Hi all, thanks for tuning in again!

Following my last post about the equipment I use, I have received several messages asking why I play the instruments I do? I have to say, right off the bat, that all my basses are working instruments and are used regularly, whether that be on the road, in the studio or in the classroom. I am not lucky enough to own instruments which are either too beautiful, too precious or too valuable to sit in a case or be on display as a “look but don’t touch” instrument. One day, I would like to own a Fodera Anthony Jackson Presentation II (coz they are gorgeous) and a 1970 Fender Precision (coz it’s the year of my birth) and if that ever happens, maybe my view will change but for now, every instrument is a tool to be used and in some cases abused. I often wish I had kept a couple of my early instruments, just for sentimental reasons but alas, they fell by the wayside or were traded against new basses as I progressed up my musical ladder.

Each of my basses has their own particular tonal or physical quality. They each have different designs, materials and construction and therefore their own sound and I select the best instrument for the job based on these credentials. As you regular readers will know, I currently have 6 weapons in my arsenal so let’s deal with them one by one in order of favouritism.

Overwater J5 Dlx

Overwater J5 Dlx

  1. Overwater J5 Dlx “Bluey”. This was built for me in 2005 so the details are a bit sketchy but she remains my go-to bass. She has a flamed maple body and bolt-on maple neck and fretboard with ebony block inlays and a 35″ scale. The maple neck and fretboard give Bluey and bright hi-fi sound and the East J-Retro preamp ensures a wide range of tones are available from a thin Jaco-type sound from the rear pickup, through a wonderful slap sound to a really honky P-bass growl. The neck is wonderfully playable and Bluey is capable of producing everything I need anytime I need it.
  2. Overwater PJ5 "Red"

    Overwater PJ5 “Red”

    Overwater PJ 5 “Red”. My other Overwater beauty was built for me in 2010 after I saw Strictly Come Dancing bassist Trevor Barry’s red Overwater P bass. I wanted slightly more flexibility so I opted for a PJ pickup configuration teamed with an East P-Retro preamp. This bass has an alder body with a beautiful figured maple neck and rosewood fretboard. The block inlays are mother of pearl and it has a 35″ scale and slightly wider 19mm spacing. The body and headstock are painted Fiesta Red, an old 60’s Fender colour. This bass is a lot darker sounding although it too can go from a Jaco-twang to a huge P-bass growl. It’s not quite as hi-fi as Bluey and copes well with the demands of Motown, Ska and more vintage tunes. I use Red exclusively in the band for Tapestry – A Tribute to Carole King.

  3. with my Bass Mods K6.

    with my Bass Mods K6.

    Bass Mods K6 “The 6”. This is a formidable instrument! Built in California, I got this in 2013 after reading an online review of a 5 string version. This has an alder body, maple neck & fretboard, hipshot hardware and pearloid blocks and binding. It has Kent Armstrong pickups and I recently changed the stock preamp for (you’ve guessed it) an East J-Retro deluxe which has an added passive tone control. This bass has a bright sound similar to Bluey but the Armstrong pickups give her a more aggressive tone with more focus in the midrange. I have used the 6 live with US soul legend Glenn Jones and recently in the studio with Jen Owens (EP coming in Jan).

  4. with my Musicman SR5

    with my Musicman SR5

    Musicman Stingray 5. ” The Stingray”. This is a stock Stingray in black just because I needed to have THAT sound. It’s the 3rd Stingray I’ve owned after I sold one and broke one (that’s another story). The output of the Stingray is really high and I often use it to add a little ‘dirt’ into the sound and really make it bark. I have used it exclusively on the new Bosra Sham album Agulhas.

  5. with my Fender Marcus Miller signature.

    with my Fender Marcus Miller signature.

    Fender Marcus Miller Jazz “The Marcus”. I bought this in 1998 during the first run of these basses (reported to be the best batch) and although I wanted a natural model, I ended up with Olympic White as the natural models sold out pretty quickly. This bas would appear much higher up the list if it were a 5-string as tend to favour 5s nowadays but she still gets out now and then and has the scars to prove it. Built in Japan, she has a light ash body and a maple neck and fretboard with pearloid blocks. Based on Marcus’ 1977 Fender Jazz, she features a copy of Marcus’ active Bartolini preamp as installed by Roger Sadowsky although this will soon be replaced by an East MM preamp (do you see a patter emerging? This has the typical Jazz bass sound but the active preamp supercharges the tone and with both pickups on, you get very close to the Marcus Miller slap tone. I used this bass to record a Marc Sadane track “Baby Won’t Cha” which originally featured Marcus himself so what other bass could I possibly use?

  6. Fender Squier Jazz Fretless. “the Fretless”. The only reason this comes last is simply because I don’t get asked to play a lot of
    Fender Squier Fretless

    Fender Squier Fretless

    fretless bass. This is a budget Squier bass but certainly doesn’t look or feel budget. It is based on Jaco Pastorius’ iconic Bass Of Doom with a sunburst body missing scratchplate. The neck is lined just as Jaco’s was but that all adds to the classic vibe.  The current Squier range is packed with some fantastic instruments based on their classic Fender big brothers, check them out! I have the fretless strung with flatwounds to protect the fretboard and to add the extra “mwah” that fretless basses are known for.

So as you can see, each bass has a role to play and they are all subtly but distinctly different. I’m lucky to have so many to choose from and they all get used when the call comes.

Check out the links that I’ve put in this blog for the various manufacturers and artists, enjoy!!