The sound you’re hearing is my latest innovation - the Varitone Stereo CertainBass. 

This was recorded straight from the bass. Neck pickup is in the left channel and bridge pickup in the right. No compression, EQ or any other effects or signal processing, the only EQ comes from the twin Varitones. And still totally passive, no batteries. I'm plugged straight into a Zoom, then I downloaded from that. The track you're hearing is just me flipping through the various Varitone tone settings and combinations. History is replete with great bassists splitting pickups to two amps. The history of stereo bass pretty much starts with Chris Squire of the rock band Yes. Click here if you'd like to read more on the topic. Then Stanley with his Alembic - we were so goo-goo gaga'ed over the Alembic, we didn't even think about stereo and that's the large part of why these bassists sound great still to this day. 

Let’s see, we've already brought up Stanley Clark, Chris Squire of Yes, but how about Geddy Lee of Rush?  Who else? How about John Entwistle of the Who and John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin’s bassist.  And that guy from Buffalo, Billy Sheehan and many more.  In fact, 99.9% of notable bassists playing an Alembic or Rickenbacker are going to be stereo.  There are reasons for this:  this how you get a killer bass sound, the best possible.

The Alembic has two on board preamps with their active “Q Filter” to voice each pickup differently and separately - genius stuff.  My system functions much like the Alembic stereo system, except mine is passive: no battery and utilizing two Varitones, one for each side.  They can be onboard the bass, in a box on your amp, in your rack, or on the floor. 

Here’s how you set-up your CertainStereo bass:  turn up just the neck pickup and flip through some Vartione settings.  Set up your neck pickup for your guaranteed fat lows and crystal clear, metallic highs, but don’t worry about midrange.  If you want to to kill the tingy sound of the highs for a more classic tone, turn down the high end rolloff control and find a sweetspot. We then have the neck pickup set up.  Turn that down, then turn up the bridge pickup and do the same thing: flip through the Varitone settings.  This is where you dial in your favorite midrange while not worrying about highs and lows, as that’s what the neck pickup system is doing.  Now turn up our neck pickup, blend both pickups. 

It’s the best of both worlds.  Think Jaco and Stanley.  Or it can be Marcus and Jamerson in the same room, one or the other or both blended.  Your neck pickup is like the clean, pristeen thing while the bridge pickup has different brands of presence, skank and squawk.  I love it; can’t live without it live or in the studio.

On the tracks you’re listening to I’m changing Varitone settings on one side then the other. Oh, and they’re recorded direct line into my Zoom, no compression, no EQ other than the Varitones onboard the bass.  The tune that plays when you first enter my website, “My Imagination,” was recorded this way using position 4 on the bridge and position 6 on the neck pickup.  What I want you to listen for on any of these tracks is that the bass sounds like it’s mildly got some kind of effect on it, but what you’re hearing is just the bass.  Also notice that as I change settings, the stereo field moves around a little, subtly and tastefully.  With every Varitone change to either side, it’s a different bag but never out of the realm of reasonable EQ.  This is how I’ve been recording my bass in the last several months - and everyone loves it.  Engineers may do different things to each pickup like EQ and stereo placement, but they generally like having two tracks to work with. 

Gigging with two amps seem like a drag?  You can actually use two little bitty combo amps that together are smaller than one big amp by itself and will kick way more hind end.  My small system is simply two Gallion-Krueger MB150E’s, those little metal box combos, and it’s strong as heck with or without their extension cabinets.  Then I have a higher powered version which is both amps in a rack, and both speaker systems in one cabinet.  A four twelve cab with one pair for the neck pickup and the other pair for the bridge.  That way it functions like a normal bass amp, although it's two-in-one.  It’s easy to make any two (or more) speaker bass cabinet a stereo cabinet.  Using a rack mount stereo power amp and your two favorite preamps located in one rack, you’re back to a single cabinet and head sort of set up.

This is my stereo bass.  Neck pickup goes left channel and the bridge pickup goes the other.  The concentrics are each a volume and a tone, one volume and tone concentric per pickup and (stereo) output.  Then you have onboard Twin Varitones for each side on top of that.  Put Stanley's or Marcus's midrange dip metallic modern tone on the neck pickup, as if you're playing a Precision.  Now turn it down.  Dial up the bridge pickup...  and separate amp.  Get Jamerson, Jaco going.  Then blend the two. What one lacks, the other has.  100% passive, no batteries.

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I have a few configurations.  I think XLR at the bass is the way to go, dependable and uses a normal mic cable.  In order to have twin Varitones and anything else you need, and you don't want to drill holes in your bass, I have the amp-top version below  But while we're using a box, we might as well put some goodies in it.  Two outs per side for simple hook up of the direct boxes.

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On the back panel you have two lefts and two rights and either can be inputs or outputs.  Notice the 1/4 inch jack on the bass.  That's for back up.  You can plug in one side of the box and use a normal guitar cable.  The nice thing about my set-up is it utilizes readily available cables.

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