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The Best Bass for Metal is... a jazz bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ishouldbeking, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Hollywood, CA
    Endorsing: SIT, Eastwood, Hanson
    Last night I attended a glorious metal show. And when I say metal, I mean extreme metal, not Motley Crue-style hard rock. Mournful Congregation were in town from Australia and they brought along tourmates Aldebaran and Anhedonist, as well as local bands Harassor, Destroy Judas, and somebody else that I missed.

    Anyway, because I was in that kind of mood, I paid special attention to the basses being used and how much sonic butt they were kicking. Given, this is completely unscientific and obviously has just as much to do with the player and the songwriting, but still... I was surprised by the results.

    Harassor had no bass player, so they're exempt from my research pool. Destroy Judas (who play sludgy post-metal doom stuff) had an Ibanez 5 string that looked like a Soundgear of some type. It looked pretty nice, to be honest. Sonically it did the job. Nothing fancy, I was mostly hearing low end thickness under the wall of guitars. In essence: it was fine. Aldebaran (who had more of a funeral doom or death/doom vibe going on) had a Warwick, one that looked like a Thumb. This one had a little more character, but not much. Again, it sounded good, but for the most part just functional. I wouldn't run out and buy one based on what I was hearing. Anhedonist (who play killer death/doom) were using a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz and... hot damn, that thing sounded outstanding in this setting. It had a huge bottom, but the top end was cutting through the guitars enough to be distinctly heard... and it was just so sweet sounding. Mournful Congregation (pretty much the standard bearers for epic funeral doom) had a really basic Ibanez GSR, and that thing actually sounded pretty good too, but not as sweet as the jazz. I should emphasize that everybody sounded good last night (and it was an all around amazing show, all bands worth checking out). But the difference between the jazz and the rest was striking.

    I know it ultimately proves nothing, but I was really impressed with how well the jazz tone worked under some EXTREMELY heavy sounding tunes, and that it actually contributed a very nice character to the overall sonic palette. For anyone looking for a metal bass, it's worth giving one a shot at least, to see if it might work for you. Also: I was definitely impressed with the Squier, it looked pretty killer up on stage.
  2. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Hollywood, CA
    Endorsing: SIT, Eastwood, Hanson
    One thing I should probably note: all of these bands were playing slow, crushing stuff... not a million note per minute technical death metal or anything. The notes had time to bloom and resonate throughout the room, so that might also explain why it worked so well in this setting.
  3. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    i remember a column that Bryan Bellar was writing for BP and each one covered different topic (eq, pickups, etc) and it was aimed towards metal bass. his comment was along the lines of a p or p-j type config may not have enough punch to cut through walls of distorted guitars and that a j-j setup helps cutting through because of the character that specific pickup combo brings to the table.
  4. the mojo hobo

    the mojo hobo

    Nov 13, 2005
    The Jazz bass has been the best for metal ever since John Paul Jones played one in Led Zepplin.
  5. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I'm pretty sold that a jazz bass is the best bass for any genre.
  6. JDtheBassPlayer


    Jul 27, 2011
    I know it's not metal, but when I went to the first annual La Grange fest (ZZ Top) a while back Lynyrd Skynyrd was there. Robert Kearns played a nice Fender Jazz, and it had an amazing sound plus it was loud (well I was right in front of him and the speakers) Also last school year for orchestra (I play stand up bass) our last concerts were coming up, and I got to play bass guitar for some songs. I was using my friends Ibanez soundgear (which I loved to play) and one of the cello players was playing bass guitar too. He used a Squier Jazz, and I remember one day in class using it. I LOVED IT!!! all I remember is that it felt nice, and sounded good.
  7. Scott McArron

    Scott McArron Supporting Member

    Opeth's bass player plays a Fender jazz...
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    If he said that, I have to question his sanity. I guess I can see where someone might prefer single coils for metal since they tend to be brighter and more cutting, but you can get plenty of bite out of a PJ combo. Depending on what pickups you use, the difference can be insignificant, and I've heard recordings comparing the two that back that opinion up.

    Having said that, the Jazz Bass is a bass you can use anywhere for any kind of music and get any sound you need and never sound out of place. I would also include PJ's.
    Jinglesmeowmeow likes this.
  9. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    Hell yeah...their last album is unbelievably metal!! :D;)
  10. paganjack


    Dec 25, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have to say, I always gravititate to the single coil (jazz bass) settings on my $$ for my metal band. We play a lot of fast stuff and it is just more articulate than the humbucking modes. So it works for that too. It just sounds right to my ears.
  11. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I have to agree with Boomie even though my Jazz bass is not my main axe. But the key is that there is a certain SOMETHING about a Jazz bass (and doubtless PJs too).

    My unscientific story (that I've told here before) was at the local guitar show. There is a dealer often there with a ton of boutique hyper-expensive basses. Jersey Drozd, Low End, that sort of stuff. And some dude, an amazing player, was in the market and the dealer was bringing him basses to try one after the other as we all stood around jaws dropping by both the basses AND the playing! But after all all that testing, the guy grabs and ordinary Fender Jazz to compare. And I tell you true, there was clearly SOMETHING that set the sound of that bass apart. No, it didn't look like a coffee table, you didn't have to sell your house to get it, and who knows how it felt to play it, but from the viewpoint of the audience, it was clearly doing the job!

    And another rule I've gone on and on about is the crowd who thinks anyone who says you can find Squiers that sound as good as an American Fender is telling a "joke". I've repeatedly said that there is a local guy here with a Squier that simply rocks the house. And this is one more example of that.
  12. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Hollywood, CA
    Endorsing: SIT, Eastwood, Hanson
    My first bass was a MIM Jazz (which I no longer have, or any jazz at the moment) so I think it also in a way defined what I expect a bass to sound like. Sometimes I feel like I'm still chasing that tone with my other basses... definitely feeling the GAS pressures building for another bass I don't REALLY need, but definitely want...

    I think with the Jazz it might be the single coils that have that magic. Sure, they can be too bright with a brand new set of strings and the tone knob wide open, but there's something really pleasing to the low end you get out of that neck pickup, and as much as I love my Precisions, it's just a different thing that comes out of a Jazz.

    And just so everyone knows exactly what kind of metal I'm talking about above, here's a link to the band that was using the Squier. I know not everyone around these parts spends all day listening to funeral death/doom, so here's a taste. ;)

    Anhedonist | Free Music, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos
  13. ishouldbeking


    Feb 5, 2007
    Hollywood, CA
    Endorsing: SIT, Eastwood, Hanson
    It's kind of funny how Fender continues to market these things despite their ability to really play any genre. I know its led to a lot of assumptions on my part about where these basses are "meant to be played".

    A good example is the Squier VM 70's Jazz page over at Musiciansfriend: "...can deliver punchy tone for the ultimate funk sound whether you play fingerstyle or slap-n-pop." The only style mentioned anywhere on the page is funk, which, to my impressionable mind, would imply that it's not necessarily a good bass for rock, and definitely not metal. Funny, that.
  14. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    In that particular instance it's quite possible the Jazz sounded best.

    Otherwise, Steve Harris'd probably beg to differ. :smug:
  15. winterburn69


    Jan 27, 2008
    Jazzes are great. I'm looking into getting the Squier VM 77 Jazz hopefully sometime in January. JPJ had a wonderful Jazz tone, most of Newsted's Sadowsky's were Jazz-types. Although what's got me GASing after a Jazz atm is Jeremy Davis' tone.
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think by now anyone who's interested in bass knows about the Precision and Jazz ;) But for those who don't, I agree it can be a bit confusing. I think they play up the 70's pickup spacing to be good for funk because of Marcus Miller making a big deal about it. Meanwhile, don't Geddy's basses have that same spacing? ;)
  17. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    The best bass for everything is a Jazz (style) bass. It's the workhorse bass.
  18. I've thought for years that the best basses for metal are ones with single coil pickups that can really snarl. Hence why I prefer Rickenbackers first, and Jazz Basses second for anything metal. They've both got enough low end to be powerful, but if you dial it in, they have that nasty midrange and top end that'll bite your head off. If I owned a Fender, it'd definitely be a Jazz Bass. They're awesome.
  19. krstko


    Aug 29, 2011
    Cerknica, Slovenia
    I know two extrem metal bass players; one in some death metal band or sth. and other one in thrash metal band ..both using 5-string Squier jazz :D
  20. I'm starting to believe this also after buying one a few months back. It has become my main axe. I have my precision set up as a drop tune bass for songs that need it, however I find myself just retuning the Jazz in between songs instead of switching instruments. I am realy loving how versatile it is.

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