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Gollihur Music
October 2012 Newsletter

Our Own Estle Louis Laminated Bass
Welcome to another in a series of our irregular and infrequent e-Newsletters!
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In This Issue:
  1. Bob's Blog - Muscle Memory Musings
  2. Product Updates - Changes to the Hipshot FreeRange Xtender and dpa 4099B Microphone
  3. Mark's Cool New Bass Stuff - Multi-Pickup and Microphone Setups
  4. In Appreciation - Hey, Thank You!
  5. Christopher's Corner - Confessions of an Amp-less Bassist
  6. Thanks, Unsubscribe Info, Contact Us

The 10% OFF Factory-Authorized Sale on Thomastik Spirocore and Belcanto strings ENDS THIS FRIDAY, OCT 19.
We have to revert to their pre-sale prices of $204.99 (Spirocore) and $249.99 (Belcanto) - so now's the time to lock in the savings on these strings while the getting is good. Order now and save!

Bob's Blog

It's Bob!

Musings On "Muscle Memory"

We hear the term "muscle memory" (Wikipedia Article) when referring to learning finger positions on the glorious (and seemingly endless) fingerboard of the upright bass, or its more modest descendant, the fretless bass guitar. I've often tossed around that term, never really thinking about precisely what it meant, until it was brought into focus by a recent television program. Surprisingly, it wasn't a musically-oriented show - and it wasn't on PBS.

Actually, it was the poorly-named (but surprisingly informative) show "Dark Matters: Twisted But True" on the Science Channel. I think the producers chose the suggestive name and then hired John Noble, complete with creepy Fringe voice, to lure viewers who'd otherwise skip over "educational" programming. Because, let's be honest: calling it the "You're Going to Learn Something Interesting Show!" wouldn't bring much in the way of ratings.

This episode begins with the story of Nobel Prize nominee neurologist António Egas Moniz, who performed radical brain surgery on a patient with a serious seizure disorder. The operation (Spoiler Alert) is a partial success; his seizures cease, and while he can recall pre-surgery memories, he loses the ability to store new memories. In short, this leads to the conclusion that there are two distinctive long term memory types.

There's further, much more in-depth info at The Human Memory site, from which I'll be gently borrowing.

    Declarative, or explicit memory (knowing what) is that stuff we remember, like the names of people we met yesterday, and other things one might term "knowledge." Procedural, or unconscious muscle memory, is the "knowing how" memory that we hope blesses us (bass players) with accurate finger placement on the fingerboard. So in the case of a patient like Moniz's, while the patient's manual skill tests improve each day, he has to be reintroduced to his post-surgery doctors every day!

What's it all mean? I'll be darned if I know. Perhaps it explains why I can play the bass, but can't remember the name of the guitar player I met yesterday. While these musings may not have enhanced your procedural, practical bass playing memory, it is fun to discover that the phrase muscle memory actually has some science behind it.


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

Product Updates

Hipshot FreeRange Xtender and DPA Microphones

The Hipshot FreeRange Xtender, the innovative new add-on "Drop-Tuner" which mounts on your tailpiece and allows you to instantly change the pitch of any single string to a pre-determined pitch, now has a longer "throw" and therefore a larger tuning range.

This isn't a big deal if you use it with steel-core strings; the early models could all tune the E string down to at least a low B. However, early adopters discovered that it didn't have a very big usable range for nylon and other synthetic-core strings, due to their greater elasticity. The updated model (and all of the ones we have in stock are this new model) provides a more useful tuning range for synthetic strings, while still providing the full range for steel-core strings.

The DPA 4099B Upright Bass Microphone is now called the DPA d:vote 4099-B Upright Bass Microphone; while the microphone's audio specs and design are the same, some new features and options have been added to make the mic even more convenient and useful. The gooseneck (which has the signal cable integrated within it) now features detachable ends - and therefore can now be lengthened via an optional extension. This will allow for greater flexibility of placement. Also, the output cable is now removeable/replaceable, and can be swapped out for a new heavier-gauge cable for those who are concerned about road-worthiness (or who are playing in particularly abusive conditions.)

We stock the new accessories, and all of the DPA mics in stock are this new "d:vote" model.

We also now have the option to bundle a small studio-grade preamplifier with the DPA mic for easy interfacing (and great sound) when playing through most any amplifier or mixing board. It provides the gain structure and phantom power to effectively use the mic in almost any live or studio situation, and even has optional presets to further shape the sound. We even include a bonus FREE mic cable! Check out the package details on the dpa Mic Page!

As always, we do our very best to stay on top of product updates and changes, and are happy to answer any questions you may have about current and past models of what we sell. Just ask!

Mark's Cool New Stuff

Multi-Pickup (and Mic/Pickup) Setups - Making it Easier

Amplifying your upright bass can sometimes be complicated. Microphones can be a hassle, pickups can be a compromise; if you're like most bass players, at least a few of the single pickups you've tried over the years are now collecting dust in a drawer somewhere, because they didn't quite meet your specific needs.

K&K Sound
Bass Master Pro
Because they are so flexible, some of the best options for amplifying the upright are multi-element systems - meaning, two different-sounding pickups are blended in varying degrees, providing lots of new tone flavors that weren't available with just one pickup alone. Think of it as similar to a two-pickup electric bass guitar, where you have a bridge pickup and a neck pickup; each has its own character (the neck pickup is round and warm, the bridge pickup is more trebly and detailed). It's the BLENDING of those two disparate tones that gives you the sounds you're after. Or, think visually: one pickup is red, the other is blue. Now imagine of all the lovely shades of purple that you can now have within your grasp!

Years ago, K&K Sound came out with the Bass Master Pro to provide exactly that sort of flexibility for the upright bass; the Bass Max is like the electric bass "neck" pickup, and the Double Big Twin is the "bridge" pickup, roughly speaking. Complete with a two-channel blending preamp (with separate EQ for each pickup!) this system brought a whole new level of tonal control to the upright. It's also the basis of the Bass Master Rockabilly System; a dedicated "clicky" pickup (to capture the percussive elements of the rockabilly slap bass sound) is added to the more traditional tone of the Bass Max to dial in that perfect slap sound.

K&K Sound
Golden Trinity Upgrade
Along similar lines, another option is to blend a pickup with a microphone; the direct, powerful sound of a pickup can be a little "dry" sounding, so adding the open, airy, realistic sound of a microphone can be a way to have your cake, and eat it, too. So K&K Sound also has other systems which similarly couple their small condenser mic with either the Bass Max or the Double Big Twin - the Golden Trinity/Bass Max System and the Golden Trinity/Double Big Twin System are the result.

So that's all well and good - but what if you already HAVE the Bass Max, the Double Big Twin, or the Golden Bullet microphone? It's never fun to waste money re-buying something you already (sort of) have, but it can seem overly complicated to integrate the piece you already have into a full system. So we (and in some cases, K&K Sound) have made it easy for you, creating "Upgrade" systems to help you build upon the gear you already have.

Here are a few of the more common options:

What you have What you can upgrade to
Any Piezo Pickup
K&K Golden Bullet Mic
(+ any pickup)
  • MixPro with Splitter Cable Mounting Kit: Provides an LR Baggs MixPro preamp and a special Y-cable so you can blend the mic with any pickup of your choice - with a minimum of hassles (and without having to use the K&K power box)
Two Pickups (any)
Maybe that helps you figure out what you need to put together a system that might be worth more than the sum of its parts... and hopefully save you some money in the process. But if this is all still too confusing, and you want some assistance figuring out what your options are, feel free to drop me an email or give me a call -- I'm happy to help you configure a convenient, cost-effective system that will work for you!


In Appreciation

Referrals from Happy Customers are the Best Kind of Advertising

Recently, we've had quite a few brand new customers tell us that, thanks to the emphatic recommendation of a friend, they chose to make their purchases with us. Especially in this difficult economy, we know that money can be tight - and the decisions you make about where to spend your hard-earned dollars can be influenced by lot of factors.

We also know that there is no better -- or more effective -- kind of advertising than this kind of referral, and we're humbled and thankful that so many of you are so willing to share your experiences with your musical friends.

Without getting all long-winded about it, we just want to say, "Thank you for your continued support." It means a lot.

Christopher's Corner

Confessions of an Amp-less Bassist

I have a confession to make. I haven't brought an amp to a gig in two years -- and I couldn't be happier about it. In that time, I have played well over 200 gigs, anywhere from pit orchestras to small jazz clubs, even rockabilly dates in 2000-seat theaters. While going amp-less has worked out great for me, it certainly is not for everyone; let me share my story.

Two years ago my car broke down. Shortly after that, I moved to Philadelphia and began taking public transit to many of my gigs. In addition, I joined up with two new groups: one that toured with secured backlines for many gigs, and another that flies to most gigs -- where bringing my own bass and amp is a near impossibility.

LR Baggs
Para DI
I decided to pick up an LR Baggs Para acoustic DI, so I'd have a preamp that would allow me to have some semblance of control over my sound in these unpredictable situations. Since I could use the backline amp at the gig, it reduced the gear I had to drag on the train with me (you get enough odd looks and comments just lugging your bass onto the subway).

About a month after picking up the Para Acoustic DI, I was presented with a terrible sounding, beat up old amp at a gig. So I asked the soundman to just run my DI through the monitors -- and we'd forget about the amp. Imagine my surprise! My bass sounded great; there was no choice but to run it through the monitors, and as a result, it was evenly dispersed across the stage without dominating. The singer-songwriter I was playing with said he had never been able to hear my bass that clearly. From that moment on I haven't looked back.

The Baggs is a great box that gives me a full EQ with semi-parametric mids, and a notch filter to tame feedback, as well as a phase inverse switch that has come in handy more than once. Additionally it runs on Phantom power, which is just icing on the cake, and saves me a ton in 9v batteries, I'm not going to lie, I'm cheap.

Radial Engineering
That being said, Radial just came out with a new box, the PZ-Deluxe that packs a low cut filter, a bassists best friend, so I might just be making the switch soon. (Besides, I'm pretty sure it could survive a nuclear war, which is pretty reminiscent of the way that my gear tends to get treated).

My bag is packed today to hop on a plane in a few hours; my preamp and some cables are in there, and that's all; I know that no matter what terrible amp or bass I am given, I will have (at minimum) a passable sound. And let's be honest, that is all that the majority of the public cares about, and they're the ones that have to listen to it.

As I mentioned earlier, this solution is certainly not for everyone. You will sacrifice control over your sound. And for many bassists, the amplifier provides much of their tone, from the amp itself down to the speaker... every little part counts. And there are those who routinely play small gigs without a PA -- dinner music and whatnot -- for those gigs, you need an amp, if only to provide some support of the acoustic sound of the bass. I am blessed that the main jazz trio I work with has a vocalist, who doesn't mind if I run a little bit of bass through her PA. In any situation, even with an amp, I think that it is invaluable to bring your own preamp, whether to have a little extra EQ, volume and tone controls closer to the bass, or just to have a clean-sounding DI that you know you can trust.

This system has served me well, and works for my needs. It is certainly not the solution for everyone, or even for the majority, of bass players; but is certainly an approach to keep in your back pocket for those gigs where bringing your own rig is not feasible.

Now, go play!


Thanks for reading!

Our plan is to put out occasional newsletters that provide useful information to you, the bassist, as well as let you know of special offers 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 helpful 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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