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Alembic Club » Owning an Alembic » Fun Stories » Archive through November 02, 2005 » The Sound of "Silly Putty" « Previous Next »

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Intermediate Member
Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 131
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Saturday, May 21, 2005 - 5:26 am:   Edit Post

Somehow, this for me is THE classic Stanley Clarke sound (and Alembic sound respectively) and I just came to realize that he didn't use that sound on too many other songs.

There is a lot of particular warmth in this tune and I always believed this was a result of a tube preamp.

Now I am sitting here with my Series II and F-1x/Superfilter setup and I am wondering what tools SC might have used in his signal path from bass to tape.

I can't believe he went straight to the mixer particularly without a tube preamp on this tune unless of course the mixer was tube driven itself. Is there any trivia known about what he used for recording in those old days? What kind of other effects might be in this tune? Compressions?

Was anybody here ever successful in recreating this sound for recording and if so what settings did you use?

I don't seem to be able to go straight to the mixer with my Series II and get the warmth of the midths you can hear in his chops & pops.

I can recreate the typical MK (Alembic) sound, no problem, but this "Silly Putty" sound is still on my wish list.

I know, there have been plenty of threads about sound settings before, but I don't remember if this particular song sound has ever been part of a discussion.

Please, share whatever you know about this!

Thanks so much.
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 554
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2005 - 8:03 am:   Edit Post

Well, some of the warmth must be in the Brown Bass cocktail of woods - walnut and mahogany neck, myrtle body core and walnut facings. Plus the short scale. And the fingers. I seem to remember it sounds like they miked the amp(s), but I haven't heard the recordings in a while.

Most of the studio stuff was probably tube-driven (mid 1970s? so solid-state stuff was available). Add the 'natural' compression of magnetic tape, and an appreciation of how good music can sound if one uses one's ears to set all the controls, instead of using the controls to model what your ears can hear.
Intermediate Member
Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 132
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2005 - 10:26 am:   Edit Post

Ah, I agree with your second part of your post, but the role of the wood cocktail or the short scale must possibly play just a minor role since many other recordings of the same bass and same fingers sound a lot different.

My hopes are that there is a lot more power in the series electronics than I have unleashed for this particular situation yet.

I thought about the miking too. I believe I heard somebody saying SC went straight to the mixer, but maybe not for this particular tune...

So nobody else with an Alembic other than a Brown Bass short scale was able to get a sound like the Silly Putty recording? I can't believe that, but who knows, maybe this thread will teach me better...

In any case I am not looking to cover the song, it is really the sound I am in love with (of course it is a great song apart from that!).

But maybe running after a particular sound is a too "Silly" attempt in itself :-), I don't know...
Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 2022
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2005 - 10:38 am:   Edit Post

I don't know the song so I maybe shut up but has it to do with SC's particular way of plucking the strings. As I heard and saw on a picture he plays his SS the way he plays upright: with a lot of "flesh".

Intermediate Member
Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 133
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2005 - 11:00 am:   Edit Post

No, it doesn't. At least not the part I am interested in.

As I said, he is playing other songs with other sounds. Same guy, same fingers, different sound settings and/or equipment.

We all know the player, now I am curious to find out about a particular sound setting or signal path, or both or whatever. But not the hands. I can change the way I play, sure, but it does not change the sound in that way. It is more the HiFi vs. Tube difference of sound I am talking about, or maybe a special frequency setting.

Funny nobody has heard the song before. I thought it was marginally popular amongst bass players, or Alembicians in particular.

OK, I could address my question in another way, forget SC and his song for a minute:

How do I get warm poppy midths in my sound without too harsh highs and too muddy lows, everything clear and nice but still warm and slappy.

"Only this and nothing more..." :-)

Intermediate Member
Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 134
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2005 - 12:20 pm:   Edit Post

Then again, I think I am getting there right now. I have collected some input from the various SF-2 threads and it all seems to come together nicely with that miracle machine...

Three cheers for the SF-2 (and of course the other two Alembic components in the signal chain)!

...and one hooray for Captain Spaulding...
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 71
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2005 - 2:15 pm:   Edit Post

In regards to your comment about nobody hearing the song before, I put Silly Putty up there with Lopsi Lu and School Days as far as my favorite SC tunes.

As far as sound goes I think part of it has to do with running the bass in stereo. When I run my bass through two different amps and cabinets I have found I get a much fuller sound. I will typically have the Q switch off for the neck pickup and the Q switch on for the bridge pickup (anniversery electronics). I then blend the volume
controls for tone I want. In this configuration I am running through two 15 inch JBL's for the neck and two 10" + tweeter for the bridge. I drive the 15's with an older Yamaha B100 which brings out a more bright midrange tone.

I have never thought about how close to Stanley's tone this sounds but as I recall, in the 70's, he used to run his pickups into different rigs of which one pickup was 15" JBL speakers and the other speakers were of a different size. I want to say it was neck 15" and bridge 18" but really cannot remember.

I may be way off base but the transducers might be the difference.


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