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Willis Takes on Your Questions

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Hey Willis,
I purchased your signature model basses about a year ago. I bought it used. For my own curiousity, I am trying to figure out the year it was manufactured, where it was manufactured and where it fits into the evolution of your signature model. Some of the basses details are 1) Serial Number F0005134, 2) Swamp Ash Body w/ bolt-on neck (4 screws), 3) head stock matches the body and has your signature, 4) 34″ scale, 5) black triple wing tuners, 6) ramp is glued to body, 7) 9V Bartolini pre-amp and 8 ) round wound strings (I do not know if they are the originals). White fret dot markers are in the middle of the fretboard. The bridge is black and lightweight. Double strap locks on end of body.Thanks,David

image Hey David,
That would be one of the original GWB1’s from the first two years of production. Back then, the basses were manufactured for Ibanez in Japan by the Fujigen factory and they did some fine work. In the 2nd edition, we moved the fret markers to between the E and B string since there was a possibility of buzz caused by the different expanion/contraction qualities of the inlay dot material vs. the ebony fingerboard. Also, the ramp isn’t glued – it’s attached with double sided tape. It’s our intention that you remove the ramp and adjust its height by using different layers of normal tape and then re-attaching it with double sided tape. You’ll get better use out of the ramp if you set it to your preferred height.

Hey Willis,
I jis got turned on 2 your playN, via iTunes.I bought afew of your projects, & jis had 2 tell U that I dig yo’ vibe. Especially, the slow FUNky trax. Play on.
Innaminnit,
Psa150!=tg

Hey Psa150!=tg,
Lucky for me I found this site lingotoword.com. Here’s what they came up with:
I became interested in your playing by way of iTunes. I purchased a selection of your projects, and have to tell you that I enjoy your feeling and atmosphere. Especially, the slow FUNky tracks.
Hey Psa150!=tg,
tnx 4 yr knd wrds n yr Emsg. Im ncouragd by yr sincerity n clevA uz of lang.
mch tnx,
GW

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Hey Willis,
What would you recommend to do to improve to ease the moving of the fingers of the left hand?
I’d be pleased if you could answer my question. Thank you very much in advance.
Lutz

Hey Lutz,
This is one I can take directly from my (shameless plug alert!) 101Tips for Bass Book.
Try this experiment on a fretted bass. Put your first finger directly over the dot that’s in between the B and C on the A string. Your finger should be exactly in the middle between the two frets. When you press down the resulting note will be a C. Play constant, repeated C’s in the right hand. Try letting up on the pressure and notice how quicly the note wants to start buzzing. Go back and forth from the clean C to the buzz to get a sense of the pressure involved.
Now move your finger up to the C so that your finger is on or just slightly past the 3rd fret.
Play the constant C’s and try letting up on the pressure again. Notice anything different?
You should be able to tell that as you lift up it doesn’t want to buzz nearly as soon as when your finger is directly in the middle between the frets. Again, go back and forth from the Clean C to the buzzing. As you lift up try to stop just before the C starts to buzz. That amount of pressure, right before it will start to
buzz, is all the pressure that’s needed to play a note on the bass. Is it less pressure than you normally use? I thought so. Probably a lot less pressure.
By being accurate with the left hand and always having your finger in contact with the fret, you can use a lot less effort to play the bass. Accuracy can be acquired just by being conscious of having your finger in the right place every time you play a note. But the best restuls come from teaching your left hand exactly where that pressure point is for each finger. Start with the 2nd finger on a G (E string, 3rd Fret). Make sure that you locate that 2nd finger just touching or slightly past the fret you’re using. Play constant repeated notes with the right hand just like before. Start out with your finger just touching the string (no note shouldsound) and then gradually press down all the while playing constantly with the right hand. Once the G stops buzzing and sounds cleanly, gradually lift up with the 2nd finger until it begins to
buzz again. Keep alternating buzzing and clean until you get a sense of exactly how much pressure it takes to keep the note clean. Always be just on the verge of buzzing. Once you think you have a handle on the pressure, play each note of the G major scale for at least 3 seconds just barely alternating between buzz and clean. Go up and down the scale at least twice this way. It would be a good idea to start out every practice session with this exercise.
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Hey Willis,
At any point in your career did you ever use rotosounds? I ask because those sound incredibly great to me. Jaco type tone obviously and some other people. As a follow up was there ever a close second to the ghs progressives or are they far and away “the strings”?In other news, I got a case of beer, listened to the big wave about 10 consecutive times, and did a drunken dance.
Thank you for that , sir.
Drewskie

Hey Drewskie,
My neice (when she was 2 years old) used to do this crazy dance whenever the Big Wave came on but I think they skipped the case of beer part. Of course, a long time ago I was doing the Rotosound thing on the 4-strings basses that I built. Eventually I decided that stainless steel was a little too harsh. I stopped with the GHS’s about 6 or 7 years ago. (shameless plug alert!) I’ve seen the light. D’Addario XL’s are the the only way to go. I use both flavors, regular and EXP, depending on the situtaion. 45, 65, 85, 105 & 135 for the B.

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Hey Willis,
I just got myself a GWB-1, and she is indeed a lovely bass. I’m curious, though, why you went with a 2 band rather than a 3 band EQ? So much of the life in the bass sound is in the low mids…I’m sure you have good reasons, and that it’s likely that you can articulate them.Thanks, and dogs and basses are a good combination for a long and happy life…JK

Hey JK,
Congrats and I couldn’t agree with your last sentiment more. Actually, one of the best features of this bass is the low mid sound that comes out of it naturally. I didn’t want to risk any electronics messing with that. Originally, I was using mine without a preamp and no EQ, but for a production model, it was pointed out to me that to compete on the sales floor we’d have to put in a preamp. So I was lucky to get to work with Bartolini to develop an EQ based on the natural sound that I was getting without a preamp. I think the result is very transparent with the ability to brighten or darken and add some low end. I think if you listen through a halfway decent system, you’ll find it doesn’t need any EQ.

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Hey Willis,
Where can we buy your music. None of the stores visited carry your stuff?
MC

Hey MC,
Here’s one word that will change your whole life: google
Look it up (hint: it’s on the internet)

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Hey Willis,
Gary, I’ve noticed that you and Victor Wooten are both using those triple wing tuners. I am curious about the benefits of these and how I can purchase them as after market parts. Also, your work has hugely influenced my own playing over the years (just thought I’s mention that).
Thanks, Chuck

Hi GaryI read somewhere on the net that you first got your Sure-grip tuners off a hardware store. Is that the case ? If so can you let me know which one? I have Ibanez-gotoh tunersbut I dig those knobs.Thanks a million.
Take care, you are a huge inspiration.

Dear Mr. Willis,I recall some time ago that your custom tuners that are standard issue on your Signature bass were also available on your site individually (if I’m correct, in a set of 4 and then individual ones to fill out 5, 6 strings, etc). Do you still sell them from your website, and if so could you give me a quick price quote?Thank you for your time in this matter.Sincerely, Ian

Hey Guys,
Thanks for the kind words and yes the tuners are still officially available. The individual wings are available in sets of 2 or 3. Here are the part numbers:
2MHKB1GWB2 MACHINEHEAD KNOB (2PCS=1SET)
2MHKB1GWB3 MACHINEHEAD KNOB (3PCS=1SET)
Yeah, the original inspiration came from trying to lighten up the headstock. I originally used electronics store radio knobs made by CALRAD along with some special shaft adaptors to get them to fit. It was very labor intensive but it looked cool. Eventually, because of certain patent restrictions, Ibanez came up with the triple-wing design and I modified it s little from there.

Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes

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Interview With Bassist Erick Jesus Coomes

Bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes…

It is always great to meet a super busy bassist who simply exudes a love for music and his instrument. Erick “Jesus” Coomes fits this description exactly. Hailing from Southern California, “Jesus” co-founded and plays bass for Lettuce and has found his groove playing with numerous other musicians.

Join us as we hear of his musical journey, how he gets his sound, his ongoing projects, and his plans for the future.

Photo, Bob Forte

Visit Online

www.lettucefunk.com
IG @jesuscsuperstar
FB@jesuscoomes
FB @lettucefunk

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Bass Videos

Working-Class Zeros: Episode #2 – Financial Elements of Working Musicians

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WORKING-CLASS ZEROS With Steve Rosati and Shawn Cav

Working-Class Zeros: Episode #2 – Financial Elements of Working Musicians

These stories from the front are with real-life, day-to-day musicians who deal with work life and gigging and how they make it work out. Each month, topics may include… the kind of gigs you get, the money, dealing with less-than-ideal rooms, as well as the gear you need to get the job done… and the list goes on from there.” – Steve the Bass Guy and Shawn Cav

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @foderaguitars @overwaterbasses @mgbassguitars @bqwbassguitar @marleaux_bassguitars @sugi_guitars @mikelullcustomguitars @ramabass.ok @chris_seldon_guitars @gullone.bajos

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Bass CDs

New Album: Jake Leckie, Planter of Seeds

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Planter of Seeds is bassist/composer Jake Leckie’s third release as a bandleader and explores what beauty can come tomorrow from the seeds we plant today. 

Bassist Jake Leckie and The Guide Trio Unveil New Album Planter of Seeds,
to be released on June 7, 2024

Planter of Seeds is bassist/composer Jake Leckie’s third release as a bandleader and explores what beauty can come tomorrow from the seeds we plant today. 

What are we putting in the ground? What are we building? What is the village we want to bring our children up in? At the core of the ensemble is The Guide Trio, his working band with guitarist Nadav Peled and drummer Beth Goodfellow, who played on Leckie’s second album, The Guide, a rootsy funky acoustic analog folk-jazz recording released on Ropeadope records in 2022. For Planter of Seeds, the ensemble is augmented by Cathlene Pineda (piano), Randal Fisher (tenor saxophone), and Darius Christian (trombone), who infuse freedom and soul into the already tightly established ensemble.

Eight original compositions were pristinely recorded live off the floor of Studio 3 at East West Studios in Hollywood CA, and mastered by A.T. Michael MacDonald. The cover art is by internationally acclaimed visual artist Wayne White. Whereas his previous work has been compared to Charles Mingus, and Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet with Charlie Haden, Leckie’s new collection sits comfortably between the funky odd time signatures of the Dave Holland Quintet and the modern folk-jazz of the Brian Blade Fellowship Band with a respectful nod towards the late 1950s classic recordings of Ahmad Jamal and Miles Davis.

The title track, “Planter of Seeds,” is dedicated to a close family friend, who was originally from Trinidad, and whenever she visited family or friends at their homes, without anyone knowing, she would plant seeds she kept in her pocket in their gardens, so the next season beautiful flowers would pop up. It was a small altruistic anonymous act of kindness that brought just a little more beauty into the world. The rhythm is a tribute to Ahmad Jamal, who we also lost around the same time, and whose theme song Poinciana is about a tree from the Caribbean.

“Big Sur Jade” was written on a trip Leckie took with his wife to Big Sur, CA, and is a celebration of his family and community. This swinging 5/4 blues opens with an unaccompanied bass solo, and gives an opportunity for each of the musicians to share their improvisational voices. “Clear Skies” is a cathartic up-tempo release of collective creative energies in fiery improvisational freedom. “The Aquatic Uncle” features Randal Fisher’s saxophone and is named after an Italo Calvino short story which contemplates if one can embrace the new ways while being in tune with tradition. In ancient times, before a rudder, the Starboard side of the ship was where it was steered from with a steering oar. In this meditative quartet performance, the bass is like the steering oar of the ensemble: it can control the direction of the music, and when things begin to unravel or become unhinged, a simple pedal note keeps everything grounded.

The two trio tunes on the album are proof that the establishment of his consistent working band The Guide Trio has been a fruitful collaboration. “Santa Teresa”, a bouncy samba-blues in ? time, embodies the winding streets and stairways of the bohemian neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro it is named for. The swampy drum feel on “String Song” pays homage to Levon Helm of The Band, a group where you can’t always tell who wrote the song or who the bandleader is, proving that the sum is greater than the individual parts. Early jazz reflected egalitarianism in collective improvisation, and this group dynamic is an expression of that kind of inclusivity and democracy.

“The Daughters of the Moon” rounds out the album, putting book ends on the naturalist themes. This composition is named after magical surrealist Italo Calvino’s short story about consumerism, in which a mythical modern society that values only buying shiny new things throws away the moon like it is a piece of garbage and the daughters of the moon save it and resurrect it. It’s an eco-feminist take on how women are going to save the world. Pineda’s piano outro is a hauntingly beautiful lunar voyage, blinding us with love. Leckie dedicates this song to his daughter: “My hope is that my daughter becomes a daughter of the moon, helping to make the world a more beautiful and verdant place to live.”

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Bass CDs

Debut Album: Nate Sabat, Bass Fiddler

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Debut Album: Nate Sabat, Bass Fiddler

In a thrilling solo debut, bassist Nate Sabat combines instrumental virtuosity with a songwriter’s heart on Bass Fiddler

The upright bass and the human voice. Two essential musical instruments, one with roots in 15th century Europe, the other as old as humanity itself. 

On Bass Fiddler (Adhyâropa Records ÂR00057), the debut album from Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and bass virtuoso Nate Sabat, the scope is narrowed down a bit. Drawing from the rich and thriving tradition of American folk music, Sabat delivers expertly crafted original songs and choice covers with the upright bass as his lone tool for accompaniment. 

The concept was born a decade ago when Sabat began studying with the legendary old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky at Berklee College of Music. “One of Bruce’s specialties is singing and playing fiddle at the same time. The second I heard it I was hooked,” recalls Sabat. “I thought, how can I do this on the bass?” From there, he was off to the races, arranging original and traditional material with Molsky as his guide. “Fast forward to 2020, and I — like so many other musicians — was thinking of how to best spend my time. I sat down with the goal of writing some new songs and arranging some new covers, and an entire record came out.” When the time came to make the album, it was evident that Molsky would be the ideal producer. Sabat asked him if he’d be interested, and luckily he was. “What an inspiration to work with an artist like Nate,” says Molsky. “Right at the beginning, he came to this project with a strong, personal and unique vision. Plus he had the guts to try for a complete and compelling cycle of music with nothing but a bass and a voice. You’ll hear right away that it’s engaging, sometimes serious, sometimes fun, and beautifully thought out from top to bottom.” 

While this record is, at its core, a folk music album, Sabat uses the term broadly. Some tracks lean more rock (‘In the Shade’), some more pop (‘White Marble’, ‘Rabid Thoughts’), some more jazz (‘Fade Away’), but the setting ties them all together. “There’s something inherently folksy about a musician singing songs with their instrument, no matter the influences behind the compositions themselves,” Sabat notes. To be sure, there are plenty of folk songs (‘Louise’ ‘Sometimes’, ‘Eli’) and fiddling (‘Year of the Ox’) to be had here — the folk music fan won’t go hungry. There’s a healthy dose of bluegrass too (‘Orphan Annie’, ‘Lonesome Night’), clean and simple, the way Mr. Bill Monroe intended. 

All in all, this album shines a light on an instrument that often goes overlooked in the folk music world, enveloping the listener in its myriad sounds, textures, and colors. “There’s nothing I love more than playing the upright bass,” exclaims Sabat. “My hope is that listeners take the time to sit with this album front to back — I want them to take in the full scope of the work. I have a feeling they’ll hear something they haven’t heard before.”

Available online at natesabat.bandcamp.com/album/walking-away

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