The Bass VI Boss

Dang — I wish I had a white turtleneck and a Mosrite electric resophonic!

After some of the long-running contests around here, it was nice having a quickie for a change. San Diego-based steel guitarist Doug Meyer was the first of several readers to correctly identify the four iconic Bass VI riffs in the post on ancient strings. He wins a Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster, a cool clean boost pedal that sound fabulous on 6-string bass, not to mention standard-tuned guitars.

The tunes were, in order of appearance:

1. Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman”
2. Glen Campbell’s “Galveston”
3. Elmer Bernstein’s “Theme from The Magnificent Seven
4. Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town”

Glen Campbell not only sang those two classic Jimmy Webb songs, but played the beautiful 6-string bass parts. As most ’60s pop fans know, Campbell was a leading L.A. session player before becoming a star — he played with Elvis, the Everly Brothers, the Monkees, and on many Beach Boys sessions, including Pet Sounds (that’s him playing electric 12-string on “Sloop John B.”) [CORRECTION IN COMMENTS.]

About the ’90s reissue Bass VI that inspired my original post: I’ve always liked it, and I’ve used it on a zillion sessions, but I never thought it sounded as good as an original. Now I realize that it sounds just like an original — all it needed was the right strings! :)

8 comments to The Bass VI Boss

  • Peter

    I didnt know about Steve Earle, but the “theme from the Magnificent Seven” wasnt the Jack Nitszche version?

    • joe

      There are a gazillion versions of the Magnificent Seven theme, including a bunch for low-tuned, Duane Eddy-influenced guitar, like Al Caiola’s rendition. I wasn’t quoting any in particular — just playin’  the tune.

      Are you alluding to a version credited to Nitzsche? Or something he arranged for another artist? 

    • joe

      There are a gazillion versions of the Magnificent Seven theme, including a bunch for low-tuned, Duane Eddy-influenced guitar, like Al Caiola’s rendition. I wasn’t quoting any in particular — just playin’  the tune.

      Are you alluding to a version credited to Nitzsche? Or something he arranged for another artist? 

  • Kenstee

    Sorry to have to correct you on this. Billy Strange played the 12 string electric guitar on Sloop John B according to the just published book “The Wrecking Crew.” In fact, Brian Wilson called him in to the studio on a late-weekend afternoon unexpectedly. Once there, he asked him to play a 12-string electric guitar riff on Sloop John B. Discovering he had no electric 12-string, Wilson called the owner of a LA music store (which was closed BTW.) Minutes later a delivery man showed up with a brand new Fender XII and a Twin Reverb amp – from a closed music store no less. After tuning up and setting the Twin Reverb settings Strange nailed the riff in ONE take. Wilson thanked him, gave him $500 in cash and then told him as he was leaving “Don’t forget your guitar and amp.” So, he also laid the rig on him as well.
    So, there you have it. No Glen Campbell….Personally, I think I earned a Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster, Please contact me for my shipping address.

    • joe

      LOL — you’re right. And to make my mistake even more embarrassing, I’m fairly certain that “keep the 12-string” anecdote is taken from a Guitar Player article I edited in the ’90s. Anyway, Campbell is credited on Pet Sounds — do YOU know which bits he played?

      :stupid:

  • Jeff

    There’s a great YouTube video showing Glen Campbell playing the Bass VI on Wichita Lineman. Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qoymGCDYzU

  • John Gilbert

    Big fan of the column!  I have one of those late 90′s danelectro doublenecks, with the top being a 30″ scale baritone.  I’ve always played it in A with Ernie ball baritone strings, 13-72 gauge. Would this be suitable to play as a bass vi?  Looks like the 30″ scale is toward the long end od the scale, as in the schecter & fender models.  If so, what are some typical string gauges?  Thanks!

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