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Tickle My Nausea #11
Fall 1998


The nuts and bolts of the instruments
and sonic approaches of the members of Pearl Jam.

Jeff Ament
Basses: Carruthers Sub-1 electric upright (brown, bought in 1992), Hamer custom 12-string (black, bought in 1991), Hamer custom 8-string (fingerpainted, bought in 1990), Modulus Custom Jazz Bass (orange, bought in 1993), Modulus Custom Jazz Bass (light green, bought in 1996), Modulus Custom Jazz Bass (red-brown, bought in 1996); also: Taylor wide-body acoustic guitar
Strings: Dean Markley SR2000 medium (for his fretted basses) and SR2000 medium-light (for his fretless ones), Thomastik Spirocores (for the electric stand-up)
Pedals: Sans Amp Classic Distortion, Dunlop TS-1 RTremolo, Boss CH-1 Super Chorus, Boss SYB-3 Bass Synth, Digitech Bass Whammy
Bass Tech: George Webb
Songwriting Approach: "I actually record songs at home and give tapes to the band. I sit around and play bass or guitar and come up with ideas, and if one sticks and I end up playing it on two or three different days I grab my tape deck and record it. From there I usually lay it down to 4-track with a click or drum pattern. I might put together ten basic arrangements, and of those maybe three or four will inspire me to put words to them." (Bass Player, August 1998)
Roots: Jeff originally started out playing the piano (at his mothers request), but by high school he had picked up the guitar briefly (he didn't get into it because it's sound wasn't big enough for him, he didn't own any pedals and couldn't figure out how to do barre chords or anything else to beef up the sound). It was in college that a dormmate with a 77 Fender P-Bass got him into playing a four string: an instrument with an inherently big sound. Jeff has been a bassist ever since.
Back in the early 80's while still with his college band Deranged Diction, Jeff made his impression as a musician on the other struggling bands in the then "undiscovered" Seattle scene because of two simple things: he jumped really high on stage, and he owned a distortion pedal. It was these two things that made Mark Arm talk him into joining Green River, and we all know the rest of that story. But musically, Jeff has progressed a long way from those days.
"The first five or six years I played bass I used a pick," Jeff told Bass Player back in 1994. "And I played as hard as I could because I had the most underpowered rig in the band." He credits learning to play fretless and with 8 and 12 stringed basses along with years of experience as the main methods of becoming a better and better player. Jeff first started playing fretless in 1991, first with fret markers, and then straight by ear. The enormous amount of practice it takes to learn to play one fluently coupled with the tons of practice it takes to play a variety of different basses (different number of strings, scale lengths etc) strengthen Jeff's hands greatly and made him a more flexible player in terms of style and difficulty.
One of the more obvious things that makes Jeff stand out from your average rock band bassist (aside from his skills of course) is his use of a stand up electric bass on stage for some songs like "Daughter," "Indifference," and "Sometimes" (you know, when he's sitting down). In terms of stand up basses, Jeff most often plays a Carruthers Sub-1, which looks sort of like a mutation from a traditional acoustic stand up bass. It borrows it's neck shape from a traditional stand-up, but the sides of the body, where the resonating space usually is, has been lopped off on both sides of the fretboard.
Jeff is also a guitarist and drummer. He played guitar and a variety of exotic percussion instruments (particularly the djembe drum) on several songs on the self-titled Three Fish album (1996, Epic) and plays guitar on "Smile" from No Code.

Stone Gossard
Guitars:'54 Les Paul gold top with PAF humbucking pickups, '72 Les PAul gold top, Hamer Duo-Tone acoustic/electric, Epiphone with a single pick-up, Guild wide body acoustic (used to record "Daughter"), Sunburst Les Paul (had it since Mother Love Bone), 1973 and 1953 Goldtop Les Pauls. The 1973 Goldtop has a "3" on the headstock (it has since been smashed), Stone'd had it since MLB. Stone: "I play Les Pauls because Jimmy Page played one and it sounds really meaty. I just started playing one and got real comfortable with it stylistically, playing a lot of bassy riffs, low-E chunk, and pull-off stuff on the low strings. The Les Paul just sounded good." (Guitar Player, July 1994)
Strings:GHS light (for the Epiphone), GHS Boomers .011
Pedals: DOD EQ, BOSS Hyperfuzz, Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer, Dunlop GCB-95 Crybaby manual Wah, Colorsound distortion, Dunlop UniVibe chorus/vibrato, MXR Dyna Comp compressor, Ibanez Sonic Distortion, Diaz Tremodillo tremolo, Boss "DD-3" digital delay.
Guitar Tech:Tim “Skully” Quinlan
Songwriting Approach: "I retain groove more than anything. My body will swing first, then I'll play a riff that swings at the same time as my body does. The riff is almost incidental. If I can get two riffs that go together in a cool way that makes sense, that you wouldn’t typically hear, then I've got a song." (Guitar Player, July 1994)
Roots: Stone started playing guitar in high school at the Northwest High School for the Arts, an environment very conducive to music making. One story has it that he first picked up an acoustic that was around and began trying to figure it out after school and at lunch time in the hallways of Northwest. Another story has it that that acoustic guitar he first learned to play on belonged to the school's principal.
Years of time spent in bands has honed Stone's chops. While in Pearl Jam, Stone seems to balance his playing more on the rhythm guitar end of the spectrum, a preference which reflects Stone's practice of playing drums to inspire riffs. In case you were wondering, he is indeed capable of McCready-esque screaming solos (he's been known to unleash these sometimes while playing live with Brad). Somewhere along the line, he's also become known for his alternate tunings. "I've had a lot of weird tunings that I made up by tuning the guitar until it sounds cool to me and just play the same chords I always play until something new comes out." (Guitar Player, July 1994) Stone is also a capable bassist.

Mike McCready
Guitars: '56 rosewood-necked Fender Stratocaster, '59 Stratocaster (used to record the solo for "Off He Goes"), mapleneck '58 Stratocaster, '52 Reissue Fender Telecaster, Gretsch hollowbody (used to record "Glorified G"), '72 Gibson Les Paul custom, Rickenbacker 12 string, 1991 Gretsch Silver Jet reissue, 1968 Gibson 335, Ibanez Flying V
Strings: GHS Boomers .011
Pedals: Dunlop 535 Crybaby manual Wah, Ernie Ball Stereo Volume, Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer, Ibanez Tube Screamer MXR, Univibe, Roland Delay, MXR Phase-90
Guitar Tech: Jeff Ousley
Songwriting Approach: Mike: "Writing songs, I get in that mindset with the guitar where I'm looking to layer sounds to fit the song. Like for the guitar tone on "Brain of J," I was looking for a crazy effect that I finally got by combining two guitar sounds. The really menacing-sounding one involves a chorus and a wah wah pedal set halfway down, and the other track is just a heavy, distorted guitar without any effects on it.
Roots: Mike has been playing guitar since he discovered Kiss at age 9. It's almost as if the guitar called out his name, he plays it so well. Even while still in his early teens playing metal tunes in Shadow and Warrior, Mike was incredibly well-suited to intricate solos and interlocking riffs. A "feel" player, at last count, Mike never took lessons, never officially learned how to read music. Everything you hear pipes down from his heart into his fingers, a notion that’s especially evident when his eyes close and his body swings backward to peel a solo out. He's a guy who can play behind his head without a mistake or a trace of concentration. Mike’s one of the few guitarists alive that can make a stratocaster literally cry.

Eddie Vedder
Guitars: Ed trashed his prized black Fender telecaster (the one his mom gave him back when he was 15) at the Soldier Field show in Chicago in 1995, but it's worth mentioning. 1983 Fender Telecaster, 1968 Gibson ES 335, 1985 Schecter faux-Telecaster with Van Zant pick-ups, 1963 black sparkle body Fender Telecaster w/ white pickguard; also: 1993 Jerry Jones electric Sitar, Hohner Marine Band harmonica (tuned to G)
Microphones: Audix OM-7
Strings: GHS Boomers .101-.50
Pedals/Effects: Most recognizably, Ed is quite fond of his e-bow. An e-bow is a small magnetic device that fits in your palm and when held near a guitars pickups, it makes the strings vibrate as if they were being bowed like a violin. He uses an ebow for the solo on "Wishlist." Other than this, Eddie usually doesn’t use many pedals on stage.
Songwriting Approach: Ed's never really been explicit about how he writes songs, but the black and white composition notebooks that are always with him are a good clue. According to him, they are filled with lyrics and chord changes, the beginnings of songs. It would seem that anywhere and idea strikes him, he records it in his notebook. And surely, a guitar is never too far away.
Roots: Ed has been quoted as saying he's been writing songs since he was a little kid, locking himself in the bathroom with a piece of paper and making up words which he'd write down with little arrows noting where to sing higher notes. In his pre-teens, he started playing guitar, teaching himself chords and never taking lessons. By fifteen, he's said he came to the conclusion he'd never be a great guitarist and started singing because he figured "it just seemed easier and more direct to scream in somebody's face" (Melody Maker). Ed never studied singing, his abilities have come about through practice and talent. He continued to play guitar, but singing has been his main role in all of the bands he's been in as an adult. Since around 1995, Ed's guitar playing has taken on a more significant role in Pearl Jam, and playing it more has made him a better guitarist. A stint as the skinsman for Hovercraft back in 1995 demonstrated that Ed also dables in drumming. In the course of Pearl Jam's recordings to date, Ed has also played the harmonica (quite well, on No Code's "Smile"), and accordion (not so well, on Vitalogy's "Bugs").

Jack Irons
Drums: Slingerland 22"X15" bass drum with Drum workshop Turbo 5000 single-spring pedal, four Slingerland toms, two Lugwig Acrolite snares, Ludwig Black Beauty snare, Lugwig Supra-phonic snare with Power Hoop rims, two headless Remo Roto Tom rims, Alpine cowbell
Cymbals: Zildjian 14" K custom dark hi-hat bottom, Zildjian 14" dark crash thin hi-hat top, 17" K custom dark crash, 22" A custom ride, 18" custom dark crash sizzle, 18" K custom dark crash, 21" metal trash can lid (no kidding)
Heads: Evans Genera G1, Remo Ambassador & Emperor
Sticks: Pro-Mark TX737SGW hickory wood-tips also: Gamma SPorts tennis racket tape (for grip)
Songwriting Approach: unknown
Roots: Jack's been playing drums since before he even had a drum kit. When he was about 11 years old, he drove his parents so crazy beating on his bed, chair, and anything else he could find with kitchen utensils, that they finally gave in and bought him a kit. Completely self-taught, Jack honed his playing through constant practice (he toured almost non-stop from 1981 through 1988, and then again through 1989, and again from 1991 through 1994) and by picking up tips from other drummers.

The info in this article was cobbled together from the following sources: Synergy Rumor Pits, Musician magazine, Guitar Player magazine, Bass Player magazine, and Guitar World magazine.

copyright 1998, Tickle My Nausea

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