what's the Levin's Secret??

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Piedro, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. Piedro


    Jan 23, 2001
    Montréal, Qc, Canada
    Endorsing Aguilar Amp product.
    How does Tony Levin get this amazing growlesque sound from his musicman?? ( and the exceptionnal sound on his b-string)
    i refer to the sound in Peter Gabriel's songs... cause i haven't listen a lot of Levin work... Does he change something with his pick-up? do you guys know if he have a secret-weapon on his rig??
    ( and don't tell me that's the guys who have the sound... cause i'm agree with that.. but i things it's hard to make a MM growl when she doesn't want to :p )
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I heard that on "Sledgehammer" he played a fretless Sabre through a baby's diaper. I share your curiosity about Tony Levin's sound. He get's the most unique tone out of his Musicman of any player I know. According to Levin, his basses are stock except the three string Ernie Ball made for him.
  3. SubMonkey


    May 3, 2004
    Denver, CO
    I can't really comment on his secrets but I'm a tremendous fan of his playing, If you can find it, King Crimson's "Three of a Perfect Pair" VHS/DVD (circa 1984-ish) has some great stuff on it...

  4. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    used the diaper as a mute under the strings near bridge.[nappy bass] uk term

    i heard [ same interview i think] that the best chorus/verse sections were spliced on that record
  5. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Actually, the diaper mute was used on the outro section to "Don't Give Up" (where he gets that wondrous dubby tone...btw it is on a four string MM StingRay with the low string tuned to Eb).
    The "Sledgehammer" sound is a MM Sabre (discontinued model with twin humbuckers and graphite neck) fretless played with a pick and fed thru two seperate compressors. A lot of Tony's tones come from judicious use of compression. Certainly he is a master of dynamics and he uses compression quite uniquely; as an effect rather than a tone enhancer.
    He has also been known to stack phasers and/or tremolo boxes for a desired effect...but I will say that if there is any "secret weapon" it would be his ears, mind, hands and soul.

    Simply put, he is one of the most masterful and eloquent voices on the instrument; endlessly creative and sublime in his virtuosity.

  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I don't know if you meant it that way, but the Sabre also came with a wooden neck also. I had one for a short while.
    I've said it a bunch of times, but I had a pre-EB Stingray and a Sabre. I wish I had kept them. I know Musicman made the Stingray style Cutlass with a graphite neck also. Sorry to take this off topic.
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I hate to say it but 90% of all "growl" is how you attack the string.
  8. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    thank you. :bassist: as said before, Tony Levin's secret is that he is Tony Levin :smug:
  9. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Tony has always sounded like tony with only minor variations IMO. I agree with everyone else that Tony sounds like Tony because he's Tony. He's been a huge influence on me though..I wish I could sound half as grooving and graceful as Levin.

    Back in 1997 a few of use tried to get him to outline his gear and sound in an online chat but he was pretty vague. Here's what he said:

    For the full chat go here.

    Surely Bass Player has outlined his rig at some point<?>. He's been interviewed a few times by them and they usually do the "here's what he plays" type thing. I just can't remember... I think he uses some chorus...like the tone that is very distinctive at the beginning of Steam from Secret World Live.

    brad cook
  10. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    It’s one thing for someone to be an outstanding bass player but when the also get an awesome and totally unique sound of their instrument, it seems unfair. (i.e. Tony, Jaco, Pino, Geddy, Chris, Jack, The Ox,

    Tony Levin is a case in point: as a session ace and side man to Peter Gabriel. You’d think he’d stay out of the limelight. Over the years there were many songs that I liked that I didn’t know who the bassists were. The first time I saw Tony’s web site and checked out his discography, I saw that he was the bassist on a lot of these tracks. Such as;

    Chuck Mangione, Alive album: killer tone, tasteful playing
    John Lennon, Just Like Starting Over, Double Fantasy album. Simple 6/8 shuffle but during the bridge he does this cool swing two octave climb.
    Gowan, Strange Animal. Progressive-pop. Tony’s tone: biting distortion, syncopation.
    Bruford, Wakeman, Howe, Anderson
  11. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    IF indeed. Anyone know where I could get a copy of this (DVD, preferably)? A Google search didn't turn up too much... :meh:
  12. SubMonkey


    May 3, 2004
    Denver, CO
    There is a 2 disc DVD set titled "Neal Jack and Me" which has the "Three of a Perfect Pair" performance as well as another titled "The Noise" from 1982... It may be available on it's own, but I'm guessing you'll have more luck finding this one...

  13. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    LOL! Everytime that name came up, I just passed over it thinking it was a movie; I never even bothered reading the description :oops:
    Anyway, thanks, just ordered it!
  14. " And the Lord said on the 7th day, Thou Shalt not covet thy Tony Levin sound, for it is beyond the understanding of mere mortals, thy Tony Levin is the lord incarnate on bass"

    well , one incarnate any way, theres been a bunch :D
  15. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Galactic Elven Technology.
  16. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I believe this will answer some of your questions

  17. Kinda Off Topic, But i'm seeing him saturday the 30th at a local place (I'm a 2 minute walk away from him)

    I'll try to see what he's doing
  18. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    When I was 17, I just about stalked him on the So tour. I saw them whenever they were anywehere nearby and I knew that heliked to ride his bike, so I took to hanging out by the ramp to the loading dock. Eventually I finally met him and grilled him (as only a 17 year old can) about settings, gear, strings, what kind of compressor was used on "Don't Give Up"- all the stuff one would ask at 17. He stoppped my blabber and grabbed my hands and said "There's nothing you can buy. Your sound is all right here."

    I was extremely dissapointed that there wasn't something I could buy to make me sound like him. Still am, actually.
  19. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    That's a cool story. I wish Tony Levin would hold MY hand.

    brad cook