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Tony Levin's 3 string bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by VictorLeMonteWooten, Jan 6, 2001.

  1. VictorLeMonteWooten


    Dec 6, 2000
    i wanted to start a thread about tl's 3 string musicman so here it is.

    you can learn about it in the may/june issue of bassplayer or read it at http://www.bassplayer.com it is under artists.
  2. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    that music man is no more.
    it burned in a fire in his home.

    [Edited by Yvon on 01-06-2001 at 08:58 PM]
  3. what?

  4. The bass player for the Red Elvises, a Russian surf band, used to play a three string bass with a really huge triangle shaped body.

    Kenan Sugar O'Brien
    The Sound of the Police
  5. wow that brings up old memories
  6. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    it seems to be an huge balalaika...
  7. Yes, Tony Levin had a fire in his garage at his home where all his basses were stored, the fire destroyed the 3 string. However, Tony used the ash in a painting he did - I recall reading somewhere!

    It was a great looking bass - in the same paint livery as his Harley motorcyle!


  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I have a regular sized one that I got for $5. It's fun to screw around with. I can't imagine playing the big one...is there a seat in the back?;)
  9. VictorLeMonteWooten


    Dec 6, 2000
    that was such a cool bass. all the other bassists were getting 20-string basses, not him, he goes for the 3-string. I feel so shocked to hear about it. :( makes me feel so sad. Maybe he can get a four sting tuned BEAD those are the only strings he likes to use. Have a wide neck on it though for FUNKY FINGERS!!! I've been trying to mimick his funky fingers. I've seen mel taylor drum a bass while bob bogle fingered the notes which is kinda like funky fingers, but i've seen TL live. I can't beleive something like that could happen to such a cool guy. :(

    I thought the bass thing was a bass balatica, but he called it a 3 string bass when i saw them live. Kind of like the first time i've seen TL, "Is that a chapman stick? i've never seen one of those in real life before. weird."
  10. Hi!

    Funnily enough, it was Peter Gabriel's idea for Tony to develop the FunkFingers (which were on sale from Tony's Papabear.com site - not sure if they are still available) - one day during a soundcheck, Tony was fretting notes with his left hand whilst the drummer (can't remember who) was `hitting' the strings at the other end of the bass with a pair of regular length sticks! Peter thought it sounded cool and suggested to Tony to chop a pair of sticks down and then attach them to his plucking fingers with elastic bands! Subsequently, Tony became more familiar with these and as a result, the FunkFingers were born!

    I believe his 3 string StingRay bass was a one-off prototype, built by Ernie Ball, it had a custom 6 pole humbucker and did not have any controls on it - I think it was tuned E A D - the extra spacing being more convenient for the FunkFingers. Yes, a tragic shame that it was burnt in the fire. From what Tony mentioned, I don't think there were any immediate plans to build another one...

  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    coulda fooled me. the many times that i've seen him perform live at shows and namm shows he made use of the whole bass, including notes on the dreaded high strings.

    leaving out any strings or notes only because "that's not what the bass does" :rolleyes: with no regard to the song would be a sure sign of a lack of taste, and tony levin is one of the most tasteful bass players around.
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    That's a great quote, John! That shall be my signature for a while!:D:D:D
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    GROOVY!! cool. wow, i feel famous. :D
  14. VictorLeMonteWooten


    Dec 6, 2000
    i've read interveiws stating that he dislikes high notes. I heard that was one reason why he got the 3-string ("G-strings are for strippers.)
  15. neptoon

    neptoon Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Melbourne, FL
    yeah...don't let him fool ya...you ever see him play a chapman stick? g-strings are for strippers indeed...;)
  16. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    actually, i heard, and i could be wrong, that he got the 3-string so that he could more easily play w/the funk fingers. wider spacing at the bridge and all.

    i would think if he liked 3 so much, he would find some kind of solution to have only 3 strings on his bass. like just put 3 strings on a 4 string. :rolleyes:

  17. cole


    Sep 14, 2000
    the chapman stick is more like a keyboard than a bass.

    and for the historians, Tony developed his funk finger technique when he toured with Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. (source: http://nfte.org/back-issues/0129 about 1/4 of the way down)
  18. does that mean the chapman stick has white strings and black strings?

    and to cut and past JT
    he got the 3-string so that he could more easily play w/the funk fingers. wider spacing at the bridge and all.

    yes this is also what i read
  19. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    gruffpuppy, that's what I read too, in his Bass Player cover story.

    He had Ernie Ball make him the 3 string for the funk fingers, and it is a one off of a Stingray, with the same neck, so of course the spacing is much wider.

    I can't imagine thinking that somebody who plays a Stick or a 5 string electric URB doesn't like to use the G string.

    Why not string the URB BEAD, if that is the case?
  20. hey embellisher thats a great quote, but who the hell is john turner? isn't he that guy who makes the cheap knock-offs of famous guitars and basses? :D

    and if any of you have seen the king crimson DVD you will notice that tony takes most of his solos aroung the 12th fret of his fretless stingray.

    if you don't have that DVD find it, it was the reason i finally bought a DVD player and it didn't give me any regret. great video

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