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Want to try for Phil Lesh's '71 sound

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by TheOtherOne, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. TheOtherOne


    Jan 9, 2012
    NE CT
    I want start by saying how glad I am that I found this place!

    I'm a guitar player, but my wife got me a nice Am Std P-Bass for Christmas/B-Day, God bless her. Now I need to amplify it. I already have powered PA speakers, so I don't have to get a cab (or even an amp) just yet. I can use the PA cab for learning & practice, for now.

    My favorite bass guitar sound of all time is that of Phil Lesh in 1971 - e.g. the Skull & Roses live album, Workingman's Dead, American Beauty. Thanks to much research here on TB I have confirmed what I seemed to remember from back then - Phil played through Dual Showmans and JBL-loaded cabs. (I don't have an EBO or the hot-rodded Hagstrom pickups, but I'll make do.)

    So I was hoping to get comfirmation and additional ideas from this community about my conclusions:

    Use Flat-wound strings, a pick, and a Fender tone stack of some sort.

    PREAMP options (many thanks to Basstasters) -

    BBE Bmax-T (apparently being discontinued)
    Fender TBP-1
    Alembic F1-X (too much $$$)
    ...any other choices? I also liked the Ampeg SVP-CL and SVP-BSP and some others that were way too pricey for me.

    HEADS -
    (300-watt tube heads are not an option, I want to keep the weight down, so I would have to go for either a hybrid or SS, and I suspect a SS won't do it for what I want.)

    Hartke LH500 - Fender tone stack, but does it sound like one?

    ???? what other heads are out there for that style of sound?

    Thanks in advance for your help...
  2. I would do a search. There are many many many threads on Phil.
  3. TheOtherOne


    Jan 9, 2012
    NE CT
    Hey, I didn't just sign up and post the question right off the bat - I have spent the last 2 weeks searching - that's how I have gotten this far. I have read hundreds of threads on Lesh and on various gear that has come up. I have searched and read up on, among others:

    Phil Lesh
    "fender tone stack"

    I tried to make a good-faith effort to find the information I needed before posting, and I did find a lot - but not everything. I may be new to TalkBass but I am not a newbie. I've been mining information on TGP for years.

    The sheer volume of threads required some skimming, so I probably missed some other relevant info.

    So, can you recommend other fender-tone-stack amps or pres?
  4. simplest for pre would be either the Alembic F1-X or F2B pre's but go used, I think the latter can be had in the US$5-600 range.
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I am Passinwind and some of you are not. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    My first show was 04/06/71, one that ended up in bits on Skull and Roses. My second one was in December '71. No P-Bass on either one, or any subsequent show I ever saw...I know you said you'd make do, but personally I'd start with the right sort of bass, then worry about amplification. ;)

    F2Bs and F1Xs are not all that expensive purchased used. What's your budget here though, since our standards may be much different?
  6. TheOtherOne


    Jan 9, 2012
    NE CT
    I know I'm starting w/ the wrong instrument, so I can't replicate his sound exactly (much less his playing). I'm just looking for a good starting point for a sound I know & like. Keep in mind that getting the P-Bass was a complete surprise. It's unlikely I'll be shopping for Starfire IV or EBO anytime soon.

    Budget-wise I'd like to stay below $600. But I'd also like to get something in the next couple weeks - I'm tired of 'silent' playing.

    My 1st show was 7/31/71 Yale Bowl, my 2nd 9/23/72 Waterbury Palace. And I have *no* idea what bass Phil was playing but I remember well the stacks of tie-dyed Fender amps & cabs...
  7. TheOtherOne


    Jan 9, 2012
    NE CT
    My mistake on the Alembic, looks like it sells for about the same as the Bmax-T. Good suggestion!
  8. phil-alembic.


    Speaking for myself, I find that using an EBS ValveDrive as a preamp helps me emuiate Phil's sound, although I'm sure he didn't have one. But it gives you that tubey sustain.

    I think you ought to worry most about your chops, not your gear (within a reasonable range). His playing style is harder and more important to recreate than his exact tone.
  9. rickdog

    rickdog Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2010
    I'll just point out that there's a Fender TBP-1 on the TB classifieds right now - search for it, seller hasn't bumped it in a few days (please, somebody buy it before my resistance wears down!). You can't get any more "Fender tone stack" than that.

    Plug that into your powered PA speaker for practice... when you're ready to gig, get a class D power amp and a fEARful cab or two, and you're good to go.
  10. TheOtherOne


    Jan 9, 2012
    NE CT
    Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into the EBS.

    And I completely agree about worrying more about chops than gear. But I also know that, for me, there is inspiration to be found in hearing a sound/tone that I like from my gear. Conversely, having appropriate gear also frees me from being distracted by gear issues or poor tone.
  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind I am Passinwind and some of you are not. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Nothing wrong with a P, and the desire to point it in that tonal direction.

    I owned both and EBO and a Starfire back when I was still really into the Dead. Neither one got me in the ballpark, really, but the fact that I was rookie bassplayer undoubtedly accounted for some of that.;)

    I had an F2B for a little while too (I think it ran me 4 bills or so), and have used an F1X a bit. Either will do big and fat quite well. If you buy either one of those used it should hold pretty much full value at resale if you decide to move on. Heck, at least starting with something that says Alembic on it just seems like the right thing to do!
  12. TheOtherOne


    Jan 9, 2012
    NE CT
    Thanks for the heads-up, Rickdog!
  13. Passinwind

    Passinwind I am Passinwind and some of you are not. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Try PM'ing TB'er Edwin Hurwitz, he wrote Phil's equipment bio on the Philzone.
  14. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Are you listening to recordings?
    Or do you recall actually hearing this live?

    There's a lot between his amp and you on a 1971 recording. Many things contribute to what you hear. And if you have a CD it was probably remastered.

    I would your best bet it to go try some amps and see what hits the sound you're after. Amplitube lets you try out a lot of heads and cabs, in CD and better quality, before you go look for hardware versions.
  15. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Here's Phil's Concert Rig, Just cover your left eye and you can get an idea of the setup. :) :eek: :D

    Attached Files:

  16. TheOtherOne


    Jan 9, 2012
    NE CT
    :D :D :D
  17. TheOtherOne


    Jan 9, 2012
    NE CT
    Not to mention the "sweetening" that was done to the live records, yeah I know. Although I did hear it live in '71 once, we're talking about 40 years ago here. Of course I don't recall it from memory! But I do have many many recordings from that era, both bootlegs and official releases, and I know that distinctive sound he had during that time very well.

    I never heard of Amplitube before but it looks useful. Not too many models in the free version, though.
  18. funkateer86


    Aug 21, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    Maybe even something like a Music Man 150 head? It has the tone stack and you can get some decent grit. Not as musical as a Fender since the pre is solid state, but it's an option. Plus, you can find them for about $250-300 if you look. Maybe get a decent 2x15 to go with it?
  19. Phil got his signature sound with a G&L L2000 on one tour. Phil once told me you had to have 18s in your rig to get really good bass. I ran right out and bought two, and it did give me a tone I loved. I've always loved listening to his contributions to the GD tunes, so I tried my best to get a similar sound. (Guass 118 sub woofer and a Boogie 118 loaded with a full range EV.)
  20. hennessybass


    Oct 11, 2008
    Houston, TX
    Try a fender bassman 100. You can find em cheap. With a 15' or two.

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