'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.
S2 'Classic' 5 string
My main go-to 'live' bass for 5 string style gigs with a highly-stable 35" scale graphite through-neck. It uses an 18v active Status preamp which supplies a broad scope of tones, suitable for almost all styles and genres (drop A-tuner fitted to the B-string) Made for me in 2004 by Rob Green at Status Graphite, UK.
'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.
Fretless Jazz 4 string
Passive 4 string. This used to be fretted and used as a spare / teaching bass. It is now fitted with a Fender fretless neck and flat wound Thomastik strings 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.
Fender Precision Basses
I have two 'work-horse' P- basses.
To the left is my USA P bass with a maple neck. This is now set-up with Ernie Bass Hybrid slinky and used for rock gigs and/or when a plectrum is required.
To the right is my Japanese Precision 70's Reissue, this has a 'B' profile neck (nut width 41-42mm). 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 (not in pic) and 'ashtray' bridge cover (not in pic). 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 am being provided with the lightweight by immensely tone-rich WD800 head, with two Subway 2x10 cabinets.
Previously I had predominately used Genz-Benz heads and cabs. I still own a SWR Headlite power-amp and an Eden WT405 head. These are used as spare / backup heads, or for situations where I might need two rigs set up simultaneously.
Effects & Pre-amps
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.
DRW JD-01 Compressor
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).
Pedals and Effects
Some of my current pedals and effects
Typical 'Doubling' Pedal Board
This is a typical pedalboard layout for a 'doubling' gig (double bass and electric bass) for jazz etc. No effects other than chorus (for some solos). The board is mainly for double bass sound processing and for ease switching instruments and tuning etc.
Pre-amps / D.I. / Other
DHA Bass pre-amp / DI: Preamp valve is currently an AX7 (custom made)
Tech 21 Sansamp Bass Driver DI
Bright Onion AB/tuner mute pedal (custom made)
Bright Onion Blender Looper (custom made)
Korg PitchBlack tuner
DRW JD-01 compressor
Fishman ProPlat II pre-amp (Double Bass)
Rafferty HPF Pre 2 Bass Preamp (Double Bass) (custom made)
1-Spot Pro TrueTone CS7 power supply
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
DOD Bass Chorus (vintage FX62) - My first ever pedal and still going strong 26 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 (also a Status player!)
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 now 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.
I also own a 3/4 size teaching Double Bass, which is suitable for smaller adults and children from about 10 years upwards (depending on size).
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 won't list all my recording equipment, but 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 condensor 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.