In Focus: Sire Marcus Miller & Larry Carlton Collections

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


In Focus: Sire Marcus Miller & Larry Carlton Collections

Words by Rob Gee

There are undoubtedly many guitar & bass players out there that know and revere the name Sire.

With the Marcus Miller name behind the models in their bass range, it goes without saying that there is something deep going on there. Sire basses have been taken up by a wide community of players around the world, with good reason too.

Further to that, Sire have teamed up with Larry Carlton, again a name that needs no introduction in the six-stringed world, to deliver a range of instruments that go right to the heart of Larry’s playing across many decades. These are instruments for both bassist and guitarist alike that have come about from creative input from guys who have pretty much played it all. And now the range is available here in Australia, in stock at Gsus4 now. Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

For those of you who don’t know of Marcus Miller, stop reading right now. Go to Google, or Siri, or that shelf of Encyclopaedia Britannica editions that never gets looked at, and look up “Bass Legends”. Then you can come back and keep reading. It’s safe to say that with Miller’s wealth of experience over his career, playing with some of the greats in modern musical history, there’s a certain requirement he demands of an instrument. So, it’s not without forethought that he would lend his name to a range of basses. This has come over a lengthy partnership with Sire Guitars to create instruments that Marcus Miller is confident playing, and keen to share with others.

Marcus Miller Sire

The result is a superb collection of basses that come at a very affordable price, especially when you consider what is on offer. Even at the very basic models, like the V3P with the very attractive sub-thousand-dollar price tag, there are little details that make these instruments special.

Tonewoods are not skimped at any stage in the range, with even the base models offering mahogany bodies, maple necks and rosewood fretboards, when most manufacturers have turned to cheaper alternatives in certain price points.

Sire have even taken into consideration the finer details, like rolled edges to the fretboard, just to make it
feel like a well-played, old favourite, right out of the box. You shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on an instrument just to have some care put into the production process. The “Edgeless” fretboard is featured through the entire Sire bass range, making each and every instrument feel comfortably familiar.

When you move up in the range, there are some really attractive instruments without too great a jump in price either. The bulk of the range are Jazz-style basses, but there are a few P-style instruments for those looking for a deeper, heavier sound. For the player looking for a more modern sound, there are several double humbucker models with active electronics to really sculpt a sound that will fit into just about any ensemble.

Marcus Miller Jazz

However, if you’re looking for that classic Marcus Miller sound, it is hard to go past Sire’s Jazz offerings, especially with the range of tonewoods like swamp ash and alder in various models. There is a look and a sound for every occasion. Whether you’re keen to hang in the back near the drummer and carry everyone, or need to be up front owning the stage, your Marcus Miller Sire bass will give you the confidence to do so.

But of course, the other side of the stage needs a sound too, so Sire have not left out the guitarists who want an instrument to equal their bass offerings. With that, the teaming up of Sire and Larry Carlton brings a grace and fluidity of tone to a range of guitars. I still get goosebumps every time I hear the theme to “Hill Street Blues”, as it was a piece of music that drove me to the piano in the 80’s, but it was the hauntingly laid-back guitar of Larry Carlton that made that theme really slick. It’s that style of playing that has always captivated my attention, where you just bend into a note and find how it sits in the mix.

It’s what I relate to when I hear the name Larry Carlton, and it’s a style of playing that I can see will be eagerly adopted by anyone picking up one of these Sire guitars.

With several models encompassing the three most popular solid body guitars of all time, and that quintessential Larry Carlton hollow body too, there is something for any player who appreciates the finer nuances of a fully explored dynamic range. As with the Marcus Miller bass range, the Larry Carlton guitar range offers exceptional value, for incredible instruments. Every classic look and sound can be found in these instruments, with a range of tonewoods to suit the specific instrument. Classic colours like Fiesta Red, Butterscotch Blonde, Vintage White and the ‘must-have’ Tobacco Sunburst are obvious standouts for their stoic necessity. The flamed maple options in the arched topped guitars just ooze class too.

Larry Carlton Sire

Of course, the Sire ‘Edgeless’ rolled fretboards are also found in the Larry Carlton guitar range too. This makes them so nice to run your hand up and down the neck. But be warned, if you get into the groove a little too much and bend too far, you’ll go off the edge. It’s that kind of creativity that comes to mind when you get one of these instruments in your hand. I find it hard to go past the T7 in a Fiesta Red myself, but the real Larry Carlton enthusiasts will most likely gravitate to the H7, a 335-style electric, with abandon. With four shapes and a range of pickup options and finishes, there’s a Sire Larry Carlton model, or two, to suit your playing style and sound.

For local enquiries, visit Gsus4.