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January 03, 2020 3 min read

We receive a lot of communications from players looking to get a specific tone and while we want to help you achieve your sonic dreams, this may be an uphill battle. Worse, it make be a losing fight. So whether your dream bass is played Marcus Miller, Jaco Pastorius, Nolly Getgood, Flea, Victor Wooten, Geddy Lee, Stanley Clarke, Jack Bruce, Les Claypool, Pino Palladino, Dug Pinnick, Anthony Jackson or anyone specific, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. 

First, you are not that player. You do not have the same hands or the same life experience. Anyone who’s cultivated a specific sound has developed it over a long period and in response to any number of circumstances. Whether this is working the studio with sub par headphones or having to use a particular rig in live situations, the process of developing a sound is generally a pretty organic process. This is crucial to remember.

Second, even if you have a similar instrument, you do not havethat one. That subtle difference in the position of the bridge pickup in the 60’s and 70’s J-basses makes a big difference. If your hero plays a short scale boutique bass through three compressors before it hits the soundboard, you need to factor that into your thought process. A fanned fret, three-pickup bass with a particular on-board preamp going into a high end effects processing unit all before it goes into an amp rig is NOT easy to replicate even if you have all these components. Pulling the frets out of the fingerboard and coating it with epoxy is only the tiniest part of what makes a certain fretless sound the way it does. 

This all goes beyond studying someone’s technique. As a massive fan, I can tell you about a lot of the things along his musical journey that brought Jaco Pastorius to the glorious sound with which he’s associated. His listening to Cachao on upright was as big an influence for him as the way Frank Sinatra phrased his vocal lines. Even if you’ve got an alder/rosewood J with 60’s position pickups, do you use the same high action that Jaco did? Do you play through an Acoustic 360 with folded 18” speakers? Have you played the thousands of club gigs or picked the brains of master arrangers? Was your dad a jazz singer? Did you start on a drum kit, but have to give it up because you broke your wrist? And all of this is not even the tip of the iceberg!
So what kind of a project is going to fall under the ‘probably not gonna happen’ category? If you really want the modern Anthony Jackson sound but you’re playing a Mustang bass, it’s unlikely that any combination of new components is going to get you there. Similarly, trying to recreate the Jack Bruce tone with anything other than an EB-3 loaded with Gibson pickups (and playing through a few Marshall amps) is going to be really, really, really tough. 

This doesn’t mean that you can’t get some or even a lot of your favorite sound, but it does mean that you need to understand what it was that got any artist to where he or she arrived. It means that you need to realize that who you are and how you play, how you hear music, has a bigger impact on the sound you produce than you may have considered. 
And this is why we’re here! If you tell us what you play and what you want to achieve, we can help get you closer, but working miracles is beyond what we do. The crew here has an outrageous amount of experience in many areas, so please feel free to ask is what you want, but at the end of the day your sound isYOURS!! 

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