The Bass Geek - Words about Music, Circuitry, and New Orleans
The Bass Geek

Grabbing Your Tools

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a good portion of my Saturday learning more about my instrument from the technical side instead of the musical side. Strange Guitarworks in New Orleans presents a setup workshop the first Saturday of every month, and I was lucky enough to be part of the first class. Check out Benjamin's thoughts on the workshop here - for me, the workshop drove home a couple of concepts:

  • No instrument is perfect - the Jazz bass I used as part of the workshop has been one of my main instruments for several years now, but this workshop showed me where the instrument still had some imperfections and flaws to deal with. That doesn't make it a bad instrument by any means, it just means that nothing is perfect. The setup does show how to deal with those issues and get your instrument as playable as it can possibly be.
  • I have such a long way to go as far as visually assessing instruments. Measurements in hundredths or thousandths of a millimeter can make a difference, and it's not something I'm used to dealing with. Even with my glasses, I'm still not seeing some of these measurements easily. So much experience goes into this kind of work.

The access to the experience, advice, and tools presented in this workshop is invaluable, and I feel more confident tweaking the truss rod or setting up the bridge on my instruments now. This was time well spent, and I can't recommend it to folks in the New Orleans area enough.

I've also started playing with a cover band down here, which means travelling to a bunch of different clubs with different technical setups in the general area. My usual gear tote can be done in one trip (gig bag, pedalboard, and amp on a hand truck). But there have been a couple of times where we had a part go bad and an extra DI box or cable could have helped. I had the gear, but it wasn't in the gig bag. Also, just given the increased distance I'm travelling and the fact that I'm in more bars now, I'm liking the idea of having more solid housings for the gear I bring. So the extra cables and boxes went into a tool box I can move easily on the hand truck, and it's time to break out the hardshell cases again. It might end up being an extra trip, but it's worth it for the extra peace of mind right now. At least until I can get a much smaller amp and ditch the hand truck.


All On A Mardi Gras Day

Just some quick notes on this:

  • four tracks of bass
    • slap bass attempting to replicate a bass and snare drum
    • palm-muted and thumbed bass for the bass line
    • some chords in there
    • the lead line
  • I play the wrong instrument to be in a brass band, so I had to make some adjustments
  • I'm a transplant - please forgive any trespasses. I just heard the song and tried to make it work as a solo bass piece
  • Happy Mardi Gras!


To China with You!

Nope, I'm not shipping jobs overseas. However, Wiley Publishing recently licensed my book Teach Yourself VISUALLY Bass Guitar to receive a Chinese translation and publish, expected some time next year. Honestly, I just want to see what it ends up looking like. I'm also hoping for a press tour - not likely, but I can dream.


Made It!

For the most part, I'm here and functional in my new home of New Orleans. Moving a ton of musical gear is never an easy feat, but compressing it into a smaller area than before is truly a challenge. On the plus side, I managed to turn up three or four pedal power adapters I'd forgotten about - that pedal board will be much happier with less batteries now.

Now that everything is back together, I should be able to get the Playboy Psychonauts EP uploaded to Bandcamp for sale to the general public within the next week or so. Still tweaking the files a bit, but everything else should be ready to go.

And Victor Wooten is in town next week, with a bonus Anthony Wellington clinic earlier in the day, at Howlin' Wolf. Gotta manage my work schedule.

And, of course, gotta find a gig now. 🙂 So I'll be hitting the streets - let me know if you hear anything, okay? And if you're just running across this blog for the first time, feel free to peruse sound samples at my SoundCloud site.


This was a triumph…

Portal BassNo sound samples coming from this one, but that's not really the point. This bass represents a triumph, a huge success. Make a note of it. And hope it doesn't drop through any holes in space or something. If you lose the bass, you don't get any cake.


Yes, Another Pedal . . .

I picked up the Electro-Harmonix Steel Leather pedal more on a whim (with available store credit) than anything else. Bassists usually emphasize compression (making the notes more level overall volume-wise) over expansion (making louder notes louder), and I'm not needing to cut through any metal-crazed mixes any time soon (the advertised reason for the pedal's existence). I'm finding that a little of the pedal (9 o'clock on both knobs) brings out a nice presence with tapping, though - just a little extra shine. And it's tiny - my gig bag is getting a little too packed at this point. Good stuff.


Retro-Geek Bass Porn

Commodore 64 BassPlease tell me why we don't have a sample for this instrument yet. I'm intensely curious as to the tonal properties of early-80s-era injection-molded plastic casing.

Also, since there are no tuning knobs on the bridge, I'm guessing it has a regular headstock. Which is a shame. Given the vintage of this instrument, it should feature a headless design. And be used to play synth-based pop. At all times.


The Aristocrats!

Aside from the fine clinic to be taken in (and it was - great insight into tone and playing as a unit), part of the reason I traveled to Ft. Wayne Monday evening for Bryan Beller's bass clinic was the fact that I knew I'd be missing the Indianapolis stop for his band the Aristocrats. Beller is a fine bassist (from assorted Zappa family members to Steve Vai to Dethklok and more), and his writing and lessons are nothing short of inspiring. Nevertheless, a poorly scheduled business trip takes me to Chicago, a large city that surprisingly has no Aristocrats stop on this leg of the tour.

So, please - go see this show at Birdy's on Monday, May 21st. Not only for the amazing music and great show, but because I'll be kicking myself for not making it. Here's some sound:

Here's the website:

Have at it, and enjoy!


Wanna Confuse Yourself?

Take the 5-string bass you've been playing for a decade and restring it with a high C instead of a low B. Nothing groundbreaking here - it's good enough for Matthew Garrison, Steve Swallow, and Janek Gwizdala (among others). But man, it's messing with my head. Having the extra high end makes for easier chording and more defined melody lines, but I'm still getting used to the positions. And being a fourth or fifth off at random times is never fun. Still, I like the setup, and it actually seems to be better for my Stingray 5 - a lighter gauge with the higher string agrees more with the action on the bass, and it's much easier to play and maintain.

So I'm going to try using it in the new production Songs in the Key of Blues for Q Artistry, opening tonight in Irvington. Should be fun!


Spectacular Failure

Not the site at all, mind you - just my ability to actually put together an album in one month. Not sure if I'm going to blame a rather busy freelance writing schedule this month or the fact that I'm a first-time songwriter in this regard, but there it is. Got starts on three songs, nothing recorded, and definitely not the 14 tracks FAWM expected. So, I'll continue it into March. Nobody says I have to stop writing, no? Look for results on Soundcloud as they become available.