Tom Fowler's Overnite/Apostrophe rig?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by deiseldave2001, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. Does anybody know what rig Tom Fowler used in the studio on these two Zappa albums ? His overdrive tone is about as good as it gets (for me).
    getrhythm likes this.
  2. Wikipedia says that Jack Bruce played bass. Or rather, that he didn't play bass, but cello.

    But I don't know what Tom Fowler used. Likely whatever gear Zappa had in the studio and wanted him to use (since it's technically a Zappa solo record)
  3. morebass!

    morebass! I'm all ears Supporting Member

    May 31, 2002
    Madison WI
    On the song Apostrophe (and maybe one other) it is definitely Jack Bruce. It's one of my favorites by him and I agree the tone is to die for. Check out Live Cream Volume I and Volume II for more.
  4. xsubs

    xsubs Working Class Hero Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    NYC & Corcaigh, Éire
    As Megadan stated... Jack has gone on record stating that he didn't play bass... only cello.
    Polish rock magazine/fanzine... Tylko Rock, Oct. 1992, pp. 17
  5. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    I'm wondering if JB isn't pulling the interviewers leg.
    That solo in the title track sure sounds like Bruce; tone and note choice.
    If it's not Jack Bruce, who is it? Frank? Tom?
  6. emblymouse

    emblymouse exempt Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    C'mon. It's Jack Bruce playing the sh+t out of a bass. By the tone and the string bending pyrotechnics I'll wager it's an EB3 w/ the back p/u solo'd. Get yerself a Marshall stack and crank it. Voila!
  7. joegeezer


    Mar 9, 2005
    Northern Wisconsin
    Avatar Club#12 Eden Club Lucky# 13--USA Peavey Club#37 Carvin Club#5
    All this other babble aside, deiseldave, Tom Fowler has always been one of my favorite bassists of all time, being able to switch from pick to fingers flawlessly, and style to style, without a hitch anywhere. His style is like Stanley Clarks in many respects, and on that particular album, he sounds alot like some of Stanley licks. That album's bass lines were extremely clear and clean, with some good bottom end to them, and crispy highs. I also do not know what he was playing either though. I e-mailed a freind who followed Franks stuff pretty heavily, so I'll see if he knows. Folwer is the man in my book. Saw him live a couple of times. He amazes me at his memory for all the changes and licks, without ever missing a beat anywhere. Frank knew how to pick'em, that's a fact. Check my profile, and you'll see that Fowler has been one of my main influences.

    As for the tune Bruce plays on, that overdriven tube distortion, is what I spent years trying to avoid, and am now laughin' everyday about it's comeback as being cool. It was just something we had to deal with in the old days, cause the bass amps couldn't get loud enough to be heard without the overheated overdriven tube distortion, and now kids think it's cool. Go figure. To each his own I guess. I think THE very best overdriven tube tone of all bass playing time was on 'Warrior' by Wishbone Ash. That was Orange heads with the twin 15 folded horn bottoms and a 63 T-Bird. But I guess I was partial, because I also played a 63 Bird, but with Acoustic 371 horns, but I digress.
  8. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I remember Bruce being credited with bass on Apostrophe on the liner notes of the album. I had no idea when I bought it so it suprised me a bit.
  9. Wow, lots of Jack Bruce fans... Sorry, but the Jack Bruce appreciation thread is down the hall. So, you'll have to leave now. This is a Tom Fowler tone appreciation thread.
    Sorry, I should have clarified. Not the song Apostrophe, which is definately Jack Bruce on bass. But the majority of songs remaining on those two albums, which is definately Tom Fowler.

    OK lets take our first caller on the Tom Fowler appreciation line. JoeGeezer, you're up.

    Totally. :bassist:

    Sorry, gotta disagree. It is perfect saturation. Not distortion like Jack Bruce's tone. Listen to "Yellow Snow" through "Father Oblivion". Slightly less growling than a Geddy/Squire tone, but lotsa pig grunt in there. My guess is Ampeg.

    Awesome. Let me know what he says, please.

    You have excellent taste, Sir.


    Not to me. Sound's like ass tone.

    Hey, thank's for the reply, JoeGeezer.
  10. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    The story I head is that Jack showed up for the recording with a bunch of new gear. Zappa said he wanted the distorted sound Bruce had become famous for and Jack ended up having a diode (?) put into his bass so he could recreate the sound Zappa wanted.
  11. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    A diode could do that.

    I'm partial to the Fowler sound and style though. I dig it. Have been watching "the dub room special" DVD a lot recently, and it seems that Tom uses some synth-like sound effect on his bass playing at times. I have no idea what it is. Sort of swirly like a fast chorus.... maybe.
  12. s_wood

    s_wood Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    I am huge Fowler fan...though I've never met the guy, I basically learned how to play by coping licks. I probably have 200-300 live Zappa shows with Tom Fowler, too. Fowler is a stone monster - incredible chops, impeccable taste and fluent in many styles.

    Fowler began his recording career with the band It's a Beautiful Day. He replaced their original bass player, so that's not him on their one hit "White Bird." He played with Zappa on Overnite Sensation, Apostrophe (the album, although it was Jack Bruce who played on the title track), Roxy & Elsewhere, One Size Fits All, You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol II as well as assorted compilations. He left Zappa to plat with Jean Luc Ponty for a few years, and for the last 10 years or so he was Ray Charles's bass player.

    If the tone you are trying to cop is on the song "Apostrophe," that's Jack Bruce, so get an EB-3, a Marshall and you are on your way. With FZ, Fowler used and Acoustic 360 (like so many others back in the day). From '73 to the summer of '74 he used either a Jazz bass or a P-bass. After that, he was an Alembic guy.

    Hope that helps
  13. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

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

    That's what I've always seen him playing.

    BTW, he also played on "Bongo Fury". "Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy", from that album, is one of my favorite Zappa tunes.
  14. I actually put Tom Fowler's name in the title, and he played bass on 95% of the songs on the albums mentioned, and still, people instantly responded with Jack Bruce. :confused:
    That was kind of like asking, what amp Jimi Hendrix used on "Electric Ladyland", and getting back info on Dave Mason's acoustic tone on "All along the watchtower". :eyebrow:
    I guess it was the reference to "overdrive tone", that made people think Jack Bruce. However, I would have called Bruce's tone "distortion" or "fuzz". Because it is significantly past "overdrive".
    To me, the realm of overdrive is between clean and fuzz, where you get exagerrated harmonics, but still retain the clean tone's definition. This is how I would describe Fowlers tone on most songs on those two albums. Listen to "Yellow Snow" through "Father Oblivian". That is about as much into overdrive as you can go without getting un-defined "fart bottom" tone. Whereas, on "Dirty Love", "50/50", "Zombee-Woof", etc. (the Overnite stuff), his tone is less overdriven, but still pushed well beyond what I would call "clean" tone.
    To me, "clean" tone is active pickups straight into the board.

    But, screw all that. I just wanted to know what amp and recording chain Tom Fowler used on those albums. :bassist:
  15. I guess no one knows. I sure don't but I heard a bunch of FZ the other day, including some Overnight, and One Size. The bass is incredible. I'll bet it was a split signal -1 into a tube bass amp and 2 into a tube guitar amp, but not cranked. Sounds like a throaty P-Bass too.
  16. Tom Fowler actually posted a few times here on TB, a while back. But, for some reason, after a few posts, he just stopped.
    I suspect it was due to the unusually cruel and endless Jack Bruce comparisons.
  17. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Well, you know, Fowler's great and all...

    ...But he's no Jack Bruce!

  18. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Huh? I'd say its more the reverse.
  19. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.

  20. Thats because your thinking is backwards. ;)