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Bass Legends – Phil Lynott

January 12, 2012

Phillip Lynott (20 August 1949 – 4 January 1986) wasn’t just a legendary bass player – he also fronted, and wrote most of the songs for, his band Thin Lizzy. His playing style, like his stage persona, was aggressive and underpinned with violence. With Lynott the violence wasn’t an act, however – he was renowned for being tough and street-wise, and these sensibilities filtered through to his songwriting and fuelled his feral vocals and staccato basslines.

Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy were a quinessential hard rock 70s outfit, and Lynott’s unique songwriting, vocals and bass style were a key factor in this. They were not afraid to poke fun at themselves on occasion, or take themselves too seriously, and the band’s onstage unpredictability served to make each show an exciting event, loaded with possibility and chaos. Lynott’s playing was never technically outstanding, but it was always exhillirating, anchoring the (often erratic) music produced by the band, and allowing guitarist Gary Moore to stretch out wildly. His tone was enviable for any bassist.

Lynott died of multiple organ failure brought on by drug misuse  in January 1986. Click here for one of their greatest moments captured on video.

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No Compromises

January 12, 2012

If you’re like me, you’re fussy about how your bass guitar sounds – you want the rich tone only a vintage provides – but you don’t have the cash to fork out for a true original. This presents a conundrum, and for me, its meant a never ending cycle of compromise, usually culminating in disappointment after a few weeks when I realise the limitations of the new instrument I have purchased (frequency range and ability to stay in tune being the two most important factors, closely followed by tone and sustain).

I recently heard about the new range of bass guitars from www.fleabass.com, endorsed by, and a sort of tribute to, Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Flea (theRed Hot Chilli Peppers) in action on-stage

These bass guitars promise to provide vintage-grade tone and durability, at an affordable near-budget price (around the $400 mark), and both reviews and general buzz have been favourable. The range is populated with bass guitars featuring the kind of gaudy stylings and garish color schemes associated with the man himself, and the tone is apparently very close to his early bass sound in the RHCPs.

I’ve long been an admirer of Flea’s popping, funky, almost jazz-like bass chops. I’m also always on the lookout for value bass guitars that deliver on their promises (it’s like a never ending quest), so I will probably splash out on one – most likely the Fleabass Junior 3/4 Size Bass Guitar Green and Pink model:

Fleabass Junior 3/4 Size Bass Guitar Green and Pink

Fleabass Junior 3/4 Size Bass Guitar Green and Pink

Guitar ranges endorsed by big name players are often thinly-veiled marketing ploys, with the axes themselves poor copies of the originals, and something the endorsers themselves probably wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. However, I’m not so jaded and cynical to believe that the concept is completely flawed – and it would be great to sound even slightly as good as Flea for the small price of 400 bucks.

Watch this space for my review (maybe).