Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Hohner B-Bass: resurrected (and some lessons for everyone!)

Well, the work was well worth it. And I've got several excellent lessons to dispense - this being my first electronics rewire.

First things first, here's the result, with the OBP-3 fitted.

So, left to right - we have:

• Stacked volumes for the pickups
• Push/Pull switched mid
• Stacked bass/treble
• (working!) active/passive switch
• (currently not working) LED for actives on
• New slot-in bridge, replacing the old string-through one.

The basic idea was that the bass wouldn't need any new holes drilled in it for pots: I wanted the OBP-3 as flexible as possible as well. Definite requirement to stack volumes!

As detailed before, the existing volumes (the pickups are passive J-type) were 500KOhm - as luck has it, this is the same as the stacked pots for Jazz basses.

However: the pots are stumpy, being designed for mounting on a J-Bass control bridge. This meant I needed to take a couple of mm off the inside of the control cavity, but I realised that careful routing of a rectangle using a DREMMEL would hold the pot in place as well, by the metal bracket on the top. Problem solved, it's solid with no washers required and without any risk to the top of the bass.

Everything else was reasonably simple - the wiring for a stacked pot with active/passive switch isn't in the Aguilar documentation though, so a melding of 2 diagrams was required, which acknowledges that the pickup signal output from the pots needed to be wired into into the switch where the line that would have been the volume control went.

Found that out using Basschat UK - they rock, btw!

The bridge was an easy mount: slightly wider than the existing one, so careful measurements have me good pencil lines to get the positioning right: luckily the new bridge has a 5 hole arrangement where the old one was 4, so new holes exactly in between the old ones. New bridge has good tone, the low B is spectacular, a great improvement and tight as you like: I'd recommend the upgrade to anyone. It was a Göldo from Thomann, available from and only €27!!

The knobs - however - hard work. The stacked pot needed a set from Allparts: £12! This is for 8mm/4mm and fits the hideous imperial pot size. The mid is a pot from my Tobias: the stacked bass/treble needed an "alpha" fit pot - now, be VERY CAREFUL WHEN FITTING KNOBS WITH GRUB SCREWS TO POTS WITH SPLIT SHAFTS!!

I wound up rebuilding the pot head using some mild steel and superglue to fill the split back up, then put the other half back on and filed the thing back into a good shape to take the knob. It's a good permanent repair and thankfully the knob is straight. By eye, no less!

Results? She plays excellently - always did - but now even the passive tone is better (new pots). With the OBP turned on I've got great capacity to dial up excellent tones: the bass can now produce that excellent Nathan East type tone from "get lucky", which it really couldn't before. The old preamp was all bass, very little treble.

I'll be playing her more in future: she's giggable again!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bloody CTS split volume pots!!

Tip: if you're upgrading a Hohner B-Bass V with an OBP3 and decide to put a 500K dual stacked pot in two put the two previous knobs onto one, BE PREPARED FOR SOME DREMMEL ROUTING WORK.

Fortunately, this will hold the new split pot in place without needing a grab washer! Win!

Ah, the fun of ripping an old friends guts out to replace em hehe

Speaking of ripped out guts... Old preamp.

And, 20 years newer, OBP-3, already wired for max versatility:

It's a bassist's DIY heaven!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Rebirth of.... 2 BASSES??

We live in interesting times! No sooner have I had my Toby Pro-6 supercharged with an OBP-3 and MIDI, than I rediscover a couple of old gems I haven't played much recently.

1. My 4-string fretless - my "bastard bass" of the body from my original Hohner 4-string from 1988, which I heavily modded using various wood planes and repainted myself. It's an ugly bastard, but the fretless neck is beautiful - a solid slab of ebony.

2. My Hohner B-Bass V, a nice to play 5 string with a crap preamp, which consequently sounds dull, muffled and crap compared to all the other basses I have, despite playing beautifully and being great for slap, tap and fingerstyle with heavier strings on it than I generally use. This thing saw 3 months of action in Andorra and played great, it just doesn't sound good compared to modern active basses. It's got passive pickups and a tiny built-in preamp with basic bass/treble.

So, in reverse order...
For the B-Bass V:
I scored an OBP-3, complete with exactly the wiring I needed already fitted (it was plucked from another bass) for about £60 delivered - steal, complete with push/pull pot for MID switch AND bass/treble stack. Win!

Next I ordered up a new slot-in bridge from Thomann, which I've got, and a CTS stacked 500K/500K pot (a la Jazz bass) to bring the 2 pickup volumes onto 1 pot. I thought about MEC-warwick style blend-and-volume but wanted to keep the costs down a little. So we'll go from vol - vol - stacked bass/treble to vol/vol - treble with push/pull - stacked bass-treble!

So far I've got the pickup volumes wired up, then realised I - gulp - have a little shaving to do inside the control cavity as the CTS pots are really meant to attach to the control plate on a Jazz bass. Arse! Well, I think I can safely manage that, there's a good 6-7mm of wood on the top, and I only need 2mm off (I'll have to shave the whole pot top face, mind - eek!).

Sourcing the control knobs is a PAIN! The "Alpha" sized pot already attached to the OBP-3's bass/treble is 6mm/8mm shaft size, piece of cake to pick up a good looking slightly domed stacked knob. Single knob for the treble, no worries. But the stacked knob for the CTS pot is a real PITA, expensive and not carried in many places in the UK. Consequently, I pay under £5 for the Alpha sized one and £12 for the CTS one at Allparts! Jeez...

And that Fretless 4-string neck? Well, when I took it off the old bass body I found this, which is lovely of me to leave on there -

So apparently I've decided that 20 years mounted on a crap body is long enough. I'm tempted to leave myself another Easter egg comment in CD marker pen this time with the new date on!

The body was an absolute steal on eBay: a complete, loaded Allparts 3-piece alder in 3-tone sunburst, with fender covers and neckplate, all for £116 shipped (eek!) - it's immaculate too, after a little neck adjustment (which I have to complete - you can see the strings aren't straight yet) I got this rather beautiful creature:

My word, retro-tastic! I'm going to need to do a fair amount of head-scratching to get the neck to work well, but the outcome will be a lovely bass.

Wish me luck, it's fun and games at Basexperience tower...

Friday, June 06, 2014


Ladies and gentlemen, the upgraded Toby Pro-6 has landed... and she's a beauty!

To stress - I haven't actually held her yet (it's been 6 months since I did that!!!) but this picture from Julian Mullen shows the job - and trust me, this is stunning in comparison to the huge black metal jig that was attached to the rear end previously.
What you see here is a 10 year old Tobias Toby Pro-6, which is a great sounding bass, but it's been upgraded with:

  • Internal GK-3B Kit (the only control "mod" on the front is the switch for the MIDI pickup)

  • 9V OBP-3 kit

  • Stacked knobs up the wazoo to incorporate both a 3-band EQ, pickup blend AND the GK volume control

  • An excellent new Hipshot brass bridge - made to order and which got stuck in the US during the massive winter storms they had (in Florida, no less)!

Bridge and MIDI pickup in full view - the hipshot gives me lovely fast string changes and more mass than the old one did. The MIDI pickup is finally properly installed instead of being a jerry-rigged adhesive job (I do still have the old GK-3K, it's currently attached to a 4-string Aria Pro II). Beautiful!

My new socket-wonderment! I still have good ol' analogue out with the OBP-3 giving me far more headroom than before - the stock preamp was really, really quiet compared to the Warwicks I have, and I like a bit of grit when I dig in!

And finally... one very crowded engine bay!
I am literally slavering with anticipation to see what this beast has become: I'll be getting over to in Twyford with the GR55 and the right cables in tow to check out and get some tinkering in. Julian will be on hand to iron out any glitches, and then she'll come home, for the first time in nearly half a year.
It's been a long haul, but it looks like we're nearly there. Don't regret a thing!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

The mystery of the dead 10" driver (Warwick Neo can, celestion driver)

Aha - I've been a little paranoid about the Neo magnets in my cab dying on me since I had a long hat with David Eden at the Bass show 2014 in London.

One of my drivers failed a couple of years ago, in a Neo Warwick 4x10 cab. I was lucky enough to bag a replacement celestion matched to the originals at pre-raise prices, which was cool.

Anyway, I wanted to see if I could use the magnet for something else, thinking the coil must have died, so I dug out the old speaker and (with some glee) ripped it open today.

Here's the driver. Seems fine, but the cone travel is "crunchy". You can feel it.

Cone out...

Bingo. The nickel plating was lost on the front of the magnet, allowing the elements to corrode it: hence the filings you can see on top, and the "crunchy feel" when gently pushing the cone in and out.

Keep at eye out for this if you've lost a driver, or it's failing: mine sounded buzzy for a while.

The good news is, according to posts I've read, Neo drivers don't fade if they've got good anti-corrosion in place and decent heat sinks. These drivers have good fins on the back: the other 3 are fine, and the new one is too.

An interesting morning!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A quick update on the Toby Pro-6 rebuild... it's started!! Control positions under review...

I have confirmation, the bass is being actively worked on! Current plan is to fit the new bridge and the OBP-3 preamp and controls (we're putting all the pickup blend / EQ controls across 3 of the current 4 pots) - with 18v, naturally - and then we meet up to finalise where the MIDI controls go.

I supplied the guys with a quick picture detailing what I have in mind -

You can see the general idea - incidentally, this pic is of a 5-string, mine is a 6, but the rather glorious grain on this bass is very like mine.

I think the control positions should do nicely - the idea is that the audio controls are located within easier reach than the MIDI ones, as the GR55 will do volume duties with the expression pedal under normal circumstances: the centre-detented pickup blend is right there easiest to get at, the bass is right underneath it, and treble/mid are stacked in front, which feels logical.

The tricky bit (and something Julian Mullen has ideas about) is mounting the supplied patch up / patch down switched on the lower bout of the bass; I don't want them on the surface, it wouldn't help the look of the bass at all and they'd probably get pressed by accident: much more sense to put them out of harm's way. The thing is the bass has a very curved profile: you can see it from this picture. The buttons have a fair diameter and they're flat.

I'll be interested to meet with the guys from Bass Gear and Julian over at twyford - I'm hoping the bass will be there (I haven't seen it in 3 months now!!) and Julian will relay his interesting idea.

My thoughts revolve around using buttons with small tops which have a curved top profile, or perhaps using buttons which don't have tops and carefully forming wood tops for them which keep the silhouette of the bass as it is, which giving positive tactile feel switches for pushing patch up/down.

Keep it here to find out how this plays out... looks like I will have the thing for summer though, and considering I started looking into this last october (!) I think this is a story worth following.

In other news, I finally managed to make a semi-permanent (i.e. reversible) mounting of the GK3 I already have onto my old Aria Pro-II: I managed to get the perfect height adjustment using the supplied plastic bars for the pickup, but the slight curvature of the bass top at the ends meant I had to play a little fast and loose and the pickup wouldn't stay stuck. Cue a couple of blobs from the hot glue gun... it's on solid now!

I then spent about an hour and a half getting to know how to create patches for the Roland GR55 with mapped expression pedal settings and CTL pedal mappings to various effects - I even stumbled on the rather excellent effects routing options which are beautifully rendered graphically on the LED display.

End result? A wicked patch with rhodes piano, pitch shifted an octave up, with tremolo, and to my ear what sounds like a great approximation of the piano sound in "riders on the storm". Even the chords sound authentic. I adore rhodes, it's the most organically expressive keyboard instrument I can think of.

TTFN lowenders


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

IOS / Android and "battery drainitis": some thoughts.

I'll divert away from my fascinating story of Tobias Bass Guitar renovation for a moment, if I may.

I'm an iOS user: there are a few reasons why. I use it because:

  • it's simple to use

  • upgrades are regular and I don't have to rely on networks

  • applecare is pretty good

  • the operating system curtail(ed) the worst excesses of bad programming by bad apps

I use iOS despite being a programmer, and a repairer of tools, systems and mobiles: I've worked in and around mobile software for more than 10 years, most of that as a system test engineer. I have an android phone and an android tablet which I do upgrades/updates to, I've rooted both and have fun with them. But I don't use them as my main devices (I have an iPhone and an iPad and have for several years now). Why?

Well, until recently it was because iOS stubbornly refused to give app developers more power / freedom. This results in a platform which is better for "less savvy" (and for me, lazier) users.

I know Android does work to apps which aren't running, and can free memory, etc, but the multitasking in Android, plus the low level access to system devices, plus Google's apparent disdain for looking after the platform ("throw it at the OEMs and they will come" appears to have been the mantra) has, I think, resulted in an entire OS platform which is "on the back foot" from the point of view of most of the points above. Google are working hard on those points on several fronts.

But I digress. This is about "battery drainitis", something which is prevalent in both Android AND iOS (particularly post-iOS7). Admittedly that Android link is specific to the Camera app, but I've got something to suggest which might help both platforms.

What we need (surprisingly) is Clippit, the hated paperclip from early office versions!

I've been sending tweets out to people who complain that ios7.1 has led to poor battery life, suggesting they upgrade their iPhones again using iTunes (I'm a sceptic on OTA, I think rewriting the OS from scratch just helps to avoid issues with "patching" OSs - I may be wrong there), but I've had an idea for a system-level application which all smartphone OSs which indulge app designers to use onboard devices (think camera, GPS, 3G, Wifi, accelerometer, etc etc).

We need a system battery monitor alerting application. This isn't the same as the Android app which can tell you what application/service is drawing current, it's in addition to it. iOS needs that battery monitoring app, by the way, Apple.

What the alert does is tell you if your phone is losing battery in an "abnormal" way. Say it's sat at idle on your desk, or you're asleep - if your phone loses battery while doing nothing else, and background processes are causing this, and it looks like you didn't intend it to happen (say, using some form of opt-in to say you don't mind an app using a lot of battery power), then the alert will put a notification in place to say that it has seen abnormal battery drain, and point out the culprit.

If your OS platform supports clamping down on apps which appear to ask too much (iOS's "background app refresh" setting, for instance - possibly the worst named settings option I have ever seen, by the way), then a wizard-style app could be launched to help tell you how to maximise your battery life wrt apps which run in the background.

This would certainly help out people who just never seem to read the endless array of advice like this - it simply doesn't occur to people to just google for it... which isn't a sin, but the device itself could help out.

It's just an idea, but something I wanted to explore a little.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Toby Ressurection - BEGINS (all parts are confirmed with the Luthier!)

Just got word from the guys at - Julian Mullen now has all the components for the great Tobias Toby Pro-6 refit.

To recap, this all started as an idea last year (during november time) when I decided that after 10 years of faithful service the Toby deserved a kick up the arse. It's a good bass, but had some points of improvement:

1. Quiet - the pickups sound pretty good, but the preamp is really quiet, and not that flexible.
2. MIDI - I had strapped the metal frame GK-3B mounting kit on the bass, and decided it would be excellent to have all MIDI support onboard.

By carefully selecting the control configuration (and ignoring the red LED on the GK kit) we're keeping the 4-pot configuration and adding a single switch on the top (which will be the 3-way for the MIDI controller). Patch up and down buttons will be discreetly mounted on the lower side of the bass, and the MIDI volume will take one of the pots while the 3-band EQ, mid-shift control and pickup volumes will all be taken care of across 3 pots.

Preamp will be an Aguilar OBP-3 (what else? It's in so many basses and does a great job) running at 18V (Julian has to rout out a new cavity for the battery anyway, so why not go 18V for the hell of it).

Really looking forward to pictures of the operation - it's a good bass, but really needs this upgrade. Folded in will be a damn good fret dressing to get rid of any buzz and a set up job to get the action down.

Watch this space - if I get any pictures from Julian they'll be up here ASAP!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

London Bass Guitar Show - abbreviated highlights!

My first LBGS. And I'm impressed! Went in on the Saturday, and:

- saw Lee Sklar, always nice to catch someone you aspire to be later in life - a true laid back Californian player, you can see why he gets so much work, he loves his craft and is obviously so easy to get along with. And has a good philosophical view on his work.
- saw Frank Bello, massively enthusiastic player (get a new iPod, Frank!). Huge smiles as he cranked out Anthrax classics, and the way he plays Rush had me in stitches!
- totally failed to recognise Jeff Berlin at the Cort stand - he was inviting bass players to try the setup on a bass (which was ultra-low) - lovely fellow, I thought he was a stand-guy. The player before me nodded appreciatively, Jeff offered me the bass, I sat down, played some of Midnight (arranged for bass, it's a 2-handed tap piece by Joe Satriani) and said it was ideal for that and that my Aria is similarly set up. Then I dug in a little and said that the E was too low and had buzz - "what if you play really gently so you can hear every note", says Jeff - "nah, it's still too low", says I. At this point one or two eyebrows are raised in the amassed audience. I gave him the bass back and someone asked "what are you going to do now?" And he said "raise the action on the E!" Hehe
- changed strings at the show just outside the auditorium entrance haha
- tried out Gallien-Kruger, Eden and Warwick amps with the Warwick I brought along for the job
- tried out a Rikker bass, an utterly stunning olive top 5 string fretless with Piezo in individual bridge saddles - gorgeous tone, setup perfect, ~£2100 worth if heaven! Turns out it uses the same Aguilar OBP-3 as I'm having fitted into the Tobias, so I'm hopeful the boost and control will give me something great. The rikker guys talked with me for more than half an hour on the Metaphysics of Quality and how they make the guitars: they wind their own pickups, meditate and use zen breathing, I love their approach. The basses just ooze the results of it. I will be saving up for one.

Also met several bassists and chatted - including one who spotted my bass in earl's court tube and told me there was a train running to Olympia, which was massively appreciated!

And I got to see Paul Turner and shuffler, whose groove and infectious smiles are exactly what you want to see in a band. They love their little side project!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

On my way to London Bass Guitar Show 2014. Thoughts.

Platform has 2 teenage girls who will develop tech neck with their mobile use. Continuous selfies abound. Passenger on my iPod. Discover headphones that came with the iphone 5 sound great with the iPod classic. Reflect on intellectual irony and age-specificity of blogging about teenagers spending all their time faceborking selfies.

And also, bass is with me. 10 minutes of quiet before the train, in the brittle but bright march 1st Sun. Strings to buy. Gear to try. First time in years!

See you there. That's my train.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

An update on the Tobias Rebirth - plus London Bass Guitar Show 2014

Well, the Toby gets ever closer... the bridge (recap: it's a Hipshot 6 string solid brass bridge, painted black to match the existing hardware: a Type B) got held up in the US extreme cold weather, and ended up in Florida(!) - Barrie at Bass Gear is chasing it up.

I like to think that a little bit of my Bass decided to fly south for the winter, but in reality when I get this bass it's going to be after nearly 5 months of trying to find someone who would do it, and then finding someone who would do it, and then having trouble sourcing components (first the Roland GK3B kit, then the bridge).

I've also got my Saturday 1st March ticket for the London Bass Guitar Show - - first music show I've been to in years: I plan to take a 4 string, maybe the Aria (which now has the GK3B attached to it) or possibly the Warwick Ltd Ed 2004.

Any bass people heading that way - drop me a line, we'll meet up! Looking forward to seeing the Bass Gear stand, and the BassChat guys, as well as trying out a bit of gear. If I took the Aria I could try out some new Roland synth gear, I guess... ;-)

I've reached the point where I'm not really that worried about tiny increments in tone which a lot of people think they're getting when they try out new gear: your ears will get tired really quick trying amps side by side. I think you need time with a piece of equipment to get to know it, to find out what it will do, and if it works well with your fingers and basses. The old Warwick Pro IX head I use has headroom in spades - no worries there - and I think the only gear envy I have is for the Breeze lads who have a Trace Elliot V4 15 inch combo, which is an utter beast. Weighs about 20 tons, but that thing has the hugest tone ever created - played it for 3 months in Andorra with my 2x10 trace cab (as was - traded it in now). I'd love a V4 head (or even - gulp - a V8) but those things are like rocking horse sh*t now.

We'll see what interesting new gear there is on Saturday, I guess! Lots of pics to come.

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.

Electric Bass String Cleaning: or, how I saved a fortune

This post will save you money, I guarantee it. Early on in my bass playing life, when I had paltry sums to buy strings with, I used to boil them to remove the skin, oil and cack which causes them to go flat. I've always liked zingy (played in, mind) strings - plenty of top end, good mids and rounded lows. I'm not a massive fan of the flat dull thud which some people regard as fine - not my thing, and my opinion mind, don't be offended if you're happiest playing 10 year old strings to get that tone from the 70s ;-)

Boiling worked, I even added washing up liquid at one stage - but, of course, you're effectively promoting chemical reactions. Water acts as a mild acid of sorts, and promotes rust in the steel of the strings - particularly, I noted, in the cores of the strings I was using at the time (rotosound Geddy Lee style PSDs I recall).

More recently, I've used Warwick black labels since the warwicks I have came with them, and they seem like a great compromise between cost, sound and longevity, and I hunted for a better (read: lazier and more effective) way to clean strings.


I can recommend this: the meths does less harm to the strings (they certainly seem to survive better), it actively stops water (we used to add it to petrol tanks to soak up water and improve running in cars with carbs), and it does an excellent job of removing the oils and skin grease from the windings of the roundwounds.

I use an old sweet jar, with extra sealing inside the lid to ensure there's no evaporation. Big neck (you need to get the strings in there), and buy enough meths to fill the jar. I found it in B&Q, available in smallish bottles. Don't worry if it's pricey, the meths will very quickly pay for itself.

All you have to do is wrap the strings up in a small enough loop to get them in the jar, make sure they're under the meths, stick the lid on and leave them for as long as you want. I've left strings in there for months(!) and they've been great.

When drying, make sure you do it somewhere ventilated - the meths will stink the place out while it evaporates from the strings - but it won't take that long.

I can get 3 or even 4 uses out of a set of Warwick black labels: that's a serious saving on a 6-string bass.

Let me know if this helped you via the usual buttons - like it on facebook, or RT on twitter. If you use it, why not say you found this useful on Google+? ;-)

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

I've picked a great New Years resolution... by accident!

While chatting with someone a few evenings ago, they asked me about New Years resolutions, and without thinking, I replied "to fear less".

I've adopted it now, it's great - short, specific but sweeping and punchy enough that I'll remember it.

Every time I mention it to someone they ask me what I'm afraid of - to which I reply - "everything!". I'm a bass player, the choice of instrument was probably a reflection of the lack of self confidence in an 18 year old who didn't want to overdo it.

I've pushed bass into places a lot of people don't go: this year I intend to lever the newly refurbished Toby and make some truly odd noises. I've started editing video already, finding the time to get to grips with (of all things) windows movie maker 2012, which - gasp - turns out to be very good!

Here's to 2014 - to anybody reading this, join me in fearing less, loving more and living well.