Bass player Darryl Jones, whose long and storied career includes touring and recording with the Rolling Stones since 1993, has been part of the QSC family for the past five years, taking a pair of the company’s KW122 active loudspeakers and a KW181 active subwoofer on the road for a wide variety of music projects.
Recently, Jones added K10.2 Series loudspeakers with the KS212C cardioid subwoofer, for an extensive tour of Europe with guitarist and bandleader Mike Stern.
Jones’ recent European tour of 10 countries across the continent was with an electric jazz supergroup that, in addition to Stern, also included drummer Keith Carlock and sax player Bob Malach. On the road with him was a pair of new K10.2 active 10-inch loudspeakers and the KS212C powered cardioid subwoofer.
“K.2 Series loudspeakers have a tight sound that reproduces bass really beautifully,” says Jones. “And I’ll tell you something about the KS212C cardioid subwoofer. By having that low end with that kind of wattage – it doesn’t need to be very loud. And it reproduces bass in a way that I just do not hear from bass amplifiers.”
Jones has recorded and performed with a diverse array of artists as well as on his own solo ventures. He got his first big break in 1983 when he joined Miles Davis for five years of touring and recording. He subsequently joined Sting’s first solo band and played with Peter Gabriel, Madonna, Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters, Eric Clapton and others. He also leads his own Darryl Jones Project and is co-leader of Stone Raiders, 3 Brave Souls and Chi Town Social Club, and performs with the Miles Electric Band, an all-star band of fusion-era Davis alumni.
The K.2 Series loudspeakers offer a powerful but neutral platform that Jones can tailor according to the type of music he is playing. “If you want a more fusion bass sound then you can use a cleaner preamp,” says Jones, who played through an Avalon preamp into the QSC K.2 and cardioid sub rig on the Mike Stern tour. “And with a good-sounding instrument — I played a bass that I designed and manufactured through my company, Jones Musical Instruments — I don’t even use EQ.”
For a dirtier sound, he continues, “You can just put a tube preamp in front of that and you’ve got your warmth. I’ve been using a preamp made by Warwick Amplification in association with Jonas Hellborg, the Swedish bass player. It’s got the warmth and the roundness of a Neve channel. With that kind of preamp in front of the K.2 Series speakers it’s just an amazing sound.”
Like many bass players, Jones says, he was initially tempted to emulate the sound of the late Jaco Pastorious. “But I remember hearing Danny Wilson playing with Jeff Lorber in the late seventies. When I heard the sound of his bass, a Music Man with a PA bottom and a big Gallien-Krueger head, I realized that we weren’t playing bass with the Jaco sound. It was a beautiful thing, and Jaco made it something very special. But when I heard Danny playing, I said, no, that’s what a bass is supposed to sound and feel like. It hit me in the chest, and I realized that was the way I wanted my bass to sound. And with these K.2 Series speakers, I’m really, really pleased to get that.”
While his QSC K.2 and cardioid subwoofer combo rig can potentially deliver a high wattage, Jones is quick to stress, “It’s not that you want to be so loud. But if you’ve got clean power and enough of it, like I do with the KS212C sub, just having that headroom reproduces the bass in a way that is not just the sound, but also the real feeling, of the instrument.”
In April, Jones will be with the Rolling Stones when they kick off the next North American leg of the band’s ongoing No Filter Tour in Miami on a jaunt that concludes in late June. When he’s touring with the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, Jones typically uses vintage Ampeg bass cabinets and amp heads that the organization’s technical staff have maintained since 1970. “But I also use the QSC KW181 18-inch subwoofer and the K12s, for horsepower and volume,” he adds.