In 1988, I entered Guitar Center in Los Angeles. I had come looking for some guitar gear that I needed for a gig.
As I entered the store, towering massively over me near the entrance was a bass stack. An astonishing stack. A magnificent citadel of sound that I knew I just HAD to play. A virtual skyscraper of bellowing boom… and its spell had been cast on little ol’ me!
I grabbed a bass and a cable from a store clerk, and let fly.
Wow. Just… wow.
Now, being a musician in L.A. at that time was great; I have hundreds of fond, rockin’ memories of good times had by all. But… I wasn’t rich. Far from it. And since this particular bass rig was well over three grand, well…
… I had to let that sound just reverberate through my heart, mind and groovin’ soul in an internal skyscraper of bass tone homage – a forever rhythmic shrine
Decades later, I haven’t forgotten. It’s still my dream rig! What is it???
Well, we’ll reveal the sound skyscraper’s true identity eventually, but for now I’ve got some friends who’d like to share THEIR big bottom longings.
I just asked ’em this simple question:
If you could pick your PERFECT BASS GUITAR RIG to play out with live, with an all-around hits band, what would your BASS, AMP and CABINET be??
Here are their amp-y answers and rockin’ reveries. Enjoy their LOW rides!!
Kevin is a gigging bassist around the mid-Michigan area. Full of chops and a long history of playing for many. He was quick to weigh in on the question:
“Back in the day I used to drag around two Hartke 410 cabs and a Hartke 5500 bass amp.
Thanks to technology all I bring now is a MarkBass 2/10 combo, my I.E.M. system (In-Ear Monitors) and a Tech 21 Fly Bass preamp. Once we went to I.E.M. I was hooked. We all downloaded an app that lets each band member control their individual IEM mix. Love it! And so does my aching back.
As far as basses go for live I use mostly my Sire 5-string bass for my dance/funk/cover band called “Sexy Monster”. That bass is extremely versatile.”
Kevin will be keepin’ on thumpin’ with his inspiring rig all over Michigan, and especially with his own band. Check them out at SexyMonsterBand.com!
I’ve played many times with Kent, and his rig (just like his playing!) is always dependable, appropriate and produces a wide, thick tone upon which to lay the higher frequency glitter. Guess that’s why he doesn’t want to change anything! Here’s the dream rig he already has:
“I am still using a Fender Roscoe Beck five string for my gigs. It’s a versatile passive bass guitar that has switchable humbucker pickups that provide a great Fender Jazz sound and a reasonable Fender Precision emulation.
I use a Thunderfunk 550 Watt solid state amplifier, which is lightweight and has enough headroom for any gig that I do.
I use a single Baer ML 112 speaker that has two neodymium drivers, keeping the cabinet a reasonable weight.
It’s a small rig but is perfect as a stand alone setup on smaller gigs or with FOH support on bigger gigs.”
For those of you interested in Thunderfunk gear, even tho’ they no longer produce the TFB550 amp, check out their WEBSITE HERE.
Bryon’s had lots of experience on low-end delivery, having toured extensively, especially with “The American Secrets”. He’s tried many an amp/bass combination. In the end tho’, here’s what he considers bottom tone heaven:
- A 70s era Fender Precision Bass with a Jazz neck and an added Jazz pIckup at the bridge
- The RDT200 amp head by “Divided by 13“, a Southern California company
- A 2×12 bass cab by “Divided by 13“,
Bryon says he’s aaaalmost made it – he’s got the amp & cab! But he’s got serious G.A.S. for that Fender dream bass. Bryon, here’s hoping you reach that low-end heaven soon!!
Cory has been playing bass since he was a young lad. He’s always known what he wanted to be, and that’s a spreader of the GROOVE, baby!! I hired him to play on one of my tunes for a video we shot and he did so great. If he weren’t in L.A., as I was for years, I’d hire him still!
I managed to catch him just before flew off to Monte Carlo for a some gigs. Soak up some sun for us, Cory!
Here’s the glowing review he gave me of his current rig, which is all he’s ever wanted. Being a Boogie aficionado myself, I know what he means! Check it out:
“I’m a Mesa guy! When I started doing gigs with a backline rider, I made it a point to change my amp as often as possible so I could see what was out there. Mesa/Boogie made the most sense to me. Mesa has been making bass amps from the beginning, but they’ve flown kind of under the radar, overshadowed by the popularity of the guitar amps.
A couple years ago they got one of the brilliant engineers who’d been pushing forward the capabilities of microamps to join the company, and designed a badass class-D amp that I travel with now, the Subway D-800!
I had an SKB case made so that I could store the head underneath my pedalboard and fly with everything in one case.
Then I just plug into whatever cabinet is available to me. I have a fun Mesa Powerhouse 2×12 here in LA, but a lot of my travel will rent gear, so I’ll end up using other 410s or 810s.
In-town, I play a lot of older music, where I won’t use any pedals, but I still bring my little amp everywhere. The EQ points and onboard HPF make it really easy to dial in depending on the stage and the room.
I’ve recorded with it, too.”
Wow, Cory – thanks for the in-depth look at what surely must be a memorable bass assemblage. I must go test drive one of these Subway amps And soon.
Who’s with me?!!
With years of bass playing under his fingers, and having THE pulse on bass gear from running Music-Go-Round, an excellent used instrument store, Chris Wilson has a very informed opinion of what makes a killer rig.
Chris’s choices are no surprise – he goes for tried-and-true, simple awesomeness! His run-down consists of:
- A 50s Fender Jazz Bass
- A vintage Ampeg SVT tube head, and
- An Ampeg Diamond Blue tilex 4×10 or 8×10 cabinet (depends on the gig!)
Matt has always been not only a good bassist to call for hire, but also a fun musician to just hang with, especially because he’s never lost the joy and frivolity of being a true FAN of excellent players, writers and artists. I’m the same.
Matt plays in the R.E.M. cover band” Rapid Eye Movement“, the all-around cover band, “Chill Factor“, and also spreads the groove love all over the Southeast Michigan area in various other gigs. Here’s what he conjures up from the bubbling cauldron of “My Favorite Things”…:
“I really like my Trace Elliot V Type head and Schroeder 212L cabinet.
(But I would love to try the Orange AD200 and matching cabs one day 😉
My favorite bass is my Reverend Bugeye Chrome PJ.”
The V Type series by Trace is highly renowned and uber-respected. I must admit a little G.A.S. towards it myself (as you’ll see soon enough….!).
To check out a personal review of the V series, see what Mitch has to say his amp in THIS VIDEO.
Teaj’s G.A.S.-y Dreams
In the beginning paragraphs I alluded to my own dream rig, which I saw a glimmer of back in the day in 1988.
Time to let the cat out of the bag…
The rig I stood in awe and wonder of that night at Guitar Center, L.A., was none other than a Trace Elliot stack!!
I was looking at the RA 500 Super X Power Amp and it’s accompanying 8×12 cabinets. Stellar!!
If you’re aware of Level 42 and their bass player Mark King, then you know how good Trace Elliot bass rigs can be. Mark has graced the cover of Bass Player magazine many times, so you know you can’t go wrong if you use what a master uses.
The amps T.E. puts out these days are not as pricey as they once were. In 1998 the British company was bought out by Gibson. From there, the company was seen more and more in America and the prices fell thankfully, probably because import tariffs were no longer applied, or some such.
Then in 2004, Peavey Electronics purchased the company. So these days, Trace Elliot is pretty much an American company, tho’ with a long, rich, formerly BRITISH legacy.
Hmm. This all reminds me… I haven’t actually played through a recently-made T.E. rig in years.
I think it’s time for a little scouting outing!! lol
Don’t get me wrong: my current rig sounds sweeeeeet! It gets me really excellent sound both in the studio and live. I use the Bugera Veyron T tube amp into an Ampeg PF210HE cabinet, and tho’ I have numerous basses the one I usually use for the best all-around sound possible is my Bass Mods NT-5 bass, that told you all about in THIS ARTICLE.
Still, part of being a sound artist is wanting (needing??) different tonal colors for different gigs and goals. For that reason alone, the Trace Elliot skyscraper shall continue to rise high in my mind…
A vision of things to come?? Ahhh, wouldn’t that be lovely..!!
Your Dream Rig??
So what do you wish for, bass animals?? What bass gear has anamored you for years?? What will be your next step in building the ultimate bass rig sound??!
And once you get it, will that be it?? Or will you find yourself ‘hungry like the wolf’ for more bass frequency gear acquisition??!!
Or, on the other side of G.A.S., what dream rig have you actually nabbed?! How did it affect your sound? Was it everything you hoped for??
Leave us a comment – we’re dying to know!! In the meantime, you know what to do…
… go… make… bass sounds!!