Experiments With Fretless Bass

You know that annoying habit when a bass player first hears Jaco Pastorius and suddenly wants to start playing fretless bass? Yeah, that recently happened to me -- many decades later than it should have. In addition to the newfound love of all things Jaco, I've been listening more attentively to the fretless work of Pino Paladino, Tony Franklin, and Tony Levin. There is no shortage of inspirational subsonic fretless material to be inspired.

Recently, I was interested in purchasing a brand new neck with an ebony fingerboard but a YouTube video produced by Taylor Guitars put that to rest as it detailed the abuses of African Ebony wood harvesting and poaching. I would recommend anyone looking to buy ebony for playing music to watch the video below.

Frankenbass Gets a New Neck From Parts Unknown

Frankenbass Gets a New Neck From Parts Unknown

Ultimately, I found a de-fretted old Fender Jazz Bass neck online rather cheaply. Like using reclaimed wood, this solution was easy on the pocketbook and the forests. It may be ugly, but I like the odd red neck. In time, if I come to grow into playing fretless bass, I plan to add a red tortoise shell pickguard to complete the look.

Dinnertime Noise Gate

Dinner needed to become a more civilized affair so I recently started using a decibel meter application on my iPhone to monitor the din during din din. Both children want attention at the table and every evening begins an ever escalating volume war to gain said attention.

The decibel meter takes care of all that jazz. "Kids, you say you want movie night after dinner? Then don't let the max hit 105dB!" And just like that, dinner was enjoyed at conversational sound pressure levels.

According to Wikipedia, a Noise Gate is:

A noise gate or gate is an electronic device or software that is used to control the volume of an audio signal. Or Dinner.
Delightful Dinner Decibels

Delightful Dinner Decibels

New Band Site Launching Soon

We are quickly closing in on launching our band website. Not a vanity thing. We just need a place to post some sound clips, promote, and book shows. NEVER7 coming soon.

Photo Credit: Julee Dyer

Photo Credit: Julee Dyer

Editing Patches On a Laptop

Never say never. That expression exists for a reason. I said long ago that I would never again use digital modeling and/or digital effects. That was until I heard Zoom's B3 Bass Multi-Effects Processor.

I was more in love with the concept than the actual tone created by my Line 6 Bass Pod XT Pro. The idea of rack mounting a near infinite tone box with a PA-style power amp was a great concept that never really panned out. Instead, I was fairly happy with a couple of years of using the Bass Pod XT Pro as a preamp into my Eden WT400. The combination of the Line 6's intuitive hardware interface, endless variety of tones and tube preamp section of the Eden was rather nice and easy.

Over time, I grew tired of sterile digital and hungered for warmer, analog sounds. Further, the editing software Line 6 released for editing and sharing patches could have been an order of magnitude better and it still would have been a crash-tastic thrill ride of UI poisoning. 

To be fair, Line 6 was groundbreaking stuff when it first came out. But things have come a long way since the early 2000s. The Japanese tone scientists of Zoom have created something really special in the B3. The B3 is built like a tank, intuitive and easy to use -- and I haven't even mentioned the built in looper that is hands down easier to use than the Boss RC-2 Loop Station and the second generation Ditto from TC Electronics (I've owned both)! There is even a built in drum machine!

The UX indicates that there are two modes of using this product: 1. Experimenting, saving, and setting the order of the patches and 2. Operating the unit by foot with few to no edits while performing. By releasing Edit & Share, Zoom has made it exceptionally easy to edit patches without the need for repetitive bending over to address the knobs. Unable to test your patches at stage volume? No problem. Use studio grade headphones to really dial in your sound before you send it to the Front of House. Take a look below and you will see some cheeky but accurate iconic depictions of classic amplifiers, outboard gear and stomp boxes.

Screenshot of Edit & Go Software Connected to Zoom G5 for Guitar

Screenshot of Edit & Go Software Connected to Zoom G5 for Guitar

Being able to download patches created by a community of bass players is a great feature and one I took advantage. I found it both easy to find and install patches I found on TalkBass. And the data format for exchanging patches? Why, it is none other than plain vanilla XML. Check out the extremely clean and efficient rendering of a ModernTube tone made by a guy named CrystalMan85.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<PatchData>
  <Product>B3</Product>
  <Name>ModernTube</Name>
  <Tooltip></Tooltip>
  <Keywords></Keywords>
  <Version>1.00</Version>
  <Module0>
    <Prm0>1</Prm0>
    <Prm1>19</Prm1>
    <Prm2>13</Prm2>
    <Prm3>0</Prm3>
    <Prm4>100</Prm4>
    <Prm5>3</Prm5>
    <Prm6>100</Prm6>
    <Prm7>0</Prm7>
    <Prm8>0</Prm8>
    <Prm9>0</Prm9>
    <Prm10>0</Prm10>
  </Module0>
  <Module1>
    <Prm0>1</Prm0>
    <Prm1>72</Prm1>
    <Prm2>4</Prm2>
    <Prm3>5</Prm3>
    <Prm4>48</Prm4>
    <Prm5>3</Prm5>
    <Prm6>10</Prm6>
    <Prm7>92</Prm7>
    <Prm8>0</Prm8>
    <Prm9>0</Prm9>
    <Prm10>0</Prm10>
  </Module1>
  <Module2>
    <Prm0>1</Prm0>
    <Prm1>84</Prm1>
    <Prm2>13</Prm2>
    <Prm3>12</Prm3>
    <Prm4>10</Prm4>
    <Prm5>15</Prm5>
    <Prm6>40</Prm6>
    <Prm7>45</Prm7>
    <Prm8>3</Prm8>
    <Prm9>7</Prm9>
    <Prm10>59</Prm10>
  </Module2>
  <Module3>
    <Prm0>87</Prm0>
    <Prm1>5</Prm1>
    <Prm2>0</Prm2>
    <Prm3>4</Prm3>
    <Prm4>0</Prm4>
    <Prm5>100</Prm5>
    <Prm6>0</Prm6>
    <Prm7>10</Prm7>
    <Prm8>0</Prm8>
    <Prm9>0</Prm9>
    <Prm10>0</Prm10>
  </Module3>
  <Module4>
    <Prm0>0</Prm0>
    <Prm1>0</Prm1>
    <Prm2>0</Prm2>
    <Prm3>0</Prm3>
    <Prm4>0</Prm4>
    <Prm5>0</Prm5>
    <Prm6>0</Prm6>
    <Prm7>0</Prm7>
    <Prm8>0</Prm8>
    <Prm9>0</Prm9>
    <Prm10>0</Prm10>
  </Module4>
</PatchData>
Blissed Out Making and Storing Patches

Blissed Out Making and Storing Patches

A Friend and a Hero

On this Veterans Day I'd like to honor a friend of mine who I often think of as a big brother. More than that, this person is somewhat of a hero to me as he has had a remarkable career as an Air Force Photojournalist and member of Combat Camera. I did not know Scott outside of the squadron when we served together but over the years,  I have gotten to know the strong father he is to a wonderful family. The fact that he and his family permanently relocated to Germany merely makes me jealous.

Scott was recently featured by the Air Force Public Affairs Agency. From the article:

“With the Cold War still in full swing, I naively imagined that I would soon be operating powerful camera systems while flying high above Russia in the SR-71,” he said. After graduating technical school, Wagers found out he would not be behind the camera taking imagery, but on the ground developing film from SR-71s and satellites.

Scott, thanks for your service and most of all, being a good friend.

Scott Wagers on 'Deployment' to Pismo Beach (photo credit: Mark Borosch)

Scott Wagers on 'Deployment' to Pismo Beach (photo credit: Mark Borosch)