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The H8 is traditionally tuned in octaves, but you can also get some very interesting effects using alternate tunings of the treble strings. For more examples of this, check out the long version of this video in the vintageguitarandbass supporting members area.
The H8 strings are in pairs - you need to play downstrokes to hit each pair with any degree of uniformity, but you can select just the 'bass' string with careful upstrokes. Check out the long version of this video in the vintageguitarandbass supporting members area.
We can get some really bright chiming tones from this bass / amp by selecting just the bridge pickup and picking down by the bridge. Check out the long version of this video in the vintageguitarandbass supporting members area.
For snarly distortion, I love my WEM amplifiers, but for cleaner tones, nothing beats an Ampeg B15. Unlike the previous videos (above), the bass is now strung with flatwound strings (shortscale, Rotosound Jazz Bass RS77S, 40-90, so still fairly light). These are not actually ideal, as the ball-end silk windings actually extend over the saddle - not great for accurate intonation, but it's the set I bought! (Labella Deep Talkin' strings don't have winding at this end, but I didn't have any spare on the day I was making the video). It's a nice sounding bass, although with somewhat limited controls: despite the dual pickups, it only has a master volume and master tone - no option to select the pickups individually. The neck is narrow, but not too shallow, and topped with a nice radiused rosewood fretboard. Some other early Vox instruments had a flat sycamore board - notably the Clubman bass. Actually rather good for playing some of those faster runs not so easy on some necks. The Vox V1 pickups are (as always) pretty nice - plenty of midrange and a lot of character. This bass is very light (just a shade over 3kg), and a lot of fun to play, but probably too primative to be anyone's main bass.
This clip shows this 1966 Vox Symphonic bass played through a 1964 Ampeg B15. This is a really nice playing bass, not dissimilar from the early 1960s Precision on which it was based. It's got a good tone, and is a far more substantial bass than many made by Vox. Strung here with Fender 9050L flatwound strings
The Ampeg B15 is an absolute classic amplifier, famous for its clean midrange output: there's little snarl, and certainly no fuzz, but the clean tones are magnificent! Contrast the sounds of this amp with those from the WEM Dominator also featured on this site
Strung with Fender flats
The Hagstrom Eight String bass (H8, or F800) is a pretty quirky instrument with some pretty unique sounds. And there are a LOT of sound possibilities, both from the instruments controls, and the use of unconventional tunings. Strings are in pairs, traditionally tuned in octaves, just like a 12-string guitar. The treble string is positioned directly above, and quite close to, the bass string, and like the 12-string, notes are played together on both strings. It's not impossible to play fingerstyle, but is more effective when played with a pick. Unlike a guitar, chords are not really the name of the game, and as single notes are the focus of most basslines, downward picks give the most tonal consistency. But you can play just the 'bass' strings if you carefully pick upwards. A typical hard plastic bass pick works ok, but I find you get a better result with a more flexible pick. Thin plastic is ok for playing multiple strings, but I quite like a 'Leather Tones' leather guitar pick. These are firm enough to get a decent sound when playing one string, but flexible enough when playing several. They do produce a darker jazzier sound though. Hear the difference in the video.
You can also get some very interesting effects using alternate tunings of the treble strings; typically uptuning these by a 3rd or a 5th. Again, hear some of these sounds towards the end of the video.
Find out more about these instruments here: , 1964 Ampeg B-15N
This is a fantastic bass. Quality has to be felt, and like the 1960s instruments of Gibson, Epiphone and Guild, Gretsch guitars exude it. Despite having just one pickup, the tone circuitry gives this bass a good tonal range, admittedly in the realm of 60s thump rather than 70s clank, but a great playing and utterly sweet sounding bass for sure!
This video demonstrates the natural bass tone in a number of playing styles, as well as with tone chokes engaged (0.03µF and 0.1µF) - and five different amp settings, from deep and mellow, to jagged snarl. This bass sounds great through the B15 (although, to be fair, everything sounds great through a B15!)
The Ampeg B15 is an incredible amp, with some absolutely gorgeous sounds. The Epiphone 1820 is a good solid bass; nice sounding, with no tonal extremes. But like any other bass, it sounds awesome through a B15. Strung here with Rotosound RS77S short scale flatwound strings. Check it out!
The Epiphone 1820 has the simplest controls possible for a two pickup bass, with just a master volume and tone, and pickup selector switch, there is no shortage of useable tones, from nice and smooth, through deep and rich, to a dirty angry snarl. The pickup heights are not adjustable and the pickup volumes can be a touch imbalanced. Furthermore the pickups have a tendency to be somewhat microphonic, picking up string and pick noise. Not great for more refined performances, but not an issue for basslines with a bit of punky attitude!
This is a pretty cool looking bass, and one that plays pretty nicely too. Made by Eko for Rose Morris (UK Rickenbacker distributor) from the very late 1960s. Short scale, and (thanks to the Eko build and components) quite similar to the late 60s Italian Vox guitars. I normally use flatwound strings, but it's demo'd here with some gnarly old roundwounds. They needed changing, but I wanted to document the sound. Played through my faithful old Ampeg B15 - great for cleaner tones. Check out the companion video through an early 1970s WEM Dominator to hear it get gainy.
Two absolute icons of bass guitar history: a 1972 Fender Precision (strung with roundwounds) played through a 1964 Ampeg B15. Great bass. Great amp. Great combination. Check out the other videos of this bass through a WEM Dominator, Marshall 20w Lead & Bass and Fender Bassman 100.
A wonderful early Hagstrom Coronado played through a Ampeg flip-top B15. These are great basses and really great amps! The bass is strung with flatwounds (long scale La Bella Deep Talkin' 760FL 43-104 - they fit, but only just! ) - and has a pretty dark tone - the BiSonic pickups are very well regarded, but I'd prefer more standard controls! It's a quirky looking bass - easy to play with a 32" scale - and with some really great sounds.