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Looking for good bass
21 April 2010
12.17am
MrBig
Rapture, Atlantic Ocean
Apple rooftop
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I'm in need of a really good bass that has the same tone of "Birthday", "Back in the U.S.S.R.", and "Helter Skelter". Anyone know a good bass for sale like the one i'm describing? Has to be able to ship in the states.

"The best band? The Beatles. The most overrated band? The Beatles."
21 April 2010
12.02pm
Joe
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Wasn't McCartney using a Rickenbacker around that time? They're made in the US (and a lot cheaper over there than here in the UK - I speak from experience!).

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21 April 2010
6.35pm
MrBig
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John and George used the Fender VI Bass (and recording to Joe's While My Guitar Gently Weeps page, so did Paul). I want that same tone, but Fender VI Basses are damn near impossible to find. Also, god knows what amp they used.

"The best band? The Beatles. The most overrated band? The Beatles."
21 April 2010
6.50pm
Joe
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According to Walter Everett, the Fender VI was used on Rocky Raccoon, Back In The USSR, Birthday and Honey Pie, and by John and George during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions while Paul was playing piano. George played it on Maxwell's Silver Hammer and Carry That Weight.

Lennon used a Fender Jazz Bass on Helter Skelter. I didn't realise it was just him on bass on that song; I thought McCartney added a part too. The same instrument was used by George on Back In The USSR.

A left-handed Jazz Bass was used on Yer Blues, WMGGW and Glass Onion, and on Old Brown Shoe and Sun King/Mean Mr Mustard.

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21 April 2010
11.05pm
MrBig
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Are you sure a Fender Jazz Bass was used on Helter Skelter? I've seen bass covers of HS with a Fender VI and it sounds exactly like John's part. I use a Peavey Milestone II (Great starting bass!) and if i crank the tone knob I can make some resemblance. Here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....e1OfU P.S: I love you. Haha, just kidding. What I was gonna say is that the reason it's called a freestyle is because I suck and people won't have a reason to say "crappy cover" Let me know what you think. Also, i'm playing through a shitty Silvertone guitar amp I got from my aunt. Could be the reason I suck. blue-meanie

"The best band? The Beatles. The most overrated band? The Beatles."
22 April 2010
1.51am
MrBig
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Oh, and Joe, all the videos of Beatles: Rock Band show John and George playing the Fender VI on Birthday, Helter Skelter, Back In The USSR, Maxwell's Silver Hammer, And due to a glitch, I Saw Her Standing There. What bass was used for Birthday?

"The best band? The Beatles. The most overrated band? The Beatles."
22 April 2010
9.40am
Joe
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I don't know, I wasn't there ;-) As I said before, the musicologist Walter Everett (whose analysis of the recordings I respect far more than most) claims it was a Fender VI on Birthday, played by George. See page 196. There's some more information on the VI on page 297.

Everett's books have been discussed here, and can be read, in part, here and here. They're fantastic if you're really interested in the composition, structure and recording, though perhaps not for the casual reader.

I wouldn't pay any attention to what was animated in Rock Band. There's masses of artistic licence taken throughout the game, with regard to locations, line-up, instruments etc (eg Revolver songs being played at Budokan). It was probably easier to render fewer instruments than to do all the research and faithfully recreate them all in the game.

A good book for learning about the instruments and amps used is The Beatles' Gear by Andy Babiuk.

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23 April 2010
9.11am
McLerristarr
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Spam? a-hard-days-night-ringo-8

EDIT: Does the header thing for the above post look weird on anyone else's screen as well?

23 April 2010
9.41am
Joe
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It was a spam message. I'll delete the person's account. I'm not sure what happened with the formatting - it looks like something weird was pasted into the message field, but I zapped it before checking.

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23 April 2010
12.22pm
MrBig
Rapture, Atlantic Ocean
Apple rooftop
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Wait, this wasn't spam. I was looking for a bass and I wanted a beatles tone. If anything delete the post.

"The best band? The Beatles. The most overrated band? The Beatles."
23 April 2010
1.29pm
Joe
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Don't worry - someone posted a spam message in this thread, which I removed. Nothing to do with your questions.a-hard-days-night-ringo-12

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23 April 2010
3.19pm
RonnieRIG
The Mitten State!
The Star-Club
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I think a lot of the tone you'll be looking for is not only coming from the bass guitar, but also from the amp. You need something that can be pushed hard and be gritty and clean at the same time. Anything Fender makes bass wise is usually a good choice for anything though.

27 April 2010
7.06pm
sgtpepperbowman
Virginia, United States
The Jacaranda
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As far as I can tell, The instruments used in Rockband Beatles line up with what "Beatles Gear" book says, but I do agree that they shouldn't have had Revolver songs at Bukodan, and I also think that the rooftop concert should have came before the Abbey Road album in the game. Fender VI Bass would probably be the best way to get that tone, but I see they are hard to find, so what I recomend is getting a Digitech RP effect pedal for your guitar and using the pitch shifter to shift your guitar 1 octave lower, this would give you a tone similar to what you want. I'll have to reread my book to be sure, but its my understanding that the VI bass was a regular guitar tuned an octave lower with thicker strings, but I don't believe they were as thick as a regular bass....now once again don't quote me on this, because Its been awhile since I read that part

I am the walrus that lives in a yellow submarine because I like to be in an octopus' garden
28 April 2010
9.29pm
RonnieRIG
The Mitten State!
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sgtpepperbowman said:

As far as I can tell, The instruments used in Rockband Beatles line up with what "Beatles Gear" book says, but I do agree that they shouldn't have had Revolver songs at Bukodan, and I also think that the rooftop concert should have came before the Abbey Road album in the game. Fender VI Bass would probably be the best way to get that tone, but I see they are hard to find, so what I recomend is getting a Digitech RP effect pedal for your guitar and using the pitch shifter to shift your guitar 1 octave lower, this would give you a tone similar to what you want. I'll have to reread my book to be sure, but its my understanding that the VI bass was a regular guitar tuned an octave lower with thicker strings, but I don't believe they were as thick as a regular bass....now once again don't quote me on this, because Its been awhile since I read that part


 

I don't think the VI bass was a normal guitar - I'm pretty sure it's slighly larger than a guitar.

I just did some small research and found this: http://www.chicagomusicexchang.....1,i-75285/

It's totally expensive - but you could just buy that if you want the sound. Looks to be a current version of the one John, George, and Paul used.

26 June 2010
10.16pm
SgtPepper1909
A Beginning
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30 November 2009
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If you're looking for a good bass amp,  I think Ibanez Bass Amps work pretty welll (I have a friend with one).

 

And Your Bird Can Sing has great bass (this was when Paul was starting to use his Rickenbacker [the Revolver sessions]) . Here's a good YouTube video  where you can hear it well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOLinqsdW8Q 

                                                                                           a-hard-days-night-ringo-8 

Watch It! a-hard-days-night-john-3

 

Great Smilies!

 

SgtPepper1909

Kenny Everett: Are you composing this straight out of your head? John: This is ad nauseum---straight from the mouth that bit me. Paul: Oo-hoo, it's nice to be here!
18 October 2010
8.15pm
songcycle
A Beginning
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firstly, hello, i grew up on spinalcracker and it's a real find to have re-discovered its offspring.  hopefully i can be as much help to former spinalcrackers such as myself as its operators were to me.

 

firstly, a little revisionism, which i realise is a tall order for a new user.  it must be noted, however, that sessions weren't logged the way they are today.  they kept very meticulous records, but not about instruments and amps and such.  generally an amp would be used for an entire album and you'd pick up whatever guitar you wanted.  the beatles anarchic system of studio habits were really getting messy by this point.

 

nobody knows who put that significant, crushing, jello rip of a bass line on Helter Skelter, but i'm fairly sure it's Paul because he uses that tone a lot and he knew how to get the sound he wanted.  this would be the sound he wanted for the most outrageous and raunchy recording ever to rival The Who (and destroy).

 

The bass doesn't matter really, if it has pickups and they work and some round wound strings (nickel not taped) you can achieve this sound.  amp doesn't matter either.  ears matter.  but i can tell you he probably wasn't using a Super Beetle bass amp.  Even though their deal with Vox would require the occasional slip of the pen so that Vox could say they were indeed using amps made by them.  The VI'er doesn't matter either.  You'll get different tones, sure, but nothing that can't be solved with EQ in mixing or on an amp.

I've been a recording engineer since I was about 16 (thanks to The Beatles and Spinalcracker's sparking my interest in their recording techniques).  It's not the equipment, it's not the time of day, it's not what kind of tea they smoked for breakfast.  It's about technique and EQ (Lows, Mids, Highs).

 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and give a very unpopular response to the question of amp used:  I don't think it was the Super Beetle, I think it was an early Ampeg.  Still incredibly costly, but incredibly close to Vox and without having to replace the fuses and repair the damned thing every week (as was the hang-ups of old Super Beetles).

 

I have re-created this exact sound (which is my favorite bass sound of all time as well) many times using cheap cheap gear, the most unlikely bass guitars, and a little EQ/distortion work.  VERY little distortion, as much as one would expect from a microphone being too close or the levels hitting the red every now and then.  You want a big bowl of ripped up jello coming out of your fingers and through the amp.

 

Buy any bass you like, but I'm also gonna make an unpopular call and say that he used a Rickenbacker because of the heavy use of the plectrum (something he bought the Richenbacher for...its amazing tonality when used with a pick).  On the bass, you want at least two pickups and a selector and tone control for each.  you're going to want the same tone on both pickups, and that's gonna lay somewhere between 2-3.  Very little treble.  Just enough to give it that bounce and edge.  I usually do this with an Ampeg B-15R Portaflex from 1966.  This was the quintessential bass amp for motown and the like in the 60's.  Motown just happened to be Paul's favorite place to look for good bass tones.  He did own several Ampegs,  as they were extremely common.  Vox was an infamously bad bass amp merchant at the time.  The Super Beetles were awful in general, so this is why i've chosen this.  You can sod it off.

 

Just look it up and see what controls you have, you want all these controls on a solid 60's sounding bass amp.  HI/LO cut being key.  It's also tube-driven and has its own gain section.  Other than that you have bandwidth (negatable for new users), Low, Mids,  Highs (Mids weren't available on the Super Bass--something he'd have wanted and needed for this sound).  It was a fairly simple setup, you'll find it on nearly every other bass amp on the market today, none of which I'll directly recommend because I don't wish to create the illusion that you need this to make it sound right.

 

So take your amp and simply dial the controls in until your close, flip on the album and listen carefully with no disturbance.  now just turn your mids to a little less than half, turn down the lows,  and turn the highs to just a tat above the halfway mark.  you'll have to play with it by ear, but it willl be extremely rewarding.

 

the key is juggling the tone:  mixing out those harsh highs and keeping that rubber band made of a quarter million tons of rubber-sound in mind.  lows may play a key part.  mids certainly will not.  negotiating the highs and lows (as is often the case in this wonderful great thing called strife) is key to the sound.  Use a plectrum, bash the strings with it and make sure to mute the strings between hits to get that plodding sound, you'll never know if you've capture it unless you can hear the plods by themselves.  You really don't want to attack the strings so much as strum them right on the head articulately giving a full bodied and textured sound.  a lot of it is to do with technique.  A rickenbacker or VI'er won't get it for you, neither will an Ampeg or a Super Beetle.  You alone must succeed, my son.

 

turn it up loud enough so that you can tell if you're getting the right sound at high volume levels as well.  sounds alter greatly when the master is down as compared to cranked.  and this mother was cranked.  A lot of the ferocity has to do with the riffs themselves, though.  Paul was into chaos,  but he would've been hitting those strings with precision.

 

It's unlikely that you'll ever get the exact sound (it's going through tube compressors, tube EQ's, a vast array of arcane and highly treasured technology and not to mention your speakers).  The compression gave it a lot of that thud in the low and mid-range.  you want plenty of room for that to come through in the high EQ.

 

In short, experiment.  If you can't get the sound, buy yourself a linear EQ system (7 range is plenty) for basses and you'll be able to drag any tone you want out of a scrap heap junk bass and a megaphone.  but try to get the best bass you can.  I use a large scale bass because the Richenbacker was a large scale bass.  My bass also has the Rich's metallic pick-up covers on both pick-ups.  It's an early 70's Fender J bass.  You can get a cheap version and get the pickup covers from musicians friend for around 7 dollars each if you think they'll change your sound/fit your bass.

 

I think you'll find with some patience, some know-how about the way a bass amp works and the way tonality on the bass works you'll realize how simple this tone is to achieve.  and it's absolutely friggin' wonderful to mess around with this mind-shattering sound.

 

But if all else fails:   It ain't the bass, it ain't the amp, you just need some more EQ'ing options.  A 7 range EQ unit will require some getting used to but it's about as hard to use as a home stereo EQ.  Which is to say real real easy.  But you'll be able to get any tone you like with one.  Lastly, don't be a sucker for fuzz and distortion.  It's tempting to turn that distortion knob up more than necessary, but listen to how thuddy the record is, with fuzz that would be lost in the mix completely and ruin your attempts.

 

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.  And Paul did it, right?  It's easy...

 

Luck to you, squier, and sorry for the length/general inaffection toward gear.  Believe me I own plenty of amps that are classics but without fiddling around on them and screwing up a few times you'll get nowhere.  This leads a lot of people to blame gear.  I say blame gear enthusiasts for making musicians paranoid about circuited instruments and amps or anything that isn't period.  All hogwash.

 

Most Sincerely,

Josh

18 October 2010
10.21pm
Decca
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You raise some good points, songcycle.  There were so many different variables in shaping the bass sound, beyond the bass itself: Direct injection, using speakers as microphones, doubling parts with piano or guitar, differerent amps, different basses, different cables, strings, mics, both judicious and wild uses of compressors and eq and echo and reverb; even down to how the bass was played on a particular day, or who played it.  I believe that vintage gear--truly more "fun" than "necessity"--can get you a little closer to the sound of a particular track but obviously falls secondary to experimenting with the recording/effects/mixing/mastering....after all, isn't that the fun part??  (Well, besides singing/playing Beatles music!)

I'd say pick out a bass that you're comfortable playing  because playing well and enjoying yourself is half the battle.  (I've got a Fender Jazz bass that feels like a boat anchor after about 20 minutes but I like the long scale string sound on it, so I often use it for recording, when I can sit down to play.  When I'm going to jam with my mates or The Kid, I play the Gibson SG bass, nice and light but not as "ringing" as the Fender....)

a-hard-days-night-paul-5

19 October 2010
10.43am
Joe
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songcycle said:

firstly, hello, i grew up on spinalcracker and it's a real find to have re-discovered its offspring.  hopefully i can be as much help to former spinalcrackers such as myself as its operators were to me.


I have no idea what you mean by this. The Beatles Bible isn't an offspring of any other site.

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Can buy me love! Please consider using these links to support the Beatles Bible: Amazon | iTunes

19 October 2010
7.53pm
songcycle
A Beginning
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well i agree with everything that the person who responded to my post about the effects and things.  i was gonna include a section on how to get the sound out of the recording studio using what Abbey Road had at its disposal during the White Album, i have their entire plugin pack and a fairchild 660 and a pulsetec.  that's all you'd need by the way if anyone's interested out there, but obviously even that would be kind of silly to go into because there are so many ways you could get it that could be done with a digital AKAI ADAT, as you touched on.  i'll tell you the number one thing that pinches me a bit sometimes about the bass sound--it doesn't bounce and sound as big when it's recorded as it does through an amp within a few feet of it plodding. on this song i can't tell whether or not they've used the old speaker-to-speaker, direct injection,  or just live room mics.  my mind keeps telling me i've read something on the song that had to do with them returning into that small room they did "Yer Blues" in, remember that?  they all went in that little space to get a certain kind of echo right?  the more i listen to the bass isolated a bit the more it sounds like it's got a really quick reflection going on.  that's a good investigation for anybody out there trying to get it on tape.

 

i also tried out some of the typical fender guitar amps of that era yesterday after seeing paul running his bass through a fender head in a few of the scenes in Let It Be (which was right on the heels of the White Album obviously).  i was skeptical because his little bass just doesn't thump at all in that footage, but i tried a few of the ones i have from that era and the '65 reverb twin gets it dead on with a little patience.  and it's a great buy even now.

 

and to the second reply, i was under the impression due to the amount of repetition of the word spinalcracker around the site that this site was somehow affiliated with or the offspring of the old spinalcracker archives.  my mistake.  this place is much much more extensive,  the whole site i mean, but you guys tackle it with the same kind of care for the facts and the reality of things that happened then that they did.  i dunno if you remember the site, it went down long long ago, around 5 years ago i'd imagine.  'twas a groovy little pad to read up on the beatles scene.  that site taught me more important things than anything else did in all my incredibly long and fruitful 26 years of life.

22 October 2010
2.06pm
Joe
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I've never heard of it. Shame it's offline - sounds like it might have been interesting.

Someone called Spinalcrackerbox from Berlin posted on this thread, but that's the only time I'm aware of the phrase occurring on the site. Wonder if that person is related to the site you mention.

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