I’ve been learning songs on the bass guitar for the first time in three and a half years. I’ve learned songs lyrically over the last several years for Vagabond Saints Society but I can do that while driving around or sitting behind a computer or whatever. While I can listen to songs and get the general feel of the bass and feel of the song in general doing all that, I can’t actually play the songs in my car.
I have a TASCAM bass trainer, which is both a savior and a detriment. The big positive: it allows me to listen to the songs, play along and hear both signals at the same time. Listening to a CD player or whatever, and listening to your bass through an amp, both in the open air lets the sound wander and I need them all in one spot. One problem is that my basses (at least the ones that I plan on playing this week) have active pickups. For those who don’t know, active pickups are pickups that tend to have a much higher output than most passive pickups. I actually play lightly and prefer to have the active pickups pump my overall sound without having to alter my playing style. These active pickups, especially since I’m using Bartolini pickups in one of them, they tend to really, really overdrive the machine, it can’t handle the signal without a lot of distortion. I can turn down the “input” but it certainly diminishes the balance. I can turn up the trainer but again, signal imbalance is distracting. It’s a constant struggle. A good and evil if you will.
Another dilemma I have is whether or not to use the 5-string. It’s the one that has Bartolinis. I know I’m going to use my Spector, it’s my favorite bass that I have. It’s the most balanced bass I have, sound, feel, weight, everything. I have a couple of Traben basses that are pretty disappointing considering what I paid for them. They look great. However, it’s hard to hear “looking cool.” I may need to change the 9-volt battery on the one, I don’t know. I’ll test it. I’m just torn. Not actively playing bass in so long has basically put me “out of practice.”
So, what am I learning these songs for? On Friday, I’ll be playing with some of my very good friends: Clay Howard, Doug Davis, Corky McClellan and Aaron Burkey known as Clay Howard and the Silver Alerts. Usually, Jerry Chapman would be playing with him but Jerry is out of town and can’t be there. I was asked to fill in. So, here we go. Also on the card is Doug Davis and the Solid Citizens and Luxuriant Sedans. Woo hoo! It should be a good show. I hope I don’t mess it up for everyone. My overall confidence has grown over the last few weeks. I used to have no problem standing my own ground on bass. I’m actually a better bass player than anything else I do musically, but I’m so way out of practice being one. I’ll do fine. In fact, I’m sure I’ll kick butt, but I just gotta get up there and do it.
So if you’re looking for something cool to see and hear, then head on down to the Crown at Carolina Theater, this Friday, September 25. The show starts at 7pm (or so they say). Come listen and support great local music. Stop by and say hey. I look forward to seeing you. You’ll see the fruits of my bass learning labors. It will definitely be worth it.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Bass guitar is the engine of the band.” – Suzi Quatro