Some people would say
that I have more gear than sense and they could be right. I've only ever
got rid of 2 bass guitars in the past and I've regretted getting rid of both
The first was my very
first bass guitar, a Grant Violin Bass which I bought on hire purchase
when I was about 15. My father had to be the guarantor and it cost £108
including a very nice plush-lined case. I paid for it with my earnings
from various part time jobs. I later part-ex'd this bass for something
probably very trivial as I can't even remember what it was.
I couldn't afford
an amp so I used a small cassette recorder as a pre-amp and
played through one channel of the family stereo gramophone
record player with the LP music coming through the other
channel. Technical stuff! Eventually I graduated to a WEM
Starfinder Bass Cabinet (1 x 18" speaker) and a Fender Bassman
My next guitar was a
Rickenbacker 4001 with a Jetglo (black) finish. My parents bought me
this for my 18th birthday and it's still going strong. I love
Rickenbackers. Black wasn't my colour of choice but it was all that
Music Ground in Dunscroft had at that time. I would really have liked a
Mapleglo (natural) Rickenbacker although now I would probably pick a
Fireglo (sunburst) or Autumnglo finish.
My Rickenbacker 4001.
My next bass was the
other guitar that I got rid of. This one was the rather exquisite Aria
Pro II SB1000. I ordered one of these when they were first announced and
mine had serial number 000184 if memory serves correctly. This bass was
beautifully made and had a full 24 frets and was quite radical looking
for it's time. It was an
active bass with something like 6 preset sounds selected with a rotary
switch, unfortunately I could never really find a sound that I liked. Looking
back, I suspect that this was because I was using a Fender Bassman 100
valve amp at the time which was probably not suited to an active bass, I
would probably have had more joy with an Acoustic transistor job. You
live and learn.
An Aria SB1000 similar to the one
that I owned for a short time.
I later returned
this bass to the shop and swapped it for an Aria Pro II LS450
6-string and a Fender Champ practice amp. I still have the
6-string and this is included on the
Other Gear page.
The story behind
my next bass is a bit out of the ordinary. My Rickenbacker 4001
needed some work doing on the frets so I took it into Kitchens
Music Shop in Leeds. Kitchens was a great shop, I bought most of
my gear from there and became great friends with the staff
there, the place is sorely missed. I asked the manager if I
could have a bass on loan whilst mine was being worked on. The
only thing that he could lend me was an old, battered Fender
Telecaster Bass, the one with the big humbucking pickup. It was
in that horrible puss-yellow colour and was a bit of a mess
really. I didn't really like it but borrowed it anyway as I
didn't really have a choice. Well, I really got to like this
bass, it was great for Thin Lizzy stuff and the like. I bought
it for £185. I've since found out that it's a 1972 model and
knowing what I know now, I should have left it as it was - I
didn't. I stripped the finish off and added a couple of Di
Marzio Jazz Bass pickups and wired it stereo. It sounds really
good but I seriously devalued what is now a very collectible
bass guitar. I haven't used it in a while and haven't gigged
with it for many years but I'm seriously tempted to get it back
in the road. This would mean either rewiring it back to mono or
running a stereo rig. As I'm gigging with my two Rickenbacker
4001's, which both can be run stereo, this could be the tempting
A 1972 Fender Telecaster Bass.
My Fender Telecaster Bass as it
Telecaster Bass, I didn't buy another bass guitar for about 20
years. I did buy some 6-strings as detailed elsewhere. My next
bass purchase was a rather nice Fender Jazz Bass. This was a
Made in Japan guitar based on a mid-70's Jazz Bass with a
rosewood neck and block inlays, a very nice guitar and beautiful
Yours truly with Fender
Jazz Bass (this was an open-air gig for a birthday party).
The same Fender
Jazz Bass but now it has a Badass bridge.
Next on the shopping list
was that Hofner Violin Bass that I'd wanted so many years ago.
Although known as the Violin Bass for obvious reasons, it is actually
the Hofner 500/1. My particular Violin Bass is one of the first
Paul McCartney versions and dates from the mid-90's. It's a beautiful
little bass but I don't think that I would gig with it as it gives the
impression of being very fragile although I'm sure that it isn't having
seen so many of them played live.
My Hofner 500/1 Violin
When I bought my
Rickenbacker, another bass that I tried at the time was a Gibson
Thunderbird. It was more expensive than the Rickenbacker but was
very nice to play and sounded pretty good. Ultimately, I chose the
Rickenbacker but I still fancied a Thunderbird. I'm pretty astonished at
Gibson prices and a Thunderbird would cost a lot of money so I settled
on an Epiphone Thunderbird Pro IV, this is the active version. A
nice bass but needed a bit of setting up. There is some fret buzz so I
need to check that the frets are all level and perhaps have them
I did have a problem with
the Thunderbird in that I was struggling to get a decent sound out of
it, it was very "toppy" with little serious bottom end. I tried
everything that I could think of but to no avail and it got to the point
where I thought that I would part-exchange it for another bass. As a
last resort, I decided to delve into the active electronics to see if
they could be bypassed as I figured that this was the root of the
problem. When I checked the electronics I found that one of the
connecting pins on the circuit board was bent such that it didn't slot
into the multi-connector as it was supposed to, I whipped off the
connector, straightened the pin, put it all back together and
lo-and-behold; a much bassier sound! A nice easy fix but it made me
wonder about Epiphone's quality control.
My Epiphone Thunderbird Pro IV.
As I was so impressed
with my Fender Jazz
Bass and being a serious Rush fan, it was only a matter of time
before I got one of these, a Fender Jazz
Bass Geddy Lee. I've always preferred the Jazz Bass with block
inlays as opposed to dot inlays so this one goes nicely with my sunburst
Jazz Bass. This Geddy Lee model plays like a dream
and comes equipped with a Badass bridge as standard. Fender bridges are
a bit naff so I've ordered a Badass to go on my sunburst Fender Jazz
My Fender Jazz Bass Geddy Lee.
Although I have a few
Fender basses, I still love the shape and sound of the Rickenbacker
basses. I would really like a 1960's 4001S but they sell for serious
money. The alternative is one of the modern "Vintage" versions so guess
what? I've part-exchanged my Rickenbacker 330/12 (see
Other Gear page) for a Rickenbacker 4001V63. This differs
from my Rickenbacker 4001 in numerous ways as it is based on the
Rickenbacker 4001S; it has a sculpted and unbound body, dot inlays and
toaster/horse-shoe pickups. Despite being second-hand, this one is in
absolutely mint condition as is it's case, I don't think it's been
played that much if at all but I've altered that and it's now getting
some serious playing.
My Rickenbacker 4001V63.
Now this next bass was an
impulse purchase simply because it was an absolute bargain in my
opinion. It's a 1982 Rickenbacker 4001 and although it has the
MapleGlo finish, it was originally JetGlo (black) and now has a rather
poor satin varnish finish. The truss-rod cover is broken, the knobs are
missing their silver tops and the strap button are non-original and are
in the wrong place. There is some slight damage to the fingerboard
finish in a couple of places as well. Other than that, it plays well and
has a nice low action. Since taking this picture, I've cleaned the
guitar up, replaced the knobs and the strap buttons and done a few
little tidying-up jobs on it. It's already played it's first gig so now
I need to decide whether to leave it in a natural finish and apply a
gloss varnish or to have it refinished in a different colour altogether.
My latest Rickenbacker
That pretty much rounds
up my collection of bass instruments, that is unless you count these:
The mighty Moog Taurus
3 Bass Pedals. I used to hire a set of the original Moog Taurus
Bass Pedals many years ago so when these were announced, I just had
to have a set. These pedals are awesome and I hope to be gigging with
them before too long.
Bass Amps and Effects
Over the years I have
used many bass amps. At one stage I was running my Rickenbacker 4001
stereo through a Fender Bassman 100 amp/Acoustic 2 x 15" cab and a
Hiwatt 100 amp/Acoustic 4 x 12" cab with a Marshall JCM800 amp/Fender
Dual Showman 2 x 15" cab as a spare! Those have all gone and I'm now
using Marshall MB series amps and cabs.
I started off with a
Marshall MB4210 combo together with a Marshall MBC115
extension cab, that's 450 watts in total. Unfortunately, after only a
couple of gigs, the MB4210 combo started cutting out. It was quickly
returned to Marshall who found a fault in the amp. A replacement part
was to take about 2 weeks. After 5 weeks it hadn't arrived so I gave
Marshall some serious grief! To be fair, they have reacted quickly and
efficiently and have upgraded my combo to a Marshall MB4410, this
is a 4 x 10" combo as opposed to my original 2 x 10" combo. I also have
a Marshall MB450H amp head which I'm going to use with the MBC115
extension cab and try a bi-amped set up.
Effects-wise, I use a
Line 6 Bass Pod XT Live which is a very useful piece of gear. This
is the foot pedal version of the Bass Pod XT. The only drawback is that
this thing has so many sounds and options, it takes a lot to get the
best out of it. I'm still working on getting the best out of it. One of
it's features is the option to use a bi-amped output which I am going to
try with the Marshalls as mentioned above.
I also use
an EBS MultiComp compressor pedal and a
SansAmp VT Bass Deluxe pedal which emulates the Ampeg SVT amp
amongst other things. I'm finding that I can get some very useable
sounds out of the SansAmp. A recent addition is an Aphex Bass Exciter
which adds a certain "something" to the sound.
A recent addition is this
rather fetching tuner, the Ashdown BassOmeter. It's great for
using on dark stages and you certainly know when you're in tune as the
central LED becomes a lot brighter, like some sort of death ray.
I've just purchased a second-hand
Marshall DBS (Dynamic Bass System) 7400 amp head, what a superb
piece of kit. This is now my favoured amp and I use it with the
Marshall MBC115 cab and the 4x10 speakers of the Marshall MB4210
I'm now in the process of part-exchanging
the MB4410 combo for a Marshall VBA400, yep, a full valve
top! The combo itself is being replaced with the equivalent Marshall cab, the MBC410.
When gigging, I now use a wireless set up
and it's amazing how much freedom this kit gives you, no more falling
over guitar leads, well not my own at least. It also makes the
soundcheck a bit easier as I can wander off stage and have a proper