Mike Pulke is a well-known Southern Illinois musician who has been playing in bands since his teen years. A longtime Sadowsky player who elevates every group he plays with, Mike is currently holding down the low end with the Eli Tellor Band.
We talked to Mike about his Sadowskys, how he likes his basses set up, and his influences.
How did you first hear about Sadowsky?
I saw Jason Newsted playing one and that peaked my interest. Then I started seeing “Sadowsky” on the bass headstocks of all the pros, working musicians, players on late night TV, and Nashville musicians as well as on Talkbass.com.
I thought they were beautiful, classy, and sounded amazing so I had to see what this phenomenon was all about. I would like to thank Vic Serbe and Alan Loshbaugh for letting me try their Sadowsky Basses before purchasing one myself.
What Sadowsky instruments are you currently using and why?
I am using #3802, an Ash/Maple NYC reverse PJ5 with a D-tuner on the B string. I love what the P pickup does on certain songs. Also #3174, an NYC Ash/Maple JJ5 with single coil pickups. I just love a Sadowsky JJ5 with single coil pickups. To me there is nothing like it.
What are your string type and gauge preference?
I use standard gauge Blue Label SS strings. They just work on Sadowsky Basses. Sometimes I get in the mood to change things up, so I grab some standard gauge DR Fat Beams.
How do you like your instruments to be set up? Why?
There is a local guy, Patrick Jones, who is also a Sadowsky Bass player and plays in one of the hottest bands in the area that does my setup work. We have both agreed that nothing is better than Sadowsky setup specs. A Sadowsky will take an extremely low setup without string buzz or problems, and on certain songs I like digging in and slapping. The tone and string bounce from a bass that is set up to be reactive and responsive—to me, this is exactly what the Sadowsky setup specs do. The setup guide also gives pickup height specs which are spot on because they are close enough to be HOT but not so close that they kill your sustain.
What are your preferred control settings?
I play my JJ5 close to flat with the J pickup slightly favored and on some songs I use the VTC.
I play my reverse PJ5 close to flat also with the J pickup favored on part of the songs. On some songs, I favor the P pickup. Sometimes you just have to have a P pickup in your arsenal! I sometimes boost the bass and Treble 10% – 20% depending on the room. It makes a huge difference.
Who are your biggest influences?
I always loved Fran Sheehan from Boston because of the way he worked with the drums and the feel he gave the songs; Flea for his energy; both Eagles bass players for their harmony singing while playing; Bootsy Collins for his funky playing, the unique way he dressed, and his showmanship; Nathan East because he knows when to play and when not to play; and Tully Kennedy for his dominating and melodic bass lines. I am impressed with the solo players and slappers because they are amazing but not as impressed as I am with a bass player who can play rock solid, sing harmonies, and work with a band at making the band sound amazing in every way while entertaining, acknowledging, and connecting with everyone in the crowd.
Is there a certain band or project you are involved with right now?
I’m currently playing bass for the Eli Tellor Band but I have played in several well-known bands in the area including F-150 from 2014 to 2016 and 4PLAY from 2008 to 2014.
If you were going to get another Sadowsky, what would it be?
I would get an Ash/Ebony JJ5 with single coil pickups and the Will Lee preamp and black hardware and a roasted maple neck. It would be Black with a Tort pick guard. I have fallen in love with that color.