starr tone

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by GnRDuff1, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. GnRDuff1


    Oct 15, 2004
    Since his passing I've gotten back into the first two Alice in chains albums pretty heavily. I keep noticing an aspect to his tone that I can only describe as "spongy" I guess(and I love it). I know he uses spector PJ's and some finger/some pick. Is there a certain heaviness of pick that would help with that aspect or is it due to a tube amp? Starting to think the old cliche of "it's all in the hands" is true. You can hear it even on live stuff actually I just noticed.

    Edit: not necessarily looking to nail his exact tone, just that sponginess I was referring to
  2. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Inactive

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    85% early 80's Spector NS-2, 15% Ampeg SVT. Done.
    If it's "in the hands" thing, then I must have Mike living inside me b/c I can cop that tone 99% with the Spector+SVT setup.
  3. Bigjohn


    Mar 5, 2010
    Spector NS2 (Hazlab preamp) and SVT.
    I think he may have had his pickup balance favoring the bridge pickup a bit more than the split P.
    Starr was mainly a fingers player so a lot of his sound came from his right hand attack.
    He did use a pick on a couple songs on Dirt: Them Bones and Would.
    He may have used a pick on Got Me Wrong (Sap) but I'm not certain there. He was very good at getting a bit of sharp treble (without a lot of slappy noise) with his plucking technique.
    I think all of Facelift was fingers.
    He was funny because when he was using fingers (most of the time) he was rocking out big-time, spinning and stomping around. But on the couple songs he used a pick, he would stand pretty still and concentrate, like he wasn't totally used to it.
    I believe their big concert in Rio (early 93) was Starr's last show with them. That's on YouTube.
    If you YouTube live AIC from very early 1993 (Starr left before the European leg of the Dirt tour) and before, it's all Starr.
    I like Inez but I liked Starr's lines and tone better. The bass on Facelift, Sap and Dirt is just great.
    I thought Inez got off to a good start on Jar Of Flies but he seemed to lay back a lot more on the self-titled ("Tripod") album and very much so on the new album. I do think Tripod is a classic album though.
  4. oldbassplayergu

    oldbassplayergu Inactive

    Dec 19, 2010
    its a shame about mike. drugs have destroyed so many peoples lives. so many good musicians. I hate adding to the dead rockstar list year after year. when does it end?
  5. GnRDuff1


    Oct 15, 2004
    I think this is what I like the most, and what I seem to be having the most trouble copying. It really is a shame because he was so talented and I think it's a shame when any musician loses his fight with his demons.
  6. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    While I've always loved his tone, I have to say 'its in the hands' with Starr. Because if you dig around really hard on youtube and find their early shows where he's using a 70's Jazz bass, he still has the same tone.
  7. Bigjohn


    Mar 5, 2010
    I've seen early vid with some kind of 80's-ish looking Charvel or Jackson. I think they were PJ and maybe active too.
    I think those were similar sounding to Spector.

  8. Bigjohn


    Mar 5, 2010
    Yeah and he got kicked out of AIC for drugs.
    That must have taken some doing, considering the band.

  9. Bigjohn


    Mar 5, 2010
    To cop his sound, look closely at his RH technique.
    I think I recall him using index finger primarily and the way he extended it, it seemed like he may have been getting some fingernail on the string.
    Also, I think I recall him plucking back a bit towards the bridge.
    To me, his tone also sounds like medium or heavier gauge strings, not light gauge or hybrid light.
    Set your bass up with low action (medium to heavier strings will work better), have fresh strings, roll the pickup balance a bit towards the bridge, dial in those lows and lower mids (and a little treble on top) and pluck hard until it GROWLS.
    He had a fantastic tone. The live Singles Release show (YouTube) is a good example.

  10. GHI


    May 27, 2008
    I think you may be wrong there. From what I got he left the band becouse he was concerned with his own increasing consumption of drugs
  11. Bigjohn


    Mar 5, 2010
    AIC doesn't talk about it but I think Starr admitted in his (out of print) book that he got the boot. I think he said there were confrontations and he "quit" and when he wanted to make up, the others were "no way".
    I read somewhere that Starr was completely out of control and Cantrell and Kinney were trying to save the band/Layne.