How do I get this tone?

Criminal World - Bowie

Slowly working my way through this one. Probably a dumb question, but how do I get that tone?

I guess I would describe it as kinda sharp and punchy.

Fender J, active pick ups.

Thank you!!

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Probably played with a pick… and probably a “modern” bass (i.e., not necessarily a J) - that would be my guess :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I would start by rolling back the neck pickup, and boosting the mids on the EQ, and see what sound you get. I know my Jazz sounds very like a EBMM on just the bridge pup, but I’ve got a more modern pickup setup. Also use a pick, and what strings do you have?

I’ll give it a shot. I’ve seen a few finger covers with that sound online, so I know it’s doable without a pick.

Unknown on strings. It’s a brand new from sweetwater. I looked at the specs, and it just says “fender” under strings.

Thank you!

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Then they are probably round wounds which is what you want. Fender rounds feel like cheese graters to my fingers, but ymmv. Rounds are what you want in any case, chromes would be better.

You might find this interesting Bowie's Basslines - An Interview with bass player, Carmine Rojas. - from Bowie to Bonamassa / All Guitar Network

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Sounded like a compressor and very light chorus on the bass too, in that one, and some EQ with a slight scoop. At least that’s how it sounded to me. Common effects for the '80s.

Thank you for that. Sorry for the late response, I was busy navigating the Stevie Ray Vaughn worm hole you opened up for me!! I had no idea. Let’s Dance album on repeat today.

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Reviving this thread…

@howard @terb et al…

How does one get this tone/technique for the bass line?

But how does he get that steccato thumpy twang thing?


Well for one it was played on a guitar not a bass. It was a Kay Hollowbody with the whammy pedal set to an octave down


Sounds like a guitar into a splitter with the clean channel getting overdrive and the dirty one getting fuzz at a much lower volume, played with a pick, rounds of course.

That’s just a guess though.


I figured it was some sort of guitar trickery as I couldn’t get the little ‘click’ that he gets to be gotten just right.
Seems like an odd choice then for @JoshFossgreen to put in the 50 song challenge as a bass line. What giveth Josheth?


It’s a cool and easy bassline. Justin uses it for an early Guitar example too :slight_smile:





Replicating the bass tone perfectly on almost any of the 50 songs would be a feat! Playing the notes is the only focus in terms of working with the course. :slight_smile:


I was going to play it on guitar for the 50 song challenge :stuck_out_tongue: but I need a slide :slight_smile:

Apparently it’s called “7 nation army” becase as a kid, Jack White mispronounced “Salvation Army” :slight_smile:


yeah it could be a guitar, it sounds like thin strings with this Digitech Whammy (pitch down) sound.

Don’t you have a Bass VI @John_E ? I would give it a try if possible :slight_smile:


It is a guitar. I just watched Jack White playing it.

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Yeah it’s just low E on a guitar.


I do but it just went to the shop for a bit of work I couldn’t do so will try that when it gets back