Doug Pinnick's Bass Tech Speaks
Not many people get the chance to go on the road as tech support for one of the most influential bassists of our time. We are excited and honored to present this interview with Rob Lauritsen, bass tech for Doug Pinnick of King's X. Rob offers a unique perspective on working with and touring in support of a major 12-string bassist - a perspective most of us never experience or even hear about.
Thanks to Rob for his time and sincere interest in what we are doing here at 12stringbass.net!
How did you get the job of being Doug's tech?
I had been friends with Doug for a few years. I always went out to the KX shows back home in the NYC area and we kept in touch. Around January Doug's old tech got a job working with Rob Halford (insert horns and falsetto here) and he gave me a call. I came down to Houston for a few days and went on tour.
How long have you known Doug? How many tours have you done with King's X?
I met Doug in the summer of 2000 at a show in NY. I was probably one of the people who asked "How come you don't bring the 12 out any more?". With King's X I've done 3 tours. A headline tour earlier this year, a co- headlining tour with Fishbone which was a blast, and we just got back from Europe. King's X goes back out with Fishbone in a few weeks. All those who would like a lesson in groove should come out.
Have you ever toured with any other bands?
No. But I'd love to watch Motorhead head every night. Lemmy's tone is sick!!!
Is there anything you do to Doug's basses before you hit the road, or do you wait until the first night?
If I can I get into Houston a few days early. I just check the intonation, make sure the action is LOW, clean the basses up, and just make sure we have everything we need (strings, picks, spare parts) because things will only break in Nebraskahoma and towns where the nearest music store is 50 miles away!
What string gauges are used? How frequently are strings changed? How well do the basses stay in tune throughout the evening?
On the 4's he uses DR high beams .040-.100. On his 12's he uses DR's also. They sent him a lot of sets years ago. The gauges are .050, .050, .100, .040, .040, .080, .028, .028, .060. The G-string is a .040. I am not sure what gauge the octave strings on the G are. I change strings on the two main basses every night. After playing for 2 hours those strings have NO life to them the next day. Bright strings are crucial to his tone. I change the 12 just a few times throughout the tour. I change the standard strings more often than the octaves so things stay bright on the bottom.
Generally the Yamaha's stay in tune well. I've never had a problem. The 12 stays in tune really well. But as the case with any bass, if you're playing hard and beating the shit out of it over a two hour period it will go out. Just in case Doug always keeps a tuner with him onstage.
With the constant travel to different climates do the truss rods need frequent adjustment? Any tricks of the trade as far as set-up?
I set the action and intonation in the position the guitar will be played. It does no good laying it on a coffee table and doing it. If you do it that way, the intonation will always be a little off when it is played in a regular position. And never tune basses upside down. They will always be off if you tune a lefty bass right-handed. And don't throw your basses down stairs. They might go out of tune and you may damage your stairs.
Do you have to clean each bass after every gig or just occasionally?
Just occasionally. Doug likes the "dirty look".
What rig is Doug currently using? How many different basses will he use each night? Are there any adjustments you make or changes in EQ, etc., during the show on a regular basis?
Doug uses two amps, one for highs and one for lows. Forever he has been using old Traynor heads for the high end but in Europe he used a Line 6 POD and the resemblance is scary. He is going to try using the POD on this upcoming tour but we will still have the old Traynors out just in case. For lows he is using SVP-Pro pre amps from Ampeg. The low end on these stomp any other amp I've heard. No matter what the drive control never breaks up. It is powered by an SVT 4.
Both highs and lows go into separate EQ's with the lows going through a compressor. After the EQ both amps go into this old channel mixer where he can blend the lows and the highs. That is sent to the PA and the Ampeg 8x10 cabs are miked as well. Doug uses 3 basses during the night: A four tuned CGCF; a four tuned BEAD sometimes dropped to A; and the 12 which is tuned CGCF as well.
During the show sometimes Doug has a cleaner high end when he slaps so I'll just go press a few buttons. Besides that its all the same throughout the show.
Any good road stories?
Well, Amsterdam was fun this past tour. Europe is great as soon as you get used to the buses. Then in Florida the bus was stopped and they took all our... medicine. Any show with Fishbone is bad-ass and in NYC last tour Paul Shaffer and his band came to the show and hung out. Oh, and when KX did the Midtown Music Fest in Atlanta I got to see G-Love and Special Sauce and Morris Day and the Time.
Here's a good one! Are you a "righty" or a "lefty"?! Since Doug is left-handed (and I'm guessing you're right-handed), what problems does that pose in getting his basses ready for the night?
Righty. It's not as difficult as one might think. It's easy to tune and work lefty as long as I don't have to play it!!
Do you ever have to sound-check for Doug?
No. I'll line check for him but the whole band shows up for sound-check so they can get their monitors right. Doug will also adjust his EQ according to the room.
Are your services ever needed in between tours? Have you ever been called on to help with any KX recording sessions?
No, but when I've been down here Doug has been working on and mixing the new Poundhound album (and there is 12 on it).
How about tour rehearsals? What kind of schedule does KX have for rehearsing and are you usually around for that?
I've been around for rehearsals but it isn't necessary. They just go over the new songs and old ones they haven't played in a while.
Doug tells me you're a good bassist too! Do you own a 12-string? If so, what make / model is it?
I own a Hamer 12, like the ones Doug used to play. I love it. I play it often but let us never abandon our Fender P-Basses. Like Doug, the first person who turned me on to the 12 was Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson. Besides having a sick tone, they just look cool. Dave from Big Wreck is a killer player too. I own an 8-string as well but they sound so lame compared to 12's. Save that shit for Manowar!
When you aren't on the road with KX do you have a band you play with?
I play with some friends back home in NY called The Turnover. I am always writing and looking for good musicians to play with. I also play in cover bands once in a while for extra cash (and the love of playing today's hits and yesterday's favorites).
When is KX coming to Montana? (Surf wants to know.)
I'm not sure. Soon maybe. I don't know where I'm gonna be next week!!!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for us Rob! I know you're only home for a short period before you go back out for the next leg of the tour and I really appreciate you squeezing us in! You offer a different and valuable perspective on touring and I know our readers will be really interested in what you've got to say! Take care and see you on the road!
Thanks for the questions. I hope that I was of some help. If you got any more feel free to fire away. See y'all at the rock and roll show! Rob
Editor’s note: This interview with Philip Snyder was originally published on October 16, 2003. About a year after giving this interview, Rob left the King’s X organization.