Mr. Big: Billy Sheehan’s Isolated Bass on “To Be With You”
To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Mr. Big’s release of their Platinum album Lean Into It, here is a very rare opportunity to hear Billy Sheehan’s legendary isolated bass tone on their Billboard #1 hit song “To Be With You”.
You can hear how extremely clean, tight, and dominating his tone is outside of a full band mix. Although this recording doesn’t have his signature clean/distorted blended bass tone, it is still a great representation of his work and his impeccable ear for tone. His choice of notes supports the vocals and brings depth to Paul Gilbert’s acoustic guitar while providing a rock-solid rhythm to showcase the simplicity of the track. Things pick up a bit near the end where we can really hear the midrange character of his tone come to life through some very tasty elaborations on his main theme.
When I asked Billy about the signal chain for this massive tone here’s what he had to say:
“It’s obviously a “distortion off” tone. Pretty much direct with the JBL 2205 15” speaker driven by Pearce clean channel, Ashly comp, Yamaha power amp. The 2205 only went up flat to about 3k, so the high end isn’t brittle or harsh. “
This album would be the first time we would get to hear Billy’s collaboration with Yamaha on his newest bass design. And when listening with headphones, I swear I can hear the string vibrations passing across the bridge saddles through the alder wood body of his Signature Yamaha Attitude Bass.
I personally think the playing and tone of this track serves as a monument to the role of a bass guitar in a band, and it was performed by arguably the greatest Rock Bassist there has ever been.