Choosing a Bass Guitar – James LoMenzo’s Guide to Recording Bass – Part 1

Hi I’m James LoMenzo, journeyman bass
player at your service coming to you from my studio in
Santa Clarita California and welcome to my definitive guide for recording bass! I started playing bass guitar over 40
years ago. I’ve played with some really great
musicians, people you’ve heard of: Ritchie Blackmore, Ace Frehley, Zakk Wylde I have played with mighty Slash
and I’ve played with Megadeth some of you might know me from that. Okay so let’s talk
about bass guitars. The first one I’m going to talk about the
traditional bolt on passive bass guitar It’s the original classic, it’s the one
that you’ve heard on millions of records literally millions of records it’s kind of brought on by the
Leo Fender design from the ’50s they’re the first electric bass guitars
that they tried to adopt after saying you know what these uprights are
way too big to carry around. You will recognise these basses on everything
from rock to R&B and right down the line. What makes them the “bolt on” part is right there
the neck is bolted onto the body like that there’s a bunch of screws right there This is a modern version of an
old one but it works just great. They have a very distinct characteristic they
tend to be really punchy at the lower frequencies they have a rather fast attack and then a quick decay when you hit a note kind of goes [imitates sound]
and then it kind of pulls back. They sustain a bit and depending on
what components you have they’ll sustain a little more or a little less but as opposed to the other
basses I’ll talk about in a while this just has a very distinct
kind of an attack in the sound it’s very familiar very rock and roll. Generally they’re set up
with passive tone controls although you can get them
with active tone controls active tone controls of course are the ones with
batteries in them that have low impedance pickups and the battery
brings that level up to the output. The passive part is usually they just have a little
knob back there that just kind of takes the top end off and makes
it sound all like that and you can load this thing up with flat wounds or round wounds, it sounds
great either way, the flat wounds have a very old-school kind of poppy sound and
you could make an entire career with just these kinds of bases and I know a
lot of people who have and still do. Ok through the magic of cinema I’ve got
this bass guitar now and this is a neck
through active bass guitar. This particular one is an older model,
this is an Alembic from the seventies I just happened to have this one
laying around so I wanted to show it to you. The cool thing about these
are that they have longer sustain and a smoother attack
than than the bolt on models that I described. As the name suggests the neck
goes completely from one end, right through the body and out. They usually kind of
book-match two pieces of wood on either side and build it around the neck. As I mentioned before the sustain is much longer on these things the attack is
way smoother, it doesn’t kind of spike out the way the bolt ons do and these basses are fantastic for rock jazz, gospel, and fusion and there are a lot of
players out there who swear by these and I did for a very long time. The thing about these basses that I finally figured out after
having fallen in love with them is that if you want that authentic
rock and roll sound in my experience you really need to use the bolt on
because these react completely different so if you’re really going for that old
R&B, rock and roll sound where the bass kind of burps out
and does what those old records do the bolt on is for you, having said
that, you can play anything on this and you can have a terrific time
with it, I know I have. They also usually feature active tone controls active tone controls what that means is that these pickups are low impedance pickups they don’t have a very high output like the passive pickups do but they usually have
a circuit in them that brings that right up and what you get out of that is you
get just more dynamic range out of it and you get higher highs and lower
lows and more interesting mid range and you usually get controls to
bring all that up or down and you know over accentuate that. Some of the woods that they
put together on these basses are great they usually try to use a lot
of what they call tone woods. This has an ebony fretboard and that’s a very
bright wood as compared to let’s say the old rosewood fretboards which is great
to get that kind of snappy top-end and then they’ll use different woods in
the body to make it not only look pretty but give it maybe a darker undertone and
stuff like that These are great basses you can’t go wrong
with one I love them, neck through, active. Aside from those basses, there are five and six string
basses I have five and I have a six and there are eight string basses, twelve
string basses, sky’s the limit, whatever the
luthier can come up with. They come in passive, active, bolt on,
neck through, all the stuff that I talked about. Obviously these aren’t for everybody
these are for specialist musicians or they’re for musicians who want to expand the range of what they’re
doing in a particular song. I know every once in a while something
comes through my studio over here which requires some really low
notes or some really high notes and so I’ll reach for one of
those just to give that song a little something bigger or wider or just something that
a traditional four string can’t do. So be aware of that, five or six stringed basses twelve string basses whatever you like, if you’re crazy
enough to do it go do it. you

13 Replies to “Choosing a Bass Guitar – James LoMenzo’s Guide to Recording Bass – Part 1”

  1. the way i understand it, guitar/bass pickups are high impedance, not low.

    otherwise i wouldn't need an active 48v direct box for my passive basses and guitars in order to plug into the mic preamps of my mixer/audio interface – which requires a low impedance , balanced input.

  2. This is helpful!!!! Thanks James. Even though, as you know, you will be handling my bass parts! Haha! All my basses are bolt-ons I reckon, but my parts never sound anything like your kick-ass bass parts. This is cool and helpful though, and I'm sharing!

  3. Spoken like an experienced pro and a gentleman.
    β€”thank you, James. You are way awesome, sir πŸ™‚

  4. I think active is irrelevant, since you have tone controls on the amp, and if you don't have a good pickup and balanced tone, it will not fix any problems there.

    Coil tapping seems like a good idea, but pots are made for specific pickups, and with some coil tapping you don't get that – usually.

    For my mind it's hard to beat a set of alnico single coils – just like on an electric guitar. By putting in a bit more harmonics, you can hear the bass when there is no subwoofer.

  5. Not a lot of difference between basses when they are not plugged in or recorded.. too much talk would have been great to have sound samples to go along, specially when talking about "tone woods" and other sensitive topics.

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