Players only! If you are not a total bass geek please exit
this site immediately. Below you will see two written examples
(traditional notation and tablature) of the most famous Bungle
bass-line ever. This bass-line was written by drummer Danny
Heifetz (no bassist in their right mind would dream it up
). You will notice that it is basically two chromatic scales
starting an octave apart (C#) and collapsing (one ascending,
one descending) to a unison (F#). If you play this line on
piano with one finger from each hand you will realize what
a ridiculous concoction it is. On bass, however, it's not
so easy. It took me a long time to figure out how to play
it, and a very short time to forget it. I had to re-learn
it in order to teach it to a student, and now, at the behest
of many bass-dweebs, I am disclosing the secret of the dead
**click image for larger version
In manuscript form, I have divided the
line into four positions. By "position" I mean
a four-fret span, one finger per fret (1-2-3-4). Technically,
the line can be played in three positions. The five notes
in position VI can be played with the other two notes in
position V. But I never played it this way. I found that
at such a fast tempo, it was easier to play if my hand
was constantly climbing upward. This also makes more sense
when you realize that position V, VI and VIII all begin
on the A string. Above each note I've written a fingering.
And the roman numerals represent what fret the position
begins at. So, for example, in the last measure your first
finger should be at the 8th fret even though the figure
starts with your 2nd finger.
Good luck, and let us never speak of
this bass-line again.
My very first bass was a Hondo double cut-away which I
received for Xmas in 1980 right before my 13th birthday.
The only recording I ever made with that bass was the first
Mr. Bungle demo from 1986. That, with my VT (Vibration
Technology) combo amp. In 1987 or so I purchased an Ibenez
Pro-Line, which was used on susequent demos as well as
Mr B's first CD, and which I still own. Incidentally, on
that record I used a Peavey TKO combo amp with a 15-inch
speaker. Kinda silly. Anyway, Bungle got a big check from
Warner Bros. so I decided to get an Alembic bass. I had
been enthralled with Alembics ever since I had Stanley
Clarke's double LP "I Wanna Play For You". On one of the
inner sleeves there is a photo of twelve of his basses
gracefully displayed on the brick steps of a mission. I
didn't really consider the sound of Alembics. I just thought
this was the coolest picture ever.
images for larger version
Alembic 5-string Europa
So I met this guy at a Bungle show who happened to
work for Alembic. He got me a good deal and brought
me to the factory up in Santa Rosa, California where
I was able to pick out the actual pieces of maple
that would be used on the front of the body. Since
it was being made from scratch I customized it in
a couple ways: I had them refrain from putting dots
on face of the ebony fretboard. It looks cool but
it really messes with your eyes and took me a while
to get used to. Luckily there are dots on the side
of the fretboard. I also had them use a left-handed
head-stock for that Hendrix look. Unfortunately this
puts the E-string tuning peg out of the reach of
my stumpy little arms. Oh well, there's no other
bass in the world like this. I used it on Bungle's
DV & CA cds as well as Zorn's The Gift, but I don't
play it that much these days.
My first upright bass was a blonde Kay that I bought
in SF for $600. I ended up selling it to this guy
Jason who went on to play it with Hank Willimas III.
I bought my Czech upright from a friend in college.
She was friends with the legendary Red Callender
who picked it out for her. I've been told it was
probably built in the 1950s. Since I've had it I've
replaced the bridge, fingerboard and wooden tuning
pegs. Usually I use Thomastik Superflexible strings
(rope core), but currently I'm trying out the Bel
Cantos. I've been using the simple Underwood pick-up
from the beginning and I'm still happy with it.
Lawrence 5-string fretless
I owned a Peavey fretless bass in the 90s which I
used on Carousel, Dead Goon and an early version
of Platypus. I sold that bass a few years later.
I got into fretless via Jaco like most young bass
players, and later discovered Percy Jones from Brand
X and Kev Hopper from Stump. Up in Humboldt County
where I grew up there's a brilliant high-end bass
maker named Ken Lawrence. He started his own shop
after leaving Moonstone guitars. He was kind of a
local hero to me. I'd go see him play bass in fusion
bands when I was about 17. Too young to get in the
bar, I'd stand outside and listen from the window.
Just before Bungle recorded DV I had Ken make me
a 5-string fretless. It's a beautifully crafted instrument
that I've barely used. I think Platypus is the only
time I've recorded with it, and since then I just
haven't been hearing fretless.
My dad found out about this weird Guild bass that
he bought for me in the late 80s. In fact, I believe
Guild stopped making them in '88. And there were
only about 1,200 made. The strings are made out of
silicone and sort of look like snot, so I started
calling it the Booger Bass. I used it on Bungle's
Golem but have found little use for it since.
Around 1998 I got the vintage bug and decided that
I had to have a Fender P-bass. I went to Univibe
in Berkeley where they had two. I picked this one
up and it felt the best so I bought it. It has since
been my main ax. I had a BadAss bridge put on and
I had the nut and bridge at the E-string cut to fit
a low B-string. In Fantomas I string it B-E-A-D,
but for everything else I use regular tuning. Somewhere
along the line I decided to start putting butterfly
stickers on it--maybe out of contrast to the music
I was playing. So, I call this my Butterfly Bass.
I've been using D'Addario
nickle wound 50 gauge strings
for as long as I can remember. I went through a lot
of brands when I was younger looking for a string
that was bright but not too bright and had longevity.
After moving to NYC a friend of mine told me her
neighbor had a beat up old Guild Starfire they wanted
to get rid of. The jack was caved-in and there were
no tuning pegs so you couldn't put strings on it
to see if the neck was straight, or plug it in to
see if the pick-up worked. I gave them $100, then
had my bass guy Manny fix it up. What a find! It
records beatifully and feels amazing. I have flatwound
strings on right now. I believe it was made in '66
but it seems like most Starfires from that year have
the neck pick-up whereas mine is closer to the bridge.
I've used this bass on some of my own film music,
Zorn's The Dreamers and some stuff with Yuka Honda.
I occasionally use some pedals but
I can't be bothered to take a bunch of digital photos of
them. Here is a list of the pedals that I use most often:
Kruegger 800 RB
For years I used an SWR SM-400 with the Goliath Jr
4x10 or 2x10 for smaller gigs. I burned it up on
the first Fantomas tour and it hasn't been the same
since. At that time I bought a GK 800 as a spare
but now I use it for loud gigs.
Image Focus 1
When I play with the Melvins or Fantomas I have an
Ampeg SVT Pro-4 out in LA, or I'll just use whatever
crap Buzz has lying around. Honestly, when the sound
is about pushing air, I'm not picky about gear. As
long as I have an 8x10 cabinet I just keep my EQ
close to flat and work from there. Also, I rarely
bring my own amp to the recording studio. I use whatever
good stuff is sitting there, like an Ampeg B15 for
What I AM picky about is my upright sound. I used
to HATE amplifying my upright but I've learned to
deal with it. I still like SWR so for really small
gigs I use a Workingman's 10, or as I like to call
it, the Lazyman's 10. It's super portable, although
not very loud and not the best tone. When I can,
I use my Acoustic Image head. It too is super light
but sounds incredibly natural to me and is versatile
in terms of EQ. It can get plenty loud and I've also
used my electric with it.
I still have my SWR cabinets that I use with this
head. To me, that's the perfect combo with my upright.
Line6 Distortion Modeler
Line6 Delay Modeler
Boss RV-3 Reverb/Delay
Boss FV-50 Volume
Digitech Echo Plus 8 Sec. Delay
Boss TU-2 Tuner
I use Dunlop Tortex .88mm picks and sometimes a chunk of
metal that was probably intended as drum hardware.