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No.1 For Tuition Be A Better Bassist TODAY! 12 Pages of Expert Tutorials INSIDE! Steve Phil Stuart Lawson Mann clayton

guy pratt Psychedelic Voyages With Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets!

interviews Marcus Miller Mike Inez Alice In Chains Calum Hood 5 Seconds Of Summer Suzy Starlite Mark Menghi Metal Allegiance Dylan Desmond Bell Witch Mia Wallace

Essential Bass Gear Reviewed Inside



gillett serek


Contents Issue 160 September 2018

Editor Joel McIver Managing Editor Jacob Barlow Technical Consultant Stuart Clayton Contributors to this issue Silvia Bluejay, Mike Brooks,

Stuart Clayton, Daniel Firth, Ruth Goller, Joe Hubbard, Kevin Johnson, Steve Lawson, Phil Mann, Michael McKeegan, Stewart McKinsey, Kev Sanders, Joe Shooman, Ray Walker, Ben Whybrow

Advertising Sales Guy Meredith Graphic Designer Steve Dawson Cover image Kaye Ford Studio Photography Eckie, Olly Curtis and Stephen Kelly Subscription Rate UK £69 UK orderline & enquiries 0344 848 2852 Overseas order line and enquiries +44 (0)344 848 2852 Online orders & enquiries Head of subscriptions Sharon Todd Printed by Buxton Press Distributed by Marketforce, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU Tel: 0203 787 9060 ISSN 1476521 We are committed to only using magazine paper which is derived from responsibly managed, certified forestry and chlorine-free manufacture. The paper in this magazine was sourced and produced from sustainable managed forests, conforming to strict environmental and socioeconomic standards. The manufacturing paper mill holds full FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification and accreditation All contents © 2018 Future Publishing Limited or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.


e bass players suffer from the inaccurate perception that we’re the ‘quiet ones’ in any given band, a silly idea which we simply counter with the words ‘Lemmy’, ‘McCartney’, ‘Sting’ and ‘Verdine’. To that list we’d also add Guy Pratt, a bassist of supreme skill and great charisma who has played world-beating roles with Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bryan Ferry – and Jimmy Nail! – and who can still outperform anyone we know when it comes to the noble art of the long lunch and the scurrilous anecdote. Our cover interview with this irrepressible raconteur comes as he heads on tour with Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, the most accomplished psych band in decades. Do not miss this. In fact this issue is all about personalities, from the peerless Marcus Miller and the blues bassist extraordinaire Suzy Starlite through to Dylan Desmond of Bell Witch, the most progressive bassist to emerge in ages. Our gear reviews also focus on the unique and the characterful; just look at that unorthodox Gillett Contour S and the long-awaited Blackstar amp range for evidence. As for making you the best bass player you can be, we’ve rounded up three of the coolest tutors anywhere in the known universe, from this country’s best-known solo bassist, Steve ‘Lord Of The Loops’ Lawson, via the session and stage veteran Phil Mann, to the wizard of technical mastery Stu Clayton. Add all of this bass goodness up and you’ve got some serious summer reading in your hands. Enjoy! Joel McIver, editor

48 Warwick

Streamer LX £1875

56 Gillett

Contour S £2450

64 Hartke

HD500 Combo £459

Gear 48 Warwick Streamer LX £1875

The new version of Warwick’s affordable Streamer tangles with Mike Brooks

52 Serek Mid-Western 2 £1435

Brooksy gets his boots on with this handcrafted Chicagoborn beast

56 Gillett Contour S £2450

A lovely bit of innovative acoustic goodness road-tested by the editor

Blackstar Unity Pro Bass U500 and 60 U250 amps, and U250ACT Active cab £579, £499, £379 They’re here! Get ready to drool as the long-awaited Blackstar bass amps submit to Kev Sanders’ tender mercies

Future PLC Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA Future plc is a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR)


Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Peter Allen Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244

September 2018

64 Hartke HD500 Combo £459

Under £500 for an HD500, as it were? ‘Colonel’ Sanders unboxes this all-in-one

contents Tina K

Kaye Ford

f/bassguitarmagazine o/bassguitarmag

Tuition 70 Frontline

Our quartet of pros share hard-won knowledge from the trenches


36 Mike Inez,

74 Steve Lawson

Kaye Ford

Bass… the final frontier. Begin your journey into a world of endless sonic possibilities with peerless voyager Steve Lawson

Alice In Chains Getty


78 Phil Mann

Subtle sensei Phil Mann can make a good bassist great, and break logs with his elbows. The first part of that sentence is true


84  Stu Clayton

42 24 Mark Menghi, Guy Pratt Metal Allegiance


Do you know no fear? Do you seek mastery? If you think you’ve got what it takes, then bass colossus Clayton has a gruelling workout to test your mettle

30 Marcus Miller

24 Guy Pratt

The session veteran Guy Pratt is about to tour with a mindbending new band, Saucerful Of Secrets, led by Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason. We’ve seen them play, and we can confirm that the experience is completely gobsmacking – and that’s before you even get to the incredible bass parts. Joel McIver meets the great man for the full run-down (and a frank view of five-string basses...)

30 Marcus Miller

Silvia Bluejay compares funk thumbs with the mighty Marcus as he returns with a new album

36 Mike Inez, Alice In Chains

Survivors of the grunge wars AIC are back; Mike spills the beans.


Dylan Desmond, Bell Witch

Meet the most innovative metal bassist in years

40 Suzy Starlite, Starlite Campbell Band

The blues player tells of her search for the perfect tone


Mark Menghi, Metal Allegiance

The supreme supergroup return to the frontline

44 Calum Hood, 5 Seconds Of Summer

Fender time with the Aussie poppers

45 Mia Wallace, Niryth

An Italian bass pioneer bids us buongiorno

90 Classic Albums

Yes’s hit 1983 album 90125 album under review by Mike Brooks. Nice work, squire


now Details page 34 September 2018





The world-renowned studio engineer Malcolm Toft recently launched four new effects pedals for bass via his Bassics company, distributed by Synergy Distribution and retailing at £199 each. We reviewed and liked Bassics’ tasty BPA-01 floor preamp a while back so we’re keen to see what Toft has been up to; the range comprises the Cruncher distortion, the Squeezer compressor, the Tone Ranger EQ and the Omni Pre preamp/bass switcher. Acclaimed bassists including Pino Palladino, Neil Murray, Chris Childs, Phil Soussan and Tony Visconti are already using Bassics gear, so we’ll get our hands (and feet) on them as soon as humanly possible.


September 2018

Tina K

News and views from the bass world, collated by BGM’’s team of intrepid newshounds


BGM recently attended the premiere screening of Sunshine Of Your Love, a film of the tribute concert to the late, great and highly influential Jack Bruce filmed in 2015, a year after the great bassist’s passing in October 2014 at the age of 71. On what would have been Jack’s 75th birthday, many of the performers attended the screening, the proceeds of which went to Jack’s charity of choice, East Anglia Children’s Hospices ( The lineup for the show was suitably star-studded and featured luminaries such as Mark King, Vernon Reid, Uli Jon Roth, Frank Tontoh, Bernie Marsden, Hugh Cornwell, Neil Murray, Cream’s drummer Ginger Baker, Joss Stone and Ian Anderson to name a few, all under the expert musical direction of Nitin Sawhney. The film conveys just how much love and affection the performers, and audience, had for Jack and his music, and his influence is tangible throughout. The material covers his whole career, with performers coming and going, although a core band is in place for most of the show. It was obviously an emotional night for the family in 2015, and this is expertly captured on film for all to see. Yet their performances are professional and heartfelt, and even four years later, the music and emotions still leave a lump in your throat. Following the screening, the radio DJ Edith Bowman took to the stage for a 30-minute conversation with some of the performers and family members to give an insight into how the show was pulled together, and how such an obviously emotional undertaking was executed. Jack’s daughters explained that it felt as if their father had been in the room on the night of the performance; it was evidently an uplifting experience for the family. As Sawhney explained, the show came together easily. “Margrit [Seyffer, Jack’s wife] and the family had ideas as to what they wanted to do, and selecting songs came quite quickly. The idea was to pull together a representative snapshot of Jack’s career, although there was so much to choose from that we couldn’t convey the full depth of his musicality and legacy.” Jack was one of Mark King’s early musical heroes, so being at the show was an opportunity not to be missed for the Level 42 frontman. “Cream was the first music I ever physically bought, and the show highlights the true breadth of his legacy,” he told us. “It was very emotional, and it gave me the chance to buy a Gibson EB3 that I had always wanted – so I could bring a bit of Jack’s spirit to the stage on the night.” Mike Brooks


Since 1977

Fender have announced the launch of four new Squier Jazz basses, three of which are aimed at the budget end of the market – an appropriate move in an era when everybody in the world is apparently skint. The Contemporary will set you back a mere £350 and comes with a matching painted headstock, chrome hardware, Squier ceramic single-coil pickups and a standard Jazz Bass control layout. The Contemporary Active comes in four- (£420) and five-string (£430 – a mere tenner for that extra B string!) versions and the same spec, plus an active 9-volt preamp, controls for volume, pickup blend and tone and stacked boost controls for bass and treble. More news on these as we get it, but frankly, an active Jazz for less than the price of a medium-painful MOT sounds attractive. Finally, dear old Michael Balzary (as no-one ever calls him) of ye olde Red Hot Chili Peppers has a new Flea Jazz on the way in October. It costs a rather more expected £1,599 and comes with a ton of goodies, including a satin finish, a Fender humbucker and a secret weapon in the form of an Aguilar OBP-1 18-volt preamp, a total beast of a pre in our experience. That’ll get anyone hopping around the stage.

Spector Bantam Short-Scale Bass “The playability is off the scale. Ditto the tonal range.” - Joel McIver Bass Guitar Mag April 2018


German luthiers Warwick have announced two new bass guitar models, the first of which, the Corvette Taranis, will make the perfect early Christmas present for the headbanger in your life. With a 35” scale and a BEAD tuning, the bass fulfils a niche that bassists of the unsociably loud persuasion have been filling by using the lowest four strings of a five-string instrument. It comes with an ash body, a maple neck with wenge fingerboard, a pair of active EMG DC35 soapbar pickups, active electronics, a two-piece Warwick bridge, Warwick Security Locks and chrome hardware. Warwick have also recently launched the Idolmaker, a bass counterpart to its existing guitar model. It’s available in Custom Shop Masterbuilt and Pro Series Teambuilt configurations, with four and five-string, fretted and fretless options. The spec includes a carved mahogany body, bolt-on wenge neck, wenge or ebony fingerboard, passive MEC vintage pickups, and active Warwick electronics. Prices are still to be announced.

revenge of all those trees that fell in the forest but were never heard


007 4/25/2018 1:11:23 PM

September 2018

Spector Ad 1-2 page SB4Black Bantambass.indd 1



e tell you the bass-line we can’t stop listening to Every month w




Bassist: Charles Mingus You know when people who know nothing about heavy metal say ‘Oh, it’s just noise, how can you listen to that?’ and roll their eyes like morons? The same applies to jazz, which at its amazing, vibrant, vivid best can feel like a joyous maelstrom of sonic chaos. This song, written by Bobby Timmons and covered by a whole host of jazz legends, is like being punched repeatedly in the face by an incredibly soft pillow while a tribe of mad people play at maximum speed and volume in a tiny nightclub in 1958. Mingus, of course, plays bass like a man possessed, no doubt snarfing down raw spirit and ‘jazz substances’ while being, er, ‘serviced’ by a flock of groupies. It’s terrifying, and utterly brilliant. You should really listen to it.

BASS BASS Hofner Ignition, £250

FOR £1000



Every month, keen bass-spotter Ray Walker brings us an online bargain Zoot Funkmeister 5 £2,100 Hi there low-enders, this month we have the funkalicious Zoot Funkmeister 5. This hand-made, one off comprises a swamp ash body and roasted ‘Torrified’ flame maple neck with a bi-flex twoway truss rod and a rosewood fingerboard. Its Aguilar 5SD-D2 super-double soapbar pickups with a Klaus Noll 18-volt preamp offer a plethora of outstanding tones, from early 60s sounds to smooth, articulate, modern tones. This beauty also sports a Leo Quan Badass bridge, which is renowned for delivering truly solid tone. To top it off, it comes with Hipshot Ultralite aluminium and chrome machine heads, which help to provide perfect balance. This is just what you need to get your funk on – oh yeah!


BASS Epiphone Thunderbird Pro IV, £475

AMP EBS Classic Session 120, £400 FX EHX Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi Distortion & Sustain, £125

Ernie Ball Music Man have just announced a new range of new Stingray Special bass guitars, available to denizens of these shores through ace distributors Strings & Things. The Stingray, as many of us know, was first introduced in 1976 and has been played over the subsequent decades by a whirling galaxy of megastar bass players. The new four- and five-string models come with re-engineered aluminium hardware, new and improved electronics and a newly designed 18-volt three-band preamp. In addition, they’re sporting a natty enhanced body contour and a five-bolt sculpted neck joint that affords the player unrestricted access to the upper reaches of the 22 stainless steel frets. “To me, there’s no better piece of art than a beautifully designed and built musical instrument,” says Ernie Ball CEO Sterling Ball. “That’s what we’ve done with the new Stingray – it’s tailor-made for the most discerning players, a blend of stunning craftsmanship and well-executed technology.” Prices start at $1,999 for the four-string and $2,099 for the five. We will be reviewing them in due course, and keep an eye out for our forthcoming Stingray guide too.


September 2018

AMP Warwick BC-40, £190

FX Mooer Audio Bass EQ, £60


The MU takes a stand against workplace harassment


© Getty

he Musicians’ Union (MU) and Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) have launched a set of principles to tackle and prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination in the music sector. The new set of principles will aid employers in meeting their legal requirements as well as setting out a shared vision for promoting and maintaining a positive working culture. “When the #MeToo movement began in late 2017, the MU established a confidential email account for musicians and other individuals working in the music sector to report instances of sexism, sexual harassment and abuse,” says Naomi Pohl, MU Assistant General Secretary. “The many reports we have received have been deeply concerning, and range from everyday sexism, which appears rife across the industry, to sexual assault. To put it bluntly, too many workplaces simply aren’t safe, for female musicians in particular, at the present time,” adds Pohl. “Freelancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse as they may feel they have no rights and nowhere to turn to for help. We want to ensure they feel supported at work and that we and their engagers have their safety and wellbeing as our top priority,” she says. As well as opposing bullying, harassment and discrimination of all kinds, the code includes commitments to improving working cultures, ensuring training is available for staff, and maintaining a list of support services for use by those who have suffered bullying and harassment. You can find the full code of practice at The MU is inviting organisations across the music sector sign up to the code of practice. To find out more, contact your MU Regional Office via

September 2018



SPEAKING Bassists reveal the tricks of their trade faster than a snapping D string

GEAR BASSES Warwick Katana, Buzzard and Streamer, Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder pickups EFFECTS Tech 21 NYC VT Bass DI, Tech 21 Bass Driver, MXR Analog Chorus, MXR Super Badass Distortion guitar pedal AMPS Warwick LWA 1000 amp, Warwick 811 cabs


GEAR BASSES Gretsch Electromatic EFFECTS None AMPS Ampeg


Unlike a lot of guitar players who pick up the bass, I play bass like a bassist. Even when I was younger and in my former band Hades, I would come up with contrary motion bass-lines for my bassist Jimmy Schulman. I wrote parts of his bass-line in our songs ‘The Cross’ and ‘Nightstalker’. I don’t play five- or six-string bass, for the same reason I’ve never picked up a seven-string guitar. It wouldn’t be fair to the other musicians who attempt to write great riffs with the normal amount of strings. I’m laughing as I say this… but I’m kind of serious! The secret of playing bass well is listening to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Kiss. Yes, Gene Simmons wrote some killer bass lines. My bass heroes are Gene and Tom Petersson from Cheap Trick. Listen to the song ‘Cry, Cry’ from the first Cheap Trick album. The greatest bass player that ever lived is John Paul Jones from Zeppelin, and if I could get the bass tone of any album ever released, I would choose the first Black Sabbath album. Meat is murder and your job as a bassist is not to murder your guitar player’s riffs, but to accentuate them. Check out our new album, Woodshed, out in September on Argonauta Records, to see what I mean. @DanLorenzoCK


September 2018

I enjoy being a part of the team, filling in the low end and locking with the kick drum. If people are moving with the beat, I get the feeling that I’m doing something right. I guess I’m a straight hard rock player first, yet I get very inspired by the melodic bass-lines that I hear in many classic 70s songs, so I suppose that influence may, from time to time, work its way in. However, when I record a song, I usually don’t think of the genre, but focus on what that particular song may be calling for, and hopefully I can achieve it. Lately, I’ve been getting a little bold on some recordings and filling in some spaces with small melodies, as long as they don’t put the song out of balance. I’ve been playing Warwick basses for about 15 years now, and their amplifiers for almost as long. They’ve been very kind to me and made me feel like family. The instruments are top-notch and have a versatile sound, which is very important as I play, or aspire to play, any style that comes my way. I usually prefer their wider neck option since I have big hands. Also, InTune picks and DR strings have been mainstays for a number of years now. We use Audio Technica monitoring equipment as well. I prefer to stick with a four-string bass, because more strings than that feel a bit crowded to my hands, although it can be very useful at times. I used to play five-string basses to have a low B-string, but now I usually string a four-string as BEAD. It’s rare that I use the G, but when I record in my home studio or elsewhere, I might use a bass in standard tuning as well, if I feel that the song can benefit from it. I would certainly slap if I felt that it worked in a particular song or situation. I used to do it quite often, but it’s rare for me to do it lately. It’s fun though. It feels a little like playing drums on the bass – and before I started playing bass I wanted to be a drummer, so I guess it helps to satisfy the would-be drummer in me, haha! When I used to teach bass, I’d tell my students that if you want to be a good player, be a good listener. I can’t express that enough. Of course you also have to have good chops and be able to play effectively, and that comes with practice, practice and more practice. But by focusing your listening on the music as a whole, it can help you discern what your part in the big picture is. Also, if you have the chance, learn how to play other instruments – that can help you make good choices as a bass player. When I started writing and recording in my home studio, I learned a bit of guitar, keys, drum programming, singing, engineering and whatever else I could in order to see a song to fruition. And in that process, I started loving the bass even more, because I could then hear the bass from other perspectives. Then I’d get excited to pick up the bass and come up with a part and record it. I still work that way.



Andreas Wörister

My bass playing is melodic, thoughtful, playful… but raw as hell. Fender gave me a 2017 offset Mustang bass which I use for touring. I wouldn’t say I have any endorsements, but we have a nice relationship. I tend to stick to the D and G strings – I would rock the heck out of a two-string bass. I’ve never been particularly into playing music that would suit slapping. I’ve certainly tried it and failed miserably, though – so that could be a big reason why I stay away from it. I believe a great bass player can find the space in a song that needs more, and know how to fill it without being overpowering. The secret, I guess, is knowing you’re more than a frequency or assistant to guitar – the guitar is the heart, but you’re the blood pumping through it. My first bass was an OLP MM4 Music Man; I named it Brendan after a local bass player I had a crush on. It was incredibly heavy and bulky for my size and stature; I could barely reach the tuning pegs. For years I thought playing bass was supposed to hurt and be uncomfortable. These days I couldn’t play anything other than a Mustang. It’s my soul instrument. I actually got my first Mustang from a friend whose brother didn’t want it any more, and as soon as I picked it up I just knew I wouldn’t play anything else. It was a vintage Japanese Mustang in red with cream racing stripes that I still play today. The greatest bass player that ever lived is Peter Hook. He took the instrument to a whole new realm and raised the bar for alternative bass players. I think bass guitar attracts musicians who love music for the art and not for the bells and whistles, ego or performance. You’ve got the best parts of all the other instruments right there in your hands. The melody of piano, the rhythm of drums, and you can riff like a guitarist. You can do it all on the bass, and no-one will fully appreciate what you do – but you don’t care because it’s just about the music.


GEAR BASSES Fender Nate Mendel P-Bass EFFECTS SansAmp DI, Rat, Big Muff AMPS Zion custom amp based on a 200W Hiwatt design, custom cab equipped with 4 Eminence 12“ Deltas


September 2018

As the music we put out is pretty guitar driven, I keep my bass-lines close to the main riffs and complete the harmonies on the low end. There’s no need for walking bass or funky slapping. The bass I started playing with was a five-string Ibanez, but I realised that I had no clue how to make any real use of it. My absolute favourite bass to date is a Fender Nate Mendel P-Bass signature model. When it got released it was like they’d read my mind. A dream in candy apple red! I figure the secret of playing bass well is to always be steady in rhythm and volume. It doesn’t matter which style or sound you prefer. Always keep it tight to the drums. One of the key features of any bass player is to know their place in the band, whether it’s as a supporting role, or as a song-driving element. For the overall sound it helps a lot to figure out each instrument’s part in the frequency spectrum. In my band that means cutting down those punchy mids and leaving that space for the rhythm and lead guitar. It was this approach to sound which, a couple of years back, inspired me to build our very own backline. I just wasn’t satisfied with the performance that the common cab-plus-amp combinations delivered. Taking into account the above goals, I chose the speakers to fit the amps and tuned the cabinets to a certain frequency response. Some other big advantages of building a custom backline were things such as handle positioning, putting some proper wheels on the heavy ones, and aesthetically, having it look like you’d want to put it in your living room. Since then they’ve gone thousands of miles down the road and have proven their value with many different bands over and over again.


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