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Gollihur Music
March 2012 Newsletter

Our Estle Louis Basses are quality, affordable instruments that arrive FULLY SET UP!
Welcome to another in a series of our irregular and infrequent e-Newsletters!
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In This Issue:
  1. Site Maintenance - What to expect (Hopefully, Nothing)
  2. Bob's Blog - Learn How to Play Your Amp! (Part 3)
  3. New Product Spotlight - RMI Basswitch IQ DI
  4. Mark's Cool New Bass Stuff - Krivo Magnetic Pickup
  5. Ordering Strings - 7 Great Reasons to Get Your Strings at Gollihur Music
  6. Christopher's Corner - Slap 101, Part II - Triple Slaps
  7. Thanks, Unsubscribe Info, Contact Us

IMPORTANT: Upcoming Site Maintenance
website undergoing maintenanceIn our efforts to continually improve your shopping and surfing experience at, we're about to make some updates to our web servers and other back end processes. This may create some temporary outages or other issues (like missing pages), but we're doing everything we can to ensure that the impact is minimal and the timeframe is brief. We expect that the majority of any unusual site behavior should occur over the weekend of March 16-18, so if you have any trouble using our site, especially that weekend, please know that we're working on it and things should be back to normal soon.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled newsletter...

Bob's Blog

It's Bob!

Learn How To Play Your Amp!! (Part 3)

In Part 1 of this series we talked about basic amp controls and specific methods for learning their effects. In Part 2, we went over the all important topic of "Gain Staging," and discussed some of the tools relevant to that. This final article, Part 3 covers the additional features that amps and external preamps may have that affect your sound, including parametric EQ's, Notch Filters, and more.

As always, I encourage you to spend time with each one to analyze what they can do for you. The better we learn our amps, the more instinctive it will become to reach for the right knob to tweak when the need arises.

          equalizer example; Genz Benz 9.2A (Semi-) Parametric Equalizer (EQ) is form of tone control, like the "Bass/Mid/Treble" knobs covered in Part 1, but it can be a much more precise tool than a conventional tone control or even a graphic equalizer. As illustrated in a piano image from part 1 of this series, an amplifier's regular Bass tone control, for example, affects a wide swath of notes, or frequencies. A Semi-Parametric Equalizer adds a knob (or multi-position switch) to choose the center frequency of the group of notes affected. You -- not the amp designers -- decide which notes are boosted or cut, as to better sculpt your tone.

parametric equalizer
          example; DTAR EquinoxA full Parametric Equalizer adds a third knob, which is used to adjust the bandwidth (sometimes called "Q"). This lets you choose how many notes on each side of that center frequency are affected by the control - from a big wide "scoop" to a small slice. As with other tone controls, I'd suggest learning what these do by listening -- but you can always reference actual bass note frequencies at our FAQ on FREQUENCIES: What are the frequencies of bass notes? I love these equalizers for the incredible flexibility they bring. They're great for correcting flaws, such as frequencies that are louder in some performance spaces, as well as more precisely enhancing midrange presence and detail without sounding like you're playing through a telephone.

Notch Filter: A Notch Filter is similar to a Semi-Parametric Equalizer, but it's usually a tool that is mostly used to "cut" the response of a very narrow band, like a single note. While the parametric EQ is designed specifically to alter your tone, the notch filter allows you instead to fix problems without making a dramatic change in your tone. So, if your bass "favors" a particular frequency with extra response, or there is a specific frequency that excites your bass into feedback, you can dial in a reduction on just that frequency (note) to tame its response -- without screwing up the neighboring notes and your overall tone. There are some units that have more than one filter, so if you identify more than one problem frequency, you can address them as well. Most units will also allow you to boost that narrow band to help out with a note or range of notes that are weak. In most cases a Parametric Equalizer can be utilized as a Notch Filter, by simply specifying a very narrow bandwidth of frequency, and cutting it.

High Pass Filter - aka Low (Bass, Sub-Bass) Cut Filter, Subsonic Filter, Depth Control - The counter-intuitively named "High Pass" Filter is so-called because it lets high frequencies pass and, like the black knight, stops undesirables (in this case, boomy and muddy low frequencies) from passing, starting at the frequency where you adjust the knob or slider. This feature is a popular and very useful one, particularly for upright bass players, as it can get rid of low frequency rumble, and surprisingly, even subsonic sounds beneath the range of notes your bass can play. While we know a low E is 41.2Hz and a low B is 30Hz, it's best to set this control by ear, because it isn't a sharp cutoff but gradual reduction at the frequency you select. Using this control properly can reduce "mud" and power-robbing, bass vibrating lows that make your sound flabby... and encourage feedback. That satisfying thickness on stage may mean your audience is just hearing rumble, and while that rich maple syrup tastes good, it's no fun to swim in it. Whether you need to use one -- and where you'd set it -- will depend on your instrument and pickup, as well as the stage and setup (like whether you're stuck in a corner).
Want to know more? Check out our FAQ about High-Pass Filters.

Enhance, Shape, Contour are a sample of labels you'll find on some amp knobs, most of which change the tonal character of your signal by boosting high and low frequencies and cutting midrange. In my experience they seldom help the sound of upright bass -- which in my opinion needs those midrange frequencies to help define its character in a live performance mix -- and they often impart an "electric bass" or otherwise generic tone. Switches or buttons like Deep, Bright, etc. will also apply a specific tone shape, which can sometimes be kind of radical for upright. Learn these tools by setting all of the amp's tone controls at neutral, and try each of them using the techniques discussed in Part 1 of this series.

These last few common amp features are not specifically involved in tone, but it's good to know what they do:

Phase Switch: When a signal is "in phase", a note you play pushes air from your bass into the room, and the vibration of your amp's speaker also pushes air out into the room. A Phase Switch (also called an "Phase Reverse", "Invert Switch," etc.) reverses the signal's phase, so when you play a note the speaker is "sucked in." Reversing phase may or may not result in a big change to your sound. But since it it is opposite from your bass' vibrations, it doesn't make your bass vibrate more, because it more or less pushes air "in" while your bass is pushing out. In practical use, the use of reverse phase may help you gain a little more volume before feedback, but don't expect a miracle. Another use for a phase switch is when one is using two pickups, or a microphone with a pickup. Different devices can be inadvertently wired in or out of phase, and if the phase is not the same it will usually rob you of bass response. Noise-cancelling headphones use this principle by reproducing what they hear (on built-in microphones) in reverse phase, thus cancelling the sound in your headset. If you suspect this condition, switch the phase on one channel and listen to the result. The Euphonic Audio Doubler has a Phase Knob, which changes phase gradually from one extreme to the other, for more precise adjustments.

Effects Loops are a feature for inserting various devices, typically pedals, into your bass signal. They come in two flavors, series and parallel. Series interrupts the entire bass signal and sends it through the device, so none of the original, unaffected bass sound remains. Parallel gives you a signal to affect but places it alongside the original signal. Usually you'll have a control that lets you choose how much of the affected signal to mix in with your original bass sound. If you don't know which you have, plug an unused cable into the Send jack while you're playing; if you can no longer hear your amplified bass from the speaker, it is a series effects loop. Many players choose to put their effects boxes, or sometimes tuners, between the instrument and amplifier input, where it acts as a series loop might. It's best to experiment to see which method works best for your specific purposes.

Direct Out, or DI is usually a XLR jack that is designed for sending your bass signal to a PA system or recording board. There can be various controls and switches associated with this, such as the ability to send the raw, unprocessed signal (often labeled Pre-EQ) or sending it after it is filtered by your tone settings (Post-EQ). If you tend to fiddle with your on-stage tone and volume settings it will be best to send the Pre-EQ signal to the board, because your sound engineer may throw a rock at you because they will have to make adjustments at the board to compensate for your changes. For help with these settings if you are in a performance or recording session requiring the use of the Direct Out jack, talk with the person running the system — always make friends with these people because they can make you sound really good... or really bad.

Note: Bob's Blog (and additional blog posts) can now also be found on our Wordpress Blog Page.


Basswitch IQ DI from RMI

Ruppert Musical Instruments (RMI) has created an amazing new studio-quality preamp, built into a rugged, road-worthy foot-pedal enclosure. The RMI BASSWITCH IQ DI is a premium preamplifier, built with high-end studio-grade components (including a Lehle transformer-equipped DI) and designed with the features you need to capture the tone you're searching for.

No doubt, this is not a cheap piece of kit. Jacques Ruppert, designer of the Basswitch IQ DI, decided on a "no compromises" design ethic on the unit, and it shows. Impeccable construction, top-shelf components, and super-clean design all combine to make this unit a "must have" for real tone junkies. Just plug in once, and you'll be convinced.

It's an excellent preamp for doubling; the main channel features a switchable 1 megOhm/10 megOhm input impedance - making the input fully compatible with any upright bass pickup. The second channel bypasses the EQ settings, letting you plug in your "slab" bass without the EQ tweaks you applied to the upright.

It also features a "boost" feature (great for taking solos or when you need to "step out" in the mix) and a pair of effects loops - one serial, one parallel - so you can integrate even more variety into your sound.

You can also use the Basswitch IQ DI for a foot-switchable "alternate tone": Your channel B "sound" is your non-EQ'd "straight" tone, and the channel A "sound" can be altered with different EQ. So if you are mostly playing straight jazz but want to throw a couple of Latin numbers into the set, you can have an alternate tone setting to quickly access the right tone for the song. This can also be useful in providing a different EQ and volume for when you switch from arco to pizz.

Gollihur Music also includes a free power supply (required for use, but not included by RMI) at no additional cost, and the Basswitch ships for free in the USA!

Visit our Basswitch IQ DI product page for even more details, photos, and alternate uses for this amazing preamp!

Mark's Cool New Stuff

The New KRIVO Magnetic Pickup

Sometimes, you have to sacrifice some of your natural tone when you play in a band that performs in very "live" venues or plays particularly loud - typical surface-mount pickups for upright bass can be easily excited by feedback, making them impractical or unusable in those situations. Magnetic pickups like the one made by Schaller have been around for a long time, and can offer much more volume before feedback. However, they restrict you to using metallic strings (no guts or nylon!) and usually make your lovely, acoustic bass sound more like a big P-Bass.

Jason at Krivo has been making this pickup for several years, and has refined it to the point where it gives you the advantages of the magnetic pickup (consistent sound, high volume, very little feedback risk) but also lessens that "P-Bass Effect." Using clever hand-winding techniques, Jason has coaxed a more "acoustic" sound out of this magnetic pickup. And, he's done it in a humbucker design, which virtually eliminates noise, buzz, and hum. Yes, you still need to use strings with ferrous (magnetic) cores, but if you've been looking for a pickup that can get loud without feedback, this may be one of the best options.

The pickup is easily installed to the end of your fingerboard with 3M DualLock adhesive strips, and Gollihur Music even includes a free bonus tailpiece mount for quickly attaching (and unattaching) the jack without having to remove any strings from the bass.

Check out our Krivo Magnetic Pickup Page for more photos and details.


Ordering Strings at Gollihur Music

There are lots of good reasons to buy your Upright Bass Strings at Gollihur Music... here are a few!

  1. We ship string sets FOR FREE in the USA. That's right - no shipping charge, even to Alaska and Hawaii! Canadian customers pay only $5 per set for shipping. And reduced, reasonable rates everywhere else.
  2. Single string ordering is easy! Just need a "D" string? Want to assemble a "custom set?" On any string page, look for the box (see graphic to the right for an example) near the top of the page, and click it to bring up a listing of the individual strings; check the boxes for the strings you want and add 'em to your cart. Simple!
  3. Every string order comes with an instruction sheet for stringing the bass. Most players shouldn't have to take their bass to a luthier to have new strings put on - but there are some important things to know. We include Bob's helpful stringing tips with every string order so you can have the knowledge and confidence to do it yourself! (By the way, did you know that we also have a version of that tip sheet online in our FAQ section?)
  4. We've got "buyer's guides" to help you choose - don't know what strings might work best for modern jazz? Rockabilly? Bluegrass? Orchestra? There are a lot of choices. We've put together a number of helpful guides to help you pick out the strings that are more likely to be what you're looking for. And we're always happy to help you narrow it down on the phone or by email, too.
  5. We rotate stock. Especially important for gut strings - we shelve newly received strings behind existing stock, so that you're never getting old, stale strings. And our sales volume ensures that you won't get a string that's more than 2-3 months old. (By the way, we do the same thing with our rosin, bows, and other products!)
  6. We purchase our strings from authorized US distributors or direct from the manufacturers. Our strings are sourced from our trusted factory-authorized suppliers, so you're always getting the first-quality, factory fresh, genuine product.
  7. We do our very best to have every string on the site in stock at all times. Yes, sometimes manufacturer delays happen, or we get an unexpected rush that cleans us out - but the vast majority of string orders ship out the same day they're ordered.
We have a wide variety of bass strings to choose from, and we're always on the lookout for new strings to offer - is there a set that we don't carry (but should?) Let us know, and we'll consider adding it to our product line!

Christopher's Corner

SLAP 101 - Introduction to Playing Slap on the Upright (Part II)

In part one of this series on slapping your bass I addressed the single and double slap, which are probably the most useful slap rhythms to have in your back pocket. This installment I'll introduce the two types of triple slaps, the triplet and the gallop (there is also the drag triplet, but that could be an article in and of itself. I've included the notation for the single (ex.1) and double (ex.2) slaps from last time, for your reference. Now, on to triples - here we go!

The first, the triplet (ex.3), is one of these easiest patterns to explain since it has a direct counterpart in traditional musical notation. The triplet is just that, three notes shoved into one beat. The first beat of the triplet will be the note itself, followed by two slapped notes. While there are many ways to pull this off, I prefer to pull the first note, play the second with my palm and the third with my fingers, creating one nice smooth motion. That allows you a bit more speed than when doing two slaps with one part of your hand. This, of course, is not an exact science, so feel free to experiment. Note that the triplet rhythm is very rarely used in the main groove of a song. What it is used for, most often, is as an accent (try it on beat four of a simple walking bassline).

The second type of triple slap, the gallop (ex.4), is used as a "staple" groove in many recordings. This rhythm consists of an eighth note and two sixteenth notes, that sounds rhythmically like a horse galloping, hence the name; you might also liken it to the sound of a train rolling down the tracks. Example 4 shows the gallop; this could also certainly be notated as a quarter and two swung eighth notes, which may be a bit more appropriate, but I wanted to keep the examples consistent across the board.

Finally I put together a short exercise (ex.5) that combines many of the concepts presented in the last two articles, what's the sense of having new techniques if there's no practical application? Throw on the metronome and give it a go. Virtual high five to the first person who guesses what tune Exercise 5 is based on!

(click on the graphic to open it larger in your browser)


Thanks for reading!

Our plan is to put out occasional newsletters that highlight our latest informational Bass FAQs, as well as let you know of sales and cool new stuff. If you haven't already visited, check out the Upright Bass FAQ section (accessible from the menu bar under RESOURCES) and take a look at some of the other articles we've written. There are a number of topics like Impedance and Ohms (input AND output perspectives!), Rosin, changing strings, bridges, Mystery Basses, and more. More articles are in the works, and we welcome your suggestions for additional FAQs.

Gollihur Music is not just an Upright Bass store, it's your URB information destination.

"Life is too short for bad tone."
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