The best P-bass tone in rock

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Feb 7, 2009.

  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    As many of you probably know, I'm not a fan of playing P-basses, never owned and don't plan on having one, but in spite of that I really love and respect the true P-bass tone, which I particularly associate with 70's funk/disco.

    In this thread I just want to say that there are lots of great P-bass players in rock music, and I'm pretty sure that this thread's title made think of Steve Harris to many of you. But, while I agree that Steve Harris is a superb player with a magnificent tone, I don't think his is a true P-bass tone. IMO, he chose that bass because he felt it the most ballsy (I'm guessing, of course), but he has never seemed interested in getting the real P-bass tone from his instrument. His fingers, strings and bass setup are the main components of his sound, but I don't think he needs a P-bass for his tone to be recognized.

    Having said that, I want to give credit to the guy that IMO has gotten the best P-bass tone in terms of authenticity within a rock band: BURKE SHELLEY. Feel free to disagree, but to me no other documented player in rock has recorded such true P-bass tone. Besides, I think that Budgie is a great but severely underrated band (although I don't like their late, more polished works that much), so this is also my way of giving them the props they deserve.

    So you can take this as "The Burke Shelley's P-bass tone appreciation thread" or you can mention another player you feel has gotten an even better P-bass tone in a rock band (Of course, I'm talking about "the best" among the ones I know). Again, and at least for me, Steve Harris isn't a good example (but a terrific player with an awesome tone nonetheless). No funk/disco players allowed either.

    Just in case some of you don't know who I'm talking about, here's a video of Budgie lip-syncing one of their greatest hits:

    Thanks for reading! :)
    XontheP, 10cc and Squittolo like this.
  2. metalbass777


    Sep 3, 2006
    Burke Shelley x100! Budgie so underrated!
    10cc likes this.
  3. shamus63


    Dec 17, 2005
    San Mateo, CA
    Maybe not the best, but Bruce Thomas (The Attractions) was mentioned to me by my wife, and I would have to agree with her on that one.
    murphy, Velofixer and woodyng2 like this.
  4. Hamrhed


    Dec 26, 2007
    I'll go out on a limb here and say there is a four way tie:

    Dee Murray: Dee's p bass/ Flatwound combo is the standard to which I try to emulate to this day. His playing is melodic and tasty whether rockin or playing a soft ballad- Dee always delivered the goods!

    John Deacon: John's melodicism and sense of timing and dynamics were the unsung hero in a group of rock superstars... just ask Danny Miranda ;)

    Mars Cowling: The mighty Mars can flat out cook a P bass w/ the best of them and along w/ Tommy Aldridge was one of the tightest rock rhythm sects anyone would want...

    Bob Daisley: The only man who could have made Ozzy forget about Geezer :p Bob is still delivering the p bass goods w/ Living Loud and he still sounds fantastic!
    10cc, Mvilmany, lefty and 1 other person like this.
  5. DaveF


    Dec 22, 2007
    New Westminster, BC
    Whoah! Budgie rocks! How come I've never heard of them???
  6. shamus63


    Dec 17, 2005
    San Mateo, CA
    Agreed! No disrespect to all the other bass players that have laid tracks on Ozzy (and Sharriet's) albums, but Bob had the absolute best tone and style for those first three albums (and No More Tears).

    I actually prefer Bob's tone to my earlier vote of Bruce Thomas.
    outoftune likes this.
  7. +1 on John Deacon of Queen - no, he's not a shred master, but considering the people he was playing with, he served the songs first rather than his own ego. Even (perhaps especially?) Brian May says he's one of the most underrated and underappreciated bass players in the genre...
    murphy and Mvilmany like this.
  8. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Inactive

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    The bassist for the Pretenders, great tone.

    bobyoung53, 10cc, tlc1976 and 5 others like this.
  9. Jeff Pilson man, dude's got sick Pbass tone these days. Just saw him live on TV with Foreigner on PBS Soundstage, fantastic!
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  10. duckbutter


    Mar 30, 2005
    John Entwistle on Live At Leeds
    bobyoung53 and Miker27607 like this.
  11. BAW


    Aug 1, 2008
    Long Island
    my ideal p bass tone -
  12. + 1 and the guy that played for Joe Jackson - Graham Maby - not a P-Bass but you know he had a killer tone. Think he plays Spectors now.
    murphy likes this.
  13. Colonel_Claypoo

    Colonel_Claypoo Steve Harris nut

    Oct 24, 2007
    still steve harris. he beats them all and on the first two maiden albums you could hear the classic p-bass tone well.

    apart from that i'd say rob trujillo with his emg pickups. but that's not classical either, is it?
    Miker27607 likes this.
  14. Dark Star

    Dark Star

    Jun 18, 2008
    CT, RI, NC
    I'm for John Deacon. His tone was Amazing on the Queen recordings.
  15. Hamrhed


    Dec 26, 2007
    I'd also like to mention a couple P bass monsters whom Ive dug for many years and who have a great tone that I aspire to: Mike Mesaros and Severo Jornacion from the Smithereens. Obviously if you like the Smithereens then you like Mesaros who really pumped out some great stuff during his tenure w/ them. And nowadays, 'The Thrilla' is doing the same thing on a p bass- from the Beatles tribute Meet the Smithereens to the new live disc ...Live at the Court Tavern. They are exactly what I like to hear and play- tight, melodic, and pumpin'!

    I dig Steve Harris- one of the best bass players Ive seen in concert (Powerslave & Somewhere in time). Killers is straight up P bass beef no filler and I mean it was kickin my butt big time back in '80
  16. cusar5


    Feb 17, 2008
    Planet Iommia
    I really dig Paul Simonon's tone - even though he plays with a pick his tone runs the gamut from nasty punk grind to dubby fatness.

    And yes, Burke Shelley is the man.
    murphy likes this.
  17. johnnycat42


    Feb 27, 2007
    Denver, CO
    murphy likes this.
  18. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Tim Bogert!
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  19. Ezbass


    Apr 3, 2008
    Bruce Foxton of The Jam. Despite often being pictured with a Rick, he used a P a lot of the time to great effect.

    Bruce Thomas, oh yeah!

    Entwistle Live At Leeds for sure.

    Randy MacDonald, Tommy Castro Band.

    Pino on Mayer's Continuum (not so much live though).

    Really way to many to mention.
    murphy and adivin like this.
  20. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Inactive

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    IMO, the best bass tone they've ever got an record was Tony Butler's tone on "Back on the Chain Gang", and he was using Ibanez Musician basses at the time!

    IMO, the only "P bass" user I'd want to listen to is Billy Sheehan, and even then his sound is far from a typical P bass sound. It seems that when players go to P bass from something else, their bass tone gets a whole lot worse. Mark Stoermer used to use a Geddy Lee jazz and had one of the best tones in rock, but then he recorded the new album with a P bass and it sounds simply dreadful. :crying:
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