Strange Instrument #17 – Manson Lapsteel Bass (John Paul Jones – Them Crooked Vultures)

About 2 or 3 weeks ago, fellow blogger Bertram from the Guitarz blog (dedicated to the weirdest guitars ever) “stole” some content from Muzicosphere, in a friendly way obviously, and with a backlink. That was from the Diego Stocco’s Bassoforte, and he published it on Guitarz. Now that’s my turn to steal a bit of their content to tell you about the Strange Instrument #17 which is the Lapsteel Bass made by Manson (the very same who makes guitars for Matthew Bellamy such as the “Casinocaster”). This post couldn’t more relevant since I am in a slide mood for 2 weeks now.

Manson Lapaphone - Lapsteel Bass John Paul Jones

Unlike Bertram, I do love Them Crooked Vultures music a lot, so I am very pleased to finally make a blog post featuring some bits of the Josh Homme & Dave Grohl‘s band in which legendary John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin is playing bass. And I am glad to see that he also plays this wonderfully weird instrument.

When I first read the title of the post on Guitarz, I thought that it was about some kind of bass specially made for slide (Mark Sandman from Morphine would certainly have loved such an instrument). But actually it looks more like an 8 strings lapsteel with a long scale length which qualifies it as a baritone lapsteel. Its name is the Manson  Lapaphone. This instrument is made to be played standing which is convenient (and much more rock’n’roll style) I think considering the genre of music delivered by Them Crooked Vultures.

The Lapaphone features a midi screen controller allowing the musician to control any kind of midi device. I didn’t find any information about the pickup used on this lapsteel but it also has an additional single coil Fernandes Sustainer pickup.  This one is attached further on the fretboard which is a position that Cole Clarke often uses on some of his lap-steels. I guess this combination is a killer configuration for the noisy side of Them Crooked Vultures.

To make this lapsteel even more perfect, it has a Hipshot Trilogy bridge that allows to easily and quickly switch tunings among 3 possible presets. I guess this is necessary as I don’t think that there are 3 copies of this Manson Lapaphone. In an interview, John Paul Jones says that the laspteel bass is stringed with bass strings… Which seems odd to me if I rely on the pictures (or the video below). Anyway I’m not going to say it can’t be as he is the owner of the instrument, and he knows better than I would do.  Anecdote: to prepare this article, I was reading some elements of John Paul Jones’ biography which reminded me a fact that I totally forgot for many years. John Paul Jones was a lap steel player before he joined Led Zep!

Here is a video of Them Crooked Vultures – No One Loves Me & Neither Do I to appreciate the tone, and possibilites of the instrument. And obviously enjoy the band’s music…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KJwJlx1Z9g[/youtube]

About Sem

I am the founder of Muzicosphere (that also exists in a French version). In 2011, I also created Guitar Fail, the Guitar LOL place to be. And before that I created GAS a GoGo, a gear giveaways blog in French.

8 comments

  1. Je suis assez fan de TCV depuis que Stupidocratie m’a balance ca dans les ouies…
    Ca envoit le bois en restant musical, ce en réinventant un style qui ne paraissait pas pouvoir l’être.
    Cette guitare est…Comment dire. o_0’….Gilmourienne peut être.

  2. They have a gorgeous pic of that guitar in the Nashville Flood issue of Premier Guitar.

  3. @pinkbOnO: Gilmour n’est pas celui qui me serait venu le premier à l’esprit mais en effet je le verrai bien avec un truc dans le genre! 🙂

    @Sans Direction: thanks for the information I’ll go check that issue… I have some Premier Guitar issues to catch up with! 🙂

  4. Sur la foi de cette seule vidéo, je ne suis pas fou de cet engin.

    A voir dans un contexte différent (le morceau ne m’emballe pas des masses non plus).

  5. Mouais, comme lemg je reste dubitatif et la chanson … j’accroche pas.
    En plus ça doit niquer le dos bien comme il faut cette petite chose.
    Et le Kaosspad, il sert à quoi, parceque quand il joue, il ne le voit pas !!!

  6. @ Lemg et Agatzebluz: Bande de guitaristes!! 🙂

    C’est un bête lapsteel à 8 cordes conçu pour être joué debout… Ni plus ni moins. Enfin si les plus c’est juste un sustainer et un contrôleur tactile (ne fait pas que kaoss pad) orientation bruitiste donc ce qu’on ne voit pas effectivement dans cette vidéo où il ne joue que du slide à plat, et au médiator en plus.

    Pour le dos… Je n’ai pas l’impression que ce soit beaucoup plus lourd qu’une basse 8 cordes soit le poids d’un âne mort déjà 🙂
    Quant au contrôleur tactile… Par essence ce sont des contrôleurs “aléatoires” genre tu crois contrôler mais tu contrôles rien (contrairement à un contrôleur clavier). Ca ne sert à rien de le voir puisque de toute façon ce n’est fait que pour faire du bruit plus ou moins aléatoirement. Enfin dans ma vision de ce type de contrôleurs tactiles!

    Et puis moi je l’aime bien cette chanson… Ca nous change de U2 et du Blues… Hahahaha! Hé hé… On reste copains quand même hein? 😉

  7. C’est peut-être pour le public.

    Allez savoir s’ils ne nous ont pas inventé la première lap-steel participative.

  8. LOL John Paul Jones en Ségolène du Rock… Them Crooked Vultures en Désir d’Avenir…

    Je surkiffe!! 🙂

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