THE LOW END
Meet The Neighbors
The nice thing about writing this column is
that you get to speak with a lot of cool folks
who read your work, so I thought it would be
pretty nice to meet some of the subscribers
and hear about what they’re playing, their
styles and their bands. I randomly selected the
folks interviewed, provided they primarily used
vintage gear and were Premier Guitar readers.
All three players are from the Boston area, all
three are in their early 40s, and all three use
Precision basses—but their personalities, situations and styles could not be more different.
Steve Breman has one of the more interesting backgrounds. Steve plays bass for
Monique Ortiz ( moniqueortiz.com). The cool
thing is, this band has two bass players.
Steve is the low-end groove player, while
Monique is a riffing, two-finger slide player.
Steve explains the big challenge is providing “sonic space” to allow for the use of
two bass players. Steve’s main bass is a ‘ 74
Precision, while a ‘ 77 Guild Starfire gets its
share of coffee house gigs. He uses a ‘ 77
T-bird and a ‘ 71 Rick 4001 as studio basses.
Steve uses Maestro Brass Master, Black Cat
Octave Fuzz and Univox Superfuzz pedals.
The amp rig consists of old GMT heads, older
Mesa 1x15 cabinets and an Acoustic 360 that
he uses as a preamp. Steve also employs a
Fender Jaguar Baritone Custom through a
‘ 68 Fender Deluxe amplifier. Steve’s groovy,
low-end playing can be heard on Monique’s
soon-to-be-released, full-length CD.
Henry James is a high-energy, life-is-a-party
sort of cat. His band GO! is a psychobilly,
traditional rock band where his personality is
displayed in his playing. Henry is a mechanic
for the Bose Corporation during the day, and
also plays in a local cover band, Rose Colored
Glasses. During his down time he keeps a
close eye on his very nice collection, which
includes multiple ‘70s Jazz Basses, various
Precision Basses from ‘64 through ’ 86, and
some old G&Ls. The main bass is his trusty
‘ 76 Precision plugged into a ‘70s Ampeg SVT
head used with a Bergantino 610NV cabinet.
He explains that the newer cabinet supplies
the sonic control and reliability needed for a
working musician. When asked what he feels
is the best bass-oriented song ever written,
Henry replies, “The Lemon Song,” without
giving it a second thought. That may have
been my answer, too.
Tris “Duke” Carpenter Originally from
Massachusetts, Tris now resides in Los
Angeles, where he works in the film industry.
Tris also relies on a trusty Precision Bass. Tris
has a physical ailment that prevents him from
playing a big neck, so he is always looking for
the perfect slim-necked Precision. His arsenal
consists of Fender Precisions from ‘ 53, ‘ 59,
‘64 and a ‘ 75 A-neck. A deadly ‘64 Jazz Bass
rounds out the collection. Tris describes himself as a dyed-in-the-wool groove and lockup
player. When asked who his ultimate bass
player is, Carl Radle was his immediate answer,
because Derek and the Dominos songs have
nothing but great bass lines. Tris can be found
playing around L.A. in his SRV tribute band,
Soul to Soul, or with Johnny Hawthorn, his
original band. Tris also works as a hired gun.
You can reach him at dukeplaysbass.com
Tris “Duke” Carpenter
The Lowdown Wrap-up
This month ends on a somber note.
“Mrs. Duke,” Julie Carpenter, Tris’ wife,
lost her fight with the pink ribbon while
I was working on this column. Julie was a
terrific girl. She will be missed. Please
contribute to any breast cancer charity
and say it’s for Julie, or check out
julieanncarpenter.org. Until next time,
drop the gig bag and bring the cannolis!
Kevin Borden has been a bass player since 1975, and is
currently President of Goodguysguitars.com.
Feel free to call him KeBo.
He can be reached at