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mattbass6

Billy Sheehan and his sound.......

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Has anyone else ever wondered or heard for that matter, Billy Sheehan play without all of his FX? I love listening to him play (most of the time) and especially with Sons Of Apollo but, I was left wondering what it would have sounded like if Billy just used a "cleaner" tone with some overdrive and through 10's or 12's rather than 15's. I know his sound is "his" sound and apart from his incredible ability, his sound makes him very recognisable but, I'd love to hear him play through the rig of say, Adam Nolly or, Amos Williams. Any one else ever wonder about stuff like this or, have i just got too much time on my hands........ ;)

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Hi Matty,

Big Billy Sheehan fan myself. I went to the Winery Dogs Dogcamp in the States a couple of years back. Borderline stalker :)

I'm guessing that his sound probably originated out of necessity in a 3 piece band, using a lot of mid and overdrive to cover the lack of 2nd guitarist, and fill up the sound in solos.

Once you then develop your own signature sound and style, people come to you as a brand to add value to their product/band. There are technically much better bass players out there (Dylan Wilson - Richie Kotzen's bassist) but they don't sound unique. Great for session work but will always be replaceable by the next newest, cheaper option.

The downside is that being different polarises people but my theory is that it's better for 99% of the public to hate what you do as long as the 1% go crazy for you. That's a gold record in the UK. Better that than 100% go 'Meh'.

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If you do some serious stalking on YouTube like I have, you will finds stacks of clips of Billy playing straight. Usually always on his Sig bass, but just plugged into the P pickup into whatever stack or studio gear.

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Billy's use of distortion is well known. Even his clean tone has distortion on it. But he's also a very heavy user of compression. Hearing his distorted tone without compression is a real eye opener!

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Yup, I've sat with Billy whilst he played without any 'effects'. There is quite a lot in his core tone that comes from just the bass itself. The mix of the Dimarzio pickups, even without the dual signal path routing still has a certain 'something' which is rather lovely to the ear.

Oh and I suppose if you are the kinda person to say 'its all in the fingers', then yes, Billy does sound like Billy even when he isn't playing *that* pickup configuration.

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This is Billy Sheehan playing bass on this Richie Kotzen song (and Pat Torpey on drums)

It's definitely not Billy's usual tone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5O5kxntR2w

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The speaker sizes Billy favours don't shape his tone really. The core of his tone is that distortion, which is in those EBS pedals and is apparently cloned from some preamps he used back in the '80s.

Part of Billy's tone comes about from just how busily he plays. Some Winery Dogs tracks suffer from him constantly hitting passing notes, harmonics and other little stunts.

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[quote name='Marvin' timestamp='1509485908' post='3399403']
This is Billy Sheehan playing bass on this Richie Kotzen song (and Pat Torpey on drums)

[b]It's definitely not Billy's usual tone.[/b]

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5O5kxntR2w[/media]
[/quote]

Probably say the same for the DLR era too!

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[quote name='dood' timestamp='1509488070' post='3399434']


Probably say the same for the DLR era too!
[/quote]
Docklands Light Railway? Standard of busking must have been better in those days.

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[quote name='pbasspecial' timestamp='1509491861' post='3399469']
Can heartily recommend:
Eat 'em and Smile - Dave Lee Roth
First 2 Mr Big albums
Both Winery Dogs albums
[/quote]

I agree.

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“The Talas Years” has a huge amount of excellent playing by Billy. Has the original version of Shyboy as well as a couple of his solo pieces.
He’s always been on of my inspirations since the 80s, but I always felt his sound lacked low end.

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[quote name='pbasspecial' timestamp='1509491861' post='3399469']
Can heartily recommend:
Eat 'em and Smile - Dave Lee Roth
First 2 Mr Big albums
Both Winery Dogs albums
[/quote]

Listen to the new debut album by Sons of Apollo as well.

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[quote name='Meddle' timestamp='1509488058' post='3399433']
The speaker sizes Billy favours don't shape his tone really. The core of his tone is that distortion, which is in those EBS pedals and is apparently cloned from some preamps he used back in the '80s.

Part of Billy's tone comes about from just how busily he plays. Some Winery Dogs tracks suffer from him constantly hitting passing notes, harmonics and other little stunts.
[/quote]
Yeah I get that and, it makes sense but with the EB0 pickup at the neck position and in combination with the 15's, that will add to the bass end I would have thought. His technique and setup fascinates me. I was lucky enough to hang out with a fellow member for Mr. Big for a whole day where many drinks were consumed and many tales told but, one of the things that stuck with me was when the gentleman in question stated that he wished Billy would just play with a lot less processing and let the bass breath a bit more. I found that fascinating and quite insightful.

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[quote name='pbasspecial' timestamp='1509491861' post='3399469']
Can heartily recommend:
Eat 'em and Smile - Dave Lee Roth
First 2 Mr Big albums
Both Winery Dogs albums
[/quote]

I'd add Steve Vai's 'Live at the Astoria' to that recommendation. I've seen Vai's band a few times, both with and without Billy, but it was always better with Billy on bass. He's mint.

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This is some of my favourite Sheehan stuff:

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n63CWqX6RA0[/media]

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I once saw him do a clinic where he was plugged direct into an Ampeg, using just the P-pickup. Still sounded like him.

I don't think that there is an album that really does his live sound justice, though.

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[quote name='Heathy' timestamp='1509563039' post='3399962']
I once saw him do a clinic where he was plugged direct into an Ampeg, using just the P-pickup.[/quote]

His signature Will Power P pickup is a hot ceramic pickup, so a lot of his snarling tone is baked into the pickup itself.

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[quote name='fretmeister' timestamp='1509559145' post='3399933']
He's moved over to the Line 6 Helix now. The Hartke's are just used as Power amps these days. The Helix does all the sound processing.
[/quote]

Thanks for the heads up. Interesting.

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