TONE ZONE

By Brad Sarno

John-Paul McLean

John-Paul plays a Fender P-Bass ’63 Reissue strung with medium gauge half-rounds. His amp rig begins with the Sarno Music Solutions V8 Octal Tube preamp into an Eden WT550 for power, but the Eden recently died, so he’s using an Orange LIttle Bass Thing for the power amp side. John-Paul’s cabinet setup includes a TC Electronic 2×10” or a 2×12” or sometimes both together. Effects-wise, he very occasionally uses the Grease Juicer envelope filter/fuzz made by West Co Pedals.

Jeff Hiller

Lately, I have been searching for the sound and changing up some of my bass rig.  I have a small array of cabinets and heads I like to mess around with.

My #1 Bass is an 89-90 Pre-Gibson Tobias Classic I picked up in Philly back in 1991, when I got my first real Dead music band gig with Living Earth. It’s been my #1 ever since.  These days when playing Dead or Phish music, I bring out my 1991 Modulus Q5. I have a newer American P Bass that I use for Bluegrass gigs, JGB gigs, and times when 4 strings and flatwounds is what’s called for. My newest bass which has made it out for some recent gigs is a MarkBass Kimandu bass, it’s really awesome, but not sure it could replace the Tobias! I use Ernie Ball Strings. Flats, Half Rounds and Roundwounds. I got to the point of flats on all my basses, but I am moving away from that again…my ear likes the sound of roundwounds, my fingers like the feel of flats….the ears win!

My main bass rig consists of a Markbass 1×12 cabinet on top of a Markbass 1×15. The tone comes from an older Trace Elliot GP7SM preamp powered by a Guitar Sound Systems Sumo 1000. These power amps are built in France, and weigh about 4 pounds..it’s amazing. I use a Blackbird PedalBoard and my signal chain is  Polytrune > MXR Bass Chorus > Aguilar Octamizer > Aguilar Filter Twin > Source Audio Spectrum > Boss SY1 Synth > Deluxe Bass Big Muff > TC Electronics Ditto Looper Xl.  I play with my fingers…no pick….. Other gear I have includes more Markbass amp and cab configuartions, I quilter Power Block Head and a Trace Ellot Elf is always with me for emergencies!! I also own several other Erni Ball and Fender basses and a Breedlove acoustic bass.

Jeff likes to experiment with various cabinets and heads in his rig.  His #1 bass is an 89-90 Pre- Gibson Tobias Classic he picked up in Philly back in 1991, when he got his first real Dead music band gig with Living Earth. It’s been his #1 ever since.  These days when playing Dead or Phish music, he also brings out his 1991 Modulus Q5. He has a newer American P Bass that he uses for Bluegrass gigs, JGB gigs, and times when 4 strings and flatwounds is what’s called for. His newest bass, which has made it out for some recent gigs, is a MarkBass Kimandu.  “it’s really awesome, but not sure it could replace the Tobias!”  He uses Ernie Ball Strings—Flats, Half Rounds and Roundwounds. “I got to the point of flats on all my basses, but I am moving away from that again…my ear likes the sound of roundwounds, my fingers like the feel of flats….the ears win!”

His main bass rig consists of a Markbass 1×12 cabinet on top of a Markbass 1×15. The tone comes from an older Trace Elliot GP7SM preamp powered by a Guitar Sound Systems Sumo 1000. “These power amps are built in France, and weigh about 4 pounds..it’s amazing.”  He uses a Blackbird PedalBoard and his  signal chain is  Polytrune > MXR Bass Chorus > Aguilar Octamizer > Aguilar Filter Twin > Source Audio Spectrum > Boss SY1 Synth > Deluxe Bass Big Muff > TC Electronics Ditto Looper Xl.  

JeffI plays with his fingers…no pick.   Other gear he has includes more Markbass amp and cab configurations.  I quilter Power Block Head and a Trace Ellot Elf is always there for emergencies!! He also owns several other Erni Ball and Fender basses and a Breedlove acoustic bass.

Brad Sarno is a musician and inventor. With his wife Auset, he runs Sarno Music Solutions, which creates equipment that, among other things, allows guitarists to sound like a certain well known former Grateful Dead guitarist. He is the ideal guy to write the Tone Zone.