"French" Bass sound?

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DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
I really love that clicky bass sound you get on 60s French pop records - Serge Gainsbourg, France Gall etc.

Is there a trick to achieving that sound?
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  • Double the bass line with a bass vi.
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  • I'd imagine that ^^^ you get doubling the bass with bass VI or guitar on a lot of country and reggae ( an odd connection I always thought) from that period. Often it was a doghouse bass or quite woolly bass ( precision with flatwounds into an 18" speaker type thing) so a second instrument was needed to give it definition. Any YouTube links to any particular songs? The bass line to Walk on the Wild Side comes to mind - double bass with electric bass playing a higher harmony part IIRC- and that sounds like the kind of thing you are describing.
    Who invaded Spain in the eight century?
    The Moops.
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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
    OK, that makes sense. All the more reasons to have another look at those Squier VIs!

    I guess I mean stuff like this, although I'm on my laptop at the moment, so I can't really hear the bass too well just now!




    I'm a 6-string guitarist, but I do have a P-bass copy. My amps are 410 tweed deville, AC30 and a home made SE5a with 12" speaker.

    I guess I need to use a plectrum and have a play about with my compressor and tone settings.
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  • Try an octave pedal on the guitar and picking right by the bridge perhaps and crank the treble, experiment with palm muting that might give you some of it.
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  • albanovalbanov Frets: 55
    edited November 2014
    It's great sound for sure. An old hollowbody - Eko, Hofner, Guild Starfire etc - palm muted and played with a pick will get there. With your precision flat wounds as mentioned would help, also turning the tone down and try muting the strings with a bit of foam. A higher action, for that 'plunky' sort of tone, could be good.
    For what it's worth Herbie Flowers, who played on a lot of the Serge Gainsbourg material, usually played a jazz bass - although I have read it was a Burns Bison on Histoire de Melody Nelson which is a pretty classic example of this sound.
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  • Remembered another famous one - These Boots are Made for Walking by Nancy Sinatra ( not the Megadeath cover!). Ignore the double bass only on the intro and the main bass line is tic tac bass ( the classic Nashville term I believe) which is double bass + electric bass ( Carole Kaye on a precision) in that case. If you google tic tac bass lots of info on examples and variations. Patsy Cline comes up a lot as having tic tac ( double plus baritone) on a lot of her stuff.
    Who invaded Spain in the eight century?
    The Moops.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 42390
    Can't really add much to the suggestions made already, but I have to say thank you for the Bardot clips :).

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
    @EricTheWeary - interesting stuff, many thanks.

    @albanov - I love Melody Nelson - but I thought it was your man out of Manfred Man on bass for that one? 

    I had previously suspected that it might have been one French session bassist responsible for all of those Ye-Ye era French Pop records. A sort of "Canard" Dunn type-character, if you will.
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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
    ICBM said:
    Can't really add much to the suggestions made already, but I have to say thank you for the Bardot clips :).
    No worries ;)

    Could compression play a role, do we think?
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  • wayneiriewayneirie Frets: 418
    edited November 2014
    Some gentle compression might help. Most of the compression would of probably come from hitting the tape or the valves in the console. If you have a tape simulator plug in try that. Or if you do use a comp try the soft knee setting and a gentle reduction rather than hard and squashy.
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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
    Great thanks @wayneirie
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  • BasherBasher Frets: 751
    edited November 2014
    Oooh. Got all excited then as I thought you were on about the same sort of "French" bass tone I love.
    Listening to your YouTube samples, I realised I'm thinking of a different sort of tone. 

    For anyone who is interested, this is the sort of thing I had in mind:



    I've found that I can do a passable impersonation by damping my bass at the bridge using a strip of foam and using a pick and plenty of compression. I'm guessing the original might be a proper, doubled "tic-tac" bass or maybe something with flatwound strings.
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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
    Yeah I kind of meant that sort of style too I suppose.
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  • BasherBasher Frets: 751
    Sorry @DannyP if I came across as an even bigger tosser than I usually do!
    I was just excited as I've always wanted to know how to get "that" sound myself. Didn't listen properly to your samples - the Bardot sounds like an upright to me but the Gainsbourg has it but without the same treble/click content as the Stereolab (the Dots & loops is one of my favourite albums btw).

    Seriously though, try some foam or even a scarf or something under the strings. You'll get the attack but a very muted "thwock" and no sustain that sounds very 60s to my ears. I would do a sample on my cheap Yamaha bass but I'm knackered and off to bed. Will try and record something tomorrow, if it helps?

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  • dogloaddogload Frets: 1366
    I think @Basher has hit the nail on the head (appropriately) as I always imagined that classic Gainsbourg bass sound to be made by string damping. Must have been a common technique back then as Rickenbacker 4001s came with a built-in mute.
    It also sounds like it should have been made using a big hollow bodied bass coz it's really' plummy' but certainly damped.
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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
    Yeah, great suggestions.
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 20592
    You can get that on any bass. Cut the bass, boost the mids and roll off the treble [depending on the controls of the amp/guitar] and play high up the neck with a pick. Add compression and a touch of reverb. Herbie Flowers has been doing it for years ...


    Frexited
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  • jonnyburgojonnyburgo Frets: 7265
    edited November 2014
    The ultimate 60s bass sound here, Rickenbacker I think *EDIT* having googled Carol Kaye who played on this, most pics show her playing Fenders, so could be that. I had a keeley comressor that could make my guitar picking have a similar "clicky" attack.



    "OUR TOSSPOT"
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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
    Yeah @jonnyburgo that's the sound right there!
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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 8280
    I thought that was achieved with flats, a flatpick and lump of high density foam shoved under the strings near the bridge.

    image
    Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever.

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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 8280
    My fave example of that sound:


    Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever.

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  • Yeah, that's what I used to do for that sound. It works really nicely for finger funk playing too, let's you attack the strings a bit without it sounding like your slapping the bass.
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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 8280
    A lovely live version showing... a Hofner Bass!!


    Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever.

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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 940
    Yes @impmann bloody gorgeous!

    I'm certainly trying the foam thing too.
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  • BasherBasher Frets: 751
    I was messing about with the foam thing on a recent idea. Just a loop that goes nowhere but gives and idea of the sound.

    http://www.brendanashbrook.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/frenchie.mp3
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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 8280
    /\ I like that. :-)
    Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever.

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  • Not French, but a nice example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DuWOMqc9-M

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  • That's the sort of sound I'm often aiming for when using a pick. I think I get close - Fender P with flats (LaBella), and the mids CUT (almost completely) on my Orange Bass Terror (though with my P there's still some left!) some compression and a 4/5kHz lift. I also have roll-your-own cigarette filter tips underneath each string at the bridge; gives just the right amount of muting for my general pick & fingers playing, though I often use a sock when recording if I need something more extreme. It's not quite the same style, but if it's of interest it's the pick sound in this video I made - - though that is without my usual compression and EQ lift. Mind the sloppy playing... drum loop was added after the fact!
    Not the model boy of the village
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  • SargeSarge Frets: 1623
    Another example of this bass sound, never managed to get this down myself.

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 42390
    edited February 2015
    Can't believe I forgot to add a 'proper' reply to this thread before - distracted by Bardot, probably :) - but there's another way of getting that 'doubled' - one very muted and the other very clicky - sound, with a Rickenbacker 4001/3... use the 'Rick-o-Sound' split outputs, and run the neck pickup with the tone all the way off through a bass amp and the bridge pickup (particularly with the 'vintage cap' if it's an old one or a new one with the push-pull switch) through a guitar amp. Or just DI both through separate channels and EQ.

    Unfortunately there are very few other basses with this feature.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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