Since I was very young I wanted to play the drums but, unfortunately for me, my parents’ house was a four hundred year old cottage which would have been reduced to a dusty pile of straw, chalk, plaster and wood by even the most elegant of misplaced footsteps.
We had a piano, which I desperately wanted to play, but I lost interest when by my fifth piano lesson I was still unable to play any Scott Joplin compositions.
So I moved on to the Classical Guitar which sounded good but it didn’t sound like the Electric Guitar. I discovered though that the bottom four strings were tuned to the same notes as the four strings on the Bass Guitar so, from then on, I ignored the other two!
My first electric bass was a Korean made sunburst Fender Precision Bass with a maple neck. Instead of a dedicated amp I used an old Grundig radio. I progressed a few years later to a Martin Sidewinder which made me very excited as it sounded like the basses on my records!
My first serious bass guitar was my Yamaha BB11005 which was given to me on my seventeenth birthday by my parents. Today it is my favourite and best sounding bass and has probably earned me more money than any of my other instruments. My eighteenth birthday gift from my parents was exactly the same bass, but fretless, which is also totally excellent!
As I got more and more involved in playing I found that sometimes I needed lower notes than my regular four string basses offered. So, I took immediate delivery of a shiny Yamaha BB5000 a five string bass in violet blue.
In the years that followed I had a five string bass custom-built for me by the J. J. Huckke company which had a wider string spacing. I used that on and off but decided that it wasn’t really what I was looking for.
I then re-discovered the glorious world of Fender with a 1976 Fender Precision Bass. I was, and still am, amazed by the range of tones from Precision basses and I consider it to be the King of basses. I have since bought a 1969 Fender Precision and a 1963 Fender Jazz Bass which are both beautiful.
My current Jethro Tull Bass is a 1998 Fender Jazz five string in a Lake Placid blue finish. Unlike almost all other five string basses this Fender is a very simple and traditional design which is why it’s a brilliant Bass Guitar. It sounds great and it’s blue and so I use it! Simple.
My previous Jethro Tull Bass is my beloved Wal custom five string bass which was built for me in 1996 and is totally reliable, amazingly built and a great sounding bass.
Other Basses I own include:
A very early Musicman Stingray bass (still keeping the Leo Fender connection)
An Ampeg Electric Double Bass as seen on the Divinities tour.
A Guild Acoustic Bass for “unplugged” sounds.
Instruments that raise an eyebrow:
My Zeta Electric Double Bass – excellent piece of kit!
My first amp was an acoustic rig which was “previously enjoyed” and ultimately not the sound I was looking for.
I then progressed to an SWR Redhead combo which I have had for ten years and is one of my favourites.
When I did the Divinities tour I used Ian’s Trace Elliott Bass rig which was great but not my sound, man!
When I joined Jethro Tull, I invested in my own big rig which remains the same today. It consists of a Hartke Series 5000 250×250 amplifier and an SWR Henry 8×8 speaker cabinet. Also in my rig is a Kenton guitar switcher that switches digitally between guitars, amps, effects and tuners, a Korg tuner and a custom made Orchid rack that houses three Boss 0C2 Octavers and an Electro Harmonix Bass Balls.
For recording I am a great believer in valves. On Dot Com I used my Wallace Valve Guitar Amplifier built in the 1960’s. I also have a Fender Bassman and cabinet.
A recent discovery has been Matchless amplification. I recently tried one and have to admit it blew me away! Watch this space – there’s room in my rack boys!
File under use with caution!
Boss 0C2 Octaver – essential
Electro Harmonix Bass Balls – Distortion and Envelope Filter
Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesiser – Makes me sound like a Moog!
Lovetone Meatball – Envelope filtering
Lovetone Big Cheese – Overdrive