GEAR TALKIN’™ #1: Blackie the Bass
Does Jeffy like gear? Oh boy, does he!
Post-tour I’m feeling kinda lazy, but I’d still like to share a few things this week. So I thought I’d ask Mark, my right-hand man, Loft manager, bestie, collaborator, most awesome sweetheart, and the person my wife calls my “work wife” to choose and shed some light on a piece of gear that has some significance here on the Starship Caszzh. I’m going to let him do most of the talking today because he’s brilliant and fucking funny, but I will add a few details he omitted.
1. This bass not only dates as far back as Uncle Tupelo, but I’m pretty sure it’s on all the records too.
2. I paid $150 bucks for this bass, easily giving it the highest use/cost ratio of any instrument I’ve ever owned.
3. Yes, I know there are ways to find out what pickup is in it. Mind your own business. I’m so in love with the way this bass sounds I haven’t even changed the strings in decades. I don’t want to mess with it. And I don’t need to know.
GEAR TALKIN’™ - “Blackie” - Jeff’s ’69/’71 Fender Precision bass
Jeff has a lot of fun gear. Like…a lot. Like… maybe too much. I mean, not TOO too much… but maybe more than one guy usually has. And really… so what?! There are far worse things he could be doing with his life. Like you’re some sort of angel! Please.
Today’s Gear Talkin'™ spotlight falls squarely on Jeff’s amazing black Fender precision bass that he's been playing since all the way back in Uncle Tupelo days. It’s creatively nicknamed "Blackie” due to its… well, you know. It’s black.
The bass isn’t just loved because it’s been with him all these years. It’s a fantastic-sounding and playing bass. It sounds like the bass played by a great bass player on a great record. And trust me, we have loads of basses here to compare it to. Every single one pulled out, plugged in, and plucked… and most of the time slowly placed back in the rack, defeated and wanting. We try and try and try to use other basses. We really do. Every once in a while, one works out, but 99% of the time, Blackie is THE GUY. We don’t exactly know what Blackie’s make-up is, to be honest. It seems it may have a late 60’s body with a ’71 “A” neck. It has a fat aftermarket BadAss II bridge. Maybe the pickup is original, but maybe it’s an old replacement pickup. Whatever it is, it’s RIGHT. Warm, full, even, punchy, growly. All the things you want it to be. We’ve tried a few times to replicate this bass with similar-era basses and parts but alas, they always end up…less than. Blackie's been used on tons of Wilco songs, Mavis Staples records, a Richard Thompson album, and probably used in some way on most records that have been recorded here at the Loft, at least on a song or two. It’s in very “player” condition with all sorts of road rash and beauty marks. It has a super chewed-up headstock. Jeff thinks this was from the original owner who would help “play” his drummer’s cymbals. Thanks, buddy!
Mark Greenberg is a national treasure!
Does John Stirratt play it as well?