A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

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Happy 2018!

2018.03.11 Bopps & KaraIts been 13 1/2 months since I last blogged here, and its been just about that much time since I last practiced with my bass regularly. When I fall off the boat, its steep. In that time, we’ve grown the family a little. Bopps is now 5 1/2 years old, and she has a 4-month old sister, Kara. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen since December. I got my wife an air fryer for Christmas. We opened it about 2 weeks early, and I’ve been air frying ever since. In January, I added an Instant Pot to the mix, and now, while I’m no chef, I do manage to put food on the table that people can actually keep in their stomachs. Oh, and I discovered that I like moscato wines quite a bit.

I’ve been getting my music fix via Bopps’ piano class. Although we’ve missed some here and there, we go once a week and she’s able to read enough music (using solfege, not note names) that she can handle stuff that isn’t from class. I got her a 2-CD and 2-book set with nursery rhyme songs and other children’s songs, and she’s able to read most of the music and play it on her piano. Its great that the lessons are paying off, although we do need to get more disciplined with practice.

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Not so happy new year…

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One of these things is not like the others…

2017 and I are off to a bad start. Sure the first 2 weeks were interesting – I got the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6, wifey’s thesis was released and she started her drum blog, and I got the Gorilla Tips. I even got my old Ibanez 4-string mostly fixed and am waiting to hear back about the acoustic.

Then, wifey caught a stomach bug. It hit her for a few days before moving onto our daughter. That was just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Bopps bounced back from it, and today we finally sent her back to school. However, this week, its been my turn, and I don’t have the resilience that my wife or our +1 does. My immune system is mostly theoretical. I’ve been laid out for the majority of the past week. This is my first time sitting in front of a computer in days. I haven’t touched a bass in 5 days, and spent 2 days completely immobile. I haven’t been this bad in recent memory. I literally didn’t move except to turn from one side to the next for 2 days.

Today, I took my first bite of solid food in days. It stayed down, so things were looking up. The GHS Pressurewound strings came in yesterday – it took 11 days to ship, likely because of the long weekend and USPS. I decided that since I’m finally sitting upright again, I’d restring the 6-string fretted bass with them. I’ve been really curious about them and waited twice as long to get them as I thought I’d have to.

Then I broke the new E-string by over-tightening.

The one thing I had to look forward to, and you took it from me too, 2017!


Wifey’s extreme metal thesis and drum blog are here!

This isn’t totally bass-related, but it might be intriguing for some of you who are interested in extreme metal and in drumming (even separately).

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My wife finished her 2nd masters degree this year. Apart from her MLS, she now has a masters in anthropology. Her thesis topic was centered on women’s participation in New York’s extreme metal scene – from musicians and fans to others in the industry like photographers, writers, women who run magazines and websites, women who host radio shows and more. We attended shows (quite a few were around the baby’s schedule), she met and interviewed women in the scene, conducted an online survey with dozens of respondents, and met and presented with incredible metal music scholars – a discipline that I didn’t even know existed until she started doing her thing. Many of them have written books and papers in academic journals and some have released video documentaries as well. Its a thriving and fascinating international community.

Anyway – for those interested, her thesis is finally available for public consumption via CUNY Academic Works. Here’s a link to the PDF (you can click the “download” button on CUNY’s site or read it online):

Here’s a link to her blog where she announced the release of the thesis as well:

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Focusrite Scarlett 6i6

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I got a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 audio interface from a seller on Craigslist yesterday. Its the 2nd gen model, which is the new one that has ironed out some issues from the older model. The seller listed the device as being in Stratford, CT, which is about an hour away, without traffic. After emailing, I learned that its actually at his mother’s house in Mt. Vernon, NY, behind Cross County Shopping Center – about 5 mins from my house.

So, wifey and I left Bopps with her grandparents and went to see the device. We met the seller in Mt. Vernon. He was a little older than me – maybe in his late 40s or early 50s. His name is Mike and he’s originally from Queens – he had the accent too.

His mother’s place is falling apart. Its an old Victorian house, and in the snowy dark had looked intimidating from outside. Once the door opened, I could hear my wife’s mental cringe in my head. We had to go up 3 flights to a room to see the 6i6. There were boxes and junk everywhere, the handrail finish on the staircase was partially stripped, like if paint thinner had been run in odd rivulets along it, the floors were in terrible condition, and a young, blonde woman in a bathrobe with her hair wrapped in a towel walked out of a room on the 3rd floor, ran into us going upstairs and exclaimed, “What, there are more people?!”

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Bass repair cost at Sam Ash in White Plains, NY

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Sometime in 2011 with the EXB-404. Glad I cleaned the room and changed the furniture & paint since then. It was the start of this blog, actually…

I spoke with Sam Ash about my old Ibanez 4-string. The repair person didn’t see anything wrong with the tuning peg that I replaced. That alarmed me, but after a short conversation, it turned out that the repair I did wasn’t bad. He’s just going to finish setting the screw, because at first I was hesitant to drill a hole for it.

It costs $30 for them to look at the electronics, which I know need service, since the 4-string didn’t work with my amp consistently. That price is subtracted from the repair cost, if one is found necessary, which it will be. He also recommended a setup, which costs $75, but jumps to $95 with strings. I’m unclear if that includes the cost of the strings themselves. If not, it costs $20 for them to restring a bass, which I can definitely do for myself.

I told him to hold off on the setup for now, but to just get the electronics working. He’ll call me on Monday, because he’s working on stuff from the end of December still. He’ll give me a quote about what the electronics might cost. I hope its not outrageous, as I need a reliable and decently-priced tech to look at the acoustic as well. We’ll find out next week.

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A visit to Sam Ash

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Its like we were made for each other…

So, back in March, I snapped the tuning peg for the A-string on my old Ibanez 4-string (see the bottom of this post). I ordered a replacement part, which took almost a month to come in from overseas, and it didn’t quite fit. I’ve had it on the back-burner to get it repaired for a while now, and yesterday I set out to get it done… in a week.

The wifeness & I ran up to White Plains and after trying these amazing Japanese crepes, we hit Sam Ash, where I announced my bass’ need for a medic and filled out paperwork to have it admitted. Unfortunately, the doctor wasn’t in and won’t be there today either, so I had it assigned to a room where it will wait with other unfortunates until the end of the week when the doctor returns and can give it an examination. I should get a call in about 5 days with a price quote and a diagnosis. I’m sure it will center around two conditions: the broken tuning peg and malfunctioning electronics. There was also talk of an optional procedure: a set-up. The double-meaning of the word has my heard aflutter.

Ultimately, we have to see if the work will exceed the cost of the bass. Its my original, which I got back around 1996 or so, and which lay unloved at my parents’ house for around 15 years before I gave it another shot and started this blog in lieu of writing heartfelt poetry. How far will we go for our first loves?

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Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year, folks! I hope its a standout year for everyone. I hope you learn something world-changing, play gigs that make you fall in love with music all over again and that your family lives are blissful and your jobs become meaningful and rewarding. And I hope you get a raise and find that gear you didn’t even know you wanted – for cheap too!