Musicians are always searching for the perfect tone. I've had many amps and basses over the past fifty-five years and I've even built my own gear. I have over twenty basses and a half-dozen amps but below is a list of the basses and amps I'm currently using on 'The Road'
I still have my 1962 Fender Jazz bass which I still play out occasionally but my usual touring bass is a "Leo Lyons Woodstock' bass built for me by the Bass Centre, London. It's a replica of my '62 Jazz and has all the knocks and dents of the original. It's hard to tell the two apart aside from the headstock. The balance, weight, fingerboard and tone are exactly the same.
Basses two and three are Warwick Star Basses, a five and four string. They provide another texture of sound on the road and in the studio. When I began playing bass way back in 1959 I dreamt of owning a Framus Star bass but never managed to get one. Now Warwick/Framus make them again.
Bass number four is an upright bass made by the 'Chadwick Folding Bass Company' Nashville. It's an ingenious invention by Charlie Chadwick one of my Music City friends who's also a great bass player. The neck of the bass folds into the body for transportation. It sounds amazing, is fun to play, and I can even check the bass as extra baggage on flights.
I've just started using Warwick amps and cabinets. I have an LW1000 head powering WCA 112 LW CE and WCA 408 LW CE cabinets. I'm amazed at how full and powerful such a light and compact rig sounds. Maybe it's the sound I've been looking for.
I mostly use a clean sound splitting my signal between my Warwick LW1000 amp and an Avalon DI box.I don't currently use many effects but I'm always experimenting with various pedals so maybe I'll try out a few ideas when HSS next tour.
Elites 45 to 105 gauge. The strings sound great and hold the tone for ages. They're an English company too.
My equipment list throughout the sixties and seventies with Ten Years After was as follows...
1962 Fender Jazz bass - It's become something of a trademark after playing this bass in the Movie of the Woodstock Festival. Over the years I've owned and sold two other Jazz basses but I've kept this one. I traded for it with Ian Hunter in 1962 in exchange for my 1961 Fender Precision plus a small amount of cash - fifteen pounds to be exact.
Ian has suggested over the years that he gives back the money in exchange for a commission on the shows I've played with that bass!
1955 Fender P Bass - Found for me by Billy Gibbons in a pawnshop in Houston Acoustic fretless - Unusual prototype made by the Acoustic Amp Company Rikkenbacker Stereo - I remember playing it on 'I'd Love To Change The World' and 'Working On The Road'.
3/4 size Double bass.
Vox AC 30 Super twin I bought this amp in 1967 from an old friend Walt Bonney who was the bass player with The Fentones. He'd inherited the amp from The Shadows. I've had the electronics restored recently and it still sounds great in the studio. I used this amp on the early TYA records.
Watkins amps supplied by my old friend Charlie Watkins of WEM. Charlie is a great guy and a true music fan who's contributed much to the British music scene particularly with his PA systems. Watkins made good amps but with TYA's heavy touring schedule in The States we had to forgo our product loyalty and change to Marshall amps for their ready availability in the USA.
Marshall 100 watt bass amps, two and one for a spare, powering four, 4 by 12 cabs.
My roadies and I spent many hours up at Jim Marshall's factory in Hitchin trying out
different impedance resistors on the amps input stages to get them "Sounding Just right"
Acoustic Amps I used two of these amps and two dual fifteen cabs for a short time.
La Bella 760 flat wound. Hard on the fingers but a good on the tone! I used to hit the strings so hard I'd break them regularly - strings that is. My fingers just blistered and bled. These days I can hear myself a little better and don't very often break strings or get blisters.
Other Basses you may have seen me playing include...
Warwick Streamer Stage Two Pro. With EMG active pickups - Hans P. Wilfer the owner of Warwick turned me onto these basses when we met at an 'Out In The Green Festival' in Germany around twelve years ago.
Wal - I bought this active bass from Pete and Wal at Electric Wood. Some of you may recall me playing it in the mid-eighties on the TYA Marquee Anniversary video.
Lakland four string and five string.
Sadowsky five string Nash Jazz Bass.
Fender American Classic Jazz Bass.