MILL VALLEY, California — Bass legend Rob Wasserman, who’s graced recordings and stages with Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Rickie Lee Jones, Lou Reed, and Ratdog with Bob Weir, recently discovered a direct box that changes everything. During recording sessions for his forthcoming solo album, with Reed guitarist and producer Mike Rathke, Wasserman plugged his electric upright bass into the A-Designs REDDI tube DI for the first time. Wasserman calls what he heard, “the best sound I can get out of my instrument,” and has used it ever since on his extensive upright electric bass recordings.
“All of my projects feature the electric upright or acoustic basses and the tone is extremely vital,” says Wasserman. “When our friend and singer/songwriter Guy Lesser brought the REDDI over and we tried it, Mike Rathke and I really thought it made my bass sound terrific. I immediately made contact with A-Designs and bought one.”
With another Lou Reed tour coming up, Wasserman and Rathke thought they’d better share their discovery. “Lou’s always looking for great, new sounds,” Wasserman shares. “We liked it on my bass, as well as Mike’s guitar, so much that Mike actually sent Lou some of my bass parts so he could hear how this thing sounded, and he loved it too. So, I’ll definitely be using it as my DI on tour, and since Lou loved it, I wouldn’t doubt that we’ll use REDDIs on more than just my bass.”
Since Wasserman travels frequently to play and record with different artists, he finds the DI box to be the critical component in achieving consistency gig-to-gig. “The amplifier isn’t as important to me as the direct box,” he notes. “In a recording session, the DI is what I rely on since I just can’t be sure I’ll be able to use the same amp every time. So, whatever I’m using for my DI is the main element, along with the instrument.”
Wasserman recalls his first impression with the REDDI as feeling somewhat familiar. “I honestly didn’t know why I liked it so much at first,” he shares. “But then I read that it’s modeled after the Ampeg B15, which was the first bass amp I ever had. I bought that amp over 35 years ago and I still have it. That kind of sound was what I was always trying to achieve.”
Currently, Wasserman is working on the final recordings for his new album project, an ambitious co-production with Nora Guthrie and The Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archive, creating songs inspired by unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics. Teaming up in duet with an amazing cast of singer/songwriters, including Pete Seeger, Ani DiFranco, Lou Reed, Chris Whitley, Michael Franti and Nellie McKay among others, Wasserman and his bass lay the foundation in bringing these new songs to life. Due out later this year, the album, called My Name Is New York, features a variety of musical styles and bass guitars. Though this work has been in progress for years, and the REDDI is only a new addition to Wasserman’s arsenal, its sound will ultimately help bring the album together.
“Recordings for this project have been made in various studios over a few years, using different basses and amps, and now I want to unify the bass sound,” says Wasserman. “I’m going to use the REDDI to help me tie it all together, adding the REDDI sound to all the electric upright bass parts.”
Most recently, Wasserman recorded songs for the album with French singer Keren Ann and Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies, using the REDDI on his bass parts for both. Though he hasn’t used it on acoustic bass yet, or in live performance, Wasserman’s eager to bring it on the road, concluding, “Lou already loves the sound of it on tape, so it will be interesting to see how it translates live.”
For more information on Rob Wasserman, and the amazing collaborations he’s put to tape on previous solo releases, such as his Solos, Duets and Trios series of albums, re-released as a three-CD box-set by Rounder Records in 2004, visit his website: www.robwasserman.com.
The fire-engine red A-Designs REDDI tube direct box, which features level control, ground lift and a Neutrik combo XLR and 1/4-inch jack, has been called the “best tube DI ever made” by field testing recording engineers. Great for basses, guitars, synths and electronic instruments that require a direct box for recording, the REDDI will gives its users unsurpassed sound for that perfect recording or live performance. Wasserman had been using another company’s tube DI and reportedly “thought it was great, until I heard the REDDI.” A-Designs believes REDDI will set the new benchmark for tube direct boxes. Wasserman emphasizes, “The REDDI is definitely the new standard for me.”