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Entries in music (5)

Friday
Jan282011

What Contributes to the Upright Bass’s Sound?

In chatting with a friend who plays bass he brought up the dilemma that many bass players face. How can I get an upright bass sound out of my electric bass?

Before I get into my findings the blunt answer is that the only way to get a true upright bass sound is by playing an upright bass. I know that sounds stupid to state, but some people believe that you can get a real Les Paul tone from a Variax, or a real tube sounding amp from an effects pedal, and it’s not true.

So why the pursuit? Because often when doing a gig it’s not necessary for that pure sound and instead can be replaced with an improvised version.

My friend said that he had heard from one of his friends that the way to get an upright bass sound on an electric bass was by adding a little distortion on the amp side, which would increase the string noise that can be heard on an upright bass. I thought that was interesting approach to the dilemma and suggested that maybe putting the electric bass through a guitar overdrive pedal might be another step in that direction with pedal beefing up that tonal range on a bass and getting a little closer to that sound.

But the question still lingered in my mind: What makes an upright bass sound like an upright bass? I’m guitar player/luthier by trade so even though I can play bass, as well as build and repair them; it’s not my main instrument. Then it dawned on me that scale length probably played a larger role in the equation than amps or effects did. When you consider that one of the contributing factors between Gibson guitars and Fender guitars is three quarters of an inch, it makes since that scale length would be contributing factor to the question.

So what’s scale length difference between an electric bass and an upright bass?

About four to six inches, which is quite a lot.

The next question: Does anybody make a 40” scale length electric bass?

The answer: Yes, Knuckle Guitar Works does. It’s called the Quake. It’s not quite 40”, it comes in at 39.55” to be exact, but that’s pretty close. And while it still doesn’t sound exactly like an upright bass, it’s a hellava lot closer to it than the 36” standard.

 

Thursday
Jan272011

“Kentucky Woman” – Neil Diamond

Until this morning I had always thought that “Kentucky Woman” was written and performed by Deep Purple. It always seemed like a rather odd song in Deep Purple’s repertoire and knowing that Neil Diamond wrote it makes much more sense.

Here are the two versions for your listening pleasure:

 

Tuesday
Mar232010

Wood Glue Gives New Life to Old Vinyl Records

After reading Use Wood Glue to Clean and Restore Old LPs, I just had to try it out on some of my unplayable records I've accumulated over time.

I started out with my Dad's old copy of Cream's Disraeli Gears, which I've cleaned thoroughly multiple times (with my special record cleaner recipe), repaired all the scratches manually by hand, and it still sounded pretty messy. I knew that even if this experiment didn't work out, it wouldn't have been that big of a loss.

The result was astounding. The record was playable for the first time in years, removing almost all noise generated from years of accumulating dust and debris in the record's crevices.

I moved on to something a little more treasured, which was the US Mono release of Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow. While I've always loved the way "White Rabbit" sounds on this recording, at its peak on the record it is dissatisfying when shrouded in the static white noise cluttering the recording. After the wood glue treatment, it sounded perfect, beautiful, powerful, and all those other adjectives that express awesomeness.

I've started going through my Sinatra collection applying the glue in the evening and then peeling off the plasticized layer in the morning. It's the best record cleaning solution I've come across, for its thoroughness, time efficiency and cost efficiency. I highly recommend it to anyone out there looking to restore their LP collection. For more info on the process, watch the YouTube video with the Lifehacker post.

Tuesday
Mar092010

Have You Heard The New Hendrix Album?

Is that title correct? Didn't Jimi die? Oh, it's probably one of those junk, exploit-the-dead, releases where all the tracks are poorly mastered and they get sloppy musicians to play on top of Hendrix.

And Yes, these were some of my first thoughts as well, but on the contrary this collection of material is AWESOME! in every one of its tracks. Here's Why:

Sound Quality:

Clear. Significantly so. The album is almost an antithesis of "Electric Ladyland", where Hendrix was experimenting with so many different sounds that in some tracks, you longed for the time when it was just Hendrix and his guitar playing. The recordings themselves mirror that of The Beatles "Let it Be... Naked" album, a stripped down representation of the band playing together and jamming.

Track Selection:

If you're a die-hard Hendrix fan, there's really nothing new here. By now you've found all these tracks on bootlegged vinyl records, collector's boxsets, etc. So you'll probably pick this up, for anyone else looking to see another side of Hendrix I stornly urge you to take a look at picking this up.

Cover Design / Packaging:

Egh. Not really a big deal, not iconic like the earlier covers and packaging. Even the Woodstock and Live at the Filmore East covers surpass in design, aesthetic, coloring. Even the font choice is poor and makes the product feel cheap, but don't let this detract you from the quality of these recordings. And in time, I'm sure there will plenty of fan covers you use to replace this one in your iPod.

Conclusion:

Don't listen to my opinion, I'm biased. I love Hendrix, and he is my vote for the best guitarist of all time. So if they released an album of Hendrix playing scales, practicing, I would probably pick it up. Instead I encourage you to listen to it for yourself and make your own decision about these recordings. At the very least you'll get a chance to hear Hendrix in new way, which is always a geat opportunity.

Tuesday
Sep012009

More Autobiographical Tidbits

New article over at GearLive:

The Punk Rock Way To Start Making Comics

What I've learned from playing in failed rock bands and how it applies to getting you comic book idea of the ground.