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What Bass Guitar Did John Entwistle Play

John Entwistle of The Who primarily played Fender Precision and Jazz basses. His iconic sound was shaped by these instruments.

John Entwistle, the legendary bass player for The Who, is renowned for his thunderous tone and innovative playing style. Known as “The Ox,” Entwistle revolutionized the role of the bass in rock music. His choice of instrument significantly contributed to his distinctive sound—ranging from punchy Precision basses to growling Jazz models.

Fender’s instruments were his favorites, but he wasn’t limited to them, often experimenting with other brands throughout his career. Aspiring bassists look to his technique and sound, which continue to resonate in the music industry. Entwistle’s legacy is not just in his performances but also in how he pushed the boundaries of bass guitar capabilities, cementing his status as a true pioneer in the world of rock music.

Introduction To John Entwistle And His Impact On Bass Playing

John Entwistle, renowned for his thunderous presence as the bass guitarist for the legendary rock band The Who, redefined the role of the bass in rock music. With his aggressive playing style and innovative techniques, Entwistle elevated the bass from a mere background instrument to a prominent voice in the band’s distinctive sound. This section explores the profound impact John Entwistle had on bass playing and the innovative instruments he wielded to leave an indelible mark on rock history.

The Who’s Low-end Innovator: A Profile Of John Entwistle

John Entwistle, often called “The Ox,” was not just a founding member of The Who but also the backbone that shaped the fundamental sound of one of rock’s most influential bands. Entwistle’s fearless approach to the bass guitar created a platform for future generations to explore its potential far beyond the traditional rhythmic accompaniment. His technical prowess and ability to produce powerful, melodic bass lines were a testament to his innovative spirit.

  • First to use roundwound strings for a brighter sound
  • Pioneered the use of bi-amping, separating high and low frequencies
  • Known for his rapid ‘typewriter’ finger style picking

Entwistle also had a penchant for collecting and customizing bass guitars, constantly seeking to improve the sound and playability of his instruments. His bass of choice, the Alembic and later the Buzzard Bass, became iconic symbols of his relentless pursuit of that perfect low-end growl that would fill stadiums and captivate listeners worldwide.

Evolution Of Bass Guitar In Rock: Entwistle’s Contribution

John Entwistle’s role in the evolution of the bass guitar within the rock genre cannot be overstated. His powerful fingering technique, combined with the groundbreaking use of amplification and effects, set a new standard for bassists everywhere. Entwistle’s ability to weave complex solo passages into the rhythm section was revolutionary, showcasing that the bass guitar could command the same attention as the lead guitar.

Entwistle’s Notable Bass Techniques
Technique Description Effect on Rock Music
Chordal Playing Playing chords on the bass to fill out the band’s sound Inspired bassists to add harmonic depth to rock arrangements
Pick Playing Using a guitar pick for a more defined attack Paved the way for more aggressive bass sounds in rock music
Lead Bass Style Executing solos and melodic lead lines on bass Showcased the potential for the bass to take a front stage role in compositions

Entwistle wasn’t just a bass player; he was a visionary who crafted a new language for the instrument. He displayed his mastery on a variety of bass guitars, but perhaps the most memorable was his custom-built Alembic Explorer Bass. This instrument became synonymous with his groundbreaking sound and style, featuring on countless classic recordings and live performances that mesmerized audiences worldwide. John Entwistle’s innovations continue to inspire and challenge bass players to this day.

What Bass Guitar Did John Entwistle Play


John Entwistle’s Iconic Bass Guitars

John Entwistle, the legendary bassist of The Who, was renowned for his furious playing style and innovative sound. A true pioneer, his choice of bass guitars played a significant role in shaping the music that defined an era. Each bass in his collection brought its unique flavor to the mix, leaving an indelible mark on rock history. Explore the instruments that became integral to his sonic arsenal.

Fender Precision Bass: The Foundation Of Entwistle’s Sound

The Fender Precision Bass, often referred to as the “P-Bass,” was among Entwistle’s first loves in the bass world. Known for its rich, full tone and incredible versatility, the Precision Bass was a pivotal factor in the early sound of The Who. John used its split single-coil pickups to deliver his signature punch and growl that cut through the band’s explosive dynamics.

Alembic Explorer: A Custom-made Marvel

The Alembic Explorer was a custom-made masterpiece that showcased Entwistle’s pursuit of technical perfection and sonic power. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, this bass featured state-of-the-art electronics and exotic wood combinations, yielding a visually stunning instrument with a sound that could range from warm and mellow to aggressively edgy. It represented Entwistle’s ever-evolving musicianship and his forward-thinking approach to bass guitar design.

Rickenbacker 4001: The Classic Entwistle Choice

Synonymous with the ‘70s rock era, the Rickenbacker 4001 carved its niche in The Who’s sonic backdrop with its ringing sustain and trebly punch. Its dual truss rods and dual pickups offered Entwistle the ability to sculpt his sound with a unique blend of warmth, clarity, and bite. The Rickenbacker’s distinctive shape and tone made it an instant classic in John’s repertoire, capturing the rebellious spirit of the time.

Warwick Buzzard: The Later Years’ Signature Axe

The Warwick Buzzard signaled a new era in Entwistle’s bass playing journey. Designed in collaboration with John himself, the Buzzard was built for power and precision. Known for its deep, growling lows and articulate mids, the Buzzard became John’s weapon of choice in his later years. With its striking aesthetics and unyielding performance, this bass guitar stood as a testament to Entwistle’s legacy as a bass pioneer.

Techniques And Styles That Defined Entwistle’s Bass Play

Techniques and Styles That Defined Entwistle’s Bass Play

John Entwistle, the bassist of the legendary rock band The Who, revolutionized the way the bass guitar was played and perceived in rock music. His innovative approach and mastery of the instrument contributed to distinct sounds that became a hallmark of The Who’s identity. Entwistle’s style combined a melodic sensibility with an unprecedented aggressiveness, setting a new standard for bass guitarists. Explore the techniques and styles that not only defined the sound of one of rock’s most formidable bassists but also created a blueprint for generations to follow.

Aggressive Playing Style And Finger Techniques

Entwistle’s approach to bass was notably aggressive and powerful. Eschewing the traditional role of the bass as merely a background instrument, he brought it to the forefront with a mix of rhythmic ferocity and melodic inventiveness. His finger technique was exceptional; rather than using a pick, Entwistle applied a ‘typewriter’ style that involved tapping the strings with his fingertips, creating a percussive and clear tone that cut through the mix of The Who’s high-energy performances.

Furthermore, his rapid-fire assaults on the strings, known as ‘lead bass playing’, coupled with his virtuosic runs, trills, and grace notes, paved the way for future bassists to experiment with a more prominent role in a band’s sound. The result was a bass line that delivered not just rhythm, but also counter-melodies that complemented Pete Townshend’s guitar work.

Entwistle’s Pioneering Use Of Bi-amplification

A significant innovation that Entwistle introduced to the world of bass was the concept of bi-amplification. This involved using two separate amplifiers, one for the high frequencies and the other for the low, allowing him to achieve a dynamic range of sounds and control that was unheard of at the time. This setup not only allowed for a cleaner and more defined bass sound but also enabled Entwistle to push the volume without losing clarity, ensuring his intricate play was always audible, even in the loudest of venues.

Solo Work And Extended Range Basses

Entwistle’s exploratory spirit wasn’t confined to his work with The Who. In his solo career, he ventured further into the realm of extended range basses. Utilizing six and eight-string basses, he expanded the harmonic possibilities of his music. These instruments allowed Entwistle to cover a broader tonal spectrum and experiment with chordal playing and solo performances, clearly evident in his solo albums where he pushed the boundaries of the traditional bass sound. His choice of extended range basses showcased not only his technical proficiency but also his desire to continuously innovate his sound.

What Bass Guitar Did John Entwistle Play


Legacy Of John Entwistle’s Bass Guitars

John Entwistle, famously known as “The Ox,” carved an indelible mark in the annals of rock with his thundering bass lines and groundbreaking technique. His arsenal of bass guitars became as legendary as the man himself, shaping the sound of The Who and influencing countless musicians. Entwistle’s preference for Alembic, Fender, and Gibson models, among others, left a lasting legacy that continues to resonate with the music world today.

Collectability And Auctions Of Entwistle’s Basses

The allure of John Entwistle’s bass guitars has only grown since his passing, with collectors and aficionados eager to own a piece of music history. These instruments, once cradled in the hands of a bass virtuoso, fetch commanding prices at auctions and serve as treasured pieces for those who acquire them. High-profile auctions have seen Entwistle’s basses find new homes, each sale a testament to their enduring collectability.

Influence On Subsequent Generations Of Bassists

Entwistle’s innovative playing style and iconic sound have inspired generations of bassists, from the punk rockers of the 70s to modern-day musicians. His technical prowess and melodic approach to the bass guitar laid a foundation that continues to influence the musical landscape. Aspiring bass players study his solos, dissect his riffs, and strive to emulate his fearless exploration of the instrument’s capabilities.

Preservation Of John Entwistle’s Instruments In Museums

Several of Entwistle’s bass guitars now reside in the protective embrace of museums, serving as relics of rock history. These shrines of music artfully display his instruments, from the custom-made Alembic explorers to the classic Fender Precisions. The preservation of these basses ensures that John Entwistle’s musical legacy is celebrated and shared with audiences for generations to come, immortalizing his impact on rock and roll.

What Bass Guitar Did John Entwistle Play


Frequently Asked Questions Of What Bass Guitar Did John Entwistle Play

What Basses Did John Entwistle Use?

John Entwistle, the bassist for The Who, primarily played Fender Precision and Jazz basses. He also used Alembic and Rickenbacker basses throughout his career.

What Bass Did John Entwistle Use On My Generation?

John Entwistle played a Fender Jazz Bass on The Who’s classic song “My Generation. “

What Bass Did John Entwistle Play On Tommy?

John Entwistle played a Fender Jazz Bass on the album “Tommy”.

What Bass Did John Entwistle Play On Quadrophenia?

John Entwistle primarily played a Fender Precision Bass on the album “Quadrophenia” by The Who.


Wrapping up, John Entwistle’s choice in bass guitars underscored his legendary status. From the iconic Fender Precision to the buzzing tones of Alembic explorers, his instruments shaped rock’s sonic landscape. As you venture into your bass journey, let “The Ox’s” eclectic palette inspire your musical endeavors.

Keep strumming and experimenting—your signature sound awaits.

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