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!

Sep 6 2011

Introducing my new bass!! (and the art of bass shopping)

*Bass Geek Alert*

Some non-bass players might find this post a bit boring. You have been warned…

Hello folks,

I’ve just got home from one last stint of hardcore concentrated bass shopping and thought I’d post a picture of the results…

Oh yes indeed folks; I’ve bought another one! After many years of really not getting on with Precision basses, even though they are the staple for most bass players and producers, I endeavored to find one that I liked. A few months ago a had the great pleasure of playing a Custom Shop Pino Palladino Signature Precision at Guitar Amp & Keyboard (GAK) in Brighton. Totally fell in love with it. It looked and played like the best vintage Fender you’ll ever find (and I’ve tried loads), but it was bloody expensive. Try £2329.00. Ouch.

After much deliberation I decided to go back to Brighton last week and see if I could make them an offer. But guess what? They’d only gone and sold it! Yep, very irritating indeed as it was (and is) still advertised on  their website. Their offer to order me another from Fender proved less than welcome when they told me it would probably take a year…

So I sat down and tried all their other Precision basses. Including the cheapo ones just in case. It’s always worth trying out the opposite end of your price range (both upwards and down) when buying a new instrument so you have something to compare it to. I wanted to see whether a bass that was half the price of the Pino (which was virtually all of them) was up to the same standards. Eventually I played the 60th Anniversary model and really liked it. Not wanting to rush in I left it there to have a think…

In the meantime I tried out a few other tasty basses including a rather lovely if slightly weighty red 80’s P-Bass at The Gallery in Camden (the best bass shop in the world!). Check it out if you’re in the area. I discovered that another 60th Anniversary bass was located at Guitar Guitar in Epsom, which frankly I didn’t know existed. I’d been to the Glasgow shop many times as it’s right opposite where we used to rehearse with Maggie Reilly but had no idea there were other branches. It’s a great shop folks; massive selection and they have great little practice booths for trying out gear. I highly recommend you check it out if you’re in the area.

Anyway, I tried another bunch of p-basses against the 60th Anniversary. Was torn between that and a lovely Japanese 70’s Reissue which also sounded great and came in a good few hundred quid cheaper…

Eventually I decided the 60th Anniversary model had a superior retro tone across the board, although the Japanese bass had a lovely warm  punch to it. So I bought the 60th Anniversary bass. And am very happy with it indeed. Looking forward to putting it to work instantly. I might even play it at Friday’s gig at Pizza Express Jazz Club with Nina Ferro (which you should all come to by the way!).

Until next time…