The nice thing about writing this column is that you get to speak with a lot of cool folks who read your work, so I thought it would be pretty nice to meet some of the subscribers and hear about what they’re playing, their styles and their bands. I randomly selected the folks interviewed, provided they primarily used vintage gear and were Premier Guitar readers. All three players are from the Boston area, all three are in their early 40s, and all three use Precision basses—but their personalities, situations and styles could not be more different.
Steve Breman has one of the more interesting backgrounds. Steve plays bass for Monique Ortiz (moniqueortiz.com). The cool thing is, this band has two bass players. Steve is the low-end groove player, while Monique is a riffing, two-finger slide player. Steve explains the big challenge is providing “sonic space” to allow for the use of two bass players. Steve’s main bass is a ‘74 Precision, while a ‘77 Guild Starfire gets its share of coffee house gigs. He uses a ‘77 T-bird and a ‘71 Rick 4001 as studio basses. Steve uses Maestro Brass Master, Black Cat Octave Fuzz and Univox Superfuzz pedals. The amp rig consists of old GMT heads, older Mesa 1x15 cabinets and an Acoustic 360 that he uses as a preamp. Steve also employs a Fender Jaguar Baritone Custom through a ‘68 Fender Deluxe amplifier. Steve’s groovy, low-end playing can be heard on Monique’s soon-to-be-released, full-length CD.
Henry James is a high-energy, life-is-a-party sort of cat. His band GO! is a psychobilly, traditional rock band where his personality is displayed in his playing. Henry is a mechanic for the Bose Corporation during the day, and also plays in a local cover band, Rose Colored Glasses. During his down time he keeps a close eye on his very nice collection, which includes multiple ‘70s Jazz Basses, various Precision Basses from ‘64 through ’86, and some old G&Ls. The main bass is his trusty ‘76 Precision plugged into a ‘70s Ampeg SVT head used with a Bergantino 610NV cabinet. He explains that the newer cabinet supplies the sonic control and reliability needed for a working musician. When asked what he feels is the best bass-oriented song ever written, Henry replies, “The Lemon Song,” without giving it a second thought. That may have been my answer, too.
Tris “Duke” Carpenter Originally from Massachusetts, Tris now resides in Los Angeles, where he works in the film industry. Tris also relies on a trusty Precision Bass. Tris has a physical ailment that prevents him from playing a big neck, so he is always looking for the perfect slim-necked Precision. His arsenal consists of Fender Precisions from ‘53, ‘59, ‘64 and a ‘75 A-neck. A deadly ‘64 Jazz Bass rounds out the collection. Tris describes himself as a dyed-in-the-wool groove and lockup player. When asked who his ultimate bass player is, Carl Radle was his immediate answer, because Derek and the Dominos songs have nothing but great bass lines. Tris can be found playing around L.A. in his SRV tribute band, Soul to Soul, or with Johnny Hawthorn, his original band. Tris also works as a hired gun. You can reach him at dukeplaysbass.com
The Lowdown Wrap-up
This month ends on a somber note. “Mrs. Duke,” Julie Carpenter, Tris’ wife, lost her fight with the pink ribbon while I was working on this column. Julie was a terrific girl. She will be missed. Please contribute to any breast cancer charity and say it’s for Julie, or check out julieanncarpenter.org. Until next time, drop the gig bag and bring the cannolis!
Kevin Borden has been a bass player since 1975, and is currently President of Goodguysguitars.com. Feel free to call him KeBo. He can be reached at Kebobass@yahoo.com.
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