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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Primus streaming song off new album!


Primus has a tune off their new album streaming over at Spin. Green Naugahyde drops on September 13th, reaffirming my decades long conviction that Primus does in fact suck.  This first song doesn't sound unlike Les Claypool's other side projects since the last Primus album, but I don't see that as a bad thing.  In conclusion: Primus Sucks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BBF Milestone! BBF Milestone!

Not a big deal, but the blog just had its first 50 page hit day this past weekend.  It has been gratifying to see visitation creeping up gradually since I first started Bass Bottom Feeder back in March.  Hopefully it has been a worthwhile non-porn addition to the world wide web.  Next milestone: the 1000 page hit month!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How To Control Output Level on the DigiTech BP80

I get a lot of hits from people searching about how to do things with the BP80.  This seems to suggest several things to me:

1. People get it used online without an instruction manual.  Get a PDF copy here if you don't have one.  It is a big help.

2. The BP80 does so much that people aren't even sure where to begin.  Take a whole day some weekend and just mess around with it.

3. Even though it is an oft maligned entry level pedal, a lot of people are entry level bass players.

I've got to say, the more I mess around with the BP80, the more I like it.  It does do a lot of things, and I still maintain that a multi-effect pedal, any multi-effect pedal, is a great place to start if you are just beginning to get into the idea of effects for your bass.

Output level control seems pretty straight forward, but the BP80 has three different ways to control the volume of effects within the pedal itself.  (It may have more, but I've found three so far.) So you've got your amp with a gain and volume control, the volume control on your bass (alway max this out, because you want the most powerful signal you can get going into your effect chain), and then just about every pedal you put between your bass and your amp will have some kind of level control.  The BP80 by itself has three different variables that can affect the output level coming out of it, which is why I made this video:


Output level is something you definitely want to consider, especially when you have lots of pedals potentially boosting your signal along the way.  Unless you actually want to have a pedal boosting your volume for a solo or whatever, it is a good idea to take some time and make sure your volume stays balanced as you switch effects on and off.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Mastodon


I'm a big fan of concept albums, and apparently so is Mastodon. When I first saw this video, I thought they were a bunch of guys who were really in to prehistoric elephants: Mastodon, Iron Tusk. Kind of weird, but I thought the song was great.  But then I picked up the album and found out is was a concept album about Moby Dick. How awesome is that?!  I like everything these guys have put out, but Leviathan is still my favorite album.  So rock in the weekend with Mastodon!

Friday, August 12, 2011

BOSS MT-2 Metal Zone Pedal


This pedal is a relic from my playing around with guitar days, and is not a pedal intended for bass.  After doing not too much looking online, I discovered that the MT-2 is a pedal people either love or hate.  I try to not get all emotional about my electronics. I've probably had this pedal for fifteen years, and I dropped over $100 for it at the time.  Nowadays you can pick one up pretty cheap on eBay.  If you are looking for a flexible fuzz type effect to play around with without dropping a big wad of dough, I think the MT-2 has a lot to offer.

I wasn't originally going to include it on my board because it was a "guitar" effect, but I had extra space and power supplies so on it went.  Good choice.  It has a lot of built in control in the form of six knobs, two singles (Level and Distortion), and two stacked (Hi/Low and Mid/Mid).  I'm currently using it as a sort of "fake-scooped-mids" pedal, with the bass and treble turned all the way up, the mids turned all the way down, and a moderate amount of distortion.  You could also use it as kind of a "dirty-boost" pedal by setting the EQ more normally, the distortion all the way down and up the level.  Lots of cool sounds hiding in there.  And I'm apparently not the only one who thinks this pedal has definite bass potential.  Check out this video from BassFuzz.com:



Videos are worth a thousand words.  And you definitely have to say "Metal Zone" the way he does when you're talking about this pedal, preferably with a shriek of 80's hair-metal guitar from somewhere in the background.  Rock on, MT-2.  Rock on.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Free Tunes From Nuclear Blast!



So I actually read some of the chaff I picked up at Mayhem Festival last weekend.  One piece was a hand out from the label Nuclear Blast, which was offering a 25 song sampler to download.  You can follow this link to the site.  It will ask for your email and then send you a code to enter to download a 150MB zip file that contains the songs.  Some of the bands I knew from the list were Sepultura, Agnostic Front, Sylosis, Scar Symmetry and Amorphis.  Might not be your cup of tea, but its still free tea.  Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

KORG Pitchblack Chromatic Pedal Tuner


A tuner of some kind is probably the first thing you should buy after you get an instrument - or at least before you get an amp. For a long time I used my Zoom multi-effect as my tuner because it was the only thing I had.  But I got sick of not hitting the two foot switches just right to enter tuning mode.  Not to mention the Zoom had a hard time tuning anything much below E standard.  I looked at a number of tuning pedals and settled on the Korg Pitchblack.

I've had a stand alone Korg tuner for twenty years, so I figured if their pedals were anything like their other tuners, durability wouldn't be a problem.  The thing is built like a brick, and I like the super clear LED display.  You can change the patterns of the indicator lights, but I've always used it exactly how it came out of the box.  It's true bypass, and when you switch into tuning mode it mutes your signal.  It also has a 9v DC out so you can power other pedals provided you have the proper cable.

I've tuned down to drop-A on my 5-string and the Pitchblack has no problem locking in on the signal, so that is a win over the tuners built into my multi-effects.  Thats about it.  Tuners aren't terribly sexy or exciting, but you gotta have one.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Red Fang Double Feature!





Well the Red Fang video I took at Mayhem sounded good, but some idiot kept getting his finger in the frame - namely me.  So instead here are the two videos that introduced me to Red Fang.  I think their sound is great, and it gave me a new appreciation for fuzz as an effect.  They have a real blues component to their music, which I guess people who insist on categorizing everything would call "stoner metal."  But whatever it is, they rock, and so do their videos.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pics From Camden Mayhem Festival 2011

Man what a hectic week.  I meant to have some of these up on Monday.  Better late than never I suppose.  Most of the pics I took weren't that great, but here are some highlights.

These are my people: the cheap lawn seats people.

Here is Red Fang playing the subtly decorated Jagermeister stage.

A healthy lunch provides all the energy a growing body needs.

Megadeth, rocking the wall of amps...

Jesus returns... in Camden, NJ of all places.

Unlike my photos, my pal from Metal Mouth wrangled a press pass and got some really awesome pics.  Unfortunately that made the concert a lot more like work for him.  Check out his blog for some more photos, but here are a few I stole:







Monday, August 1, 2011

Mayhem Festival 2011 - now with 100% less In Flames

Actual photo of Camden, NJ - 07/31/2011

I was there yesterday in Camden, along with seven million other people.  It was hot as hell.  It was loud as hell.  And there was beer.

As was my experience last year, the real show was in the parking lot.  My personal fav was Red Fang - I picked up two of their CD's and a t-shirt for good measure.  (Support your bands!)  Unearth was good, so was Machine Head, and I think Straight Line Stitch probably put on a decent show, but I only caught their last song. The big disappointment: there was no In Flames.  Apparently they cancelled their entire Mayhem tour as of yesterday because of a family crisis involving one of the band members.  I hope everything works out okay, but I sure missed seeing them play.

Main stage was better than last year I thought.  Trivium never really did anything for me, but they were alright.  It was cool to see Megadeth from a nostalgic perspective.  I was like "they have to end with Holy Wars."  And they did.  Big surprise for me was Godsmack.  Not a huge fan, but they put on an impressively good show.  Disturbed held my attention for three songs and then we decided to roll out.  A good time was had by all.

I'll try and get some pics and or videos up as soon as I can liberate them from my wife's space-phone.