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your bassline on "paper tiger", Beck, Sea Change

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by noermaen, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. noermaen


    Nov 4, 2011
    just wanted to drop a line for your bass-line for "Paper Tiger" on the "Sea Change" Beck Album.

    the way it is played, very dynamic, very improvisation-like, smooth, how the line flows over the song, and: Groove!

    and the sound is just beautiful, i think this is a b-bass simple to a tube amp? i think the sound comes from the fingers through a simple setup - just perfect.

    how do you develop such lines? just improvisation, ore sitting down and trying some things out? I know it's a somewhat stupid question, but i'm always interested in new "views" how to develop bass lines.

    This song let me research for the first time who the bass-player for beck was, and so i discovered the "JMJ-world". :)

    for those who don't know the song, here are to links for the song, original and live version:

  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Hey thanks very much. I believe that there's more information on this elsewhere on this forum, but it's a Guild Starfire into a B-15R with a pick. :) So not quite what you're describing, but there you go.

    It was improvised and we did a total of 2 or 3 live takes.

  3. alecduncan


    Aug 12, 2011
    Hey JMJ! I totally agree with noermaen, the bassline for "Paper Tiger" is one of my favorites. Phenomenal tone and tasteful playing!

    The fact that you did it in 2-3 live takes just makes me feel even more amazed! Did you listen to anything in particular to get in the groove, or did you already have an idea of what you would play going into it?

    Also, second question because I'm an annoying Beck fanboy: since you've been Beck's musical director, were you responsible for setting up the live setlists? How likely is it to see songs from earlier albums mixed in, or thematically do you see tour setlists based off of the album itself? Going from "Nitemare Hippy Girl" into "Paper Tiger" would be pretty amazing.
  4. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Yes - I listened to Melody Nelson. ;)

    Yes, I'm involved in writing the sets. Sometimes I just write them myself and submit them to him for approval/modification. These days, we had very minimal rehearsal time, so the repertoire is unfortunately slightly limited for this summer's shows. I think every time we do a gig it will expand, though. Just need time to put things back into circulation.

  5. alecduncan


    Aug 12, 2011
    Great, thanks for the answer! Good luck with the summer's shows and remember to steer Beck in the Baltimore/DC vicinity ;)
  6. noermaen


    Nov 4, 2011
    there you go - would never have expected it was played with a pick! thank you very much for your response.
  7. noermaen


    Nov 4, 2011
    just found out, you played on "Black Capricorn Day" (Jamiroquay), right?
    that part from 2:30 is just great - such lines makes you love the bass and your girlfriend understand what it is all about you're nerding around with the bass... :)
  8. one of the coolest parts of Paper Tiger is the molasses-like slide at the very end of the song down to the fifth then back up to upper octave. i copped that on a pop session a few weeks ago and the producer took it out after i left, lol.

    JMJ, ever play a Guild B302? i've got one strung with tapes. noisy pickups but pretty cool!
  9. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    :) Thanks guys....B302 - no, but I've always been interested in them. So groovy looking.
  10. ETThompson


    Jan 3, 2011
    I had a B-301 for many years, hand-me-down from my brother (his first real bass). It was great, really heavy and chunky, with a real dark tone, wish I still had it.
  11. plasson


    Mar 21, 2005
    hey JMJ,

    just a curiosity: do you remember how many string players were there on the record, and how much of it is a synth?

    I actually produced a sound-alike of Paper Tiger here at Berklee for one of my classes.
    HUGE amount of work.
    the sounds are not even 50% there, but I think there are some good performances.
    I'll post it just for the fun of it, in case you've got 4 minutes of your time.


    the bass player isn't quite you, but I think he did a fairly good job. :D we worked together on that bass line quite a lot.
  12. Dan Bozek

    Dan Bozek

    Aug 3, 2011
    Outside Pittsburgh, PA
    Endorsing Artist, D'addario Strings
    Paper Tiger was a good homage, but man there is NOTHING that compares to the string sounds on Melody Nelson!! I don't know anything of the session notes, etc... But the sweet cool watery quality of all that long plate on the strings contrasting with the dryness of SG's voice is brilliant!!

    Required listening for anyone posting in this forum. :^P
  13. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Yup, Melody strings are off the chain. Gorgeous chamber sounds.

    No synths in the strings on P.T. I think the breakdown was 10,5,4,2 from violins to bass.
  14. noermaen


    Nov 4, 2011
    here's a live version with JMJ - gorgeous playing.
  15. BenCampbell

    BenCampbell Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    This track was also my gateway to discovering JMJ - what an inspiration.

    It's amazing that this forum exists and that you are so open with your process - thank you for taking the time to share!

    Pretty far on the nerdy tip, but here's a transcription of Paper Tiger I did if anyone was interested. Cheers!

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17372191/Paper Tiger.pdf
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Cool...I can use some reading practice with high notes above the staff ;)
  17. MetroBass


    Mar 26, 2008
    South of LA
    Hatred obscures all distinctions.
    Here's a good one! Got to love the dance moves and Beck's interview with Dave afterwards.

  18. winterburn69


    Jan 27, 2008
    Do you remember if you used flats or rounds on the Starfire?

    Tim Lefebvre said in a Pedals & Effects video that the bass part on the Dollar Days chorus was influenced by Paper Tiger. IMO it's definitely in the same vein as Paper Tiger & Melody Nelson.
  19. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    winterburn69 likes this.
  20. winterburn69


    Jan 27, 2008
    Thanks. D'Addario Chromes?

    I thought it sounded like flats, with it sounding so thick and smooth, but then again a bass with rounds in the hands of the right player and the right EQ can certainly do a fine flatwound impression.