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!  

Stanley Clarkes's technique?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by mightyd, Jul 23, 2007.

  1. mightyd


    Nov 25, 2006
    I was looking on youtube and came accross this:

    And i was wondering how on earth people play like this? I want to learn how to play like he does, so can anyone help? describe any techniques? any chords or notation i need to know? etc?
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I was there.

    "How do I play like one of the all-time masters of the instrument," you ask? Simple: Listen, practice and hold on to that excitement.

    The good news is that there's no short-cut; you're in the same boat as all the rest of us.
  3. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    The man is just amazing, but watching him makes
    my fingers hurt, his whole right hand must be a
    callous :)

    A truely unique stylist though, makes you remember
    why you love bass!!
  4. bottomzone


    Oct 21, 2005
    That is just one of the reasons why Stanley is unlike ANY bassist on Earth. Just like the slogan for an old Electro Voice ad featuring Stanley that I saw in Bass Player, "Often Imitated-Never Duplicated".

    Keep God First!:hyper:

    A Groove is a Terrible Thing to Waste!:cool:
  5. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    Also a monster on electric.

    He's been on playing one of those since he was a child....that helps I'm sure...plus having FIVE fingers longer than all of mine laid end-to-end!:eek:
  6. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Practice a lot, use low action and an amp. You will be all set.
  7. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    Super low action. Super low tension. I have a DVD of him playing with Ponty and Mclaughlin. The high raised saddle on his bass looks like a piece of 4x2 pine, must reduce string tension to absolute minimum. I wonder what his bass sounds like unamplified?

    (actually, I don't really like what he does all that much. Very fast, but I don't really "get" what he is trying to do with his technique)
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    One time I was on a gig, and this youngish guy with a German accent looked at my bass and said "Ahh, you vill never achieve any velocity with your strings so high". So I asked him how high he thought I should have them, and he pushed them down to the height where I had them on my fretless slabs at the time. I just smiled and took it as an indication that I was on the right track.

    Stanley's great, BTW... he does it in the manner of Bromberg maybe, but he gets it done for sure. "Light As A Feather" is still a benchmark bass album for me. Vive la difference...
  9. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    - The truth is you can always play lighter on higher action, but you can never dig in when it is too low.
  10. For the really flamboyant stuff, he seems to be trying to transfer flamenco guitar techniques to bass which, you have to admit, is fairly unique even if you don't care for it.

    He's done a lot of the other things though. He single handedly created an entire style of latin bass for those early RTF albums. Not in the least authentic but really cool. I burned my ears and fingers out on that stuff when I was a kid.

    I like Stanley if for no other reason than he was my first bass hero. The very first bass line I ever learned was School Days and when I started upright, he was my first big influence. His solo from Spain just might be the first thing I ever transcribed for the upright. Nowadays, any reference to his influence in my playing is more nostalgia than anything else but I still love pulling out those licks when I play Spain or 500 Miles High or Captain Marvel.

    mark perna
  11. That's for sure. For having his action so low, Stanley gets a pretty nice tone though. NHOP had his action extremely low as well and his sound was just kind of plinky. I've gone through phases where I've lowered my action but my sound just craps out.

    There are things you can do even with high(er) action to get around on the bass. Playing lighter and letting the amp do the work is one. Using a Scott Lafaro right hand technique is another that doesn't really require lightening up the plucking hand. Instead of pulling the string toward you, slap the fingers down onto the string and kind of pluck through the string. You can get some real speed without sacrificing tone or volume although you do get a lot string clicks. I kind of like the sound of strings clicking off of the fingerboard so it isn't a drawback for me.

  12. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    - What about Jimmy Garrison? I think he is playing with Paco De Luca in that video, so it makes sense to use it.
    Arild Andersen is another guy who gets a beautiful sound with low action:
  13. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    To my ears Stanley's DB playing is more and more like his EB playing. Maybe it's the other way around, who knows, but the guy has got a STYLE that's happening on both platforms...
  14. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    I watched the Stan Clarke DVD I mentioned (was a gift from a friend) but you know, although is technique is amazing, I had a hard time staying interested. Most of his solos seemed to me to be very fast repetitions of the same lick, in a variety of positions, kind of like a series of chords played a different way ... but melodically, the solos just didn't seem to go anywhere.

    I used to love his electric sound, yeah School Days, all that.

    In terms of his flamenco on a bass ... well for me, it doesn't quite have the feel, no matter how flamboyant. Whereas someone like Carles Benavent, playing on electric and not trying too hard to adapt a guitar strum, has it just right.

  15. Oh yeah! I forgot about JG. He did all that flamenco-like strumming in his solos. That really was original.
  16. Well you kind of hit the nail on the head. For all of his incredible technique, harmonically, he is a bit limited and maybe even a bit of a finger wiggler. He has a few licks and a few scales he tends to repeat over and over and most of his solos tend to live or die on the big dramatic run up and down the neck. You can't really dig too far beyond the admittedly incredible technique with Stanley because there really isn't that much more to him. It's not like listening to Bird or Coltrane or Miles where, no matter how many times you've heard something, you'll always hear something new each listen. First time with Stanley and you've pretty much heard it all.

    But, on the other hand, back in the '70's, he was doing things on bass that no one had done before and a lot of guys were copying him so you gotta give him props for that. He was a JAZZ bassist who sold out sporting arenas. Pretty impressive. He was also the first guy to play both electric and upright equally well and was, inarguably, innovative on both.

    The biggest fault you can lay on Stanley is he never really grew. He isn't any better now than he was in 1972 and I think he was actually better in 1972. He was doing something new with the enthusiasm of youth-a great combination. The problem for Stanley is a bunch of guys have come along with incredible technique who leave him in the dust harmonically and rhythmically. Patitucci, McBride, and Bromberg all come immediately to mind. He kind of the fallen bass god.

  17. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006

    I also loved Stanley as a kid. Had an Alembic to boot. Learned all his licks, not that I could actually do all the chops stuff, but you know.....
    His upright playing for me just never did it. Sure, the technique is incredible, but even early on in my developement I felt Stanley's upright solos were a one trick pony. I still feel that way. The content is all pentatonic. There's no bebop, no chromaticism, no upper structure melodic sense, not even anything really "out"....it's just what you hear.
    Not bad for a jazz bassist who can afford a Beverly Hills mansion. But seriously: I picked up this McCoy Tyner CD with Stanley recorded a few years ago; mostly straight ahead playing. I mean, I'd pick any young guy from NY over Stanley's playing on this any day of the week.
    But like you said, he was there, made a huge impact, is a legend, and deserves respect.
  18. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    It's safe to say that much of Stan's growth over the past twenty-five years has come as a composer, particularly for film and TV. Like y'all I dig the old stuff we grew up on. On the other hand . . .

    Rather melodramatic, don't you think? He's doing what he loves to do. He's not trying to be somebody else.

    The number of great artists who continue to break new ground well into the third chapter of life is very modest, and many who do catch enormous manure for trying. Ultimately, it's hard for me to argue that saying, "I'm gonna do what I love to do with people I love to be with" is a bad answer to this Real Big Question.
  19. As far as melodrama goes, Stanley used to refer to himself as one of the first bass gods. He really isn't anymore which is where my 'too cute for my own good' last line came from.

    Stanley has done a bit of commercial composing work but is any of what he's done as good as Light as a Feather? or Dayride for that matter? The question isn't rhetorical; I'm asking.
  20. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    What I prefer and what he has accomplished are too unrelated issues.
    I prefer him on that Pharoah Sanders LP on Impluse. Stanley had other ideas and pursued them.
    He pulled together a lot of technique on two instruments and helped define the Bass Guitar's possiblities. How much do you want from one guy?
    He is still active and doing work. Do I like him as much as I like Peter Kowald?
    No, but that is just my taste. I have to respect what he has done with his life.

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.