Beatles Bass Sound
Pandemonium
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#1
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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Thread Starter
Beatles Bass Sound

Hi
This is my first post and thread.

Great Forum, I love it.

I want to know how The Beatles bass sound was achieved. My reference songs are Lovely Rita, Penny Lane, A Day in the Life, All you need is Love.
A lot of attack, no sustain. Very round and warm.

I don't have the books Recording the Beatles, or Beatles Gear. I'm broke. No money. Sorry. In the future I will buy them though.

Can someone explain to me if it was DI'ed, or is it a Bass Amp+Cab miked?. Which model of Amp+Cab was used? Which microphone or mikes were used?. Distance?

Thanks everyone for your input
Pandemonium
#2
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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Hi!

Pretty sure he used a Vox "super beatle" (100 watt solid state), and and a Fender Bassman. Don't really know at what stages he used what though.

Mic the cab and the room, and you'll get some of thsat vibe

He plays quite near the neck , which helps get THAT tone... And doesn't he use his thumb a lot too?

----

Experts chime in!
#3
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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RotoSound Tru Bass 88s.....these are a nylon core flatwound string. I know Paul used them on the later beatles albums. Not sure about the early stuff. Go to www.rotosound.com and check them out. They have a recorded sample of the string. Real warm and woody. Round attack and no sustain.
#4
20th November 2006
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IIRC, most if not all of the songs you are using as references are in the time period when Paul was using a Rickenbacker bass. I think Sizzleboy is right, the strings are really important to this sound. If you can't find the Tru Bass 88's, pretty much any nylon tape-wound strings can get you into the ballpark, even on a P or J Bass. For recording, Emerick says in his book that he did a lot of the classic McCartney recordings with an LDC in figure 8 mode, a good distance from the amp. You should be aware, however, that he was putting the amp in the middle of Abbey Road's Studio B, still considered to be one of the best sounding rooms in the world.

Best of luck with your noble tone-quest!
#5
20th November 2006
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During the end of '66 and '67 Paul was using a Rickenbacker 4001S and it was used alot on the Sgt. Pepper sessions.

No DI usually. They started recording Paul's bass as an overdub which really contributed to the sound. The chain was Paul, Rickenbacker, Vox 730 with 730 cab, AKG C12 on figure-8 about 8-10 feet in the middle of studio Number Two at Abbey Road. Sometimes the C12 was supplimented with a STC 4038 and blended. Don't forget that Paul used a pick and not his fingers.
#6
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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Geoff Emerick:

I was still after that really great bass sound, because I had been listening to Motown records and stuff, and thinking "Wow, if only we could get this …," realizing partially at the time that it was the musicianship, and the players and the technique of stuff which wasn’t available as such in England, that was part and parcel of it all. So I think it was Paperback Writer that I decided, well, I’m going to really make a stamp on this, and I used a loudspeaker as a microphone. And my theory was, well, what a loudspeaker can push out it can certainly take back in. So I just reversed the leads and used the speaker as a mike, and that was the bass sound for the Paperback Writer single, which was really, for its time, incredible. No one had heard the power of a bass, certainly on an English record like that.
===

I used to try to pull the bass out of the track to get its own space and hear it more defined. And one way I tried to do it was to put a tiny bit of chamber echo-well, actually I should say reverberation-on it. I started to do that on 'Revolver,' but Paul could always detect even the slightest amount, and he wouldn't accept it...[W]hen we were doing Sgt. Pepper...I started using a c12 on figure of 8 about eight or 10 feet away from his cabinet, which I would bring into the middle of Number 2 Studio. I'd bring it out into the open from the corner area where it was baffled off because I wanted a bit of the room sound.
Pandemonium
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#7
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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Thread Starter
Hey. Great info. This forum is amazing. Thanks everyone.

So this is basically it:

Rickenbacker 4001
Rotosound Tru bass 88 Nylon core Flatwound strings
Played with pick, no fingers
Fender Bassman or Vox Amp
Akg C12 mic, Figure of 8, 8-10 feet away,
Abbey Road Studio B

Cool. Hey, Thanks again.
Any other info is truly appreciated.

See ya
Pandemonium
#8
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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Geoff Emerick Interview

#9
20th November 2006
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I don't know the era, but I think Paulie's bass was sometimes mic'd with a speaker.

I bet William Wittman knows some of this stuff.
#10
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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I think the speaker as mic trick was only done on "Paperback Writer" and it's B Side "Rain"
#11
20th November 2006
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yes i concur about the speaker trick being only on Paperback Writer and Rain. But of course the great Mr Kehew would have the ultimate answer.
also, let's not forget to include the specially modified altec 436c compressor in that signal chain...
but as we all know, it's all there in that great Beatles Recording book...
-J
#12
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pandemonium View Post
Hey. Great info. This forum is amazing. Thanks everyone.

So this is basically it:

Rickenbacker 4001
Rotosound Tru bass 88 Nylon core Flatwound strings
Played with pick, no fingers
Fender Bassman or Vox Amp
Akg C12 mic, Figure of 8, 8-10 feet away,
Abbey Road Studio B

Cool. Hey, Thanks again.
Any other info is truly appreciated.

See ya
Pandemonium
I don't think he used tapewounds until Let It Be. I certainly haven't seen a picture of him using them in any Sgt. Pepper-era photos.

That's Studio Two, not Studio B
#13
20th November 2006
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I think you've got the techniques covered.. Only two hard things left, to actually get to Abbey Road (well that can be arranged, only need some money), but to get Macca to play might not be that simple

Really, those techniques are important, but I think it's very much about the player. And I think McCartney is, for me that is, maybe the best bass player, and all round musician there ever was. The man is totally magical, he just sounds great all the time, it's MAGIC!!

Ofcourse the technical innovations were very important for that period, no doubt, but I think Maccas playing is the s***.

If you checked out the Chaos and creation at Abbey Road bit from YouTube, it showed nicely how the classic Hohner Beatle Bass sounds "acoustically", what a great wimpy sound.. The Rick basses are cool too. Didn't Macca play a Jazz bass somewhere too?
#14
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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I remembered the Atlec right after I posted, Someone should clone that, and then make a plug in.

Also D20 on bass amp in the Revolver days.




QUOTE=James Guitar;978744]yes i concur about the speaker trick being only on Paperback Writer and Rain. But of course the great Mr Kehew would have the ultimate answer.
also, let's not forget to include the specially modified altec 436c compressor in that signal chain...
but as we all know, it's all there in that great Beatles Recording book...
-J[/QUOTE]
#15
20th November 2006
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here's how you get the beatles bass sound:

#16
20th November 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaneldon View Post
here's how you get the beatles bass sound:

Excellent advice, couldn't agree more!!
#17
20th November 2006
Old 20th November 2006
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Clever-clogs

NB: Note playing position of left hand!
#18
20th November 2006
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Quote:
I don't think he used tapewounds until Let It Be. I certainly haven't seen a picture of him using them in any Sgt. Pepper-era photos.
My point was not that Paul used them, but that tape wounds sound like that, and can get you in the game if you're going for "that sound".

And while nobody is going to sound exactly like Macco, or (God knows) think up those bass liines, you don't need to be a Beatle to get your bass to sound "thuddy."

Keep experimenting and you'll get there.
#19
20th November 2006
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revolver/st peppers/white album....it doesn't sound like tapwound to me.... but his rick with pyramid nickel flatwound (as used by many bass players of the time)
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20th November 2006
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Quote:
revolver/st peppers/white album....it doesn't sound like tapwound to me.... but his rick with pyramid nickel flatwound (as used by many bass players of the time)
That may well be true, I'm just feeding in information from a different perspective, one based on my own experience of what I've heard in my own playing.

My own experience is that when I get tapewounds on a bass, even a Fender, I can't stop myself from getting McCartney-ish sounds every time I turn around. Trust me, I know that doesn't make me Paul McCartney. Everybody is different. But in my experience, especially using a pick, the tapewounds do it, particularly for that punchy short-sustain type sound. That seems like useful information to me.

I'm simply speaking from my own experience with different strings and trying to help Pandemonium go in a useful direction without having to rent AR studios, buy a Vox amp and a C12 and get a McCartney brain/hand transplant.

Strings (or even a couple of sets of them) are not a big investment for the change that they make in your sound.
#21
20th November 2006
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Last edited by Blast9; 20th November 2006 at 05:40 PM.. Reason: Vox 730 not &30!
#22
20th November 2006
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My Studio

IIRC, on the later albums Paul did a lot of his bass overdubs after everyone else, so his parts would sit exactly where they wouldn't compete with the other recorded parts.
#23
20th November 2006
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macca

paperback writer was the coolest creamiest sound.... i always wondered about that one... speaker?!

a few times, striving for that tone was able to get a pretty close sound with a mono (CL1a?) tube-tech compressor.... a dbx160, can do it if you compress a lot but doesn't sound as full...

i always thought a lot of compression was used to get that sound....
#24
20th November 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softwareguy View Post
That may well be true, I'm just feeding in information from a different perspective, one based on my own experience of what I've heard in my own playing.

My own experience is that when I get tapewounds on a bass, even a Fender, I can't stop myself from getting McCartney-ish sounds every time I turn around. Trust me, I know that doesn't make me Paul McCartney. Everybody is different. But in my experience, especially using a pick, the tapewounds do it, particularly for that punchy short-sustain type sound. That seems like useful information to me.

I'm simply speaking from my own experience with different strings and trying to help Pandemonium go in a useful direction without having to rent AR studios, buy a Vox amp and a C12 and get a McCartney brain/hand transplant.

Strings (or even a couple of sets of them) are not a big investment for the change that they make in your sound.
Yes, I mean tapewound are not that different from good flatwound, the later are just a bit brighter and have more sustain. Both are great when played with a pick, I don't use tapewound anymore but I used the rotosound 88 before.
It's funny to think that in the 60's all basses were issued with flats (fender included) it's only when John entwistle started to use steel roundwounds for a more guitar-like tone(he helped developed the roto 66 for rotosound) then people followed the trend including Noel Redding etc...
Flats were not unusual on guitars too (pyramid gold have been used by the Beatles, Who and Byrds (including Mc guinn XII strings rick)
#25
20th November 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taturana View Post
paperback writer was the coolest creamiest sound.... i always wondered about that one... speaker?!

a few times, striving for that tone was able to get a pretty close sound with a mono (CL1a?) tube-tech compressor.... a dbx160, can do it if you compress a lot but doesn't sound as full...

i always thought a lot of compression was used to get that sound....
It was . . . via Abbey Road's heavily modified Altec 436Bs
#26
21st November 2006
Old 21st November 2006
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I used to use a Altec 436c on bass and it's amazing. Wasn't there a Pultec EQ in there somewhere too?
#27
21st November 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baikonour View Post
Flats were not unusual on guitars too (pyramid gold have been used by the Beatles, Who and Byrds (including Mc guinn XII strings rick)
Baikonour, no offense intended, are you certain about this???? Meaning, can I assume that the guitars on every early track by Beatles/Byrds/Who were played with Pyramid Gold flats???
#28
21st November 2006
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That bass looks suspiciously similar to a wooden leg.
GCL
#29
21st November 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubthumper View Post
Baikonour, no offense intended, are you certain about this???? Meaning, can I assume that the guitars on every early track by Beatles/Byrds/Who were played with Pyramid Gold flats???
Most definitely -- you can hear it too. I Wanna Hold Your Hand, intro is especially telling -- flatwounds of course!
Daytripper too, so many others.
(Don't know about the Who.)
#30
21st November 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TampaBaySound View Post
I used to use a Altec 436c on bass and it's amazing. Wasn't there a Pultec EQ in there somewhere too?
yes the 436 (b for me) is a regular for my bass sound...
i don't think there was a pultec involved in the chain. as far as i know, the beatles had a bass dial and a treble dial on the board...
-J
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