Saturday, December 31, 2011

BBF's Top 10 Albums of 2011

I wanted to get something up before we roll the calendar over to 2012.  Everybody seems to like putting up their picks for albums of the year, so I thought I'd jump on that bandwagon.  I decided to limit it to albums I actually bought, which will keep the list nice and tight.  I don't consume gigs of new music every year.  I tend to pick a few and really wear them out.  So here we go:

#10
There is no 10th album.

I didn't buy ten albums this year, which I can hardly believe.  So I guess that means no one gets the bottom spot.  Instead I'll use it to give Sylosis an honorable mention.  I didn't get one of their albums, but I did buy a t-shirt at the show.  I'll pick up an album this year guys, I promise.

#9

Machine Head - Unto the Locust

Putting Machine Head at #9 will probably earn me some contemptuous ridicule from my friends, but somebody has to go here.  I like it well enough, but I don't have a lot of history with Machine Head. I did see them at Mayhem this summer, and they put on a good live show.  I have tickets to see them early in 2012, so who knows. Maybe they'll creep up on the list next time around.  The album itself is solid, and has some old school metal covers if you're in to that kind of thing.

#8

In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading

I was really looking forward to seeing In Flames at Mayhem Festival this summer, but they ended up canceling their tour because of a family emergency.  Like Machine Head, I have tickets to see In Flames in early 2012.  I usually prep for a show by putting new albums on my iPod short list, so I'll be giving this album a second chance real soon.  My initial impression was that it was a good album, but there was nothing riveting about it after just a listen or two.

#7

Arch Enemy - Chaos Legions

I thought this album wasn't great the first time I went through it, but it turned out to be a really rockin' collection of tunes.  I like concept albums, and while it might be a stretch to call Khaos Legions a concept album, it definitely has a coherent theme.  I like Arch Enemy's brand of metal and vocal stylings as well, so it's winner.  Not the big winner, but a winner nonetheless.

#6

Iwrestledabearonce - Ruining It For Everyone

IWABO.  I love 'em.  Can't really explain it.  This latest album sounds more polished, but no less like iwrestledabearonce, which is quite an accomplishment.  I can see whatever I like about them being produced away if they aren't vigilant about maintaining what makes them interesting.  Got to see them live this year.  Krysta was apparently sick as a dog and still managed to scream her lungs out.

#5

Red Fang - Murder the Mountains

Red Fang was my new band discovery for the year.  I have really started to appreciate that sometimes less can be more.  They have a kind of back-looking sound but a modern metal sensibility to them. A meat and potatoes drum kit coupled with sludgy riffage makes for some really great tunes.  I saw them twice last year, and they are great live.  On top of all that, their videos are genius.  Check them out.

#4

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

Old school and contemporary at the same time.  I don't know how they do it.  I listened to this dozens of times when it first came out and it got better every time.  It was also great going back in to their catalog and reminiscing.  Because of this album, I now have every Beastie Boys album back on my iPod.

#3

Primus - Green Naugahyde

Like the Beastie Boys, Primus returned with an album last year after a very long hiatus.  Every time I got a new Primus album in the past, my initial impression was "I don't think I like this as much as their last album."  Then I go back and listen to it a few more times and wonder what the heck I was thinking.  It is great front to back.  I don't think it dethroned Sailing the Seas of Cheese as my favorite Primus album, but it is probably right up there with Pork Soda and Frizzle Fry.  Got to see them live, and they never disappoint.  In reality, this album should probably share the #2 slot with Amon, but that's cheating.

#2

Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising

Amon Amarth.  Every album they put out is excellent.  There isn't a song you can point at on any album that you can't like.  Surtur Rising continues that tradition of excellence.  Excellence borne on the backs of viking longships, no doubt sailing somewhere to kill people with battle axes and spears, recount tales of valor worthy of an eternity in Valhalla and other feats of Nordic mythology and/or ass-kickery.  I saw them once last year, and I wish I had gone and seen them again.  How long can they keep creating this awesome music?  I hope for a long time.  

#1

Mastodon - The Hunter

After gushing about Amon, I still have to give the top slot to The Hunter, which surprises even me.  I really liked Leviathan, and because of that album I followed Mastodon for the past however many years its been.  I would say they've been firmly in my top ten bands during that time.  But The Hunter is just amazing.  Saw Mastodon in concert this past year, and they are a solid live show. When I get a new album, I usually listen to it once or twice and then get back to shuffling everything up on my iPod.  I keep coming back to The Hunter as an album over and over.  And over.  Perhaps they have figured out how to mix crack in with mp3s.  Maybe if The Hunter had come out in March, and Surtur Rising was the more recent album, Surtur Rising would have the top spot.  Hard to say.

At any rate, that is a capsule review of my musical consumption for 2011.  It was a good year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Karen O, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross


Led Zepplin gets the NIN treatment.  I like it.  Trent is making quite a name for himself in the motion picture soundtrack arena. Another Oscar or two and maybe he'll be ready to dig back in to Nine Inch Nails.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Sylosis


This is a band I saw entirely too little of at the Trocadero a few weeks ago.  They have a great live sound and I was glad I had a chance to catch them in their first leap across the pond.  Please join me in rocking out to Sylosis.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - The Mars Volta


Piggybacking off of yesterday's post, here is a video from The Mars Volta.  How have I not been in to these guys for years?  This song is great and depressing at the same time.  I need to go buy some albums.

UPDATE - I have bought some albums.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Juan Alderete Gives A Pedalboard Tour


This is a video from Premier Guitar's Rig Rundown series that I came across a little while ago.  Juan Alderete, the bassist for The Mars Volta, gives an nice informal demo of his pedalboard and talks about bass stuff.  Until recently, all I knew about The Mars Volta was that they existed.  After watching this I started investigating the band on YouTube.  Very cool stuff.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - As I Lay Dying


We shot this video at the show Thursday night and I think it came out pretty darn good.  Why do iPhones just do everything so well? I caught AILD a couple years ago at the Electric Factory (I think) and they put on a great show then too.  They aren't in my list of top ten favorite bands, but they are just an excellent group to see live.  Rock!

Friday, December 2, 2011

One Thursday Night At The Trocadero - As I Lay Dying & Company

Iwrestledabearonce!




As I Lay Dying




Well, my camera's battery crapped out before the show.  Good thing the wife's iPhone was alive and kicking.  Above are a few photographic highlights from Thursday night's show in Philadelphia. Sylosis sounded great, and I wish I had caught their whole set.  I added one of their shirts to my collection as a consolation prize to myself.  IWABO = incredible.  Mice & Men and The Ghost Inside were when we decided to go hit the bar.  (Having no dinner makes beer work really good.)  As I Lay Dying was as high energy as ever and closed the place down with an awesome set.  Excellent show.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

IWABO, Sylosis, AILD, Oh My!


Tonight I will not forget my ear plugs.  It seems like it's either feast or famine with the concerts, and right now it's feast time.  I've seen As I Lay Dying before and they put on a great live show.  Sylosis is a band I've been getting into recently, and I'm anxious to see how they do on stage.  The headliner as far as I'm concerned is Iwrestledabearonce.  Love 'em.  I saw them headline an all ages show, and in addition to making me feel very old, made me like IWABO even more.  Mice & Men and The Ghost Inside are unknown to me, but hopefully they will make a better impression on me than Dillinger Escape Plan did last week.

Note to self: no chain wallet.

Another note to self: learn how to take better pictures.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

DigiTech Bass Synth Wah


This was my most recent pedal purchase.  I wanted some kind of envelope filter to play around with, and the DigiTech Bass Synth Wah was highly recommended as an inexpensive and decent sounding envelope filter effect.  Even though it is a stomp box type pedal, I would say it borders on being a multi-effect pedal with a synth tone focus.

I got the pedal used off of eBay and found a PDF of the manual here.  The Type knob on the right lets you select from one of seven different synth effects: envelope filter, sub envelope, synth 1, synth 2, filter 1, filter 2 and sub-octave.  Then the Sense, Control and Range knobs set the parameters of each effect, but may control different things depending which effect is currently active.  The manual has a handy table laying out what is what.

It has a ton of voices, some awesome, some grating and some just plain bizarre.  It is a lot of fun to just play around with.  I really like this video by Gear Up because he goes through all the different Type settings and then just twiddles with the knobs so you can get a sense of how it changes the sounds.  Having messed around with the pedal for hours, I can attest to the fact that every sound in the video is generated only by the Bass Synth Wah. No other effects need apply.


I would say the same thing about the DigiTech Bass Synth Wah that I said about my flanger, simultaneously one of my favorite and yet least useful effects.  Probably the reason why I waited to get it until now.  As I've mentioned before, I play a lot of straight up metal, so some of the more overt functions of this pedal aren't of much use to me.  However, when you dial back some of the weirder effects into more subtle territory, I think it has a lot of potential for adding interest and utility to the old pedal board. Not to mention hours of fun just doodling around with the sounds it can make.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mastodon & Company Rock The Trocadero

The Troc!

Red Fang!


Dillinger Escape Plan!


MASTODON!



Good show last night.  Someday I guess I should learn how to take good pictures in the dark with my camera.  These are the best ones I got.  Red Fang and Mastodon were great, but Dillinger Escape Plan still doesn't do anything for me.  Sorry guys, I tried.  One thing I'm learning is that the Trocadero is the most unnecessarily loud venue in Philadelphia.  I've been to shows at the Tower, TLA and Electric Factory and none of them leave me with ringing ears like the Troc.  (I forgot my earplugs, which didn't help.)  I don't know if it is the fact that the venue is just so small, or their PAs are old or inappropriate, or their sound guy is deaf from working at the Troc.  So here is my open letter to the Trocadero:

Dear Trocadero,
Turn your shit down.  It can still be titanically loud and balanced at the same time.  Less bass, less kick drum, so you can actually hear vocals and guitar.  I'm no sound man, but I would be happy to show you how the sound board works.  It does work, doesn't it?
Sincerely,
Bass Bottom Feeder
P.S. And what is up with making people check their chain wallets at the door?  Is that some new Philadelphia city tax on metal shows?  Lame.  Philadelphia, you owe me $3.

Besides all that, it was still a good time.  Mastodon just got up there and played for and hour and a half.  No talking, no BS, just a solid block of woolly mammoth.  I got a blurry-ass picture of Mastodon's set list that somebody got after the show.  I'll send it to CSI and see if they can decipher it with their computer deblurrification software.  Rock!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Concert Night!



Well, this past week I spent most of my spare time working on a new song that you can check out here if you are so inclined.  Then I had to work yesterday and missed the Saturday morning music video [insert sad face here].  But, tonight!  Tonight is Red Fang, Dillinger Escape Plan and Mastodon at the Trocadero!  Muy, muy bueno!  I know exactly zero about Dillinger Escape Plan, but Red Fang and Mastodon are two that are way up on my list of awesome bands.  I'll try really hard to shoot some videos or take some pics, even though I hate it.  Next week I have some down time in the run up to Thanksgiving, so hopefully I'll actually produce something.  Rock!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bootsy Collins Does The EHX Workout


I just spent 11 minutes watching a Bootsy Collins infomercial for Electro-Harmonix pedals, and you should too.  There is some awesome sounding stuff in there, and listening to Bootsy play (and talk) is always a blast.  Funk!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - The Crystal Method


Well the Skrillex video ended up being very topical what with the child abuse / sex scandal at Penn State here in the US.  If only ethereal nether-beings helped children destroy their molesters in the real world.  At any rate, that video sent me on a techno-binge since last week, and made me realize I need to pick up some fresh blood in that genre.  In the meantime, here is a funny video for a song that has been used in about a dozen fight scenes. Unfortunately it is radio edited, but still enjoyable.  Time to go make waffles!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Skrillex


I just ran across Skrillex through Rolling Stone and the New Beavis and Butthead.  This might be my new favorite music video of all time.  I've always had an interest in techno, and I think Skillex really hits the nail on the head with this one.  Great dirty, heavy sound to go with a great video.  Rock!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Care & Feeding of a Bass Guitar Neck

When I got my new ESP in the mail, I was a little underwhelmed with the condition of the neck.  The frets had a thin veneer of corrosion and the fingerboard just looked sad and dry.  But the body looked great and I thought maybe there was something I could do to bring the neck back to life.  To the internet!  So I found these two videos that addressed exactly what I was looking to accomplish.  One was for bass and the other was acoustic guitar, but rosewood is rosewood and frets are frets, right?



I was getting ready to change the setup of my ESP B-304.  Strings were off, so I thought I'd give the neck a whirl.  This guy recommended the 0000 steel wool, which you can get at the hardware store for a few bucks.  Good info, but I kept looking for more tips.



How can you not love a guy named MacGargal?  It's like MacGuyver + Gargamel.  And while he's working on an acoustic guitar, I think it all translates pretty directly to bass.  He cast another vote for the 0000 steel wool, so that's what I ended up using.  He also made two other important points:

1. Steel wool leaves little wooly metal fragments that love to stick to magnetic pickups, whether they are inside an acoustic guitar on on the surface of an electric bass.  Cover them up.

2. Go with the grain of the neck.  I initially went up and down between the fret like in the first video, and it leaves tiny little scratches.  If you really have mungy frets, you may have to do it, but I think going with the grain of the neck is the better way.

He also talked about neck treatment, recommending boiled linseed oil.  I used it, and it worked great.  Just a thin layer you wipe on and then wipe off really brought the wood back to life.  Make sure you get boiled linseed oil.  Raw linseed oil takes about 600 times longer to dry.  I know this from my experience with oil painting, and I'm fairly certain that's why he mentions using the boiled variety.

Like a genius I didn't take a before picture of the neck, but I'll put up an after shot when I finally do a post about my experience so far with the B-304.  Thanks, Elixir, for the awesome videos.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Quo Vadis


Happy rainy, snowy Saturday.  I'm not exactly sure what happened to last week's music video.  I'm thinking maybe I previewed it and never actually posted it.  How dumb.  So here it is this week.  Quo Vadis is a band that I don't really know much about aside from the fact they rock.  I looks like their website has been inactive for a while, so maybe they are now defunct.  Hopefully not.  Here is a kick ass live performance that will make your day awesome!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Another BBF Milestone!

Today was Bass Bottom Feeder's first 100 hit day!  Depending how the weekend rolls out, it could also be the first 1000 hit month. I hope that everyone on the planet earth who ended up at this blog has found something helpful or entertaining.  Between having a family and friends, actually playing bass and brewing my own beer, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day.  And stupid Battle Pirates.  And on top of all that, my time management skills are terrible.  And I'm lazy.

Guess I shouldn't start a brewing blog...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bass Guitar Setup: ESP B-304 to BEAD

I mentioned some time ago that I picked up an ESP LTD B-304 that I wanted to setup for B-standard (a.k.a. BEAD) tuning.  I had never really done a whole setup myself, so I though I would share this really decent series of videos I used as a reference.  They have a kind of long intro, so you may want to skip to the 20 second mark to get right to the instructional part.

Step 1: Truss Rod Adjustment

Truss rod adjustments always scare me.  Fortunately, I didn't need to do a truss rod adjustment when I set up my bass, because the action was pretty much spot on.  I also don't have a set of feeler gauges (or a capo for that matter), but I understand you can pick them up at an automotive supply place.


Step 2: Bridge Action Height Adjustment

I didn't have to do much in the way of bridge height adjustment. Even though I was switching from lighter (E-standard) strings to the heavier (B-standard) strings, the bottom of the string is still the bottom of the string.  A few minor tweaks and everything was golden on the bridge end.


Step 3: Nut Action Height Adjustment

Nut height was pretty good, but I had to widen the slots to accommodate the larger strings.  I don't have nut slotting files, and they are expensive.  But I did have access to machinist's files at work, and I'm pretty good with hand tools, so I used those.  I worked outwards to widen the slot without actually cutting down and making the slot deeper. The shape probably isn't slotting-file-perfect, but it ended up pretty darn close.


Step 4: Intonation Adjustment

This was the most tedious part of the whole setup.  The ESP LTD B-304 has a 34" scale neck, and I think I now understand why people recommend a 35" scale neck for B-tuned basses.  I almost ran out of adjustment when setting the intonation for the low B.  Fortunately the key word there is "almost."  In the end, I got the intonation dialed in with a couple turns to spare.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Bolt Thrower


I really hate it when I let a week go by without posting anything, but in addition to being sick this week my family has about three dozen birthdays in October.  Plus a beer festival.  But I'm feeling better now, and nothing warms my heart quite like Bolt Thrower.  I love them.  I have all of their albums on my iPod.  I once heard them described as a pizza from your favorite neighborhood pizza joint.  It's not the best pizza in the world.  You know it, but you still love it, and you know exactly what you are going to get when you order a pizza from them.  Well I must like my pizza slow, heavy and covered in extra riffs.

I couldn't find any videos with really great sound quality, but I did find this one from the Maryland Deathfest.  Probably my only chance to see Bolt Thrower in the states and I blew it.  Still kicking myself.  This has some great shots of the band, including Jo Bench - The Queen of Death Metal Bassists.  It also has great shots of the very hard working security crew.  

Dear Bolt Thrower,

Please release another album and tour the US.  

Sincerely,

Bass Bottom Feeder

P.S.  Here are some more videos.



Saturday, October 8, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Metallica


This is Metallica, and an homage to Cliff Burton.  I can't believe this is 25 years ago.  Aside from making me feel really old, it makes me appreciate how ahead of their time Metallica really was. Master of Puppets is the quintessential metal album, even today. And you've gotta love that 80's hair crowd!  Makes me wonder how this person snuck a 40 pound VCR camcorder into a concert.  Well, its 70 degrees and sunny, and I'm off to a beer festival.  It will be a good day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

R.I.P. Cliff Burton


I'm a metal fan and a guy with a blog about playing bass.  Cliff Burton is one of the reasons I picked up the instrument to begin with, and I can't help but wonder what musical trajectory Metallica might have taken if not for his untimely passing.  It is really touching to see Cliff's dad remember him and appreciate the very real impact he and his music had on so many people.  Rest in peace, Cliff Burton, rest in peace.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Primus Sucks Tower Theater / Philadelphia!


Went to the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia last night to enjoy "An Evening with Primus."  Three hours of awesome music and a great show.  I didn't record anything because I really hate watching concerts through some device, but I did jot down a set list so I could put one together on my iPod.  First half was a ride in the way back machine combined with plenty of Primus-style jam band noodling:

To Defy the Laws of Tradition
Fisticuffs
Frizzle Fry
Sailing the Seas of Cheese
Toys Go Winding Down
Is It Luck
American Life
My Name is Mud
Bob
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver

After a brief intermission filled with Popeye cartoons, it was on to set two which consisted of Green Naugahyde from front to back, capped off with Here Come The Bastards and Pudding Time.  The show literally flew by.  I really got a greater appreciation for the new album after seeing and hearing it performed live.  Good job Primus! Even after all these years, you still suck.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Primus


Primus sucks, and I'm going to see them tonight in Philadelphia after their very long hiatus!  I like the new album, Green Naugahyde, but I wouldn't say it's anything surprising.  I've been following Les Claypool's numerous side projects since the last Primus album, and I'd say it's a mash-up of what he's been doing recently and Punchbowl-era Primus sound.  Envelope filters and upright bass aplenty!  Good times.  This video, though, is off my favorite Primus album.  In fact, my favorite album of all time.  It could be part sentimentality, but Sailing the Seas of Cheese is just a masterpiece from front to back.  Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

Edit:


Okay, I had to add this one too...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chimaira's Mark Hunter Talks About The Music Industry



Really good interview with Chimaira's frontman over at Metal Insider that covers a lot of interesting territory about the current state of the music industry.  I kind of bumped into it sideways from following Randy Blythe's twitter feed, and found it a compelling read.  And just incase you aren't familiar with Chimaira...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Curse Of Limited Finances

My newest bass looks exactly like a Subaru Forester.


Recently my 13-year-old car was in need of prohibitively expensive repairs.  The kind of repairs that exceeded its value many times over.  The kind of repairs that lead to new cars.  So goodbye old car and disposable income, hello new car and car payments.

I did score two last goodies before I officially have to start being more responsible with my money.  You may recall when I was talking about my 5-string bass how I found out that I didn't really like 5-string basses.  I picked up an ESP LTD B-304 and set it up tuned BEAD.  It is awesome and I will talk about it soon.  I also got a DigiTech Bass Synth Wah pedal as my first envelope filter.   It is loads of fun, and probably warrants a video of some kind.

So in the meantime, anybody want to buy a Tradition B-105...?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Insomnium


There must be something in that viking DNA that just makes great metal.  Insomnium are from Finland and they have been gradually moving up my list of favorite bands.  They are dropping a new album on October 18th (in the US), but this song is from an older release.  Rock!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Interview With Arch Enemy Bass Player Sharlee D'Angelo

MetalSucks has a good article/interview with Arch Enemy bassist Sharlee D'Angelo.  I always like seeing how bands I like make the magic happen.  Unfortunately the stars didn't align properly and I missed their tour when it landed in Baltimore.  Very depressing. At any rate, thanks to Metal Mouth for linking it to me.

And just in case you aren't familiar with Arch Enemy, here is a video off their latest album: Khaos Legions.


And in case you missed it, there is a contest to win a Sharlee D'Angelo signature bass from Ibanez.  

And just because I feel like it, here is an awesome pic of Angela Gossow getting her metal on:


And also because I feel like it, here is a video of Angela giving a seminar on how to do death metal vocals.  Her German accent is just adorable.




Every Friday should be Arch Enemy Day!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Foo Fighters Destroy Westboro Baptists


There are few kinds of people I hate more than the Westboro Baptist Church people.  (Yes, I am aware of the irony/moral dilemma of I myself hating people who hate other people.)  Incase you don't know who the Westboro Baptist folks are or what they stand for, you should stop reading now and be content in your blissful ignorance. But if you do know, or watched the video before you read this far, you now know two things:  First, Westboro Baptist Church is all about the worst kinds of things that religion can represent. Second, the Foo Fighters are just awesome.  This made my day.  If you want to read more about exactly what happened, you can check it out here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Parkway Drive


This song came up on my iPod the other day, and I thought I remembered it having a really cool video.  I was right.  Check it out and have a great weekend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kustom 310c Groove Bass Amp


I went into my first gig having played only through my Crate 80w amp.  It was a 90's cover night where a bunch of local bands were doing songs from that era.  There were eight or ten bands playing, so the venue provided drum shells that were shared by each band, and also the bass amp.  I basically had no idea what I was doing. We were the opening band, and there was this puffy-vinyl upholstered amp sitting there for me to use.  It looked something like this:


I thought to myself, "what the hell is this thing?"  I had never heard of Kustom amps, but thats what they had.  So I plugged it in and fired out a few notes and almost crapped my pants it sounded so awesome.  I'm sure part of it was nerves and part of it was the beer, but our band sounded great that night.  The next day I decided to start looking for a "gigging amp" and Kustom was where I started.

At the time, I didn't feel I had the money or experience to dive into the cabinet/head arena, so I was looking for a combo amp of some kind.  A combo amp with balls.  Beginning the search with Kustom lead very quickly to the 310c.  It was just under $500 brand new.  I ordered one, sound unheard, hoping that it could hold a candle to my experience with the other Kustom amp at that first show.  I think the candle was successfully held.

I've had this amp about three years now, and I am still really happy with it.  The 310c designation is for the three 10-inch speakers.  The manual says it has 1200w output.  I don't know exactly what that means, but I can tell you this thing is loud as hell.  Actually, it might be as loud as two hells.  Playing up against a half-stack and acoustic drums, I don't think I ever turn the thing past more than 1/4 of its output.  It has a great sound which I think the 10-inch speakers help deliver: really great presence, with a growl on top and powerful bottom.

As far as features and controls go, it is pretty comparable to my other amps.  It has a gain knob and a switch for active versus passive instruments.  It has three instant EQ settings for bass, mid and high, and also a 9-band EQ.  It also has a mute button and a solo button (which boosts your volume by 6dB) which can be activated on the console or via a foot switch that comes with the amp.  A master volume and on/off switch finish off the front of the console.  On the back is a balanced line out for running into a PA, an effects loop send and return, and jack for a dedicated tuner.

The thing is built like a tank.  Pretty typical black vinyl over plywood/particle board structure.  There are impact guards on all the corners.  It has built in handles on the sides, and also built in casters on the back so you can tip it back like a furniture dolly and roll it around.  Now I am a pretty big guy, but this thing weighs about 150 pounds (which is like 50-trillion grams or whatever the metric system uses).  Getting it in and out of a car by yourself can be a challenge.  It is also just large, and since it is a combo amp, it doesn't come apart.  I could fit it in my old station wagon if I put the back seats down.  So yeah, it's large. And heavy.

I looked around to see if anyone had these for sale, and it seems like this amp has been discontinued.  So used is how the Kustom 310c rolls now.  If you have a chance to check one out, or any Kustom amp, definitely give it a try.  I'm kind of kicking myself for not buying one of the old school puffy-vinyl ones that popped up on Craigslist a few months ago.  Next time maybe.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Special Edition

I thought I would change it up a bit this week and feature some music from some bands that started following my Twitter feed.  They are two totally different kinds of music, and I kind of dig them both.  Enjoy!

SUBOCULIS

ALIAS PUNCH

Thursday, September 8, 2011

BOSS BF-2 Flanger Pedal


Man, I need to dust off my pedal board.  This is it.  My last pedal.  The flanger is simultaneously my favorite and least useful effect.  This was a pedal I acquired about 15 years ago when I was doodling on guitar.  I had the space left on the pedalboard to try it out.  So I did.  I don't play any Tool, which is what immediately springs to my mind when I think of flanger on bass, so I guess I'll have to write a song just to have an excuse to really use this bad boy.

This is not the older BF-2B that was made for bass, nor the current Boss flanger BF-3 that has a separate input for bass.  Sometimes there is a "tone-suck" issue when using bass through "guitar" pedals, but I don't feel that is the case with the BF-2.  It has a really great sound.  I would like to share a sample, and since I'm feeling pretty lazy today, I'm just going to link you a video someone else made instead of doing one myself:


It has four controls: Manual controls the delay of the flange (not sure why they didn't just call it delay), Depth controls the range of the flange, Rate controls the speed of the oscillation and Res is like a gain control for the flanging effect. The controls are very responsive, allowing you to generate a whole range of sounds. Like all Boss pedals it is built like a brick.  If you are thinking about picking one up, check out the manual here.  I checked eBay, and it looks like these are now considered a "vintage" and therefore highly sought after pedal.  The prices ranged from $80-$150, but I imagine if you could buy one from an actual person as opposed to an eBay store, the cost would be somewhat less.

So that's it.  The only piece of gear I have left is my huge Kustom combo amp.  I guess I'll have to hurry up and get another pedal to play with...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Primus Sucking/Streaming New Album!


What can I say?  I'm a big Primus fan.  I'm also a big South Park fan.  How ironic that Primus should choose to stream their new album in its entirety on the South Park FaceBook page.  I think you have to be a fan of South Park to be able to listen.  I am digging it as I type this.  Go check it out.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bass Bottom Feeder Now On Twitter!


Over the holiday weekend I decided to start a twitter feed for Bass Bottom Feeder.  You can check it out here or click the large sexy icon on the right side of the page.  My goal is to keep things bass and or effects related, and pass along any news about contests for music related loot.  There is already a chance to win a DigiTech Whammy Pedal or an amp head from Orange, so check it out.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Godflesh


Continuing the electronic/industrial trajectory I thought I'd share a little Godflesh.  The band consists of two British guys who smash together metal with (usually) sampled drums and industrial chaos. Apparently they just reformed last year after a long hiatus, but I haven't checked out any of their new music.  Streetcleaner was one of my favorite albums of theirs for a long time, and this video is a song off of that album.  I might have to check out the DVD this came from...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Free Music From Century Media!


If you're looking for a taste of new music and aren't into illegally downloading everything, Century Media has a 24 song sampler up on this Facebook Page.  As usual, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  You have to give them an email address and join their mailing list, but that is kind of a so what.  Arch Enemy, Intronaut, In Flames, and Iwestledabearonce are all highlights for me, but I already have all of those albums.  You have to download each track separately, which I guess can be good or bad.  So check out something new on Century Media.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

So Long Irene...

Well we survived hurricane Irene.  Despite the wind and flooding, I still couldn't bring myself to put up "Rock You Like A Hurricane." Hope everyone made it through okay.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Nine Inch Nails


Continuing the electronica kick I started last week, I couldn't go very far without mentioning Nine Inch Nails.  Sometimes Trent gets a tad too ambient, but other times he comes out with badass songs like this.  I really dig the NIN tunes that lean heavily on so-called real instruments and fuse it with electronic noise and back up.  It was hard to choose just one song, but I thought it was time for a concert video.  This one is off of Year Zero.  Rock!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

BOSS CEB-3 Bass Chorus Pedal



I've had this pedal for several months now.  It replaced my first chorus pedal which I disemboweled and stuffed into a new housing. I picked it up used on eBay for around $40, and I like the sound of this pedal.  Like all Boss pedals it is built like a brick.  Here is a link to the owner's manual, and here is a video of a much better bass player than myself giving the pedal a workout:


It has the same basic controls as the FAB Chorus (Level, Rate and Depth), but I'd say they have more adjustability and more impact on the sound than those of the FAB.  In addition, the CEB-3 has a low pass filter which you can use to determine what frequency range is subject to the chorus.  Another interesting feature is the additional output jack for stereo output if you are running two amps.  I've never messed around with it, but the BP80 has a stereo output option as well, and so does my pedalboard.  In the interest of full disclosure, here is a video that shows it in action, though I'm not sure how well it translates to computer speakers.  In front of two amps, I'm sure it sounds cool.


Like I said before, it is a great sounding pedal.  I use it mostly to add (subtle) fatness to my sound, nothing too radical, though you can definitely make some crazy vibrato noises with this thing if that's how you roll.  As far as utility goes, I probably use this pedal the most, not counting my overdrive and compressor (both of which I leave on almost all the time) and my tuner (which is just mandatory).  Check it out if you are in the market for a decent chorus pedal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ashdown "Electric Blue" 180W Combo Amp


The Crate BX-80 is my "practice-at-home" amp.  This one is my "practice-with-the-band-in-my-friend's-basement" amp.  It lives there because as I stated before, I am tragically lazy.  I'm not really sure where Ashdown fits into the hierarchy of desirable bass amps, but I have no complaints with this one.  I picked it up off of Craigslist about two years ago for $200.  At 180 watts it is plenty loud enough to keep up with two half-stack wielding guitarists and a set of acoustic drums, at least in a practice setting.

It's controls and features are similar to the BX-80.  You can check out the manual here.  It has two inputs for passive/active instruments and a gain control.  The little meter would probably be more important to me if I was ever really taxing this amp's output. Next to that are three selector buttons that modify the EQ, basically a bass booster (deep), a mid booster (bright) and a EQ switch.  Apparently that last one can be controlled with a foot switch to enable or disable the 5-band EQ, but I don't have a foot switch for this amp.  I don't use any of these controls.  The EQ on the this amp works fine, but I wish it was done with sliders instead of knobs.  But maybe I'm just a visual person.  The sub harmonic feature has its own level control and acts like a built in octaver, but I haven't really found it that compelling of an feature.  The amp also has an XLR out for DI, an FX loop and a tuner/line out.  The literature claims it has a built in compressor, but it is not anything you can control.  And of course, the output volume control.

It is a pretty meat and potatoes kind of amp.  Good solid sound and plenty of balls in a manageable case.  Personally, I am a fan of smaller speakers for bass.  The BX80 is a single 15-inch speaker. The Ashdown is a single 12-inch.  As the speakers get smaller, I think they tend to emphasize the mid-range punch that I like.  My third and final amp tests that theory with three 10-inch speakers. Yes, it's the combo amp that thinks it's cabinet, the Kustom Groove Bass 310.  I'll hit that next, and then I'm all out of amps.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rehousing a FAB Chorus Pedal - Done


Well here it is.  I plugged it in and it actually worked, though the foot switch occasionally makes an electronic pop when I hit it. Could be the switch, could be the lack of shielding.  I'll try wrapping it in aluminum foil and see if that clears it up.  It would be a shame since it does look kind of cool with the glowing LED on the inside.  I'll have to take a picture of it in the dark. Here are some other pics so you can see the layout.

- Top View -

- Bottom View -

I had ordered some knobs that looked good, but they were too big. I'm trying to think of something cool and knob-like that I could use instead of knobs - maybe little rubber balls or something.  It was a fun project, but I'm glad it is over.  I need to pick up a soldering iron of my own that is more appropriate for electronics. Speaking of that, here are a few of the sites I ordered materials from in case you want to give it a go some time:

Good for generic stuff like wire, soldering irons, etc.

Good for pedal specific parts like switches and jacks.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video: Bjork


Iwrestledabearonce popped on my iPod the other day, and I was thinking how much Krysta Cameron's vocals reminded me of Bjork. In fact, if Bjork and Angela Gossow had a lesbian love-child, I think it might be Krysta Cameron.  Hmm.  Since I've already featured IWABO and Arch Enemy in their own Saturday Morning Music Video, here is the icelandic portion of that equation.  Electronica is good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rehousing a FAB Chorus Pedal - Phase 3

This is the third installment in my "how to burn yourself with a soldering iron for no good reason" series.  Just to review, here are links to Phase 1 and Phase 2.  Now I am no electronics expert, and I'm not great at soldering, which is probably why I put off actually doing this part of the project for so long.  A great resource that I discovered that helped me out a lot was beavisaudio.com, especially the tech pages section.  So kudos to that guy and his way better blog.  But back to my mess...


Step 1 - Remove Stuff

The first thing I did was remove the battery clip.  I never intend to run it on battery power, and I don't have room for one in the housing I made, so bye-bye.  Also removed the craptacular momentary switch that worked the original pedal.  I left the wires attached to the board to use for the new switch.


Step 2 - Remove More Stuff, Ridicule Plastic Jacks

I bought a solder sucker to remove the huge wads of solder that were holding the input jacks to the board.  They really are terrible.  After looking at them I couldn't believe they actually work.  Thats probably why all the parts I bought cost as much as the actual pedal.


Step 3 - Add Respectable Footswitch

Use a momentary switch.  I'm not sure what a latching switch would do if you used one.  But whatever makes the pedal stay on after you hit the switch is in the electronics, not in the switch itself.


Step 4 - Time Warp and Swearing at Inanimate Objects

You get the idea.  I soldered leads to the new jacks, foot switch and power supply jack, and then soldered everything to the board in what I believe to be the correct places.  I think the soldering iron I used was from the 60's.  That's not an excuse for anything, it's just a fun fact.


Step 5 - Close Up of the Guts

Orange, green and white are the input jack.  Yellow and purple are the output jack.  Red and black are the power supply jack.  Foot switch is soldered to the old leads on the other side of the board.


That's about all for now.  Tomorrow I'll cram everything into the housing and see if it burns my house down when I turn it on.  My one concern at this point is the plastic case - the effect might be noisy since there is no metal shielding the electronics.  I'll also make a list of links to the places where I got all my hardware for this little project.  Until then, have fun.