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April 2014 Bass Notes
UPRIGHT BASS SPECIALISTS... ON THE WEB SINCE 1997
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We've got just a few announcements and new products to talk about in this issue: Christopher gets "in-depth" with his take on the new Innovation Rockabilly Red strings, we discuss the streamlining of the Acoustic Image line, and show off some new products you might not have seen yet (including a new color option for our popular stick-on side markers.) And we also bring you an excerpt from our "Transporting your Bass" FAQ - now that it's getting warmer out, here are some useful points that you might not always think about when moving your bass around!
We hope that this short note finds you well... and just remember, "When the bass stops, the bottom kind of drops out of everything." -- Charlie Haden
Hmmmm... is that a statement that is simply about music, or maybe something more? ;-)
We Now Accept American Express
BIG NEWS for some of our customers! After many requests, we've finally struck a deal with American Express to be able to offer AMEX as a payment option. We're pleased to now be able to accept all four major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express), as well as PayPal, for your purchases from Gollihur Music. Of course, we still accept checks and money orders for your convenience. Now you can always use your favorite card at your favorite* bass store.
NEW! Innovation Rockabilly Reds Strings
2014 is the year of the color red, or so I've been told. In commemoration of such a monumental event, Innovation has released a new set of strings: The Rockabilly Reds. All kidding aside, I had the pleasure of trying out a set of these new strings on both my '54 Kay and a month long tour with a carved German shop bass, so we have become mighty fine friends over the past few months, to say the least. My usual set up is Innovation SuperSilvers on the E & A and GoldenSlaps for the G & D, for comparison.
The Rockabilly Reds, much like Innovation's standard Rockabilly strings, lean towards a medium tension string thanks to the nylon "tape" windings, which make the string stiffer than a "wire" winding. Despite that stiffness, they are still quite easy on the fingers (I did thirteen 2 hour gigs back to back and didn't even come close to developing a blister). The pizz sound, especially on the carved bass, is huge, with a great mix of articulation and that gut-like thud that roots players are accustomed to. The E has a good amount of growl and sustain to it, which -- although not my cup of tea -- could be just what some people are looking for. Playing pizz, you really need to "lay into" these strings to get the most out of them... and when you do, they sure do have a lot to give. The carved bass had Spiros on it when it was put in my hands, and the Reds gave them a run for their money as far as overall output.
Playing Slap, I find the tension a little high (maybe I'm a sissy... okay, I am) but the sound, especially on the G and D, is very gut-like and organic, with a nice click. The G, especially, which has a slightly different wrap than the other strings, is very close in tone to a gut string, with nice organic-sounding articulation to the front of the note.
The Rockabilly Reds, while not a far departure from Innovation's other offerings, are a great choice for someone who is doing an equal amount of Pizzicato and slap play (they don't bow too badly either, although the arco sound is certainly not going to fit well in an orchestral context... nor would the red color!) But - speaking of which - that red does look mighty fine next to a blonde bass, if I do say so myself.
Transporting Your Bass
This version of this FAQ has been edited for length - check out the full version here!
As a bassist, sooner or later you realize that your choice of instrument will also dictate your choices in other matters. Vehicles, for instance -- you can pretty much write off getting that Smart Car if you plan on ever taking your bass out. But it pays to be smart when moving your bass from home to gig (or rehearsal, or lesson) and back again. Here are a couple tips, and some "dos and don'ts."
Soft carry bags come in a lot of different qualities and weights. If you're taking the bass out of the house a couple of times a week, you might consider spending a little extra on a heavier-duty bag. Though with more padding and heavier-duty hardware comes more weight, too - so factor that in as part of your decision. Read up on the instructions that come with your bag; using handles and features in ways for which they weren't designed will usually get you in trouble. Don't trust a shoulder strap as if it were a backpack strap. Proper use of "D-rings" is to put the strap over one shoulder, and use your arm to steady/help carry. If you want to carry it like a backpack, get a bag with real backpack straps built in, you can usually be confident that they are up to the task.
Periodically inspect your bag for seam rips, and examine strap and handle connection points, zipper stitching and condition. The old saying, "a stitch in time saves nine" is soooo true!
Traveling in a vehicle, the bass has its unique issues. It's large, cumbersome, and fragile. The bridge could be knocked out of position if something falls against it, causing anything from a minor annoyance to a major catastrophe. I recommend putting the bass on its side, with its back against a wall of the vehicle (minivan, SUV, whatever you've got) and either bungee-corded to some hold-down points, or braced with large, relatively immovable objects to keep it from rolling over when taking corners too fast. Secure other items to prevent them from shifting and striking your bass (amps, folding chairs, other gear, etc.)
Don't lay your bass on its back without support. The scroll extends beyond the back of most any bass, and laying the bass on its back puts a LOT of strain on the neck heel joint. If you must lay it flat due to space or other considerations, put something (folded movers' blankets? Firm pillows?) underneath its shoulders to lift the pegbox up off the floor and prevent that damage.
NEW PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT
Some new items in our stable of bass products...
Vinyl Stick-On Side Markers - Our original "bright white" stick-on side markers have been very popular. They're an easy way to add visual landmarks to your fingerboard, for dark stages or for developing players. We now have added a new "metallic gold" color for players who want side markers that are a little more "subtle" on stage. Ships free to all US-based addresses!
Kala Rumbler U-Bass - The Kala Rumbler is the latest model in Kala Brand's distinctive line of award winning portable U-BASS instruments. The Rumbler takes the U-BASS into a new dimension with the addition of custom engineered active electronics (with BUILT-IN TUNER) and new proprietary strings, at an even more budget-friendly price of only $349!
Traynor SB110 Lightweight Combo Bass Amplifier - We were very pleasantly surprised by volume and tone from this small, light amp. It has a surprisingly deep sound that doesn't exhibit as much "boxiness" as you commonly hear from speakers of this size and weight. And how is this little amp so LOUD? It's only rated at 100w, but with my carved bass with the Realist Soundclip on it, plugged directly in with no preamp (the input impedance is reported to be around 1 MegOhm), the amp had full, deep sound. A bargain at only $399!
Kay Tailpiece Logo Sticker - If you've always wanted to add the old "Kay" logo to your tailpiece, but aren't really sure you could put a waterslide decal on without screwing it up, check out this repro sticker, done in custom-cut gold vinyl. It is easily installed on any tailpiece, and is easily removed if you change your mind. No harm, no foul.
New "Crossover" Strings from GHS
We collaborated on these new strings for the NS Design Basses!
Have you been looking for a new string option for your NS Design NXT or CR-model bass, but didn't want to use full-size strings (by wrapping them around the bottom of the bass and up to the keyhole slots?) GHS has created a new option for you.
The folks at GHS Strings consulted with Gollihur Music (and sent us prototypes for testing) as they engineered and executed this new option for the NS Design Upright Basses. The goal was to come up with a "modern hybrid" - almost a "Spirocore" for the NS bass; a string that could be bowed well, but would have a big, powerful pizz tone.
The result is... well, I'll let GHS describe it to you: "a string with a deep and focused fundamental tone, suitable for those needing both contemporary and traditional sounds."
Nickel-Iron Alloy is wound over a round core wire and then micro-ground for a smooth, upright bass feel, and a surface that is quite bowable. The strings have a pleasantly "beefy" physical profile, but wind easily onto the stock tuners on the NXT. Tension is "middle of the road" - not light, but not too heavy either. Overall, it's just a new sonic color to add to the palette of options for the bass. I find that it nicely cozies up between the two "NS Electric" (by D'Addario) options - not a truly "Traditional" sounding string, but rather one that provides nice definition and some edge without being too "zingy."
4-string and 5-string (Low B) sets are available. Check out the demo video on our page!
Acoustic Image Model Changes
Discounts on Outgoing Models!
The Acoustic Image lineup of amps has seen many changes over the years. And we've always tried to stay on top of those changes and keep you informed. With their newest product, the FLEX Preamp and Powered Speaker, they changed the game again - and in the process, updated the 2-channel preamp for their combos and heads. As of a few months ago, the 2-channel Ten2, Coda, Corus and Clarus amps now use the same preamp as the new Flex Preamp; this means they all feature a more capable 4-band EQ, and some useful new options and improved effects. However, due mostly to manufacturing complications, this change was not rolled out to the one-channel model. Now we can share the news that the one-channel models are being (mostly) phased out. The Contra will remain the sole one-channel combo in the lineup; its relatively scaled-back feature set and power rating will position it as the "entry-level" Acoustic Image combo - meanwhile, the "premier" models (Ten2, Coda, Corus) and the Clarus head will only be available in 2-channel models going forward.
The New Acoustic Image 2-channel Preamp
All of that said, Acoustic Image has the parts to make about a dozen or so 1-channel combos, and I'm getting all of them here at Gollihur Music. The ones that are left will be considered "B-Stock" as they have minor cosmetic imperfections in the casing of the head-unit - most of these imperfections won't even be noticeable when the unit is put together as a combo (you'd only even see it if you popped out the head for use separately). And it's purely cosmetic; it doesn't affect the sound or reliability of the amp. But they'll carry a nice discount as well. So check soon in our "Bob's Bargain Basement" clearance section, that's where they'll be listed. And get one for yourself while the gettin's good!
Remember, We gig these amps, so feel free to give us a call for assistance in choosing the best model for your situation, and FYI, our 14-day trial period -- and Acoustic Image's amazing 5-year+ Warranty -- applies to these special amps, too.
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