What basses are being used for modern blues?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Les Izmor, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. Les Izmor

    Les Izmor

    Mar 10, 2008
    Western Mass
    I searched here on TB as well as on the net and found almost no info regarding the type of basses favored by blues bassists who dig something other than a four string Fender P or J. I looked on Joe Bonamassa's site and saw a few blurry pics of his bassist playing various difficult to identify instruments (with the exception of one clear photo of him using a Fender Jazz 5).

    I also saw the post on TB asking people to show the basses they use for blues, and unsurprisingly, it was dominated by Fender 4 string basses. Of course that is what I use myself to achieve my old school tone goals, but recently I've been impressed by the bass tone on some cuts on xm radio's bluesville which featured a more aggressive tone. Deep, but with biting mids and not a lot of highs. I'd characterize it as sounding active (like it had teeth), more Stingray than J or P, and the basses were definitely 5 strings. I'm sorry I can't name any artists (other than Joe above), I usually only like the originators.

    Oh and I know any kind of bass can be used to play blues, I'm curious about what has been used already.

    I recently saw Johnny Winter and his bassist used a Yamaha P bass 5 string. I also saw Taj Mahal not long ago and his bassist used a Warwick 5. What else have you all witnessed?

    I'm betting there have been some of these:

    active Jazz 5
    Stingray 5
    G&L 2500
  2. Nah it's still pretty much just 4-string Fenders! :D
  3. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I like the Fender Roscoe Beck model.
    Music Man Sterling or Stingray with the H/S pickup configuration works well, too.
  4. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    Blues? This one can do it....The Kay Pro reissue.
  5. Doesn't this shift with the trends of the day?

    I tend not to be too concerned with what the other players are using. I guess that's not entirely true. I take joy in finding other players who still use a luddite rig like mine... SVT with a passive Fender-style 4 string. But I find players in every genre who use almost every kind of setup. I'm comfortable with my tone and I get plenty of complements on my sound and my playing. But other guys I know get an equal amount of complements, and their approach and sound can be the polar opposite of mine.
  6. Les Izmor

    Les Izmor

    Mar 10, 2008
    Western Mass
    JimB52, I'd like to hear a Roscoe Beck, but none ever turn up in my neck of the woods.
  7. I play a Stingray 5 in a blues band.

    In 2009, the blues band I'm in went to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. And while I didn't catch every act there, I'm guessing that I caught enough for a good cross-section. I saw a couple of Smiths, a Spector, G&L, Carvin, Music Man (Ernie Ball era), Ibanez, Peavey T-40... Oddly enough, I only saw 2 P-basses but several J-basses. Several guys were playing URB as well.
  8. Les Izmor

    Les Izmor

    Mar 10, 2008
    Western Mass

    Thanks R up, your reply is exactly the type of info I am curious about. Stingray's can surely get the tone I've been hearing. I'm also not surprised to see Smith's in the mix.

    To everyone who seems to be misreading my post a bit; I understand your perspective that blues (or any genre) can be played on any instrument. But that is not what I'm asking about. My question is not "what bass can I play the blues on?". Also, I'm not a blind follower. I know what I like, and I've been happily crafting "my sound" since 1987 using various equipment :)

    I'm simply curious about filling a gap in my knowledge. I don't usually dig aggressive modern tones, but lately I've been enjoying the bass sounds in current blues recordings (from the likes of Joe Bonamassa). So, I'm asking the guys (and gals) who follow this type of music to let me know what instruments are being used to achieve the tone I'm enjoying listening to. :cool:
  9. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I will keep collecting until I have 40 basses
    What basses are being used for modern blues?

    Modern blues = 5 string bass.

    The B string is absolutely wonderful for blues.

    Pretty much any style of bass will work from a Hofner to a t-bird to a Fender to a Ric. Yes a music man bass will work fine.
  10. I like Nathan East's work with Clapton. He played a Yamamha 5 string BB series (there's a sig model now). I dont know if his style is blues or jazz, but its very inspirational.

    I caught Taj Mahal on TV last night and his bassist appeared to be playing a custom 4 string Jazz Bass. It had 3 P/ups, I think it was j/p/j.

    Keb Mo has a really aggressive sounding bassist, but I dont know what he plays.

    For my next blues gig, I will be taking my Jack Casidy!
  11. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    As to solid body basses I tend towards my P-bass or Roscoe Beck's but I like to use a hollow or semi-hollowbody bass to be a little different. They work swimmingly!!!!!

  12. Hamerguy


    Mar 29, 2008
    I use an active bass, but it is a 4-string Fender J. I saw some YouTube reviews of the MusicMan BIG AL that let me believe that it might be also great for blues (and it is now available as 5-string too), even though it is a very modern bass (3 pickups, active electronics, switchable to passive. But as it is everybody feels the blues differently. I prefer the fretless AmDlx J over the fretted one for blues, but that is just me.
  13. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Many different basses will yield tone just fine for blues.

    But - when I go to blues jams, 99% of the basses are - Fender Ps.

    If you don't care what others think, and you aren't trying to fit into a clique - buy what You think sounds best.

    If you're trying to get some time at a jam, if they are like my area's jams, you might want to have access to a P.
  14. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Just what is "modern" blues anyway?
  15. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    Losing your job but still having an iphone.

    My band website has some. (blues, not iphones)
  16. Funky_Duck


    Nov 3, 2009
    Pick up an old Silvertone 1444 if you want something different. Killer choice, IMHO. Still, the P-Bass is the gold standard and will probably be for years to come.
  17. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I got mine on eBay, from North Dakota.
    I used it on the studio songs on my band website, if you'd care to listen.
  18. Les Izmor

    Les Izmor

    Mar 10, 2008
    Western Mass
    Funny as heck...
  19. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    I heard that it is physically impossible to play blues on a Musicman Stingray. It has too much emphasis on the high mid range and you will completely disappear in the mix therefore making your contribution void.
  20. Les Izmor

    Les Izmor

    Mar 10, 2008
    Western Mass

    For lack of a better term, I used "modern blues". What I am trying to describe is the modern bass tone I've heard on some current blues recordings. One example is Joe Bonamassa's bassist. As I said in my OP, I'm not super familiar with the current blues guys, so my ability to name artists is limited. It is a tone that is way more ballsy than a 4 string P w/flats (which is what I play and dig a lot). It is distinctly different than the traditional "old school" blues bass tone. It has the following characteristics:

    Notes below low "E"
    Biting low mids (which sound "active" to my ears)
    Big bottom
    Not much treble
    Consistency of tone from high to low register

    I realize generalizations regarding genres and sub genres (like "modern blues") are often limiting and problematic. I'm not trying to limit the boundaries of creativity. I'm just trying to find out what basses are being used to produce this [email protected] tone! :)