What did Mel Schacher use?

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

  1. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    As for Grand Funk, I'm sure they recorded (at least in the early days) with their live equipment, only downsized (one amp and cab instead of like 37), I can't imagine how else their live and studio albums would've sounded so spot-on identical back then.

    I'd give just about anything to have been around to see them live in the '70s. They're my dad's favorite band, and if it weren't for them I probably wouldn't have started playing bass when I realized guitar wasn't for me. I think Winter and my Soul was the first bass line I ever learned all the way through well enough to play in real-time. I'd totally go see them nowadays, but only with Mark.
    johnpbass likes this.
  2. johnpbass


    Feb 18, 2008
    Glen Mills, PA
    There are some fun vids on Youtube from the early years. Sound quality is not great but it gives you a hint as to what they were like live. There's one recorded at the famous Shea Stadium concert where the crowd had the bleachers bouncing up and down.
    IIRC, it was Terry Knight, their manager, who told Mel that his bass sounded "too common, too ordinary" and convinced him to go with the overdriven tone which is Mel's signature sound.
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  3. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    I think I've seen all the available vids on the Shea Stadium show(s?). My all time favorite non-jazz live album (theirs or otherwise) is probably the '75 Caught in the Act recording, which for some reason doesn't seem to get a hell of a lot of love. Probably because they were no longer a 3-piece, or at least I think that was post-Frost, not sure. I recently watched a live performance of theirs from somewhere in 1969 that trumped it handily, but the recording quality was terrible. For a long while, I think they were the greatest American rock band ever, and as far as my taste is concerned, that extends worldwide.
    johnpbass likes this.
  4. svtb15

    svtb15 Inactive

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig. Q+
    Grand Funk was the first concert that i went to as a kid . It was at Madison Square Garden Dec 1970.. BloodRock opened for them.. I've become friends with the blood rock bass player since he lives a couple of miles from me now. We had some fun talks.
    But Mel had a wall of WEST amps back then and what looked like 412 cabs... And the sunburst jazz bass. Ive met up with Mel a few times over the years since we did some gigs on the same stage with various acts.
    His Old West rig was that signature sound. Not so now. I LOVE the SVT but it is not that classic Mel sound he had with GFR live and others
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Yep. I saw them probably within a few days of the show you went to, 2nd row center in Buffalo in the big barn. First show I ever felt was actually TOO LOUD. Still loved it, of course. Yel_wink.gif
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  6. Joe BassPlayer

    Joe BassPlayer Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Man! Just wondering about the forum and found this thread.
    I started playing bass (switched from guitar) in 1971 and Mel Schacher was the first bassist that I tried to emulate. They were huge in the middle Georgia area. He was actually the first bass player that I could actually hear what he was playing on the records. Of course he used a pick so I stayed with that style primarily because of him (and of course Berry Oakley and then Chris Squire as I evolved). I think that I still have set lists from a band around 1971-72 and over half the tunes that we played were GFR. lol
    Great time in music! To this day I love the sound of Mark Farner's voice. What range he has!

    Critics hated them and we loved them! :)
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  7. At least part of his sound was the giant EB-0 pickup he had on his jazz, I heard he didn't even have the bridge pickup connected so what he played was basically a long scale Gibson EB-0 with more wood than the Gibson. But yeah I don't even know if an SVT can get that distorted.
    johnpbass likes this.
  8. svtb15

    svtb15 Inactive

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig. Q+
    I dont recall him having an EBO pickup on hi s bass then
  9. Well he had some kind of big humbucker on his jazz, had it before 1970, he has it in the clip from 1969:

  10. svtb15

    svtb15 Inactive

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig. Q+
    Maybe he did have it that night i saw them.. but to my memory it was just a jazz bass with both of Ashtrays on it... .
  11. I think someone here said it was below the ashtray in some shots and was difficult to see.
  12. johnpbass


    Feb 18, 2008
    Glen Mills, PA
    One of the classic shots of Mel (IMO) is the one that was in graphic on the cover of the "Red Album". He's got both pickup covers on his Jazz in that shot, IIRC, so the big Humbucker would have been hidden there as you said.
  13. When I was a kid I went and bought a P bass because of that cover, I didn't know the difference and probably didn't even know there were both Precision and Jazz basses.
    johnpbass likes this.
  14. jaco944

    jaco944 Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2005
    Rock & Roll baby!
    Lazylion and 12BitSlab like this.
  15. freshbass


    Jul 17, 2004
    early GFR; west amps/cabs, fender jazz bass w/ gibson mudbucker and black nylon coated strings, btw it is reputed his roadie changed the tubes often as they were wrong so they would distort...believe it or not the closest I've come to his sound was at a rehearsal space that had a cheap Kustom 100 bass combo w/ a 15" speaker...cranking the drive channel really gave that sound...my conclusion lately about modern amps (class d) and getting an "old" tube amp tone it just doesn't happen, they are too efficient, the old amps/cabs were very inefficient. the Kustom may be newish but it's not an expensive circuit.
  16. Bob Lo: Schacher played Zon bass and Ampeg SVT
    JimmyM likes this.
  17. RandyM


    Jan 23, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Inside Mel’s West amp. Anyone recognize the mod inside?
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  18. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    I don't, but that was one HARD working amp!
    Goatrope likes this.
  19. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    We have a thread in which someone was working on cloning the J+mudbucker but if I remember right the *exact* location wasn't established.
    But now, thanks to @sconix (from 2013) for the link to Grand Funk Railroad Unofficial Homepage in Japan, we now have plenty of photos of the bass here:

    There's a photo of the one with the pickup cover next to the one without.
    I don't think a mudbucker would fit under that cover, so it must have been something else, maybe just a J!

    Seems he wasn't obsessed with the exact location.
  20. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    About the West Fillmore (assuming that the schematics I have, which I think I saved from the West link above, are legit):

    Essential fact #1: The output is "Ultralinear". I am very happy to rediscover this, as I now own my first UL amp.
    Essential fact #2: According to tube data sheets, the power tube grid leak resistors are much too big (for an overdriven musical instrument amp), and this is doubly true for the later 6550 version. This is probably one reason why they were said to blow up, and unfortunately is probably also an element in the sound.

    Otherwise, it's a very simple circuit almost identical to the Normal channel of a Fender Bassman 135, but with an extra 100V on the power tubes.
    EDIT: Oh, the added stage in the above video isn't shown on the schematic. EDIT: A Youtube comment says it's a Ross Distortion. That appears to be true. Other photos of internals don't show that added board.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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