Saturday, September 03, 2016

Basses: a wealth of styles, technologies, sounds and shapes.

I saw a picture this morning of a black Rickenbacker bass - even the hardware was black: I've always thought of the Ricky as a rather traditional bass - it certainly has a retro look about it, and the sound is notoriously unique, with the middle-focussed growl of it suited better to certain styles of music (Rush and Motörhead come to mind initially).

Here's a regular Rickenbacker: certainly beautiful, and highly distinctive with the scrolls and that headstock.

And here's the black one I saw this morning, complete with black pickup cover: there are a lot of extra elements included here, including that binding around the edge of the body. It transforms the rather retro look into something more contemporary, somehow - the Matt black paint job is great.

This got me musing that one of the things I love about being a bassist (apart from the chance to weave a bubbling line between an excellent drummer and an infectious melody, thereby being the glue which holds songs together) is the sheer wonderful variety of basses out there.

I'm lucky enough to own a number of basses, and initially any acquisitions I made were driven by some pragmatism about extending the range of sounds I could make - so I started with a 4-string fretted bass (a PJ as I recall, moved on to a slightly better 4-string, then got a 5-string (and loved the extended low end it has) - after a long pause I then got a 6-string (the Tobias pro-6 I had completely overhauled and upgraded with OBP-3 and GK-3B pickup fitted into it a couple of years back).

All these basses were fretted - I had built a 4-string fretless (which wasn't a huge success) using the body of the first bass, but I eventually bought a 5-string fretless (a Warwick, which looks and sounds amazing).

These were all sonic decisions - Warwicks also have a sound which is marmite to a lot of people.

And they all look so wonderfully different! This Warwick, for example:

That's a stunning piece of work. Basses seem to attract the kind of exotic wood luthiers dream of - I know there are exotic guitars out there, but basses just seem to offer up a wider vista of experimentation which luthiers get to let their imagination run wild with.

Maybe it's because the bass is more of a backing instrument, maybe it's because bassists like to experiment more - who knows? But it's a wonderful thing to be able to go from


Here's to our instrument.

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