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Willis Takes on Your Questions

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Hey Willis –
I’m Nazareno from Argentina, I’ve been study since I was fifteen, now I’m twenty one. I have found some mistakes in your Fingerboard Harmony book, which I will send you to complete the corrections you had already posted in your web. But I need you to solve one in particular. On page #48 in the box, you say that for the “Two Chord m7b5” the extensions are 1, b3, b5, b7, 9, b13. But studying the lines you create I see that instead of 9, you use the 11, is that ok ?

Also, in the “Five chord dom7(b9)” you put that the extensions are 1, 3, 5, b7, b9, b13. I think this is OK, but on page #57 in measure 6 (F7b9) I found that you didn’t use any extensions (b9, b13) on the strong beats, and when I try to use them, they really sound awfull, what is the explanation for this?
Well I hope not to bother you with this, and I promise to send you all the mistakes I find in the book, which I have to tell you have changed my mind about the way I look at the instrument. I really enjoy it a lot. I love your playing and music.
Best wishes for you,
Nazareno !

Hey Nazareno,
Thanks for taking the time to point out some obvious mistakes that we didn’t notice the first and even second time around. The mistake on page 48 should be corrected as 1, b3, b5, b7, 11 and b13 for the Two chord m7b5.
For page 57, it’s not actually a mistake. The exercise is to demonstrate shifting so I didn’t want to get too complicated by including extensions as. You’ll notice that there are no extensions on any of the other chords as well. But I did notice that the 4th bar is missing the Dm7 chord in the chart. Here’s a better example of what the line could sound like and it also includes those extensions on the F7b9 chord:
listen to it here:Ex 93 example use this for practice: Ex93 practice

—–

Mr. Willis,
I have a fender P Deluxe. I have lowerd the strings as far as they will go without buzz on the higher frets.
How could I buy a WILLIS RAMP FOR MY BASS. I wanted to cover the back humbucking pickup.

Hey Anonymous,
Here we go again – “Mr. Willis”, while demonstrating a measure of education and respect, unnecesarily creates a feeling of distance and formality in these proceedings. The accepted vernacular is “Hey Willis” which is a common and informal way to address friends in the Southern part of the US. If you’re really going for formality, then take it all the way and address me as “Your Majesty” or “O Great One Who Has The Answer To Everything”.
Now, unfortunately, your question has been answered before. Here’s how it works. Go here:
http://garywillis.com/pages/archives/archives.htm
Type in “ramp” and browse the 3 pages of search results that show up
The answer at the bottom of this page might interest you, as well as the one at the bottom of this page.
One more thing, the ramp doesn’t actually cover the pickup. If the pole pieces are a problem then use a hole punch on layers of electrical tape in order to build up the surface around the pole piece so that its sharp edge doesn’t cause you to lose skin.

—–

Hey Gary,
My name is Bill, Went to college with Scott Henderson down here in Florida. I have an MTD K5 Bass with Nordtrand pickups and had heard that you might have a ebony ramp for sale that would fit my MTD. The distance between pups looks to be about the same as your 5 string. Let me know what you think. I reall don’t do a lot of gymnastics on the bass. I sit in the pocket most of the time but these Nortsrand pups have exposed posts and I rest my right thumb on the B string and am having a problem touching the post during hard playing situations.
Thanks,
Bill

Hey Bill,
Most people call me Willis. (see the first answer for pointers on how to address questions to yours truly)
While I have collected a few extra ramps from different bass design prototypes here and there, the only ones I have are made to fit versions of my Ibanez bass. Early on, Mike Tobias was offering matching ramps for his basses but since the setup of the ramp has to be done after the pickup height and string height has been adjusted to the individual playing style of each player, it became too much of a logistics hassle to continue.
So you probably realize that unless a bass is specifically designed for a ramp – which would be ummmmm, let me think . . . oh yeah, that GWB1005, or GWB35 from Ibanez – then you’ll have to get someone to build one, or do it yourself. That reminds me, the next time I get a chance to make a ramp for someone, I’ll be getting the video camera out.

—–

Hey Gary,
I am the proud owner of Willis GWB1005 #6 made in 06 (I think) which is cool because I am William Crichton VI. Anyway.
I picked up a V-Bass and GK3B and am trying to figure out how you attached yours (when you were using it) without the clamp. It looks like you took the concentric EQ knob out and maybe secured it through the hole in some way. Anyway, any help is much appreciated. Your fan-Will Crichton

Hey Will,
Since it’s inception in 2001, I’ve answered approximately 350 questions, give or take a couple a dozen, and the overwhelming majority of them conform to the title of the feature: “Ask Willis” (emphasis on the Willis”, as in “Hey Willis”). If I wanted to be called Gary, I probably would have called it “Ask Gary”, don’t you think?

That’s interesting, I don’t know exactly the numbering system, although I probably should, since I have a GWB1005 #6 as well. Anyway, I still use the V-Bass but now it’s with a version of the Graphtech Ghost piezo saddles instead of the GK3B. Before we installed the Graphtech system, I did remove the knobs from the EQ potentiometer and hid it out of the way inside the cavity. Since I don’t touch the EQ otherwise, it made sense. On the GK-3B, just below where the 13pin cable plugs in is a hole you can use to bolt it to the bass through the hole vacated by the EQ pot. Use a “flat head bolt” so it won’t interfere with passing the cable into the connector. No damage to the bass and the missing EQ isn’t a problem since it has ‘perfect tone’ right out of the box;-)

—–

Hi Gary,
My name is Yossi. I have a few basses which two of them are custom built by Michael Dolan. But I’m playing on an Ibanez RD808LE Road bass model from 1989 as my main bass. I really love the sound of it and I’m trying to get pickups for a six string bass with the same sound.
Here are links to the pictures and info – http://www.ibanezregister.com/Gallery/basses/rd/gal-rd808le.htm

Now for the question- do you know where and how can I get pickups with the same sound? I wrote to DeMarzio, to EMG, to Michael Dolan and I tried to find over the net for hours an Ibanez email, with no success.

HELP!!! 🙂

I’m aiming this question to you because you are indorsed by Ibanez.
Please reply, and thanks in advance!
Yossi

Hey Yossi,
Except for me wanting to give you some greif about calling me ‘Gary’, your question doesn’t really fit into any general interest category or even an off-the-wall special interest topic that sometimes gets covered here. So let’s just say I’m feeling generous.
I did look at the picture of your 808 and if you want to get “that” sound, you’ll have to get pickups specially built. A big part of the sound of any bass has to do with the location of the magnets and coils that are sensing the string. Most 6-string pickups come in a soap-bar configuration with either 2 parallel coils or 2 coils butted up against each other with each one sensing 3 strings each. The sound you’re looking for involves a combination of the P-bass pickup configuration (offset) and a Jazz bass (single aperture) config in the rear. The only 6-string pickups that I’m aware of that have a P-bass type offset are from some Ibanez basses but unfortunately their offset is reversed so you won’t get the same sound. Since the sound you want for the back pickup comes from a Jazz shaped single aperture pickup, then any soapbar that has the parallel (wide) configuration won’t work either. If someone is custom building your basses, then you should be able to find someone to custom build the pickups. Or you can do what I did back when I couldn’t afford to experiment with store-bought pickups – learn how to build them yourself.

—–

Hi Gary,
I just purchased a brand new GWB35 from Ibanez. Could you please give me some suggestions about the proper strings to install on my new bass. What strings do you use?

Thank you
Great fan of your musical gift
Kim…..

If I had a dollar for every time I have to answer “Hi Gary” . . . . . .
The GWB35 should come with D’Addario EXP’s. I like the EXP’s and think they’re far superior to that “other” brand of coated string out there. For the stage and recording I use D’Addario XL’s .045, .065, 085, .105, .135 with the .135 being the tapered version.

—–

Hi Gary,
I just recently purchased a GWB35 and I would like to upgrade the
pickup system to a Bartolini. Could you please suggest a good upgrade set up for the GWB35.
Until I can afford a GWB1005.
Thanks ….Kim

What is it with you people?
How many times do I have to say it?
What’s so hard about typing “ASK WILLIS”?
The name of the feature is “ASK WILLIS”!!!!!!!!!
note to self: must be polite . . . potential GWB1005 customer is seeking advice. . .
OK, where was I? GWB35 pickup upgrade? OK, so even if the Bartolini pickup and electronics from the GWB1005 were available separately, you’d end up with kind of a mess since the cavity size of the Ibanez pickup would leave some unsightly spaces that would need to be filled and/or covered with a pickguard. And the pickguard solution would be complicated by the presence of the ramp. That cavity size just doesn’t fit into any of the standard Bartolini pickup profiles. If anything, (even though Ibanez wouldn’t want me saying this) I’d try experimenting with different electronics first. You might find a solution that will hold you until you graduate to the GWB1005.

*******Update – Correction**********
A reader named Chris alerted me to the fact that one of the Bartolini Classic Series Soapbar Pickups (BC5CBC, bridge pickup) along with the NTBT electronics would indeed fit and can be used as an upgrade for the GWB35. I’ll report back as soon as I can try it out myself.

—–

Hi Gary,
I’d love to buy a copy of “Collection” but it’s out of print. If you have any copies around I’d be glad to buy one from you.
Please let me know.
JK

That’s it. Get me Prince’s lawyers. I’m changing my name. It’syifrom now on.
Only questions specifically addressed to yi will be answered in the future.

After a few years with Hal Leonard, I learned about the ‘Vanity Book”. It’s a ploy they use to entice you to publish a legitimately educational book and I must say it worked for me. Unfortunately, their commitment to the future of most Vanity Books only lasts as long as its contribution to their bottom line. Which, in this case, wasn’t past the term of the first contract. I only have 2 personal copies of my “Vanity” project so I’m hanging on to those. Best of luck finding one and thanks for asking,

—–

Hey yi,
I’m a novice bass player and the guys in the band (especially the guitar guy, formally a bass player) are always telling me to hit the bass harder. I just tell them that I’ll turn up the volume if they can’t hear me. “No that is not it” they say “just hit it like you have some balls”. Thank you for setting these geniuses straight. BTW I’m 57, playing bass for 1 1/2 years now making significant progress. It is amazing what maturity and practicing twice a day can do.
So no question just a thank you.
George

Hey George,
Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work keeping those guitar players in line.

—–

Hey yi.
I was playing a handful of bass gigs over a couple of weeks in January, primarily playing fingerstyle with the 2nd and 3rd finger(I sometimes use my right ring finger for playing octaves). But not long afterward I woke up one morning and discovered my right hand was very stiff and inflamed. I could barely play Hammond organ at my church gig that following Sunday. Needless to say, I was disturbed. I took the usual precautions: ice packs, anti-inflamatory pills, rest. After about a week I attempted to play my bass again, but there was still pain in my right hand when I played fingerstyle. I noticed the pain was more pronounced when I plucked with the middle(3rd) finger. I haven’t seen a physician about this yet, I’d like to avoid it if I can. I remember Anthony Jackson saying he tried to switch back to 34″ scale basses because of a loss of hand strength, but as we all know that experiment ended in failure for him. He went back to 36″ scale. Do you have any pointers or advice on what I can do to rehab my hand?
Thanks.

By the way you were recommended to me during a discussion of my injury at anthonyjackson@yahoogroups.com.
Check it out if you get a chance. I’m sure the group would welcome your experience and insight. Give my regards to Tribal Tech also.
Peace.
Joe

Hey Joe,
fMy approach to your problem isn’t something easily undertaken within the confines of this setting. If I had the ability to observe you in person, I’d try to find out about your posture, the angle of your right hand on the bass, how high the action is, how hard you play with your right hand, etc.
If you’ve actually damaged a tendon, then something like that might take up to 6 weeks of rest before you resumed playing. And even then, I would recommend very closely monitoring how things felt when you started back up. Injured or not, I’m a proponent of approaching the right hand in a very scientific way – observing, monitoring and questioning every possible micro-movement in order to eliminate wasted motion, eliminate tension and increase relaxation. Depending on your insurance/work situation, I’d be very cautious and see if you can confirm that an injury exists before you proceed.
A friend of mine had a mysterious pain that no amount of rest or technique adjustment would solve. Eventually, an MRI revealed a tiny cyst on a nerve in the right hand and it was so delicate that surgery was not recommended. Hopefully your problem can be solved with some cautious common sense and without surgery.

—–

Heyyi,
Would it be a bad idea to tune the GWB35 EADGC instead of BEADG? Would it have a negative impact in intonation?
From a playing perspective would you feel compelled to tell me not to do this; and if so why?
I look froward to your response.
thanks,
Todd

Hey Todd,
I don’t think it would create any intonation problems, since the scale length and ability to adjust the intonation of each string wouldn’t be affected. From a playing perspective, it wouldn’t really make much difference either. But from a sound perspective, I’m compelled give you my opinion about the sound of a fretless C string: It kinda sounds like a cat. And I don’t mean that in a good way. I mean, I really love dogs but I have a passionate indifference to cats that’s almost matches their impressive capacity for indifference themselves.
Really, except for the 5 extra half steps that don’t exist on the G string, every other available note on a C string sounds much better if it’s played on the G string. So, if you can get over the sound problem, is it really an advantage? If I find myself unable to finish an idea because it includes notes above the high G then I’m usually able to get to that note with false harmonics. Problem solved. . . for me, at least.

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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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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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Gear News: Spector Launches Euro CST and Euro LX Basses

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Gear News: Spector Launches Euro CST and Euro LX Basses

Spector, a leading authority in bass guitar design, unveils new additions to its product line: Euro CST, Euro LX and Euro LX Bolt On basses.

Euro CST:
The Euro CST introduces all-new tonewoods, electronics, and finish combinations never seen in the Euro Series, drawing inspiration from Spector’s Woodstock, NY-based Custom Shop. Each Euro CST instrument is meticulously crafted using premium materials, featuring a striking, highly figured Poplar Burl top, a resonant European Ash body, and a 3-piece North American Maple neck paired with an Ebony fingerboard adorned with laminated Abalone Crown inlays.

Euro CST basses are equipped with a lightweight aluminum bridge for precise and reliable intonation. Premium active EMG X Series pickups deliver the exceptional clarity, attack, and silent operation that defines the Spector sound. These basses also feature the all-new Spector Legacy preamp. Developed in collaboration with Darkglass Electronics, this preamp captures the classic “Spector growl,” heard on countless iconic recordings, with added versatility.

Euro CST basses are available in 4- and 5-string models in four distinct high gloss finishes: Natural, Natural Black Burst, Natural Red Burst, and Natural Violet Burst.

Euro LX and Euro LX Bolt-On:
The Euro LX offers all the features that have made the Spector name famous around the globe. Inspired by the iconic NS-2, Euro LX basses feature a fully carved and contoured body, high-grade tonewoods, and professional-grade electronics and hardware. For the first time ever, players can now choose between neck-thru and bolt-on construction in the Euro LX range.  

Each Euro LX bass, regardless of construction, is crafted using premium materials, including a European Alder body, figured European Maple top, and a 3-piece North American Maple neck combined with a Rosewood fingerboard for strength, stability, and sustain. Euro LX basses are then outfitted with a lightweight, aluminum bridge for spot-on, reliable intonation. Premium active pickups from EMG provide the exceptional clarity, attack, and silent operation that Spector is known for. Like the Euro CST basses, these instruments also feature the all-new Spector Legacy preamp.

The newly revised Euro LX range is available in four distinct, hand-rubbed stains, including Transparent Black, Natural Sunburst, Haunted Moss, and Nightshade. Each of these colors features a durable and comfortable matte finish.  

John Stippell, Director, Korg Bass Division, remarks, “I’m thrilled to announce the latest additions to the renowned Euro Range. The CST Series, our new premium offering, features new and unique wood combinations and unprecedented features. The beloved LX Series is now better than ever with the introduction of Bolt-On models, vibrant new color options, and the all-new Spector Legacy Preamp, delivering the classic Spector tone with unmatched precision.”

For more information, visit spectorbass.com.

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Luthier Spotlight: Garry Beers, GGB Basses

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Luthier Spotlight - Garry Beers, GGB Basses

Meet Garry Beers, Luthier and owner of GGB Basses…

Bass Musician Magazine: How did you get your start in music?

Garry Beers: I played acoustic guitar as a kid with my mates at school. We decided that one of us should play bass, so we had a contest where the one who knew the least guitar chords would buy a bass – so I lost the contest, bought my first bass, and became the only bass player in the neighborhood. Soon after, I met Andrew Farriss, who had heard that I had a bass, and a few days later, I was jamming with Andrew and Jon Farriss.

Are you still an active player?

Yes, I am still actively writing music and playing bass sessions. I also have an LA-based original band called Ashenmoon.

How did you get started as a Luthier? When did you build your first bass? 

I did woodwork in High School and always enjoyed making all sorts of things out of wood.

After finishing high school, I took a course in electronics for a year or so and learned enough to understand basic circuits in guitars, amplifiers, and effects. The best way to learn is to deconstruct and study, so my dad’s garage was littered with old junked radios and any instrument parts I could find. 

My first guitars were more like Frankenstein-type creations made out of parts I found here and there. I didn’t really try to build a bass from scratch until I perfected my Quad pickup design and got my patent.

How do you select the woods you choose to build with?

I only use woods that were used at Fender in the 50s, which are my favorite basses and guitars of all time. All my GGB basses are modeled in some way from my INXS bass- a 1958 Fender Precision bass I bought in 1985 in Chicago. I call her “Old Faithful,” and she has an Alder wood body with a maple neck. All of my GGB basses are select Alder wood bodies that I have had extra dried, so they match the resonance of “Old Faithful,” as she has had 66 years to lose all her moisture and become more resonant and alive-sounding. I use plain old Maple necks that I carefully select, and again, I dry the necks to make them sing a little more.

Tell us about your pickups.

I started working on my Quad coil design back in Australia in the ‘90s and then put it to bed, so to speak, until I found an old pickup winding machine at a swap meet here in LA. I taught myself enough about pickup winding to build my first prototype design and worked towards my patented Quad coil design by trial and error. Nordstrand Audio builds the pickups for me here in SOCAL.

What is the reaction of players who pick up your basses?

I build the basses to feel like an old friend. They look and feel vintage, and when you plug them in, you discover the array of vintage sounds available to you from just one pickup. Most of the players I have contact with are established professional players, and they all love the basses. Freddie Washington and Nick Seymour from Crowded House are a couple of players with GGB Basses in their hands.

What are a few things that you are proud of in your instruments and would consider unique?

I would say I am most proud of the patented Quad pickup design. I own the patent from 4 through to 10-string. So far, I have only built 4 and 5-string pickups, but the design is a winner. Split Humbucker / Reverse Split Humbucker / Full Humbucker / Single coil Neck / Single coil bridge. All these sounds come from one passive pickup. I am very proud that my perseverance and desire to have this pickup have made it a reality. Being able to have these sounds in one bass enables the player to have one bass in the studio and on the stage. The only place you can have the GGB Quad pickup is in one of my GGB Basses.

Which one of the basses that you build is your favorite one?

I offer three body shapes and about ten different color options – all based on the ‘50s and early ‘60s custom guitar and car paint styles. I have always been a lover of P basses, but my favorite bass I build is now my XS-1 model- which is a custom Jazz bass body style. It is pretty sexy and is a light, well-balanced, and great-feeling body shape. The other body styles are the XS-2, which is a custom Jazzmaster body and has been the most popular so far- and the XS-3, which is the standard P bass body style. I also offer an XS-58, which is a replica of my “Old Faithful” ‘58 P bass. They are currently available to order now and should be available soon.

Can you give us a word of advice to young Luthiers who are just starting out?

I don’t really consider myself a Luthier in the traditional sense. I just love to build things and tinker. I was always looking to improve things, whether it was a guitar, an amp, a pedal board, or a car. So my advice is to always be curious and learn the basics of what you want to build, and the rest should follow once you decide what you want to say as a designer/builder. People are lucky these days that you can learn pretty much anything from talented people on the internet, but nothing replaces working with and learning from real people in real situations. Seek out like-minded builders and start a discussion.

What advice would you give a young musician trying to find his perfect bass?

Have a good hard think about what you want to say as a player. What is your style, both musically and as a player? There are so many instruments available. Do the research, play the instruments that fit your criteria, and make a decision. But make sure you try a GGB Bass!   With all the sound choices my basses offer, with a simple turn of a knob, you may find it easier to find “your” sound.

What is the biggest success for you and for your company?

Well, the company is brand new, and at this point, it is just me, so getting this far in the manufacturing process and now having these amazing basses in my hands is a great achievement, but now comes all the business stuff!! 

What are your future plans?

It’s a work in progress. Right now, it’s all about getting the word out and getting the basses into the hands of interested players. I believe in the basses – and the Quad pickup, so hopefully, GGB Basses can become a go-to bass for demanding studio and live players who want sound choices in a gorgeous vintage-style instrument.

Visit online at www.ggbbasses.com

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