The Beatles: Paul McCartney and the Bass
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The Beatles: Paul McCartney and the Bass

An article about Paul McCartney and his bass during the Beatles era.

Stuart Sutcliffe Bass

The Beatles in the early days had a perception that the bass player is the fat guy who plays behind the band. None of them wanted to play the bass that’s why during the Quarrymen period Stuart Sutcliffe was the one playing the bass albeit in a simple way. The Beatles/Quarrymen disliked the playing until the day Stuart Sutcliffe left the band. The Beatles also had a session musician play the bass for them for a short period of time until Sir Paul McCartney decided to play the bass for the band.

No one expected that Paul McCartney would be one of the best bass players in the world, if not the best bass player. Paul McCartney became known for his melodic bass lines and playing the Bass with a pick. He was known for being left handed that’s why his bass of choice was Höfner 500/1. Höfner 500/1 was a violin bass it was almost symmetrical (the shape is symmetrical but not the colour) that’s why Paul McCartney could simply re-string it. The Beatles wouldn’t seem complete without Paul McCartney’s bass lines.

Rickenbacker 400s1

Hofner 500/1 on the left and Rickenbacker 4001S on the right

Paul McCartney also used the Rickenbacker 4001S but not as much as the Höfner 500/1 because of its weight. Höfner 500/1 is a bass guitar with a hollow body. Höfner 500/1 was made in a style in which the guitar is very light and easy to play, as well as giving it a rich tone, similar to that of the traditional double bass. Höfner 500/1 later became Paul McCartney’s signature bass. He used a 1961 model and a 1962 model. The first model of the Höfner 500/1 was lost during recordings at the studio. Paul McCartney used the Höfner 500/1 bass from the early 60’s until 1965 wherein he sometimes swapped between Höfner 500/1 and Rickenbbacker 4001S. Paul McCartney still has the Höfner 500/1 1962 model and still uses it in his concerts.

Paul McCartney Hofner 500/1 BassPaul McCartney Hofner 500/1 Bass

Paul McCartney wanted to show everyone that the bass is an instrument too. Much of Paul McCartney’s best bass works began when he heard Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys. It gave him the inspiration to become better in the bass which resulted to the Magnificent Bass work in SPLHCB (Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). But prior to SPLHCB he had already composed some bass lines which are melodic as seen in the single Rain. Paul McCartney sings while playing the bass in some of his concerts especially during the early days of Beatlemania.

Read this article for his bass lines

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Comments (3)

Great work.

Nice job. My ex would have enjoyed these articles because she is/was a big Beetles fan.

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