Stuart Hamm

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Stuart Hamm Short Bio:
Born in New Orleans, Hamm spent his childhood and youth in Champaign, Illinois, where he studied bass and piano, played in the stage band at Champaign High School, and was selected to the Illinois All-State Band. Hamm graduated from Hanover High in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1978 while living in Norwich, Vermont. Following high school, he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he met guitarist Steve Vai and, through him, met Joe Satriani. Hamm played bass on Vai's debut solo album, Flex-Able, which was released in 1984.

Hamm has performed and recorded with Steve Vai, Frank Gambale, Joe Satriani and many other well-respected guitarists. It was playing live on tour with Satriani that brought Hamm's skills to national attention. Subsequent recordings with Satriani and other rock/fusion artists along with the release of his own solo recordings solidified his reputation as a bassist and performer.

Fender Stu Hamm Urge II
Stu's signature fender bass.
  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • 24 Frets
  • 34" Scale
  • 2 Jazz pickups
  • 1 Precision pickup
  • 3 Band EQ
  • Can select which pickups are used
The only differences between the production bass and the ones he plays is he has the neck finish sanded down and he uses the Buzz Feiten tuning system. The Urge was the first artist signature bass Fender produced!

GHS Boomers .045-.101

Amp & Cab:
Hartke 5500 Head
Hartke HyDrive 4x10s
He usually leaves the eq flat, sometimes only giving a nudge to the low ends if needed. Typically it is just bass straight into the head.

Usually not used, but he's been known to use Boss Delay, SansAmp distortion, Digitech Bass Whammy for octaves . He uses a Korg Pandora every now and then.

Stu names all his basses and they each have their own personality.

September 2009
AGB: I have to ask everyone this same question as it gives an insight on what brought you to this point in your career. What really made you pick the bass guitar as your instrument?

Stuart: I tell 3 different stories, and there is a bit of truth in all of them, so feel free to pick and choose.I was of course a big fan of Danny Bonoduce the bass player on the Partridge Family TV show, being a sort of pudgy red-haired nerd in 1972. One day a band set up and played on the tennis court of the local park, the first rock band I'd seen live. The bass player had a red bass with a white curly guitar chord and played through one of those Kustom amps that had Naugahyde padding with chrome portholes, and I thought that it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. Where I grew up in the Midwest school bands were huge business, and the high school I was to attend, Champaign Central had a long and winning tradition for it's jazz or "Stage Band" big band with horns etc. and I really started playing so that I could be in that program when I got to high school and even played upright for the first 3 years.

AGB: What do you think was the driving force to keep playing? Obviously you did not know you would be where you are at now and were you ever ready to give it up and do something else?

Stuart: At the Illinois state jazz band championships, I was playing with my junior high school band, and after our performance a band director from another school sought me out told me that I had a special gift and feel for the bass and to never give it up, an that really meant a lot to me at age 14. I have been broke and pawned basses for cash but never considered doing something else. I knew from about age 16 that I was really good on the bass, loved it and that was what I was going to do.

My first real bass was a Fender Jazz, and I‘ve always considered fender basses to be the archetype that everything else was based on…I played a variety of more modern basses and then fender bought Kubicki which I was playing at the time, and I was proud to be the first artist to have a fender signature bass. So of course I usually play the basses that I designed and have been built for me, although I will use a variety of basses in the studio to get the sound I am looking for.

After experimenting with amps I found out early on that I preferred the tone of solid state amps to tubes for the sound I was chasing, and when I met Larry Hartke and played his gear, not only the heads but the aluminum cabs really gave me the sound I was looking for.

AGB: I've read a lot of your interviews and some of the articles on the web about your career and I have to say that you have what I would consider working with such guitarist as Steve Via, Joe Satriani just to name two that you have worked with as fantastic. Can you give a few highlights on some of the interesting periods over the years?

Stuart: There's a lot of "it's not what you know but who you know" and being in the right place at the right time in retrospect. It was really exciting playing with Steve in the early days, seeing his career take off…really adventurous times… and then when through him I met Joe… wow… Surfing took off over night and I was as glad to be around for the ride.

AGB: The music business has changed over the past 10 years, how do you think that this has affected the industry over all and its effect on you?

Stuart: I think you just have to try to keep up and as current as you can… the internet has certainly made it easier to market and advertise and sell your own products… which is a real boon. You can still reach your core audience and cut out the thieving middle man of record companies

AGB: I know that you have played with several great musicians and bands over the years; could you tell us any up coming events or projects that you will be working on and may who with?

Stuart: I am currently working on the new CD which is turning out to be a lot mellower than I had anticipated, with a lot of bass choir stuff. .I have contacted often through MySpace and face book to play on peoples CD's and demo’s so I created a website where you can sign up and easily get me the tracks that you want me to play on, and that has been building quite nicely. I continue to do teaching assignment and work with various music schools around the world. Getting ready to release the 2nd of 4 instructional CD ROMs for TrueFire that record my theory of teaching Bass and a primer on modern techniques… releasing a live CD of a solo bass performance in Toronto, and eventually a DVD of my solo shows around the world, with bonus tracks discussing the geneses of each tune and an explanation of the various techniques that I use in each tune.

AGB: There are many more areas that I know I could ask however you are busy recording, traveling between continents and playing shows so I don't want to take up all of your time so let's make this last question more of an open ended question, please feel free to give us a little insight on Stuart Hamm.

Stuart: As I write this I am on a plane home from London, where I did a session and brought along my 10 year old daughter. She got to see what it's like recording in the studio, and we got to spend an amazing 3 days together exploring the City, seeing shows and friends etc. Long weekend when I get home playing bass for Chris Duarte and Michael lee firkins and doing a solo show at guitar player live. Always looking for a good book to read, or I'll be happy to keep re-reading the New/Long? Short Sun series by gene Wolfe over and over and over again. On a major "Muse" kick right now, looking forward to the release of their new CD next week. I enjoy doing meditative yoga and wish I had more time to play golf, but am still trying to make a living!

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Stuart Hamm's Books & Videos
Stuart Hamm's 'Tracks By Stu'

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