Exploring the gear of the modern master.
Pino Palladino is one of the undisputed giants of bass playing in the modern age, having held down the four strings for such diverse artists as The Who, D’Angelo, John Mayer, Nine Inch Nails, Adele, Simon & Garfunkel, Jeff Beck and his own trio, PSP.
Whether it be playing blues, rock, or neo-soul, Palladino’s feel is incomparable, which makes him a perfect candidate for this week’s Gear Rundown.
Fretless 1979 Music Man Stingray
Palladino first made his name with this instrument in the 1980’s, playing on Gary Numan’s I, Assassin in 1982 and Don Henley’s Building The Perfect Beast in 1984.
His style during this period encompassed a lot of lead melodic playing utilising the instrument’s top register, rather than simply holding down the low end. This became his signature sound throughout the era, one that he has returned to in the past five years with his trio PSP.
Fender American Standard Jaguar Bass
Having previously played with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, Palladino was an obvious choice to fill the big shoes left after the sudden passing of The Who bassist John Entwistle in 2002.
After initially trying out his Fender Precision and Jazz basses with the band, he eventually settled on the powerful tone and cutting attack of the Fender Jaguar with two thunderbird pickups.
1963 Fender Precision Bass
Palladino made the move to a fretted P-Bass in the 1990s as a conscious decision to move away from his signature fretless sound and embrace a vintage soul and R&B tone, such as that of Motown bassist James Jameson.
He achieved this with a combination of the 1963 P-Bass with a sunburst finish, custom wound pickups, flatwound La Bella strings, and by keeping the volume turned all the way up and the tone all the way down.
This configuration can be heard on D’Angelo’s Voodoo and Black Messiah albums, on which he played tuned down to DGCF with a dampener.
1961 Fender Precision Bass in Fiesta Red
This guitar is another of Palladino’s favourites and also used with flatwound strings. It can be heard on Paul Simon’s 2006 album Surprise.
Fender Pino Palladino Precision Bass
Palladino was bestowed this signature model by the Fender Custom Shop. Its alder body is based on his ’61 P-Bass, while the ‘C’ shape maple neck shape and rosewood fingerboard are based on his ’63 P-Bass. It is finished in Fiesta Red over Desert Sand and has custom wound pickups.
Palladino himself has used this model whilst on tour with The Who, although he added ‘60’s Gibson Thunderbird pickups.
Moon JJ-4 300B
Palladino played an all-white Moon bass during the Voodoo tour with D’Angelo in March-October 2002, playing tuned down to DGCF as he did on the album. Watch him lay down a groove with the bass in this session with (U)nity below.
Ashdown ABM 900 EVO III head and ABM-810-EVO-IV 8×10 Cabinet
Palladino often uses this combination onstage with The Who as well as with the John Mayer Trio.
Phil Jones M-300/500 Head with 8T/16B Cabinet
Palladino is a big fan of the work of Phil Jones and uses his amps frequently for both recording and touring.
Used on the Voodoo album, recorded from the amp without using a DI.
Used during The Who’s Quadrophenia tour of 2012/2013.
Thomastik-Infeld Flatwound strings
As already mentioned, Palladino’s use of flatwound strings has been a major component of his sound and Thomastik-Infeld are his preferred choice.
Jamerson La Bella Flatwound strings
Used on his ’63 P-Bass on the Voodoo album and tour.
Ernie Ball Cobalt
These were used during The Who Hits 50! Tour of 2016 for extra punch not afforded by his usual flatwound strings.
Boss OC-2 Octave Pedal
Palladino used this as an integral part of his setup during the 1980’s in combination with his fretless bass playing.
Palladino uses as an array of other pedals, some notable units used during recent years with The Who are:
Analog Alien Alien Bass Station, compressor, distortion, amp emulator and MXR Bass Octave effect. Pedal Power II.
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