HOME SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION MUSIC PHOTOS EMAIL ME
For me, Leo Fender got it perfect with the early 60's Fender Precision. I've got a few other flavors, but if I could only have one it would be a Precision.
'62 American Vintage Reissue Precision. Sounds better than most of the genuine vintage Precisions I've played. American Vintage Reissues are really good!
Sting bass. I like Sting ok, but I'm not fan enough to have a signature model. I have this bass because it plays, feels and sounds great, and I wanted an early 50's Precision that wasn't worth more than my truck.
'75 American Vintage Reissue Jazz. Jazz bass is not really my thing, but this one sounds just like a jazz bass should. AVRI rocks!
American Deluxe Jazz Bass V. John Mayall wanted 5 string, so I went out and tried a bunch of different makers and this is the one I liked the best. I played this on over 800 Bluesbreakers shows and a lot of recordings. In March 2002, I replaced the stock Fender noiseless pickups with Bartolini 57J1 pickups and a Bartolini HR-4.6AP preamp. This was a vast improvement over the stock Fender pickups and preamp. Less noise and hum, more gain, thicker tone with that sweet Bartolini mid range bite. Worked really well for our bread and butter theater gigs.
Fender-like basses include:
My current favorite #1 bass, a Muckelroy PJ bass with stock PJ Lindy Fralin pickups (J 5% overwound with raised centers). This bass sounds and plays better than any of my Fenders. Brady Muckelroy makes incredibly good basses for very reasonable prices, and he's also a mind blowingly good bass player and super nice guy. I think this build is from early on when he was buying necks, bodies and parts and putting them together. I think now Brady makes all the wood by hand. Love this sweet sounding and playing bass! Check out his facebook page.
Yamaha Pulsar Bass 400 "lawsuit" bass. Pickup is hotter and brighter than Fender pickups. A great rock bass. Better than anything Fender was making at the time, and still a really nice bass. I've played some really nice lawsuit models from different Japanese brands. Some crappy, but a lot are really good instruments like this one.
Other basses include:
32" scale Muckelroy HMC with Delano Xtender Pickups, Muckelroy preamp, Bocote top, walnut back and ebony fretboard. High end modern sounding electric bass with every tonal option/pick-up blending possibility imagineable. Plays like a dream and sounds amazing. Can't say enough about Brady's craftsmanship. This is an amazing sounding, playing and looking handmade bass.
Rob Allen 5 String Fretted MB-2. This bass sounds amazing and is an inspiration to play. I've never found another electric bass that has such a warm, full, acoustic sound. As close as an electric can get to an upright sound. The perfect instrument for singer songwriter/folk gigs, and jazz gigs where an upright won't work.
Epiphone Jack Casady bass. Again, not a big Jack Casady fan, but love the bass. Sounds great with flat wound strings. I've done a lot of recording with this bass.
mid 60's Kent Florentine 833. Really cool thumper, short scale, super fun.
Danelectro DC Bass. Doesn't get played enough, but when I do, it's always a good time. Super light and extra cheesy.
Kala Ubass EM-FS. Took a few hours of shimming the pick-up to get a good volume balance between strings, but after I was done, it's a great sounding and super fun little bass. Used it on a few gigs. It's an oddball for sure, but sounds great.
Boulder Creek EBR3-N5 5 string acoustic bass guitar. Great for sitting around the campfire, beach, or on the deck when I just want to play a little and not be bothered with an amp. I had to put D'Addario black nylon tapewound strings on this bass to get a sound I like. Stock strings are a little too crispy for me. Doesn't sound great amplified, but probably none of these acoustic bass guitars do.
Right now I have three upright basses.
The prize is a hand carved Bohemian bass estimated to be built around 1740. Unique because it's back is made from one piece of wood. I use this bass for some jazz gigs, sessions and orchestral work. It's an amazing bass. Right now it's set up for jazz with D'Addario Helicore Hybrid strings, but it sounds just as good when set up for orchestral work.
My main jazz bass has been in the Van Sickle family since the mid 1950's when my grandfather bought it from a farmer in Ontario for my father. Fully carved English bass probably made around 1910, no label. Lisa Gass restored this bass, and it has a wonderful full rich acoustic sound. A really lovely bass. I was using a Barbera piezoelectric pickup built into the bridge that sounded really great, but the element under the D string crapped out and haven't had any luck getting it fixed. I recently put a Yamahiko double sensor pickup in the bass, and it sounds great. Different than the Barbera, so it's taking some time to get used to it, but I'm really enjoying the amplified sound so far. I love playing this bass, and love the connection to my dad and grandfather.
I also have a plywood bass that is set up for blues/rockabilly/old timey stuff with gut strings. It has a label: "Especially made for Kschier Brothers in Vienna 1956". My dad picked it up at a goodwill in Pittsburgh, then it sat in his basement until I rescued it while on tour with James Intveld. This bass sounds as good as any plywood bass I've heard. It has a custom Barbera piezoelectric pickup built into the bridge. The pickup sounds great and looks great (it's practically invisible), and is very versatile. Great tone at really loud volumes and no feedback. I'm holding my breath that this pickup doesn't crap out. These pickups are notoriously unreliable and customer support isn't as good as it used to be. Rich might be abandoning this line. Too bad, great sounding pickup.
Upright Bass Strings:
For rockabilly and older style upright bass sounds (pre 1955ish; dixie, swing, older jazz), I like the sound of plain (unwrapped) gut strings best. Gotz in West Germany makes the best gut strings I've tried so far. Kaplan Golden Spirals (gut wrapped with nylon) sound almost as good and are more durable than plain gut strings, but I don't think anyone makes them anymore. They used to be manufactured by D'Addario. Another nice string is the Thomastik-Infeld Dominant. Nylon wrapped in steel, and have a nice pizzicato sound. They cut through a little better than gut strings, but still have a nice thump and a warmer sound than an all steel string. The steel wrap doesn't sound great for slapping. Also good for old timey jazz are D'Addario Helicore Orchestra strings, which have a nice dark pizzicato sound. Again, for me the steel wrap is too harsh for slapping.
For jazz on upright, lately I've been loving Pirastro Evah Pirazzi strings. Super warm and very present. Synthetic core wrapped with steel. For me the perfect blend of warmer gut and brighter all steel strings. If I want to go full on bright growly Ron Carter, I like either D'Addario Helicore Hybrid strings or Thomastik-Infeld Spirocores.
D'Addario Helicore Orchestra strings are also my first choice for orchestral work, and arco work in general.
Electric Bass Strings:
For older roots rock, country and blues sounds, I use the heaviest flat wound strings I can get. Lately I've been using G.H.S. Brite Flats. Roundwound strings ground flat. A little brighter than normal flatwound strings, but still more mass than a roundwound string of the same gauge. They really feel and sound great. Big and round and nice and warm. A little more presence than a regular flatwound string helps to cut through the highs so the notes sit just right in the mix. The best regular flatwound strings I've found are G.H.S. Precision Flatwound. They don't have the presence of the Brite flats, but they feel great and provide the nice solid thump I love. D'Addario Chromes are also really nice. They sound great and are super smooth and easy to play. I keep flatwounds on the Sting bass, the Jack Casady bass and the Danelectro DC Bass.
For more modern sounds I use the heaviest nickel plated roundwound strings I can get. Lately I've been loving D'Addario Slowounds. Other great strings that I go back and forth with are: D'Addario Nickelwound XL's, G.H.S. Sub-Zero Boomers, G.H.S. Bass Boomers, G.H.S. Pressurewounds, and DR Lo-Rider strings.
A lot of top quality amplifiers out there. Some of my favorites include Ashdown, Gallien Krueger, Trickfish, Eden and Phil Jones. My main amp right now is a Genz Benz Streamliner 900. Great sounding tube pre amp into a lightweight class D power amp, and perfectly voiced tone stack. I was so happy to get this amp. Everything I had been wanting for years, and no extra crap I didn't want. They're not making them anymore, and the company is now Genzler amplification, but I imagine their products are still top notch. If my Streamliner 900 ever dies, Genzler is my first stop. Thanks Jeff!
In 2019 I got a 1966 Fender Showman from the Walter Becker Estate. Love the Fender tone stack. Always wanted one of these, and this is a really good one. Thanks mystery Walter Becker tech for dialing it in just right! 85 watts of tube power sweetness.
I also have a Walter Woods high power dual input 2 channel stereo amp. Walter is retired now, but he was the original Class D boutique bass amp superhero for a long time (70's maybe? certainly by the 80's) before all the big companies started doing it, and always made great sounding amps. This one is like two individual amplifiers; each amp can deliver 350 Watts into 4 ohms. With the power amps bridged, it delivers 1000 watts into 4 ohms. Super clean crystal clear Hi Fi sounds, very true to whatever instrument is going through it. A dream to play.
I have a few combo amps, but the one that gets the most use for low volume situations and jazz gigs is an Acoustic Image Contra amplifier. One of the early ones that looks like my mom's vacuum cleaner. Made by a bass player specifically for upright bass. I've had this amp since 2000, and it's been a workhorse. It's a three way system with a bottom firing 10" woofer that really fills a small or medium size room with lows, a 5" front firing mid speaker and a tweeter for the doggie frequencies. For a little combo amp, it puts out a lot of bass and sounds great. Thanks Rick!
For speaker cabinets, depending on the genre, volume, venue, load in, etc., I usually use one of these:
An old beat up K&K 1x15 cabinet with a B&C Speakers 15" neo 15CL76 speaker. 800 watts, 7 pounds, great frequency response. This cab gets the most use because it's so easy to carry, always sounds great and can handle anything. Love this cabinet.
A Bergantino CN212, another treasure from the Walter Becker Estate. 700 watts of neodymium and Bergantino goodness! I use this if I need to move more air, need more highs, or want a modern hifi type sound.
One of the original Flite Sound 2x10 cabinets that I got from Kurt Meyer in 1996. It has 2 B&C Speakers 10" neo 10NDL64 speakers. 500 watts and 6.4 pounds each. Huge sound for a little cabinet and easy to carry. I use this on the lower volume gigs that might be too much for a little combo amp to handle. I've seen some horror stories about Flite Sound on the internet. Kurt was great in 1996, I've had no experience with Flite Sound since then. I think Kurt sold the company and is no longer involved.
I love a great bass straight into a great amp, but I also like throwing some pedals into the mix if they're called for, and even if they're not. I made some demo type videos of pedals on my You Tube channel. I haven't been fired for pedals yet, so I'm doing ok. Pedals are always coming and going. Right now, these are some of my favorites:
Tech 21 Sansamp Bass Driver DI. I got this for touring with John Mayall. We traveled light, with backline provided. Usually I got a good amp, but when I didn't, this pedal was a lifesaver. Easy to get a good stage sound and also keep some control over the direct signal sound to the mains. After the gig, Sansamp into the gig bag and I'm ready to get on the bus!
Barber Electronics Linden equalizer with the Baxandall/James tonestack. Ampeg B15 fliptop in a box, with enough juice to bypass an amp's preamp and go directly into the effects return. This pedal sounds amazing for both live and recording, and is a fast and effective tool for making bad amps sound good.
Broughton Valve Champ. Toobular goodness with a 12AU7 tube. Simple gain and tone controls that sound great at any setting. Smooth creamy overdrive at higher gain settings. Quality oozing out of this build. Another awesome pedal from Broughton. Thanks Josh!
Sushi Box Bass Underground Accelerator (Handwired). Fender Showman/Alembic F-2B tonestack plus gain/master to go either clean or dial in some really sweet, warm overdrive/tube breakup. Unlike a lot of pedals that have tubes just for show, this tube runs at 350 volts and you can feel the difference. This pedal sounds amazing. Thanks Nathan!
Iron Ether Xerograph Deluxe. Lovely sounding pedal and huge range of sweepable frequencies and resonance. This pedal can take you well beyond what other envelope followers typically do. Brilliant original design, easy to use and small footprint. Love this pedal. Thanks Taylor!
3LeafAudio Proton V2. Classic Mutron or dial up a healthy portion of extra freaky. Great pedal. Thanks Spencer!
FTelettronica Envelope Follower/Triggered Filter. Replica of the beloved Lovetone Meatball. Lots of non-typical sounds in this pedal, and lots of knobs to twirl and click. This is another one that goes outside the boundries of typical envelope followers. So many musical sounds in this one! I made a video for it here.
Broughton Josh Wah. A classic. Gain knob to dirty up the signal and get some higher harmonics if you want to go that way and save the board space of bringing another dirt pedal. Lots of great tones.
Fairfield Circuitry Barbershop. Great transparent overdrive. From clean to distortion, no low end loss, minimal tonal coloring, very touch/volume sensitive. Awesome pedal.
Broughton Locust Star. Rat style distortion with better eq options, no low end loss, massive headroom and multiple clipping options. Super easy to dial in anything from clean boost with some tone shaping to light overdrive to nasty distortion. This is an awesome pedal that covers a lot of territory. Even without the distortion, it would be a great preamp.
Pigtronix Rototron Rotary Speaker Simulator. Analog Leslie pedal. Another treasure that I got from the Walter Becker Estate. This pedal really sounds sweet. Lush, full, rich, etc., etc. Not a fan of the large footprint and the 18VDC power, but it sounds so great and with the Walter Becker provenance, I can't bear to part with it. This pedal was plenty beat up when I got it, so I'd like to believe that Walter actually liked and used this one a lot.
Spaceman Explorer Analog 6 stage phaser. Great sounding phaser, can go from subtle to over the top. Use an expression pedal to control speed or manually sweep the phase shift to get cocked wah/out of phase tones. This one comes pretty close to curing my uni-vibe jones. Really great pedal.
Analogman Mini Chorus. A better version of the EHX Small Clone. Fat and chewy chorus that sounds amazing. This is why boutique pedals are worth it! I made a video for it here.
Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water. Love this one. Random pitch modulation that's kind of like a chorus or vibrato, but more unpredictable and musical. Really unique sounds in this pedal.
Drolo Twin Peaks. Harmonic or classic tremolo. Envelope controlled ramp up/down, tap tempo, multiple waveforms, beautiful rich sound. Another winner from Drolo. Thanks David!
Pladask Elektrisk Feber Amplitude/Phase Modulator. Amazing sounds ranging from tremolo to phasing to ring modulation. Expression pedal controls speed or ring mod frequency. Pladask pedals are inspirational works of art. They sound so good and there are so many different tones and things to try, you can get lost in these pedals for days and weeks! Maybe years... Thanks Knut!
Pladask Elektrisk Falma Random Modulation pedal. Tremolo and vibrato with random modulation instead of the standard sine or triangle waves. Really a cool pedal! Sounds really great with other pedals. I made a video for it here.
Pladask Elektrisk Draume Artificial Reverberation. Another amazing creation from Pladask. Reverb like you've never heard before. This is not your daddy's reverb. Ambient modulated, granular, glitchy madness. Left footswitch sets the decay to maximum for huge washy pads of lush tonal goodness. Footswitches can be either latch or momentary. So awesome!
Yellowcake Lida Machine. Resonant filter with 2 oscillators. Tonally like a wah or envelope follower, but can get sounds in the tremolo/harmonic tremolo/rotating speaker/univibe/phaser neighborhood. Rich, lush. beautiful sounds. Wonderful pedal!
Mattoverse Electronics AirTrash. Matt says this pedal will make your guitar or bass sound like absolute garbage, but I'm not buying the hype. This pedal sounds amazing. No low end loss, it's great for bass. Crazy distorto-fuzz that always sounds great. There's a whole range of undescribeable sounds in the knobs with no names, and more sounds when you change your volume/attack/muting. Always great. Not a bad sound in there. Stacks great before other dirt pedals. This pedal is a wonder and never ceases to bring a smile to my face. Thanks Matt! Here's a video I made for this one.
Blackout Effectors Blunderbuss Fuzz. Great sounding muff type circuit. These guys aren't in business anymore, but if you get a chance, don't pass on this one. Awesome pedal!
Drolo Giant Hogweed Octave Up/Down Fuzz. No clean sounds on this pedal. Ranges from dirty to melt your face off. Sounds great on bass. Distortion topology similar to a Rat with octave up and down voices, glitchy effects via momentary switching, texture/bias knob. Awesomeness from David Rolo, another creative genius. Here's a video I made for this one.
Drolo Lilac Cloud. Inspired by the Harmonic Percolator. Another face melter from Drolo. Couple clipping options, and crazy resonance/feedback options that are just nuts! Momentary switching is awesome for bringing in stabs of crazy glitching howling feedback/distortion. Too much fun! Here's a video I made for this one.
Montreal Assembly Your and You're. Synthy square wave fuzz that is over the top in your face. Expression pedal input controls the tone knob sweep. This pedal is crazy fun.
Montreal Assembly PurPPL Phase-Locked Loop pedal. Square wave fuzzed out modulating oscilating harmonizer with lots of glitchy tracking and triggering madness. This pedal is insane and insanely fun. More knobs and switches than the law allows. Read the 24 page manual for details.
Montreal Assembly Uppers octave up fuzz pedal. Your traditional style octave up pedal, but with EQ, so sounds great for bass, no low end loss. Footswitches can be momentary, so stabs of distorto glitchiness are available with this great sounding pedal from the genius of Montreal Assembly. Thanks Scott!
Montreal Assembly Count to 5 delay/sampler pedal. Delay, reverse delay, looping, pitch shifting, all manner of crazy soundscaping and ambient madness. Seemingly endless options for creating random textures and layers of notes and musical bits. Expression pedal control adds to the fun. Another great pedal to get lost in for days at a time.
Red Panda Tensor. Live reverse and stop tape effects, time stretching, pitch shifting, looping, random glitchiness, an incredible pedal for experimenting with soundscapes, textures and ambient type stuff. Expression pedal does amazing things. Really fun. More intuitive than either the Count to 5 or the Mood, but they're all amazing pedals.
Pladask Elektrisk Baklengs Granular Synthesizer/Glitch Delay. Time and pitch stretching, Delay, destructive and non-destructive Looping/Sampling. More endless experimentation and glitchy madness from the mind of Pladask. These pedals are so much fun! Pladask rules!
Drolo Stretch Weaver. 2 channels that interact with each other via side-chaining to control different ambient type effects like stretch, weave, repeat, tape, pitch, gate, etc. Another crazy unique pedal. Like nothing else out there. This pedal inspires creativity and really works the brain cells!
Chase Bliss Mood. Another ambience soundscape looper/delay microsampler type pedal. Reverb, Delay, tape speed/reverse, always listening/back looking looper, loop manipulation. I'm not crazy about the DIP switches on this one, but that's the Chase Bliss way. It's still a pretty cool pedal. The Count to 5, Tensor, Baklengs and Mood are all similar, but go about it different ways. All very powerful, deep and inspring pedals. Great practice tools, and really fun to get lost with.
Iron Ether FMeron FM Synthesizer. Creates a synthesized voice that can be mixed with the clean sound. Amazing range of variation in the synthesized voice from pure sine wave to ring modulated, to glitchy effects. Trigger with envelope, has expression pedal control. Ranges from Octave down to unison to octave up. Endless possibilities. Brilliant concept from Iron Ether!
Iron Ether Arcing Prisms. Frequency Shfter/Delay/Comb filter. Another completely unique creation. At it's most subtle, it's a really nice chorus with a little delay. It can sound sort of like a phaser, vibrato or flanger, but not in a traditional way. It can be pushed into crazy delay feedback loops with clangy ring modulated sounds and beyond. Amazing and undescribeable!
Broughton Low + High Pass Filter. Cuts off the lows and highs. not the sexiest, but how many times do I wish I had this when I was blasting high volume sludge thru the subwoofers and making a mushy disaster of the mix in a boomy old theater under the control of a deaf and drunk soundman? Singer shooting me evil looks and getting ready to fire me, my family and my dog... Drummer throwing sticks at me... Also great for getting rid of the super crispy tweeter frequencies that no bass needs. Great for a clean boost too. Massive amounts of available gain.
Broughton Filter FX Loop. Parallel blender to mix your clean signal into effects. High and low pass options to really clean up and focus your sound. Great for blending in dirt or any effect.
Big Joe Power Box Li2. Small footprint rechargeable Lithium Ion battery than can provide 1 amp of power. Displays current draw, percent battery left and time left at present current draw, so you know how long power will last, and you get a good idea how much power your pedals are using. Fewer cables running across the stage and less batteries in landfills is a good thing. Bonus: You can use it to charge your cell phone, ipad, etc. Love it!
Pladask Elektrisk Matrise. 4 x 4 matrix mixer. 4 in 4 out. Great for experimenting with signal routing. Can run effects in series, parallel or feed back into themselves by turning volume knobs instead of unplugging and plugging in patch cables. Volume controls to blend effects loops with each other or your dry signal. Or split your signal to 4 outputs. Or route 4 inputs into 1 output. Or or or.... Really useful to have around.
I want guitar and speaker cables that perform and are durable. The best ones I've found are Evidence Audio. They make a huge difference. The sound jumps right out of the amp. Especially the low end. Everything seems tighter and more focused with more clarity, but still nice and big and warm. I don't know the physics of it, but whatever they're doing, it works. Thanks Tony! Other cables I like are: Monster, D'Addario Planet Waves, and George L's.
For straps and gig bags, Levy's is the best. The gig bags are tough and good looking with enough padding to stand up to overhead baggage compartment abuse and gate checking. Heavy enough to take a beating, but light enough to carry all day through the airport comfortably. Heavy duty zippers look like they'll last forever (and have!), and solid fittings, straps and connections. I've been forced to check my bass at the ticket counter a few times, and was expecting a bag full of splinters at the other end. Usually it turned out ok, and when it didn't, it was only minimal damage a couple times. That's a serious gig bag.
The guitar straps are comfortable, look good, and are well made from high quality materials. A seemingly endless variety of styles to choose from.
And of course they're very nice folks there, they're Canadian! Thanks Danica!
HOME SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION MUSIC PHOTOS EMAIL ME