Why Can’t I Touch It - Steve Garvey’s tone?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by DBMcCully, Aug 26, 2020.

  1. DBMcCully


    Mar 26, 2019
    South Carolina
    73A5DA6D-11D4-42CE-AAB5-850AC1F475B9.jpeg Man. I absolutely love the tone of the bass line in “Why Can’t I Touch It” by the Buzzcocks. The whole Singles Going Steady is a favorite album of mine. Wikipedia says Steve Garvey played on that, correct me if that’s wrong. Does anyone know what equipment was used in that recording?

    It’s really warm and Tubey, and breaks up so sweetly on those high ringing notes. I assume there was an Ampeg involved. An SVT is in all the live videos. But I’ve seen the bassists playing a P bass in one video and a J bass in another, but is that a black Stingray he has on the album cover?

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  2. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Great tune! A real earworm
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  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Cool song. Never heard of the band. Thanks for the tip.

    The tone sounds like a miced cab to me. Could it be direct in through some sort of tube pre and a compressor? Sure. But it really has the "feel" of a cab to my ears. Slight bass boost on a mostly flat tube amp (likely an SVT). Using a pick (fairly aggressively) on no-so-new rounds or new Chromes. Should get you in the ballpark.
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  4. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Really? They were at the forefront of the British punk revolution right after the Pistols, Clash, and Damned, and were the earliest non-London(Manchester)band to establish themselves, and set the pace for the scene there and everything after(Joy Division to The Smiths to Happy Mondays). Leader Pete Shelly organized the Sex Pistols’ first show outside London, and put the band together by the next time they came up. For better or for worse, the notion of “pop punk” can be traced back to them, so much of their stuff sounds like a cross between The Beatles and The Ramones...

    ooks like earlier on Garvey used a Shergold bass into at least an HH head. But in the proper video, he was all about the Music Man...

    ...and a Fender head can be seen here, but that doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a video..

    HH was a solid state line, but had a decent tube-ish overdrive. I’ve owned a couple of their guitar combos, and the brand was used at various times by Pink Floyd, TRex, BeBop Deluxe, and Bauhaus. I saw the Buzzcocks on a US tour in 1979, and by then he had picked up on an Ibanez Musician bass(I talked to him about it briefly, as I was interested in one), playing through an SVT.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
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  5. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! Supporting Member

    Whatever direct box, and console that was available at the studio
  6. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Much more to it than that; sure, they could have used a DI, but if you look at the “SGS” album cover pic, which is an actual session, you can see part of a 2x15” cab behind Garvey, and in this alternate shot, a mic stand in front with an Orange head on top... 1F37F622-A93E-4AAE-9B08-11B03B929A48.jpeg That necessarily wouldn’t be the exact session for that tune, but I don’t think they would have done it any other way as a mixture of the two was standard operating proceedure, at least in those days. Still is for a lot of people.
  7. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! Supporting Member

    True but seldom is the amped sound the majority of what makes it to tape, I've logged thousands of hours, with many methods , using multiple tracks per take, the base sound is most often the direct, and the mic, line, room mic added for color and depth.
    The recorded tone is often different than what it would sound like standing in proximity to the amp. Same goes for live performances, the bulk of what the audience heard is primarily the console . The amp cab mic combo adds flavor and ambience.
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  8. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    That is the very last song I ever played in front of an audience, way back on the 14th of March.
  9. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Which one?
  10. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    The one in my quote. I cut the other ones out. "Ever Fallen in Love."
  11. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Ah, yes. Love the song. Story of my life. I’ve played it on bass and guitar in bands, not the usual suspect chord changes, and that little arpeggiated riff, while simple, can be tricky.
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  12. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    I wish we'd gotten a recording of it. It was everyone in my main band backing up a different singer/songwriter. Mostly originals with a few covers; that was one.

    We were just starting to get some good board recordings of the other band, but I don't think we recorded that show. Nothing ever showed up in my shared drive from that show, at any rate.

    Anyway, sorry for the derail; I have a soft spot for that song.
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  13. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Fine Young Cannibals did a cool funky cover of it for a film sountrack, fit the story line perfectly, but this version cracks me up...
  14. Wait for it: You're not Steve Garvey.
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  15. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Welcome, we're glad you're here.

    Buzzcocks were contemporaneous to my high school years; they were real difference-makers for a shy, spotty teen. When people gushed about Green Day when they broke with "Dookie," I had to bite my tongue SO many times to keep from saying, "You really need to listen to the Buzzcocks..."
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
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  16. telecopy


    Dec 6, 2009
    Every great sounds like themselves even when they don't play their most well known equipment. So, I agree.
  17. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    They were considered punk? Maybe by their label’s marketing department. They may have adopted some of the punk memes, tropes, and stylization in their music. But they were still a “met in college” power pop band. The smooth jazz of punk so to speak. At least in my book. Decent band, no argument there. But if they were punk then The Police were a reggae band. :laugh:
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  18. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Interesting that you call it warm as the sound is actually pretty bright. I think part of getting this sound is finding the right high frequency contour. You need to boost some frequencies to get the sizzle, and dip other frequencies, so you don't get a lot of gank. I do hear a bit of compression and tubey saturation, which is also an essential part of the sound. I believe some of the sizzle is fret grind as well.

    It does not sound anything like an SVT to me. Also, I listened to some live versions and the bass did not have the clarity or that nice high end grind.
  19. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Don’t take my word for it, check in with the British music press...
    Buzzcocks: the brilliant punk band's ten best songs | NME
    They were there from the beginning; as stated, they were inspired early on by the Pistols, and Shelly facilitated their first away from home gig. And the tag was no construct by UA; they had already issued their own DIY E.P., on their own label, which was far more “indie” than being signed to even Stiff Records. The ‘punk’ category was a double edged sword; it was a handy catch-all description for new bands that didn’t want to be hippies any more, with more exuberance than chops, inspired by a certain subset of forgotten/overlooked 60’s rebels and what had been going on in New York, but at the same time it was a stylistic orthodoxy straightjacket for some people to cling to, which goes against the point of the whole movement. Was Patti Smith, Television, Blondie, Siouxie, Stranglers punk or not? Or would they have had to adhere to the Ramones/Pistols blueprint to be authentic? I guess that’s why the term ‘New Wave’ had to be concocted. Back to the ‘cocks, sure, they were edgier/more raw when Devoto was singing in the band, but when he left Pete stepped up and got his songwriting chops together, and why shouldn’t he move past any Stooges influences? Were the Clash still ‘punk’ on Give ‘em Enough Rope? Citing the Police doesn’t count; they were late in the game bandwagon jumpers with a jazz guy and two former proggers, once they got rid of Henry Padovani. By the way, there was no such concept as “memes” back then. Were you even around back then?
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  20. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    One thing to consider...as they did all their recording in Britain, he would have just used whatever he had for live gigs there, and from my video/photo sleuthing, it would appear to be just what I listed earlier, HH, Orange, perhaps a Fender Bassman 100 head(there seems to be one on stage in a TV show appearance where they’re actually playing instead of lip synching). Seems plausable for an English band not making all that much money. But when they would tour in the US, they wouldn’t have that much of a budget to bring all of their equipment over, especially a bass rig, and the usual go-to move is to rent something from SIR, most likely an SVT. I’ve seen that countless times. So that would probably be the only occasion that he’d have used one. I came across an interview from 2014...
    From the heights of fame to one more face in the crowd - Chestnut Hill Local Philadelphia PA
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