A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

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Strap locks and flatwounds

The Schecter Stiletto Studio-5 is an amazing bass. Its easily my favorite, out of the ones I own. As much as I love how it feels and plays, there were two things I wanted to change as well – (1) the bottom of my strap kept coming loose from the bass, so I needed to find a way to keep it secured and (2) I wanted strings that were smoother to the touch so that I can practice more easily, and I also don’t prefer how most roundwound strings sound – they tend to have twang that I don’t like in a bass.

A few weeks ago, I looked to Sweetwater and ordered two items to correct the issues I had with the bass. The first was a set of Dunlop strap locks. I’ve never used them before, but what I learned of them online made it seem like they were the solution to the problem of the bass slipping and taking my kneecap with it. The 2nd was a new set of bass strings: La Bella Gold Flats (they come in 4, 5 & 6 string packs). Both arrived yesterday – there was a delay because Sweetwater had received a bad batch of strings, and so was out of the La Bellas that I ordered.

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Ready for surgery

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Schecter Stiletto Studio-5

About a month ago, I grabbed a Music Man SUB Ray4 from Reverb. While doing that, I learned that Sweetwater was running a promo that allowed almost everything on its site to be bought with up to 48-months of interest-free financing. When I got the Ray4, I was initially looking at a Schecter Riot 5-string. It wasn’t available after I ordered it. This led to my purchase of a Schecter Omen 5-string, which I really liked a lot, but there was fret buzz that I couldn’t get rid of, so I returned it.

With the Omen out of my hands, I kept thinking about how the neck felt. I love how the Schecter neck feels. Sweetwater’s financing deal led me to take a leap and grab a bass that I normally would never consider due to its price: I ordered a lefty Stiletto Studio-5. It took a few weeks for Sweetwater to get the bass and then send it out to me, but once they shipped it, it arrived in 2 days via FedEx, and it was worth the wait.

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Scott’s Bass Lessons – PHRASE SHIFTING (16 bass lines… without changing a note?)

I just watched a really interesting video from Scott’s Bass Lessons – this one was from Toronto bassist Rich Brown. In it, Rich took a simple bass lick made up of the first 4 notes of the G minor pentatonic scale and showed how, by simply playing it starting on a different beat, it becomes a different bassline, sonically. The notes are all the same, although he changes from playing them long (legato) to short (staccato); but the sound and because of that, the notes he uses in fills to connect bars, completely change simply due to starting one 16th note later.

Towards the last minute of the video, he moves the line forward one additional 16th note, and again, it completely transforms. This is a fascinating phenomenon to me. It shows how any bassline, even if its played in nearly the same way, effectively has 16 variations that substantially alter how its heard, just by starting it on a different subdivision of the beat.

PHRASE SHIFTING (16 bass lines… without changing a note?)

Also – I love his bass tone. What he’s playing is apparently called an F-bass, and the 5-string version costs about $4,000!

Talkingbass – The Most Useful Music “Theory” You Can Learn!

Mark Smith from Talkingbass just released a new video today with a somewhat clickbait-y title: “The Most Useful Music ‘Theory’ You Can Learn!”. I like his channel a lot, and was naturally curious about what this most useful concept could be. Was it scales? Chord tones? The Circle of 4ths or 5ths? It turns out that it was none of these, but was something else that I know I need to work on: intervals!

The Most Useful Music “Theory” You Can Learn!

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Daric Bennet – 4 Most Important Bass Chord Shapes

Daric Bennet goes over shapes and sounds for the Major 7 chord, Minor 7 chord, Dominant and Minor 7 Flat 5 (also called the half-diminished chord). I’ve seen these before in other places, but what he does is interesting – I usually see people play the 1-3-5 when they use the notes from these chords as arpeggios, or when they play chords higher up the neck on the bass. Daric favors the 1-3-7, with the understanding that the sound of the 5 gets lost amid the 1 and 3 in different musical contexts. I’ve never seen anyone really take that stance and drill it the way he does.

4 MOST IMPORTANT BASS CHORD SHAPES | Online Bass Lessons w/ Daric Bennett

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Sterling, by Music Man SUB Ray4

Ray4I grabbed a new lefty 4-string from Reverb. Its a Sterling Music Man SUB Ray4. I probably shouldn’t have, but since I can pay it off over a year, its much more palatable – and I’ve wanted a new 4-string for a while now. If Sweetwater carried the SUB Ray series, I’d have gotten it there and stretched it out over a 3-4 year period, with no interest.

The bass arrived yesterday, but I didn’t get to really check it out until later at night. Its very comfortable, but in comparison, I do like the Schecter neck more. Its also somewhat thicker than my old Ibanez – both the body and the neck. It plays pretty nicely and feels very solid. The only issue was, again, fret buzz on the E string.

I tried adjusting the action of the E string by raising the saddle that the string sits on. It started at 2/16 of an inch. I raised it up as high as maybe 3.5/16, and did get rid of some of the buzz, but not all of it. I also lowered it, as an experiment, but that didn’t help.

While adjusting it, I found that when it was too low, if I played the A-string, the E-string would “clack” against the frets when my fingers passed through the A-string and rested against the E.

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Carol Kaye: Rock’s Most Prolific Session Musician

Earlier tonight, I watched this short retrospective of Carol Kaye‘s work in both bass and guitar. It makes me sad to know that her work precedes her in such a way that she’s not widely known, even though her music is. A lot of that is because of the session work that she did, which made other musicians famous.

The video has some short prescriptive quotes from her about music, in general, that are illuminating into how she approached bass, guitar, music and life in general.

Carol Kaye: Rock’s Most Prolific Session Musician