Chris Squire is the influential bassist for the British-based band, Yes. This band has been around for over 40 years, having started in 1969. Chris Squire’s sound and playing style are very distinctive.
His sound has given the manufacturer “Rickenbacker” a distinctive place in the world of bass guitars. He purchased his bass in 1965, Model RM1999, and rewired it to produce a bi-amplified (stereo) output signal. (The RM1999 was a monophonic budget version of the 4001 stereo bass.)
His sound was then sent to two different amplifiers, each pickup going to different amplifiers. He utilized a guitar amplifier for the high frequencies and a conventional bass amplifier for the low end.
This splitting of the signal allowed him to process parts of the signal and still maintain a very tight bass sound. Chris plays with a pick and partially utilizes the tip of his thumb when playing, thus, each note has a sort of naturally delayed or flanged effect. His sound is unique, and it has lots of trebles, with a powerful low end.
His style of playing is aggressive, melodic, and definitely “outside of the box”. He is personally fond of playing in odd meter time signatures (i.e. 7/4, 5/4, 15/4) as their music reveals. Songs like “The Fish” are in 7/4; “Sound Chaser” has a mix of time signatures including, 5/4, 4/4, and 7/4; “Our Song” has parts of it in 7/4; “Perpetual Change” and “And You and I” both have 7/4 figures; “Siberian Khatru” has the main theme in 15/4 (or 4/4 + 4/4 + 4/4 +3/4).
Many bass players have been enamored with the sound of Squire’s bass on the “Roundabout” track from the Fragile album. They have tried in vain to replicate this sound.
However, in a video interview, Chris revealed that he actually double-tracked this bass line in real-time. The first track was with the Rickenbacker, the second was with his Photon bass, which is tuned one octave higher.
This explains the brightness and snappiness of the sound which is heard on that track. It also reveals his propensity to think outside of the box–who would have dreamed that he had laid down two identical tracks with different instruments!
My favorite bass track of Chris Squire is his bass line for Cinema. His bass part again shows his prowess and “out of the box” genius. He is often playing a pseudo-harmony to Trevor Rabin’s guitar lines in this piece. Below are some videos of some of his classic bass lines.