Interview with Jon Case of Irata
QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?
Jon – First bass was a Fender Squire P-bass (candy apple red) – traded it in when I upgraded to a new bass.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier?
Jon – From my bass I split my signal… I call them Alpha Sig & Bravo Sig. Alpha Sig runs thru several effects to a Peavey Classic 30 guitar combo amp. Bravo Sig run thru various effects to an Ampeg SVT-CL which pushes an Ampeg 4X10 1X15 cab & a Peavey 4X10 cab
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – bass, amplifier, or effects?
Jon – All of my gear is important to me… but if I had to pick the one piece of gear that destroys the most… I would say my SVT-CL….. tuuuuuubes… Need I say more?
QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?
Jon – Electric.
QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow?
Jon – Pick.
QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have?
Jon – However many you like…my basses have 4…I like ‘em.
QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?
Jon – BOTTEM END!
QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch?
Jon – Less strings.
QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such?
Jon – My main & newest bass right now is an Ibanez ATK300… very powerful, versatile, & affordable. It has a 3 band active EQ, 3 switchable presets, string-thru body… can dial in MM, Pbass, & Jbass tones. Can’t wait to record with it. Still love my P-basses as well.
QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses?
Jon – I’ve got no problem with it.
QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Jon – It would look like & have all the same features as my ATK… but with my name on the headstock.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Jon – It would be my signature bass overdrive pedal… & it would be the greatest bass overdrive ever… it would have no knobs or buttons… just plug & play... it would sound brutal right out of the box.
QRD – How many basses do you own?
Jon – At this time 3… 2 P-basses & my ATK.
QRD – How & where do you store your basses?
Jon – At my home in their cases… but they spend a lot of time on their stands… I play them every day.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass?
Jon – Sound, versatility, has to be comfortable to wear & play, & affordability.
QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost?
Jon – I tend to buy less expensive basses & upgrade them to my liking… I dump most of my money into effects & amps.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your bass or just stick with what you get?
Jon – I do upgrades… my P-basses I gutted & upgraded all the electronics… put new pickups, bridge, nut, & tuners. No upgrades to my ATK at this point.
QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Jon – I don’t play around with my tone too much… my new bass has allowed me to start dialing in different tones… but for the most part I stick with that heavy overdriven driving bass tone.
QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Jon – As far as I’m concerned… I own the best bass amp you can buy… but I’m always looking at different effect pedals… specifically overdrive pedals. As far as basses… if I had the money I would definitely collect. I would love a stingray, J-bass, Rickenbacker 4003, ripper, grabber, & tons more.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there?
Jon – I would say that more focus needs to be placed on comfort of the bass. A lot of beginner basses are clunky & uncomfortable. Tone & EQ come later as you upgrade & learn the instrument. If the bass is not comfortable to wear & play it’s going to be hard sticking with it & learning the instrument.
QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made?
Jon – This is an easy one… best purchase was my SVT-CL. Worst was a Bass Big Muff pedal… it went back the same day. It sounded like a fart. Good for guitar… not so good for bass.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Jon – Can’t go wrong with Ampeg, Fender, & Boss. Nothing I dis-like really… it just might not have worked with my set-up. Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for someone else.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass?
Jon – Usually the bass.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass?
Jon – 14 or 15 quit for several years & picked it back up at around 23.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing?
Jon – Probably around 25… when I started playing with a band again… we were practicing/recording/playing shows so much… I had a bass on me all the time… however, I would like to think that I get better every time I play.
QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements?
Jon – I think there is room for both… the player should decide for him/herself their favorite way to approach the instrument & what suits that particular song.
QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass?
Jon – Both.
QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments?
Jon – I dunno… I was just sort of drawn to it… it was something cosmic I suppose.
QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?
Jon – My ally of course.
QRD – Who are the bassists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Jon – Eric Avery, D’Arcy, Ben Sheppard, Mark Deutrom, David Wm Sims, Joe Lally, Justin Chancellor… to name a few.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)?
Jon – I think it’s natural & silly….
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it?
Jon – Never done any damage to a bass to speak of. I’ve destroyed several speakers over the years not to mention my own hearing.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Jon – In the new line up… I’ve taken on the task of vocals… so I’ve been practicing singing.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to?
Jon – I would like to play 40 hours a week. Right now I probably spend 12-15 hours a week.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Jon – 105-45’s (medium) for comfort. I can play medium gauge a little faster.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Jon – Not as often as I should… usually when we start recording.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Jon – Never.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Jon – They’re probably about the same.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Jon – Right now on our newer material I’m tuning a full step down. I think the reason I’ve chosen to do so is because the songs call for it. I just needed those lower notes to make the songs sound the way they needed to sound.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Jon – None of the above.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Jon – I cant think of any…. I’ll have to defer that question to my drummer… I’m sure he can come up with a few.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing?
Jon – Drums… but I’m a terrible drummer.…
QRD – What’s a type of bass playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Jon – Not really any… I would just like to do what I do… better.
QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished?
Jon – To design & build my own bass.
QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned?
Jon – I don’t know any bass tricks.
QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Jon – Nope… never have… self-taught.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a bass lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a bass teacher?
Jon – To turn up your amp as loud as it will go.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Jon – Cant be done… next question please.
QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Jon – Hard to do… but I can… yes.
QRD – What famous musician’s bass would you like to own & why?
Jon – One of Paul McCartney’s because I could sell it & buy something cool or pay off my house.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative bass player & why?
Jon – I have no idea.
QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?
Jon – The Irata album.
QRD – Anything else?
Jon – Nope.