List of toys

Luke’s toys:
Bass: ‘Hef’: 2007 Musicman Stingray 5 string bass with the frets ripped out: Tuned B,E,A,D,G; One piece maple neck with an Ash body: Strung with the heaviest nickel coated round-wound strings available. I can’t remember what brand or gauge. I’ll find out when I next string the beast. I subscribe to the old-school funk model of using the same strings till they snap. The principle behind this being that all the funk which builds up on the strings is what provides the fat grunt in the fundamental. Plus the strings store up better Ju-Ju the more you play them.
Hef is quite possibly the least user-friendly bass on the planet but we have done lots and lots and lots of gigs together and recorded a couple of albums with this bass exclusively. Despite sounding not much like the old ’79 4 string Stingray I used to have, with the frets ripped out and over-driving a couple of valves on the pre-amp, Hef delivers the goods for Disco well enough. It’s not Bernard Edwards’ sound but it’s close enough: more like if Bernard and Lemmy had a love-child! It’s also a great sound for Jazz-Funk and fusion but that’s a different story altogether.
When strung as a tenor bass (E, A, D, G, C) and before the frets got ripped out this was the bass used for all the lead work on the 2008 Lefthouse Recordings release ‘Jazzy Droid: From the Box in The Sky’. If you ever hear this album you’ll agree that Hef would be a great Strat’ and doesn’t really want to be a bass. This is why I have to play it with the heaviest strings I can get hold of. Otherwise the sound is just too ‘zippy’. I’m not sure the neck and body really talk to each other particularly well but it’s the imperfections that lend personality to slab body basses with one-piece necks. So there you go.
I usually play Hef with the pick up set to ‘single coil’ to get more tonal separation for playing chords and also a slightly tighter bottom end. However this causes a bit of volume loss in the upper mids. Unless I’m playing dub I only ever use Hef as a passive bass, only cutting frequencies rather than boosting them with the onboard pre-amp.

Guitar: ‘Redskull the Funkotron’: This is Brendans’ geeeetar: an early ‘80’s Yamaha RGX 612A bolt-on-neck, solid-body shred machine: Strung with something round-wound, medium gauge I think. Good for disco. I don’t bother shredding with this baby ‘cos there are plenty of cats around who play geeeetar way better than me on whom we can call when the need arises.

Guitar: ‘Samantha’: 2009 Epiphone ES175 glue on neck cello-guitar: Strung with heavy-gauge, flat-wound strings: Sounds alright for Jazz and the odd ‘moody’ chord here and there but I don’t use it much on the Jazzy Droid material. Compared to the Gibson ES175 this guitar has a very unbalanced frequency response but sounds great overdriving something like a Vox ‘Night-Train 15’ or any valve Marshall amps to deliver a very satisfying wall of sound but isn’t really smooth enough (to my ear) for a lot of other stuff.

Pre-amp: Universal Audio Solo 610 valve microphone pre-amp:
I totally love this toy. I run all real instruments through this all the time when I’m recording. Whilst it cuts the sub 100Hz range quite substantially from the B string of the bass, the warmth and character this preamp adds to the overall bass sound provides a really nice old-school sound which I use all the time with Hef. To my ear electric basses need at least one valve in the signal chain to warm them up.
All guitars get run through this preamp as well then I flick them over to someone else to finish the ‘aural sculpting’ as it were.

Percussion: 15” Djembe, 10” + 12” Bongos, some shakers, a couple of tambourines, and my favourite Cabasa.

IT: I’m running a hot-rodded 15” Macbook Pro with Cubase 7 for recording and Abelton Push for live. RME Babyface converter. We have all sorts of plug-ins and skins and bolt-ons which I’m sure Brendan will tell you about. Most of the time I regard these toys as being on the wrong side of the pre-amp for me to get overly involved.

Amps: For the bass at the moment I’m driving a Hartke LH500 head through a 4.5XL Hartke cab which I often daisychain into an SWR LA 15 100W combo to add colour and beef up the high mids. Whenever possible I’ll choose amps with a valve in the input stage. I find this particularly useful with the newer Stingrays because they have a slightly brittle almost ‘digital’ sound otherwise.
On the rare occasion I play a geeeeeetar live it’s run through a Vox Night-Train 15 using a Vox 1 X 10” cab. You just can’t have too many valves in a geeeeetar rig. That’s what I think anyway.

MIDI Trigger: M-Audio Axiom 49: I’ve had this unit for about 5 years. I’ve treated it really, really badly and it still hasn’t let me down.

Boss DD-20 Digital Delay: This is a really useful toy for trippy stuff and dub-wise stuff. I particularly like the way the delay tails continue after you switch it off. My favourite effect really.
Boss DD-3 Digital Delay: I use this one up-stream of the DD-20 to ensure the long tails have wet signals to repeat.
Boss PS-5 Super Shifter: This is a very versatile toy but I only ever use it as a two octave whammy to add a bit of ‘Spaceman’ when improvising.