Hi everyone, my name is Alex Lofoco I am a bass player, bass teacher, bass owner and therefore a Bass Gear lover.
I am originally from Rome, Italy, and I am now based in London. Having moved for studying purposes in 2008.
I started working as a session musician and teacher, and from 2009 I started holding masterclasses and clinics focused on ‘double thumbing’ technique. I contribute to Bass Musician Magazine with lesson and articles you are welcome to check at here.
I am now working on my first solo album which will be focussed on groove and melody, as for me these are the two elements that make bass more accessible to a wider audience, not only bass players. I have been recording a lot in studio, but always for other people’s projects, and I can’t wait to hit the studio next month to lay down a collection of ideas and emotions I collected during my career I want to express through my beloved instrument.
I fell in love with bass twelve years ago, and my very first influence was, and is, Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, the first band I started to listen to. Then I was introduced to Jaco Pastorius and Weather Report, and Tower of Power.
I’ve never been a slapper really, as my first slap influence was Marcus Miller, and I have to say that it was a proper slap in my face! I started to work out the main slap technique but with no success. When I wanted to study the song ‘Power’ and I couldn’t play the fast triplet in the intro riff, I remembered of a guy who was using his thumb in both directions and I thought that could help me playing that evil triplet. So eventually I started to study Victor Wooten’s songs as I wanted to develop the up and down motion of the thumb, and with my great surprise I found Wooten’s way of playing quite easy, groovy and extremely clever rather than overcomplicated. Still now I can’t play Power properly though ;(
Like everyone my Bass Gear varies according to the needs and type of gig or studio work I am asked to do. Over time I collected, tried and used a huge amount of gear, accessories and, because when I was in Italy I worked in a music shop, I had the chance to try almost everything available on the market, and learn how to use it on stage as well -borrowing few things from the shop for my weekend gigs.
Now I am a proud user and endorsee of notable brands that provide me the gear I can make my music with, such as Laurus Basses, Rotosound strings, Hartke amps, EMG pickups, Evidence Audio Cables, Hipshot hardware and Jam pedals…basically everything I need and I would need!
My main bass now is a Laurus Quasar T900, T is for Terminator! No, just kidding 😉
It is a beautiful handcrafted five string bass, made in Italy by Laurus, and it is just perfect.
The main problem I always experienced with 5string basses is that the tension, tone and intonation of the low B string does not match with the other four strings. Some manufacturer produces longer scale basses (34 and 1/2 or 35 inch scale) to add to the tricky B string more tension, but this one is a regular 34 inches bass and the angle of the tilted back headstock and the bridge, make all five strings perfectly balanced. Also the phenolic resin fingerboard, being more consistent than wood, helps to have no dead spot on the neck and makes the instrument more resistant to weather changes such as temperature or humidity.
To increase the resonance and the sustain, the strings are hooked on the headstock and tuned on the bridge, so no double end strings, and the instrument has a beautiful, rich, full and balanced voice. The electronic perfectly suit the instrument with a pair of dual coil Norstrand pickup and the Noll electronic. The sound is not compressed and switching from passive o active mode does not affect the tone and the volume does not jump up dramatically, but bass, treble and mids frequencies just come forward without affecting the others.
I also have a Japanese Fender ’62 reissue P bass and a Road Worn 60 Jazz bass. Both of them are equipped with EMG pickups, a PJX set on the Precision and a JV set on the Jazz. I found EMG pickups very handy while recording and in theatre for their clarity and noiseless quality, also their high output and edgy sound work extremely well on stage. I use on both basses also the new ‘double stop’ D tuner by Hipshot, which allows me to detune the E string down to D or C using a new lever fitted on the machine. Hipshot provided also a solid brass A style bridge which fits the vintage bridge holes and it sound bigger and with more sustain than the BadAss II bass bridge I had.
I have tried almost all strings manufactures, different gauges, materials and sets, roundwound, flatwound, halfround etc. I believe that different strings may work better on a particular style or way of playing, and each brand have different philosophy behind the construction. I eventually found my favourite strings in Rotosound products. On all instruments I use the medium gauge 45-105 or 45-130 on the five string. The best sounding strings for me are the Piano Strings Design, PSD99. Having a monel core wrapped in steel which lies on the saddle and the wounding starts a bit after the bridge, it makes the string freer to vibrate resulting in a never ending sustain. The tone is a clear note with a sharp attack which reminds me a tubular bell when slapped.
When I choose a string I am after a tight and consistent vibration. I suggest to try as many string sets as possible, even if you already have your favourite one, and to experiment with a new one you have’t tried yet.
When I started playing bass I wasn’t a big fan of pedals, for I wanted to be able to create as many sounds and effects relying on my hands, instrument and amp only.
Because now my needs are changed I usually bring along few pedals in studio and live. At present I haven’t got a multitude of pedals, just an external preamp, bass octave, chorus, echo and tuner. I like pedals that allow me to hear the tone of my bass when the device is activated and bypassed too, so I listen closely to the treble, which are the first to suffer of a not extremely good pedal.
At the beginning of the chain I have an Aguilar DB 924 outboard preamp kept in a true bypass effect loop made by myself as the preamp has no on/off switch. The DB924 is the outboard version, now discontinued I reckon, of the OBP1, and features one master volume and two +18db boost controls on bass and treble respectively at 40Hz and 4000Hz. I use it especially with passive electronic basses to give a more modern sound, or occasionally to have an extra EQ setting.
An MXR M88 bass octave allows me to reach a low note when I don’t have time to use the Dtuner during my performance if I’m playing a four string bass. I generally set the dry signal at 9 o’clock and the low octave at 4 o’clock. Alternatively I use a fifty fifty mix to play some funky lines on the upper register. This pedal has been modified by FM Amps in Denmark Street, London, to increase the clarity of the octave channel.
I’m using a Waterfall chorus unit by Jam Pedal, which is the same one used by Anthony Jackson and Jeff Berlin to add a subtle but on the same time rich and clear modulation to my sound. This hand made boutique pedal has also a really cool switch for an extreme chorus and one for the vibrato effect.
After the modulations I have a Head Rush echo/delay which I also use as a looper for solo performances or boring gigs where I loop the bass line, which is the same for intro, verse and chorus, and go off stage and grab a pint at the bar.
The output of the pedalboard is regulated by the new the Peterson Stomp Classic pedal tuner, which is an exceptionally precise tuner and has a reliable and good sounding DI box built in. I keep a balanced output at the end of the chain to plug in to the PA when an amplifier is not available, or the type of the gig does not need a huge volume on stage i.e. acoustic, folk etc.
My main concern when I was on stage in the early days was that sound engineers used to take the DI output from the head of my amp rather than micking up the cabinet, resulting in a different tone in the PA than from the speaker I chose, carried and brought on stage. Having my own DI I always -or almost always depending on the sound guy- have the tone I am more comfortable with.
I believe that the cable is one of the most important link in the chain of the sound. Having a good lead does make the difference in tone for all the beauty of the instrument, pickups, hand made pedals and the performance itself, passes through the connections between these elements. I tried many cables, Monster, VoVox, Elixir, Planet Waves, Proel DieHard etc, and the only one I hear the best sound of my instruments are the Evidence Audio cables. They are hand made in California by my friend Tony Farinella, and they sound just beautiful. Firstly they have more volume, meaning that they cut less frequencies than the other leads, secondly they sound more open, bigger, deeper and richer.
For my instruments I use the Lyric HG or the Forte cable. The first one has a double solid core conductor and sounds extremely clear with tight treble and precise bass, and The Forte (which means strong in Italian 😉 with his semi-balanced geometry, blocks noise and preserves dynamics and dimensionality. They are one better than the other really, the Lyric is a tiny little bit brighter than the The Forte though, and for some studio session, having those treble cutting through, may work better.
To link my pedals I use the Evidence Monorail, which uses the same principals of the George L’s cables, but with a solid core conductor, it sounds much bigger.
I also have a Lyric HG XLR-XLR for my DI. Why having good instrument and pedals and loose something before going to the desk?!?
I am currently using a Hartke rig, in different combination. Having an LH1000 head I generally do not have many problems with volume on stage. I also have three cabinets, one HyDrive 410, one 115 and a 112.
The head is very simple, just five controls: volume, bass, mids, treble and a balance when I plug two speakers in parallel. One button switch for extra treble, if your slap is not cutting through enough, and another one for a limiter. It delivers 1000W in bridge @4homs, and it is one of the punchiest head I ever had the pleasure to play with. Simple and consistent.
The HyDrive cabinets feature neodymium speakers, with a very interesting cone technology, half paper and half aluminum. Hartke firstly to introduced the aluminium cones which were punchy, accurate and bright. With the new HyDrive technology (Hy=hybrid), the aluminum in the centre of the cone makes precise and crispy trebles, and the paper in the external part reproduces warmer bass frequencies, balancing a fast attack and a smooth body.
Having said that, my life as a performer is much easier than before, so I have to worry only about playing with the right feel.
You can check www.alexlofoco.com for news, more gear, to know more about my lectures and tuition and to contact me. If you fancy have a chat about music, gear you can find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alex-Lofoco/303083308884 and we can share some tips.
Thank you very much for reading and I hope you found something interesting here on Pro’s Tools
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