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QRD #44 - Bass Player Special
about this issue
Bassist Interviews with:
CJ Boyd
Monte Allen of Rollerball
Nicholas Slaton of slicnaton
Trevor Dunn of Fantomas
Jeffrey Roden
Phillip Palmer of Port City Music
Nat Baldwin of Dirty Projectors
Frank Alexander of Triplicity
Brian Preston
Jason Ajemian
Darin DePaolo
Jill Palumbo of The Torches
Jon Case of Irata
James Newman of Plumerai
Matteo Bennici
Tim Dahl of Child Abuse
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Bassist Interview with Jon Case of Irata 
October 2010

Name: Jon Case 
Bands: Irata
Websites: www.iratalive.com
Listen to “Drunken Dwarf”

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?


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.