Rig Rundown - Big Business

Four strings, a stack of Sunns, and plentiful pedals allow Jared Warren enough viciousness and volume for bass and guitar.

Facing a mandatory shelter-in-place ordinance to limit the spread of COVID-19, PG enacted a hybrid approach to filming and producing Rig Rundowns. This is the 31st video in that format.

Through the last 15 years and over six LPs (plus 6 EPs), the gruesome twosome of bassist/vocalist Jared Warren and drummer/vocalist Coady Willis have carved out their own surly, pulverizing sound. Sure, they’ve welcomed a guitarist on two occasions—Toshi Kasai and Scott Martin—and beefed up the Melvins for nearly a decade, but as a duo they are their most dynamic, grinding, and careen like the cannonball in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Jared Warren virtually welcomed PG’s Chris Kies into his L.A.-based jam space. In this Rig Rundown, bassist opens up why he chose a J over a P, demystifies his three-amp-four-cab-two-pedalboard setup, and proves that with a few unique octave and synth pedals, he can cover two instruments with four strings.

Big Biz Rig Rundown photo2

“When I joined the Melvins, I felt compelled to have pro gear as well as a pro attitude [laughs],” says Big Business bassist/singer Jared Warren. Before buying two identical Fender Jazz basses (his main one above is all stock), he trusted Squier Js and always leaned more J than P because he felt the Jazz was a clean palette enabling him to color and twist his tone with pedals and amps. He goes with Dunlop Stainless Steel Extra Heavy Drop Strings (.060 –.120) and is typically locked into drop-B tuning (B–F#–B–E).

Big Biz Rig Rundown photo3

Warren has three amps blowing and going at all times. Up top he has a Hilbish Design Beta Preamplifier (electrical engineer Nate Hilbish’s take on a Sunn Beta Bass) that’s powered by a Crown XLS 1002, in the middle sits a Sunn Beta Bass, and the bottom slot belongs to a Sunn Coliseum-300.

Sonically, the Hilbish Beta handles the highs (and works with pedals such as the EHX Mel9, an original POG, and a Boss SD-1 Super OverDrive). The Sunn Beta Bass resides in the middle frequencies and has a MXR Custom Badass Modified O.D. and a Malekko B:Assmaster running through its circuitry. Lastly, the Sunn Colisuem-300 manages the low end and it only has the EXH Micro POG to deal with.

Big Biz Rig Rundown photo4

The Hilbish Beta Preamplifier hits the top two cabs—a no-name 2x12 and a Mitchell 2x12 (top row). The Sunn Beta Bass and the Sunn Colisuem-300 each crank into their own Monolith 1x15 cabs.

Big Biz Rig Rundown photo5

Here is Warren’s core stomp station that is home to guitar and bass pedals including a MXR Carbon Copy, Electro-Harmonix POG, EHX Micro POG, EHX Mel9, Boss SD-1 Super OverDrive, Malekko B:Assmaster, Boss Bass Chorus CEB-3, and a MXR Custom Badass Modified O.D. Everything rests on (and is powered by) a SKB PS-45 pedalboard and his bass is kept in check with a Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner.

Big Biz Rig Rundown photo6

Jared’s auxiliary board (literally) holds an Ekko 616 Analog Delay, EHX 720 Stereo Looper, TC-Helicon Ditto Mic Looper, a Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X) pedal, and off to the side a DigiTech Bass Whammy.

Read More Show less

Gibson''s second bass shared its its double-cutaway, semi-solid design with the ES-335 unveiled that same year.

For about 40 years, this nearly mint 1967 Gibson EB-2 stayed in a basement alongside a Sunn 200S amp rig.
Introduced in 1951, the Fender Precision was very popular with bassists due to its easy amplification and portability. Gibson responded by launching its own Electric Bass model in 1953. The Electric Bass was a violin-shaped solidbody with one single-coil pickup in the neck position.

By 1958, Gibson released its second bass guitar, the EB-2. This bass shared its double-cutaway, semi-solid design with the ES-335 (also unveiled that year). The EB-2 retained the single neck pickup of the Electric Bass (renamed the EB-1) until 1959, when it was upgraded to a humbucker. This model was briefly discontinued in 1962, but was restored to the lineup in 1964 when ES-335-style guitars were most fashionable. While the bass was previously only available in sunburst or natural finishes, by 1965 cherry red also became an option. A two-pickup model was also offered starting in 1966.

The 1967 EB-2 bass featured here is labeled EB-2 DC (“D” for double pickup and “C” for cherry). Its characteristics are typical of that year, and they include right-angle tuners (which replaced the original banjo-style tuners in 1961), a push-push switch to add treble (added in 1959), a bridge mute (1960), and a metal neck-pickup cover (which replaced the original black plastic cover).

The original owner purchased this bass new in 1967 along with a brand new Sunn 200S head and bottom (equipped with two 15" JBLs). It must have made a thunderous roar in his basement, where it remained for the next 40 years in nearly mint condition.

Detailed Information on Gibson EB-2 basses can be found in Gibson Electrics—The Classic Years, by A.R. Duchossoir.

Though the EB-2 made its debut in 1958, this instrument’s cherry red finish wasn’t an
option until 1965. In 1960, the EB-2 began sporting a foam-covered bridge mute.

Serial number 897004 is a beautiful example of late-’60s semi-hollow bass design.

Right-angle tuners replaced the EB- 2’s original banjo-style tuners in 1961.

Read More Show less

Kevin Borden finishes his journey through vintage bass amplification history with early ''80s Peavey combos

Acoustic amplifiers are a misnomer. In the ‘70s, I saw Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden. There was an amp onstage I did not recognize. It had the trademark light blue stripe and the big metal knobs. I asked a buddy what it was and was told it was an Acoustic 360 or 370, and John Paul Jones used it. I did not understand why a bassist would use an “acoustic” amp.

The 360 and 370, while being completely different amps, share an amazing commonality, which is the creamy, deep tone that comes out of them. The Acoustic has a wonderful trait: while the tone goes deep, every note is discernable and articulate. Deep does not equal muddy with these amps. A very controlled top end could also be coaxed out of these amps without sounding shrill. In the very early ‘80s, Acoustic introduced a fabulous series of bass amps culminating in the channel-switching 320 head and model 408 4x15" cabinet. My SVT/Cerwin Vega rig (that I mentioned in a previous article) was sold to purchase this very rig. This amp retained all the goodness of the older series amps, and it was able to stand up to a B00 Stingray. Acoustic amps can still be found on the market for fair money. The little brothers to the 320 head were the 120 and 220, and these can be found reasonably priced. A lot of the older model amps have been around the block and most likely need some service.

Fender had an interesting dilemma. They made the world-class line of basses but never had the world-class bass amp. Their amp line was centered on the Bassman series, which had the Bassman 50 and 135 models, which were piggybacked. The cabinets were huge compared to the wattage of the head, which sounded pretty good with a non-offensive generic tone. Zillions were sold, making them a commercial success, but I personally believe they sold primarily because of the Fender name. The stepchild to the Bassman line was the Bassman 10, which may have been the best amp in the lineup. This amp was not 10 watts, but a 4x10" configuration, emulating the tweed Bassman. Although heavy and clumsy to transport, the size is compact, and the tone was tight and controllable. Like its predecessor, it became a favorite of guitar players. Fender also had a full line of practice amps aimed at the Musicmaster and Mustang crowd. There is really little drawback to a silverface Fender amp: they’re reasonably priced, tough as nails and offer reasonable tone. These amps offer major cool guy factor (CGF) for the capital outlay.

Sunn All Who fans raise your hands. In the ‘70s there was a small city on stage behind John Entwhistle nicknamed Mini-Manhattan. Mini-Manhattan was literally a wall of amplifiers either primarily or totally made by Sunn. Sunn had three primary bass amps: the Coliseum and Concert Bass amps, which were solid state, and the Model T. Sunn amps did a few things other transistor amps did not do: they were reliable for the day, they sounded good, the front ends were robust and you could actually play an Alembic or a T-Bird through them and achieve a nice sonic response. Like the Fender amps, they are reasonably priced, tough as nails and offer reasonable tone. These amps also offer major CGF for the capital outlay.

The Early Modern Era
During the very early ‘80s, bass amplification changed forever—the auto industry maybe the principal reason. In the early ‘70s, vehicle sizes were drastically reduced and with fuel prices soaring, the old behemoths faded away. Big amps could not be transported in the new smaller cars that dominated the late ‘70s onward. The other issue was that some of the components in tubes are not so nice to the human body, and American and Western European production basically ceased. This resulted in two major changes: first, the shift to solid-state technologies; second, the major downsizing of gear. Before this period, combo amps were low-volume applications. The ‘80s saw the introduction of killer combo amps. The company fully responsible for this was Peavey.

In summer 1982, I walked into Sam Ash and Nabil Goudy, the bass manager, called me over. He pointed to this little amp, a Peavey Combo 300. This was the first amp I ever heard with the modern tone. I purchased that amp and a new B.C. Rich Eagle Bass that was used to demo the amp. I used that amp for twenty years. After that, boutique amplifier manufacturers were springing up. The seeds for GK, SWR and the like were all being planted, and things changed forever.

The Lowdown Wrap-up
There is nothing as cool as a gigantic bass amp played loud enough to blow your pants around. The old stuff requires patience; you’ll have downtime and expenses for maintenance. On a player-grade amp, don’t shy away from re-coned speakers—expect it. Changed speakers, changed tolex or grille cloth will devalue the amp. Before you drop big bucks on a very rare amp, get it checked! Yes, there are amplifier forgeries or swapped major components. Remember: keep your hands out of the inner workings. Amps can electrocute you.

I hope you enjoyed this series. Until next time, drop the gig bag, bring the cannolis!

Read More Show less