Mike's Bass

The FAQ is currently in the process of being updated in the new system. We apologize for any inconvenience, and will be updating this page as soon as possible.

A corrections, yet to be integrated: Pete Menosky reported (4/4/01) that the "cocobola one is the "stage" bass in the black cherry color. So, basically, Mike does use EMG's on all basses and does have a TBX" though it may not have been played live. And Jane McNall reports that Mike " has a Q5TBX in solid black with EMG pickups and a composite fingerboard. (these are no longer in production- The through body quantum's) He also has an Q5 with a cocabola top (which we no longer use ) also with EMG pickups. i am currently making him a new Q5 in Clara Walnut with EMGS"

Also, Matt Monaco reported (1/1/01) "info on Mike's Custom Audio Electronics / Bradshaw Setup and the effects pedals he uses with it. The CAE 4x4 audio mixer sits in his rack and is controlled by the RS10 midi footswitch. The RS10 controlls the Tube Screamer (Ibanez), Lovetone Meatball, EBS Octabass, and the Boss SYB-3 Bass Synthesizer. I'm still working on a few more details, specifically the manufacturer and setup of his three volume pedals which apparently control stereo effects from the rack -- perhaps the Lexicon LXP-15, but I'm not sure."

Three Basses (counting one MIA)

New bass: Richard Akers repoted (3/1/99), "I've got Mike a new Gibson Thunderbird on the way and he also is testing the echoplex (stay tuned this should be most interesting)."

The Modulus Bass: Mike started using a new bass on the Feb/Mar European tour in 1997 (not July,as previously reported), and has been primarily using it since. It's a five-string graphite Modulus Quantum 5 (not TBX, and no EMG pickups, as previously reported). Thanks to Dennis John Midkiff (11/24/97), Russell Mirabelli , Steve Dolley (4/8/98 and 5/15/98), Julia (10/15/98), and Brent Dutcher 1/12/99. Also, Steve commented that "Mike's switch to the Modulus is a big part of the Phishphunk sound, and has led to his stepping out more and leading jams. The Modulus is very clear and articulate in its attack (primarily due to the neck, which is made of a carbon-graphite composite rather than wood). Very righteous for slap and pick styles. It also has nearly infinite sustain, and rings like a bell. Also, Phil Lesh plays them, and Mike is a major Phil admirer."

The Dragon Bass: An earlier Languedoc bass was stolen a few years ago, but was used from circa 1987 through mid-1997. Simpler than the Modulus, it had five strings "with an inlay of an asian-style dragon in mother of pearl on the headstock. It also has Paul Languedoc's name inlaid into it. It looks like the Languedoc bass that Mike is still using." (Shelly Culbertson; thanks also to Matt Laurence.) "Named for its intricate headstock inlay, the Dragon bass (built in 1989) has a five-piece curly-maple neck and a bound ebony fingerboard. The body is solid koa, with a face of curly-maple veneer. The bridge and tuning machines were made by Schaller. Mike custom-ordered the instrument's active, 18-volt Mørch pickups from Denmark; they came with myriad knobs and switches Mike didn't really want. "I have trouble making decisions," he says. "I probably change my instrument settings only every two years." The three larger knobs on the bass control volume (one per pickup) and pickup blend; the four micro-switches and three smaller knobs are for various midrange contours and high and low boosts. (Languedoc comments, "Even I don't know what they all do!") ... Mike and Paul both call the Fish--also named for its inlays--"a bit of an experiment." The bass, which was built about two years ago, has a two-piece curly-maple body with an interior chamber, a koa face with an f-hole and multiple-layered binding, and only one knob, which blends between the two EMG ASB-5 pickups. Mike eventually wants to add a piezo bridge transducer to accentuate the highs of the instrument's hollow body." (From "Paul Languedoc's Custom Basses" (Bass Player, December 1996) The article also includes a small diagram of his rig at the time, and lists a Lovetone Meatball as Mike's envelope filter. (Thanks also to .) The bass also has custom-ordered 18-volt Mørch pickups. (Nicolai Knudsen 8/7/00)


Also: The info below somehow omits the Ibanez flanger which gives Mike the cool sound on Down w/ Disease. (Thanks to animationfactory.) it still works.

New Rig: As of January 1999 (and current at 7/6/00), Mike's current live bass cabinet rig is an SWR Goliath 4x10, Big Ben 2x18", Yamaha 1x15 PA Speaker, and an SWR SM-900 preamp head. "He's still using the Lovetone Meatball, and probably the EBS octabass instead of the Boss OC-1.". (Blessboo@aol.com>) "His rig is majorly scaled down since the Winter 99 tour. On the Conan Obrian, Mike was using a David Eden bass rig, it consisted of a Eden WT-800 bass amplifier, and a Eden D410-XLT 4x10 bass cabinet. Should be interesting to see if Mike fully switches to Eden, from his normal live rig." (Garret )

Old Rig: Excerpts from an article by Matt Laurence (submitted here by Matt), "Mike Gordon Curling Nose Hairs With Phish" (Bass Player, November 1993): Gordon's primary instrument is a custom kos 5-string designed and built by Phish's soundman, Paul Languedoc. The one-of-a-kind bass has a five-piece glued-on neck, customized bridge, abalone inlays [done by Paul], dual active Morch pickups, and a befuddling array of preamp options. Boss OC-2 octaver, Electro-Harmonix Dr. Q envelope filter, and Ibanez Tube Screamer pedals sit alongside the footswitch for his ADA MB-1 preamp. Mike's setup also includes a 1500-watt Crest power amp, Yamaha crossover, and dbx compressor. Preamp and effects settings gather no moss in Gordon's rig, since experimentation is the keystone of Phish's sound. Mike often alters his settings during a song just to see how they affect the overall mood. Pointing to the ten separate controls on his bass, he adds with a laugh, " I don't even know what all of this stuff does. I'm just figuring out MIDI and I'm always playing with new techniques. But thats never ends - which is good, you know? [© 1993 Miller Freeman Inc.] Note: "The ADA company went out of business a year or two ago because of the new movement in smaller rigs as compred with the 80's Rocker Rigs." (Cody )

Rig Diagrams: The official site (phish.com) offers a picture of Mike's rig -- click the picture of Mike to the right of the discussion about 1993 on the band page to see it. (Thanks to Adam Gallina 12/3/97.) An earlier rig diagram was graciously contributed by the band's guitar technician, Steve

Preamp: From: mws128@psu.edu (Spinkle): Mike uses an ADA MB-1 preamp, which provides him with almost all of the sounds he uses. However, he also favors a Boss OC-1 ocatve pedal which produces the note he plays and the same note an octave lower. So usually he just uses it when he's soloing or screwing around, like the jam portion of Mike's song. They work best when you just play the high strings. It also has a setting to play a note two octaves below the one you play, but since it's a bass that would be real muddy, so he generally just leaves it on the one octave setting. This pedal goes for around $80 new, about $40 used, and accounts for what I usually refer to as his "fat" bass sound. Otherwise, it's just the preamp. ADA preamps are damn expensive but sound oh-so-good. (I don't know what this means, but the only settings I've seen Mike have it on are 121, 125, and 126...but I remember from Buffalo this year that he had it set on 126 during Down with Disease)."

More info, from Alan W. Verostick (8/7/96), drawing on the August 1996 Bass and Guitar Players' Guide: "$799.95 List Price (from my experience, most dealers sell the item in question for about 20-30% below list price). Rackmount analog MIDI bass preamp with parallel tube and solid-state circuits. Responds to MIDI continuous-control signals.


    • *79 Factory Presets, 256 user programs *5-band programmable semi-parametric EQ *Programmable compressor and effects loops *Limiting circuit for speaker protection *Full-range/bi-amp/balanced direct outputs *OPTIONS: MC-1 MIDI foot controller ($199.95); MPC MIDI Program Changer ($129.95); MXC MIDI Expandable Controller ($199.95)
  • Basically this thing has a number of preset tones for the bass guitar. All program numbers about 79 are user-programmed, so you'd have to talk to Mike to find out what settings each program he uses has. In addition to Mike, Victor Wooten of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Les Claypool of Primus both use these very versatile preamps."

Mu-Tron: From: josh481853@aol.com (Josh481853), 10/19/95: It's called the Mu-Tron. The effect itself is called an Envelope Filter (or Follower). I'm pretty sure (unless things have changed over the summer) that Mike dosen't use a Mu-Tron III, though. I know at one point is Phish's career he used an Electro Harmonix "Dr. Q" Envelope filter (on 4/27/91, during a Bass jam in the middle of Tweezer, Fishman screams "DR. Q!! Ladies and gentlemen, on bass, Dr. Q!"). David Schools (WSP) uses two of these bad boys!! They are very Fat, especially for Bass (they have a "Bass enhansor switch"). I wouldn't be surprised if he still has it. [P] The Mu-Tron III is the pedal Jerry Garcia used ( :( ) on Shakedown, Estimated, and many others. It is by far the Fattest pedal in the universe, and is well worth it's $300-400 dollar price tag. You'll have to track one down, though - they stopped being produced around 1978 and are pretty rare.

New filter: Dave Mosca reported (12/2/98) that Mike is listed in the client list for Lovetone's Meatball envelope filter.

People for a Louder Mike: Also, check out the homepage of People for a Louder Mike, an expanding social movement, featured in the January 1998 issue of Bass Player magazine. The movement's concern is an old idea -- the bass is turned down in many soundboard mixes (not only of Phish, but of many club bands) to account for its reverberation throughout the room, so there's a history of wanting to hear more bass -- but PLM has been concerned with hearing Mike at the shows, not on tape.

Phil influence: In fall 1995, when Phish was "in the bay area, Phil Lesh's bass tech visited Mike on stage while preparing for a show. He loaned Mike Phil's speaker cabinets and taught him a LOT about how Phil gets his tone and what equipment to use. Within a couple of weeks Mike had some identical cabinets built and also filled up his rack with the same equipment that Phil uses. Mike, a long time Phil Lesh devotee, has since been using the Lesh rig on stage and many people have noticed the change in his tone. Mike is also using a pick more often ala Phil. ...Mike is even using the same graphite, triangular picks the Phil uses. I think many Phish-heads and Deadheads miss hearing Phil so hey, Mike's pretty good so why not try to re-create that amazing bass sound." (Wilhem Reich 10/24/95)

Edwin Hurwitz () says this diagram "left out a lot of stuff (Lxp 15, bradshaw setup, etc)." We're hoping to get a more complete schematic from Edwin very soon.

...schematic of mike's bass rig...

"I did a bass duet with Mike Gordon when I sat in with Phish. I generally abhor bass duets, but it was marvelous- it was actually beautiful. ...we just played it by ear. He knows how to get out of my way, and I know how to get out of his. It was like two hippopotami humping!""
-- Phil Lesh, June 2000 Bass Player Magazine"

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