In yet another attempt to further understand the madness of artists’ creative tools, we are here again for another Loud Fast Gear Report. This first report for April is definitely a good one. It’s a massive catalog of instruments, influences and some of the best gig stories I’ve ever heard. Due to the massive size and serendipity of this report I’ve decided to call this Part 1 of 2 with the second released the same time next month. I also don’t follow the usual format. I go on a walking tour, taking a look at many cool instruments. With that said, it’s going to read as such.
To paint this picture, I drove up to Reno in the early evening on a beautiful day to visit a friend in the gorgeous Reno Artist Lofts. After a quick recon around the building to find the entrance, I find an intercom. I’m greeted with a big “Hello!” from Mr. Alexander Korostinsky and we sit down to talk about his many cool things.
What’s your name and what bands are you in?
My name is Alexander Korostinsky and I play in The Sextones, Whatitdo, Dankjewel and The John Whites and Dainesly. And something else I might be forgetting.
What’s your current bass rig
At this point in the interview starts an hour long field trip through space and time and Alex’s apartment to discover his musical history and the history of many cool pieces of gear.
I can show you. I’ll talk about this how it’s being utilized. So my touring rig is an Ampeg Micro VR which is basically a 2×10 cabinet done up nicely like the classic Ampeg look. And then this is a 200 watt head, it’s got a three band here. Bass, mid, treble, volume and a gain. It has a limiter that I always keep on, I’m just always playing it safe. You know what I mean? A 15 DB pad which is normally for an active bass. I keep it off. All the time. I think that I get the right amount of volume with my active bass. I always go a pre D.I. before. The D.I that it comes with is kind of hot. It’s normally used for recording. So if you dial it in right on your recording rig you get some good tone. Like it’s sculpted by the head. For the most part that’s my touring live rig, so that’s that.
For all of my local stuff that I do, if the stage can handle the size of it, I have the actual Ampeg SVT Classic. It’s relatively the same amp with a few different whatevers. It’s all tube. The Micro is solid state. This is the real deal. It’s a bummer throwing new tubes in every two years. There’s a ton of tubes in it and it’s like 90 pounds. If there’s a Reno show with a bigger stage I’ll bring that guy. One thing I love about Ampeg, which is why I’m using it across the board, is the speaker baffling they utilize, which keeps the speakers separate from each other. So this is actually two 4×10 speaker cabinets. This thing is just a powerhouse. It’s just super loud.
This is my pedal board which I don’t use. When it came time forming The Sextones and Whatitdo I didn’t use pedals, I just go straight into the amp. This thing has been through years of crazy touring. It’s a mess. Everything is broken, except for the pedals. I have a little Moor Compressor. That things cool. Sometimes it takes away too much. Here’s an Electroharmonix Micro Q-Tron. I play funk music. It’s good for that, it’s good for rock, it’s just a good sounding pedal. Then I have the classic Boss OC-2. It’s a pedal where a lot of bass players come back to this pedal for whatever reason. I would like to have an Electroharmonix POG. And then for a long time I was experimenting with bass reverb live and that’s been fun. I have a T.C. Electronics Hall of Fame Reverb. I usually throw it on the plate reverb. It’s my favorite.
I have a Moog Little Phatty. It’s monophonic. No chords basically. I use this on the new Sextones album. Two tracks I didn’t play electric bass, I played synth bass. So we dialed in some like old school mid early-70’s Stevie Wonder bass sounds. I’ve used this a lot with Dankjewel.
Let’s look at all of your instruments.
My most used live bass is a 2011 American Fender Deluxe 5 string Jazz bass. In 2011 I was working at Bizarre guitar and they’re super chummy with the Fender Custom Shop. In any case, I got to kind of hand pick a few things on this, specifically the color and stuff. I had this built from scratch. I got it about 9 or 10 months after I ordered it. I got it brand new for me. There’s a little bit of specifications done to it. I threw this on the back of it (note that says “Say Somethin’) as an ode to James Jamerson who’s the funk bassist from Motown who wrote “Funk” on the back of his bass. So I wrote “Say Somethin'” because you have to talk with your bass, you know? D’Addario light gauge flat wound on everything. Noiseless pick ups, it’s an active bass. Wine Red. This is like my favorite bass. It’s easy to play. It sounds great on everything I do. I need to clean it though, or not.
I also have a 2008 Fender P Bass. This a 1962 reissue. This would be like the James Jamerson bass. This is like the Motown bass. This is the second neck I’ve had on it. The truss rod was messed up so I had them make another one.
Let’s dig into the instrument closet. So here I have a no name mid 70’s Teisco whatever bass. If you know what Teisco is all about, this is one of them. The bridge plate had the original mute on the bottom so I had it rebuilt with some weather stripping I had. I toured with it with The Sextones for a while. It gave us such a real early 70’s motown sound. I had to make my own markers so i could play in the dark. It’s super rad and I got it for $70 in Peoria, Illinois. Our keyboard player actually got the guitar version of this for like $30. This the second bass I ever owned, which is a Yamaha and it’s kind of what I learned on. I have a Rogue Electric Sitar. It’s got what’s called a Goto Bridge and 12 sympathetic strings. You mostly tune chromatically. It’s got these lipstick pickups all over the place so you can really tune it in. I used it on the last Sextones album. A lot of bands in the 70’s used it for like a psychedelic resonance. That thing’s fun. I have an acoustic bass. It’s a Fender and it’s got a broken string. Probably played too hard. Too many riffs. It’s just a concert style, great for rehearsing. I wish this string wasn’t broken. So there’s that. Oh! I got a cool one to show you and okay, my first bass! Another Yamaha.
Here is a ’78 Fender Music Master right here. Also flat wound. It’s a student model so it’s short scale. I got it from a friend in high school.
digging through many, many cases.
This has got to be it! Of course all the way at the bottom. This is a Jaguar bass. Japanese made. I don’t know the year but it was new when I bought it at Bizarre. This is just super growly and rock and roll. In another closet I have an actual Sitar.
My only actual electric guitar is a Fender Mustang. Japanese made. Whenever I have to record guitar on anything it’s done with this guitar. All of The John Whites stuff is overdubbed with this guitar.
Those congas, I think his name was Mike Carabello, belonged to the conga player from Santana, they were his. They were at Woodstock. I’ve looked at the footage and there’s no way they’re not his. There’s now way they weren’t. How I got them, the story I was told, there’s no way to prove it wrong.
Well how did you get them?
They were left at my house by one of my Mom’s friends. It’s been a long time and I haven’t heard the story in 10 years but when I heard it I paid attention. Either she lived with Santana or she ran an apartment complex and the guy didn’t pay rent so she held onto them as collateral. Her husband was a drummer so he took care of them. Fast forward to my high school graduation party, we had a big jam session and she brought them over and she never came back to get them. They sound super great.
We take a look at Alex’s drum set
This I recently bought, it’s a late 50’s Slingerland drum set. Two toms, a bunch of vintage cymbals and it’s amazing. I play it almost every day. I love it! It sounds so good!
This concludes Part 1 of 2 for this amazing edition of the Loud Fast Gear Report. We will pick up at the part of the conversation where I ask Alex about his influences, tastes and listen to some of the most wild gig stories I’ve ever heard.
You can catch The Sextones at their Album release show April 8th at 9pm at The Saint in Midtown.