Jeff Sarli

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Rhythm & Blues - Swing - Rockabilly - Early & Vintage Jazz - Rock & Roll - Jump

Got this guy from Baltimore, Jeff Sarli, plays like Willie Dixon. I didn't want that same electric bass texture. I wanted a little more roll to it, 'cos we've got enough rock. Whatever did happen to the roll? Actually it probably lives in an upright bass.

-Keith Richards, Mojo












Ignore me if you must, but pay attention to this guy. He's as good as they get in the blues/rock/jump-swing categories; the "real deal."

-Tony Flagg, The Bottom Line
Jeff Sarli
Photo: Sam Holden

Jeff Sarli
Photo: Sam Holden

I'm playing a 50's Kay which I've always played. It's an American-made plywood bass. In fact, it's actually two basses - the neck came off of a Kay I had been playing for years; the body was pretty worn out. I found another Kay body at a junk shop - they are pretty hard to find - and I took the neck off of my first one and I had it attached to the body of this new one. I have an old style sort of setup - I use two old gut strings.

Basses were built just like violins, in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries and early 1900's: Those basses apparently had a different tilt in the neck back, giving it more tension for the soft gut strings. I always loved the tone of old basses.

Starting in the 1950's, they began to reset the necks on basses for steel strings. So I thought, 'Wow! I'm just putting this neck on, why don't I tilt it back and make the gut tighter?". Then I had the bass sprayed black and red. My bass repairman thinks I'm out of my mind. but for some reason this bass just sounds incredible.

The first time I worked with producer Rob Fraboni was on John Mooney's House of Blues album. Later on, Fraboni invited me to meet Keith Richards at Keith's house in Connecticut. The first words Fraboni said were "You're bringing that bass, right?". It's funny cause it's just a spray-painted plywood bass - Not exactly a fine instrument.

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Jeff Sarli

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