Legendary Bassist Abraham Laboriel, Sr. Chooses StageSource L3t for Bass Rig
Growing up in Mexico City, little did Abraham Laboriel know he’d one day become the most popular session bassist ever, with over 4,000 recordings to his credit. Originally a classically trained guitarist, Laboriel switched to bass at age 24, embarking on an incredible career highlighted by sessions with Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Larry Carlton and many more. After playing through countless rigs, Laboriel recently decided to leave traditional bass amps behind and move forward with the full-range StageSource L3t loudspeaker—giving him the sonic accuracy he needs to fully express himself.
How did your upbringing in Mexico City contribute to your development as a musician?
I grew up in Mexico City, the son of Garifuna parents from Honduras, a people with their own very rich musical culture. My dad was a great guitarist, songwriter and performer who traveled throughout Latin America, mastering all the local rhythms. He started teaching me guitar and Latin rhythms.
My older brother Johnny was a huge rock ’n’ roll star in Mexico in the ‘50s. The American companies sent him the recordings of all their latest hits for him to translate into Spanish and record as covers. So at an early age, I had access to hit records and started playing along. I was also exposed to jazz and fell in love. I was able to sneak backstage at the Bellas Artes to meet Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, The Modern Jazz Quartet and many others.
Why did you switch from guitar to bass?
In part it was because of a disability (I am missing the tip of my left index finger because of a childhood accident) and that made it difficult for me to have sufficient proficiency on the guitar. I started to experiment with the bass at Berklee in the late ‘60s and discovered I had found my voice.
Why do you think bass is important musically?
The bass anchors the rhythm and redefines the harmonies. It is crucial in all styles of Western music from the figured bass of Bach onward. In fact, Bach is still my hero as a bassist. Even solo pieces like Bach’s Unaccompanied Sonatas imply the bass function through melody.
What are the benefits of playing through a full-range system like StageSource L3t instead of a traditional bass amp rig?
The sound is just so clear! We humans still relate to sound in an analog manner, and StageSource L3t delivers a sonic clarity that the ear is naturally inclined to enjoy.
How is your StageSource L3t configured?
Usually it’s set up for flat response, but when playing extremely soft I turn on the Variax Acoustic Modeling. The “Floor Monitor” and “Playback” Smart Speaker modes create a very big, fat sound without any coloring. It sounds very natural and strong—handling the dynamics beautifully without distortion.
You’ve played through scores of different setups over the years. What does StageSource L3t provide that others rigs don’t?
The StageSource L3t gives me studio-quality sound—very clear and clean with lots of headroom. With L3t, my personality as a player isn’t limited by the system, but rather enhanced by the purity of the sound reproduction. No handcuffs. StageSource L3t expresses my versatility with total perfection.
What do you think of the sound of StageSource L3t?
The sound is phenomenal. It feels like I can finally blend perfectly with everyone on stage without sacrificing tone.
I recently used the StageSource L3t for a video shoot, and even though I was recording direct, the sound engineers liked the L3t so much that they miked it—it’s that good. For the final video, they’re going to blend the direct and miked sounds together.
You’ve used the Variax guitar in the studio. What do you think of it?
For me, the Variax is heaven sent. I love to play guitar, and now with a single instrument I can maintain the same consistent touch and feel while choosing sounds and tunings that boggle the mind. It’s saved me a lot of time in the recording studio!