Fender Plugged In: Kenny Beats, Episode 2
Acclaimed producer and sound engineer Kenny Beats takes the American Professional II Jazz Bass to the studio with artist Deb Never.
By Mike Duffy
If you saw Episode 1 of Fender’s Plugged In series featuring producer Kenny Beats, you’d know that the prolific musician and producer likes to simplify when it comes to recording artists.
And the list of his collaborations is certainly a Who’s Who of co-signs, considering he’s worked with hip-hop heavyweights like DaBaby, Freddie Gibbs, Vince Staples, JPEGMAFIA and Denzel Curry.
In that first visit to Beats’ studio, we saw him collaborate with artist Deb Never on tracking guitar while she played a Fender American Professional II Telecaster. Now, Beats is upping the ante by playing the bass tracks himself.
With an American Professional II Jazz Bass in hand, Beats runs through the simple steps he takes to create his lush landscapes, and the fact that he likes to plug directly into his system — eschewing a complex jumble of amps, mics and pedals — might surprise viewers.
“I’m not afraid to say that I like to steal sauce from other producers and other musicians that I’m a fan of,” said Beats. “I’m going to show you a quick way to plug in your bass DI and get a tone as good as the records you love without needing all that fancy stuff in-between.”
Taking Never’s layered guitar track from the previous episode, Beats accompanies it with a head-nodding rhythm to round out the sound, offering advice along the way, such as adjusting the timing so the bassline can sit in the pocket to align with his beloved Motown sound.
“A lot of times you have to know the people you’re working with,” he said. “You start to see the best pieces they played, which pieces (you) should take out and loop, what should (you) move back or ahead a hair so it fits with the track.”
Beats’ Plugged In series demonstrates that anyone can record that breakthrough single by using the tools they have at their fingertips, as he sticks to a single bass connected to a single interface. As he admits, it was a process he had to figure out himself, but Beats knows that even if you keep things simple, magic can still happen.
“Recording guitars and basses to me always felt like a mystery,” he said. “It always felt too hard, and it always felt like I didn’t have enough experience. I’m hoping these tips and tricks that I use on records all the time are helping you get through your workflow a little faster.”
To make your own magic on the Fender American Professional II Jazz Bass, click here.