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

My New Bass Ramp!


The New Bass Ramp!

The New Bass Ramp!

Benjamin Strange did a great job of describing the crafting and installation process on his site, so I'll focus here on why I actually did it. My practice (and there's NEVER enough practice, but I'm doing what I can) focused recently on right-hand technique, including picking techniques from Matthew Garrison, Steve DiGorgio, and Alex Webster). And I'd been intrigued by bass ramps from seeing a bunch of high-end basses and trying out what Kokomo phenom Eric Hyman had on his Pedulla. So I decided to take the plunge on my Fender Jazz bass.

Mind you, this instrument has already seen the installation of a MIDI pickup, a Hipshot D-Tuner, and some Nordstrand split-coil Jazz-style pickups. So it's already seen some modifications, but the wood and neck on this thing are amazing. I'm just tweaking it a little.

Benjamin does stellar work, and the craftsmanship that went into this is top-notch. The only thing left to do is play, and it plays spectacularly. I've only spent a few hours with it so far, but it already feels natural, and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. The picking techniques come to me easier (still needs some polish on my end, but that's a given), and it doesn't get in the way of other plucking or slapping closer to the neck. This modification just brings another option to an already wonderful instrument. Looking forward to much more playing on this. Thanks, Benjamin!


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.