Friday, March 29, 2013

Serial Nos

What a great gig! You've played your tail off and you're on top of the world.  People are giving you compliments that would make a narcissistic ego maniacal crazy clown blush.... You hang at the club afterwards with close friends.  Eventually the lights come up and you know it's that time... It's Jackson Browne time.

And as you load out you're simultaneously avoiding the reality of the impending not load in... Out of your vehicle.. Several trips up stairs.. Bringing your precious gear safely home. 

But it's 4am and you're spent.  You chuck a blanket over your  gear in a weak attempt to disguise things and you crash inside your place.

You wake up what feels like days later after your  mini hibernation/rejuvenation and after much coffee or in search of coffee you make your way to your vehicle to find your worst nightmare .... Smashed glass and a painfully obvious lack of the aforementioned precious gear.

After you finish vomiting repeatedly in your mouth for several minutes or hours and you sip on a cold glass of water to prevent dehydration from the shameless ugly face crying you were doing on the street explaining to strangers in some foreign sob induced linguistic abomination of sentence fragments.. You think..... Ok.... How do I get my gear back?

Step #1 - what are the serial numbers of all the precious items of gear?

At this point you either definitively know the answer to the above question or you're thinking..... "Serial numbers?? Hmmm.. I've never considered keeping track of them"

If you're the former, you probably already know the exact steps you'd follow to get your babies back.  Relax and enjoy the show.

If you're the latter, you're probably thinking .. "right... How WOULD I prove to a pawn shop that the instrument they just bought from the devil is actually mine?!?!"  - you, my friend, have work to do.

Your knee pits are probably sweating a bit too.  Go ahead and check.  It's ok.

So what I used to do is have a piece of paper with my serial numbers written down and stored somewhere safe.  I know... Paper.. How cute is that?!

Today I use Google Drive where I have a folder containing detailed digital pics of all my gear and then a folder of pictures of the serial number of each piece of gear I own.

Google Drive for Android

It's a simple cost free solution that could save you great cost (and bodily fluids)  in the future if you're able to present definitive proof that the gear that was being pawned by the sweaty guy in the hoodie with the shakes that wanted to sell his "4 string guitar" is actually rightfully yours.

If my gear eve gets stolen you're going to see so many annoying posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Instagram, CNN, CBC, Infoseek, excitebike, Tomb Raider, movie previews, church bulletins, medical records, etc, etc and they'll all be full of pics detailing every inch of my instruments and their lovely serial numbers. Anyone buying a used instrument who does a simple Google search will see all 6945 of my posts and the swat team would be there in minutes.

Now picture Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order walking across the parking lot, over to you with your Mono Case on her back, inside your precious instrument, saying "those serial numbers were what allowed us to crack this case".


The Nitti Gritti On Technique And The Amp to Support It.

Many years ago Adam Nitti saved me from destroying my hands.  He can probably help you too.  The story and catalyst to the road to recovery goes something like this...

One night while playing a club with a loud band, a naive and un-gear-ducated bassist was playing with a 100 watt amp.....
The End

Enough said...right?

100 watts was not nearly enough to push the young bassists lowest sounds to the ears, hearts, and loins of the intoxicated dancers.  He didn't know this.  He pushed his hands to their limits, fingering the strings like life and groove depended on it...until..his fingers didn't work any more.  There was no pluck left in a right plucking hand.  RH Finger 1 and RH Finger 2 cried out in a bad Scottish accent "we....just..don't..have ..the power..."

Useless fingers .. songs remaining in the set ... crushed groove...crushed soul... finished.

I ...err... I mean.. the young naive bassist...squeaked out what he could with RH Finger 3 and RH Finger 4.  Pain.  Something popped.  Something stopped.  Then the next day... it was reevaluation time.  What was I doing wrong?  What could I change?

I didn't have an electric bass teacher (mistake #1) so I didn't have anyone immediate to turn to. I was also embarrassed that I was playing professionally and obviously was doing something horribly wrong. I went to the Internet and searched 'proper bass technique'.

I found Adam.  More specifically I found this link

And it was the road to recovery... from these lessons I discovered how to properly use my RH and my LH and one of the biggest revelations was ....the Moveable Anchor.  I always thought you HAD to keep your thumb on the pickup.  Well....this changed everything.

In the end I realized that the night I blew my hand out it was obviously two fold:

  1. My electric technique was seriously lacking and causing me problems. 
  2. I had an amp that wasn't cut out for the job so no matter my technique I probably would have blown my hand out anyway.   
I fixed my technique - and eventually got a real amp.  My hands and groove lived happily ever after. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It's Beastly

Vulfpeck are my new favorite flavour of air that I breathe.  It's yummy air that makes me airy.  I want to share the airy air so you can be airy too.

 You're welcome.

But even more fun.. is this...a full bass transcription that Rudy Bless did ..

Bless indeed.  go learn it.

Go listen to everything by Vulfpeck.


iReal b loving this app

Band in a box... great for PC... back in the days when it first came out you had your little computer speakers ... you'd move your bass rig into the computer room/office and play through some charts.  Great tool of course.  But most of us back then didn't have nice speakers that allowed for a realistic blend of bass+amp+BIAB ( That's Band in a Box ).  Even more so you were limited to your computer room's desktop PC or Mac.

Fastforward all of the inbetweener stuff with laptops and speakers, etc... let's get right to your Smartphone.  and .  Like..... really?

I can have an app on my phone where you can easily download thousands of chord charts (doesn't break copyright because you can't patent a chord change) ...where I can easily change the key, change the tempo, change the style, change the volume of bass/piano/drums, adjust the reverb ( really? ), specify the number of repeats, etc, etc ??!??!

I can also write my own charts and work out melodic ideas or bass parts ( turn down the bass in the mix ) ...

Where this app really shines for me is in combination with something like the Vox AmPlug for Bass.
Plug it in your bass.... plug your smartphone in... dial up iReal B ... put on your headphones... and you can sit on your couch or walk up and down your street and practice your soloing or bass parts all you want...

A .... maze...zing

This changes everything

Victor's way is your way

Victor Wooten is a bassist.  That's an understatement.  Victor Wooten is so much more than a bassist.  He's a musician, an educator, a philosopher, a wordsmith, a curator of all things zen and lovely in this musical world.  There is no greater example than this wonderful video that was released as part of TED Talks

Check it out... and then check it out again... in fact.  Start every day as a musician by listening to and/or watching this video.



Jaco #1

What better way to start off a new basscentric blog then by sharing some beautiful John Francis Anthony Pastorius III..


What is your favorite Jaco tune?