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pobrien_ie

Another interesting isolated bass track - Sir Duke

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Posted (edited)

Apologies if this has been posted before. I just came across it yesterday, and was fascinated by it.

It seems to be the actual recording. Comparing it with a tab I have from an old Guitar World's Bass Guitar, it matches note for note. You can also hear studio bleed at various points, making me think it's the real deal.

I've seen a few threads about isolated bass tracks, and how the final mix often makes the bass track seem wildly different. Maybe it's just me, but it sounds like Nate Watts was playing a bass with terrible action.

Edited by pobrien_ie
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It's been a very long time since I posted. It looks like I haven't added the YouTube link properly. Sorry about that....

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This and I Wish are my two favourite Stevie Wonder bass lines. I remember when I heard this at being disappointed as it didn't sound as good as I thought that it was going to be but I Wish being even more amazing than I thought it could possibly be but I can't find it on Youtube so it may have been deleted or taken off

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Posted (edited)
On 8 June 2020 at 20:37, Delberthot said:

This and I Wish are my two favourite Stevie Wonder bass lines. I remember when I heard this at being disappointed as it didn't sound as good as I thought that it was going to be but I Wish being even more amazing than I thought it could possibly be but I can't find it on Youtube so it may have been deleted or taken off

Very interesting isolated bass track - from an interview published with Nate Watts years ago, this was recorded on a Precision via an external Alembic pre amp (I Wish on a Jazz through the same Alembic studio pre amp). Ive always had problems playing that unison riff cleanly - interesting Nate doesnt either according to that isolated track!! Mind you Ive been trying to for years - he probably only had a few days to nail it!! 

Edited by drTStingray
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Agreed. It hasn't changed my opinion on it at all, I'm just surprised how better it sounds in the final mix. Although there are some bits I'll always hear differently from now on.

It's actually the third chorus that has been my favourite part, and trickiest to learn. He really just lets loose there.

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Posted (edited)

Sometimes it's the feel that matters more than whether it's a clean take or not. It's still a great bassline.

Edited by gjones
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Very cool, I’d (shockingly?) never learnt this until recently so it’s great to hear it like this :)

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A great example of how your sound doesn't count for much, even on a record, but what you play and how you play it trumps everything else.

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Sounds great to me. Agree 100% about the "feel" comments.

It's the usual thing of sounding much more midrange and less low end than you might expect but this seems to be a very consistent thing with isolated tracks and shows us what fits best in a final mix.

What did surprise me is that it sounds (to my uneducated ear) a bit like he's using a pick! Have seen modern footage of Nate playing it with his fingers and assume this was how it was recorded. Is it just that he hits the strings really hard? Or is it something to do with certain frequencies coming through that emphasise the attack? Or both?

I've learned a pretty vanilla version of this, basically everything up to and including the first unison break. What's great about this is being able to properly hear all the fantastic variations and fills that he throws in in the subsequent repeats. That said, I doubt that I'll be able to play them any time soon!


 

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15 minutes ago, Baceface said:

It's the usual thing of sounding much more midrange and less low end than you might expect but this seems to be a very consistent thing with isolated tracks and shows us what fits best in a final mix.

I would guess the isolated track is not EQed yet.  The reason I say that is that I also have a "no bass" mix of Sir Duke; I overlaid the two tracks, and it doesn't sound like the album version.

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Although thinking about it, I suppose the same can be said of the "no bass" mix i.e. I don't know where that came from and if/how it's EQed or not. 

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1 minute ago, jrixn1 said:

I would guess the isolated track is not EQed yet.  The reason I say that is that I also have a "no bass" mix of Sir Duke; I overlaid the two tracks, and it doesn't sound like the album version.

I hadn't considered that! Do you mean that they might have boosted the bass in the mix? 

I was trying to be clever and, as usual, failing. It's just that it seems quite a consistent thing that when I listen to isolated bass tracks, they tend to contain more midrange and less bass than I initially expected them to do. I suppose there are possible tweaks in the mix and then the whole mastering process that would change the sound.

 

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I don't really know, I'm just guessing 😃   I agree that the isolated tracks I hear on YouTube are generally more middy and less bassy than I thought they would be, given how they sound in the mix.  Also they are often a lot more overdriven, when the final mix sounds clean.

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Sounds like a fairly raw track with a lot of compression emphasising the attack and string noise to me. Depending on how they got the isolated track the EQ might not be exactly what you're hearing on the recording. That said, I've never noticed him going for it like that in the last half and it's impressive! 

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I always wondered why the Fm in the chorus works when it shouldn't. Here's Jacob Collier to help explain why

 

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13 hours ago, Delberthot said:

Found it!

The first of the slidey bits come around 1.08

Thanks for sharing this. I did have a look after your earlier post, but couldn't find it.

 

The bass here sounds a lot better to my ears. To me, it sounds almost sounds like a cheap bass being used in Sir Duke, which I highly doubt was the case. It's like the sound I get in the upper register when I use a sponge as a mute under the strings on one of my bases that could do with a set-up.

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5 minutes ago, toneknob said:

I always wondered why the Fm in the chorus works when it shouldn't. Here's Jacob Collier to help explain why

 

That's a great video. Thanks for sharing. I'd like to see a Rick Beato "What makes this song great" video for this too...

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Posted (edited)
On 10 June 2020 at 09:55, pobrien_ie said:

Thanks for sharing this. I did have a look after your earlier post, but couldn't find it.

 

The bass here sounds a lot better to my ears. To me, it sounds almost sounds like a cheap bass being used in Sir Duke, which I highly doubt was the case. It's like the sound I get in the upper register when I use a sponge as a mute under the strings on one of my bases that could do with a set-up.

Hi  @pobrien_ie as I stated before, I Wish is on a Jazz, Sir Duke is on a Precision - both through the studio Alembic preamp. In the same interview (published years ago I think in Bass Player) Nate stated he was called in the early hours of the morning by an excited Stevie Wonder who had created what he thought was a stunning bass pattern and asked Nate to come in immediately to record - the result being I Wish and the extra aggression, especially in the slides resulting from him feeling possibly a little peeved (I can't remember the exact words he used but it basically was along those lines)!! That said Nate certainly used to and probably still does pluck the strings very hard. 

That F in Sir Duke is actually part of an F minor - the fill notes each time all being additional notes from that scale - eg F, G#, C, D#, C, G# and variants on that theme throughout the song. It enables that part of the song to have a decending bass line in semi tones (with fills and extensions)  - B to F, E, D# then F# C# B into the unison section all in B maj. 

These are great songs and brilliant to play on the bass 👍 there are others on Songs in the Key of Life

Edited by drTStingray
Correction
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