Electric Basses - Selection
'Superleggera' 4 string
Handbuilt by Jon at Shuker Guitars in the Peak district, UK. This is based on the Series 2 model. Constructed with: maple neck, maple/wenge scarf headstock, Indian rosewood fretboard, swamp ash body with spalted Beech drop top. I had a Jazz and a Precision neck made for this bass, and it is fitted with gorgeous Aguilar PJ humcancelling pickups and John East Uni 4 Pre.
'Original' 5 string (headless)
Custom made for me in 2007 by Martin Peterson at the Bass Gallery, UK. Used mainly for recording session work, and theatre pit work where space is usually quite tight. Zebrano wood body with through neck and book-matched flame maple front and back. Macasa ebony fretboard. John East preamp (18v) Uni-Pre 5 with Kent Armstrong pick-ups.
Flamboyant Fretless (5 string)
This is my latest acquisition and is now my main fretless instrument. It is a 35" scale 5-string, tuned E to C. The wood is madrone burl front and back facings, matching headstock, ash wings. The neck is a 7 piece flamed maple / wenge through-neck topped with an ebony board, with subtle lines in mahogany. Fitted with side LED's that are very useful for pit playing and darker stages. This is fitted with a versatile Schack preamp alongwith Bartolini MM pickups and ABM piezo bridge with piezo preamp.
MIM Fender Jazz - Fretless, fitted with flat-wound Thomastik strings and upgraded Babicz bridge. Used for session recordings and live jazz or pop etc; anytime that lovely fretless "Mwah" sound is required! It is also used as a teaching instrument for introducing the fretless to students.
USA P-bass with a maple neck and finished in metallic blue. Now fitted with black Babicz bridge and Ernie Bass Hybrid slinky. Used for rock/pop gigs and/or when a plectrum is required.
Japanese Precision 70's Reissue. This has a 'B' profile neck (nut width 41.5mm). This P-bass is now set-up for a 'close-to-Motown' sound: Rosewood neck, passive circuitry / Kent Armstrong pick ups, La Bella 0760M (52-110) flat wound strings, high action, bridge-mute, Gotoh bridge, chrome pick-up cover and 'ashtray' bridge cover. I use this bass for a variety gigs but especially for function work if it includes soul, Motown, country etc.
As of November 2019, thanks to Westside Distribution (Glasgow), I will be using Mesa Boogie Bass Amplification in all of my public shows. I have been provided with a lightweight but immensely tone-rich WD-800 head, with two Subway 2x10 cabinets.
I also own an Eden WT405 head and a Laney R500H. These are used as spare / backup heads, or for situations where I might need two+ rigs set up simultaneously (weddings, festivals etc).
Both 2x10 Cabinets along with the WD-800 head. Mic'd up with a Sontronics DM-B1 microphone ready for a recording session.
Compressors & Pre-amps
'Stanley Clarke' Pre-amp
This delightful EBS Stanley Clarke pre-amp now serves on almost all my gigs and sessions. When playing electric and double bass, it allows me to quickly swap instruments. If only double bass is required, I can blend the Piezo pick-up with a microphone for the best possible sound. Thanks to Ralf at EBS for switching me over to the EBS family.
I also own a: Tech 21 Sansamp Bass Driver DI; a hand-built (Dave Hall) DHA VT1 Di Std; and a Fishman ProPlat II pre-amp.
Studio Bass Compressor
I've tried almost every compressor going. For 'pure electric' live shows I use this American made compressor. For ease of use, portability (and replaceability), this voltage controlled compressor is perfect. I often use this in always-on mode, sat behind the amp.
Design Retro Works
This is a well-crafted bit of kit. It's fitted with an operational transconductance amplifier rather than the more typical voltage controlled compressors (Made in GB). Used on my 'doubling' pedal board (gigs that need upright bass and electric)
I am involved in several different music projects that require various effects and the ability to switch between electric and amplified upright quickly and quietly. Although I regularly play with no effects, I do have a variety of pedals that satisfies almost every taste and genre of music.
MXR Auto Q - Authentic Crybaby Bass Wah tones and Q control
EBS OctaBass - A first-class, all-analog octave divider which creates a single note one octave below the pitch of any note
Boss OC-5 Octave - With it's refined 'poly mode' that offers numerous enhancements for extended-range playing with the latest tracking technologies, along with the fab vintage mode option (recreation of the legendary mono OC-2 from 1982).
DOD Bass Chorus (vintage FX62) - My first ever pedal and still going strong 30+ years later! This adds a warm, thick chorusing sound.
NUX Loop core deluxe
The Future Impact! - The superb programmable synth pedal is a much improved replacement to the outdated, over-priced and often troublesome Akai Deep Impact. The Future Impact is the pedal used by Chris Wolstenholme - bass player for Muse.
Picture : some of my pedals
Main: Ciocks DC-7 power supply
Back-up: 1-Spot Pro TrueTone CS7 power supply
Routing / Other
Bright Onion AB/tuner mute pedal (custom made)
Bright Onion Blender Looper (custom made)
Bright Onion Switch Looper (custom made)
Korg PitchBlack tuner Std.
Korg PitchBlack tuner Mini.
Rafferty HPF Pre 2 Bass Preamp (Double Bass) (custom made)
In terms of string types, over the years I've tried virtually every option available, including some custom made strings from Australia! However, I always seem to come back to Ernie Balls, and I am delighted to endorse their round-wound string products. My personal preference for the Fender Jazz Fretless is Thomastik Flat Wounds; to quote studio-legend Carol Kaye, these are the "Rolls Royce of all strings for that vital 1960s powerful sound with great feel". For the Motown P-bass I now used La Bella flats (52 - 110 gauge).
Autumn 2019 News: As part of my mini-quest to buy British when possible, on my headless SEI, I'm currently trying out some UK made strings by Newtone (Derbyshire). These are custom made (Diamond Bass 5 String Double Ball end Stainless Steel Hex core .040 - .120 with tapered B). First impressions are great, but I'll update once I've done a few gigs with these strings.
Shuker Bass: 4-String round wound strings
P-Bass / Fretless: Thomastik Flat wound strings
Sei Headless bass: Diamond Bass 5 String Double Ball end Stainless Steel Hex core .040 - .120 with tapered B
Status Bass: 5-String round wound strings
P-Bass (Motown): La Bella 52 - 110's
Double Basses: Currently Fitted with Thomastik Spirocores.
In 2017 I visited the Spanish factory that make these fabulous straps. I now own several of the Bass 'Fakey' model and I am happy to endorse there products. The 'Fakey' is suitably wide, well-padded, tough and very-well made. Check out the details and unique adjusting feature by clicking here. They also make a range of vegan straps too.If you visit Spain, why not pop by and pay them a visit too!
My main instrument is a handmade Hungarian Double Bass - approx. 85 years old. It's a fairly large bodied instrument but very easy to get around (approx. 7/8 size). The bass is fitted with a David Gage Realist pick-up for amplifying at live concerts. For studio recording, I have a selection of microphones (low-impedance, cardioid, dynamic microphones and/or condenser microphones) which can be placed and blended to suit the needs of the client.
Bows: I have a small selection, my favourite being and Alfred Knoll 4/4 with black hair (French style).
If bass synth is needed, I use a Roland GAIA SH01. A great compact 3 octave analogue modelling synth.
Recording / Microphones
I often get asked about what mics I use to record bass in the studio. For upright bass I use a Sontronics DM-1B (pictured). This is a mid-range condenser microhone that works well with double bass. There seems to be no discernable peaks or scoops across most of the frequency range of my double bass. In addition, the mic is well-built and designed in the UK. Placement wise, I usually direct the mic just off centre and towards the treble side of the bridge. A distance of about 8 to 10 inches away works well in my small home studio. Depending on the recording, I sometimes also add a SM57 near the fingerboard. For bass guitar, DI is the order of the day for 95% of the recordings I undertake. However, sometimes I like to use the DM-1B to mic a bass cab. Often I use this to blend with a DI signal. A lot depends on the style of the music, and the overall sound stipulated by the client.
Although I won't list all my recording equipment, it's useful to say that I mix any recordings using a pair of Totem Dreamcatchers and A/B with Mordaunt Short Alumni 2s.