Bass sound on "Angel" from TUSK--God, I want to EA

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playinbass
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Post by playinbass » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:17 pm

Maybe some folks don't like the 'boofy' tone, but a lot of bass players do. I know a lot of folks who chase this sound now. It's not right for every song but has it's own beauty. This is an example they may have been imitating.

http://belltower.net/songs/bass/bass.mp3

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Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Sat May 01, 2010 6:07 pm

jgimbel wrote:Snarl beat me to it (and had more balls than me to say it right away), but when I listen to that recording it sounds to me like something I'd want to be fixing.
Can't really argue with that. The beauty of that record for me is that it sounds TOTALLY fucked but millions of people couldn't have cared less. It's more evidence that it's okay to take risks, particularly when mixing. I think the bass tone is awesome in context, you just have to consider how strange the context is.

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Post by Peterson Goodwyn » Sun May 02, 2010 3:33 am

Wow, it's really interesting to hear that people find the bass tone to be displeasing, or maybe an acquired taste (considering context). I sincerely thought everyone would bow down before it, regardless of taste!
The beauty of that record for me is that it sounds TOTALLY fucked
I agree with this for many songs on the album (especially the stuff that is essentially just Lindsey) but this one seems like it would fight right in on Rumours. Certainly, compared to say "The Ledge" this song sounds pretty high-budget and adult-contemporary.
Doesn't sound solid at all to me.
Snarl, what do you mean by this? Not being contentious, just wondering how you hear this. To me, this bass sound/performance is nothing but solid!

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leigh
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Post by leigh » Sun May 02, 2010 11:31 am

Anthony Caruso wrote:Aside from the obvious mid-ranginess of the tone, there is definitely some muting going on there, which can be done by the player with the right hand (my best guess in this case as that would force the player to play closer to the bridge, also enhancing that more middy sound). The muting gives it an attack heavy rather than sustain heavy sound. Like "bope-bope-bope" as opposed to "booom-boooom-booom"
As far as playing technique, that would be my guess as well. I do NOT think it was played with a pick, and from what I know of McVie, he played with fingers.

Another example of that mid-heavy "bope-bope-bope" tone is "Angel", also from Tusk. The bass line punches through and really helps to animate what is otherwise kind of a boring 3-chord vamp.

cheers,
Leigh

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Snarl 12/8
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sun May 02, 2010 12:15 pm

Meathands wrote:
Doesn't sound solid at all to me.
Snarl, what do you mean by this? Not being contentious, just wondering how you hear this. To me, this bass sound/performance is nothing but solid!


I guess I find the tone to be too solid, but not consistent enough in volume. It's this combination of lack of transparency and inconsistent level that I notice in a lot of things. To me it sounds amateurish. (That tone) I've always chalked that up to using bad gear and having bad technique. Like, the bass kindof sits on top of everything that's in its frequency range, but then it doesn't. Sometimes I'm annoyed by how loud it is and then I'm straining to hear it. It doesn't feel "mixed in" with the other sounds, it's distinct. (In a bad way, IMO) It could be an aesthetic choice, or the absence of [over?]compression?

Do you think you understand what I'm saying? I've always been a fan of what I call "transparency". Like you have all this midrange totally in your face from the bass, but then at the exact same time, during the bass notes, you can also hear the vox, guitar, snare, toms, flute, etc., etc., just as clearly. I'm not getting that here.

Maybe my lazy 21st century ear wants it's bass tone spoon fed to it?

I'm sorry if it appears that I've pissed on your Fleetwood Mac love parade. I'm pretty much a philistine when it comes to musical taste, I guess. I totally meant what I said about no accounting for taste. It's been my mantra for years. It's not a good or bad thing, just a law of nature or something.
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Peterson Goodwyn
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Post by Peterson Goodwyn » Sun May 02, 2010 10:43 pm

Aha! Leigh's post makes me think maybe we are talking about two different songs. The song I meant to discuss and the one I linked to in the first post was "Angel."

Were you thinking of the song "Tusk" Snarl?

The song Tusk sounds terrible in almost every way; Angel is a masterpiece.

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Post by Aj » Mon May 03, 2010 9:36 am

Meathands,

I, too, thought you were talking about the bass on "Tusk" (because, well, that's what the thread subject says!). You might want to change it from:

Bass sound on "Tusk"

to read:

Bass sound on "Angel" (From TUSK)

Anyway. Love this thread. I too really dig the two Micks/Mcs. (And the bass tone on "Angel".) And the bass tone on Tusk the song for that matter. I remember when Tusk came out, my step-brother and I hated that song. We couldn't understand the way it sounded, so muffled compared to all the other Fleetwood Mac stuff (I was 8, who knew). Now I love how weird it is.

But Angel isn't weird. It's just so in-the-pocket '70s. Yes, the bass is kinda loud. That's what they meant to do, of course.

Aj
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Snarl 12/8
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Mon May 03, 2010 3:08 pm

No. I listened to the song you linked directly to. Angel.
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Post by lysander » Mon May 03, 2010 5:54 pm

For a similar bass sound, check out pretty much anything Andy Fraser did with Free (like McVie he was an alumnus of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, played with them during the Mick Taylor era).

You get a good look at his technique here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FhCiloz ... re=related

Fingers, down at the bridge, just like Anthony Caruso suggested. Gotta have strong fingers, though!

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Post by Peterson Goodwyn » Mon May 03, 2010 9:22 pm

Wow, the bass on that Free song you linked is equally sumptuous.

I've never heard this guy before. Is that a Gibson EB-3? Goddamn the groove on "The Stealer" is tight.

Just googled him and found the Obama (Yes We Can) song. Isn't he British?

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Post by lysander » Tue May 04, 2010 6:57 am

Yeah, he is English, but lives in California now (like McVie).

If you know the band XTC, they were really into Free.

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Post by teleharmonium » Thu May 06, 2010 1:57 pm

I like the bass on the Free song above a lot. The tone is not unlike that of Holger Czukay of Can, another notable short scale bass player.

Hate the bass on "Angel". But it's probably more the playing than the tone as I usually like that sort of EQ profile on bass and often use a short scale instrument myself. I'm also stingy and very particular with low end when mixing, not unlike the FM song.

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Post by teleharmonium » Thu May 06, 2010 2:04 pm

Good example of Holger's tone from his Mustang:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkKa_ehqSHU

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Post by Knights Who Say Neve » Thu May 06, 2010 3:12 pm

What sticks out for me with all the bass sounds under discussion here is that the bass is playing melody as much as groove. That calls for a different mixing philosophy. A heavily low-end tone won't work for this kind of playing. It needs to be balanced between the lower and higher notes.

As always, the mix has to serve the music.
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Post by playinbass » Thu May 06, 2010 7:00 pm

The other thing to keep in mind about this type of bass sound is that in the 60's and early '70's (until the appearance of bass amps like the SVT and Sunn 300 watters) that semi distorted mid - rangy sound WAS the sound of most bass players because that's all you could get out of the amps once volume start creeping up.

I'm in my late 50's now and when I was playing in those days that's how the amps sounded on stage. As you got out into the audience a bit the distortion seemed to mellow out and the bass got louder (especially if you were using any of the folded horn type cabs, which were almost inaudible on stage, but the balls 30 feet out).

A lot of us were using amps like B-15's's, Kustoms and Fender Bassmans (with 2 - 12's). Those things were all less than 100 watts and we were trying to keep up with Super and Twin Reverbs, Hi Watts and Marshalls. The only way you had a chance was to just crank the hell out of them and all the bottom end just disappeared anyway. All that was left was mids and clackity high's.

The SVTs brought on the tight, clean, undistorted low end that became THE standard definition of 'good' bass sound thereafter.

It's all a matter of style and personal taste in what you like, but I really appreciate and find beauty in these '50s, '60's and '70's 'cheap' sounds, not only on bass, but guitar as well.

The other memory I have of those days is listening to albums on record players that only had 3" speakers. The bass always seemed to still be there in the mixes, although sometimes we would have to listen especially hard to hear some parts. It's fashioned my personal taste in mixes and playing live...I prefer to 'feel' the bass and enjoy having to focus and 'listen' to hear what is being played rather than having it totally in my face.

I realize that the examples in discussion have the bass very forward in the mix, but Angel is very groove oriented and the bass is fulfilling it's duty as a rhythm instrument, an adjunct to the drums, even though he is playing melodically. It's doing it's job in that setting.

Love the Can example too. Isn't it amazing how clean and easy mixes are when bands have only drums, bass , ONE guitar, maybe a keyboard and some vocals? :-) You can always hear everything!

Gerry

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