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Getting A Famous Bass Tone

Published: Wed March 06, 2013  News Feed

Getting A Famous Bass Tone

By Hugh McKenna

There can often be something of an imbalance, with reams of reviews, shoot outs and opinions on the best guitar gear and not quite as much attention paid to the equally fine art of bass tone. Recently though we've seen an increasing amount of gear catered to the specific needs of bassists. Quite right too, as there is certainly a lot to take into account with a greater need for full range, dynamics and of course keeping things compact enough to move around. It's all well and good cranking the gain on your combo for a pleasing racket but it takes a true gear connoisseur to balance his mids, distortion and keep a healthy attack all while maintaining a low end that can communicate with the whales. Here's some legendary bassists on how they achieve their monster tone.

Nate Mendel - The Foo Fighters

Nate has a trusty P-Bass which he's played since the 90's, he fell in love with it's thinner neck and found that it was part of a limited run from 1971. It's rarity would make it hard to replace and Fender made a few for Nate just in case the original got lost or broke. This eventually developed into the Nate Mendel Signature bass, a Fender Precision with that playable thin neck and fat Seymour Duncan pickups.

Mikey Way - My Chemical Romance

Another artists with a fine signature guitar is Mikey Way from My Chemical Romance, a big fan of Fender all round with a Mustang inspired bass and Super Bassman amp. Mikey also rocks a few pedals from Electro Harmonix, including a Bass Big Muff and Memory Man.

Glenn Hughes - Deep Purple, Black Country Communion

He's played alongside many great axemen, including Ritchie Blackmore, Gary Moore, Tony Iommi and Joe Bonamassa bringing his distinctive brand of rhythm and colossal tone. Glenn has gone through quite a few basses but it's the Precision he keeps coming back to. In terms of amps he's recently converted to Orange, telling Music Radar recently...
"I took a P Bass off the wall and plugged it into this AD200 Bass MK III and within five seconds I had what I consider to be that Glenn Hughes sound I had in 1970."- Glenn Hughes

Troy Sanders - Mastodon

Troy's soon to join the Fender signature bass club, with a Jaguar inspired guitar apparently in the works. For the back line Mastodon have been all over Orange amps lately and Troy is running a split into both an AD200 Bass MKIII and a TC Electronic Blacksmith. We'd speculate that running both solid state and valve amps allows Troy to get a great blend of valve dirt with rock solid attack, definition and low end. We've covered Troy's pedal's before and if you're after that a great TC sound we'd also recommend their RH750 head and Rebelstack cab, the Blacksmith is only made in limited quantities.

Billy Sheehan

Billy has recently put his name to a signature pedal from EBS, the perfect toolbox for getting a great bass drive with wet & drive levels, FX loop for further blending and built in compressor too. So from one pedal you can control your drive level, blend, tonality and dynamic before you hit the amp. He's also recently been saying great things about touring with his favoured Hartke amps, stating to Music Radar...


"Somebody not only knows what they're doing but somebody cares" - Billy Sheehan

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