What did Mel Schacher use?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JPJ, May 17, 2002.

  1. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I know this may be a strange and somewhat lame thread, but I've been listening to a lot of Grand Funk Railroad lately and wondering what kind of amp Mel Schacher used. Unless you're an avid Simpsons watcher, I'm guessing that most people here don't even know who Mel is/was or are aware of the impact he had on the bass-playing community. Needless to say, I LOVE his tone from the early '70s and was wondering if anyone knows what amp he used, etc. I'm assuming a SVT cranked to 11, but I'm not sure.
  2. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    I actually asked this not too long ago as I was trying to find out how he got that sound in "Inside Looking Out". I think most of the guys here said he was using Westone(?) amps. I thought it sounded like an old Ampeg Portaflex being cranked to distortion. Somebody else will probably help you out here.
  3. unlined4string

    unlined4string Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Baltimore County, Md.
    I'm pretty sure this is what he used in the early days:
    http://www.basspalace.com/dynamic/displayamp/Amplifier/210 (No connection with this retailer.)

    I played through one of these West heads one time, about 1970, at Bill's Music House in Catonsville, Md. As I recall it didn't have that much volume, but the sound was really over the top when overdriven.
  4. Rock City

    Rock City

    Apr 8, 2001
    Mel was using "WEST" amplifiers made in Flint, MI.
    They were basically Dynaco project kits that were hot-rodded, similar to early Sunns. I have a "WEST FILLMORE" that has 4 KT-88's, which is the model Mel used, and I can attest to it being LLOOOUUUUUDDD! It approches an SVT in volume, but doesn't have the same clarity. Sounds alot like a Sunn 2000S.
  5. Blues Bass 2

    Blues Bass 2 Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2001
    Davenport Iowa
    I saw Grand Funk in the early 70s and him and Mark Farner were both using West amps.They both used two or four stacks(head and two 412 cabs)and were very loud.Mel used a Fender bass,I can't remember if it was a P or a Jazz,and when he was playing it seemed like his afro was moving with the notes he was playing from the volume.They really sounded good and they got the same tone live as on thier rocords.
  6. It was a Jazz.
    Squirebass57, seang15 and west al like this.
  7. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    This could be urban legend....but I remember reading that their producer/ rip off artist Terry Knight put holes in a few of Mel's speakers for that distorted sound. When I first started playing CYO dances and such back in the stone age...you had to know the Grand Funk songbook:D
    Milo Spleen, MrLenny1 and BurnOut like this.
  8. the bong-rattling bass of mel schacher?

  9. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    aaagh, he beat me to it!! :D
    Squirebass57 likes this.
  10. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I was hoping someone would follow up on my Simpsons reference! ;) Needless to say, thanks for all of your replies. I really had no idea that there were that many people here with so much Grand Funk knowledge. Now...if I can only get my SWR IOD to sound like a West Fillmore! Thanks guys.
  11. freshbass


    Jul 17, 2004
    fender jazz bass w/a gibson mudbucker neck position
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Mel uses Zon basses and SVT's now, but yep, used Wests and a modded Jazz back in the Terry Knight days, but switched to a Precision sometime after that, though I'm not sure when...all I know is the Caught in the Act live album has pics of him playing a Precision.
    LetItGrowTone likes this.
  13. sonic 7

    sonic 7 Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Queens, N.Y.C.
    Probably more urban legend stuff but I heard that he had the tubes biased extremely hot and that during live shows a roadie was stationed behind his amp stack and wearing asbestos gloves would replace tubes mid song as they blew. I dont know if thats true but its a cool story.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I don't know about mid-song, but Mel was darn hard on tubes and they'd be changing them during gigs sometimes, no doubt. Asbestos gloves were just silly, though...an oven mitt would have worked just as well and not caused cancer.
    The Owl, Winoman, BurnOut and 2 others like this.
  15. gerryjazzman


    Dec 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    Both Mark and Mel used West Fillmore Amps in the early days. Dave West still has a website up. There are some pics of GFR and history. Even schematics if you want to build one :bassist:

    I've rediscovered GFR myself over the past year (used to listen to them when in high school). I love the sound of Mel's bass of doom sound on their live stuff.

    bobyoung53 and CharlyG like this.
  16. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    I spent a lot of time listening to GFR and played a lot of Mel's lines when learning my way around a fretboard. One of my earliest public performances was rocking "Into the Sun" with a couple of friends for a talent show. The first bass I laid out cash for was a sunburst jazz like Mel's (sans mudbucker). Keep rockin', Mel. :bassist:
    Guiseppe, Flabass and bobyoung53 like this.
  17. Amazing! 11 yrs without a hiccup. :D:thumbup: LOVE his sound and playing. Such a cool use of space & great choice of notes
    Guiseppe likes this.
  18. daveman50

    daveman50 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Albany NY
    Milo Spleen, Saint70 and Jeff K like this.
  19. Saw Mel and Don + Kulick in the recent version of GFR a couple years ago, and as a young early fan was not disappointed.
    He killed, and looked cool as hell while doing it.
  20. Basvarken

    Basvarken Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2010
    Velp Rockcity
    Amateur Luthier / Gibson Bass Book
    In addition to what others posted here, I'd say that the mudbucker in the sweet spot was a big factor in Mel's sound.

    And it inspired Billy Sheehan to do a similar modification to his P bass (The Wife)
    bobyoung53 and CharlyG like this.
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