Jump to content

Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

chasing "the sound"...


Recommended Posts

I'm not exactly sure how to frame the question, but there's a sound that I want, & I'd like input about the best way to get it.


It's very difficult to describe a sound (e.g. what exactly is "growl," and do we all mean the same thing by it?). What I hear in my head is something very smooth, with bright (but not harsh) attack; sort of modern & very "Jazz bass" sounding. The best examples of it I can find are Gerald Veasley's tracks on "Standing in the Shadows"; the Philadelphia International Rhythm Section track on "Standing in the Shadows"; Tom Barney on Steely Dan's "Gaslighting Abbie"; Supertramp's "Child of Vision" (on "Breakfast in America"). Obviously there are others, but these really exemplify what I'm after.


Maybe other folks will know more adjectives than I do to describe this type of sound. Buying a Fender Jazz bass was the first step towards this sound, along with changing my right & left hand techniques. Beyond that, what should I be looking for--pickups, effects, preamps, strings, etc.--to really nail that sound down?


I hope this makes some sort of sense, & thanks for input!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 8
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Hate to "bump," but... :rolleyes:


Maybe I can simplify this, by looking at it from a pickups standpoint. Is there a J bridge pickup that someone could recommend for the sort of J sound I described? Also, is there a good J neck pickup that would give a good, round P-bass sound? I find that I like to solo the neck pickup for darker, rounder tones & solo the bridge pickup for jazzier, brighter tones. I'm primarily interested in enhancing the solo bridge tone, but would be interested in a combo like this. Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Doc DCR,


Maybe you're jumping the gun a little by starting to investigate pickups? Didn't you just get that J-bass (Geddy Lee version; gracias to the wife!)?


BP had a pretty solid J-bass p'up shootout a couple of years ago. You should read their comments about 20 different kinds of p'ups to get started -- it should be in the BP on-line archive. You may also want to consider some e-mails to the tech folks at some of the more prominent p'up manufacturers (especially if they make a variety of p'up models and would explain the tonal variations between them). Another route would be to e-mail a couple of luthiers who don't wind their own p'ups and ask them why their clients choose different p'up models -- even if you need to set up the pretense of considering the purchase of a custom instrument.


BUT, in the meantime and IMHO, you should keep playing with your right and left hand technique and the eq options available to you based on your current gear.


Good luck!





Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by dcr:

Tom Barney on Steely Dan's "Gaslighting Abbie";

I love that sound also and aspire to achieve it someday. I was under the impression that Tom Barney played a Stingray on that whole album. One of the reasons I finally ended up getting a Stingray, actually. :love:


If you dig Steely Dan, I can't recommend enough their "Two Against Nature" concert DVD. I have 25+ music performance DVD's, and I think this one's my favorite.

All your bass are belong to us!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Update: thanks to searches on this forum & the BP archive, as well as talking with people such as SteveC (thanks, Steve!! greenboy too!), I've decided to give the DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pickups a whirl. I just ordered a set from the Bass Place in AZ, for just $59! (They've got more sets left at that price, fwiw. ;) ) I'm also ordering some push/pull pots from StewMac, so that I can wire each pickup in series & parallel. (Have I mentioned that I like that option on my Sterling? :D ) I got a schematic from DiMarzio on how to wire this; if you'd like a copy you can PM me & I'll forward it (or you can just write to tech@dimarzio.com). Also going with copper shielding...doin' it right.


I'll let you know how it comes out. Thanks, everyone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

OK, well, at long last, it's DONE! I've had the Ultra Jazz pickups installed in my 2002 Fender Jazz, and they sound great! I went with the option of series/parallel switching for each pickup, with a push/pull pot for each volume control. This is a nice option. I haven't done exhaustive experimentation with the sounds yet, but after fiddling for a couple of days I find that the series setting keeps the natural sound of the bass, but makes it a bit beefier; a subtle difference, & keeps the J sound, but thickens things up a bit. Nice, as it gives you a good, round tone out of the soloed neck pickup, and keeps the bridge pickup growl without getting thin. On the other hand, the parallel setting sounds, imo, more like a single coil, & rather like the original pickups. So sort of the best of both worlds, & with the parallel option I've got the peace of mind knowing that I've gotten rid of the hum, picked up more sonic options, & still haven't lost the original sound of the bass that I liked. I'm very pleased! I can go from a deep, warm ballad tone to a funkier, growly J tone just by moving a couple of knobs. Lots of useful sounds. Thanks again for input. (I think Hoagie's doing the same thing with his bass, so I hope he posts on it when it's done.)


The only catch now is that the strings seem a bit tense (using D'Addario, can't remember gauge offhand), & the action seems a bit high. (I like a super low action, almost completely straight neck, & not-too-tight strings...that's how I keep my Ric.) Got the saddles down low, but the neck has a little more concavity than I like, so I'm wishing I could adjust the rod without removing the neck... :rolleyes: But this is manageable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is the Steely Dan dvd the same concert which was shown on PBS?


I taped that one, it was great.


I agree that the background singers were hot, especially the thin one with those sexy hand gestures she made while singing "give a little kiss to your Cousin Dupree". It gave me chills.

I had a serious crush on my cousin when I was a teenager...she was three years younger than me.


Tom Barney and Ricky Lawson were fantastic. I would sell my soul to get to play music of that quality with a drummer that good.


I really don't understand putting new pickups in a brand new bass, unless you bought a cheap bass with plans to upgrade.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...