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  Just what is a "tic tac" bass anyway? (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Just what is a "tic tac" bass anyway?
Ed Miller Jr
Member

From: Coldwater,Mi USA

posted 01 May 2001 04:18 PM     profile     
I just bought a new Danelectro Baritone guitar. I love the sound...Believe it or not I play fingerstlye on it. The hang tag mention playing tic tac bass> I've heard the term but am unclear on the meaning. Can someone elaborate on this?

ED

Michael Holland
Member

From: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

posted 01 May 2001 05:14 PM     profile     
The TIC TAC bass was used on countless records out of Nashville. It's a muted, picked part (played on a Danelectro short scale bass) that doubles the Fender bass line. Leon Rhodes overdubbed it on many great tracks.

[This message was edited by Michael Holland on 01 May 2001 at 05:17 PM.]

Craig A Davidson
Member

From: Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin USA

posted 01 May 2001 05:30 PM     profile     
And so did the great Pete Wade. I got to meet him about a month ago and I asked him the same question. And I got about the same answer.

------------------

Jim Cohen
Member

From: Philadelphia, PA

posted 01 May 2001 06:00 PM     profile     
So, it refers to the style of bass playing rather than to the Danelectro instrument itself, right?
Ed Miller Jr
Member

From: Coldwater,Mi USA

posted 01 May 2001 06:33 PM     profile     
So, can anyone give a few examples?

ED

KEVIN OWENS
Member

From: OLD HICKORY TN USA

posted 01 May 2001 06:55 PM     profile     
"Thanks A Lot"--Ernest Tubb--"Crazy"--Patsy Cline--Great tic tac playing by Harold Bradley. Harold probably played tic tac on more session than anyone. Grady Martin also played tic tac on quite a few sessons.
It was used more with the upright bass to get an attack to go with the big bottom of the upright. Some say it only doubles the bass line but, if you listen to the older recordings, the tic tac adds certain notes that accentuates the bass line.
Also, listen to some Bert Kaempfert records. Pop tic tac

Kevin

[This message was edited by KEVIN OWENS on 01 May 2001 at 06:58 PM.]

Dave Brophy
Member

From: Miami FL

posted 02 May 2001 10:19 AM     profile     
Jim,Yeah it refers more to the style of playing than the instrument.It's played with a pick with the lows rolled off the amp and some mid and treble added,so it's not set up for a normal electric bass sound.More like playing a twangy Tele on the bottom strings while palm-muting the strings.But obviously an octave lower.The tic-tac just doubled the upright bass sound,and gave a bit of a "click" sound,or "tic-tac."
There are a few of Elvis' early 60's hits where it was displayed prominently.I just heard one recently on the radio;it might have been "Good Luck Charm" or "Return To Sender."
You could do it with any bass,but Harold Bradley's Danelectro was the classic sound.I could have this story wrong,but I think it was one of the instruments he rescued when his original studio burnt down.
erik
Member

From:

posted 02 May 2001 07:04 PM     profile     

I am familiar with the Harold Bradley tic tac sound. I think muting a P-bass and using a pick sounds good enough... in fact, much better - one instrument, both sounds.
Kenny Davis
Member

From: Great State of Oklahoma

posted 02 May 2001 11:23 PM     profile     
I think that tic tac bass was developed originally to double the accoustic upright bass. It seemed to "define" the bass line. Don't forget the Fender Bass VI six string bass - It was used a lot, as well as the Danelectro.

John Anderson listed X Lincoln as the tic tac player on all of his earlier albums.

John Floyd
Member

From: Somewhere between Camden County , NC and Saluda S.C.

posted 03 May 2001 05:49 AM     profile     
BTW
X Lincoln's real name was Billy Tubb, ET's nephew. great picker.

------------------
JCF (The Picker formerly known as Sleepy John)


[This message was edited by John Floyd on 03 May 2001 at 05:50 AM.]

C Dixon
Member

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 03 May 2001 10:52 AM     profile     
Back in the 50's, when I did play in a band on a very limited basis, our guitar player developed a way to emulate the "tic" sound of bass players. Later I heard a lot of country bands doing it.

Frankly I don't think it was a bass sound at all. I likened it to sounding similar to having a psuedo musical metronome going during the entire song.

I found it very pleasant to listen to. Later in our band, they hired a second guitar player and his sole job was to do the "tic" sound.

It was interesting to note that he had just purchased a brand new and gorgeous Gibson "Birdland" guitar and ALL it was used for is to "tic". Wow!!

Reminds me of how the steel is being used on some modern recordings. A little "pick" here and a little "pick" there.

But certainly no melody like days of old,

carl

Jack Stoner
Sysop

From: Inverness, Florida

posted 03 May 2001 12:20 PM     profile     
You learn everything on the forum. It just hit me what a "tic tac" was. And the sad part is I've done a lot of guitar where all I did was play I/V licks!

However, after 30 years and finally finding out, I'm not sure I really wanted to know.

B Cole
unregistered
posted 03 May 2001 01:05 PM           
Carl I think the tic tac was done on the guitar and it was done in most bands that played the Ray price style and I think way meck to Hank Williams time I know it was a big thing and the band that didn't use it didn't sound right but I never recall seeing the bass player do it always the guitar play. unless were talking about something else entirly
erik
Member

From:

posted 03 May 2001 02:47 PM     profile     
As stated by Kenny Davis, tic tac bass, was a baritone guitar used to mimic the beats of theupright bass. It is not a bass instrument sound on it's own. You may recall during the piano years that the players also many times mimicked the bass line with the left hand.

Tic tac is a cool sound that worked in the era it was employed. Today, if you wanted a similar sound, you can just mute a P-bass and play it with a pick. Or use your palm as a mute and pick.

B Cole
unregistered
posted 04 May 2001 11:00 AM           
Nope sorry I always remember it done by the guitar player before there was a Drummer doing rim shots. I guess maybe Im a little older then most Carl you wanna get togather and play a game of checkers at the old folks home
Michael Holland
Member

From: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

posted 04 May 2001 11:30 AM     profile     
quote:
done by the guitar player before there was a Drummer doing rim shots


B,

Are you thinking of guitar accents on the backbeat (2&4) like the drummer plays on the rim (called a 'sidestick')? If so, those are called "chinks". No disrespect meant to any of Asian origin; that's what they're called.

[This message was edited by Michael Holland on 04 May 2001 at 11:34 AM.]

Max Laine
Member

From: Pori, Finland

posted 04 May 2001 12:28 PM     profile     
Was the tic-tac bass tuned E to E (an octave below regular guitar) or B to B like the new Danelectro as it comes from the factory? I have both tunings on my two Danelectros and I'd go for the E - E tuning for tic tac...

Max

B Cole
unregistered
posted 04 May 2001 09:37 PM           
Michale you may have something there by golly gee. But I have always heard it called tic toc. But I gues it could have been called anything. Just about every band I ever heard had a guitar player do just
that. We have one now who does it some times
KEVIN OWENS
Member

From: OLD HICKORY TN USA

posted 04 May 2001 10:53 PM     profile     
Tic-Tac was played on a 6 string bass, mostly a Danelectro Baritone guitar. A P-bass played with a pick is a P-bass played with a pick. A telecaster played with a pick is a telecaster played with a pick. The classic "Tic-Tac" sound was made with a combination of the Danelectro Baritone guitar and a Fender Deluxe reverb amp (the splash of the reverb has a lot to do with the sound). The guitar can be tuned to E or the factory B (Andy Reiss of the Time Jumpers has two Danelectro Baritone guitars one tuned each way). Harold Bradley was the most recorded Tic-Tac player with Tommy Allsup also doing many sessions. I will say again "Some say it only doubles the bass line but, if you LISTEN to the older recordings, the Tic-Tac adds certain notes that accentuates the bass line." One can play a Tic-Tac line on any instrument but, to have the Tic-Tac sound one must use certain pieces of equipment.

I don't mean to sound like a smart a_s but, it really bothers me when information gets so distorted. I think it's very important to keep the history of country music alive and as close to the facts as we can. "Who played on what, when was it recorded, what equipment was used? " The answers to these types of questions helps keep our of music alive.

Kevin

B Cole
unregistered
posted 05 May 2001 07:00 AM           
Not thinking your being a smart A$$ and it is good to hear diffrent ways people see and hear things. And Im not being a smart A$$ when I tell you how I have always seen it done that don't mean Im right or wrong. But I can assure you there must have been a lot of wrong people running around. As far as history Im too young Im still in the future

[This message was edited by B Cole on 05 May 2001 at 07:02 AM.]

Jim Bob Sedgwick
Member

From: Clinton, Missouri USA

posted 05 May 2001 04:52 PM     profile     
For Michael Holland re: the "chink" sound. In the mid sixties, Nashville studios had a guitar player who's entire job was to accent the offbeat, usually playing either the bottom 3 strings, or the bottom two strings. and muting after striking the strings. This produced a "chink" sound. This was after Tic Tac started falling out of favor. I do believe that tic-tac done on a lead guitar was started back in the days when country bands did not use drums. Hank Williams music used the technique on practically all of his hits.
C Dixon
Member

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 05 May 2001 07:15 PM     profile     
It is highly possible we are talking about different things. I don't know.

But in the band I played in and the ones all over town it was done on a regular guitar and it was called tic tac guitar!!

And Cole is correct I heard it first on hank Williams recordings. And many Ray Price recordings. Again we may be talking about 2 different sounds.

And on an album that brought the cherokee cowboys back together with BE, Tommy Jackson, Buddy Spicher and others the liner notes refers to it as Tic Tac. And the sound I hear is the same sound our guitar player used to make. It sounds just like a metronome only it is pitched rather than just emulating a rim shot by a drummer.

And let's do get together and play checkers B Cole. actually I would rather play chess.

Does ANY body play chess any more? Or has it gone the way of the Accordion?

God bless you all,

carl

erik
Member

From:

posted 05 May 2001 07:34 PM     profile     
Kevin, there is almost a slap back quality to the sound. I do notice that.

I see no reason to be uptight about people discussing whatifs, hows, and maybes. It's what discussion forums are for. It reflects real life.

KEVIN OWENS
Member

From: OLD HICKORY TN USA

posted 05 May 2001 11:36 PM     profile     
When someone asks a question I think they deserve a factual answer. I'm just trying to present accurate, factual information.

Kevin

Smiley Roberts
Member

From: Hendersonville,Tn. 37075

posted 06 May 2001 02:07 AM     profile     
Isn't it kind of a "cool minty-flavored" bass line? (sorry gang,it was there to "jump on".)

------------------

  ~ ~
ars longa,
mm vita brevis
-=sr=-


Michael Holland
Member

From: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

posted 06 May 2001 05:39 AM     profile     

We are talking about two different things here. And yes, Kevin, it is frustrating to contribute with information that you know to be correct only to have it contradicted. From what I can gather, it seems that some erroneously refer to "chinks" (accents on 2 & 4) as "tic tac" (doubling of the bass line with variations). B is referring to "tic toc". B, is that "tick tock" like a clock, or "tic tac" like the mint?

Pete Mitchell
Member

From: Buda, Texas, USA

posted 06 May 2001 02:10 PM     profile     
Tic Tac? Someone mentioned Hank Williams. If you'll listen closely enough to one of his 78 RPM's you'll hear a tic tac in lieu of drums. Probably played on an Epiphone Emperor, and I have seen Sammy Pruitt live at the Casino Theatre many times years ago playing tic tac on his big archtop guitar, which led the sound to evolve into a Danelectro. (Perhaps a little more suitable?)

Think CONNECTION between drums and bass; in other words, the muting you are speaking of is more in line with a percussive note that will tie in with one AND two AND three etc. Also, think one (sock) AND two (snare). Get it?

And yes, indeed, Harold Bradley did for a fact subtly enhance an awful lot of great sessions with his tic tac work. Pete

B Cole
unregistered
posted 07 May 2001 07:05 AM           
Carl I never learned to play Chess but our bass player does and drummer. But then I guess I never learned to play Tic Toc either even thought I played enough of it. The next time someone says play Tic Toc I will smack them up side the head and point to the bass player he will love that
C Dixon
Member

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 07 May 2001 07:21 AM     profile     
Sage
Member

From: Boulder, Colorado

posted 07 May 2001 08:32 AM     profile     
This is really instructive just watching you guys respectfully duke it out on this subject. Don't stop now.
BTW the accordian is still alive up here in du nord, you betcha.
I'd love to sit down at a game board with any of you guys. Carl- I play chess, but I prefer GO. http://www.well.com/user/mmcadams/gointro.html

[This message was edited by Sage on 07 May 2001 at 08:42 AM.]

KEVIN OWENS
Member

From: OLD HICKORY TN USA

posted 07 May 2001 10:38 AM     profile     
Well, I just got off the phone with Harold Bradley. He says -- Tic tac has to be played on a 6-string bass. If it's on a regular 6-string guitar or 4-string bass, it's not tic tac.

Kevin

C Dixon
Member

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 07 May 2001 12:10 PM     profile     
Kevin,

I would be the last one to ever debate and/or argue with Harold Bradley.

So I will just have to say that the sound our guitar player was doing which everyone in the band called "tic-tac" guitar back in the 50's, was something OTHER than "tic-tac" guitar.

And while I would not ever argue with Harold, I will tell you that the leader of that band and the guitar player would eat his lunch.

carl

B Cole
unregistered
posted 07 May 2001 01:07 PM           
I woldn't want to argue with anyone but I been around music for 60 years I remember the bass being an upright or dof house with only 4 strings and before that a wash tub with 1 string then low and behold out came the 5 string Kay bass which was out of this world then as I remember out came and Electric bass still with 4 strings and many diffrent makers then a few years ago not to remember how many low and behold came an Electric 5 string bass then wouldn't you know it a 6 string bass. Now if they were useing a 6 sting bass on all thise old records Hank Williams and old Ray Price and God only knows how many others then they were really keeping it secret and Mr Bradley surly made a terrilbe mistake cause he could have made a fortune if he had patented that 6 string bass way back then. Now I aint disputin Mr Bradleys word you understand but I do commend him for being able to keep such a secret for so long
KEVIN OWENS
Member

From: OLD HICKORY TN USA

posted 07 May 2001 02:24 PM     profile     
B. Cole
The sounds on the Hank Williams records are a guitar playing on the bass strings as were the early Ray Price recordings. Sammy Pruitt played with both of these artist. The 6-string electric bass was first used on a Ray Price session on Jan. 29, 1959 (Heartaches by the Numbers)with Harold playing it. He didn't invent it, he just played it.

Carl
I can only imagine what your response would be if someone belittled Buddy Emmons like you just tried to do to Harold. A completely uncalled for remark. We were discussing tic-tac, not your opion of Harold as a guitar player.

I have presented facts (songs, players, equipment, dates etc.......). Play tic tac on a tuba, I don't care. I know what it is and what it isn't.

Have a nice day

[This message was edited by KEVIN OWENS on 07 May 2001 at 02:27 PM.]

[This message was edited by KEVIN OWENS on 07 May 2001 at 03:05 PM.]

BobbeSeymour
Member

From: Hendersonville TN USA

posted 07 May 2001 03:12 PM     profile     
Yes Kevin,you are totaly correct in ALL your statments on Tic-Tac bass.Your knowledge at your age is astounding.I first came to Nashville as a studio player in the 60's and this was the hey-day of "THE NASHVILLE SOUND"(which is all gone now)and I worked with all the famous tic-tac players of this era in country music.The most famous players were Leon Rhodes,Billy Sanford,Pete Wade,Jimmy Capps,Spyder Wilson,and a few others.
The art of playing this style is to put the tic-tac note exactly on top of the std. bass note,same note at the same time!(sometimes a octive higher though). Danelectro seems to do a great job at this, Fender did not!
Kevin, you need more respect on this forum,Your knowledge on steel history is second to none , but be forwarned,IF I EVER CATCH YOU GIVING A WRONG ANSWER,I'll crucify you! The history guy,Bobbe Seymour!
The unofficial website of Buddy Charlton.
Not to be confused with the Offical website of Buddie Evanns.
(Carl, get a life,there are other steel players out there today!)
BobbeSeymour
Member

From: Hendersonville TN USA

posted 07 May 2001 03:26 PM     profile     
Just thought I'd add,almost all the sessions I produced for BMG,GOLDSTAR,DECCA and VICTOR Co. of JAPAN,I used Tic-Tac on,and only a small part of which were "country". You want a rhy. section to be big and sound snappy,ya gotta have it! Amen!
Bobbe Seymour
Pete Mitchell
Member

From: Buda, Texas, USA

posted 07 May 2001 06:47 PM     profile     
Hey, Fellas,

In which year did Hank Williams pass away? Now let's go way back with Hank, I think what Kevin may be trying to say was, was there indeed a six string bass back then in Hank's heyday? I don't believe so. Which is why Sammy Pruitt, who at that time could surely have afforded to have one, didn't have a six string bass because they simply didn't exist. Sammy played and cultivated a nice percussive, Luther Perkins-ish sound on a jumbo archtop guitar. There wasn't a whole lot of lead guitar on most of Hank's recordings (with a few exceptions). I believe that the six string bass evolved from the general idea of what Sammy Pruitt was doing.

P.S. For posterity, along about 1959-1960, Rick Danko with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks had a Fender VI, the first one I'd seen, but by no means the first one I'd heard. Pete

KEVIN OWENS
Member

From: OLD HICKORY TN USA

posted 07 May 2001 07:44 PM     profile     
Pete
I didn't mean to imply that there was a 6-string bass in Hank's time. The Danelectro book says the 6-string bass was introducted in 1956. There is a copy of an ad from 1958 and the list price was $109.95 or $11 down/$9 per. month through Sears. I think your on the right track with the Sammy Pruitt / jumbo archtop guitar as the forerunner of the tic tac bass sound. Do you remember the song "Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor" by Johnny Horton? Great 6-string bass solo by Grady Martin, released in Jan. 1958.
In the Danelectro book, Marshall Cranshaw states that the into to "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens is a Fender strat and a Danelectro 6-string bass. (just a little interesting trivia)

Kevin

Pete Mitchell
Member

From: Buda, Texas, USA

posted 07 May 2001 08:14 PM     profile     
Kevin,

Right on! Yeah, I was in fact agreeing with you that tic tac existed before the six string Danelectro that you saw advertised in 1956. I have to agree with Bobbe, you're on the right track.

Pete

C Dixon
Member

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 07 May 2001 09:49 PM     profile     
Kevin,

I was in NO way belittling Harold's playing in any way. You totally missunderstood me. I was talking about the band leader and the guitar player eating his lunch about them using a Tic-tac guitar player in lieu of a bass. Because the band leader HIRED the guitar player to do it on a guitar. I stand on the fact that in the 50's, a number of Guitar players in bands called what they were doing tic-tac guitar.

Now the fact that others call a style using a Bass tic-tac bass does NOT negate the fact that any number of guitar players called what they were doing tic-tac guitar.

Again it may be that we are all talking about 2 different things. I do not know. But the sound I am referring to was done on a guitar. NOT a bass.

(Bobby, I have a life thank you. And it has indeed been one of the most blessed a man could ever have! In this day and time it is rare indeed for a man to have been blessed with the same woman for 50 yrs. I will have had that pleasure come aug 25th! And what that has to do with Buddy Emmons I dont know. But I will also stand on the fact that he will always be the greatest player that has EVER lived, BAR NONE! There are hundreds of other greats yes, But NOT one will ever come even close to being as great as he is. NOT in any one's life time ever! And that includes those yet unborn! IMO)

carl


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