I often get asked about equipment. “What do you use?”” Why do you use that?”” What should I buy? “”What would you recommend?” On the equipment page of my website, I list all the gear I’m currently using but I wanted to go into a little more detail about the whys and wherefores of my rig. I’m a complete gear-head and I love talking equipment and checking out the latest products and bass gadgets so here goes….

My first Overwater, a Progress 7-string

My first Overwater, a Progress 7-string

Let’s start with the important bit, my ‘girls’. I’m not sure why they are girls, I guess they need looking after, regular TLC and a bit of love.  Ships are referred to as female so it seemed the right way to go? I am a proud and staunch endorsee of Overwater Basses. They are based in Carlisle, UK and I have been using them since 1999 (wow that’s aaaages!) I first contacted Chris May and Laurence Blackadder at OW in ’99 as I was looking to purchase a Conklin (US bass maker) 7-string and at the time OW were the only place in the UK stocking Conklin basses. They didn’t have a 7 in stock but they did have a 6-string and so a few weeks later, I headed up to Wembley for the National Music Show which was like a huge music shop full of manufactures and retailers from all over the country. OW took the Conklin for me to try and try it I did……. and I HATED it.  The neck profile was all wrong for me and I was gutted. Chris told me they had only made one 7-string bass but they had it with them. I played it, fell in love with it and bought it and my relationship with Overwater began.

I now play a beautiful, blue 5-string Jazz deluxe, built for me in 2005 which is my number 1, go-to instrument. It is equipped with an East J-retro preamp (more on that later) and features hand-cut ebony block inlays! It really is a beautiful instrument.

My Overwater 'girls'. The blue J5 Deluxe and the red PJ5.

My Overwater ‘girls’. The blue J5 Deluxe and the red PJ5.

My number 2 Overwater was really the fault of Strictly Come Dancing bassist Trevor Barry. Also an Overwater endorsee, Trevor requested a P-bass instrument in red and when it was finished, Laurence sent me an email saying “what do you think?” Well it was gorgeous and so I had to have one too!! I changed the design from a P- bass to a PJ set-up, just to give me a little more tonal flexibility and my colour is Fiesta Red which is very slightly less orange than Trevor’s. The PJ is less hi-fi than the Jazz and so she gets used more on the rock and ska stuff I do. She is also fitted with an East preamp, the amazing P-Retro!

Check out Overwater Basses here…

Also in my arsenal, I have 4 more basses. I have an amazing 6-string Jazz bass made by a company in California called Bass Mods. It is a fantastic instrument which can be seen on the youtube clips of both Glenn Jones and Archie Bell at Indigo2 in London.  I have recently changed the stock preamp to another East product, the J-Retro Deluxe ( do you see a pattern emerging?)

with my Bass Mods K6.

with my Bass Mods K6.

I have a Musicman Stingray 5 which is a perfect disco-bass! It just has THAT sound and I used it loads on the forthcoming Bosra Sham album “Agulhas”.

Finally, I have two 4-string Fenders. A 1998 Marcus Miller signature Jazz in Olympic White and a Squier Jazz Fretless. The Marcus would get a lot more use if it was a 5-string but I did use it to re-record an old Marc Sedane track “Baby Won’t ‘Cha” on which the original player was Marcus so I got pretty close to THAT sound!! I don’t get asked to play fretless much but it sounds beautiful.  It is strung with flatwound strings and can be heard on recordings by DiElle and Lise Underwood.

with my Fender Marcus Miller signature.

with my Fender Marcus Miller signature.

The East preamps I mentioned are made by East Electronics based in Oxford. John East is an amazing electronic engineer who worked for SSL and Sony before setting up on his own. I currently have the J-Retro which is an active J-style preamp, the J-Retro Deluxe which has an additional passive tone control and the P-Retro, designed for Precision-style basses. I love the preamps, as does Randy Hope-Taylor from Incognito and Stanley Clarke, who both use East products. I owe John and Steve enormous thanks for all their help and advice. Find East products here….

All my basses (apart from the fretless) are currently strung with Dunlop Super-Bright strings in a medium gauge, which are great-sounding and long-lasting strings. In the past, I have used Ernie Ball, Labella and Fodera strings and I would happily use any of those again.

Moving on to amplification, I have been using an Italian brand called Markbass for several years and I now team up their 104HF 4×10 cab with a truly amazing Aguilar AG500 head. My cab is the 4 Ohm version so I can get the full 500Watts from the Aguilar without needing a second cab. I prefer the punch and responsiveness of the 10″ speakers and the front-ported cab means I still get plenty of bottom end grunt. My amplification is housed in flightcases made by Ron at BCS Manufacturing, whose premesis I can see from my house!! Check out BCS here….

The OW PJ5 with my Aguilar head and Markbass cab.

The OW PJ5 with my Aguilar head and Markbass cab.

I connect everything together using Monster Cables who have caused some controversy over their claims that, for example, they wind their cables in such a way the the high frequencies and low frequencies arrive at the amp at the same time. I think a lot of that crazy science stuff is marketing-speak but I have found that the cables are super-reliable and have lasted a long time so I’ve stuck with them. When playing in large venues or recording, I either use the DI output from the Aguilar or I have a Radial J48 active DI which sounds beautiful and transparent.

Finally we come to my pedalboard…. I have quite a large board for a bassist but certainly for the Artful stuff I need quite a few whistles and bells! My effects are housed in a Diago Tourman board and powered by a fantstic Diago Powerstation which easily takes care of my power needs and saves me a fortune in batteries! Diago is owned by my friend James who has been a constant source of help and advice on the subject of electronics, Check out Diago gear here…

with my Musicman SR5

with my Musicman SR5

On my board I have 2 loops running via a Boss LS2 line switcher. Loop 1 goes to a Line6 BassPod XT Live which I use for chorus, phaser and delay effects. I have the amp simulation off so it may be time to swap this great bit of kit for something smaller? From there the signal goes through a Little Bear LS1 Fuzz and on to a Source Audio BEF Pro envelope filter which is also connected to the Hot Hand which is a external bluetooth ring that controls the filters on the BEF to give me real-time physical control of the wobble effects. It’s so cool!! The second loop contains only 1 pedal, the classic Akai Deep Impact synthesizer. This is responsible for the 80’s moog bass sounds and I keep it in the loop on it’s own so I can send it the cleanest signal possible. Out of the LS2 switcher, the signal passes through a Boss OC3 octaver, an EBS IQ envelope filter and finally an EBS Multicomp compressor to keep everything under control.

Finally, I transport my basses in Mono gig bags and all my bits and bobs are housed in Gruv Gear Stadium Bags.

 

So now that’s kept the sponsors happy, if you have any questions, get in touch.

Keep it low!