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Tools to groove in the studio?

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by jwindham, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. jwindham


    Sep 17, 2006
    Hi Justin,

    I was just curious if you may have some thoughts about helping to find a groove in the studio. I've been looking for a great sounding bass cab/amp to go with my passive p-bass with 62 reissue pickups. I LOVE the p-bass "b15-sounding" recordings you have made with Beck, like on the "Information" album with songs like "Think I'm in Love," etc. Ive also been listening to a lot of Beastie Boys, especially their instrumental album In Sound From Way Out. I love that thick jazz bass tone from MCA on songs like "Pow." What really moves me is how "vocal" and "natural" these tones sound and feel.

    After listening, I have noticed a similarity in the tone, and just straight up "fun" groove feeling between your playing and MCA's. Both styles relate some seriously funky, tight bass playing, driving the music, while still laying the foundation thick and warmly. This harmony is also a testament to awesome musicians working together to really listen to, and bring out the best in each other.

    I know it definitely helps me when the bass is felt live, and sometimes a good amp can help in that area too. But, Ive also heard that studio compression can help create a nice bass foundation in the mix. I am thinking about getting a Bergantino nv610, with an SVT. But, I'm wondering if the b15 would help to get closer to that warm, thick groove? Would you recommend one over the other for getting close to that feeling in the studio? Thanks for any thoughts, or recommendations!

  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Hi Josh,

    Thanks for writing. "Think I'm In Love" is actually a Mustang, using an MXR Bass DI straight in. Just so you know. But anyway, yes. A lot of what I rely on is P-Bass/B15 love. Mutations, Sea Change, etc.

    I've always heard fantastic reports about that Bergantino cab, particularly with tube heads.

    However, yes: I'd suggest you go B15. Or even just anything with 15's. They impart a certain type of mids that I find cannot be replicated otherwise. There's tons more great stuff too: You may want to get into the concept of lower-powered tube amps: B15's obviously, Ampeg V4's, vintage Fender Bassman (or that new 100 watt one maybe - those sound pretty cool), Peavey Classic 50 410 combo (I LOVE those on bass!), Traynor BassMaster II, Sunn 1200S, etc.

    You're just going to get so much pleasingly thick harmonic content in those amps, particularly with 15's. Another amp that I love which I seem to use a lot of now in the studio is the Fender Bassman TV 15. I laughed when I first saw it when Fender sent it over to the studio, but man...it records like a dream. I used it on the recent Garbage album, some new Beck stuff, and also the new Paramore, Young The Giant, etc. It's just a solid state combo. But I'm telling you, that thing has magic, recordable tone. Takes pedals great, too. Not sure if they make it anymore...

    Now, another thing I recommend is to really get into microphone experimentation. Don't be afraid of 57's on bass amps, especially if you also use a DI to round out the tone. Or large-diaphragm condensers a bit further back from the speaker.

    Then there's drive pedals, and that's a whole other thing.

    But get yourself a dirty tube amp that you can turn up loud, and you'll be loving that.

  3. jwindham


    Sep 17, 2006
    Hi Justin,

    I really appreciate the advice and gear suggestions. I need to hunt down some of these pieces, and give them a spin.:bassist:

    And, I love Garbage! I saw them years ago in New Orleans at Tulane University-such a fun show. Super tight, and really brought a fantastic energy live…

    Thanks, and happy bass playing :)


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