This page used to contain a laundry list of basses, amps, pedals, preamps, DI's, and other bass-related accessories. Over the years, I've grown equally tired of both constantly accumulating new equipment, and of housing miscellaneous pieces of gear that I only end up using on a small fraction of the time. I've really been trending toward minimalism, both in life and music, and a few years back I adopted a new policy: anything that I haven't used within the past 2 years gets the axe. The survivors of this "thinning of the herd" process are listed below.
I've whittled down my electric bass collection to two choice instruments:
90% of the time I use a G&L ASAT bass. It's got a tele-style body, an unmistakable snarling mid-range, and an ultra fast neck. Pretty much everyone out there is playing Js and Ps these days - and for good reason - but I like using something a little more unique, albeit directly tied to genius of Leo Fender. This thing is definitely on the aggressive side, but I've managed to learn how to tame it and I find that it works like a charm in most situations.
My alternate bass for live gigs, but axe of choice for recording sessions, is an 80s MIJ (made in Japan) Fender Precision with Seymour Duncan Quarter-Pounder pickups. I've owned several Fenders over the years, spanning the decades and various countries of origin, and I've found that the E-series basses from the FujiGen factory in Japan hold their own against both vintage and current USA Fenders alike while costing considerably less. In other words, this thing is every bit the P bass that any other P bass is, but if it gets damaged or stolen, no big whoop. You can hear this bass all over the new English Beat record when it comes out.
I've had several 5 string and fretless basses over the years, for the sake of both versatility and appeasing clients, but I'm kind of over it. If I need a low Eb or D, I'll de-tune; anything below that doesn't really speak, and the B-string tends to just feel like it's in the way. If I want fretless sounds, I'll lower the action on my upright, and bada-bing. Fretless electric bass sounds like a yawning llama or something.
Both of my basses are usually strung with GHS Pressurewounds. This is GHS's half-round model, which means that they have coils like round-wounds but are flattened out a bit, though not quite as much as flatwounds. They're a nice happy medium in that they have a quasi-upright bass like feel but aren't tubby and dead sounding like flats. I dig 'em. Sometimes I'll throw flats or rounds on as requested though.
I have one upright bass. Sometimes I think about buying an old Kay, or something really nice, or a folding bass for travel, but I haven't gotten around to doing any of that. Dealing with one upright is enough of a pain in the ass for me.
My upright is a fully-carved bass made by some Chinese company called Forena in the late 90s. I bought it at Morey's Music in Lakewood in 2001 and I have yet to meet anyone else with a Forena bass. I know nothing about the manufacturer and there isn't any info about them online. It's nothing fancy, but it's punchy as hell and I've found a winning combination of bass+strings+pickup+preamp+amp that receives nothing but compliments. Truth be told, the player trumps all that crap, but whatever. This setup is working.
I keep two pickups on my upright bass: a Fishman Full Circle and a David Gage realist. On my bass (pickups respond differently to different basses) the Full Circle sounds great on everything but sounds like shit for Arco (bowed stuff). The realist on the other hand sounds like shit for everything but sounds great for Arco. Consequently I keep both pickups on the instrument, favoring the Full-Circle but occasionally utilizing the Realist when I need to amplify a bowed passage. Truth be told, I have yet to find an upright pickup that totally nails it across the board, but I got tired of buying pickups a while back and decided to just stick with this combo.
The jury is still out on upright bass strings. New sets average $200+, and it's a real drag to shell out that kind of cash on a new brand only to find that you can't stand them (and can't return them either). For the most part I've gone back-and-forth between Thomastik Spirocores and D'Addario Helicore Hybrids. They're both perfectly functional but neither one knocks it out of the park for all things. Much like my pursuit of the perfect pickup, at one point I kind of just let go and decided to use what I had and focus on the music instead.
I use Gallien Krueger amps for everything. This is kind of the golden age of bass amplification, in that pretty much all of the major manufacturers are making great lightweight stuff right now. As a doubler though, I haven't found another brand that works as well for both upright AND electric bass, and that's really the deciding factor for me, along with reliability. I used an old 800RB for rock stuff and an MB-150E combo for jazz FOREVER and neither one EVER crapped out on me. That made me a devout user, and unless their QC takes a dump, I'll be a GK player for life.
I managed to strike an endorsement deal GK a few years back and started buying their entire inventory. I actually dig the way that their new stuff is voiced over the old amps. Here's what I'm using now:
Fusion 550 head - for loud rock stuff
MB500 head - for everything else
MB 200 head - in the gig bag for back-up
MB110 Combo - for low volume jazz gigs and rehearsals
NEO112 and NEO 212 cabinets - Super light & super loud cabs, paired with the various heads above
the other stuff:
When it comes to lugging my basses around, I tend to ditch the hardshell cases at home. Depending on the gig and how much other crap I have to lug around in my car, I alternate between the Reunion Blues Aero and Continental Voyager bass gig bags. They're both way easier to transport than hardshell cases, but offer a level of protection that is at least as good. The Aero is a little sleeker and takes up less space by forgoing any sort of pocket for cables and accessories, this is my go-to bag for gigs in town. Whenever I fly, I use the Continental Voyager, as it has ample pocket space and is somewhat more rugged.
I have a handful of DIs that I use mostly for recording. I've listed them below with their various applications:
A Designs REDDI - All tube DI for a classic electric bass sound
Radial JDI - Solid-state transformer based DI for a more transparent electric bass sound
Fishman Platinum Bass DI - Live and in the studio for upright bass, makes any pickup sound waaaaay better due to correct impedance matching
Every now and then I'll try to get into effects, but I usually end up concluding that bass effects are dumb. I've seen a handful of players that do really musical things with them, but I've always felt like they kind of just get in the way and are another thing to have to worry about, troubleshoot, and maintain. Unlike guitar effects, which add something to the signal and make things sound better and more 3-dimensional, bass effects tend to detract from the sound and kill the low-end. Yes, EVEN most of the ones that have wet and dry knobs and are voiced for bass and blah blah blah. I always trip when I see a bass player with a million effects on stage whose sound all but disappears upon activating said effects. All that effort only to muddy up the mix and render themselves inaudible. It seems silly to me. Still, I hate to have to have to run out and buy stuff at the last minute for gigs, so I keep a couple of fuzzes, octave pedals, and overdrives on hand upon request. MXR makes some pretty good stuff. So does JHS. You won't see me dragging pedals around all that often though.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I'm proudly endorsed by the following music equipment companies. Or wait a minute, am I the one endorsing them? I'm either the endorser or the endorsee, one of those. Maybe it goes both ways.
In any event, the following companies have been real good to me and I'll be rocking their gear for the foreseeable future. Go buy their stuff.