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PAGES OF BASS TIPS, ADVICE AND LESSONS!
“I DON'T LIKE THE LOW END...
AND I DON'T LIKE LOUD MUSIC!”
FIELDY Korn’s bassist takes on his biggest critics... you!
INTERVIEWS HARRIET WADESON HÄXAN
RUTH GOLLER BRIAN MARSHALL ALTER BRIDGE
STAR BASS Each month we celebrate the great – and rather less great! – work of an acclaimed bass player. This month: Suzi Quatro Words: Joe Shooman Image: Getty uzi Quatro’s career is an object lesson in badass rock’n’roll. Born Susan Kay Quatro in 1950, her first steps into the world of music came when she played percussion in her dad’s jazz band before becoming Suzi Soul in the mid‑60s group the Pleasure Seekers, alongside her sisters, Patti and Arlene. They released a couple of singles before Quatro decamped to the UK in 1971, working with Mickie Most and touring with the likes of Thin Lizzy and Slade.
The multi‑instrumentalist and singer scored huge hits with ‘Can The Can’ and ‘Devil Gate Drive’, and by the mid-70s was a bona fide rock star. Quatro has never stopped touring and recording, and also enjoys forays into theatre, radio and TV. Her Leather Tuscadero character in Happy Days cemented her image in the public consciousness, but it is her glam rock-tinged songwriting and bass-playing that underpins her longevity. A movie on her career, Suzi Q, came out in August 2019, pulling no punches in its overview of her six decades in the business.
STAR BASS MUST-HAVE ALBUM
Suzi Quatro Suzi Quatro (1973)
uatro’s first bass guitar was a 1957 Fender Precision: she namechecks the mighty James Jamerson as an early influence. Playing with fingers rather than a pick, she has noted, imbues a bass-line with that all-important feel. Although she has been sponsored by BC Rich in the past, it is the Jazz for live work and the P-Bass in the studio that do the trick in the main, with Orange amps preferred. On her eponymous debut album, she also wielded a Gibson EB2 as well as a Gibson Les Paul Professional at times. The latter was reportedly so hefty that she had to screw the strap into the body after regularly breaking the original screws during her act. The LP is straight-up garage and glam rock, with a cover of ‘All Shook Up’ a nod to one of her heroes, Elvis, as well as a superb introduction to Quatro’s energy, effervescence and classic rock voice – the screams in the middle-eight are awesome. The bass playing here, as throughout the album, is bang on the beat, whether tracking the guitar riff or locking with the drums.
Suzi Quatro No Control (2019)
he insistent minor thirds and sevenths that permeate the chorus of this album’s lead single ‘No Soul/No Control’ are a primal, prowling and menacing statement of intent. Quatro heads right up the neck in the middle eight before bringing it back down to heel for a storming final chorus. Elsewhere, there’s a touch of late-70s Motörhead on ‘Macho Man’, bizarrely but brilliantly. The Jamerson influence is evident on the aptly-named ‘Bass Line’, on which both technique and that all-important feel are prominent. The solo at around the three-minute mark is a high point of both the LP and Quatro’s career, featuring some gorgeous, grimy doublestopping. ‘Walking down the bass line won’t lead you astray,’ she sings, a sentiment to which we can all attest. To make an album of this quality 46 years after your solo debut is remarkable.
his was the big singles album, with ‘Devil Gate Drive’, ‘The Wild One’ and ‘Too Big’ all zooming up the charts. Tracklistings vary, but the UK version kicks in with ‘The Wild One’, a joyous affirmation of intent that for a brief moment in the introduction anticipates punk rock. The Detroit-born musician’s line on the none-more-glam ‘Too Big’ is right at the front of the beat, as it is on her co‑write with Len Tuckey, the doo-wop 12-bar ‘Klondyke Kate’. It’s a masterclass in bass efficiency; the pentatonic runs up and down the neck during the key changes are expertly delivered without impinging on the song. There’s a similarly 1950s feel to the lovely ballad ‘Cat Size’, on which her blend of legato bass phrasing and variation of note length recalls McCartney’s ‘White Album’ playing.
Quatro, Scott & Powell Quatro, Scott & Powell (2017)
his was a glam rock supergroup, with Quatro on bass and vocals, Andy Scott of the Sweet on guitar and vocals and Slade’s Don Powell on drums. And what a rhythm section she and he make: absolutely locked, powerful and bang on the button, which is what a combined eight decades or so on the road will give you. The six-plus minutes of ‘Long Way From Home’ feature some cracking octave work from the bassist amid the lonesome vocals and plaintive sax, and the cover of ‘Tobacco Road’ is a straight-up rocker. Steer clear of ‘Broken Pieces Suite’ if you’ve an aversion to creepy kids’ choirs, although Quatro gives us a Herbie Flowers-esque bass-line in the second movement before a rumbling heavy metal gallop at around the four-minute mark. Self-indulgent as hell, but we can forgive one mis-step on this treat of an LP. There are rumours of a new QSP album in the works, too.
Suzi Quatro Quatro (1974)
AVOID AT ALL COSTS
Suzi Quatro & Shirlie Roden Free The Butterfly (1999)
hree words that chill to the bone: ‘self-help LP’. Not even the ultra-cool Suzi Q is immune, as shown by this very strange double album that aims to ‘release your potential through songs and movement’. The concept is based around Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Wood, Stone and Gold – each also a song title. Essentially a bunch of guided meditations over elevator muzak, it’s as far away from in-your-face rock as you can get. Roden, a ‘sound healer’, and the self-described ‘psychic’ Quatro also took the project on a tour of Mind, Body And Spirit festivals as the millennium dawned. Quatro later reworked the album title as an epic secular gospel ballad on her 2006 comeback record, Back To The Drive. This version of ‘Free The Butterfly’ features minimalist root-note percussive bass-lines and sweet transitions that underpin one of her very greatest singing performances. 019
“WE’VE NEVER STRUGGLED TO HAVE ENOUGH LOW-END”
ZER0 SUM With The Nothing, the thirteenth album from Californian metal legends Korn, bassist Reggie ‘Fieldy’ Arvizu delivers his trademark virtuosity in a style that continues to divide bassists to this day, 25 years after his band’s debut. We place your questions to the great man Interview: Joel McIver Photos: Getty
an, we’ve made so many albums I can’t keep up any more. This October was 25 years since the first album came out. Back then, you think you’re unstoppable!” These are the words of Reggie ‘Fieldy’ Arvizu, bassist with Korn, the first nu‑metal band – if that term means anything anymore. The quintet from Bakersfield, California, who are now accurately regarded as pioneers in their field after a quarter of a century and over
40 million album sales, have just released The Nothing, their thirteenth studio album since their debut record appeared in 1994. Reminded of these facts, Fieldy displays a refreshing refusal to take his band’s success for granted, marvelling: “It’s surreal. The chances of us making it this far must be almost a one in a million. We’re in disbelief. It’s amazing... I can’t even wrap my head around it.” Piercing the wall of riffs produced by seven-string guitar-slingers Brian Welch and James Shaffer, Fieldy’s bass tone on The Nothing is instantly recognisable –
a clicky, buzzy, clangorous, chiming twang that is unlike that of anyone else, delivered from his signature Ibanez K-5 five-string. Some people like this tone, millions of Korn fans presumably among them, but others – many of whom are this magazine’s readers and indeed, writers – can’t stand it, regarding it as unrefined or worse. For this cover interview, we’ve collated a bunch of pointed questions from our staff and from visitors to our social media: it’s time for Fieldy to take the stand and explain exactly what the hell his trademark sound is all about...
BASSISTS Fieldy, Korn
World Music Jazz, world, rock and uncategorisably amazing music are all part of Ruth Goller’s bass remit. The long‑time composer and columnist for this magazine brings us up to date with her enviable career... ou have four different projects on the go at the moment, Ruth. Talk us through them. Well, I picked a few bands this year that I want to focus on. I’ve been playing a lot with a band called Vula Viel. The bandleader is Bex Burch: she plays the gyil, which is a xylophone-type instrument from Ghana. Rhythmically, it’s very difficult. The music comes from the Dagaare tribe in the north of the country. Bex lived there for about five years, and learned how to build the instrument and to play it. They play funeral music where they sit around in a circle and play for 24 to 48 hours, non-stop.
Explain the music for us. It’s a very strict form of music, so it’s not like jamming on two bars or something that we Westeners can easily understand. There are very long forms of different sounds, as she calls them. She doesn’t talk in chords; she talks in three-note sounds, which become chords in my head that I can relate to. The other difficult thing is that her instrument, the gyil, is a G major pentatonic, so A and B sound very similar because they share some of the notes. It’s not like in jazz harmony, where you’ve got a standard with obvious key changes that your ear can follow, even if you lose concentration for a second. With this music, because the parts sound so similar, you really have to know where you are all the time, and if you get lost, it’s almost impossible to get back in. What does it feel like to play? At the beginning, I thought ‘My God, how am I ever going to be able to learn this?’, because I’m not a quick learner. It takes 034
me a long time to internalise something – but at some point it really happened. There was one tune that we’d been playing, and I remember that I said to her, “Bex, I’m never going to be able to do this without looking at a chart”. But now, two or three years later, I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve learned it. Somehow, in my head, I can feel the longer form. Is it challenging live? Yes, but at gigs I catch myself not concentrating but still knowing where I am. That’s the point where it starts feeling really free and you’re able to make music with it, maybe superimposing different bass notes. She’s in G major pentatonic, so after an hour of playing that scale, you feel that you want a different bass note. That obviously creates a different harmonic sound, which is obviously not traditional because they don’t have that, but then again, our band isn’t really traditional in that sense. We have electric bass and a drum kit, so it’s not traditional Dagaare funeral music, obviously. She writes her own music based on those structures, and we have an album out called What’s Not Enough About That? in February. In the column that you write for us, you sometimes mention that a lot of your playing comes from not worrying too much about boundaries. Exactly. I suppose it’s just improvised music. I don’t play in a rock band that plays the same thing every day. I’ve done that before, but I didn’t really enjoy it. It wasn’t my cup of tea. So that’s definitely the goal with anything I do. You also play in Let Spin. We’re just finishing our new album. The music sounds great and I’m really
excited about it. It will be out next year; springtime, I think. I’m really enjoying doing their gigs. Tell me what your go-to gear is. Are you still an Orange endorser? Yeah, I have an Orange MKIII. It’s really big, that amp, and I literally can’t lift it unless someone’s there to help, so unless I’m playing a huge venue, I don’t take it out, as much as I like it. I’ve also got an Ampeg Rocket Bass B-100R combo, which has lasted for 20 years. It fell from a five-metre height out of the van one day, straight down, and you can’t quite recognise what it is any more, if you look at it, but it has never broken. That is literally the best thing that Ampeg ever made. I love that amp. I use it all the time. What about bass guitars? I’ve got a Fender Mustang. In fact, I’ve got two Mustangs. I’ve haven’t got a lot of basses, but that’s my thing. They put it out a few years ago with the two small pickups on it. A friend of mine was selling a version of this one with the humbucker pickup on it, and I’ve just started using that one as well. I really like it, it’s great, but my regular Mustang is still my favourite one because I know exactly what to do with it in any kind of situation. I know my sound, and it’s simple. I like simple things. It’s got two knobs and I know what to do with them. I’ve been using the humbucker one with my other band, Melt Yourself Down. Is that band ongoing as well? Yes – we got signed to Decca, which is really exciting. The album’s coming out, I think, next year. We’ve just started doing gigs, and I’m sure around the album release we’re going to do some more gigs then as well. The people from the label are really into it.
JS Series Spectra JS3 Price £300
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION Price | £300 Made In | Indonesia Body | Poplar Neck | Three-piece maple Neck Joint | Maple, 34” scale, graphite‑reinforced Fingerboard | Laurel, 24 frets Pickups | 2 x passive medium-output humbuckers Electronics | Active preamp Controls | Volume (push/pull for active/passive option), blend, 3-band EQ (active only), coil-tap selector Hardware | Jackson tuners and hi‑mass bridge Case/gig bag included | No Left-hand option available | Yes
WHAT WE THINK Plus | A great range of features for the price Minus | Tone range can’t compete with high-end basses Overall | An excellent, affordable bass that holds its head high
BGM RATING BUILD QUALITY SOUND QUALITY VALUE
Jackson tradition, the JS3 shuns single volume and tone controls. Instead, it features an array of knobs that allow the player an immense amount of flexibility in tweaking the tone without having to adjust the amp or pedalboard. There’s a two-way toggle switch for pickup coil splitting and a three-band EQ for bass, midrange and treble controls. A hi-mass bridge is strung through the metal plate on the back of the bass. Notably, the blend control and volume knobs come with a push/ pull selector that allows you to either bypass or engage the active circuit for the three-band EQ. No more anxiety over a battery dying in the middle of a gig; a quick pull on the volume knob will bypass the active circuit, flipping over to passive mode and allowing you to quickly regain sound without battery power. Running through a set of classic rock bangers, we set the EQ controls completely flat, and the sound thunders with dark potency, although the mids cut rather prominently through the mix, so much so that we had to pull it back a bit to even out the tone. This is where the arsenal of knobs proves particularly useful: our desired tone is quickly achieved with a small adjustment that barely interrupts our playing. The low end delivers a concussive wallop that requires very little in the way of tweaking.
On the opposite end of the spectrum however, the high notes peaked a bit more sharply than expected, lacking some of the range and subtlety we find in higher-end instruments. Nonetheless, given the available controls, this hardly rises above a small quibble. Whether jamming on blues, R&B or country, the bass delivered on its promise of a fast action; we effortlessly moved up and down the neck, never dragging against the grain. Regardless of how hard we pounded the strings, the JS3 remained in tune in both standard and drop-tunings.
Visually, the JS3 is a tribute to elegant simplicity. It is available in Gloss Black, Metallic Red and Silverburst finishes, with black nickel hardware and a Jackson 2x2 headstock. Whether on stage or on the wall of your jam room, the JS Spectra makes an impressive addition to any collection, and setting aside affordability, it checks all of the boxes: a snug, ergonomically-friendly design, a wide range of controls and a luxurious tonal palette that lends itself to virtually any playing style. Considering its budget-friendly price tag, the JS Spectra series emerges as one of the most affordable and versatile offerings of the year. 051
Fluence Soapbar pickups Joe Daly falls under the in-Fluence of these slinky new pickups from Fishman 440 Distribution www.440distribution.com
hen Fishman rolled out their Fluence pickup line in 2014, it promised substantially wider palettes of tones from their standard setup. Fluence technology uses a solid core instead of a wire coil, with a magnet similar to more conventional pickups, in order to tame the pesky humming and other noise inductance issues often associated with wire-wound pickups. To cover as many bases as possible, we put it through its paces on a five-string Schecter Hellraiser Extreme. The Soapbar comes with the same fully-active EQ and voicing switch that they’ve used with their guitar pickups for some time, which is something unique to Fishman. There are four knobs – a pan pot, a volume and two EQs. Both have centre points that yield a flat, neutral sound. The front is the bass/treble knob, and bringing it all the way down produces an exceptionally creamy and resonant sound, particularly across the B, E and A strings. The other knob is more of a mid-dial. When we pan all the way out, it gives a tasty mid-frequency thump. Pop the volume knob up for a single coil setting for both pickups. Considering that this expansive array of options applies to each of the three voice modes, the Soapbar delivers a truly jaw‑dropping arsenal of tones. The voicing switch includes three positions, the first of which is the ‘Classic’ position. While it doesn’t have as much extension in the treble
range, there’s quite a bit of depth in the middle tones. Recreating the smooth potency of old-school passive pickups, this position gives more of a 70s-style classic rock punch. The ‘Modern’ position produces the super hi-fi resonance that we would expect out of an active setup. The sound is eminently clear and the nuances hold up well, throughout both extended treble and bass. Metal players will have a field day with the meaty buffet of tones living here. In the centre of the switch we have the ‘Funk’ position, which, with neutral settings, feels similar to the ‘Modern’ voice – extended highs and lows and more of a scooped quality. It’s also more percussive, with a wide tonal curve suitable for a slap technique. Details hold up well across the upper mids and, oddly, ‘Funk’ gives a bit more attack than the modern position. Considering its broad versatility, Price | £109 any bassist would be hard-pressed Made In | USA not to find the sound they need, Features Dual bar magnets, 49pp pole spacing, three voices, single-coil mode whether on stage, in the studio or Power 9-18V battery or optional in the basement jam room. After weeks of hard playing, we feel like rechargeable battery pack; battery life up to 60 hours (two pickups, two-band we’ve hardly seen the tip of the EQ) or 110 hours (single pickup) iceberg. Highly recommended.
Tap into your finger strength with Stu Clayton’s advanced lesson – and don’t be put off by that dreaded ‘A’ word: with time and dedication, you will master it
ello again, and welcome back to my long-running series on the two-handed tapping technique. This month we’re continuing to look at some longer study pieces that will likely require weeks or months of practice, rather than hours or days. Approach with caution, then, but also with optimism – you already play better than you think you do! Jazz is the theme of this month’s pieces, and we’ll be looking at two styles that sit within the genre. The first is a straightahead swing based on the chord changes to Gershwin’s ‘I Got Rhythm’, well-known among jazzers as ‘rhythm changes’. This piece will require you to play a continuous walking bass-line, while tapping out chordal parts with your picking hand. The second piece is a bossa nova, based on the changes of Kenny Dorham’s popular tune ‘Blue Bossa’. This piece is contrapuntal, meaning that you’ll be playing separate lines in each hand. As with everything we’ve covered in this column, try not to see these pieces as mere technical exercises: immerse yourself in the progressions themselves, think about the notes in the chords, and analyse the lines independently. There’s a lot of music in these lines, and a lot to learn if you look beyond the technique. Example 1 is an uptempo run through the ‘rhythm changes’ chord progression, which has a 32-bar form. The form consists of an A section which is played twice, then a B section, and then a final A section. This study piece runs through the form just once. Before you do anything else, look at the chord progression: you’ll see that throughout the A sections there are two chords per bar, most of which are diatonic, but some of which are not. Note that the ending of the second A section is a little different, to ease the transition into the B section, which is a contrast in that it contains just one chord every two bars, moving upwards in intervals of a fourth – a very common movement in jazz. These longer stretches on the same chord allow for more conventional arpeggio‑based walking lines and connecting phrases. In an earlier column, we looked at a much simpler chord
progression and applied the same walking bass and chords technique. The approach that you took for that line will work well here as well: I recommend studying the walking line for each section independently to begin with. Learn to play it with conventional fingerstyle technique, and get used to how it sounds, and how it reflects the chord progression. Be sure to follow the fret positions shown in the tab – this is important because you’ll need to keep the line on the E and A-strings so that the D and G-strings are kept free for the chordal parts. Once you have learned the walking bass-line, you should begin studying the chord voicings that are played by the picking hand. These are fairly conventional and consist of just two chord tones each. The tones used have typically been chosen as the best ones to represent the sound of the chord, with an eye on keeping the part playable without too much movement around the fretboard. If you’ve been following this column for a while, it’s likely that you will have encountered most of these voicings in the previous jazz-based exercises that we’ve looked at. There are a variety of different rhythms used in this part, some of which you will have played already, some of which you might not have. This part works nicely around the walking line however, so you should find that the two fit together well. The next study piece, Example 2, is a bossa nova based on the chord changes to ‘Blue Bossa’. Because this piece consists of a bass-line played by the fretting hand, and a melody played with the picking hand, I strongly recommend learning each part independently to begin with. Learn the bass-line using conventional fingerstyle technique to begin with – but follow the tab positions for the reasons mentioned earlier – and then try playing it with the tapping technique. When playing this bass-line, be aware that some of the root-5th figures are inverted (the 5th being lower than the root). This has been done to keep the bass part on the E and A-strings, keeping the D and G-strings free for the melody. You’ll also notice that at
“THIS MONTH WE’RE LOOKING AT PIECES THAT WILL LIKELY REQUIRE WEEKS OR MONTHS OF PRACTICE. APPROACH WITH CAUTION, BUT ALSO WITH OPTIMISM – YOU ALREADY PLAY BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU DO!” 076
ADVANCED TUTORIAL with Stuart Clayton
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