I play slightly ahead of the beat, so drummers who
play slightly behind suit me better. I used to play with
a drummer, no names, who could play with standard
grip or cross-hands grip, and he would change his grip
in the middle of a song. I knew even without looking
at him when that change came, because his timing
would drift slightly off every time. W e used to argue
about it, and he could never see what I meant - but it
was really off-putting, it put my whole groove out!”
What about some tips for would-be ska bassists out
there? “Probably the same as anyone else," reasons
Pearson. “Listen to everything you can, and play
with any band, anywhere, any time. It's all about experience, and being open to
everything, whether you're listening or playing yourself. Listen to Jackie Jackson,
the original Studio One player who still plays with Toots & The Maytals: he's an
amazing bassist. Aston Barrett from the Wailers is a master as well, although I like
an extremely wide range of players such as Jack Bruce, Jaco Pastorius, Percy Jones
and Ray Brown.”
For Pearson, there is really only one bass that fits the bill for the sound he needs
for the Beat, and that's Fender. “I've been very lucky, I've had a 1962 Jazz since I
was about 16, and I've played that more or less constantly for over 25 years. I've
owned loads of basses, from six-string Yamahas to Alembics, and I am 100 per cent
Fender. I've got a '61 P-Bass that I've had for years, and probably half-a-dozen 70s
P-Basses, which I use, for live work. I have a Precision with a '78 neck and a '77
body that I use 90 per cent of the time, and the backup is a Frankenstein Precision
made from 1970s Fender parts that I use if I'm flying anywhere. I do like Jazz
basses, you can play some fancy dexterous stuff on them because of the tauter
strings, but I'm just addicted to the Precision.”
What about the amps to get that monster sound out there? “I'm quite old-
fashioned about my sound. I grew up in the days when you went for a Marshall
Superbass,” Pearson explains. “I've owned most of the amps out there at one time
or another, and I am currently endorsed by Orange. I thought I would really
I I AM AZES ME THAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE
BEEN PLAYiNG FOR 20 YEA R S ST iLL DON'T
UNDERSTAND A
b o u t
s
TRETCHING
s
TRIN G
s
b e f o r e
YOU PUT THEM ON YOUR B A SS"
struggle with the AD200, because it's a real 'heavy
metal' amp. Geddy Lee uses one for pure distortion,
but I've never heard a truer-sounding amp at
recording level. I've got some 70s Ampeg amps which
I love, but the AD200 is great. I'm a fan of older
amps, but I appreciate that some modern ones are
really good too. I've had the AD200s for a couple of
years now, without any difficulties. I've changed the
pre-amp valves for some old 70s Mullard valves, still
in the wax paper, that I've had for about 25 years!
That has softened the sound, which I like.”
He adds: “One of my all-time heroes is Jack Bruce,
and there's a shop in Colchester where the owner knew
Jack. He traded in the LH 1000s he used when he toured
with Robin Trower back in 2009, and I had to have one
of those heads. It's got a bit of masking tape on it, which
says S1: I did a bit of detective work, and I know that
means Samson Wire Pack 1, which was routed through
to Jack's fretless bass. If I never use the amp, except for
practice, I've still got one of Jack Bruce's amps!”
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