June 2015 Bass Notes
UPRIGHT BASS SPECIALISTS... ON THE WEB SINCE 1997
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Summer is Here...
Well, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, it is.
And with summer often comes opportunities to play at festivals, gatherings, and other fun events. Some of these gigs might put you in the uncomfortable position of having to create more volume than your acoustic instrument can produce. Uncomfortable, because we often find that the upright can be a rather difficult instrument to amplify.
We can help!
Amps, pickups and preamps are kind of our specialty; we've been supplying them to bassists worldwide since 1997. In fact, we've even helped develop them -- Bob designed the popular Bass Master Rockabilly System for K&K Sound some 15 years ago. And we've regularly tested prototypes and helped conceive new features for several of our manufacturers over the years.
So don't hesitate to use us for our experience! We're here for you -- you don't have to guess what each pickup sounds like, or how "handy" you have to be to install it; we can tell you. We have a big selection, but we also have a pretty good handle on what works for specific basses and specific needs, as well as the pros and cons of each option. So we can quickly narrow our myriad choices down, and help you get louder, better.
As for amps, If you're looking for that super light-weight combo for reinforcing your acoustic sound, we've got a couple of great options for you (and I detail them both in this month's newsletter) -- the brand new Series 4PLUS Contra amp from Acoustic Image, and an unbelievable find in the versatile Traynor SB110, which has been defying expectations of double bass players everywhere. And if you're just looking to interface with the house system, we've got a couple new preamps from Fishman that pack transparent sound and lots of useful features into a small, affordable package.
Whatever you do this summer with your bass, have fun. And don't forget, a double bass can be susceptible to "wackiness" due to temperature and humidity fluctuations. Do yourself a favor and try not to leave that bass out in the sun!
Acoustic Image Contra - Series 4PLUS
The newest version of the venerable Acoustic Image Contra is here! Now featuring a one-channel version of the updated preamp found in the Flex System and other Acoustic Image amps and combos, the Contra keeps its "entry level" price point but updates the feature set with new 4-band EQ, better sound specs, and improved design! Still incredibly small (under a foot tall!) and light (22 lbs!) but with that world-famous "room filling" sound that disappears visually AND sonically onstage; people just assume that your bass is loud enough to fill the room. Now THAT is cool, and it's the way bass amplification should sound: invisible.
Shipping is FREE to the USA, with special fixed rate shipping everywhere else, and you're protected by our long-standing 14-day trial period -- if it doesn't work for you, we'll take it back, no questions asked (see site for details on how that works). And of course, Acoustic Image's famous FIVE YEAR Warranty and legendary customer service (not that most of you will need to avail yourselves of it.)
A steady flow of amps is arriving here starting early next week. Order now to claim one of them for yourself!
new control panel on the Series 4PLUS Contra amp
From the FAQ File
PRONUNCIATION: How to say 'Piezo'?
Just the other day, I had a conversation with a customer about this subject; he is involved in a medical profession, and much of the equipment he works with uses piezo-electric transducers as sensors. The subject came up because he was asking me about pickups, and the majority of the pickups we use on upright bass also use a piezo-electric element to produce sound. Since we were both pronouncing it in different ways*, I decided to do some research.
Firstly, what's "Piezo-electric" mean? A piezo-electric transducer is a means for creating an electrical signal, usually by combining a crystalline substance with a ceramic, and connecting wires to capture the electrical reaction which occurs when pressure is applied. In our particular case of using a piezo-electric transducer to capture sound, that electrical signal is turned into a sound via an amplifier, similar to how a magnetic guitar pickup does the same.
Most of us shorten "Piezo-electric" to "Piezo," for the sake of convenience. But I've discovered that a lot of us pronounce it incorrectly; some unintentionally swap letter sounds (PEE zee Oh, which would be spelled "peezio") and some -- like me, for a while -- make a long "I" sound (PIE zoh). Some people make a soft "z" sound (like "zing") and some people make it a hard "z" (like pizza or pizzicato). I've heard plenty of other permutations, too.
Most dictionaries agree, however, that the correct pronunciation (in the USA, at least) is:
So, long "E" sound, an accent on the second syllable with a long "A" sound, and a soft "Z" with a long "O" sound to finish.
Here's a recording of what "piezo-electric" should sound like.
So there you go!
* we were both wrong, as it turned out.
NEW PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT
Some new items in our stable of bass products...
Dean Pace Contra Bass This new entry into the electric upright bass market isn't a flat-fingerboard short-scale pretender, like the original Dean Pace bass -- the new Pace Contra Bass is their newer, truer, compact upright bass. With a properly arched fingerboard (bowable!) and true 3/4 scale string length, it's a welcome budget-friendly portable bass; and it even has an onboard active preamp, with a headphone output and auxillary jack (for practicing along with your iPodTM or CD player!)
Only $699 with Free Shipping (ConUS), and includes padded gig bag!
Line6 Digital Wireless System - Few bassists need to go wireless, I know. But sometimes, you need to get on and off stage quickly, or you're doing a stage musical or other performance that requires the bass to be moved around quick. For years I've directed people to other retailers to get Line6 wireless systems, because they published their high-impedance input (which made them compatible with piezo bass pickups.) I finally got smart and decided to start carrying them myself instead of sending my business elsewhere; so now, get one directly from us - one that's been tested to work with upright bass pickups!
Only $199.95 with Free US Shipping
Ray Brown, Legendary Jazz Bassist -- Transcription Book - This new book is getting a major thumbs-up from players all over the world for its complete, accurate transcriptions of 18 classic Ray Brown performances. A lot of work went into getting it "right" and it even includes special performance notes, photos, and a foreword by contemporary jazz virtuoso Christian McBride. A "must have" for jazz bass students and players!
$18.49 with Free US Shipping
New Bargains All the Time! - Everyone loves a deal, and we're always adding new stuff to our "Bob's Bargain Basement" Clearance Section. One-offs, discontinued items, open box items, demo products, and more - recent additions include some new bass parts (fingerboards, tailpieces, Deuce Bridges), the Radial BassBone, a Folding Chair, some B-stock NS Design Basses, and more ... All items are subject to prior sale, so act quickly!
Holding the Bass
Let's be honest, we probably spend most of our practice time sweating our intonation, laboring over the bowings in Simandl Etudes, seeking out the perfect leading tone to get to the next change, and internalizing the beat, among about a million other things. But something that is often overlooked, especially by beginners, is how we physically hold the bass. Playing the double bass involves your whole body, and the physicality involved should not be overlooked.
Now, there is no universal "correct" way to address the bass that works for every person. Each player's body dimensions are different, and finding the most comfortable and supportive means will require slight adjustments to compensate. But there are some commonly accepted guidelines that you can begin with, and you can make adjustments to build from there, to find what works for you.
Here's a great video I found, entitled How Not to hold the Double Bass.
- Bass height: your bass nut should be somewhere between eye-height and mid-forehead. Raise the bass too high, and you're overreaching with your left arm, tiring the shoulder -- and you can't effectively use the weight of your arm to press down notes.
- Weight should be evenly distributed between both feet.
- Your bass should lean into you, not be standing straight up (see video below for more on this). You should be able to to put your arm around your bass and hang out like it's your best friend; you shouldn't be fighting the bass to keep it from rotating on you.
- Relax. This is paramount. Your body should not be stressed at all, if you have muscle tension, you need to address what is causing it.
- Look at yourself in a mirror. I'm a huge proponent of having a full-length mirror in your practice space. Seeing yourself from out front can help you address a lot of mechanical issues that you simply can't see from above the bass.
As always, the best advice I can give you is to find a professional, take some lessons, and have the teacher directly address your technique. It's always great to have second set of ears, and eyes, on your playing.
We're Terrible at Keeping Secrets
The Traynor SB110 Combo Amp
Do you need a secret weapon to amplify your bass, but can't afford a pricy boutique amp? The Traynor SB110 Combo Amp came out two years ago now, and we just can't get over what a killer amp it is for upright bass. It might be easy to overlook -- and here is why:
But... when it comes down to brass tacks, what matters is how well it works. And it works really well. Here are some of what makes it such a (not so well-kept) secret weapon:
- It comes from a name that is not well-known for acoustic amplification
- It's not even actually designed for acoustic amplification
- It's small and "only" rated at 100w
Look, I could keep on talking about it, but I'll let my customers do it for me:
- It's got a high-impedance (>1 megohm) input - GREAT for piezo pickups
- It has very clean, uncolored sound - it sounds just like what you plug into it, only louder
- It has a very efficient, genuine Eminence driver in it, and it's very loud for its size
- It has the essential pro features -- quality 4-band EQ, built-in DI, aux and headphone jack
- It's incredibly lightweight (21 lbs) and compact (a 14" cube!)
- It's AFFORDABLE -- only $399!
I received the Traynor SB110 amp yesterday and checked it out immediately. This amp is awesome! Light-weight, well- made, small but super powerful (walls shaking at half- volume), great & versatile sound, and some nice features too (XLR line out, active & passive inputs, 4-band EQ, tweeter on/off button, great price). Thanks for selecting this amp to include on your site and for your informative description, review, and setting recommendations.
-- Asher S (January 2015)
I have some comments about the amp. It really is a great system for upright bass. Brilliant! And I haven't even had the volume up to half-way yet, plugged into the passive input. Maybe not even 1/4! Bottom line is that it reproduces the natural sound of my instrument and has plenty of power to spare. Great find, guys! Thanks for making it available and for the wonderful service you provide for bassists.
-- Ed W (August 2014)
In Other News...
Supporting Our fellow Bassists at ISB
The International Society of Bassists (ISB) Convention is being held next week in Fort Collins, Colorado. Full of workshops, masterclasses, recitals, and exhibits, they usually have over 1,000 attendees from all over the world.
We were unable to attend this year (too many other responsibilities) but we are happy to support the efforts of ISB; this year, Gollihur Music has placed a full-page ad in the program as well as sponsored the prize money for one of the solo competitions. So, we're there in spirit!
We hope that the 2015 convention is a wonderful, fruitful experience for all who are attending!
Reading to the End Can Be Rewarding
Get a FREE POWER ADAPTER and TUNER with the New Fishman Platinum Pro EQ Preamp
The brand new Fishman Platinum Pro EQ Preamplifier has made big waves since its introduction a few months ago; it's rocking some useful improvements over the (very popular) previous models. And with all of the great features, it's very competitively priced at under $250 -- and free shipping in the USA (all 50 states!).
To thank you for being a member of our mailing list, we'd love to include a FREE Power adapter AND FREE Fishman keychain electronic tuner with your purchase of the Platinum Pro-EQ Analog Preamp. This offer is only available by clicking the special "add to cart" link below (or calling us to place your order).
To add this very special offer to your cart, click
Remember! This offer is only available to our newsletter customers until the end of June, and while supplies last.
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