Percy Jones (musician)

Last updated
Percy Jones
Up percy jones.png
Background information
Born (1947-12-03) 3 December 1947 (age 73)
near Llandrindod Wells, Wales
Instruments Bass guitar

Percy Jones (born 3 December 1947) [1] is a Welsh bass guitarist known as a member of the jazz fusion ensemble Brand X, [2] from 1974-1980, and 1992-1999.


Jones, who was born near Llandrindod Wells, [3] has also done extensive work as a session musician, and has been active with other groups. He played with a New York City trio called Stone Tiger (featuring guitarist Bill Frisell and drummers Mike Clark and Dougie Bowne during different periods) in 1982/83 Jones was also the driving force behind Tunnels, an improvisation collective which released four albums including Progressivity and Live From The Knitting Factory. Residing in New York, [4] he currently is a member of MJ12, an instrumental group based in NYC. [5]

Jones was also a member of the jazz fusion group Soft Machine, the poetry rock group The Liverpool Scene (featuring poet Adrian Henri), and has contributed to recordings by Kate Bush, David Sylvian, Brian Eno, [4] Steve Hackett, Paranoise, Suzanne Vega, Richard Barbieri and Fovea Hex, amongst others.

He released a solo album, Cape Catastrophe in 1990. [6]


Jones's playing style incorporates an unconventional three-finger right hand technique to pluck the strings (like Les Claypool), in contrast to most bassists using two fingers. He also employs sliding harmonics. Over the years, he has employed various other extended techniques, such as deliberately pulling the strings over the edges of the fingerboard (creating a distinctive buzzing rattle) and thumb-on-the-fingerboard left hand technique to achieve wider-interval double stops than are normally possible. [5]

His first recordings with Brand X employed a fretless Fender Precision bass, though he later switched to what became his trademark Wal basses, produced by Electric Wood Limited in the UK. More recently, Jones switched to custom-built Ibanez basses, citing a desire to simply try something different after many successful years using the Wal.

The uniqueness of his approach, particularly with Brand X and on his contributions to Brian Eno's Another Green World and Before and After Science LPs of the 1970s, cast a long shadow. Perhaps the most obvious example of this can be clearly seen in the work of Japan bassist Mick Karn, who acknowledged Jones as an influence at various times during his career.

Electronics work

Jones studied Electronic Engineering at the University of Liverpool, and has used his electronics skills to potent effect over the years. In the late 1970s, he designed and built various analog signal processors for use with the bass, perhaps the most unusual of which was an amplitude- and frequency-sensitive flanger that would vary the character of its flanging effect based on what notes were being played into it, and how loudly they were being played. His other designs included an envelope-controlled Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF), which can be heard on the track "Noddy Goes to Sweden" on Brand X's 1980 album Do They Hurt? , as well as an analog drum machine, which featured preset rhythms in various odd time signatures such as 15/16.

He is also an avid amateur radio operator and has developed several innovative, compact antenna designs for the amateur radio HF bands.

Related Research Articles

Cello Bowed string musical instrument

The cello ( CHEL-oh; plural celli or cellos) or violoncello ( VY-ə-lən-CHEL-oh; Italian pronunciation: [vjolonˈtʃɛllo]) is a bowed (and occasionally plucked) string instrument of the violin family. Its four strings are usually tuned in perfect fifths: from low to high, C2, G2, D3 and A3. The viola's four strings are each an octave higher. Music for the cello is generally written in the bass clef, with tenor clef and treble clef used for higher-range passages.

Double bass Acoustic stringed instrument of the violin family

The double bass, also known simply as the bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra. The Double bass has a similar structure to the cello.

String instrument Class of musical instruments with vibrating strings

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Pizzicato Playing technique for string instruments

Pizzicato is a playing technique that involves plucking the strings of a string instrument. The exact technique varies somewhat depending on the type of instrument:

Zither Class of stringed musical instruments

Zither is a class of stringed instruments. Historically, it has been applied to any instrument of the cittern family, or to an instrument consisting of many strings stretched across a thin, flat body – similar to a psaltery. This article describes the latter variety.

Slapping (music) Musical technique

Slapping and popping are ways to produce percussive sounds on a stringed instrument. It is primarily used on the double bass or bass guitar. Slapping on bass guitar involves using the edge of one's knuckle, where it is particularly bony, to quickly strike the string against the fretboard. On bass guitars, this is commonly done with the thumb, while on double bass, the edge of the hand or index finger may be used. Popping refers to pulling the string away from the fretboard and quickly releasing it so it snaps back against the fretboard. On bass guitar, the two techniques are commonly used together in alternation, though either may be used separately.

Justin Chancellor

Justin Gunnar Walter Chancellor is an English musician formerly in the band Peach but best known as the bass player for progressive metal band Tool. Chancellor is of English and Norwegian descent. After settling in the US, along with his engagement in his musical projects, he and his wife Shelee Dykman Chancellor ran a store called Lobal Orning in Topanga, California, dedicated to music and literature "that shaped and changed" both of them. The store closed in 2008. He started M.T.Void music project with Piotr "Glaca" Mohammed from Sweet Noise. In October 2012, Chancellor featured as bass player on the song "In the Spirit Of..." on The Fusion Syndicate album, released by Cleopatra Records. His track also appears on the 2014 album The Prog Box.

The fingerboard is an important component of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument. The strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge. To play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch. This is called stopping the strings. Depending on the instrument and the style of music, the musician may pluck, strum or bow one or more strings with the hand that is not fretting the notes. On some instruments, notes can be sounded by the fretting hand alone, such as with hammer ons, an electric guitar technique.

Franz Simandl

Franz Simandl was a double-bassist and pedagogue most remembered for his book New Method for the Double Bass, known as the Simandl book, which is to this day used as a standard study of double bass technique and hand positions.

Guitar solo

A guitar solo is a melodic passage, instrumental section, or entire piece of music written for a classical guitar, electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. In 20th and 21st century traditional music and popular music such as blues, swing, jazz, jazz fusion, rock and metal, guitar solos often contain virtuoso techniques and varying degrees of improvisation. Guitar solos on classical guitar, which are typically written in musical notation, are also used in classical music forms such as chamber music and concertos.

Jazz bass

Jazz bass is the use of the double bass or bass guitar to improvise accompaniment ("comping") basslines and solos in a jazz or jazz fusion style. Players began using the double bass in jazz in the 1890s to supply the low-pitched walking basslines that outlined the chord progressions of the songs. From the 1920s and 1930s Swing and big band era, through 1940s Bebop and 1950s Hard Bop, to the 1960s-era "free jazz" movement, the resonant, woody sound of the double bass anchored everything from small jazz combos to large jazz big bands.

Fingerstyle guitar

Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar or bass guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking. The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking except in classical guitar circles, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the US. The terms "fingerstyle" and "fingerpicking" also applied to similar string instruments such as the banjo.

Multi-scale fingerboard

A multi-scale fingerboard is an instrument fretboard which incorporates multiple scale lengths. The scale length is the vibrating length of the strings.

Electric upright bass

The electric upright bass (EUB) is an instrument that can perform the musical function of a double bass. It requires only a minimal or 'skeleton' body to produce sound because it uses a pickup and electronic amplifier and loudspeaker. Therefore, a large resonating structure is not required to project the sound into the air. This minimal body greatly reduces the bulk and weight of the instrument. EUBs must always be connected to an amplifier and speaker cabinet to produce an adequate audible sound. The EUB retains enough of the features of the double bass so that double bass players are able to perform on it.

Ryan Martinie American bassist

Ryan Martinie is an American bassist. He is best known for being the bass player of heavy metal band Mudvayne.

Juan Alderete American musician

Juan Alderete de la Peña is an American musician, best known as the longtime bassist of Racer X and the Mars Volta.

<i>Product</i> (Brand X album) 1979 studio album by Brand X

Product is the fourth studio album by British jazz fusion group Brand X, originally released in 1979. It features primary member Phil Collins back once again on drums following his absence on Masques. Drummer Mike Clark and bassist John Giblin also appear on this album.

<i>Masques</i> (Brand X album) 1978 studio album by Brand X

Masques is the 1978 album by the British jazz fusion group Brand X. This was the band's first studio recording without drummer Phil Collins. The rear of the album cover has a photo of the crowd from the Knebworth Festival, 1978 — a bill that included both Brand X and Genesis, Collins' other band.

Robbie Merrill American bass guitar player

Robbie Merrill is an American bassist, best known as a founding member of Godsmack and Another Animal. He was featured in the Behind the Player interactive music video.

Thumb position

In music performance and education, thumb position, not a traditional position, is a string instrument playing technique used to facilitate playing in the upper register of the double bass, cello, and related instruments, such as the electric upright bass. To play passages in this register, the player shifts his or her hand out from behind the neck and curves the hand, using the side of the thumb to press down the string; in effect, the side of the thumb becomes a movable nut (capo).


  1. "Brand X Performances". Retrieved 2014-09-12.
  2. Huey, Steve. "Brand X: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  3. Graham Bennett (2005). Soft Machine: Out-bloody-rageous. SAF. ISBN   0946719845.
  4. 1 2 Lynch, Dave. "Cape Catastrophe: Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  5. 1 2 Astarita, Glen. "Propellor Music: Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  6. "Cape Catastrophe : Overview". Allmusic . Retrieved 2014-09-12.