Kello Gonzalez is a Mexican bassist of phenomenal talent, recording and touring the world with the prog-metal band Parazit, but he’s better known to a whole demographic of online bass fans for his YouTube channel.
There might be a million clips of musicians doing their thing online, but Kello’s are different. It’s Gonzalez’s tone which sticks out – a meaty, mids-heavy, clean sound mixed at the perfect point. How the hell he gets that tone is beyond us, or at least it was until he told us how he does it.
Which bass players did you admire when you were starting out?
"I got Metallica’s Cliff ’Em All video when I was 14 years old in 1992, and because there was no YouTube back then, he was basically the first bass player that I got to see perform. Cliff Burton made a big impact on me, because what I was seeing and what I was hearing was what I wanted to be."
How did you progress as a bass player?
"For me, the logical evolution was going from Cliff to Geddy Lee. One of my friends in high school was Canadian, and he had a tape of Moving Pictures, and said, ‘You need to listen to this’. I was blown away, and right after I listened to Rush, I also got into Primus. So Cliff, Geddy and Les Claypool are my Holy Trinity, because of the role they play in their bands."
Define that role for us.
"They’re not afraid to navigate all the roles of the bass player. They can solo, they can use effects, they can hold on to a groove, they can do a lot of things, and they’re not afraid to explore and to experiment. You need to know when to hold back, of course, but you shouldn’t be afraid to take up the challenge of doing a solo, or branching out to play chords, or using effects. The bass is such a great instrument in regards to what it allows us to do."
You play a ton of basses on your channel, but which is your main instrument?
"My main bass is a Carl Thompson four-string. Carl’s basses are the Holy Grail for everybody, of course. When I was starting Parazit, I went through the online forums and there was one on sale – a 32-inch scale, No Frills model, the most basic Carl Thompson you can get.
"That was in 2012 and I paid around $3,000, which is a lot of money for a No Frills bass. Now it’s worth somewhere around $11,000. The one I play now is a 36-inch Semi Frills fretted four-string with two pickups, a Kahler whammy bar and an Aguilar OBP3 preamp. People always think that I must have problems with a 36-inch scale, but it feels like a regular 34 to me. It has a really open low end and it plays beautifully. I also have a Carl Thompson fretless six-string, which is the best bass that I own."
Talk to us about your YouTube channel.
"I started it in 2013, recording cover songs by artists, bands and bass players that have influenced me. It’s not about ‘Hey, see what I can do!’ It’s more of a tribute to those musicians. The tone is very important for me. I need more than just a strong low end. I want it to be defined, and I want to use effects to give textures – like colours for a painter. I want to have a palette of sounds and timbres that I can work with."
What’s the secret of your tone?
"I’ll tell you. Three years ago, I had a really big pedalboard that weighed 25 kilos, and I said to myself, ‘I need a more portable rig’ and migrated to digital. That sounds easy, but actually it was a long journey into looking at what would work. I ended up with a Line 6 Helix, and I spent a lot of time on building my sound library. I spent two weeks getting my pedalboard and my Aguilar rig emulated.
"I think it’s about 97 percent accurate, but I can live with that because my back is a lot happier, now that I don’t have to carry a 25-kilo 'board around. Every video and every song I’ve recorded since then has been with the Helix. It’s amazing. Tone is a never-ending journey."
- Keep up with Kello’s channel on YouTube.