Gear Rundown: Michael League of Snarky Puppy

A Masterclass in Tasteful Groove

If you haven't jumped on the Snarky Puppy train in the last few years, then you're sleeping on something wonderful. While the band operates under the label of a 'jam-band,' stylistically, they cover an insane amount of genres, ranging from jazz and funk to rock, soul and gospel, and boast some of the finest instrumentalists of the modern era in their massive, ever-rotating ensemble. However, if there's one irreplaceable member within Snarky Puppy, it's bassist and bandleader Michael League, who boasts unwieldy four-string abilities and an unrivalled passion for music which seeps into the dynamics of his playing. With Snarky Puppy set to tour Australia next year in April as part of the Byron Bay Bluesfest, we take look at the assortment of vintage and signature gear that helps League put the rumble beneath the instrumental behemoth that is Snarky Puppy.





League is by all means a connoisseur of beautiful vintage instruments, and utilises his tools to full extent both in the studio and while performing onstage - it's actually insane how much work he puts into his vintage gear. As discussed earlier this year in Snarky Puppy's Rig Rundown with Premier Guitar, League recently acquired a heavily worn 1959 Fender Precision Bass, which miraculously still contains the bass' original pickups. League strings this one up with Dunlop Medium Flatwound Strings, allowing him to comfortably solo high up the neck while still maintaining the distinct thump provided by flatwound strings.





Prior to attaining his 1959 P Bass, League's main onstage workhorse was an equally beat-up late '70s Fender Precision with a maple fretboard and natural ash body. League told No Treble that he managed to get this bass for the relatively meager price of $700 from a drum shop owner in South Carolina - lord knows what it was doing there. 


1967 HOFNER 500/1 BASS


Image via Hofner.


Colloquially referred to by the majority of the music world as the 'Beatles Bass', League ocassionally sports the classic Hofner model made famous by Paul McCartney onstage with Snarky Puppy, which is strung up with tapewound strings for maximum slinkiness.




According to F Basses Artists' website, League often favours a custom made Fodera Bass VF Vintage Series model in the studio, claiming the basses "cut like a motherf*cker and are a real joy to play."





Recently, League and Markbass teamed up to create the Markbass Casa, a signature model for League based on his own preferences when perfoming with the Puppers, boasting a powerful solid state preamp and a versatile five-band EQ to achieve a wide cocktail of bass tones.


Prior to his signature model with Markbass, League performed through either a Markbass Randy Jackson Signature TTE500 500 watt head or a Markbass Little Mark Tube 800, with the signal typically being sent to two Markbass 4x10 and 4x8 cabinets.



For studio work, League occasionally incorporates the Ampeg Portaflex B-15 into his recording rig, making use of the amp's classic Motown-esque tones. 





If you're familiar with League's playing in Snarky Puppy, you'll know how much of an effects pedal savant he is, with his dynamic use of offbeat tonal combinations acting as the spiritual bedrock of the huge ensemble.



While his effects setup changes constantly, League has previously endorsed various Pigtronix effects units, and currently tends to rely on an assortment of MXR effects, including the Carbon Copy Delay, Bass Octave and an MXR DC Brick for power, as well as a BOSS Super Octave for contrasting octave effects. Recently, he's also endorsed a select range of pedals from boutique effects wizards Earthquaker Devices, including the Avalanche Run Stereo Delay, Spatial Delivery Envelope Filter, and Fuzz Master General, which can be spotted in the above Reverb video.






Although Snarky Puppy often record and are sometimes joined by keyboard maestro Corey Henry onstage, League occasionally performs synth-bass parts with the group, tending to opt for either a 25-key Moog Sub Phatty or its older brother, the Little Phatty II. 



Feature image via F Bass.