You used to play SWR amps, but now you’re endorsing Ampeg.

I like SWR a lot, but when we travel today we sometimes have to rent a backline—especially when I’m doing my own tour. Return to Forever is different. It’s a bigger scene, so we carry our own equipment. When I go into a city, for some reason the Ampeg stuff is always newer. I go into some towns in Europe, and I just can’t find the other stuff. So Ampeg is a better scene for me.

You played the more rocking “Señor Mouse” on electric. Did you think about playing it on upright?

I’ve surprised some people with my upright playing in rock formats. I finally found a pickup that works for me, an Underwood. I’ve tried them all. And I got a bass with a removable neck made for me by Lemur Music. They measured my boyhood bass—the bass I’ve used on all the records I’ve done—and made 14 of them. I kept seven of them. As an acoustic instrument, it sounds okay— it has a nice, sweet sound—but when I put the Underwood pickup on it, it’s a monster. I think the removable neck is the way to go for traveling, too.

What do you use to amplify your uprights?

Ampeg works better for acoustic bass, too. I can compete with the loudest players—I don’t care how loud they are. And this bass actually sounds pretty good with the bow, too. I also use a piece of equipment from a company called EBS—the MicroBass II. I think it’s the best unit you can use for acoustic bass. It has two separate EQs, and they’re really designed for bass. It’s a direct box, but it also has EQ.

Let’s wrap things up by talking about musical careers. What would you like to tell young bassists today?

Try to be as honest as you can. The more honest you are, the more you open yourself up for possibilities and opportunities. Sometimes you’re playing some music and you’re, like, stuck in one thing. If you look around, you’ll find that probably some of the things that are reinforcing that stuck feeling are other people telling you what you should do—whether it’s your wife, your brother, or your bandmate. It’s not a bad thing—it’s nice to be thought of—but I think it helps to really sit back and come up with nine or 10 other things that you’re not doing. If you try those nine or 10 things, you’ll be surprised at what you can get into.

Clarke has multitudes of Alembics, but this Signature Standard is noteworthy
because of its BIgsby tremolo. Photo courtesy of Concord Music Group

In my case, film scoring was completely an accident. I was on this jazz-special TV show, and the director said, “Man, I’ve got this show and I’ve got a couple of episodes coming up that I need some crazy music for. Can you do it?” And I said, “Yeah, sure.” But I didn’t know if I could do it. I knew I could compose, but….

Anyway, it turned out to be Pee-wee’s Playhouse! And you know what? I was nominated for an Emmy Award—and it was, like, by accident. I didn’t even know what an Emmy was. I’ve done 50 films, television movies, and television series … I don’t even know how many of those I’ve done. But it happened in a blink. If I had time, I’d write a book about the things that happen in your life at a blink—and the flip side, the things you decide not to do at a blink. So, to summarize what I just said for a young guy, don’t pass up nothin’. If you have the ability to try it out, try it out.

Stanley Clarke’s Gear Box
CLICK HERE to watch Stanley show us his gear in a Rig Rundown...

2008 Lemur Music custom upright with removable neck and Underwood pickup, Alembic Series I short-scale electric tenor bass (cocobolo top and back, padauk core, maple-and-padauk neck with ebony fretboard, maple accent laminates), Alembic electric (burled buckeye top and back, padauk core, maple-and-purpleheart neck, ebony fretboard with mother-of-pearl barn-swallow inlays), two custom 34" Spellbinder Siblings electrics designed and built by Thomas Lieber and Rick Turner, Fender Marcus Miller Jazz bass, Lowenherz Stanley Clarke signature model, Kenny Smith Flying Vee, and various Alembics

Ampeg SVT-2PRO head driving a Pro Neo PN-410HLF cab (for upright), Ampeg SVT-4PRO driving two Pro Neo PN-410HLF cabs and two 1x10 cabs (for electric)

Two Alembic F-1X tube preamps, TC Electronic GSystem, EBS OctaBass, EBS BassIQ, EBS MicroBass II preamp, EBS DynaVerb, EBS Stanley Clarke Signature wah, Rodenberg GAS 707B Boost

LaBella stainless electric strings custom wound by Richard Cocco, LaBella 7720S SOLO double-bass strings