A bass sound that never gets old

I am a fan of Motown: great songs, great arrangements, great band (The Funk Brothers). The king of Motown for me is bass player James Jamerson (RIP). Listen for example to this amazing track:

A song of the masterpiece What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye.

Let’s check out another great track of that record. Now with James’ part isolated:

Something strange is Going On here. Anyone who has ever recorded a bass guitar will notice how dark this bass sounds. James’ playing is even making the tape to distort. Like many players at the time he used flatwound strings in combination with a piece off foam rubber underneath the strings to dampen them.

Bass player Carol Kaye is also known for that style although not playing with her fingers, like James, but with a pick. Check out this wonderful interview with her. You’ll notice that she still gets that lovely tone out of a modern bass by using that old trick with foam rubber and turning back the tone control:

The foam rubber gives a powerful melodic sound that doesn’t get in the way with the other instruments. It’s a really smart trick that never gets old.

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4 Responses to A bass sound that never gets old

  1. benjamin April 2, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    We have several similar tastes so it seems.

    One of my favourite basslines is also found on a Marvin Gaye track, notably on Inner City Blues. But unlike most tracks found on that full album, this one has Bob Babbitt on bass.

    Hemeltjelief that smoothness! Smoother than a Swiss masseuse.

  2. benjamin April 6, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    Nog niet maar staat wel bovenaan op de ‘nog te bekijken’ lijst. Ziet er alvast interessant uit!

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