, whats your fav REM song btw
     
  5. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    UK
    Probably "What's the frequency" but to be honest I love the early stuff like "Don't go back to Rockville" through to the latest album.
     
  6. Rezlax31

    Rezlax31

    Feb 14, 2008
  7. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    UK
    Is he using flats or nickel rounds here:

    The strings shine like flats but do sound quite bright
     
  8. The Dean Markley website is accurate. Mills uses Dean Markley NickelSteel Bass (the ML or .045-.105 set). When I saw R.E.M. back in '04, Mills's bass tech gave that exact set to a fan when she asked what strings he used. As far as the strings on "Animal," they do look like flats, but damned if I know what brand.

    His gear is still in large part a mystery, but I always liked his tone. Did you guys ever watch the Rockpalast 1985 show where he breaks the jack on his Guild Pilot and switches to a mysterious Rickenbacker with no pickguard and P/J pickups?!
     
  9. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Good to hear some mention of Mike Mills. I love early REM and some of those simple but melodic basslines. I don't know if they were played on a P, but when I got my first bass (P-J) recently and put the P pickup on full, it instantly felt perfect for those nice bass intros to 'Old Man Kensey' and 'Cuyahoga'.

    Ironically I only came across REM when they started getting popular over in the UK, around 'Out of Time' and 'Automatic For The People', but much prefer their earlier output.
     
  10. AFAIK, early R.E.M. (Chronic Town-->Reckoning era) was almost entirely his black Rickenbacker 4001. He was running it through a Fender bass head of some kind with a matching 2x15(?) cabinet.

    By the Fables era (where Old Man Kensey comes from), he had switched to a Guild Pilot (which had the same P-J combination as your bass). If you have both pickups at full, dial down the hi-mids, maybe boost the low-mids, and have a slight chorus effect going, it's instant Kensey.

    By the Pageant era (where Cuyahoga comes from), I think he was playing a black Yamaha P-Bass copy. In other words, most of his tones from 1986 and on came from a Precision-style bass of some kind.
     
  11. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    Mike mills' backing vocals are incredible--Fall On Me, Cuyahoga,as mentioned, Superman, flowers of Guatemala, the One I Love. I used to wish they cut stipe & replace him with John malkovich not to sing but to read or something & let mills do all the singing. Now it sounds odd. Back then I thought it was the best idea since hiphop
     
  12. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Wait, wait - shouldn't this thread only get resurrected in August of each year? :)
     
  13. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    FWIW I haven't got the P-J anymore (I moved on to a MM-J fiver), but I do coincidentally have some Dean Markley nickels on the way.

    I now have the urge to listen to some REM when I get home.
     
  14. BillyIVbass

    BillyIVbass

    Sep 24, 2008
    PA
    Gear Reviews Guitar World Online
  15. nubs

    nubs

    Mar 1, 2005
    Wisconsin
    i always thought Mills to be one of the totally under rated players, simplistic but necessary and vocally awesome as well! Mike was definately one of my big inspirations early on...
     
  16. tsar nicholas

    tsar nicholas

    Mar 28, 2012
    Phoenix
    Huge Mills fan. His lines on stuff like "You Are The Everything" made a big impression on me as a kid, and his vocals are inevitably perfect.
     
  17. Ditto here. Mills was actually my very first bass influence. I can't tell you how many times I've played all of the Murmur album on bass beginning-to-end. Brilliant stuff.
     
  18. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    It's funny, I've just remembered this now: when I bought Murmur on CD it was when I was just learning guitar. I can picture it now, sitting in my bedroom, CD player turned up and me playing along on an old nylon-strung guitar. Except that I wasn't trying to play the guitar parts, I was trying to play the bass lines. It took me many years to finally see the light and start playing bass properly but even back then I could really appreciate what Mills was doing.

    I got home last night and put 'Fables...' on and just basked in those bass parts. I love the backing vocals as well. I think his voice sounds a little thin as a lead vocal but works great when singing those backing lines over Stipe's lead.
     

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