15-String Bassist Jauqo III-X

Jauqo III-X from Chicago, Illinois

Sometimes 12 strings aren't enough, and bassist Jauqo III-X from Chicago occasionally uses 15!

You claim that you were the first bassist to play a 15-string bass. Had you ever played a 12-string before getting your 15?
Yes, I was the first bassist to play a 15-string. It came about through my personal evolution from my years of playing the 12-string bass. The 15-string had been floating around in my head for quit some time. But it didn't become a reality until I was at a NAMM show and came across a company called Warrior. I noticed they had a 12-string bass, one of the better ones I had seen. I was very impressed with it's playability and it was similar to the bass I had in my head. Between each group of threes it had a spacing that was similar to a J-Bass spacing. Even though it was a 12 the spacing allowed me to play it as if it was simply a 4-string but it gave me the big sound of a 12. I was very Impressed.

What kind of 12-string bass did you play?
I went through two Hamer 12's, early long scale models, from the mid 1980's.

What all was involved in making the 15-string bass a reality?
The owner of Warrior, JD Lewis, talked to me and I said I was sincerely interested in his instruments and that I had a bass in my head that's been floating around for a while. He asked me what was it and I shyly said, "It's a 15-string bass." He looked at me and asked me to be more specific and after I explained he without any hesitation said 'Yes, I think we can'. From there we went into ideas and concepts for this instrument.

So Jesse Blue O'Neal and I went from there. The final result was the first 15-string bass. It was fretless and strung with a High C. I would if possible like to give a big thanks to JD for being open minded to my concept and to Jesse for being a believer in it as much as I was and putting up with my, "Can we try it like this / that?" I would also like to thank Mick Donner and the rest of the gang at Dean Guitars for the beautiful 12-string bass I play. It's the perfect introduction into 12-string bass at a very reasonable price.

Why did you want a 15? Why did you choose the high C strings rather than the low B's?
The reason I wanted a 15-string bass with a High C was because I wanted to have more of a melodic freedom when I felt the need. And my personal experiences with the 12's I played did not allow me to play it in a way that was comfortable for me: The strings were just too close for me, and the string arrangement was not working for me. I use an Inverted arrangement and by it being fretless I am able to move in and out of micro tonalities at will. In regards to how one can have a 15-string bass strung it never crossed my mind to have a low B, I always had the concept of the High C from the start.

Some players mention they have difficulty with their fretless intonation when they switch frequently from fretted to fretless instruments. Have you ever had this problem?
I have been playing bass now for close to 25 years and the majority of that has been on fretless. So for me the 15-string fretless was no problem at all. Intonation problems were never a factor as long as I'm able to get to all the strings on the fingerboard evenly. If my finger application was ever off, the sound results would remind me. I seem to have no problem with going from fretless to fretted and back. It may be due to me starting and having a sincere interest in fretless from about 6 months after I started playing bass. I approach playing the fretted bass as if it's a fretless not the other way around.

What styles of music do you prefer to play? How well does the 15 fit in with it? What reaction do you get to the 15 from other band members and audiences?

The only style of music I prefer whether it's my own projects or working with other artist is original music. I think that is the ultimate expression. Don't get me wrong, doing a version of a cover can be cool as well but if I had a choice I would go with originals every time. I listen to and have played all genres of music whether it's Avant-garde, Funk, Rock, Jazz, etc. I am very open minded to it and it's always cooler when the person or persons you're working with really got their business together.

I have to say that logically the 15-string does not fit in every musical setting, it's just the nature of the instrument. When I play the 15-string the band members have no problem with it at all they are very open to it, and the audience recognizes it's sonic voice very quick. Especially the freshness of the High C.

Are you currently working on a CD project?

I'm currently working on my debut CD that is and will be featuring some special guests, and I'm working on a separate recording project with The JAUQO III-X REALITY. I can't give a specific release date for either because I'm working around the guest schedule as well as mine. But when I do release it, if nothing else I think listeners will find both musical settings very interesting.

On your website you discuss the Sub-Contra bass, which is strung E, B, F#, C# high to low. In this configuration the E string, which is the lowest string on a standard 4-string bass, is now the high string. Tell us more about that.

The Sub-Contra Bass takes it's name from the Contra Bass because it is lower in sound. It's another one of my concepts that I have been working on. It's tuned Low C# (.185), F# (.165), low B (.125), and standard E (.100) low to high. The E string is where the G string is on a 4-string bass. I conceived the instrument as well as the string, and had it turned into a reality as well. In the process I have dispelled a lot of myths in regards to just how low bass can really go and continue to maintain a crystal, non-muddied, focused clarity.

How did you get involved with SIT strings to develop the low C# strings?

I met Eddie Speedy of SIT Strings. We have come up with a set of Sub-Contra strings that seem to compliment the Sub-Contra bass perfectly. Sometimes all it takes is open mindedness, logic, and a little belief and one should should not be surprised at what reality will bring.

Finally, you seem to place as much emphasis on spirituality as you do musicianship.

Life, Spirituality, and Musicianship are more deeply Intertwined than we are aware of. They are all related. They are the key ingredients to music's DNA and if we can interpret the connection it will take us beyond a shallow life and musical being. The "III" in my name represents what we are all made up of Mind, Body and Soul and the "X" represents my infinite level of self growth. I will continue to grow but only if that's what I want to do.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us!
Thanks again Mark and if you have any more questions feel free to ask.












Published January 1, 2004