Guitar Gallows Bio Information - Stanley Clarke
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Stanley Clarke (born June 30, 1951 in Philadelphia, PA) is an American jazz musician and composer known for his innovative and influential work on double bass and electric bass guitar as well as for his numerous film and television scores. He is best known for his work with the fusion band Return to Forever, and his role as a bandleader in several trios and ensembles.
Clarke places his right hand so that his fingers approach the strings much as they would on an upright bass, but rotated through 90 degrees. To achieve this, his forearm lies above and nearly parallel to the strings, while his wrist is hooked downward at nearly a right angle. For lead and solo playing, his fingers partially hook underneath the strings so that when released, the strings snap against the frets, producing a biting percussive attack. In addition to an economical variation on the funky Larry Graham-style slap-n'-pop technique, Clarke also uses downward thrusts of the entire right hand, striking two or more strings from above with his fingernails (examples of this technique include "School Days", "Rock and Roll Jelly", "Wild Dog", and "Danger Street").
Clarke has long been associated with Alembic basses, and much of his recorded output has been produced on Alembic instruments, particularly a dark-wood-colored custom bass in the Series I body style. These basses are handmade neck-through-body instruments made from a mixture of exotic woods and a proprietary active pickup system that is powered from an external power supply. A Stanley Clarke Signature Model bass guitar is produced by Alembic.
Clarke also utilizes full-range amplification for his basses, including two QSC 2050 amplifiers, more in keeping with a keyboardist's rig than a bassist's or guitarists. To extend his melodic range to play higher registers as he sees orchestrationally fit, he also used the piccolo bass and the tenor bass. A piccolo bass is a bass guitar, tuned one octave higher - Clarke's are usually short scale (78 cm or 30.75"), four string, Carl Thompson or Alembic. A tenor bass is tuned A,D,G,C in the same octave range as a standard bass.
In the late 1970s, Clarke was playing Rick Turner's first graphite neck on his Alembic "Black Beauty" bass, and he decided to have an all composite bass made. He commissioned designer/luthier Tom Lieber to design and build this bass, having purchased one of Lieber's Spider grinder basses in 1979. In 1980 Lieber and Clarke formed the Spellbinder Corporation and produced a limited run of fifty Spellbinder basses. One left-handed bass was built as a gift from Stanley to Paul McCartney. After the run the molds were destroyed. In 2007 Clarke once again teamed up with Lieber and Rick Turner to reform the Spellbinder Corp. and produce a limited run of 125 of the Spellbinder Bass II, which Clarke is currently playing on the RTF reunion tour. Clarke has also played a Ken Smith BT Custom, and a German made Löwenherz Tenor Bass.