Sunday, January 12, 2014

Recycling - a GK3B! Updates on the Toby rebirth, and Sheds: A studio phenomenon

Good times in 2014, as predicted!

GK3B recycling

First - I've retrofitted the GK3B to my 4-string 80s Aria Pro-II Integra - the only other bass I have which it will fit (all the others either have arched tops behind the back pickup, or pickups which are too close to the bridge, or both...).

This, as it turns out, is an excellent choice, as I keep this bass set up with extreme low action and very light (read 30-50-70-90) strings - this means the bass is a supremely expressive beast, good for tap, slap, and string bending. In fact, the strings are so light I have to adjust to using it if I've been using the other basses for a while.

I kicked myself into getting it done for a musical collab which is starting up with a friend of mine who works exclusively on synths, and I figured he'd love what the GR-55 can do... but as you know, the Tobias is away getting a GK kit fitted internally, so I've got nothing to drive the GR-55 with. Fortunately I carefully removed the externally mounted GK-3B before I handed the bass over!

The result is actually pretty good - the bass is in metallic white, with black hardware, so it's a great match -

The bass has a curved front with a flat central stripe, top to bottom, so the pickup fits nicely (managed to get the heights perfect with a little adjustment) but the controller still needs the full metal jacket on there as it won't mount anywhere else - the bass also has small wings (but it's still an angel).

Put a new named profile in for the Aria on the GR-55, some tiny tweaks to sensitivity for the strings, and it's go go go - and the expressive nature of the bass comes through straight away, the more organic and squidgy synth noises can do some really weird stuff, and sounds which feed back can actually move through different harmonics!

The Toby Rebirth
We're just waiting for the bridge - custom manufacture, brass with black coating. I'm expecting good things of this hipshot, apart form anything else the Toby will finally fall in-line with most of my other basses (including the aria) in having quick-string changing capabilities. We don't do it that often, bassists, but I think we all agree that changing strings is a lot less painful when you don't have to unwind the strings at the top.

Also - I recycle my strings (yeah, I'm tight) by cleaning them in a meths bath - and if you don't have to unwind the strings, it makes a massive difference to how long they'll last as you don't stress the metal in the top of the string where it winds onto the tuners.

The experience of playing the aria with the pickup just whetted my appetite for getting further into editing patches and sounds on the GR-55. That thing has some excellent sounds....

Great day yesterday. A friend down Guildford way who writes cool electronic stuff and I decided to get together for the first time to lay some bass down on some tracks he's kicked around: we got some good sounds. I took a decent amount of kit down with me too - I figured we could hunt for noises to suit his stuff, and man, was I right.

Kit that went with me included:
- Aria, now GK-3B equipped
- a 5-string fretless
- The Ashbory rubber stringed bass (great for sub-dub type bass)
- A regular acoustic guitar (I can pick out arpeggios pretty well, for Massive attack style backing and ambience)
- Bass PODxt plus floorboard
- GR-55 synth
- Warwick CCL combo for monitoring

Great afternoon and evening, 4 or 5 hours of creativity - pure play, exactly the kind of stuff which keeps all musicians energised. It turns out his electronic influences are exactly the kind of music I'm interesting in working on using live bass: Massive Attack style stuff with a lot of emotional energy.

And his studio is in a shed at the end of his garden - a BIG shed with plenty of power. It's a sweet place - heaters, good lighting, his studio gear is nice and simple and his monitors are excellent. The place was big enough to set up the gear, guitar stands etc and be able to stride about, pacing while trying out sounds, etc.

All in all, good times: I'm thinking I need to get the GK-3 pickup I've had lying about onto the Strat: 1 guitar and 2 basses all MIDI equipped? Interesting times.

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