Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fretboard Colors

I went to my second live show of the year [which is a very low number by my standards] so prepare for a bombardment of concert related post. This one goes out to the awesome mother accompanying her daughter, who told me where to stand to get a full view of the stage:
There are two main woods used for fretboards: Dark rosewood and pale maple. I prefer rosewood because that's what I started out with, I like darker colors and I'm inclined to believe what they say about fretboard wood changing the sound. I realized another pro to fretboard color at the concert. I've made no secret that I like watching bassists at show so that I can steal a riff from them. Well I've found that it's alot easier to do when the player's skin tone contrasts to the fret board. This doesn't sound good [says the anthropology student] but most bassists I watch are white, so rosewood gives me a better idea where the bassist is fretting.         

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thanks Mom

Remember when I said I got Lula in tune with less than two turns of extra strings around her tuners? Well I showed her to my mom who promptly started rewinding the strings. The next morning I find Lula's strings twisted around the tuners six plus times, and all the excess strings pointed out of the back of the headstock [making Lula look like she has a rockabilly hair style going on].

Mom even got two of the strings in the proper tuning without trying! [Although I promptly messed one up because I forgot which string was on which tuner, damn too many strings.]   

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One Battery is Going Strong.

That would be the battery in the Metronome. Finally broke that sucker out again, and started out plucking at 40bpm. I always start out on the slowest setting, and I always get board with it, so I put the clicker on 80bpm and tried to play every other beat. That turned into a cluster [you know where I'm going with this right?].  I wanted to make a pocket to play, but I kept loosing count. Finally I just took it down to an easy to play 60bpm to cool off.   

Monday, October 28, 2013


While asking the masses of where to find new screws, one of the [lovely, truly lovely] members said it might of happened from using an old screwdriver. The one screwdriver I've been using is ass old! Now I understand why Craftsman's has a life time replacement policy!

[Now pardon me while happy dance to this news.] 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This is so nuts [it's more screwy!]

 Since my screw contact fell through I went to the next best source I could think of, I have several more options now including trying some local chains. I also had several people suggested that I head to [a certain chain that that I'd rather avoid] or that I go to my local trusted luthier. I wish people could understand that not everyone has those kinds of friendships.    

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I forgot again...

My paper and ink bass log didn't make it back to my bass HQ [read bedroom] this week; so the next few posts are going to be super short and rather despondent. It may not seem like it [when I make posts like this] but I'm actually getting a fair amount done.     

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I dragged out my mother's dulcimer out of the dusty corner the other day [week]. I remember playing around on that thing ten years ago, learning how to strum it before getting board and replacing in the corner where it has set evermore. [Even back than I wasn't interested in picking.]
Dragging it out again has allowed me to look at it with new eyes: The frets vary in sizes along the whole neck [body?] and the strings are thin but flexible, so they aren't painful [but that might be because the strings are probably fifteen years old]. I have a new toy, I need to look up the tuning, but it's awesome to get another item in your arsenal for free. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hey Mr. New Guy

When I finally got my hands on New Guy to winterize him I was surprised to find he was bowing back, where Igor was arching forwards. I took a few days tweak him straight, then I remember something someone said on TB about not having the neck rod straight.  

I [of course] forgot which way there was suppose to be a little give, so I decided to to tweak a little both ways, and see which way made more on tune notes [I've found that the notes get a little more off tune with each lower fret I play down the neck]. When I checked the neck with the ever reliable Snark Tuner [from hell] I found that even rather high up on the neck, the tuning varied alot.
String Trees
It hit me like a truck, the [lack of a] string tree, where I stripped the screw head, was totally fucked up because of my doing.       

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pictures of Paul

Paul McCartney has released new music recently, and this has given me an unexpected amount of joy. I have respect for the man, I mean his ability to compose is awesome, and he's the guy that I think of for support [or rather the idea of him] when I'm getting crap for being a southpaw bassist who actually plays southpaw; I don't want to think about all the shit he's probably gotten over the issue.
Look at the neck!

That said, I not a real fan. His music is pretty low on the list of what I'd want to listen to, if I want relax or have fun. So when I heard McCartney was making more music [beyond the hope given to me that someone in their 70s can still play] I didn't really care. Yet I found myself staring for far too long at all the promotional material I've found scattered across the internet.
Great Profile!
It took me awhile to realize why I was so enthralled with these photos. [Okay, there was like five seconds comparing how much people really don't change when they get older.] I found myself absolutely giddy at the fact there are all these pictures of left handed guitars--and a bass guitar at that!         

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's not just me

I was chatting with someone in one of my classes, and he became one of the few who didn't say anything stupid when I said I play bass. That launched me into a much unneeded abridged history of music in my life.

When I got to my failed attempt at learning to play piano, he interjected that learning to play with both hands [where I called it quits] is the hardest part. Normally I'd feel embarrassed being corrected, but instead I felt oddly relief.   

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Jackets

I noted awhile back that I've broken out jackets because it's gotten cold. I love when the weather is just getting cold best, I can break out my leather [*cough* pleather *cough*] jackets. I've been wearing this one jacket for years, and this year I've noticed that the material around my upper arm is tight.

Either my college five pounds have gone to upper arms, or my bass playing has gotten to me. It is awesome to get toned from something I don't consider 'working out', but man, that was my first adult leather jacket! It was originally over $100! [And no, I did not pay that.]
[Now I know why Rock Stars are known for their leather pants] 

Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Make the Music Sway

I've always wanted to repeat a moment [or the feeling of a psychical place] with music; from the first song I ever tried to compose was the moment my dogs got excited when my mom came home from work. [I still have the notes written on a button envelop somewhere.]

Since my awesome trip this past summer, there's one moment that ha been haunting me, begging me to immortalize it in music: On the train from CDG to The City [Paris] the ride was this incredible period that I think music could convey [if anything could, but that might be the jet lag talking]. The train swayed side to side, and the train clacking along the track like most trains do, a lone accordion player walking up and down the train.

The movement of the train would obviously be replicated by the bass [in my head] but it's been months and I couldn't figour out how make the swaying sound. Playing up and down the neck seemed to move in a different dimension then what I wanted. Than I found it: Hitting the string with my fingernail made a sharper sound [akin to a pick] while hitting the string with the tip/pad of my finger gave off that familiar bass sound. Alternating these two techniques give me the swaying motion I want!             

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Winterizing Time

I pulled out my jackets last week, and with it I've noticed that Igor is somewhat out of tune. I live in an area with high humidity and very varying [hahaha] temperatures, this results in me having to tweak my basses' truss rod [Lula doesn't have one] every spring and fall.
You'd think I'd know which way to twist the truss rod by now, [but alas] no. It took me two nights to make sure I got Igor heading in the right direction, and New Guy was a whole other matter which I'll post about later.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Note on the Gel Pad

If you are the type to play your bass in the rain [seriously message me, I want to know who would do that, and with what] don't buy this pad. The gel in the pad holds water incredibly well. I wish I was lying when I say it added pounds to my book bag. The good news is that it drys out over night without me having to take the bathing suit dyer [a hair dryer] to it.   

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wisdom with the Drink

Oddly enough, I finally remembered what to tune Lula to without using Google. And I was Punch Drunk at the moment, which enabled me to have to courage tighten the strings enough get them in tune.[I didn't break any strings!]

Sometimes I wonder if I had the same amount of courage in the daylight, what I would be able to accomplish? 

Monday, October 14, 2013

This is Why I Hate Strings

I remember why I hate changing strings: it's the fear of snapping a string. This fear has resulted in Lula sitting in her little blue case, under the bed, for over a week, untuned. [The strings are tight enough to sit in the nut.] I just can't bring myself to possibly break $5 strings. [At least the Boys are getting some attention-- actually it's just Igor.]   

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I've tried to write songs before. They've all started with a story I want to tell, then I write a poem but I could never get notes to weave around it.

Well I started to just noodle around, making these riffs, when I started mumbling [AKA singing] along. I've done this with a few different grooves and I've liked what came out [but I haven't bothered writing them down, or recording them]. They've all turned out bluesy which is cool as hell.   

Friday, October 11, 2013

For the Sake of Sanity

This next-week-or-so's posts will be horribly disjointed. The lesson I learned was that I need to pick up a stringed instrument every single school night [or my school work will suffer] to remain sane.
I was way stressed with my school load, and I decided it was better to get an extra ten minutes of sleep then to play something. [A totally bad idea] The result was three failed Latin quizzes, and rather unrelated tears. [I should say here, that I have the best, most forgiving Magstier ever; dear Lord may he never find this blog.]

This week I've been manhandling someone [that I realize is an inadament object] every night and I pulled off a 88% on a Latin quiz!   

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lula's Tuners

Lula's tuners are odd, where both my basses have tuners that need to be cut to the proper length before you start twisting the strings about the knob, Lula's aren't. Where my basses' tuners are perpendicular to the head stock, Lula's tuners are parallel to her head stock.
Like This

[This is causing potential problems] I've noticed that I can get the strings nearly in tune with less than a full turn around the tuner. That can't be good, so I'm leaving a ridiculous amount of sting on Lula, because I'm too scared to cut it.   

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Putting on Strings: The Bridge

It seems like I only really hate changing round wound bass strings, guitars have more strings, but they aren't as painful on my hands.
This is not Lula

With that out of the way I can gripe about Lula's tuners, wait let me start with the bridge: If this was a real guitar it would have a 'string through bridge' [which if it were a bass might need special strings] so the strings were kinda a pain in the ass to get through. The holes were so small that the largest string didn't totally fit [but it's still playable, I think] and there were no real groves for the strings to rest it, just odd notches that are kinda a crap shoot. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tools Work

I used the bass string cutter and tuner twister while changing Lula's strings [it actually helped a lot]. Since it has a "bass string cutter" the thing went through guitar strings without an issue. I was really surprised to find that the twister fit over Lula's fat little tuners.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Packaged Thoughts

I got some Lula Ernie Ball Acoustic string. [And man they're a different beast.] While bass string packs have to be sent in a manila envelope, guitar strings come in a package that can be slipped into a back pocket [if you wear guy pants]. They even have easy open tear edges like many food product packages.
On the back of the package was a huge list of artists that use these strings, which made me worry. It reminds me alot of the rotos that were [personally] a big let down.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

She Doesn't Need It

On the night between stripping Lula, and putting on her strings I thought of wiping her down with wax, as I would with Igor [the other guitar with a dark fret board] but then I realized that her fret board is just painted plywood, or something of the like.

I want to take decent care of her, and all my other instruments; but I just don't want to ruin the only guitar I have. So I just left her be that night.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lula's Naked

 I took off Lula's strings on a weeknight, because that's somewhat easy to do, and it was quick. You know how I hate painful bass strings? Guitar strings bite [in particular those tiniest strings]. She looks so sad [as I think all string-less instruments look, well besides a woodwind or something]. I wish I could dress her up that night, but I just didn't have the time.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Gel Man

[Written after two of use on a school bad used everyday, so I have not yet tried it with a bass.]

I sent two weeks with the Plant wave gel strap pad on my school pad, and I must say it has been a live saver. I bought the version that had gel vs. the foam version which was a few dollars cheaper, and I'm glad I did. Just like the old school bass straps that are wider at the shoulder then the rest of the strap, the weight of the item [in my current case the bag] is dispersed over the larger space and feels great.

I had heard of a few negative reviews on the pad, namely complaining about the weight of the pad sliding down the strap, and in the case of one guitarist [who in no way helped the credibility of guitarist being musicians] said that the pad weighted more then his guitar. I've only had to readjust the pad twice in that sense, but I have had untwist the strap several times because the wait of the pad spun it around.

The pad has two overlapping Velcro straps and there are no way the pad is going to fall off. On the other side there is seven sections of gel that is meant to fit the body of the wearer. I have no idea is this gel design actually makes my shoulder feel better.     

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It came early!

Two whole days early, all my amazon stuff came! So it came early in the week, not at the end near the weekend when I can review everything.

I was able to listen to the Steppenwolf CD. It's good, it kinda sounds the same after the first ten songs [but Snowblind is a shockingly awesome keeper]. A myriad of reviews to come!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More Chords

I tried out chords on Igor! It went pretty well [before I got shut down]. I tried out A, C, E because there was no alphabet repeating to worry about. I also discovered that that I need to work on my note placement, I'm letting my fundamental knowledge slip.  

I tried the A chord [I think that's what it would be called] at the top of the neck and at the bottom. I was very comfortable using the open strings [see above] so there might be other places I didn't realize that I could of played.
I also noticed that I had to play the notes that were near each other, for it to sound right. If I say, mixed an open string with below the 12th fret, it sounded wanky.