July 2015 Bass Notes
UPRIGHT BASS SPECIALISTS... ON THE WEB SINCE 1997
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"If a Man Made It, Another Man Can Fix It..."
There's a strongly held opinion that the setting up and repair of the doublebass is some sort of a "mysterious art;" that things that involve making some sawdust on one's bass should only be done by professional luthiers. And yes, there is definitely some merit to that point of view -- there are jobs that require an in-depth understanding (and quite often, expensive, specialized tools.) And, as I have learned from experience, some of the bigger, more complicated jobs actually cost less, in the long run, if you have them done by a competent repair-person (rather than messing them up yourself and subsequently paying someone else to fix your mistakes).
And that's why we have an extensive, free directory of luthiers on our site for your convenience, for those jobs that are above and beyond what a hobbyist should probably attempt.
One of the many useful habits I inherited from my Dad (Bob) is the willingness to just jump in and fix something when it breaks down. Yes, "I know enough to be dangerous" has turned out to be more of a truism than I'd like to admit, on occasion. But more often than not, I've been happy to discover that a little patience, some knowledge, and a positive attitude have gotten me through, whether it be repairing a minor plumbing issue in my home, rebuilding the front end of the car I carelessly slid through a stop sign as a teenager, or making some basic adjustments on my bass.
I'm pretty sure that Bob, in turn, learned this trait from his father. My Grandpop, Estle Louis Gollihur (at right) was a man who worked with his hands his whole life; even in retirement, he had a workshop in his basement where he made furniture, stained glass, wooden trinkets and clocks with fancy scroll-work -- whatever tickled his fancy. And, he often said those words above: "If a man made it, another man can fix it." (Worth noting: He also used to love to say "if it won't fit, form it." That's probably not very good advice when it comes to fixing your upright bass.)
His "I can fix anything" attitude is what enabled Bob to obtain his first upright bass, which was a "rescue" from the basement of a neighbor. It had no hardware, no fingerboard, and a garish paint job (it had last been used as a magician's prop!) My Grandpa, who until then had no real experience with the specifics of working on musical instruments, set to work with my Dad (then a teenager) rehabbing that bass. They sourced parts, they did some reading and asking around, and they were able to bring that bass back to life.
That '41 Kay bass (at left) was the one that Bob later took to college, and has played about a zillion gigs on. It's also the instrument upon which Engelhardt loosely based our special exclusive model basses. And my Dad still has -- and plays -- that very special bass to this day (in spite of its unusual past, it really sounds amazing!)
And, as you might have picked up on, this father-son bass experience led my Dad to christen our special lineup of Laminated and Carved Basses with the name "Estle Louis," as a quiet sort of tribute to his own dad's contribution to his musical journey.
So, now you've met my grandfather, on this brief, self-indulgent detour down memory lane. But it was all to say: yes, sometimes it pays to hire someone to do the job; if your bass needs big repairs, special work, etc., you should consult a pro.
But when it all came down to it, it was just another man (or woman) who built it, so if you've got a reasonable facility with hand tools, some of the less intensive jobs -- installing new strings, cutting a bridge, fitting a new pickup -- certainly could be within your skill set. All you need is a little knowledge and perhaps a bit of swagger. And doing your own work can be a great confidence-booster and make you more familiar with your instrument (and how to make it sing.) We do our best to provide you with as much help as we can, and we send you specific tip sheets with lots of the products we sell. And if you want to check one of our tip sheets out before you buy, to see if you can handle doing it yourself? Just ask!
Acoustic Image Clarus SL and SL-R
We've often consulted with Rick and the team at Acoustic Image, and some of those discussions have led to improvements and new features in their amazing amplifiers. A recent conversation led to the idea that reintroducing an old favorite -- the Clarus SL -- would be a great way to bring the sound and feature set of the amazing Clarus amps to a new, lower price point. And would be a great option for those who needed the smallest, most powerful 1-channel amp they could get their hands on.
And here is the result: the newly reintroduced Clarus SL and Clarus SL-R!
The amp features the new, FLEX-Style four-channel equalizer, and on the SL-R model, there are built-in Digital Effects (Reverb and/or Delay) that can be turned on or off. Most bassists will probably opt to save $100 and choose the SL model without the effects, since reverb and delay are rarely a bassist's friend (they usually just tend to muddy things up.)
At under 3 pounds, this amp is both eminently portable and ridiculously powerful; it uses the same power section as the larger Clarus, and therefore has up to 650w of clean, uncolored power. It's rated at 4 and 8 ohms, but will handle a 2 ohm load.
The Clarus SL amplifier head can be matched with most any speaker cabinet, for use with a huge variety of instruments. Its transparent sound is exceptional for bringing out the best in acoustic instruments like upright or acoustic-electric bass, acoustic or jazz-box guitar, violin, mandolin, cello, harp, ukulele, and more.
Click on over to our Clarus SL page for the full story and spec-list. For only $549 (SL) and $649 (SL-R) these amps are a raging bargain, especially since we ship them for FREE in the USA (and have special fixed-rate shipping costs to non-US addresses -- see below!)
| 14 Day Trial Period on Series 4 Acoustic Image amps and speaker cabinets
New owners have a fourteen day trial period during which they may return the amp in new condition -- NO QUESTIONS ASKED! -- for a full refund, minus our outgoing shipping cost and a small transaction fee to cover credit card processing. Returns must be preauthorized; a restocking fee applies if the unit is not returned in new condition.
From the FAQ File
Changing Strings on your Upright Bass
This is a condensed version of our string-changing article on the FAQ page; click through to the full version for the most detailed information.
Our detailed string-changing tips are also included on a green double-sided page with every string order!
You'd think the job is pretty straightforward-- however, there are things you can do that
will make the job a bigger success.
- Change one string at a time. It's unwise to take all the string tension off the bass unnecessarily; the soundpost may fall.
- Inspect string routing in the pegbox (aka headstock) before you start to change them, so you can imitate or correct placement. It's also a good time for removing dust buildup and debris.
- Check bridge and nut "slots" as you change each string. They should be indents, never deeper than half the diameter of the string. Deep slots can affect tone, and even break a string! Also, be sure the surface is smooth and there is a smooth, snag-free path angling down from both sides of the bridge.
- Lubricate the indents You can use some pencil lead (graphite) to act as a lubricant.
- Insert the string end into the roller. Neat winds are nice although not always necessary; I use a string winder that fits into my electric screwdriver so I have a free hand to guide the string neatly onto the roller, and you'll get the best results if you keep tension on the string as you wind. Be sure not to wind the string on the roller so the string ends up
rubbing against the inside wall of the pegbox.
- IMPORTANT! Watch and correct the bridge's attitude, now and in the future. As you tune up, the strings can have a tendency to pull the top of the bridge towards the fingerboard. This can eventually warp the bridge and possibly cause it to collapse.
- Don't remove and reinstall strings if you can help it. Double bass strings usually do not take kindly to being twisted, which can result in breakage or poor sound. If you must reinstall a string, let it lay naturally and don't fight where it wants to go.
- Patience, Grasshopper. Strings can take a while to stretch, especially gut and synthetic/perlon core types, so it may not be a good idea to change strings Friday night for a Saturday gig. Give them time, play them in, so they gradually acclimate to your bass.
- Bass buzzes and rattles can be elusive, but I've often found them to originate from loose string ends vibrating against each other or against the headstock. If one develops, that's one of the first places to look!
You'll find detailed descriptions of the strings I sell on my Strings Page, to help choose a string that meets your needs and taste. String gauges are also often shown.
NEW PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT
Some new items in our stable of bass products...
Evah Pirazzi SLAP String Set Yeah, they're not cheap -- but these new strings from Pirastro have high-quality gut G and D strings, with specially-matched synthetic A and D, for an extremely well-balanced set that has rockabilly slap players really excited. And they also work very well for standard pizz, especially if you favor a more "old-skool" vibe. These are IN STOCK now!
$321.75 with Free US Shipping, Single strings also available.
Replacement Rubber Leg Covers for Ingles SA-22 Stand - For years, when the foam-rubber arms on SA-22 stands have worn through, we had simply suggested that folks take a trip to the local hardware store and see if a solution "jumped off the shelf." Now we make it even easier; I've sourced heavy-duty, non-marking replacements for the lower legs that should hold up for a long time.
Traynor SB112 Combo - The Traynor SB110 1x10 combo has been a raging success; I'd estimate that as many as half of the folks who buy it from us are compelled to contact us after they receive it, just to tell us how amazed they are with its sound, value, and performance. Well, some folks play in particularly loud or demanding situations, and it occurred to us that it would be a good idea to offer the larger 1x12 combo for those folks. So here it is -- the SB110's big brother, with a bigger speaker, and more power. Just as awesome, only a little bigger, and still one of the best bargain amps out there!
One-Off Euphonic Audio Specials!
A couple of "New Old Stock" finds, and a cool package deal!
We've been fans (and users) of EA gear for years; Bob plays a pair of the NL210 cabinets, and has also used an iAmp800 and Micro/Wizzy rig over the years. And Mark's main rig is a Doubler with a Wizzy MLine. So you don't have to tell us how great their stuff sounds.
Recently, the guys at EA unearthed a couple of their more popular -- but discontinued -- amps that were in a dark corner of their warehouse, and asked if we wanted to get them in the hands of our customers. So naturally, we grabbed them up, and they're now in our "Bargain Basement" (Clearance Section):
iAmp 800 Combo - This classic amp might be considered the best combo EA ever made, combining the venerable iAmp800 head with the cabinet design of the CXL-112. All packed into a combo. With great power, monitor-like accuracy, and precision EQ controls, it's hard to beat. To this day, we hear that well-known session bassist Lee Sklar still travels with a couple of them. There's ONLY ONE left, and it's a brand new amp, never used. A true closet classic!
Here's your one-time chance to get this amp for $1995!
iAmp 500 Head - This killer amp was discontinued in favor of the iAmp Pro in 2009 -- but some preferred the beefy, gutsy tone that the original "blackface" amps had - here's your chance to get the last known "NEW OLD STOCK" amp available! Just like the iAmp 800, but with one fewer effects loop, smaller size, and 500w instead of 800w.
Only one available, for just $845 with FREE US SHIPPING!
Euphonic Audio Micro/Wizzy 10/Backpack Bundle w/cables - This is the current, high-powered, 2-channel Micro Amp, packaged with the Wizzy 10 speaker, and a padded backpack which holds the speaker, amp, and your additional accessories -- which will include the free speaker cable and DI breakout cable that we'll throw in for you! A super-compact, robust rig for upright and/or electric basses.
Limited number available, for just $1299 with FREE US SHIPPING!
Reading to the End Can Be Rewarding
Get our handy multi-function gig-bag for only 20 BUCKS!
We like useful tools. This is one -- because you always need somewhere to put your stuff. This sweet bag is great for toting small amps, like the EA Doubler or Micro, Acoustic Image Clarus or Clarus SL, or Traynor SB200H. But there's also room for lots of cables, pedals, tuners, extra strings... you name it!
The multi-use design has a handle on top, so you can carry it like a briefcase -- and it includes a strap for convenient shoulder carrying. And there's also a pair of stowable padded backpack straps, for rocking totally hands-free. There's even a side pocket for a water bottle, and plenty of small pockets for other supplies.
The bag is normally $32 -- but through the end of July, you can get it for only $20 if you put it in a cart worth $250 or more. Doesn't matter what; some strings, a bunch of accessories, a pickup set -- whatever, if it's over $250, the price automatically drops to $20.
(And as a reminder, if you drop the Fishman FT-1 Clip-On Electronic Tuner (regularly $27.45) into that same cart, the tuner will be FREE! That's two awesome bonus deals in one order!)
Limit of 1 gig bag and 1 tuner per order, while supplies last.
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