The soul bass players of the 1960s onwards created some of the greatest bass lines on songs that are still revered to this days.
They did that pretty much exclusively using Fender basses - mostly the Precision bass and sometimes a Jazz.
Watch this video to learn how you can easily emulate soul, Motown, and RnB bass guitar tone.
It's a sound that is still very much in fashion these days. You only have to listen to Pino Palladino to hear that.
The Key Elements Of Soul Bass Tone
Unlike other styles of music it's really simple.
You can sound like a Motown great with the following:
- A Fender Precision bass
- Flatwound strings
- Some kind of mute at the bridge
- An Ampeg B15 plugin (if recording) or a valve amp for live work (or pedal in front of your normal solid state amp)
Fender Precision Bass
You don't need a lovely (but extortionately priced) vintage Fender Precision.
A dark bass tone is key to the soul sound and flatwound bass strings are one of the main ways to get there.
They don't have the ridges you can feel from the windings on roundwound strings. This leads to a more mellow, smoother tone.
These strings from LaBella are great.
Tony Levin needed to dampen the strings on a Peter Gabriel session and all he had to hand was his baby daughter's nappies (diapers). So, he stuffed one under the strings down by the bridge and, hey presto, that's part of the bass tone to 'Don't Give Up'.
The old Fenders had a mute system inside the chrome bridge covers but most players nowadays just use some foam or sponge down by the bridge.
There are some great after-market mute products including:
- The NordyMute
- GruvGear Fump Bridge Side Dampener
- Grossman Bass Mute
- Bass Mute Clamp
- The BassMute (Bob Babbitt used this towards the end of his career)
If you don't have a spare few grand for a vintage Ampeg B15, plugins or pedals are your friend.
I did a video on the Tech 21 VT bass which is a B15 in a box kind of a pedal. Check out the video:
The main point is that you don't need very expensive gear to get the tone but you do need to look into the right areas. I hope this post and video helped you!