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The Roundabout tone.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Jul 24, 2012.


  1. I'm 52. "Roundabout" by Yes was all over pop-radio when I was in my early teens. ~That bass sound~ has been driven into my developing musical brain with a hammer and a cold chisel, just like Geddy's sound has. I've read tons of copy in magazines, web-articles, books, The Rolling Stone, whatever since the song was released. So I think I've been exposed to just about everything that Chris (Squire) has had to say about it, as well as what many of "the experts" have said.

    My question is pretty straighforward (it's more of a musing I suppose) ....

    I wonder what the general frequency analyzer curve looks like? If the tone that Chris developed over the years after the mixing of Roundabout was done were to be sortof averaged out, I wonder what it would look like on a Freq. Analyzer graph?

    I've listened pretty carefully and I can hear a LOT of fret buzz and some clank in there, it artfully disappears as the rest of the instruments mix in with it. (A lot like what Geddy does. I've heard Tom Sawyer's bass track totally isolated and he also uses a lot of clank and some fret buzz as well as his equipment's distortion to get his ~complete-song tone~.) I will say that Chris uses quite a bit of fret buzz and a very aggressive picking hand to boot.

    Anecdotal trivia:
    I keep my old magazines. I have a fire-hazardish collection of old bass-related periodicals. I recently read one of Chris's interviews, he gave an interesting explanation for the Roundabout tone. He said that during that time period everyone was into using headphones a lot. In 1970 during the recording of the album "Time and a word" the producer (Tony Colton) decided that was how he was going to mix that album. But the headphone output socket of the board in that particular studio was a bit bass-light so Tony kept telling the engineer (Eddie Offord) to turn up the bass. Of course it ended up being very loud in the final mix. When the album came out all of these audiophile reviews saying what a fantastic sound Yes had made. So naturally it was considered that the bass would be loud on everything they did after that. Everyone liked it so much that the general mix and sound was developed and it became the sound of Yes during that era. (taken from an interview with Chris in the magazine Bass Guitar April/May of 2004).

    Cool, right? :)
     
  2. iamthebassman

    iamthebassman

    Feb 24, 2004
    Austin,Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    Chris says a lot of the sound of that song is the bass part is doubled on an acoustic guitar.
     
  3. Tanner5382

    Tanner5382

    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA
    You might find this interesting.
     
  4. rockscott

    rockscott

    Aug 28, 2010
    massachusetts
    Chris painted/refinished and wallpapered/refinished that 4001 many times through the years, stripping the bass each time. Its much thinner than any other rick, thus it has a one of a kind tone!
     
  5. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    An archtop f-hole acoustic guitar at that!
     
  6. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Reno/Tahoe
    Yes, the Roundabout tone has been discussed for years. Classic Squire..
    I like your "Time and A Word" trivia info. Thanks for that. This album of theirs doesnt get the attention it should.
    The bass tone throughout that album really does stand out. Funny how they sorta stumbled upon it in the studio that way.
    Especially on the song "The Prophet". One of the heaviest tracks on the album. It has a monsterous bass attack on it.
     
  7. iamthebassman

    iamthebassman

    Feb 24, 2004
    Austin,Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    "The Prophet" is one of my fave Yes songs, their first two albums are my favorites.
     
  8. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Reno/Tahoe
    Yep.. While not my personal favorites from them, the 1st two albums are really good. The playing of Banks & Kaye was always under-rated and overshadowed on subsequent LP's by Howe & Wakeman.
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'll tell you, I don't hear it. I've heard other people with regular Rics who can cop that sound well (Geddy springs to mind), and I kind of think that's a little bit of Chris Squire mythology at work ;)
     
  10. WalWarrior

    WalWarrior Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2006
    That's close but not exactly the correct bass line. It's missing the high octave counter melody every 4th pass.
     
  11. 48thStreetCustom

    48thStreetCustom

    Nov 30, 2005
    Colorado
    If I remember correctly, he spoke about his picking technique in his instructional video. He talked about how a big part of his tone comes from always letting the fleshy part of his thumb hit the strings right after his pick. He doesn't do Billy Gibbons style pick-harmonics, but adding his thumb does effect his sound
     
  12. Tanner5382

    Tanner5382

    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA
    I'm pretty sure I read that the higher octave counter melody is actually a guitar.
     
  13. IIRC didn't he do the guitar amp/bass amp thing with the Ric-o-sound output of his bass?
    There is certainly a kind of tone you get with an open back guitar amp carrying your overdrive and a clean bass amp holding down the bottom. (don't tell the 'do not mix speaker sizes posse')
     
  14. N.F.A.

    N.F.A.

    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    Didn't he use Vox AC30's in this era?
     
  15. CnB77

    CnB77

    Jan 7, 2011
    NJ
    It's different when you use a crossover and biamp than when you run mismatched speakers all playing the same thing
     
  16. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    Conversely, as a diehard Squire fan throughout my teen years I was always pursuing that sound, and so played as many Rick 4001 basses as I could get my hands on. Probably played ~30 different 4001s over the course of 1974-1981.

    In all that time I only found one 4001 that sounded remotely like Chris Squire's.

    I'm not saying his tone is due to the Shaved Body Story...but his tone is definitely due to something he does, not something Rickenbacker brings to the table.
     
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think it's partly the Marshall Superbass, but mostly the way he plays.
     
  18. PaulBoyer

    PaulBoyer Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 27, 2012
    Wisconsin
    That "shaved" Rick story is pretty fishy (sorry for the pun). I'm sure that his bass was repeatedly sanded and refinished, but the reduction in thickness is only a couple of millimeters if that. I doubt there is any difference in tone coming from that. I am of the opinion that a player's "tone" has a lot more to do with playing technique and recording/amplification settings than it does a particular instrument. Squire could play a Fender with Rotosounds and it would sound the same as the Rick. If I could play Squire's Rick, it wouldn't sound anything like his tone.
     
  19. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    +1

    I sold my first Ric because of this. I wanted the Geddy/Squire Ric tone and it didnt have it. I have since bought another 4003 and it is much closer, but still not exactly like that tone.
     
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That's not surprising since you're not Chris Squire ;)
     

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