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Dynamics vs. Sound… Knobs vs. Hands

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Dynamics vs. Sound… Knobs vs. Hands… I’m one of those few guys (for better or for worse – hahaha) who chose not to have any potentiometer at all on his instruments…. I’ve been playing like that for almost 14 years, and my main influence for taking that decision was perhaps the great Anthony Jackson.

Attending to my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I went beyond that, so I also stopped using a volume pedal as Anthony Jackson still does. My basses are also full passive, so there is not any circuitry in there. I also use very special instrument cables with 10% pure silver content, which are not even made for musical instruments. Those cables cost about $200 dollars per meter… so add up what it costs for two-4 meter cables… luckily the Chilean Audioquest distributor just gives them to me. I also have to add that I set all the amp knobs flat at 12. I’m mentioning all of this because my quest is to look for the purest and cleanest sound possible.

The most important question here is…. why???

I think that the answer is quite simple, and is related to the difference in sound between both options.

Like any regular bassist, I started playing a normal bass with all the potentiometers and active circuitry, but something always bothered me and I couldn’t explain what it was. Finally I came to the conclusion that the thing that bothered me the most was the fact of having to produce any modification on my sound (tone or volume) “while playing” by moving a knob… I found that it was a “not so human” and a very “indirect” way to produce those sound modifications; so to say it… and I want to stress the fact that this is just a personal opinion and a personal option… I’m not the owner of any truth.

But the most important reason for me was not that… Besides the “psychological” facts already mentioned, there was a profound reason that I would say, “I consider far more objective in my opinion”, which is already a sophism — hahaha. This reason is the enormous difference I hear while working the dynamic range with my finger “touch” or my hand instead of doing it with my volume control (which I don’t have). A decreasing in volume has to be accompanied by a difference on the attack of the fingers. A good way to hear this huge difference is to play something and decrease the volume, with the volume knob or the volume pedal, while playing exactly with the same intention, strength and hand position. The volume will decrease, no doubt about it, but if you pay close attention to what you are hearing, there will be something “wrong” (so to say it) in there.

Now try the other option… that’s leaving your knobs and pedals exactly where they are and start decreasing the volume gradually just by plucking the strings softer each time. Go gradually and try to make it look like somebody’s moving down the master volume of your amp. If you work it a lot you’ll get it… and the best thing is that you’ll get a much better result than moving the master volume down while you are playing. Something is going to start making complete sense for your ears and for your overall sensation. Obviously you can do quite the opposite thing, starting from a very soft touch, that means a very low volume, and then starting to increase the intensity of the “touch”.

One of the main advantages of getting use to adjusting all of the dynamics with your hand is the fact that you are able to make those adjustments “note by note”, no matter the speed, something completely impossible to achieve in a proper manner using a volume knob or volume pedal. A really good recommendation to be able to help achieve this purpose is to set little higher volumes on the master volume of the amp, so to have more headroom to work with… I learned that many years ago from the great Gary Willis and it works really fantastic.

What about tone controlling?

Not having filters is the equivalent on a passive bass as leaving the volume and tone potentiometers completely open, or with full “bright” and full volume. On an active bass it is the equivalent of leaving the volume and tone controls on the exact middle of the rotation range of the potentiometers.

That being said, and addressing specifically the tone issue now, let’s imagine we are exactly on the center position of the tone control and we want to adjust our tone increasing the lows… well… just move your right hand a little bit towards the neck and pluck the strings with more “meat” of your fingertips rubbing it a little bit more than usual in order to avoid high transients… or staccatos, which means the same but using a musical term… also, don’t forget to push down the string instead of pulling it… the less the “pulling content” of the right hand fingers while touching the strings, the less treble on the final sound.

On the other hand, if we want to adjust our tone increasing the highs… well… just move your right hand a little bit towards the bridge and pluck the strings with less “meat” of your fingertips, using mostly the very point of your fingertips. Avoid rubbing the strings, and pull them in a more aggressive manner so to be able to increase the transients or staccatos. Also, don’t forget to pull the string a little bit instead of pushing it; the less the “pushing content” of the right hand fingers while touching the strings, the more treble on the final sound. Getting little ‘fret buzzing’ from the strings also adds “highs” to the harmonic content; you do that by pulling and hitting the strings a little harder with the right hand.

On the other hand, if you definitely want a really muffled-muted sound with almost no highs on it. palm mute is the best option to go. I’m sure you know the technique, but don’t think it’s so easy, practice it properly and diligently, be precise and clean and also get more speed from it so to be able to play fast palm muted runs too!

The left hand has also something to say here… if you want a half muted sound not as muted as with the palm mute, just press each note really shortly and softly with the left hand fingertips. That will produce a muted sound with less low frequency content, with less staccato and obviously with a really short duration.

Finally, never forget that one of the most important advantages of not having any filters and knobs on your instrument, is the fact that the harmonic content of the original and “pure” sound of the bass can fully breath untouched… and if you listen really, really carefully, you’ll be able to notice a huge difference.

See you on the next my friends!

Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

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Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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IG &FB @bythethousands
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Bass CDs

Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Amazon.com. Visit Mark online at markegan.com.

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

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

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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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 @cb_basses @alesvychodilbasses @odiengcustom @ramabass.ok @mauriziouberbasses @mgbassguitars @capursoguitars @thebassplace @adamovicbasses @ishguitars

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Bass CDs

New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album

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New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce "Kingdom of Shred" Album

ALBERTO RIGONI’s New Project NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album, Feat. Super Talented Guests Such as Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner + Many Others

Worldwide known Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI (soloist, BAD As, Kim Bingham, Vivaldi Metal Project, etc.) announces the new album “Kingdom of Shred” of his new project NEMESIS CALL. 

Alberto says: 
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, was released on June 4th 2024, I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental shred/prog/rock/metal/melodic album, that will feature many talented top-notch musicians such as drummer Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner, Alexandra Lioness, Aanika Pai (11 years old!), Keiji by Zero (19 years old!), SAKI and many others TBA/TBC). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025 or maybe for Christmas!.”

As an independent artist, Alberto Rigoni has launched a fundraising campaign to support the project. Support at www.albertorigoni.net/nemesiscall. 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro (www.legadelfilodoro.it/it), an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Visit online at www.albertorigoni.net | albertorigoni.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/albertorigonimusic | www.badas.rocks

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