Mar 22 2015

Pimping My Bass With John East, Part I

*** Geek Alert!! Non-bassists might find this post a bit boring but I don’t care ***                                            *** Brace yourselves boys and girls!! ***

Happy Sunday folks!

I had a show with Clare Teal last night in Lichfield and thought it would be the ideal opportunity to pop in to see John East to have one of his Marcus Retro preamps fitted to my Japanese Fender Marcus Miller bass. I’m so excited about the results I had to tell you all about it!!

John East March 2015 #2

All bassists know of electronics wizard John East, particularly his fantastic J-Retro preamp that has been around for years. I’ve read numerous rave reviews from bassist all over the world about John’s preamps so when I saw him on his stand at this year’s London Bass Guitar Show I sidled up for a quick chat.

John has developed a preamp specifically for the Fender Marcus Miller bass and I got to try one out on John Bird‘s Marcus bass at a filming session for iBass Magazine about a month ago. I was blown away by the range of tones available and thought it was about time I gave my Marcus bass a bit of love as It has been slightly relegated by my two P-basses over the last couple of years.

So having had Martin give it a fretstone at The Gallery in Camden last week I took the bass over to John East so I could have him fit the preamp himself. What a treat!

John East March 2015 #1

John’s Marcus Retro preamp is based on his famous J-Retro circuit, but the “bass and treble contours are voiced to be similar to the preamp that Marcus uses. Two versions are available, with and without control plate“. So iyou can fit it in any jazz-style bass but if you have the Marcus signature it comes with a matching faceplate from Fender so you can pop it right in.

My Marcus bass now has one volume knob stacked on the blend knob (way better than the standard jazz two knob scenario), stacked bass & treble, stacked sweepable mid and tone with a switch to lock the pickup selector if necessary. There’s also handy push/pull functions to switch between active and passive modes and bright boost. Such a delight!

It feels like I know have four basses in one! The tonal range available now is incredible. I can now can a beautiful p-like subby fat tone (even with roundwounds) alongside all the usual classic jazz bass sounds. And an improved Marcus Miller slaptastic twang, obviously!

Marcus Miller Bass John East preamp

If you got one of these basses, just get one of these preamps! Don’t even think about it. Just get one. I’ve been thinking about selling this bass for years as I rarely use it but now I can see this becoming one of my busiest basses. Seriously. Just go get one…

So, what’s next? you may ask yourselves. Well, I also took along my trusty Warwick Triumph bass (yup, I left London with a carload of gear!), which John had a look at and he’s now designing a similar preamp to fit this bass. It’s be going to be based on the Marcus Retro but without the tone knob and with a voicing aimed specifically at the Triumph. John has a stomp box version of this preamp; I tried the Triumph through it and it sounded fantastic. Hoping to get that fitted sometime next week.

I’ll let you know how it goes and post some more pics!


Feb 24 2015

The Overdue Divine Comedy Philharmonie de Paris Post!

Hello folks

So I waited way too long to post about the big Paris show but better late than never, hey?

On the 11th February The Divine Comedy took to the stage of the beautiful Philharmonie de Paris for our first big full band show in a fair old while. We did play a few festivals last year as a five-piece but we expanded to a much larger ensemble for this very special show.

Philharmonie de Paris #8

The Philharmonie was in fact so new that they’d barely finished building it from the outside but luckily the auditorium was fully functional and their brand-spanking new sound system was really quite special indeed.

Philharmonie de Paris Ext

As I mentioned in my previous post the entire gig was streamed live by the Arte channel. No pressure! I know a lot of you watched the live stream which was also available for the next week on Arte, and by all accounts it looked and sounded wonderful. We were all very pleased with the live show. The whole show is still available to watch on the Philharmonie website until 11th July. You should all check it out!

Philharmonie de Paris #9

In the meantime a few tasty crowd-shot videos have popped up on YouTube; here’s a few favourites…

Something For The Weekend

A Lady Of A Certain Age

Bang Goes The Knighthood

I posted a stack of photos on my Facebook page on the day, but here’s a little gallery for those of you that missed it…

I’m not sure what’s next with The Divine Comedy at this stage but I’m sure there’ll be some more shows later on this year. There will also be a new album at some point so watch this space! There has been plotting galore but we’re not quite there yet!

Until next time…


Feb 22 2015

New Clare Teal Album Out Now!

Happy Sunday folks!

As many of you may already know, our latest release with Clare Teal At Your Request is officially out now and available in all the usual stores online.

At Your Request

We completed recording the album at the end of last year and it features a stella lineup including a four-piece horn section (Sam Mayne, Dave O’Higgins, Martin Shaw and Ashley Horton) alongside the regular trio of myself, Grant Windsor and Ben Reynolds.

The repertoire consists of all those songs we’ve developed in the live show over the last couple of years that have yet to feature on record including Van Morrison’s The Way Young Lovers Do and Dory Previn’s Twenty-Mile Zone. It’s the final recording with Grant as he has now moved back to Australia.

We officially launched the album at the Cadogan Hall show last Saturday with the ‘mini big band’ as featured on the record. We’ll be doing a few more dates later on in the year with the same band, as well as the Hollywood-style orchestra’s Doris Day show and the new trio featuring the awesome Jason Rebello.

You can grab your copy of At Your Request  from Amazon or Clare’s very own Bandcamp site, where you can also find all the recent recordings. Here’s a little handy Bandcamp player so you can have a listen. Hopefully see you at a show soon…