Friday, January 31, 2014

Turning a Judging Eye on Myself

Fret marker dependence has always been a sign of amateurism to me. I started on working on it ages ago, but as a recent spin on the fretboard has reminded me, I've forgotten it. While I'm doing well on the fretboard, I've found when I look away, I tend to hit a fret high of the sweet spot, and if I go to correct myself [without looking] I'll end up on the sweet spot of the fret above where I intended.

Too the woodshed I go, but the dose of humble pie was needed.       

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wise Man's Money

There's no money above the 7th fret, this phrase is heard over and over again in the bassist community, and I understand it [more] now. I picked up awhile ago that the 5th fret has all the open notes, but one over; and that the 7th fret is the 5th fret backward [which also happens to be a popular tuning].

What I've recently come to realize is that between the 7th and 12th frets are all the notes, in fact, just within the 7th and 8th frets are six of the eight natural notes. Below just about every natural note is that note sharp [I don't know how or why, but I'd love to find out] the exceptions to this is when B jumps to C and E jumps straight to F. In standard bass guitar tuning the first fret has only the natural F on the E string and the rest are sharps. On the 7th fret you have both B and E, so all are conveniently with reach.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Misgiving Songs

I tried to work on I Love Rock & Roll, and I'm learning that the book's tabs are actually on spot. The song goes something like EE, AA, BB [in the first phrase]. This song seems so easy, but it's hard to play at the standards I have.

I don't care about timing [the metronome is still MIA] so much as hitting the right note clearly. All these notes are on the 7th fret, and the trick is being able to bounce from one string to another and than jumping over a string smoothly, while muting the others takes some thought. I've been using the floating thumb technique to mute the strings, and that just doesn't work here, It took me a couple go rounds, until I figured out how to mute while playing the E [top of the fretboard] string. If the G string was string #1 the riff would go #3, #2, #4 and I can mute the other strings with my index finger if I'm fretting with my middle finger [on your fretting hand].     

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sick Relief

I cut my thumb [the adventures of dish washing] it was large enough to considered stitches but in the end butterfly bandages are my friend. I don't give a shit about having a scar. I counted my blessings that I didn't have to take notes for class for another week, and that it wouldn't have any affect on my playing.

I was so grateful that it was my thumb and not my fingers, of all the possible injuries I could possibly end up with, it was something I could still play with [well maybe not that Carol Kaye thumb thing].      

Monday, January 27, 2014

Boomer Review

Like I said before I've been eyeing these strings for awhile but my experience with the rotos put me off rounds for a time. [Feel like cheese graders they did.] The thread on these strings are red like the rotos but the strings deferentially feel different. I'm pretty sure the thickness of the rounds [I'm trying to say the space between the top of the rounds to the core of the string] is less on the Boomers then they were on the rotos.

The Boomers are easier on my fingertips, they still make my fingers sore after a time, but it takes three times longer then the rotos. The sound is much more like a bass guitar [the rotos sounded like a piano] actually the GHS review of 'sounds like Pressurewounds when broken in. I haven't broken in the Boomers yet, but they are snappier in sound [without being annoying].     

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I say the death words

I plan on cleaning the pressurewound strings. Now if you follow this blog [I don't blame you if you don't] you know me publishing the word 'plan' automatically jinxes it. I could link after link of examples, and for a real life example I told all my facebook friends that I was going to read a Lord of the Rings book over break, I haven't cracked the thing since the last day of finals. [But I did listen to Ramble On for a solid six hours over break, that has to count for something.]

Anyway, I really like the Pressurewounds, and I'm really interested in seeing how much the sound comes back after the cleaning.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I noticed a few days ago that Igor's neck was like Demon's [the open strings would be tuned to a point, but the fretted notes were off]. I dug out the allen wrench and was prepared to get to work, when I remembered that I had new strings coming so it would make more sense to adjust his neck between strings.  I also decided to dig out the wood polish since Igor's neck has been looking dry.
[Short story made long] Igor got a load of pampering between strings, his fret board soaked up three coats of wax, but it leaves swirly mess on the finish.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Somethings Stick

I haven't worked on fretboard note placement in awhile, so when I decided to  woodshed it, and I wasn't excited for the results. Come to find out, I grossly underestimated my ability!

I did my standard find E A D G on the fretboard [and tossed in B just to fuck around]. Several times my hand jumped to a note before I could think. I thought there was no way my body could know the right note before I recognized it, I double checked myself every time, and the majority of time [all but once actually] I was right. On the money, not even a half step off.

The one time I was off is when I was going for a B note and hit a F [which matches with a B chord...I think...].    

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Humming a tune

I've been plateauing and with chords just out of reach I need to move on to songs. As I was realizing this I was walking into my bedroom and the harmonica caught my eye. I love blues and southern music and have been tinkering with the harmonica for ages, but its acoustic volume has restricted when I could play it. Once I looked up how to play a harmonica on Youtube and the beginner's first lesson was how to play my favorite hymn Wade in the Water.

I hummed this tune and deconstructed it in my head. I could see the whole and half notes imprinting on my mind's eye, but it took me minutes figure out if a note was higher or lower than the note before it [and forget knowing how the note compared to the note, two notes before that one]. I guess that's just my audio processing delays at work.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thumb Placement

That Carol Kaye video is turning into the most useful video I have ever viewed. Recently I was recalled what she said about fret hand thumb position. This gist of it is to plant your thumb behind the neck and instead of shifting your whole hand up and down the neck, you just move your thumb a little bit, and it's less stress on your body.

Upon trying this out I learned this technique is useless for noodling. I'm sure this would more great if you had a song which was playable within five frets, but when you don't know what you'll be playing it's just a useless piece of knowledge. [So I just bit off more then I can chew, again.]      

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Listen for Birds

I spent the majority of my childhood weekends outside. I learned young to listen for the birds comings or goings for the signal of spring or fall. Without fail the weather would change within three days of hearing a goose's call.

One morning [in the cold of winter] I awoke of the sound of chirping of birds outside my bedroom window.  It sounded like a pair of birds were arguing, the fact that I thought that made me think. [Why did think they were arguing?] One bird would start a long blast of chirps, when another bird [with a lower song] would cut in over top of the first, and tweet the same number of chirps.

I was impressed that I could tell that one bird was lower then the other, but even through I heard this exchange repeated maybe six times I couldn't how many chirps each were doing.      

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thumbs up for Sweetwater.

I ordered my Christmas gifts to myself from Sweetwater since didn't offer wall hangers. Since Amazon upped it's free shipping line, there was no point in ordering from there. I had heard good things from TB on [mainly something about candy] and the no tax or shipping pulled the trigger for me.

Days after ordering I got a call asking if I'd looked over the order form they e-mailed. [This was a real live person]. I will admit, I was a little peeved that it had been a few days and my stuff hadn't been shipped, but it arrived a couple of days later. The stuff was what I ordered arrived undamaged and there was candy.

Honestly this company had me decent prices and free shipping, the lack of tax and candy were an awesome bonus. If human contact is your thing [I'm showing my generation aren't I?] utilize this company.        

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spending my Christmas Money

I just ordered a wall hanger and more strings. The wall hanger is so that I have a 'proper' place to keep all my instrument [I'm not counting the top bunk] I will admit I spent a couple extra dollars for an oak backed hanger. It was a treat, and I do come from a wood conscious family [and it wasn't my money].
It was no this much.

The strings are GHS Boomer, which I've been eyeing since I began buying strings. In the beginning I was just attracted to the name, but I decided to try out the Rotosound 66 that everyone was talking about [and because buying something just for the cool name is silly].    

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Tone; Unplugged

Played Igor unplugged, and in a sad excuse of practicing I listened to my tone, and tried to compare it to when I'm plugged in.

It took me several hours, but I think I've found a simile that explains it: My tone is ham and Swiss Cheese sandwich. My fingers make the filling of the sandwich [in this case the meat and cheese] and then there is the bread. I can change the outer shell of my tone with various knobs, but when push comes to shove, it's still ham and Swiss Cheese sandwich. The core of tone is made by the players' fingers.       

Friday, January 17, 2014

Music and Dyslexia

If children's program is to be believed music is a dyslexic person's good friend. Maybe it's because my hearing sucks, but I find this to be total bull [most notably when sheet music gets involved]. I decided to transcribe some sheet music I printed out ages ago.

The music was Mary Had a Little Lamb, and to transcribe it I just wrote the letter note over the actual note. The sheet music tells you the first note, but I decided to double check that the notes went they way I thought they would, and turns out they do not. I also learned that just because note x [there is no musical note x] is one the third line on the treble clef doesn't mean it will be the same note will be on the bass clef. The lines also wrecked havoc on my dyslexia as I mistook one line for another [in pen of course].        

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Tone

I've never heard a tone in my head. When I started out, I just wanted a sound that would frighten small children [see how words can be subjective?] beyond that I didn't care. Well using the knobs on my amp I believe I've found my tone:

The treble and bass [that would be the clefs, that I know of] are cranked all the way up. The highs are church like [which can be creepy on their own, see the Evanescence video] but when you mix it with the thunderous bass underneath, I am one happy girl. I used just enough mids to give the sound a good kick and enough grain cut the static of the pups.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reacting to Actions

Since I've started using my ring finger to pluck I've noticed that I have to watch how I clip my nails. While every other fingernail on my hands are curved, on my left ring finger the nail is straight across the finger pad.
As I use my ring finger to pluck, I notice that the finger pad has no meat to it, my nail is making more contact with the string then my finger.

[The morning after update:  using that finger pad is firming it up. I've always thought that of playing bass as a mental thing, and to have a physical reaction is pretty cool.] 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Why I Watched 'It Might Get Loud'

On my many weekend trips on Youtube I've seen the suggestion for this documentary several times. If I've learned anything from music, anything more then two guitarists without sheet music will become a clusterfuck. I heard other people commenting that it would probably be an ego fest.

Come to find you it wasn't an ego fueled clusterfuck [I like that word]. All three of them [This documentary focused around Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White, I guess that's kinda important to mention] are musicians who play guitar well [and have vastly different styles].

I'm really happy I finally watched this; I sure most would think I'm wasting time watching videos like this and claiming that it helps me coming a better musician; and in a way it is a lie. [With the expectation of the that Carol Kaye video] I watch these videos for the feeling of comradery. When I started play I got crap, for being too old and acting too foolish. [Being all of eighteen when I bought Igor.]  When I see the musicians eyes when they listen or play something good, I feel less alone. It's okay to feel joy. Maybe it is silly, but it's okay, because music is awesome.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Fingers are like me

Paid attention to my plucking fingers, my pointer still has its shit together, my middle finger is still 'meh', and ring finger feels flabby. I switched from just pointer to pointer and middle alternating [p,m] and it was a sad clusterfuck. Oddly enough, p,r [pointer and ring finger] went almost perfectly for something I never practiced before.

Now to decide if I should continue p,m [which is a pretty basic skill] or just switch to p,r. It would be interesting to see how wear on my hand would be different since I'm 70% sure the tendon for the ring finger goes to a different place then the pointer and middle finger [which I think is a same place].   

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Word Are Not Enough

Thank to my Headphones I can pick up details and nuances that I never noticed before, in other words I can actually tell what Igor's knobs do. Igor has four knobs, in an almost square configuration on Igor's body. The top one controls volume, and the bottom is is pre-amp which controls the pick up balance. [Okay, it's more of a diamond shape.]The forward knob controls the neck pick up which has this rich, bouncy, tone. [I think it's kinda like a P-bass, but I've never handled a P-bass to know.] The farther knob has a more, zinging sound.

Words just don't work when trying to describe tone. Beyond the fact that tone is subjective [what one person will call thumpy, another would call muddy] words just don't seem to do the sounds justice. Honestly I think hand signals are much more accurate, since that's where the balk of the tone comes from [I'll write more on this later].          

Friday, January 10, 2014

Demon's Neck

Not surprisingly Demon's neck is from hell. With Igor down until I get some new batteries [I really should stockpile D-Volts] I decided to play around with the guitar. After tuning him I was ready to get down to business,when I fretted a note while still in tuner mode [on my amp].
Close enough!

The tuner said that note was deeply in the red [it should be green, or less red and more green] so I tested all the strings to see if the neck need adjusting. The e [That's for little E] string was on point until the 14th fret, which is pretty standard compared to Igor; but every other string was in deep red at the first fret. My gut told me there was an issue with intonation, Micheal agreed with me, but also let me know that it might just be a cheap neck.       

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hello Murphy

Yesterday I thought Igor's battery had died. With that familiar feeling or dread I twisted all his knobs, hoping that they were the problem [despite the fact that I haven't touched them in ages]. Come to find out the cord somehow got unplugged from the amp.

This is stupid, and kinda an embarrassing story, but I'm typing it out because the next Igor's battery died for real. This irony needed to be told, along with face that I've had an active bass for two year, the battery consistently dies every six months. I will learn [one of these days].    

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It's Ticking and Clicking

I played with my metronome, and within seconds my plucking hand was cooperating. In disbelief I moved to 60bpm [I started out at 40pbm] and it meshed well. [Okay, that might be cheating since that's closest to a player's heartbeat; and therefore the easiest tempo to play.] To triple check this phenomenon I played with 72bpm and I had it under control.

I than realized I was only using my pointer finger, and I worked my middle and ring finger [I didn't get the same result]. That was grounding, but a step forward is a still a step forward. I also noticed that my pointer finger has more surface area contact with the string when compared to my other fingers. [I think I hit a new level of anal.]         

Within my Stocking

I got a handful of metal CDs for Christmas:

The Door's Waiting for the Sun: I really [really] like it. There's a level of nostalgia when I listen to it. [I can't believe I'm typing this for the whole internet.] It reminds me of my middle school years when I listened to too much Evanescence. There's a creepy aspect to The Door's music that I found similar Evanescence, and I have to say I still find it appealing.

Black Sabbath's Paranoid: This record is getting the most play of all the CDs. I picked it out because of Iron Man, but I have to say that song is now at the lower end of my favorite Black Sabbath songs. I need to figure out how to make Fairies Wear Boots into a Halloween costume.

Korn's Follow the Leader: This would be the least played album. I bought this CD because I'm a fan of Love and Death, and as of right now I'm not bowled over. It may get better when the other CDs lose their luster.

Megadeath's Rust in Peace: This album has an odd spot in my mind, I know the able well because of streaming sites, and I decided to get it in a better format. I only listened to it part of the way through, but I don't regret getting it.       

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Holy HeadphonesI

Where has thou been all my life? I'm in love, utter love. I can feel the bass in the connecting piece between the two ear thingies [I am so knowledgeable about these headphones it's ridiculous]. I bought them to go with my amp since they have the adapter for the wonky sized headphone jack. Come to find out, I never needed it.

In all honesty, it took awhile for the phones to get to the amp. [Remember the awesome speakers on my new computer, yeah not so awesome now.] Not surprisingly pop music that I was kinda 'meh' about is horrendous with headphones [I pity that sound engineers that listen to this stuff like this for a living]. The stuff from the 70s that I love sound even more stellar, and I finally listened to Abbey Road, and caught every nuance. I was so impressed that I than listened to Dark Side of the Moon at 1 AM [I would not recommend doing that].    

Grooving Ticker

I was impressed by this interview with Carol Kaye, one of the major takeaways for me was when she talked about working on her tempo.

Every single bass resource I've found talked about working on timing, it was just straight forward playing with a metronome. [Playing on, before, or right after the tick.] When I first got my metronome I would play to every other beat on 40bpm, because everyone seemed to stress the importance of getting something right at a slower speed, but that was as fancy as I got.

In the interview Ms. Kaye said she worked on her timing by making the metronome groove with her. I'm not gonna lie, this totally blew my mind. I never thought a human could make a machine appear to have soul [and I have to say pulling it off myself was a blast].

At first I thought it would work by me playing two beats before the Ticker got it's chirp in, but it wasn't about thinking and anticipating [like I was doing with the common 'play with the beat']. It only worked if I just chilled out and played. It went like [me, it, me me, it] I had a blast pulling it off, but this nagging voice in my head is telling me this isn't gonna work.            

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hail Coral Kaye

Go view this on Youtube, go find the full interview and be amazed by the wealth of knowledge within this woman. When I started playing bass this lady's was the first to come up, I saw how many times she came out of retirement [said cool] and went on my way.

After discovering that I really enjoyed her tone I decided to spend a weekend looking her up on Youtube. Found this interview and [holy shit!] I don't know where to start. [Actually I do]: She's been doing studio work longer then the Beatles! [When the Beatles started doing their thing...] I couldn't believe it, I mean look at her! But I suppose it's a testament to how drugs will age a person.

Her influences predate Rock & Roll, and Fender's popularity, and she grew up in LA. I never realized how I grew up [musically] with British Music on my right, Appalachia music cradling me on my left, and whatever coming out of Toronto. It seemed like Ms. Kaye couldn't go fifteen minutes without bringing up Rumba or other Latin influences. She also calls out the utterly simplicity of punk and rock music, and openly admits that she doesn't understand all the hubbub about Fender [On this interview she plays Ibanez!!!].    

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dave Grolh

I've never been a fan of Nirvana. The music sounds so flat to me. One of my first tip off that I'm slipping into a depression is when I need to turn up my music. If there's nothing jumping out at me I have to turn it up. so I choose not to listen to Nirvana.

While the Foo Fighters have a few more texture when compared Nirvana I've never gotten into them for much of the same reason, yet I still managed to fall down the Dave Grolh rabbit hole via Youtube. Despite never being into his music, he seems have played with all the living greats. In the Rabbit Hole I came to realize what a bazaar spot he's made for himself.

In an interview Mr. Grolh [I may of totally watched the interview just so I'd learn how to pronounce his surname]  he talked about a documentary he produced about a recording studio that recently closed. He made it because he came out of the little bubble the Foo Fighters had created [I'm paraphrasing what he said] and wasn't happy about the current state of music. I may not like the music, but I can respect the man.         

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Blasted Natural Note

Cracked open that sheet music/tab book again. I have the first [phrase?] of I love rock & roll written out [meaning I have the letter written above each notes] I also glanced at the tabs under the sheet music because they're in the same line of sight, and noticed that it was messed up. The tabs had the player running around when there was another place that would of made it easier.

It was going great until I noticed a natural note pop up on the phrase. I glace back at the beginning of the page and along with the tempo, and I glazed over was all these sharp marks. Frustrated, I closed the book right there, I wasn't ready to figure out was a E# was [there is no such thing]

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Base

The day after my last final I awoke with the feeling of depression hit me like a mack truck. I'm sure it was just the winter blues, plus having nothing I had to do. I grabbed the closest necked instrument [which happened to be Demon] and tried to play it away. I can only feel Demon's vibrations in my fretting hand when I'm playing the tiny strings [so my hand is cupped over the fretboard] and it just doesn't do it for me when I'm depressed.

I knew this feeling [or rather lack there of] was going to stick around if I didn't actively do something, so switched were my instruments are stored. Igor got the in my face place of the guitar stand [and they've been agreeing thus far] New Guy [yup I'm still calling him that] is in the gig bag and Demon is sitting nicely on the top bunk.

No matter how low I get the low end will rattled me out of a funk [god the irony and puniness possible with low end metaphors and this situation]. No matter what the bass will always be my first love, and base. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Professionals Amaze Me

How anyone can maintain playing well, even the weekend warriors in cover bands just amazes me. When I get good at something [ie, learning the fretboard] I move on to something else so I don't plateau, but then the skills I learned start to slip. It normally takes only a sit down or two to get back to proficiency, so I can't fathom how people manage keep all the skills they've learned and still able to absorb knew information.
My hat is off for you.

I'd probably be able to be more like these people if I could put more time into practicing, and it is the time of resolutions....[nah].        

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I am not the Same Player on Guitar

Some people on TB are obsessed about getting the tone in their head to come out of their amp, some want to copy another bassist to a T. I've always wanted to blaze my own path. Since I'm not guarantee jack amount of time being able to play bass, I wanted to do my own thing.

On guitar I'm the opposite. I find myself watching guitarist and being utterly enthralled with what I see. I saw Alex Lifeson reverb two strings at once, and I tried it on bass and it was awesome. I can't get over this [this compounded with how much I play with the effects on my amp when Demon is plugged in] is just astounding.