Over the course of time that I’ve been playing bass, if there is any one truth I’ve learned it is this: if I’m improving as a musician, it’s because I’m improving as a listener. For me, the joy of playing live music comes from working as part of a team. While I take much inspiration from players who are pushing the boundaries of playing bass and exploiting it’s potential as a vehicle for virtuosity, I haven’t set out to follow that path. I enjoy stepping out for the occasional solo (if it suits the music) but I don’t make those moments the focus of my efforts as a player.
The virtuoso bassists who hold my attention tend to be players who are also great composers – Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller come to mind - but many of the bass players who are most inspiring to me are not known for their virtuosity. A few of my favorite bassists: Dee Murray, Willie Weeks, John Paul Jones, Lee Sklar, Carol Kaye, Sting, Tony Levin, Graham Maby, Paul Chambers, Doug Stegmeyer, Charlie Haden, Colin Moulding, Chris Squire, Nick Lowe, Paul McCartney, Ron Carter, Tim Commerford, Dave Holland, Chuck Rainey…
2010 through 2012 was a period of big changes for me. I made extensive modifications to my Fender bass and upgraded pretty much every component of my signal path – preamps, amps, cabs, pedals – the whole kit n kaboodle. I auditioned a lot of gear and came to the unfortunate conclusions that newer isn’t always better and, at least when it comes to powering the low end, there are no shortcuts (at least not yet).
I’m using an Empirical Labs ‘Lil FrEQ’ as preamp in my main rig. It has a transformer output that’s modeled on the vintage Neve 1073 and, to my humble ears, this thing is golden. I run it into a Crest CA9 power amp – still the best sounding power amp I’ve found to date – driving either a pair of Baer ML112 cabs or a pair of Bergantino HT 1x12 ER cabs.
I also have a Mesa Boogie Walkabout head for smaller gigs and an Acoustic Image New Yorker combo amp for the really small gigs.
What was once a ‘modern’ Precision is now more of a Jazz Bass, sporting a John East preamp and a pair of Nordstrand Fat Stack pickups in 60’s Jazz Bass locations. I also had smaller frets installed and filed very low. This bass is fast becoming my ‘go-to’ bass.The modifications were done by luthiers Bill DeLap and Rick McKee.
Other main basses are a pair of Sadowsky NYC 24/5 basses - one fretted, one fretless - and I also have a Christopher’s Workshop Busetto styled Double Bass.
- Darkglass Electronics B7K
- FEA Labs Dual Band Compressor Limiter
- FEA Labs Dual Engine Compressor Limiter
- Strymon Blue Sky Reverb
- MXR Bass Octave Deluxe
- Boss EQ3B Para EQ
- Empress Germ Drive
- Radial Tone Bone
- Boss Chorus
- Boss LMB-3 Limiter
- Cioks DC10 power supply
Pedalboard Version 7.4.5