Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 24

Thread: acoustic or electric bass? Hot Tuna edition

  1. #1

    acoustic or electric bass? Hot Tuna edition

    I was going back through my old youtube channel that I've been locked out of now for a few years and came across this awesome version of Death Don't Have No Mercy. This has always been my favorite recording of this song. When I first found it online somewhere (probably around 2005), I'm pretty sure the source suggested it was likely from the 80's. For the longest time I took this to be a very good possibility since I decided Jack sounded like he was playing an acoustic bass -- so I immediately thought of his B-50 that he's seen playing in videos from the 80's. Reading through the comments though several people suggest this is actually from the early 70's, even citing particular dates and shows.
    Listening to it now, after a lot more years of Hot Tuna listening under my belt, I agree that Jorma especially sounds like early-70's-Jorma, both in his vocals and guitar playing. Also, that definitely does sound like Papa John Creach.
    Still, my ears are convinced that those are phosphor bronze roundwound bass strings on an acoustic bass. If this recording really was from the 70's, what bass could this be? I know a Starfire can have some subtle nuances similar to an acoustic, from resonance and the resulting string vibration. Regardless, I'm pretty sure this is not a Starfire or the bisonic'd flying V. I suppose it's possible that this is the Alembic strung with rounds as they do have a wicked versatile tonal palette, but all I truly hear is an acoustic bass with phosphor bronze strings, which there were very few to choose from in the early 70's... Could it have been his Balalaika bass? The only other recording it's on that I know of is the studio cut of "Third Week In The Chelsea"
    What do you guys think?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb8l8MWA7yk
    Last edited by mellowgerman; 04-03-2019 at 03:26 PM.

  2. #2
    sounds like an electric bass to me, guessing one of the alembics or owsley/ambelic etc. moded Guilds. wouldnt rule out the flying v jetstar, if it existed at the time. i think its a solid body.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator fronobulax's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central Virginia, USA
    Posts
    15,781
    Blog Entries
    9
    Good question. I note the similarity to acoustic phosphor bronze but if it is a B-50 in needs to be 1976 or later. Since it has Papa John it should be '70-'72. The modified Starfire was still in use in 1970. The "Flying V" Guild was mid-'70's. The Alembic was 1972. As far as I can tell the Starfire continued to be used until the Alembic showed up. That being the case I'm going to propose the Starfire. I definitely hear the woody crunch that I hear from a Bisonic in a hollow body but have not yet heard from a similar solid body. Different strings? Maybe he forgot his nail clippers?



    In the clip above it is obvious which bass is being played :-) and there seems to be a lot of sonic similarities although there are differences. Clip circa 1970 from a folk music show on what we would now call PBS.
    Quote Originally Posted by mgod View Post
    What he said.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuball48 View Post
    Frono: You are correct----again.

    '67 Starfire I Bass (Cherry)
    '71 JS II Bass (Walnut)
    '82 B-50 Acoustic Bass (Natural)
    '87 Pilot (Black)
    '13 Newark Street Starfire Bass (Cherry)
    '16 Betts Bass "Walnut Bottom"

    LMG I, II, III

    This space available.

  4. #4
    I can't particularly tell - I think an Alembicized instrument could sound like that. It sounds kinda crunchy, but the recording doesn't have a lot of low-end.

    I was hoping maybe you were talking about this video where the bass is plainly in sight lol

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjfhsLuOEWI

    Not sure when he stopped playing this one - I'm no expert on the chronology of his instruments.

    EDIT: ahahaha - Frono beat me to it!

  5. #5
    Super Moderator fronobulax's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central Virginia, USA
    Posts
    15,781
    Blog Entries
    9
    Quote Originally Posted by hieronymous View Post
    I can't particularly tell - I think an Alembicized instrument could sound like that. It sounds kinda crunchy, but the recording doesn't have a lot of low-end.

    I was hoping maybe you were talking about this video where the bass is plainly in sight lol

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjfhsLuOEWI

    Not sure when he stopped playing this one - I'm no expert on the chronology of his instruments.

    EDIT: ahahaha - Frono beat me to it!
    :-)

    The bass in the clip appears in other clips as late as 1972 at which point a switch to Alembic #1 probably occurred.
    Quote Originally Posted by mgod View Post
    What he said.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuball48 View Post
    Frono: You are correct----again.

    '67 Starfire I Bass (Cherry)
    '71 JS II Bass (Walnut)
    '82 B-50 Acoustic Bass (Natural)
    '87 Pilot (Black)
    '13 Newark Street Starfire Bass (Cherry)
    '16 Betts Bass "Walnut Bottom"

    LMG I, II, III

    This space available.

  6. #6
    Only time I ever saw them play live was early on at a small venue in the East (SF) Bay Area and Jack was playing the "Yggdrasil" Guild SF, while Jorma played a (Gibson?) acoustic on some songs and a 345 or 355 on others. This was before Papa John, though Will Scarlet played harmonica on some tunes that night. It was also prior to the release of the first Hot Tuna album. The "Hesitation Blues" clip posted above was probably recorded within days of the show I saw.

    (Please don't correct me about calling the bass "Yggdrasil": I use the term only for purposes of indicating which of the two Starfires and understand that that actually wasn't the name of the bass, itself) .

  7. #7
    Senior Member adorshki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sillycon Valley CA
    Posts
    25,545
    Quote Originally Posted by fronobulax View Post
    In the clip above it is obvious which bass is being played :-) and there seems to be a lot of sonic similarities although there are differences. Clip circa 1970 from a folk music show on what we would now call PBS.
    I agree, I think Jack just has it dialed in to best complement Jorma's unplugged flattop sound.
    The other half of that show:

    It was actually '69 in the studios of the local SF National Educational Television station KQED.
    They had some rather "edgy" bands in their studio in the day, somebody in their management was fond of the counterculture:
    http://moviemagg.blogspot.com/2019/0...erimental.html
    Ralf Gleason even used their studios to produce a JA television concert, "Go Ride The Music" which yielded the bootleg Up Against the Wall M----------ers:

    http://moviemagg.blogspot.com/2019/0...ucational.html
    Al
    "Time May Change the Technique of Music But Never Its Mission " - Rachmaninoff
    My 1st Guild: '96 Westerly D25NT "Hally" (10-31-96 stamped on heelblock)
    #2: '01 Westerly F65ce "Blondie"
    #3: '03 Corona D40e Richie Havens "Richie"
    All bought new!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by adorshki View Post
    I agree, I think Jack just has it dialed in to best complement Jorma's unplugged flattop sound.
    The other half of that show:

    It was actually '69 in the studios of the local SF National Educational Television station KQED.
    They had some rather "edgy" bands in their studio in the day, somebody in their management was fond of the counterculture:
    http://moviemagg.blogspot.com/2019/0...erimental.html
    Ralf Gleason even used their studios to produce a JA television concert, "Go Ride The Music" which yielded the bootleg Up Against the Wall M----------ers:

    http://moviemagg.blogspot.com/2019/0...ucational.html
    Thanks for the link, Al.
    Very interesting input from all here, however, I have strong doubts that this "Mann's Fate" recording was from the same session as the "Death Don't Have No Mercy". In any case, even if it was, there is absolutely no way the bass on the "Death Don't Have No Mercy" recording is the brown Starfire. "Mann's Fate" as well as the "Hesitation Blues" recordings from that video series clearly 100% have the signature Casady Starfire flatwounds+bisonic sound. It's just not possible to make flatwounds sound like roundwounds... there are harmonic overtones that rounds create, which simply are not generated by flatwounds. As determined in previous discussions here on LTG, that particular bass didn't even have active filters onboard, as we now know them by Alembic (i.e. Alembic superfilters, as on Phil's "Godfather" bass and, I'm pretty sure, the later sunburst Casady Starfire). Passive filters cannot add to the sound generated by the strings and the pickups, they can only subtract and thereby emphasize and bring to the forefront certain existing frequencies. Though everything I'm hearing suggests otherwise, I could possibly be made to believe that the bass in "Death Don't Have No Mercy" was the Alembic I with roundwounds, as there is not enough info available about that first Alembic bass, in any of it's varying configurations, to say for sure what it would have been capable of. Regardless, it's unlikely that those electronics could have done things a modern Superfilter could not. Being a proud owner of an Alembic SF-2, I can attest that a Starfire with bisonics and flatwounds, when run through one of these circuits, still keeps the general tonal character (specifically because it can't change the composition of the strings or how they vibrate, which of course is the origin of the electric signal that finally comes out of the speaker) no matter how the knobs are tweaked.
    My thinking is still acoustic bass of some sort with rounds. There is a zingy bright, hollow quality to that sound, as well as the attack and decay of the notes, which I've only ever heard from an acoustic bass with rounds. This also makes me think it was later than the Tuna video above, because I don't know of any acoustic bass guitars that existed in 1969, nor were roundwound bass strings common... on a slight tangent, I think I recall people saying that roundwounds for bass came about in late 69 or 70 and that the first big user of them was John Entwistle? There is of course the piano-string story about Paul McCartnety being the first to use rounds, but I honestly think that was just another fun story from the Beatles folklore files.
    Sorry about my rambling, just my thinking on the matter
    Last edited by mellowgerman; 04-04-2019 at 11:43 AM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mavuser View Post
    sounds like an electric bass to me, guessing one of the alembics or owsley/ambelic etc. moded Guilds. wouldnt rule out the flying v jetstar, if it existed at the time. i think its a solid body.
    I agree. By the time they get to the second verse, it no longer sounds like an acoustic bass, and must be either the modded Starfire, or his first Alembic. This would be a good question for the Hot Tuna-Jorma Kaukonen Fan Club group over on Facebook. There's a lot of really knowledgeable folks over there, including a few bandmates.
    Sandy

    '59 X175AB, '68 SFII Bass (Green), '73 D50NT, '82 Mark V, '86 Pilot 602P, '87 Pilot SB602M, '88 Pilot SB602MF, '99 DeArmond Starfire Bass, '10 F512NT,
    '11 F50ce Std (Sunburst), '13 R30S (Resonator), '13 B54ce Std Bass, '13 Orpheum Jumbo Prototype, '13 Orpheum OM Mahogany, '13 GSR M85II Bass

  10. #10
    Might just be that years of "hearing" an acoustic bass on this recording makes my ears refuse to hear anything different. Again, I could see this being the Alembic Mission Control bass or maybe that sunburst Starfire, but it's definitely a set of roundwound strings on there

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •