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What Bass Guitar Does Mark King Use

Mark King, the lead singer and bassist of Level 42, prominently uses a Status Graphite KingBass. This custom line of bass guitars has become synonymous with his dynamic playing style.

Mark King is celebrated for his slap-bass technique which has defined the sound of Level 42. His preference for the Status Graphite KingBass showcases its superior quality, reliability, and the distinctive tone that complements his advanced playing techniques. Renowned for their carbon fibre construction and headless designs, Status Basses aren’t just visually striking; they’re a testament to modern luthiery and the pursuit of tonal perfection.

King’s choice reflects a musician’s quest for an instrument capable of delivering both technical performance and sonic clarity, making the Status KingBass an integral part of Level 42’s funky and rhythmic music lineage.

What Bass Guitar Does Mark King Use


Introduction To Mark King And His Legacy In Music

Introduction to Mark King and His Legacy in Music

When it comes to pioneers in the bass-playing world, Mark King is a name that resonates with groove and virtuosity. Rising to fame in the 1980s as a founding member of the British band Level 42, King’s innovative techniques and exuberant stage presence cemented his status as a bass guitar legend. His extraordinary slap-bass method transformed the role of the bass guitar in contemporary music, influencing countless musicians and music enthusiasts globally. King’s contributions transcend mere performance; they mark a revolutionary chapter in the evolution of bass guitar playing.

Mark King’s Rise To Fame With Level 42

Mark King’s journey to stardom began with the formation of Level 42 in the Isle of Wight during the late 1970s. Known for their fusion of funk, pop, and jazz, Level 42 dominated the charts with hits like “Lessons in Love” and “Something About You.” King’s thumb-slapping technique on the bass became a distinctive feature of the band’s sound, propelling them to international recognition and ensuring their place in music history.

Impact Of Mark King’s Bass Playing Style

The impact of Mark King’s bass playing style is immeasurable. He elevated the bass guitar from a simple rhythm section instrument to the centerpiece of a band’s sonic landscape. His aggressive slap-pop technique and lightning-fast solos became the blueprint for modern bassists, inspiring a generation to explore the instrument’s potential. King’s approach, characterized by rhythmic precision, melodic passages, and a percussive flavor, turned the bass guitar into a lead instrument, challenging traditional views and charting new territories for musicians around the world.

The Evolution Of Mark King’s Bass Guitars

Famous for his slapping technique and the frontman of the iconic band Level 42, Mark King has not only shaped the sound of funk and pop music but has also left a significant mark on the world of bass guitars. An analysis of Mark King’s choice in bass guitars reveals a fascinating journey of musical and technical evolution. Each instrument has not only complemented his style but has also mirrored the advancements in bass guitar craftsmanship and technology.

King’s early years were defined by experimentation with various bass models. During these formative days, he gravitated towards instruments that could sustain the demanding techniques of his playing style. The list of bass guitars he employed includes:

  • Gibson EB3: A classic choice for rock and funk bassists in the 70s, this was King’s go-to during his initial foray into music.
  • Fender Precision and Jazz basses: The timeless tones of Fender basses contributed to shaping King’s early sound.
  • Rickenbacker 4001: With its distinctive growl, this bass accompanied King’s developing slapping technique.

Such dynamic range allowed King to refine his technique and make his rapid-fire slap bass a signature of the Level 42 sound.

As King’s prowess and popularity grew, he sought instruments that could further enhance his capabilities. This led him to collaborate with renowned luthiers, resulting in the creation of custom and signature models such as:

  1. Status Graphite Series II: King transitioned to this lighter, composite instrument, known for its clear tone and sustain, it became an iconic part of his image and sound.
  2. Jaydee Basses: Custom-built for King, Jaydee basses featured the sophisticated electronics and playability that met his exacting standards.
  3. Alembic Series I and II: Alembic’s attention to detail and tonal clarity suited King’s evolving style during the peak of Level 42’s success.

These instruments, bearing King’s name, not only catered to his unique playing style but also inspired a generation of bassists.

No exploration of King’s bass guitars would be complete without mentioning the role that technology played in their development. Advancements in electronics, materials, and design have all impacted the way King’s basses were built.

Features like active electronics, LED fret markers, and custom pickups were incorporated into his instruments. These technological enhancements allowed King to achieve a broad palette of sounds, pushing the boundaries of what was possible with a bass guitar.

The integration of MIDI technology further revolutionized King’s style, enabling him to use his bass as a controller for synthesizers, thus expanding his musical expression.

Mark King’s bass guitars stand as a testament to the advancements in instrument technology and the customization needed to support a musician’s evolution.

Mark King’s Iconic Bass Guitar Models

Mark King, the virtuoso bassist of Level 42, has become synonymous with exceptional bass guitar performances. His dynamic playing style and slap-bass mastery require instruments that can match his talent and energy. Over the years, King has used a variety of bass guitars that have become iconic in their own right. Each model holds a special place in his musical journey, offering unique features and tones that have contributed to the distinctive sound of his music. Let’s dive into some of the prominent bass guitar models that Mark King has wielded to create his signature grooves.

Status Graphite: The Kingbass And Its Unique Features

Status Graphite has played a pivotal role in shaping Mark King’s sound. The custom-built KingBass stands out with its innovative design and technical prowess. Its distinctive features include:

  • Composite Graphite Neck: Offering stability and unique resonance.
  • Hyperactive Electronics: For dynamic range and rich tonal possibilities.
  • LED Fingerboard Side Markers: Allowing for impressive stage visibility and performance.
  • Sleek Body Designs: Which are both aesthetically pleasing and ergonomically crafted for comfort.
The KingBass is a testament to King’s search for the perfect slap bass sound, designed to his exact specifications. Its durability and consistent performance make it a staple in his musical arsenal.

Jaydee Basses: Custom Instruments Tailored For King

Another favorite among Mark King’s collection is Jaydee Basses. Tailored to his needs, these custom basses deliver on both style and substance. King’s specifications have led to features like:

  • Custom Electronics: For a personalized sound that captures his signature tone.
  • Unique Body Shapes: Crafted for optimal performance and comfort.
  • Signature Finishes: To reflect King’s vibrant on-stage persona.
Each Jaydee Bass reflects the brand’s attention to detail and deep understanding of King’s requirements, resulting in instruments that don’t just look the part but also play an integral role in his sonic expression.

Alembic Basses: High-end Craftsmanship For A Signature Sound

Alembic is synonymous with high-end craftsmanship, and Mark King has harnessed the power of these luxurious basses to craft his signature sound. Known for their:

  • Exquisite Wood Selections: Offering a visually stunning appearance and exceptional tonal clarity.
  • Sophisticated On-Board Electronics: For precise sound sculpting and tonal variety.
  • Through-Body Neck Construction: Enhancing sustain and playability.
Alembic basses bring a blend of art and audio technology, aligning with King’s pursuit for unmatched quality in both the aesthetics and acoustics of his instruments.

Fender And Other Brands In King’s Collection

While Mark King is famous for his custom instruments, the classic Fender also finds a place in his remarkable collection. His Fender basses, with their rich legacy, add a vintage touch to his modern sound. Apart from Fender, King’s arsenal includes various other brands, each offering something unique to his vast palette of sounds. The diversity in his collection ranges from enduring classics to innovative modern designs, demonstrating King’s versatility and quest for the perfect bass tone. Key qualities across these brands encompass:

  • Iconic Body Styles: Reflecting the traditional aspects of bass guitar design.
  • Versatile Pickups: For a wide array of sound possibilities catering to different genres.
  • Renowned Reliability: Ensuring performance-ready instruments at all times.
Every bass in King’s collection serves its purpose, whether it’s for recording sessions or electrifying live performances, together creating the multifaceted soundscape that is Mark King.

The Technical Aspects Behind Mark King’s Bass Tones

Mark King, legendary bassist and frontman of the band Level 42, is renowned for his unique playing style that blends rhythm and melody in extraordinary ways. His distinct sound is a product of various technical elements, from his string setup to the amplification and effects he employs. In this deep dive, we’ll explore the technical framework powering the iconic bass tones that have captivated audiences worldwide.

String Choice And Setup For Mark King’s Playing Style

Mark King’s approach to his string setup is as meticulous as his playing. The strings are a crucial factor in achieving the crispness and agility required for his lightning-fast slap technique:

  • Light gauge strings enable the flexibility and ease necessary for Mark’s dynamic play.
  • A low action setup, which keeps the strings close to the fretboard, facilitates his speedy fingerwork and reduces strain on his hands.
  • Stainless steel strings are often the choice for their bright tone and durability.
  • King also occasionally uses half-round strings, which blend the characteristics of flat and round-wound strings, to achieve a smoother sound with less finger noise.

Amplification And Effects Used By Mark King

The right amplification and effects units are instrumental in articulating Mark King’s sonic footprint. His setup includes:

  1. An amp head with both power and clarity to capture his nuanced playing.
  2. Cabinet speakers that can withstand the rapid-fire slap technique and deliver a punchy low end.
  3. Specific effects like compression which ensures a consistent volume and sustain during tapping and slapping sequences.
  4. Chorus and octave pedals are occasionally employed to add depth and dimension to his sound.

Tapping Technique And Its Influence On Bass Choice

Mark King’s pioneering tapping technique, which allows him to produce a percussive melody and rhythm simultaneously, has a significant impact on his bass choice:

  • Low action – Essential for the light touch required for tapping.
  • A fingerboard that provides smooth playability and quick access across the frets.
  • Electronics that can cleanly translate the nuances of the tapping technique.
  • Build quality – A sturdy instrument that can endure the vigor of his energetic performances.

King’s arsenal often includes custom basses crafted to amplify these technical specifications, ensuring every pluck, slap, and tap resonates with his signature sound.

The Cultural Influence Of Mark King’s Bass Guitars

When we talk about influential musicians who’ve shaped the sound of modern pop and funk, Mark King of Level 42 stands out with his exceptional bass guitar craftsmanship. King’s signature slapping technique and energetic performances have carved a niche in music history, turning his choice of bass guitars into cultural icons among the music community. These instruments aren’t just tools for performance; they’re catalysts of change in musical expression and have ignited countless musical careers.

Mark King’s Bass Guitars As Symbols In Pop Culture

The electric bass brings a level of funk and groove to music that defines the rhythm, and King’s iconic bass guitars have been at the forefront of this movement. Easily recognizable on stage with their sleek designs and distinctive headstocks, these instruments have taken a life of their own, becoming synonymous with the 80s funk scene. Fans would crowd concert venues, eyes transfixed on King’s rapid hand motions, eager to capture a piece of the stylistic flair and visual impact. His bass guitars weren’t just tools; they were part of a musical revolution.

Influence On Next Generations Of Bassists

Mark King’s influence stretches far beyond his records and live performances. His dynamic use of bass guitars has propelled a generation of musicians to explore the depths of their creative potential. Younger bassists watch King’s old performances in awe, imitating his technique, and incorporating his style into their musical lexicon. From smooth grooves to complex solos, Mark King’s approach has ingrained itself into the education and innovation within the landscape of contemporary bass playing. This ripples down to the way music is taught; King’s style is often a curriculum staple in music schools and instructional bass workshops.

The Market For Replicas And Signature Models

The demand for Mark King’s sound has generated a bustling market for replicas and signature models of his preferred bass guitars. These instruments allow fans and aspiring bassists alike to get a piece of that quintessential King tone. Signature models, especially, are built to the specifications of the master himself, offering players the unique opportunity to directly engage with King’s musical legacy. Special editions and replica basses often become collector’s items, showcasing not only their playability but also their cultural worth. With each strum, owners resonate with a piece of pop history, connecting the past with the present.

What Bass Guitar Does Mark King Use


What Bass Guitar Does Mark King Use


Frequently Asked Questions For What Bass Guitar Does Mark King Use

What Bass Amp Does Mark King Use?

Mark King, known for his work with Level 42, often uses Ashdown bass amplifiers. His choice includes the custom-made Ashdown MK500 and the ABM series for his distinctive sound.

What Bass Strings Does Mark King Use?

Mark King of Level 42 favors Rotosound Swing Bass strings for his distinctive slapping technique and sound.

What Bass Did Les Claypool Use?

Les Claypool frequently uses a Carl Thompson 4-string bass, renowned for its distinctive, personalized design and rich sound. This instrument has become synonymous with Claypool’s progressive playing style and unique tone.

What Kind Of Bass Does Eric Bass Play?

Eric Bass, the bassist for Shinedown, typically plays Warwick bass guitars, known for their distinctive tone and build quality.


Wrapping up, Mark King’s choice of bass guitar shapes Level 42’s distinctive sound. His Status Graphite basses, featuring their slender neck and rich tonal palette, are iconic. Aspiring bassists and fans alike draw inspiration from his innovative style and the instruments he wields with finesse.

Remember, the right bass can elevate your music to new heights.

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