Bass Player Live 2014 Day 2

Hello again! I know I’ve kept you guys waiting and that’s not very nice.  Especially since the second day was when I really looked into the gear that was offered there.  I know that’s really what y’all care about. Hell, it’s all I care about.

The big room over at SIR was filled to the brim, packed to the gills, with bass. Bass guitars, bass amps, bass pickups, bass strings, bass picks, and anything and everything else. Carvin, Sadowsky, Aguilar, D’addario, Dunlop, Ampeg, Ashdown, Eden, Elixir Strings, Mesa/Boogie, Spector, La Bella, Kala U-Bass, TC Electronic, Tech 21… oh my goodness. I died and went to bass heaven. And all of the people who were running the booths were extremely awesome! I made some great friends at those booths.

I hung out at the Carvin booth for some time and really got to understand how they model and build their instruments. Their basses are slick and lightweight, making them the perfect bass for a player who needs to move fast and play with precision. They also look super rad, with bright bold colors to catch any eye. I think they’re definitely one of the leading contenders for the most versatile and most respected bass companies.

Another booth I spent quite a lot of time at was Bass Strings Online. They had very knowledgeable people working the booth that were very eager to talk about all the different kinds of strings they offered. They had multiple basses set up, all so that they could help each bass player discover their favorite string. And all at a bargain! After I got home and looked up the prices on their website, I was floored! I’m definitely only getting my strings through Bass Strings Online. Definitely check them out!

Finally, the booth that I spent most of my time at was the Sadowsky booth. Ever since I was a young bass player, I decided that Sadowsky basses were the best basses on the market. Now, many years later, I am still convinced. I’ve met the Sadowsky guys over the years at NAMM and I always look forward to seeing them again. Especially since they bring so many beautiful basses with them. Also, they attract some pretty cool people like Marcus Miller and Talk Wilkenfeld, both of whom showed up to play at the Sadowsky booth.

Overall, Bass Player Live was a great experience and I can’t wait to get there again. If you’re thinking of going, I urge you to. I learned more and played more in that weekend then I will for years to come. Definitely worth it!

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Bass Player Live 2014 Day 1

Hey everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been off the map. I’ve just been flying to Los Angeles and adopting dogs.  You know, the usual.

I flew to Los Angeles almost three weeks ago to travel to Bass Player Mecca. That’s right. Bass Player Live. Two full days (and I’m not joking when I say that) of nothing, but bass. On the first day, after hour 11 of straight bass, I was starting to get exhausted! However, the trip, in full, was one of the most fulfilling trips I have taken as well as the most fun.  I got to meet some of my bass idols and hear them speak in numerous clinics. I also got to try out the newest and hottest gear. Let me break it down for you!

Day 1 was insane! The first day, I attended mostly clinics.  My teacher here in Nashville was on one of the earlier panels on music education. It was very interesting to hear how today’s teachers have had to enhance their curriculum due to the internet. They mentioned how most of the students will not know how to read music, or transcribe music, because everything they need is on the internet and most likely has a tab along with it. Ever since then, I have made it a rule that I will never use tabs again. Knowing how to read and to transcribe is a dying art, and one I’d like to know how to do.

The next clinic I attended was with Abraham Laboriel and Bakithi Kumalo. The two of them were exhibiting their own Kala U-Basses. This clinic gave me a new insight to what the bass can offer in several different styles of music. The music they played was largely from different African regions. In this style, the bass defines most of the groove and, as Abraham showcased, the beat. Some of what Abraham was playing was mostly percussive and made to just give the song backbeat. Watching Abraham dance around was also extremely entertaining.

Later that evening I attended an interview that Bass Player hosted with Shavo Odadjian. I believe I took away more from this interview than I did anything else.  In this interview, Shavo talked about how he started to play with System Of A Down and about his influences. He also talked about how he became the bass player that he became. He talked about how he would never be like these “virtuosic” bass players who play up and down the neck with no problem. He’s all about just laying down the grove and locking in with the drummer.  And I truly believe that this is the most important thing about bass players.  It was great having that thought reconfirmed by someone who made a great living at it.

The night finished off with a fantastic awards show. Bass Player’s “Young Gun” award went to Henrik Lender, which was followed by a show with Henrik, Gary Willis, Scott Kinsey, and Kirk Covington. Three of the original players form Tribal Tech. This show was amazing! I never thought I’d be able to see such AMAZING musician’s performing together, but I did! I was marveled at how tight Kirk and Gary were.  I guess when you play together for so long, you really start to have deep understanding of each other’s playing style. The groove was out of this world!

The evening concert wrapped up with Abraham Laboriel accepting the “Lifetime Achievement” award and performing with his band, Open Hands. Yet another amazing group of musicians. The groove was moving and the pocket was tight. A perfect ending to a perfect day.  After the show, I promptly went back to my hotel and to bed, because I knew I had to get up the next morning to do it all over again.

Stay posted! Day 2’s round up will be posted some time soon!

Bass Review: Markbass Little Mark III

Soooo, I’m not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post, but my prized Acoustic 150 head, died. I mean, just all life in this amp ceased to exist. I tried to get it fixed and nothing. It’s just…done. And that’s extremely sad, but more so, it was terrifying.

A few weeks after my amp died, I got the amazing opportunity to play with a band that was opening up for Hunter Hayes in Minnesota. I was beyond thrilled! Then I realized that I couldn’t just show up at a huge venue with my 1×15 combo practice amp. So, I needed to buy an amp quickly. I ran to to Guitar Center that weekend, hoping to score a good deal on an Acoustic Amp to go along with my cab. However, I searched and searched and searched and could not find one they had that was 8 ohms. Furthermore, I could not find an amp, any amp, that was 8 ohms and under $1,000. Which, was highly over my price range. But then I met my Guitar Center angel who got me a huge deal on an amazing amp that I didn’t even think I could afford to look at.

This piece of gold was the Markbass Little Mark III. 500 watts, 8 ohms, 4 band EQ, built in direct out, pre/post EQ, variable pre-shape filter (VPF), vintage loudspeaker emulator (VLE), AND it only weighs six pounds! Everything I could have ever wanted in an amp is in this amp. I’ve never met an amp that sounded this good.

I’ve never taken a punch as strong as this amp delivers. The instant you turn the amp on, all you hear is bass. BOOOOOOM! This tone will blow you away the very minute you hit the string. And no matter how loud you turn up the amp, it stays clean. The problem with my last amp, was that it would start to distort as you would turn it up. But this amp is stays crisp and delicious. After purchasing this amp, I have decided that this is my tone.

Overall, I give this product the most favorable of favorable reviews. Go to your local music store and try it out. You won’t be disappointed!

“Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac (Bass Cover)

I’m really digging this whole video thing, you guys! It’s so easy and I just want to do it all the time! So, last night I recorded a cover of “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac.  You know, only one of the coolest songs ever! Thank you so much to everyone that watched my first video! I hope y’all enjoy the second!

Bass Review: Breedlove Solo Acoustic Bass

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This year I had the amazing opportunity to play at Summer NAMM on the Acoustic Nation stage. So, of course, me having a compulsive shopping disorder, I absolutely had to buy an acoustic bass for the show. And the fact that I wouldn’t have had to lug a six foot instrument through the Music City Center (which is like a million miles long) was pretty appealing. I could totally get down with carrying a lightweight bass. And it sounds pretty cool, too. ;-)

The search for the perfect sideways, acoustic bass is like finding the perfect tone or the holy grail: next to impossible. Or maybe I’m just picky. I went on an acoustic bass search early in my bass career and ended up not being totally impressed with the limited selection of basses. Some were too feedback-y, had too much buzz, were awkward to hold, too breakable, you name it. Eventually, I just gave up and bought an upright. Which, come to think of it was a pretty good turn of event. However, it was about time find something more convenient. And something that could fit in a small car if need be.

On to Helena! I found Helena at NAMM last year and I’ve dreamt about her every day since. She is absolutely gorgeous. With a solid cedar top, nato neck, rosewood fingerboard, and a pinless bridge, this instrument is wonderfully deep-toned and has perfect sustain. However, the holy grail of this bass is the L.R. Baggs preamp. With full EQ, a built in tuner, and total volume control, this preamp ensures that only the true tone of the instrument is being delivered to the sound board.

This bass is perfectly proportioned in such a way that it doesn’t feel awkward for me to play. The neck is perfectly rounded that it sits comfortably in the crook of my hand and my arm is able to wrap comfortably around the instrument.  But the best part? The top sound hole.  Yes, you heard me correctly. Of course, there is the front sound hole, but this bass comes with a fully functioning sound hole on the top of the instrument.  It really comes in handy when I do not receive a stage monitor.  I just pop that top sound hole out and I can hear myself perfectly! All of that awesome bass tone hits me in the face.  I love it!

Breedlove created gold with this bass.  This bass is truly priceless and totally worth it.  The bass is small enough that it is comfortably portable, it sounds crystal clear with a lot of depth, and it looks pretty cool. Definitely an eye-catching piece of bass guitar perfection.  I haven’t been this proud of an instrument in a long time.

And thus concludes the story of my beloved Helena…and of my dog, Rocky.

5 Bass Players I’ve Been Listening To

Alright, alright. It’s been awhile, I know.  However, I promise it’s been for good reason.

One of the biggest things I’ve been doing has been taking lessons.  Over the new year, I decided it was time to get back into the swing of weekly lessons and it has been nothing but great.  My bass teacher has an extensive knowledge of bass players from every single music genre and he’s made me obsessed with several different bass players. So, I figured I’d share with you a few of those bass players with you! And I encourage you to really listen to these bass players if you haven’t already.

1. Cliff Burton/”Metallica”

I got into Metallica not too long ago when I listened to “The Black Album” for the  first time. However, a good friend of mine urged me to listen to the “Cliff Burton era” of Metallica.  This “era” consists of the first three Metallica albums. Cliff has been cited by many as being one of the greatest bass players ever. Personally, I liked him because of his ability to play fast and grungy, but he can also be very melodic. I also love how he’ll double on a guitar riff.  AMAZING bass player!

2. Me’Shell Ndegeocello

I discovered Me’Shell when my bass teacher mentioned that a certain bass lick we were learning sounded a lot like her bass line in “Wild Night.” He played me the song and I fell into instant love with the bass line.  I went home and learned it note for note and then listened to some of her other work.  I absolutely love her versatility.  Funk, Jazz, Soul, Rock, you name it, she’s got it. There’s something for everybody when it comes to Me’Shell Ndegeocello.

3. Eric Wilson/”Sublime”

My biggest obsession lately is funk and bass line syncopation.  Personally, I think Eric Wilson has to be one of the best, recent bass players for that kind of style.  I feel like he’s in the same category as Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and P-Nut (311). Eric Wilson is great at fitting nice funky grooves into Sublime’s ska/reggae/rock thing they had going on.  He’s also extremely melodic and creates gorgeous bass lines.

4. Jaco Pastorius

I know, I know. EVERY bass player worships Jaco.  However, I never was one of those people until recently.  I kind of wrote him off as this bass player who was just too fancy for me.  But now, I see the art and the beauty in his playing.  I love listening for the ghost notes that he throws into his fast riffs and I love mulling over his creative melodies.  My journey of listening to every song Jaco has ever done has been an awesome one.  And I can’t wait to continue.

5. Bernard Odum/”James Brown”

James Brown is another person my bass teacher told me to listen to religiously. So, on one of my many road trips, I listened to more James Brown singles than I could count and I can pretty accurately say that Bernard Odum wrote some of my favorite J.B. bass lines. Bernard Odum played on some of James Brown’s greatest hits such as “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” and “I Got You(I Feel Good).” These are three more songs I just had to learn note for note. The Bootsy era of James Brown is probably one of the most popular, but if you haven’t really looked into Bernard Odum’s era, you totally should.