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July 16, 2005
My Bass Rig
Filed in: Current Affairs, Music

If there was a single thing I could focus most of my occupational time and attention on right now, it would be playing the bass. I've been at it for a few years - I guess it's like my second childhood thing. I actually have a regular gig too - well it's at church - but at least no one is asking me to STOP!

After a few years of tweaking, I'm pretty happy with my set up so I'm going to share.

Dsc_00870001 Bass: I have more basses than I have sense - but my every day, gigging machine is my 5 string custom Moses Graphite KP-5 (the image will enlarge if you click on it). The front and fretboard is rosewood. The neck is a single piece of machined graphite. It's very solid because of that and stays in tune. Good thing because that's a 42 inch string length - same as a full size stand up bass. This bass is called 'headless' because the tuners are at the bottom of the instrument. This is supposed to deliver better sustain. I'm not sure that's the case, but I love the long strings because it really solidifies the growl.

Dsc_00900001 Effects: I have to give the BMax bass preamp by BBE the nod currently. I do have the Line 6 Bass Pod (original) which I use for some of its sounds (I like its tron for country two-step kinds of things and its tron/phaser when I want it to sound like John Paul Jones). The BBE just has that great brightening circuitry and incredible range - I run it mostly flat but add a little bass increase and compression for thumping when necessary.

Amp: I'm running the CREST Audio CPX 2600. It's not a big daddy CREST like Bill "The Buddha" Dickens plays - but running it bridged delivers over 2,000 watts into my cab and can easily break glass if I turn it up. This is technically a DJ amp - but that means that they've put tons of bottom end into it - the coils make this thing weigh like 60 pounds. I decided to do this route rather than a 'technically bass amp' because I want to do all my effect work in the pre-amp stage - it just works better for me. I don't want my amp messing with the signal - just amplify what I give it and play my low B string without any attenuation from the A. I'm very happy with it.

Dsc_00920003 Cab: Probably like most enthusiasts that are interested in really good sound out of their instruments, I've played an enormous number of brands. I like (and own) Peavey cabs. I like the Mesa Boogie bass cabs. But, for my money, there is nothing to compare with AccuGroove - period. These guys are a small manufacturer that build full range cabs targeted to bass players. This, of course, has really grabbed the attention of the 6 to 8 string jazz players, but really has application to any kind of music or instrument. The "El Whappo' cab that I have is rated for 800 watts at 8 ohms but I don't think you could break it with any amount of wattage. I've never turned up my amp more than half-way so far. When I played this the first Sunday I took it to church the sound guy came up afterwards and inspected it. I asked him what he thought and he said "I just felt the walls behind me shaking while you were playing it, but it didn't sound harsh or too loud." I asked him if that was OK and he said it was - so I've been doing it ever since. There is enormous headroom with the amp/cab set up which is terrific.

Well, there you go. For you folks who have asked about the gear - that's pretty much it. I'm happy to answer any questions.


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People Pulling

Nice gear, Mac! We need sound files now, of course, don't we? Five string bass. One of my favorite (and possibly most underrated) 5-string bassists of all times was Jack Bruce.
My rig, for the record (photos to follow): Korg M1, Yamaha DX7s, Yamaha SY55, Korg M1r, Akai S5000 sampler, Proteus 2000, Korg X5DR, Korg NX5R, Alesis QSR, Alesis Nanoverb, Mackie 1604 VLZ Pro mixer, Yamaha AM 802 mixer, Alesis M1 powered monitors, Carvin FX 1000 amp, Carvin 15" 3-way stereo cabs. I use the Carvin cabs rarely now. But to clear the feet of snow off my upstairs rooftop, I dial in a killer pipe organ patch, crank the volume and hit a low C on the 32' subbass bourdon. Works everytime. God - do I love my toys!

EMCEE: Awesome JW! That ain't a 'rig' - that's a STUDIO! Can't wait for the pics - I'll post 'em if you want ... I didn't hear much of Cream's early work and want to go back and give it a listen. Jack definitely influenced Jaco Pastorius who is probably still my fave (although that fret-filed four string was ugly!) Hey, did that low C note have any effect on the bats?

Posted by: JWebb at Jul 16, 2005 6:24:34 PM

Underrated? I say that the second break on "Crossroads" is still the greatest minute-thirty in the history of live music, in no small part because of Jack Bruce. It's Jack Bruce, John Entwistle, and Jack Casady, period.

EMCEE: That's a great list Craig - certainly for straight ahead Rock. I like their work very much. I came up a little different path in terms of the bass so, if I were to make a 'historical' list, it would go something like this (not necessarily in this order - but fairly close): Jaco Pastorius, Kenny Gradney, Geddy Lee, Nathan East, Billy Sherwood, John Paul Jones, Sting - then I'd move to Victor Wooten, Christian McBride, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Carswell, Victor Bailey, Jimmy Haslip, Gerald Veasley, Richard Bona, Marcus Miller*, Steve Bailey - in prog rock I'm very fond of John Myung (though I don't think his charts can be played by mortal humans), Trey Gunn (OK, kind of Old School prog) and Jonas Reingold - some lesser known great artists would be Kirwin Brown, Lars Lehmann, maybe Jeff Belrin - to name a few :) There is a big world of terrific bassists out there. I enjoy studying them.

Posted by: CraigC at Jul 17, 2005 7:31:36 AM

Whoops, I forgot God. I'll pay for that.

EMCEE: Yeah, that Red Sea symphony had some pretty good classic bass in it. I heard that "Get out of the Garden" was some of the best thrash ever. Of course the Mt. Sinai Command, for a march, has quite the bass line.

Posted by: CraigC at Jul 17, 2005 7:32:14 AM

And Roger Glover. Remember "supergroups?" Deep Purple was a regular band that just happened to have a superstar at every position.

EMCEE: Man you are taking me back! I was just thinking of some modern rising stars in the bass business - Stefen Lessard of Dave Matthews band is brilliant. I like Michael Peter Blazary, aka Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers - incredibly talented. P-nut of 311 is much in Flea's mold but brings an island flair that I like very much. Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down is coming along well. David LaBruyere who did some lush work for Shawn Mullins and more recently John Mayer - but has a long list of credits - is very good. I forgot Billy Sheehan in that last list. Deep Purple? Whoot!

Posted by: CraigC at Jul 17, 2005 7:52:41 AM

Craig's right, MC. Check out Wheels of Fire (live from Fillmore East, Craig?) The way Clapton, Bruce and Baker extemporize off each other is jaw-dropping. Ginger Baker ain't no slouch, either. He popularized Afro-centric rythyms (carried through on "Ginger Baker's Air Force) in rock and roll. And these were the days when Clapton played some of the most incendiary licks I've ever heard (unlike now).

EMCEE: You guys are adding to my CD budget! I'll check it out. Thanks!

Posted by: JWebb at Jul 17, 2005 1:21:45 PM

I can't believe I forgot Les Claypool of Primus (and South Park) fame. I know a lot of his stuff is comic - but the guy is a freakin' musical genius with the bass. Genius I say!

Posted by: MC at Jul 17, 2005 4:28:15 PM

I'm assuming you were kidding, Mac, about the God comment. If not, I was talking about Phil Lesh. I saw him on his 50th birthday tour, and get this (speaking of Kenny Gradney), on guitar, Paul Barrere, and on keyboards, Mr. Billy Payne. It was SMOKIN' The cool thing was, they were doing Grateful Dead songs (I'm an old Dead Freak), and it was like the Dead on steroids. I love The Dead, and they wouldn't have been The Dead without the particular guys involved, but hearing those songs played by guys with monster chops was INCREDIBLE. Poor Donna was falling asleep from the jamming, but I was in heaven.

EMCEE: I was trying to go with the flow on the kidding. That sounds like one amazing concert. I got to hear Mickey Hart and his band - of course percussion heavy - at WOMAD a few years back (when they were still holding it in Seattle) and they did some great Dead sets - close as I ever got.

Posted by: CraigC at Jul 17, 2005 11:12:05 PM

I'm with you on Jaco, the only guy in that genre that comes close is Stanley Clarke. I'm kind of surprised that you didn't mention him. And I love Nathan East.

Jon, the Cream concert was at the Fillmore in SF. I'm pretty sure the Fillmore East wasn't yet open at that point. I saw the Dead at the Fillmore East in 1970. They started at 11:00, and did about two hours. After a break, the New Riders came on and did a couple of hours, then the Dead came back on. As we walked out, the sun was coming up over NYC.

EMCEE: Ok I claim brain damage on Stanley Clarke - though I have begun to think of him as more of a businessman than a bassist over the years. He can still lay down the chops though. I asterisked Marcus Miller earlier because I think he took on Clarke's mantle long ago and is one of the most talented jazz bassists in the world and is, unfortunately, not real well known outside of the jazz/funk world. He is astonishingly good.

Posted by: CraigC at Jul 17, 2005 11:22:38 PM

Mac, are you familiar with any of Jack Bruce's stuff after he left Cream? He went back to his jazz roots, and did a lot of interesting things.

Hey Craig, no - but I ordered several selections in the CD order binge that I emailed you about last night. I'm looking forward to hearing more of his work.

Posted by: CraigC at Jul 19, 2005 8:30:23 PM

Love that Moses bass!! Where did you get it?? Does it sounds like an upright?? thanks Ed

EMCEE: Hi Ed, thanks. These guys built it for me:;;6

They've changed the construction a good bit now - it's probably for the better. It's thumpier than an upright - but given that the strings/fretboard are the same length - if I run it through the bass POD set on Jazz tone with just a tad of compression it's close enough for me.

Posted by: Eddie B at Mar 24, 2006 6:36:28 PM

Wow, your Moses looks fantastic! What did they change for you from the original Moses model? Your version is very beautiful and I like idea about rosewood fingerboard. Do they still produce custom options/looks?

Posted by: Evander at Jun 5, 2007 12:09:16 PM

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