1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Scott Lafaro punchiness

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by djc03006, Nov 19, 2020 at 12:57 AM.

  1. djc03006


    Apr 4, 2011
    Hi guys, was listening to a recording of Nardis by the Bill Evans Trio with LaFaro on bass, And was trying to figure out how to replicate some of the punchiness he adds to some of his notes.

    If you fast forward to the 3:26 - 3:32 section, The first B note he plays, and then the A note at the end of the section, there is a terrific punch to the note.

    I slowed it down to try to hear closer, it doesn’t sound like any sort of slide or hammer on. Just playing the note dead on but with a punch I cannot imitate.

    appreciate any of you able to lend your ears and expertise very much!

  2. It's a mixture of his touch obviously and most importantly sustaining the notes for their full length, which is how I'm hearing it. Ray Brown and Red Mitchell (who was LaFaro's mentor and I also believe Ray Brown was a big influence on him particularly during his pre-Evan's trio work) seem to be some of the first players to really bring a more sustained/growly bass sound in jazz to the forefront. LaFaro is one of the players who really codified this sound, particularly because he was a sax player originally so a more percussive sound probably wasn't his main goal. So I would likely attribute this punch you're hearing to LaFaro letting notes vibrate to their full length.
  3. Fleo


    Jul 1, 2006
    Sounds like a flageolet on D string. Great recording and trio playing. At the time a different sound and approach.
    djc03006 likes this.
  4. djc03006


    Apr 4, 2011
    Are you referring to the notes played right before that, where it appears he plays a G harmonic on the G string and the low E at the same time? That wasn’t what I was asking about, In case that is what you are referring to. Thank you for the input
  5. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I have listened a few times but I am not hearing anything special. It might be that you mean that he is playing a low octave B right after the B on the G string. Is that what you mean? I wouldn’t call that punchiness though.
    Fleo and djc03006 like this.
  6. ClusterFlux

    ClusterFlux Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    In addition to the comments above about his right-hand technique: Phil Palombi, who wrote a book transcribing some of LaFaro's solos, shot a few videos about LaFaro and his bass.

    Scott apparently used a Prescott bass, low action, gut strings. Lots of sustain.

    Winoman and djc03006 like this.
  7. djc03006


    Apr 4, 2011
    No, I mean the higher B, on the G string, also the A on the G string at about 3:32. There are other examples throughout the tune, I just gave these two as easy to hear examples. It's not a sound I can reproduce right now so searching for answers!
  8. djc03006


    Apr 4, 2011
    Thanks for the insight and videos! I will note that he doesn't always add that punchiness, but it is present in a number of notes, in the two examples I provided both are on the G string for what it's worth.

    I tried messing around with a little right hand technique - playing at bottom of fingerboard and almost doing a quick rake of both index and middle fingers to get a little closer to his sound.

    This punchiness is not unique to Scott, btw. Maybe I can track down some other examples to make it more clear what I'm talking about.
  9. Is it an effect emphasised by the recording technique?
    He played with low action, and relatively quietly. If you close-mic a bass with low action and an overall low average volume, in a quiet room, does it emphasise the dynamic range - punchiness on some notes - you are talking about?
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020 at 4:16 PM
    Wasnex and djc03006 like this.
  10. Then it's probably sympathetic resonance. The B on the G string is activating the E string and the A on the G string is activating the A string, so it's adding some heft to the notes. Plus he is playing octaves which is adding to the depth of the sound.

    Also I think part of the confusion some of us may be having is that we associate punch with a more percussive attack, think players like Wilbur Ware, Charles Mingus, Larry Grenadier, etc, while with someone like Scott LaFarowe often associate his sound more with sustain/growl.
    djc03006 and Michael Glynn like this.
  11. You have someone who came up in the world without amps, who lowered his strings for more dexterity but still had the strength to make a note really pop when he needed to.
    djc03006 likes this.
  12. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I have listened to it five times or so but I have no idea what you mean. I don't hear anything special. He is just playing with dynamics.
    djc03006 likes this.
  13. djc03006


    Apr 4, 2011
    Yes, so I’m guessing it’s all in the right hand?

    Also, hope you are doing well, are you still in St. Louis?
  14. Yes, but also a strong coupling with the left! Yes! In St. Louis still, it is nice here. Good BBQ and rehairs.
    djc03006 likes this.
  15. djc03006


    Apr 4, 2011
    I was playing around a little more, and seems like if I don't fully press down with the left hand at the start of the note (e.g. press down like 90% and finish the note by fully pressing down on the string), it gives a little more of that punch to the note.

    Glad to hear you're doing well!
  16. djc03006


    Apr 4, 2011
    Yea maybe easier to hear with good speakers
  17. djc03006


    Apr 4, 2011
    I'm not sure it's the recording technique, since he uses it only on some notes, I think I may have made some progress, in my other response to Damon in this thread
  18. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    Explorations was supposedly recorded with a bass that Scotty had borrowed. (from whom, I don't know)

    Apparently, the Prescott was being worked on for some reason or other.
    djc03006 likes this.
  19. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I have listened on studio monitors several times. But maybe it is something obvious that I take for granted....To me it sounds just like normal playing dynamics that you hear with most good players. Not something that I would notice as very specific.
    logdrum likes this.
  20. What was "low action" in his day is different than what it means now, also! I think it is just a staccato accent on those notes with gut strings.
    djc03006 likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Nov 25, 2020

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.