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Willis Takes on Your Questions

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First, an update from last issue’s question from Nick about wrist problems and mountain biking. I recently put Avid Elixir CR’s on my Cannondale Moto and wow what a difference. These are better than anything I’ve experienced.True 1-finger lockup and the least amount of tension on my wrists and hands that I can imagine.
Check it out:



Hey Willis,
You I noticed that you’ve started your own YouTube channel and there’s a couple of 3-finger technique exercises. Do you have anything for 4 string, or could you upload something? I’d like to see your basic string crossing exercise but for a 4 string bass.
Thanks,
Nathan

Hey Nathan,
I’m uploading your answer as I type.

Yeah, It’s not happened as quickly as I would have liked but my plan is to answer the type of question you’ve asked and also to take requests (as long as they don’t violate YouTube’s Community Guidelines 😉

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Hey Willis.
First, I have purchased all three of your instructional books: 101 Bass Tips, Fingerboard Harmony for Bass & Ultimate Ear Training. I enjoy 101 Tips more than the other two. The question is are all the examples of Key-Finger-String in the Fingerboard Harmony book written for a five string bass? Some of the finger locations really don’t make a lot of sense to an old guy who has only seriously been playing bass for a couple of years.
Thanks,
Joe

Hey Joe,
Speaking of an old guy, I don’t remember . . . Let me look it up . . . Nope, there’s no Key-Finger-String positions for the B string, so it’s all four string. One thing that might be confusing is that there are some K-F-S positions used for 2nd finger on the D string. This will make sense if you remember how the 2nd finger position connects to the 4th finger position below. On a four string bass, you have to imagine the root of that 4th finger position starting on a B string even if you don’t have one. The same thing happens on a five string bass with positions on the A string so don’t feel like you’re being discriminated against;-)

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Hey Willis,
I’d like to know what your amplification rig was for the Progressive Bassics” Video. Were you using 15’s back then? I remember reading that you were blowing 15’s on tour with Tribal Tech around the time you discovered the Eden 10″ drivers. Now you are using Aguilar 12’s. Does this represent a compromise between the sound of a 15 vs. a 10 and if so, why?
Jordan

Hey Jordan,
That rig was a Carver power amp, probably a Yamaha bass preamp and cabinets that I built myself or JBL cabs with an almost identical design. My 15″ cabinet design was basically a big speaker in a shallow box so it had a lot of definition but didn’t move that much air, but at least you didn’t hear the sound of the box that much. Most 4×10 designs use a bigger box tuned to move more air and sound bigger than 10’s naturally do. While the 12’s weren’t really an option with most manufacturers at that time, 10’s were really starting to become popular and I had much better success not blowing speakers.. Then I played Aguilar’s 10’s until I heard their single 12. I had the fortune of participating in Aguilar’s evaluation process and as soon as I heard it, I knew it had the “throaty” quality I was looking for that didn’t come from any combination of speakers or cabinet size I’d heard before. So it’s definitely not a compromise, but to me, pretty much an ideal speaker.

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Hey Willis,
I’m going crazy with DVDs, books, online information. No teacher locally. WHAT SHOULD I PRACTISE? AHhhhhhh….
How do I gain the right focus?
How do I know if I’m making any progress?

All I want to do is play really really well :>)

Hey Anonymous,
IWhy is it that every one of these questions so far is making me feel old?
OK, back in my day, we didn’t have this internet thingy and this humongous warehouse of information, video, music and instruction only a few clicks away. So pardon me if I don’t sympathize too much. Still, I suppose the glut of choices might make someone feel frozen and not know which direction to go. In a way, I still feel lucky that I never had an electric bass teacher. For that reason, I feel like I’ve had success teaching people how to teach themselves. (which is what I had to do) You do have your own learning process, but maybe you haven’t zeroed in on it yet. Also, you have to realize that everybody is on their own schedule so don’t worry about comparing yourself to the latest young bass-stylist-flavor-of-the-month. Try focusing on the learning process that you’re using. Do you enjoy it? Do you feel free to create exercises for yourself? Do your ear and imagination play an important part in the learning process. If you can answer yes to all three of these questions and throw in some discipline while you’re at it, you’ll be well on your way to making progress. Stay with it long enough and you will play really really well. Now get out of my yard, you kids!

———————–

Hey Willis,
To me, the ramp is the most important advance in electric bass regarding playability since bass body shapes became contoured for us beer lovers. Adjustable
ramps are only offered by your bass and other high-end boutique manufacturers (Fodera, etc). Have the Ibanez guys thought of including ramps in other models, or expanding your signature series to fretted and 4-, 6-string basses? Please, answer yes and end my suffering.
Thanks,
Miguel

Hey Miguel,
Your’e a genius! Why didn’t I think of that? “The Beer Ramp” Wait . . . OK, nevermind
So the answer is kinda yes but mostly no. I am able to personally offer a fretted and/or left-handed version of my signature bass, but 5 string only. Several years ago, I was shown a 4 string Willis prototype but the extra manufacturing/labor cost of including an adjustable ramp on less expensive basses doesn’t add up. The competition in the low-end and mid-level instrument market is intense. Maybe you could start a grass-roots, internet-signature-collecting kind of movement:
Yes we can. . . have a ramp on every bass . . .

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Hey Willis,
I am 20 years old and I started playing a couple of years ago. Although I am happy with my progress in general, I have one persistent problem that has always remained.
Whenever I hold a chord, be it a two note, three or four note one, I cannot hold it for more than 10-15 seconds without this shooting pain in the muscles between my left thumb and index finger (I’m right handed)…this was a problem I faced while playing guitar as well (albeit to a lesser degree). I have tried all sorts of hand positions, but that pain doesn’t seem to go away, or it comes later. Are there any adjustments I could make to my left hand technique to reduce the pain or delay it?
Thanks a lot,
Arunabh

Hey Arunabh,
OK, first thing to do is stop playing those 3 and 4 note chords! That’s what keyboard players and computers are for! (guitar players just wanna solo and could care less about chords)
Now, the next place to start is the setup of your bass. There’s information on my site about setup (it’s kind of dated but still works).
Once you’re sure that the bass is set up with the lowest action you can have without buzzing. The next equipment consideration is the height of the nut. Compare how much the string moves when you fret a low F and while it’s fretted, press down the F#. Look to see if there’s a lot more movement when you only press the F. If there’s a huge difference, then your nut is too high. This can be addressed by a luthier or yourself if you’re comfortable with acquiring and using the right tools.
Once those two things are accounted for, then we can consider your technique.
This would be taken from a chapter in my 101 Tips for Bass book.
Repeatedly play a C on the A string but center your left hand finger directly between the frets – on top of the dot.
Continue repeating the C and gradually lift your finger until you hear it buzz. Observe how much pressure is necessary to keep the note from buzzing. Probably less than you normally use, no?
OK, now move your finger up the string until it’s almost on top of the 3rd fret. Do the same thing – repeated C’s and gradually lift up until it buzzes. Keep alternating – buzz/clean to see how much pressure is actually necessary to keep the note from buzzing. I expect you might be surprised how much more pressure you might be using than necessary.
Two things to remember – first, you’re probably using a lot more pressure than necessary to keep your notes from buzzing. Second, if you maintain a very accurate placement of the left hand fingers so that they are in contact with the fret – it will require even less pressure. Less pressure should equal less to no pain – I hope. Also remember, fewer chords on bass equals more gainful employment.

Gear News

Gear News: Positive Grid Launches Spark 2

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Gear News: Positive Grid Launches Spark 2

Positive Grid launches Spark 2, the next evolution of their cutting-edge smart guitar practice amplifiers and BluetoothŸ speakers.

Engineered for acoustic, electric guitar, and bass, Spark 2 delivers an immersive practice and playing experience. Enjoy detailed sound and an all-new upgraded speaker design powered by Positive Grid’s exclusive Sonic IQ Computational Audio technology. With an onboard creative looper, optional battery power, and intuitive AI features for tone exploration and practice, Spark 2 is the gateway to a musical experience that goes beyond expectations. 

Proprietary Audio and Advanced Technology
Spark 2 represents a leap forward in amplifier design. It integrates a new DSP amp modeling engine with double the processing power, and at 50 Watts, it packs 25% more volume than the original. Positive Grid’s proprietary Sonic IQ Computational Audio delivers incredibly detailed and dynamic sound. New HD amp models, enhanced by multi-band dynamic range compression and virtual bass augmentation, redefine the sonic landscape.

Equipped with two premium FRFR speakers and reflex ports, Spark 2 offers wide stereo imaging and broader frequency response, ensuring refined bass and clear, immersive sound.

Built-In Creative Looper
Spark 2’s built-in Groove Looper features hundreds of hyper-realistic drum tracks. From basic loops to multi-layered soundscapes or the ultimate jam session, this intuitive tool inspires endless creativity. Onboard amp controls provide quick, on-the-go looping functionality.

AI-Powered Tone and Smart Jam
Spark AI revolutionizes tone exploration. Describe any desired tone in the Spark app – from practical to outlandish – and Spark AI will suggest tones to audition or download. The more it’s used, the smarter it gets, delivering the perfect sound.

Additional smart features make it easy to practice, learn new songs and improve playing skills. Smart Jam listens to the user’s playing style and generates accompanying bass and drum parts, while Auto Chords analyzes any song streamed and displays the guitar chords in real time, to make learning and practicing new songs easier than ever.

Enhanced Hardware Design and Portability
Spark 2 allows for storing up to eight customizable presets directly on the amp for quick access to favorite sounds. Perfect the tone with large, visible onboard controls for looper, EQ, gain, reverb, and more.

Designed for convenience, an optional rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of playtime for on-the-go sessions. The new double-thick strap and durable build ensure easy and secure transport. Spark 2 is also BluetoothÂź ready, allowing for music streaming and jamming along with favorite tracks anytime, anywhere.

Multiple Outputs and Advanced Features
Spark 2 offers versatile connectivity with a headphone out for private practice, stereo line outs for external audio sources, and a USB-C port which enables it to function as an audio interface. WiFi-enabled, Spark 2 allows convenient over-the-air firmware updates, keeping the amp up to date with the latest features and improvements.

“I’ve used a ton of practice amps while touring the world for over 38 years and it was always just a technical, bland exercise,” says guitar virtuoso, singer-songwriter and producer Nuno Bettencourt. “Spark 2 is like taking Madison Square Garden wherever you go – epic and versatile.”

Color Options
Available in Pearl or Black finish with a dark weave grille and premium finish.

Special Event, Upgrade Pricing & Availability
Join the special live premiere event featuring Nuno Bettencourt and surprise guests on August 1, 2024, at 8:00 am PT/11:00 am ET. Visit positivegrid.com/pages/livestream for more details and to sign up for a reminder.

Regularly USD $299, Spark 2 will be available at special early bird pricing during the pre-order period. Registered Spark 40 owners can also receive exclusive upgrade pricing.

For more information and to sign up for pre-order alerts, visit positivegrid.com/products/spark-2.

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Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Exploring the Joyo Gloam – Sub Octave Fuzz Pedal for Bass

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Gear Review: Exploring the Joyo Gloam - Sub Octave Fuzz Pedal for Bass

A review of the Joyo Gloam – Sub Octave Fuzz Pedal for Bass

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinions or the content of our reviews. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

Introduction: The Joyo Gloam is a sub-octave fuzz pedal specifically designed for bass players, combining modern sub-octave effects with rich fuzz tones. With two independently controlled circuits, the Gloam aims to provide a versatile range of sounds, from deep, aggressive fuzz to Moog-like synth effects. This review will explore the Gloam’s specifications, controls, and overall performance, highlighting both its strengths and areas for improvement.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 130 * 110 * 50 mm
  • Weight: 403g
  • Working Voltage: DC 9V
  • Controls: The Joyo Gloam features a comprehensive control set designed to provide bassists with a wide range of tonal options:
  • Dry Tone: Adjusts the tone of the clean signal.
  • Dry Volume: Controls the volume of the clean signal.
  • Sub Octave Volume: Adjusts the volume of the sub octave signal.
  • Gain: Controls the amount of gain in the fuzz circuit.
  • Fuzz: Adjusts the intensity of the fuzz effect.
  • Bass: Controls the bass frequencies in the fuzz circuit.
  • Treble: Adjusts the treble frequencies in the fuzz circuit.
  • Fuzz Mode Switch: Switches between two different fuzz modes.
  • Dry Tone Frequency Switch: Selects between two different frequency points for the dry tone.

Performance: The Joyo Gloam excels in its dual-circuit design, offering both a sub octave and a fuzz channel that can be controlled individually. However, it’s important to note that the octaver cannot be used without the fuzz circuit activated; the only way to solo the octaver is by turning down the fuzz while both channels are engaged.

Fuzz Circuit: The fuzz circuit includes standard controls such as gain, volume, bass, and treble, along with a fuzz mode switch that toggles between two distinct fuzz modes. While one of the fuzz modes is highly usable and delivers a rich, aggressive tone, the other mode falls short and is less practical for most applications.

Octaver Circuit: The octaver circuit features controls for sub octave volume, clean volume, and clean tone, along with a dry tone frequency switch that provides two different frequency options. This allows for significant tonal versatility, enabling bassists to fine-tune their sound to match their preferences. Despite its limitation of being tied to the fuzz circuit, the octaver produces a deep, balanced sound that stands out.

Combined Effect: When used together, the fuzz and octaver circuits create a wide range of sounds, from classic, aggressive fuzz to synth-like tones reminiscent of a Moog synthesizer. This combination makes the Gloam a powerful tool for bassists seeking to experiment with their sound and achieve unique, textured tones.

Pros:

  • Versatile Controls: Extensive control options for both fuzz and octaver circuits.
  • Rich Tones: Delivers deep, aggressive fuzz and balanced octaver sounds.
  • Sturdy Construction: Durable build quality ensures reliability.
  • Wide Range of Sounds: Capable of producing everything from classic fuzz to synth-like effects.

Cons:

  • Unusable Fuzz Mode: One of the fuzz modes is less practical.
  • Dependent Octaver: Octaver cannot be used independently of the fuzz circuit.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Gloam sub-octave fuzz pedal offers a versatile and powerful option for bassists looking to expand their tonal palette. Despite some flaws, the Gloam delivers impressive sounds and flexibility. Its combination of rich fuzz and deep octaver tones, coupled with a sturdy construction, makes it a valuable addition to any bassist’s pedalboard. For those seeking a modern bass distortion with the added depth of sub-octave effects, the Joyo Gloam is a compelling choice for a very compelling price.

Visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/281.html

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July 22 Edition – 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 @jermsbass @ramabass.ok @adamovicbasses @mgbassguitars @marleaux_bassguitars @overwaterbasses @mauriziouberbasses @elrickbasses @zemaitisguitars @sandbergguitars

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Gear News

Behind the Strings: D’Addario’s Story Comes to Life in “Jim’s Corner” YouTube Series

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Behind the Strings: D'Addario's Story Comes to Life in "Jim's Corner" YouTube Series

Behind the Strings – Jim’s Corner…

D’Addario & Co. proudly announces the launch of “Jim’s Corner,” a captivating new YouTube series telling the 400-year-old story of the D’Addario family creating the world’s largest music accessories company. This series features Jim D’Addario, Founder and Director of Innovation at D’Addario and Co., sharing his family’s remarkable journey from 17th century Italy to a 21st century global enterprise. 

In the first four episodes now available, Jim D’Addario takes viewers back to the beginning, making strings from animal guts and knotting ukulele wire as a family around the television. Countless generations carried the passion forward until the 1970s when the company made it official and never looked back. Jim recounts the creation of strings that inspired legendary riffs, including one by The Who, the launch of Darco strings, the merger with Martin Guitars and the company’s humble beginnings with his wife, Janet and brother, John. Jim D’Addario’s firsthand accounts provide an intimate and personal perspective on the milestones and challenges that shaped D’Addario into the revered brand it is today.

Episode Highlights:

  • Episode 1: The Early Days in Italy and the Move to America
  • Episode 2: Inspiring Iconic Riffs and Legendary Partnerships
  • Episode 3: Launching Darco Strings and Merging with Martin Guitars
  • Episode 4: Building the D’Addario and Co. Legacy

Watch & Subscribe Now:

Join us in celebrating this incredible legacy by watching the first four episodes of “Jim’s Corner” on YouTube. New episodes will drop every month so please subscribe to our channel to ensure you don’t miss any future episodes and exclusive content from D’Addario & Co.: www.youtube.com/@daddarioandco

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Gear News: Aguilar Amplification Unveils Limited Edition NYC Gold Skyline Tone Hammer Preamp

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Gear News: Aguilar Amplification Unveils Limited Edition NYC Gold Skyline Tone Hammer Preamp

Aguilar Amplification announces the release of the Limited Edition NYC Gold Skyline Tone Hammer Preamp pedal. Hand serialized 1-100, this exclusive edition celebrates Aguilar’s deep roots in New York City with a tribute to its iconic landmarks and vibrant spirit.

Born in the heart of NYC and raised on the road, the Tone Hammer Preamp DI has been an indispensable tool for bassists seeking inspiring tone and versatility. The new Limited Edition Gold NYC builds on this legacy with striking custom graphics encapsulating the essence of New York City. Featuring iconic landmarks from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building, this pedal is not just a tool, but a piece of art embodying the soul of the city. Each unit features a sharp platinum silkscreen over a stunning matte gold sparkle finish, that is as visually captivating as it is sonically powerful.

The Tone Hammer is an essential preamp/direct box for every bassist’s toolbox. The Tone Hammer features fully sweepable midrange frequencies in addition to bass and treble controls. With the Tone Hammer’s pristine D.I. players are set for either studio or stage. To give this tone shaping unit the ultimate flexibility we introduce our proprietary Adaptive Gain Shaping circuitry (AGS). AGS allows the player to kick in an additional gain structure and EQ with the “stomp” of a button. You can go from modern slap sounds to vintage or overdriven. 18-volt operation gives the Tone Hammer plenty of headroom to reproduce the most dynamic playing styles. Separate gain and master controls allow players to dial in just the right gain structure for any instrument.

Aguilar Amplification’s Jordan Cortese adds, “With only 100 hand-numbered units available, this third iteration of our NYC edition Tone Hammer is a collector’s dream. “It’s a homage to our city’s monumental influence on music and culture and celebrates the craftsmanship and the story of Aguilar”. 

Street price: $299.99 For more information, please visit www.aguilaramp.com

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