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the jaco sound

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Moti, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. Moti


    Aug 26, 2005
    lately, I've seen some Jaco tribute video on youtube and the guy who played bass had that replica of the "Jaco sound", that fat and smooth sound (which I'm sure we all know)
    I'm kind of curios about it, what creates that sound?
    i know Jaco used an ampeg, fretlles fender (and flat wound strings?)
    an of course there is a sound man involved.
    so if one wishes to have similar sound, which veritable is the most important, the bass, the amp? effects? (and please with no "the bass player" answers).
  2. lm183902


    Aug 19, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Really, your touch and where you position your hands is a big part of it. Also, Jaco was more known for using Acoustic amps, not Ampeg - although I'm sure he probably used one at some point. The easiest way to get that sort of tone is to solo the bridge pickup and play right on top of it. Also, you may want to boost some low mids - that should get you in the ballpark.
  3. JerryH


    Dec 13, 1999
    Helsinki, Finland
    Moti - I think Jaco used mainly Acoustic amps and speakers, but ...
    I might be wrong as usual.
    Check the threads in Talkbass and you will find more information easy. Basics of the sound Jaco had was produced - hands, finger technic, boost the mids, use Rotosound roundwounds (eat the fretboard) and so on.... IMHO.
  4. DaneB


    May 25, 2008
    Western Australia
    He played Rotosound rounds on his epoxied fretless 62 Jazz, played through an Acoustic amp, can't recall the model name.

    But Jaco would sound like Jaco whatever bass he played. You can hear it in the early recordings where he's playing fretted, and on the Modern Electric Bass dvd where he's playing a J with a fretted P neck.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yup in the video he explains how his sound is in his hands! ;)

    He talks about using genuine, cello-like vibrato etc. and how in the studio he went straight into the desk - no effects.
  6. Vetchking

    Vetchking Inactive

    Mar 17, 2008
    President G.P.G. Co. "acoustic" USA
    Jaco used 2 complete acoustic 360/361's for decades. There are a few videos where he added some other acoustic amps. I am sure theres videos where he walked up on stage and played what ever was up there. But, all in all acoustic 360's.

    Go to his web site it's all on there. Later
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    But not in the studio - where he went DI!
  8. Vetchking

    Vetchking Inactive

    Mar 17, 2008
    President G.P.G. Co. "acoustic" USA
    Not always true........ Talk to the engineers and you shall seek the truth.........

    also, many times thru the 360 pre-amp first......... Later
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Here's an extract from a 1978 interview with Jaco :

    Q Do you get that incredible singing bass sound on an ordinary guitar, or are there some special effects that you use?

    I don't use anything special... I've actually got less on it! I have a fretless bass, so it's virtually like I'm playing a wood bass. In other words, the strings go into the wood on the neck and then, being that it's a bass guitar, it gets that bright, direct sound. So I'm the first guy to be using a fretless, is actually what it boils down to, and then more, because I'm the first to really get down and play it, because other guys cannot play it in tune, y'know? I've been playing the bass guitar for almost 12 years, and I've been playing fretless for about nine, so I've got quite a bit of mileage in my hands already. I play in tune like a cello player, and use legitimate vibrato. There are no tricks... it's just all in the hands! I just have a standard 1962, I think it is, Fender Jazz bass, that I took the frets out of.

    What amplifier do you use with that?

    In the studio I don't use an amp, I just go direct, right into the desk. It's virtually acoustic is what I'm doing, you see?

  10. People seem to make a big fuss about making the sound but it's relatively easy, it's just the soloed bridge pickup of a jazz bass with your fingers right down next to bridge. The added tension at the end of the strings means you have to work harder giving that aggressiveness and the position emphasises the midrange of the bass. Jaco occasionally used a chorus effect I think to further fatten up the sound. While his Acoustic 360 had an impact on his sound, I'd definitely say the tone was in his fingers. In your left hand it's merely a matter of learning not to bend the string like you would on a guitar but to move your hand side to side (it would be up and down on a double bass), takes a bit of practice but it's relatively quick to pick up. What's harder to get is Jaco's absolute rhythmic precision (combined with his muting technique to make sure every note is perfectly defined), which is why he is such an effortlessly funky player. In my opinion it's not worth trying to get the 'Jaco sound' as there are too many bad imitators out there, though of course trying to replicate your heroes is one way towards finding your own sound, I've just heard too many players who seem to have Jaco as their only point of reference!
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This is not true - chorus effects didn't appear until much later - he used a digital delay that was given to him by Pat Metheny, which he used for looping etc. - but certainly never had a chorus effect.

    What you might be thinking of is how in the studio - on tunes like Continuum - Jaco "doubled" his bass line - so he recorded it twice but so close it is impossible to distinguish them as separate lines!!

    So it sounds like a chorus effect where the two lines are very slightly out of tune with each other - which is what a chorus effect does in practice!
  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    For the Funk stuff.
    For some of the other pieces ("Continuum"), he plucks way up by the neck.

    In this month's Bass Player (Robert Trujillo cover), Avashai Cohen talks about his 'out-of-tune' playing giving a certain vibe to the music. Pretty cool.
  13. Moti


    Aug 26, 2005
    actually i know that he used the acoustic 360, but for some unknown reason I've mistaken it to be some sort of an Ampeg and not a brand of it's on.
    anyway, I've just read about the Acoustic amp company and the people who used it's amp and that's some impressive line of musicians.
  14. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    A. Jaco's fingers. Seriously, it's a lot of attack, and often right back at the bridge.
    B. Solo the bridge PUP, especialy a Jazz bass PUP.
    C. ROUNDWOUND strings!! NOT FLATS. He used Rotosound RS-66L, the stainless steel fret eaters.
    D. It's in the mids. Cutting the mids (the common "stupid smile" EQ) will utterly destroy any chance you have of getting close to that sound. You need a good bit of signal in the 1K area.
    E. Judicious muting with both hands. Learn all the Jerry Jemmott and Rocco Presita you can, that'll help with getting Jaco's sound.

    Acoustic Control Corporation was one of the first companies to make both good solid-state amps and to make bass specific amps rather than guitar amps with different speakers. Along with Ampeg they pretty well defined the high-end of bass amps for a good period of Jaco's life. They had nothing to do with Ampeg, and Jaco was a confirmed Acoustic user from early on in his life. I believe he got his first 360 while still a teenager. Big powerful amps with the 18" speaker in a folded horn cabinet. Later he also used othe Acoustic amps and cabinets (check the "Shadows & Light" DVD by Joni Mitchell), and he was the first endorser of Hartke speakers (they put their aluminum cones into an SVT cabinet for him). There are some photos of him with an SVT head on top of various cabients, but those all appear to be NY City jam sessions, so the amp may have been resident at the club, or borrowed.

    However, that Acoustic amp isn't really critical to getting into his sound. A resonant body with a single-coil bridge PUP, bright roundwounds, goose the mids, and don't put too much highs on it. Attack back at the bridge for the "Come On, Come Over" or "Birdland" kind of burp. Carress it closer to the neck for "Continuim". Have utter control over how your hands coax the sound out of the bass. That's the key right there. He approached the electric bass as very much an acoustic phenomena, which he augmented with electronics. But at heart, he was getting the sound out of his instrument no matter which bass he played or whether he was using an amp or going DI.

  15. Eminentbass


    Jun 7, 2006
    South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Amps and Sandberg Basses.
    What's interesting to me is that Jaco and John Paul Jones both used Acoustic 360 amps but their respective tones are polar opposites. I'm Guessing that JPJ used flats but it also goes to show what a versatile amp the 360 was. I was quite surprised to find out that the classic boomy tone came from a solid state amp. I know it's got a lot to do with pickup selection and right hand positioning etc. but Jaco's sound to me is the epitome of tight, focussed punch while JPJ(along with Geezer Butler) is my reference for warm ballsy low end.

    I know that Hartke reference Jaco as an innovator in their early developement of Aluminum cones but all the footage I've seen along with having just read his biography, there's no mention of them anywhere. Anyone got the scoop on that story?
  16. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    you are not wrong. The old Acoustic amps were a big part of his touring setup for years...

    but here 's the thing: Jaco played lotsa basses / gear - Like EC, it was in his fingers, in his belly - not in his gear. Jaco was Jaco no matter what he played.
  17. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I seem to remember reading Joni saying something about Jaco digging the chorus on those old Roland Chorus amps she and Methney used back n the 70's. But when it comes down to it, Jaco new how to get the most sound out of his basses, both pickups and his left and right hands. ;)
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I wish I can recall where I read this (I'm a-thinking)-

    Maybe it was Zawinul/Weather Report that wanted Jaco to come up to NYC for an audition...Jaco mentioned he wanted his Acoustic amp flown in...someone in management said "We'll have something here for you to use". Jaco declined & they asked "Why...what's the big deal"?
    Jaco said: "...because it's my sound, man"!!!!
  19. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    There are so many stories......I also remember hearing when Jaco auditioned for Joe and Wayne that he plugged direct into the board, but they didn't see him play and only heard him, and when he came into the control room they asked if he played electric too.
  20. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    In A Silent Way: A Portrait Of Joe Zawinul...Joe Z. had a cassette of Jaco; eventually, Jaco iwas asked if he also played electric bass.

    ...or something like that.

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