Friday, July 13, 2007

Bass Guitar Gear of Tim Foreman

Warming Trend
Tim Foreman (Switchfoot)
By Brian Fox, Jimmy Leslie | April 2007

The energy created when musicians exchange ideas can be extremely powerful. Just ask Switchfoot’s Tim Foreman.

When writing for his band’s latest, Oh! Gravity, Foreman found that as helpful as modern technology can be, it’s no substitute for human interaction.

“Sometimes I’ll throw skeletons of songs into Apple’s GarageBand software to work out bass parts,” Tim says. “But I can feel isolated using today’s technology. I prefer creating with all five of us together. That way you’re not working with a static set of ideas.”

Switchfoot conjured up its latest at a project studio in the hills near Foreman’s hometown of San Diego, where he and his brother, singer/guitarist Jonathan Foreman, formed the contemproray Christian rock band 11 years ago.

How did you get your range of tones on the new CD?

"I played with my fingers on a Lakland Hollowbody with flatwounds to get the warm sound on some of the mellower songs, including “Yesterdays.” On others I went for more of a Paul McCartney sound by playing with a pick and putting some foam under the strings. I never used to play with a pick, but I’ve been doing it for the past few years. I use one when I want driving eighth-notes to cut through the mix. I also used my ’70s Fender Mustang Bass on a couple of songs; it sounds like a messed up Fender Precision. I used a Lakland 4-94 when I wanted a more standard rock sound.

How do you get your live sound?
My main live basses are the Decade and the Hollowbody. The Decade’s Dark Star pickups are great—they’re so even and warm. I use a Gallien-Krueger 2001RB head as a power amp for a Line 6 Bass POD. At first, I was hesitant about modeling, but the sounds I’m getting are phenomenal. I’ve customized all my tones, and I do something subtly different on almost every song. I love that it’s so easy to duplicate the same sounds every night, regardless of my stage volume.


What’s your aesthetic when it comes to tone?
I like an old SVT sound that’s fairly saturated. I tend to want a more vintage sound, as opposed to a clear, modern sound.


How has your playing progressed over time?
I’ve always been a minimalist, but I think I’ve gone even more in that direction. I try to use the least number of notes to play the most melodic part. I played things on our early records that I never would now, but there’s an innocence and freshness to that older stuff that’s still fun.
How do you try to make sure your new material sounds fresh?
This record started off when [executive producer] Steve Lillywhite heard the song “Awakening.” We went to the studio to record it while we were still on tour, and it was an eye-opening experience. Just making sure that all five of us were there together made a big difference. It allowed us to experiment without worrying about who was going to hear it, which in turn created a free-sounding record. We’re trying to do that live, too. We want to take the music seriously, but not take ourselves too seriously.

Can Be Heard On...
Switchfoot, Oh! Gravity [Columbia]
And at the Cuneta Astrodome, Sept 10, 2007. The Philippines
Gear...

* Basses: Lakland Hollowbody, 4-94, and Decade basses; Fender Mustang Bass
* Rig: Gallien-Krueger 2001RB head and Neo412 4x12 cabinet
* Effects: Line 6 Bass PODxt Pro with FBV foot controller

“The 4x12 cabinet is similar to an 8x10, but it sounds warmer and is more portable. I lay it sideways so I can stand on it.”

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