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JJ Burnel. that sound.l


beerdragon
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So... it's fairly clear that his characteristic grindy sound would come out of a cranked valve amp, whether Hiwatt, Marshall or whatever; but when he switched to more hifi-ish gear later (eg Trace Elliots from early 80's on, through to Ashdown Lab Series stuff today ), what did/does he use to get the dirt for his early classic sound?

Personally, I've never found a really convincing way of getting that sound [i]except[/i] via the cranked-up-valve-amp route.
( Oh no, perhaps I shouldn't have said that - let's not have the thread degenerate into a valves-versus-trannies argument... :) )

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I've got JJ's Steinberger bass!

Rumour has it that he went down to the original Bass Centre in Wapping after having `punched' and split the greenburst Precision into two separate body halves, trying to find a `bass that would not break'. He tried the Steinberger, liked the way it played etc and asked how strong it was. `Hit it against the wall' - so he tapped it. `No, really whack it....'. JJ swang it like a baseball bat and it took a chunk out of the wall!

I bought it off of Andy Pearson, the bassist with The Beat. Great bass, great for cricket practice!

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  • 2 years later...

At the risk of sounding like a JJ gear nerd I can add that JJ used Gibson Heavy picks and did indeed switch to flatwound strings for a period around Feline/Aural Sculpture.

Prior to the Trace gear and after the valve amps he was using a rack set up with an Ashly SC40 preamp, MXR (I think) 31 band graphic EQ and Yamaha power amps. I remember this rig sounding particularly good live. Snarly but full-bodied with nice mids.

He sounds like Burnel whatever rig he's had.

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I also think the "guitarist playing bass" bit adds to it, as in general, guitarists play nearer the bridge. At one of our band practices, me & the guitarist swapped instruments, and the drummer commented on how much like JJ he sounded, using my set-up, no eq/settings changes. I was quite envious.

Funnily enough, just been watching The Stranglers on youtube quite a bit, and bought their last cd - quality band, must get round to going to see them when they`re next playing.

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[quote name='bremen' post='172197' date='Apr 8 2008, 01:18 PM']I saw them back in the day (1980ish) and he had what looked like 10kW of bass bins, mids and highs with lenses and all the 80s 'big PA' trimmings.

Good riot, too :-)[/quote]
I take it that was Reading in about 83/84 with Steel Pulse on the bill or possibly the Greyhound Fulham when Hugh decided he was no longer in the band :) for at least an hour...I was in the Finchley Freedom Fighters at the time......DOZE WUZ DER DAZE

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[quote name='Lozz196' post='956421' date='Sep 14 2010, 07:23 PM']I also think the "guitarist playing bass" bit adds to it, as in general, guitarists play nearer the bridge. At one of our band practices, me & the guitarist swapped instruments, and the drummer commented on how much like JJ he sounded, using my set-up, no eq/settings changes. I was quite envious.

Funnily enough, just been watching The Stranglers on youtube quite a bit, and bought their last cd - quality band, must get round to going to see them when they`re next playing.[/quote]
Wasn't JJ a trained classical guitarist rather than the egocentric [email protected] sort, though?

Jon.

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[quote name='Spoombung' post='956440' date='Sep 14 2010, 07:34 PM']I still maintain I've never heard a Precision bass sound like his anywhere. It might be interesting to offer up a challenge to see if we can get any P-bass players here on Basschat to emulate the sound and then run a competition for the best effort.[/quote]

Great idea. I'd pay a dollar for that!! Now where can I get a P...

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[quote name='Lozz196' post='956421' date='Sep 14 2010, 07:23 PM']Funnily enough, just been watching The Stranglers on youtube quite a bit, and bought their last cd - quality band, must get round to going to see them when they`re next playing.[/quote]

Your luck's in, new tour for the Spring just announced!


[url="http://www.stranglers.net/Tour_news_2011.html"]http://www.stranglers.net/Tour_news_2011.html[/url]

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[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64JX-DHzbX8&feature=related"]'Peaches'[/url] is one of my all time favourites, its the first punk single i ever bought and it turned me onto the bass sound. Lately i have been playing it several times a day, its become my party piece :)

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[quote name='daz' post='956822' date='Sep 15 2010, 05:42 AM'][url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64JX-DHzbX8&feature=related"]'Peaches'[/url] is one of my all time favourites, its the first punk single i ever bought and it turned me onto the bass sound. Lately i have been playing it several times a day, its become my party piece :)[/quote]
First single I ever bought, first bass line I ever learned - JJ's got a lot to answer for! :rolleyes:

J.

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once read a interview with J J and he said he'd tried hundreds of P's and never got the sound he got with the green one he broke in half, and I don't think he ever has got the sound he got on the first 3 Stranglers albums, so it was a fluke IMO the green P had a flaw in it that made it sound like that and that's probably the reason it broke in half!

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[quote name='Bassassin' post='956928' date='Sep 15 2010, 09:41 AM'], first bass line I ever learned )

J.[/quote]

And me!

I saw the Stranglers in Nottingham on their last tour. Brilliant live. JJ seemd to be playing the Shuker into an Ashdown stack. He still had that aggressive clanky, growly sound, and personlly I think most of the sound is in his playing style - heavy pick played very near the bridge.

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  • 10 years later...
On 14/09/2010 at 19:58, Born 2B Mild said:

A certain luthier, who should know (guess who), told me about JJB's EQ.."treble and bass full on, no mids"

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...

JJ-Ashdown.jpg

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Yeah, the original amp he had from what I’ve read only had bass & treble so he just put both on full. Coupled with his (now) famous cab with blown speakers it created that magnificent sound which in my view has been refined and shaped but sadly never bettered.

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I don't think his tone is really all that special and unique (though I do really like it and thinks it sounds awesome in the context), and to me it is even pretty obvious that it comes from a P Bass, sounds very much like most mildly overdriven/distorted P Bases equipped with steel roundwound strings played with a pick and an EQ leaning towards the upper mids/lower treble frequency region would.

To me, while maybe not being the traditional P Bass tone for pop and more mellow types/genres of music, but still being a fairly common kind of P Bass tone (or at least something somewhat around that ballpark) in punk and similar types of more aggressive music, it's definitely an undeniable and unmistakably P Bass tone.

And if I was going for that kind of tone my first thought would be to use a P Bass, since they, equipped with roundwound strings and played with a pick, got that very specific kind of raunchy/unpolished, sort of griddy/dirty bite and snap to them, which to my knowledge is pretty unique to P Basses and similar basses with a P style middle position pickup (a Rickenbacker for instance in comparison in that same kind of setup/context would produce a slightly thinner, less snappy and more clanky, but also somewhat more polite, less raunchy, kind of tone, not having quite the same bold/"rude"/careless sort of rough "in your face" edge to it).

Ironically it is that very same somewhat dirty/unpolished character unique to P pickups that gives such a warm, round, thumpy fat tone to a P Bass equipped with flatwound strings, when playing non aggressive finger style, and using a more bass focused EQ.

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash
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Not sure if this has already been covered. If we're referring to the same sound that he has on "walk on by" then a major contribution to the sound is the mic.

To my manky ears it sounds very "miked" as such and is possibly the result of two mics or a mic and a DI not completely in phase with each other as there's a weird nasal quality to the mids.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've said this before, but it also had something to do with the  Green P bass he bought off Hugh Cornwall, he broke it in half while thumping it to get feed back, had it repaired and it was never the same again, or so the story goes, he certainly didn't sound like those first 3 albums last time I saw them

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