James Eller is a UK based bass player with decades long recording and touring experience, providing bass guitar duties for The The, Damien Saez, Julian Cope, The Teardrop Explodes, Nick Lowe, Kirsty MacColl, Billy Bragg, The Pretenders, Banco De Gaia, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Mark Knopfler and Martina Topley-Bird, amongst many others.
Describe your rig and/or instrument of choice: My main bass is a late ’70s/early ’80s Kay, modified and improved in 1986. It’s been on most of the records and tours I’ve done since then. It has a unique tone, a punchy midrange with reduced bottom end boom, which I think allows it to just ’sit’ in the records I make with virtually no eq or compression required. It’s then easier to dial in the controlled deep bass that I prefer to more modern tones. On tour, bass sound checks last about 10 seconds. It’s now fitted with Nordstrand NP4v and NJ4v pickups. I also have two other Kays, one tuned to B and the other a fretless.
My other main basses are a pair of classic Squiers, an ’83 JV series Precision and an ’86 Jazz Bass, both of which are the best examples of their type I’ve ever played, again fitted with Nordstrand vintage pickups. I have a couple of acoustic bass guitars, both fretless, a SigmaBMC-15FE and a Shortbass One14. I’m also very happy to try out any of the weird and wonderful vintage basses I come across in the studios I work in.
I’ve used Gallien Krueger amplifiers since 1979, and in fact I’ve only ever owned three amps, all GK. My current rig is an RB1001 amp with CX410 and CX115, or NEO410 and NEO115 cabs. They have a defined clarity, punch, a huge variety of tonal options and are incredibly reliable over decades.
I like to explore the vast array of sound now available to bass players and have an extensive collection of octaver, filter, compressor and synthesiser bass pedals devoted to that end.
I exclusively use D’Addario strings, EXL170s and 160s, with ECB80 Chromes on my fretless basses.
What Nordstrand products do you use? I was introduced to Nordstrand by my friend Graham Drew, bassist and bass expert. I use Nordstrand NP4v and NJ4 vintage single coil pickups, which just sound ‘right’ to me. They have a deeper, clearer, more defined, even sound and warm top end than any of the stock pick ups they’ve replaced. I’ve just started using the NordyMute, which is outstanding in both the job it does and it’s ease of use.
Artists whom with you are currently working: The The, Damien Saez, George Ogilvie, The Desert.