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Reader Spotlight: Ben Clarke

Ben ClarkeMeet Ben Clarke, a bassist who got his start on clarinet and sax and moved on from there to the most awesome instrument on the planet. Ben is our player in the spotlight for the week of September 11, 2012.


Starting formal musical training on clarinet, then baritone & tenor saxes in Junior High. Picked up the guitar and bass in High School to play in a band with friends, also in the school jazz band. Decided to pursue String Bass my senior, and was accepted at SUNY Fredonia after less than a year of study. Studied Sound Recording, composition and Applied Music at Fredonia, and played in the Fredonia Jazz Ensemble, the student run full big band. Also in smaller groups and casual jams. Took a break from organized music for a while starting in the late 90s, then Zydeco grabbed my booty and wouldn’t stop shaking it. Inspired to inspire, I began sharpening up on electric bass, guitar, drums and scrubboard. I live in the countryside north of Buffalo with my wife and two young boys.


Buffalo, NY, USA

Day gig:

Currently only working at music. Until 2010, held position at Yorkville/Traynor championing their VTC Pro Audio premium touring brand.

Years experience:

23 years

Bands & Gigs:

Earned a spot in Buffalo legends Alison Pipitone Band, an original rock band playing the premier venues of Western NY, including providing local support for many national touring acts. Also busy with fill-in and studio work throughout Buffalo with performers such as John & Mary and the Valkryies (ft. original and current members of 10,000 Maniacs), Alan Whitney with Timmy P and the Healing Committee (including live work in Nashville), Mary Ramsey, John Kloberdanz and many others.
Also just getting a powerhouse Zydeco band off the ground – Black Rock Zydeco, based in the historic Black Rock neghborhood on the lower West side of Buffalo, NY.


  • Fender MIJ ’51P RI ’91 Blonde w/ Curt Novak pup(TI Flats)
  • G&L SB-1 P-Bass ’86 (or so) w/ G&L MFD J (TI Flats)
  • MusicMan StingRay ’06 Sunburst (Pyramid Gold)
  • MusicMan StingRay5 ’01 Burnt Apple (TI Flats)
  • Kala UBass
  • Stagg “Jag” w/ Audere pre (DR Marcus Miller Fat Beams)
  • Demeter VTPB-201 preamp (very early handwired unit)
  • Alto D3 amp
  • (2) Eden D112XLT
  • Ampeg B-15N(C) w/ Altec 421
  • Blueline SVT and straightback alnico 8×10
  • GK MB200
  • GK MB Fusion
  • DR250a/Tuba24 by Bill Fitzmaurice
  • Barber Linden EQ
  • Fulltone FatBoost3
  • Aguilar Octamizer
  • Moogerfooger MF-101 Low Pass Filter w/ maxed out expression pedals
  • JDI by Radial

Why I play the bass:

Honestly, I wanted to play guitar but my friends needed a bass player. It took me a while to play bass, instead being a frustrated guitar player.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

I can play in tune and in time. And don’t trip over guitarists’ cords.

My influences

Chronologically, not complete:

  • Billy Sheehan
  • Cliff Burton
  • Flea
  • Jason Newstead
  • Jaco Pastorius
  • Paul Chambers
  • Palle Danielsson
  • Gary Peacock
  • Dave Holland
  • John McVie
  • James Jamerson
  • Bob Babbitt
  • Ashton “Family Man” Barrett

…eventually I stopped keying in on bass players and started listening more to the larger context musically…

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