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Big Al

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About Big Al

  • Birthday 31/10/1956

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  1. With his Trace Elliott and Ashdown amps, you could usually see the EQ knobs had a gull wing shape, with the mids scooped out, and extreme lows and highs decreased...
  2. Unfortunately the original white plastic nut on the 2010 neck broke under the E string, so I've made a new 44mm one out of stainless steel. It gives a very clear bright sound, with lots of sustain - just what I'm after... [attachment=186887:Als-stainless-steel-nut-2.jpg]
  3. Thanks for all the positive comments guys. The lowdown on the lack of recognition JJ got from Fender is here.... http://www.shukerguitars.co.uk/jjpbass.html But basically I would have thought the fact that the Stranglers are almost unknown in the USA is a major factor to there being no signature 'JJ' Fender. There was probably scope for a huge American interest in the Stranglers, but JJ in particular steered the band away from that market through his dislike (almost hatred) of things American. He had immersed himself in karate and Japanese warrior ethics, and was disgusted at the US for dropping two atomic bombs on the country. For instance, very early in their careers (1977 maybe), the band visited EMI headquarters in the Netherlands, when JJ noticed one of the executives had an American flag on a wall display. Before he left, JJ set the flag on fire, which also destroyed the exec's carpets, curtains, and stereo system. Behaviour like that might be great for your punk credentials, but it won't endear you to the US market or record companies. The first Shuker 'JJ' signature bass came very close to replicating the sound of his 1963 'green bass', but I think time is taking its toll on him, and I've read that the weight of the bass was hurting his back after maybe five hours of rehearsals, so Shuker have come up with a second signature model for him, called the 'Carbon-lite' (below). It only weighs 7.5 pounds - a lot less than a typical 1970s ash Fender Precision body (I've read some weighed 14 pounds!), but only time will tell if this new bass is as good sonically as the first Shuker. I've been going to Stranglers gigs since 1978, and will see them again in Aberdeen later this month. The new bass is being toured with this latest Stranglers tour at the moment, so we'll see! http://www.shukerguitars.co.uk/jjcarbonlite.html
  4. Funny you should mention that Roger - I have an Ashdown D600 (the amp the JJB500 evolved from) which I've sprayed black! The D600 and the MK500 are probably better amps than the JJ signature model, as he rightly wanted to keep the price down for his fans - and Ashdown made a few cost-cutting changes, like moving the off/on button from the front face to the rear. I'm fairly sure JJ's gigging amps were black D600s, with ABM900s as spares... [attachment=183578:Paint-it-Black-2.jpg]
  5. Yeah - it used to get dragged out when Baz and JJ would do a bass duet on 'Dead Los Angeles'...[attachment=182789:www.pinterest.comhgjdghj.jpg]
  6. Hugh Cornwell had taken the bass back with him from Sweden prior to the Stranglers forming, and sold it to JJ for £35! The bass would have been one of Fender's white finishes originally, maybe an aged and yellowed Olympic White, then at some point someone crudely applied an aerosol green sunburst. I had the choice of trying to recreate his bass as faithfully as I could, but even in the 1970s it looked like it had been through a cement mixer, with all the paint gouges and scratches. Detailed photos of the bass are very hard to find on the internet, so a lot of it would have been guesswork. Instead, I opted to finish the bass as if it had been painted like that by Fender from new - no doubt the finish will mellow and collect a few dings over the years, which can only make it look more like the original! Incidentally, the original bass was badly damaged late in 1977, and after it was repaired it never sounded the same, which is why JJ started using black 1970s Precisions, along with the odd Yamaha, Wahl, Steinberger XL2, and now his Shukers. The green bass is still around, but really it should be preserved for posterity in some major museum...
  7. [quote name='miles'tone' timestamp='1422869514' post='2677615'] Out of interest, why did you go for Quarter pounders? As they weren't around in the '70s. Wouldn't JJ's bass just have had the stock pickups fitted? [/quote] [color=#0000ff]His early green bass probably still has the 1963 pickups, but I read (http://stranglers-ratter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/basses-and-bad-backs.html) that Shuker used the green bass as a template for the JJ signature basses, and used overwound pickups to emulate the sound. I thought the bigger magnets and higher output windings would have the same effect. I've used them a lot, and like the bottom end grunt they give.[/color] [quote name='Norm' timestamp='1422873134' post='2677667'] and get a Hiwatt 50w guitar amp. :-) [/quote] [color=#0000ff]Interesting that he went back to a Hiwatt 50 for some tracks on the album 'Written in Red', and he also used a Hiwatt 200 in the late 1970s. I used a Hiwatt 100 and 2 Hiwatt 4X10s stack (see my avatar) to get that Stranglers sound, and it worked a treat.[/color] [quote name='mentalextra' timestamp='1422909545' post='2678316'] It always amazes me how much effort is put into recreating 'JJ's' tone on those early tracks, especially compared to how much effort he put into it? [/quote] [color=#0000ff]His present tone using his signature Shuker bass and Ashdown amps and cabinets is very reminiscent of that classic early JJ sound - as can be heard on the Youtube video of 'Rattus at the Roundhouse' gig https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SItRVpLjAI0.[/color] [color=#0000ff]Well worth watching![/color]
  8. Just finished building a tribute to JJ Burnel's original 1963 green bass this morning, and I'm very pleased with the way it's turned out. If you've listened to the basslines on the first albums (Rattus Norvegicus' and 'No More Heroes'), you'll know what a unique sound he made with this instrument - and the sole reason I ever picked up a bass in the first place. I'd built one before maybe 15 years ago (the one in my avatar pic), but had used a Squier P-bass then. This one is a genuine USA Fender, which I built to the following specs:- 1962 re-issue USA neck (made in 2010), finished in aged nitrocellulose lacquer, with vintage genuine Fender tuners, string guide, 'hootenanny' strap button, and a very accurate 1963 decal from oldfret.com. Nut width is the 1.75 inch 'C' neck. New genuine USA Fender alder body (dated 2013), re-shaped to vintage contours. Finished in nitrocellulose sealer, primer, base coat, sunburst, and clear gloss lacquer layers, applied with an airbrush. Genuine vintage Fender bridge, strap buttons, control knobs, and tugbar. USA 'Spitfire' hand made pickguard, in vintage burgundy with a 1960s speckle - probably the best available. Genuine 'L' serial number neck plate. Seymour Duncan Quarterpounder pickups. [attachment=182676:Finished-Burnel-bass-front.jpg][attachment=182678:Finished-Burnel-bass-rear.jpg][attachment=182677:Finished-Burnel-bass-Pickgu.jpg]
  9. The Stranglers played five songs, 'Ugly', 'I feel like a Wog', 'Bring on the Nubiles', 'Burning up Time' and 'Hanging Around' during that 1978 'Rock Goes to College' university gig before they (quit rightly) stormed off. The BBC have never forgiven them for it - in fact they went down a treat at Glastonbury last year, playing to an eager 85,000 audience, and were main stage at T In The Park, but the BBC didn't even bother recording [i]them[/i]. They never appeared on 'Old Grey Whistle Test', nor on Jules Holland's 'Later'... [url="https://gashead.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/being-there-the-stranglers-university-of-surrey-19th-october-1978/"]https://gashead.word...h-october-1978/[/url] http://downinthesewer.com/rock-goes-to-college/
  10. [quote name='Highfox' timestamp='1420049368' post='2645222'] Any one remember Freddy Laker? [/quote] The girl is Penny Tobin, who guested on keyboards for loads of different well-known bands (e.g. Slits, Eurythmics) in the punk and post-punk era... [url="http://penelopetobin.com/about/"]http://penelopetobin.com/about/[/url] My favourite Stranglers song must be Hanging Around - I love playing it on bass. The quicker the better, and this is probably the best video of that song, displaying all the audience participation and aggro they are famous for... [url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z99Ah6pWHt0"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z99Ah6pWHt0[/url]
  11. The first time I met JJ it was at a nightclub called Ruffles, Aberdeen (now a car park!) in October 1978. I was watching the support band (The Skids) up on the right balcony, when a lanky, leather-jacketed guy jumped over from backstage, and stood beside me to check out the venue sound. For want of something inspired to say, as a fellow motorcyclist I just asked him how his 750cc Triumph Bonneville was running. I was honestly chuffed when he just looked at me and simply said "f*** off!". Once on, the Stranglers heroically played through a non-stop volley of saliva, streaming down on them like arrows at Agincourt. Hugh Cornwell looked extremely grim, carrying on playing while a long string of gob hanging from his nose swayed back and forth in time to the beat. As one song ended, JJ got tired of his leather jacket getting covered, so took it off, but he continued to be hit, and finally snapped. He had obviously locked on to one particular culprit, put down his Precision, and just performed a beautiful swan dive into the audience, as if diving into a swimming pool. When the crowd cleared around him, he was sitting on the guy's chest, raining punch after punch to his face and head. After a short while, bouncers picked JJ up and pushed him back on the stage again, and they could be seen dragging the guy outside, probably for another beating. The spitting practically died out after that, and they carried on to deliver an absolutely fantastic gig, complete with memorable full frontal strippers for 'Nice 'n' Sleazy'. I'm still a huge Stranglers fan - and in fact JJ's sound was the only reason I started playing bass!
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