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Get Paul McCartney Bass Sound
Old 2nd January 2012
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Get Paul McCartney Bass Sound

Hi everyone,

I am here 'cause I'd like to know how can I get that bass tone so famous : the Paul McCartney bass sound. What strings choose etc... About the amp, I work with amp emulation (softube, amplitube etc...), what amp should I choose, what settings on the amp etc...

I own a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass.

Thanks you,

Happy new year !
Old 2nd January 2012
  #2
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loujudson's Avatar
Oh dear, let's get this out of the way right now - get Paul's kind of bass, a nice big 60s amp, mic it they way they did at Abbey Road, and record it in Abbey Road. Bob's yer uncle!

heh So, now someone tell him how to get that sound in software.

Oh, and play it left handed!
Old 2nd January 2012
  #3
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s.d.finley's Avatar
get some flatwounds
Old 2nd January 2012
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

thanks s.d finley, im gonna have a look to. Other ideas ?
Old 2nd January 2012
  #5
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Jolly Jimmy's Avatar
 

Old flatwounds and high action will get you somewhere. You could also try muting the strings near the bridge with a bit of foam or fabric.
Old 2nd January 2012
  #6
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skiltrip's Avatar
Flatwound strings are a must for starters. This is probably your most important ingredient. To mellow out the attack even more, try some felt picks. I can get pretty close using the two things mentioned above on most basses. I've gotten good results on a Fender Jazz as well as an Ibanez SR500. Two very different basses, but the strings really make it happen. The felt picks really do bring it home too.

Sent from my LG-VM670 using Gearslutz.com
Old 2nd January 2012
  #7
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There is a lot more to it than the gear, because Paul used several basses over the years (including more than one Hofner, with different pickup locations), several amps, and on some of the recordings, either John or George is playing bass, usually on a Fender VI.

I kept a Vox bass amp, but I liked the Ampeg fliptop that I had, or the Danelectro/Silvertone single 15 bass amp for a pretty authentic 1960s bass sound, using either my Fender VI or Fender V.

I'm betting the Beatles bass sound has more to do with the studio methods. (And if you read some of the older books about the Beatles recordings, on the first recordings the techs at Abbey Road had to work on Paul's rig to make it usable for recording.) Some of the stuff really sounds like flat wound strings. Or just real dead strings. But not all of it.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #8
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s.d.finley's Avatar
Picks? Picks? McCartney didn't need no stinkin' picks!



Truly the bass sound was all in Pauls' fingers.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #9
Gear Head
 

Early or later sound ? Rickenbacker 4001S, possibly from Rubber Soul onwards.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #10
Lives for gear
what exactly is his bass sound? It's not really signature it would be hard to quantify based on that it is not really unique.
It's not like entwisle or geddy who they play 1 note and you just know.

although I think Paul has an signature approach to bass lines which makes his use of melody unique?
so I guess work on arrangement. Since it is more of a song thing than a sound thing with paul.
One of my fav paul bass lines is silly love songs but it could be the guy from KC & the sunshine band
for all I know? since it sounds nothing like the bass sound or line in say getting better which has a neat little
counterpoint kinda riff behind the F? chord...... which sound more like Carol Kaye or the Beach Boys than anyone else?

But then that raises the age old question in original music, why not just be yourself? and come up with your own
shctick? that is way cooler than trying to copy someone else. Unless you are in a wings tribute band.
I would love To be Denny lane for a day and play the Maybe I'm Amazed solo in front of 10,000 hot groupies
But I would still rather come up with something original and live in wonder of uniqueness.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #11
Gear Nut
 
big65pbass's Avatar
 

i have a hofner with an old set of flat wound strings that i play thru a simulation of a silverface fender bassman then thru a plugin of a neve compressor.

no, it's not his exact signal chain but it sure sounds good! and it's really fun to play that way.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
 

actually........ it was all in his pick!!!

Paul McCartney - Get Back (Live in Kiev 2008) - YouTube


sometimes......






Quote:
Originally Posted by s.d.finley View Post
Picks? Picks? McCartney didn't need no stinkin' picks!



Truly the bass sound was all in Pauls' fingers.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by s.d.finley View Post
Truly the bass sound was all in Pauls' fingers.
This ^^^^ and the comment about the arrangements and melodic lines he chooses.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #14
Gear Head
 

A bit off topic, but the basses commonly available in the UK in the 50s and early 60s were generally domestic or cheapish imports. Heavy import tax meant that the US stuff tended to be lusted after but expensive and remained the preserve of the well heeled and not that common. Vox, Burns etc were what was around and, not meaning to be unkind (or flamed), were quite often a bit crap with poor action, intonation and questionable quality, though I'm sure there were exceptions. One side effect of this was that strong fingers and hard finger pads (I could bend a needle on mine) developed. As an example, my son (used to US basses in the main) took part in a film about Joe Meek and had the original Burns Bison used on the Honeycombs hit "Have I the Right" to play, he was surprised at the weight of it and how different it felt and played. My own feeling about these instruments was that they taught you how to get the best out of them which served well when a finer bass could be afforded, perhaps giving more definition to each note without resorting to roundwounds or a pick, but of course this was down to personal preference and the sound desired for a particular style of playing.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
...I think Paul has an signature approach to bass lines which makes his use of melody unique?
Very true. His 'music hall' background and sense of melody, plus he was a guitar player all show up in his bass approach, which was unconventional in rock at the time.

One of the benefits to the English bands traveling to Germany and France... they brought back European instruments.

And I've played boatloads of Burns guitars. I thought that they were fine instruments (available under the Gretsch and Baldwin names as well as Burns, worth looking at until about 1970.) I remember seeing but I don't remember playing their basses.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #16
Gear Addict
 

Paul was Paul. If Paul picked up your bass you would say it sounds like Paul. Ringo was being interviewed once and showed how his technique is weird because he is left handed playing right handed set up. I swear he just hit a single hit and it rang "Ringo".
Old 3rd January 2012
  #17
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
And I've played boatloads of Burns guitars. I thought that they were fine instruments (available under the Gretsch and Baldwin names as well as Burns, worth looking at until about 1970.) I remember seeing but I don't remember playing their basses.
I didn't really mean to knock UK instruments as such, but maybe export versions were a bit better. I suppose another factor was that a lot of UK groups were trying to get the American sound (Buddy Holly etc.) that was so popular here at the time, but I'm also inclined to think that the decline of the mainstream UK instrument makers wasn't entirely down to this. But as has been mentioned, a great player will make a plank of wood sing.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 

I've had a PM 62 hofner limited edition remake form a few years ago where they had one of his vintage hofners in for some repairs and copied everything about it to do the reissue. It was a very beautifully detailed (and expensive) bass. Sounded as good as it gets. They also did the same with a 63 version.

As far as the PM Sound, how about the bass line on "Dear Prudence"?

It sounds like there was a great deal of early compression on his recordings.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #19
Gear Nut
 
drambitz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
Oh dear, let's get this out of the way right now - get Paul's kind of bass, a nice big 60s amp, mic it they way they did at Abbey Road, and record it in Abbey Road. Bob's yer uncle!

heh So, now someone tell him how to get that sound in software.

Oh, and play it left handed!
and get Paul to play it.
Old 3rd January 2012
  #20
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loujudson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drambitz View Post
and get Paul to play it.
Badda Boom!
Old 4th January 2012
  #21
Gear Addict
 

I think Paul mostly recorded Direct to board after 1965 or so
Old 4th January 2012
  #23
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Papanate's Avatar
 

Things I would try - after the flat wounds and getting a Hofner or Rickenbacker:

1. Learn 7 or 8 of his 'signature songs' parts note for note.
I would attempt the following: Can't Buy Me Love; Drive My Car; Paperback
Writer; Dear Prudence; I Want You (She's So Heavy);Get Back; Let Me Roll
It; and Maybe 'Jet'.

2. Amp Emulations: Hard call...try a direct box sound mixed with a Fender
Bassman through a single 15 Cabinet. Hard Cut the low end at 80hz or so
and emphasize 110hz - 130hz...use your ears as a calibrator. Use whatever
Condenser that resembles a AKG C-12. Again this is tricky because I doubt
Amp Emulations pay much attention to the mics they model beyond giving
them a general 'tone' for the style of mic.

3. Compress both the direct and emulation sound - using as close to a Fairchild
670 as you can get. And Compress it again with something that gives you a
semi-colored mid punch. Mix one or the other on top of each other until you
get the tone you hear in your head.

4. At this point it's up to you abilities as a player and the arrangements around
the Bass Part. Some tones it sounds like PM is using a pick...like Dear
Prudence and Get Back. Other's like 'I Want You (She's So Heavy) I can't
hear the attack well enough to know...but in that song you have a super
cool look at how PM dropped 4 different styles into one song and completely
drove it home.

After that barring building PM Clone music - either direct copies or close emulations the tone won't pop out. For instance - McCartney has played on
a bunch of other people's records...but I doubt you'd hear it or ID it because he's rarely playing the same way he does on his records. For Instance listen to
Veronica by Elvis Costello - Tell me what McCartney's playing...BTW from what I gather Elvis is quite the sly joker when it comes to talking about PM's collaboration songs.
Old 22nd March 2012
  #24
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
on the white album, and perhaps elsewhere, they used the "tic tac" bass technique, where you overdub a muted bass over the top of the regular bass playing the exact same notes, to get this unique attack sound.

Piggies, for example, and a few other songs

according to Wikipedia, " "Tic-tac bass" is a method of playing, in which a muted baritone guitar doubles the part played by the bass guitar or double bass. The method is commonly used in country music."

flatwound strings are a "must try" if you've never heard them on a guitar or bass
Old 22nd March 2012
  #25
Here for the gear
 

Straight into the desk with a 5dB boost at 100Hz.
Old 9th July 2012
  #26
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xgman View Post
It sounds like there was a great deal of early compression on his recordings.
I've been wondering for years how to get that "rubber" sounding bass. Then I got my hands on some Beatles multitracks and actually saw (visually) it was all in the compression - a tooth-like attack, then a drop in the waveform, then a fat release. If you set the compression right, you can get that sound with any DI'd bass guitar.
Old 9th July 2012
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
Fab Macedo's Avatar
Flatwound Strings, Pick, Semi-Hollow Bass, when recording dont use too much gain on bass frequency (no joking), that's how I got Mccartney's sound.
Old 9th July 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by flinty View Post
A bit off topic, but the basses commonly available in the UK in the 50s and early 60s were generally domestic or cheapish imports. Heavy import tax meant that the US stuff tended to be lusted after but expensive and remained the preserve of the well heeled and not that common. Vox, Burns etc were what was around and, not meaning to be unkind (or flamed), were quite often a bit crap with poor action, intonation and questionable quality, though I'm sure there were exceptions. One side effect of this was that strong fingers and hard finger pads (I could bend a needle on mine) developed. As an example, my son (used to US basses in the main) took part in a film about Joe Meek and had the original Burns Bison used on the Honeycombs hit "Have I the Right" to play, he was surprised at the weight of it and how different it felt and played. My own feeling about these instruments was that they taught you how to get the best out of them which served well when a finer bass could be afforded, perhaps giving more definition to each note without resorting to roundwounds or a pick, but of course this was down to personal preference and the sound desired for a particular style of playing.
Very true.
My first bass was a 1962 Precision (in 1963 - bought it off the original owner 6 months old) and I left the back ashtray on complete with rubber mute. Rotop K`s (Later to become Rotosound) flat wound strings you could tow an oil tanker with.
And because bass amps were either non existent or crap in the UK back then you HAD to beat the crap out of any bass to get any sort of decent noise out of it. And most of us used a pick initially for the same reason.

My first proper bass amp was actually a 30 watt mono philips valve HiFi amp converted for guitar and played through a 22" juke box speaker off an American airforce bass, in an open backed 1/2" plywood cabinet!

That muffled thuddy sound was all part of the equipment available at the time. Most people I knew had Framus Star basses like Bill Wyman`s, Hofner violin basses like Paulie`s, or home grown stuff like the Fenton-Weill basses and later the Burns ones that Jim developed while working for F-W.

And that is why a LOT of UK bass players in their late sixties and early seventies have chronic arthritis in their hands. Me included.
Old 9th July 2012
  #29
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uncle muscles's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfil View Post
Straight into the desk with a 5dB boost at 100Hz.
And a 9-15db boost @ 3k
Old 9th July 2012
  #30
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uncle muscles's Avatar
 

The McCartney bass sound is a hofner style bass. No if ands or buts about it. If you don't have one you won't get it. Direct into whatever daw, ssl channel with the above mention'd eq, or waves trans x multi with jjp bass (or similar) preset/doings. Bridge pickup.
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