Instruments (& Me ) Then...and Now
Left is a picture of me from 1986 with my first real bass, the Rickenbacker 4001 - I still have this beauty.
Now, I play a lot of other instruments as you will see below, and I am looking a bit different from way back then...
Right is a recent photo (Credits and Kudos to Joshua Merrill at M-Audio for the pic) of me holding my main axe, the fretted 6-string Peavey "Grind" bass.
Newest baby - Redsub Coliseum 6-string
This was my 2020 b-day present, a kind of instrument I did not have yet, a so-called "multi-scale" bass guitar, with fanned frets on a roasted maple neck and a unique body design. It's quite striking isn't it? It sounds and plays terrifically well, nice and bright and cutting sound.
The idea of the fanned frets comes down to physics--each string of increasing diameter only has the same even tension as the other strings IF that string's length is optimized for that. All this means is that all 6 strings seem to be balanced in terms of how hard you need to "pull" on them with your fingers. It's subtle, but noticeable. One less thing to have to compensate for as you cross strings is uneven tension! Supposedly this is why it's called 'multiscale' as all the strings are now differing lengths...
The End of Insanity? Maestro 8-string bass
Yes, I know what you are thinking. I'm not going to defend this one--it was simply too cheap to pass up.
Quality is pretty good, considering. It was delivered tuned B-E-A-D-G-C-F, but I restrung it with a low F#,
so I could start causing earthquakes and other seismic phenomena.
Ok, I went a little crazy and got a doubleneck...
But in my defense I had always wanted one but could never afford it
and then also they've been very hard to find for a lot of years as they'd fallen
out of fashion, I guess. A random search of Amazon's offerings unearthed
this unexpected beauty made by some unit called Maestro and sold for the
unheard of price of $300. I may get the frets pulled off the 4-string neck.
Newest Bass - KTone 4-string fretted
This is my newest, the KTone bass, which I guess is a Korean knock-off of a Steinberger-type headless
instrument, with a clear lucite acrylic body. Looks expensive but it isn't, plays great and sounds good with a
strong mid-bass presence and wide tone range, and looks pretty cool, too.
What the heck is that thing?
As part of an expansion of the basic instrument arsenal, and because it's cool and relatively inexpensive, me and a friend both bought ourselves a BEAMZ unit. This device uses 6 optical laser triggers to play sounds, samples, or loops, just by waving your hands through the light beams. Pretty amazing, and sounds terrific, but the idea is to expand on the basic sounds by adding and editing our own. I could describe it but it's much more evocative if you see how it works via these links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZcyngSX2_c
Not a bass, not a guitar, something else!
I just got my "You Rock Guitar" from Inspired Instruments.
This thing is marketed as a Guitar-type game controller, but in fact it is a very cool MIDI controller using a touch-sensitive "fretboard" that has no actual strings, and these string-like "strum bars" for picking on. Whammy bar, built-in sounds, and it is just the thing for the non-keyboardist to use as a MIDI data entry device. Best thing of all: it's only about $200 bucks, which when you consider most other guitar MIDI devices are in the thousand-dollar range is pretty impressive. It tracks as well as a much more expensive device!
This may become one of my main composition tools.
Here's how it looks:
Even Newer Axe: the ASHBORY BASSEven Newer Axe: the ASHBORY BASS
This unusual-looking instrument is the current version of the Ashbory Bass. It's distinctive "dog-bone" shape, the 18" scale length, the silicone rubber (!) strings...ahh, vive la difference! This is a very innovative design and it has an amazingly deep and huge sound, something like an upright bass. Thanks go to my wife Laure for the birthday present I always wanted! Get these from http://www.largesound.com/ --very nice people, and you can read about the fascinating history of this instrument on their site!
Newest Axe: 1968 Univox 'Lectra hollowbody Viola Bass
This is the newest addition to my Bass family, a Univox 'Lectra hollowbody Viola Bass.
It was probably made in 1968 according to my research, and these were only made until about 1971.
It has a floating bridge & tailpiece, scroll-type headstock, f-holes,
two humbucking soap-bar pickups, 3-position switch, tone and volume controls,
and this one was modded to fretless, although the fret markers remain.
Thanks to John Roy for selling it to me, and for his loving care of the instrument--
it's practically in perfect shape, and sounds really nice.
ERGO 8-string EUB
I just got this in February '09--what this beauty is is a custom-made Electric Upright Bass, or EUB for short.
It was handmade by Jesse Blue, owner/founder and amazing craftsman of ERGO Instruments,
based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.(check out his page above, and his ERGO MySpace page)
Jesse makes many different kinds of instruments with any number of strings on them,
and his rates are phenomenally low for such quality custom instruments You need to check these out!.
These exceptional instruments are just beautiful, sound great and feel and play great, too.
It took Jesse just over a month to build, fit to a cymbal stand (that holds it up,) and get the custom string gauges.
Mine is an 8-string model. It measures approximately 57" in total length,.with a 42" scale just like any full size
acoustic string bass has. At it's widest, the neck is perhaps 4", and it is surprisingly light in weight.
The string tunings, from low to high is F#-B-E-A-D-G-C-F.
That lowest note is at the extreme limit of human frequency response perception, at an astonishing
depth of 23.12 Hz or so. This is so deep a note that it is mostly felt and not really heard--most speakers can't
accurately reproduce it. So why exactly did I get this configuration?
"Because LOWER is GOODER."
I also got a Carlo Robelli CR32B French 3/4 size Bass Bow, a full-size German Bass Bow, both made of Brazilwood, and some Pop's Bass Rosin for it. I'm re-learning to bow the bass!!
Also, finding a carrying case for this instrument was a bit of a challenge because
of it's unusual proportions, but I ended up finding an Anex SnowBoard Bag that fits it perfectly!
Here's a pic of me playing the Ergo live at the Wine Lover's Bar in Ventura, Ca:
My Current Arsenal:
(this set of instruments is a collection I have been slowly adding to since 1975.
As you might guess, being a mostly broke-ass musician for many years, I could not afford to buy pricey designer axes,
so most of these cost me less than $500 at the time I got them. Still, they have real value to me,
I apologize in advance for some of the images, they are too low-rez, sorry.)
The Peavey "Grind" 6-string fretted bass, with natural wood finish
The Washburn 6-string fretted bass, with natural wood finish
The Custom Carvin LB76 6-string fretless bass in black
the Ibanez Aria Pro II 5-string bass (modded to fretless)
The rare and unusual Fender Performer 4-string bass with sunburst finish
The gold-flecked Carlo Robelli 8-string bass
The oxblood-colored Fender Standard Jazz 4-string bass.
the Rickenbacker 4001 4-string bass (built in 1973)
the custom Des Lauriers 4-string "contra-piccolo" fretless bass*
* this bass was modded to be fretless by Craig Fujii, a total guitar-tech madman and genius.
It uses a non-standard tuning of C-F-Eb-Bb, and the strings are very light gauge,
so this instrument is a bit lower in pitch than a baritone guitar, so I call it a 'contra-piccolo bass
the CE Ministar "Mini-Jazz" 4-string "Travel" bass
The Carlo Robelli 4-string acoustic bass guitar
The Chapman STICK© 10-string 'Alto' touchboard.
- In addition to these instruments I have a few MIDI keyboards I use for composing at home...see my GEAR page for photos.
& of course, I love to play my classic MOOG TAURUS bass pedals! I'm fortunate to own this!
And the ones with the skinny strings...
I have a few guitars, even though I only play them when I need to record a guitar part.
From right to left:
* The Volkswagen guitar! This is a special edition made for a VW car promotion only. Plays great and has built-in effects.
* The Aims Les Paul copy of the "Black Beauty" -- mine looks slightly different from this picture--it has a maple neck with ebony inlay & gold knobs
* The Yamaha P5 strat copy - with whammy bridge.
* The Candela "Guadalajara" Acoustic nylon string guitar
Just Added to the Collection...
This beautiful Epiphone DR-90 steel-string acoustic guitar--saw the limited time sale price ($60, yes, that's correct) from GC
and I HAD TO HAVE IT...I'd been wanting one for recording purposes for a while.
The thing looks, sounds, and plays beautifully for a cheap acoustic--a tremendous deal, I believe!
**WISH DEPT: I used to own an upright acoustic bass
(it's shown in a picture on my photo gallery page)
but I had to sell it, so I hope to get another of those
I'm also interested in getting a double-neck bass with a fretless and fretted neck, and maybe a 5-string fretless travel bass.
...just in case any of my relatives or benefactors are reading this and want to do me a solid...