Friday, July 20, 2012

A Tour of Flea's Gear

Like every other teenager alive in the early 90's I had a copy of Blood Sugar Sex Magic.  Haven't really followed the Red Hot Chili Peppers at all since then, but I always like seeing what professional musicians roll with.  Unfortunately Flea doesn't give the tour himself and RHCP's bass tech picks up the slack.  You can check out the related article on Premier Guitar's web site here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Premier Guitar Lends A Hand To Bottom Feeders Everywhere...

Yikes!  Almost two months without a post.  Summer and vacations has that effect on me.  At any rate, I just ran across this article from Premier Guitar magazine.  It's all about finding good gear for reasonable prices.  Most people with an internet connection are already pretty good at that I'm sure, but there were some sites I hadn't stumbled across myself, so I'd thought I'd pass them along.  Browsing for stuff is almost as much fun as actually buying it.  Almost.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Primus Video!

Just saw this new official video for the song "Lee Van Cleef" off of Green Naugahyde.  Probably my least favorite song on the album, but the video is raw and amusing.  And who doesn't like a zombie Lee Van Cleef?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wooly Mammoth =/= Mastodon

This was just a funny thing I came across through guitarsquid.  It is a virtual nature documentary exploring the many wonders of mastodons.  Brought to you by Troy Sanders.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Memorial Edition

EDIT - I originally wanted to say something here, but everything was too depressing for this song.  When the guys in bands you grew up listening to start dying of natural causes, it just makes you think about how you are not a kid anymore.  At any rate, I went to a wedding this past Saturday and made the DJ play Intergalactic.  Sunday, the iPod was set on a random play through of the Beastie Boys catalog.  Many beers were consumed, and toasts were made to the great, and now late, MCA.  May you always be rockin' the sure shot.

Friday, May 4, 2012


The world lost a beastie boy today.  Otep may have summed it up best with her painfully brief facebook post: "Cancer sucks."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Adventures In Downtuning...

I've been messing around with a lot of alternate tunings lately, and I broke a low e-string while playing the other day.  I'm not sure if those two things were related.  But the strings were pretty much new, and it gave me an excuse to look at ordering a single string from Circle K.  (Apparently Circle K the string manufacturer is totally unrelated to Circle K the convenience store chain...)

My band has been going back and forth on tunings for a while.  For the longest time our standard tuning was E and all our originals were in drop-D.  I had a 5-string and later a bass I tuned to BEAD, but my guitar players thought B-standard was too muddy sounding, which it is if you are trying to fake it with inappropriately gauged strings.  So we have been moving all around between B-standard and E-standard looking for a sweet spot.  All that messing around with tunings eventually lead me to Circle K.

A lot of people say good things about Circle K's bass strings. They are well made, shipped flat, and you can put together custom sets of strings.  One of the things they recommend is using string gauges that give you a uniform tension across all of your strings, as opposed to the "regular" way strings are set up where the higher strings increase in tension.  Okay, sounds interesting.  So I checked out this chart on their website, and this is what I came up with:

I was rocking a set of Medium nickel plated Dunlops when my E-string bit the dust:

E = .105 *BLOWED UP*
A = .085
D = .065
G = .045

So I looked at their string tension chart and this is what they recommend for a D-standard setup:

D = .118
G = .086
C = .065
F = .047

So my remaining Dunlop strings (I supposed you could call an E-standard set) were within thousandths of an inch of what Circle K recommended for a D-standard tuning.  Since the Dunlop set was basically brand new, I decided to order a .118 string and just see how it sounded and felt.  So hopefully my string will be here in time for my next practice, and I'll report back on my foray into Circle K's world of uniform string tension.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Unintentionally Long Hiatus...

I'm not dead!

Sorry I kind of dropped off the face of the earth for the past six weeks.  Wasn't my intention, just the old blog ended up taking the back seat to everything else, so I just took a break.  Hope to get back in the saddle in some fashion.  The past three months have seen over 2,000 hits per month, which seems pretty awesome to me. I guess that's the nice thing about generically useful information...

In bass news, there isn't much bass news.  I've been playing as usual.  Learning some new tunes.  Writing some new tunes.  Haven't bought anything bass related in months because I'm still adjusting to the limited finances caused by this.  Plus my wife's car shat the bed, so that's two new cars.  US economy, you're welcome.

I did recently pick up EZDrummer, so hopefully I can talk about that as soon as I get a chance to sit down and play around with it. I also got an iPad2 that took the place of and ailing seven year old laptop.  It's such a versatile creative instrument I barely even know where to begin talking about it let alone create anything, but I will.

I'm sure some day I'll get a new pedal, but until that happens: iPad stuff and home recording.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Orishas

Still on the hispanic music kick.  Orishas are a really awesome blend of traditional cuban music and more modern hip-hop.  I always liked the monster movie quality of this particular video, but they have tons of other ones.  Check them out.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Control Machete

Continuing my nostalgic trip to MTV Tres of a decade and a half ago, here is Control Machete.  This is some great Mexican hip hop. In fact, you may have already heard them and not known it.  A snippet of this song was used in a commercial by Levi's right around the year 2000.  Great flow.  Great groove.  Love it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

B.Y.O.B. (Build Your Own Bass)

I saw "It Might Get Loud" a few months ago.  The movie was a great look at different philosophical approaches to making music from three very accomplished yet very different guitarists.  Its an excellent flick.  If you haven't seen it, get on netflix or amazon and check it out.  But the one thing that kind of got lodged in my brain was the very opening scene that I have above, where Jack White makes a guitar out of crap and a pick-up.  I guess I never thought about what is really necessary to generate sound from an electric instrument, but the answer is: not much.

So like I said, this little thing was stuck in the back of my mind all these weeks.  I was at he local library with my daughter, and this book was on the new release counter right by the front door:

Handmade Music Factory.  Needless to say I picked it up and perused it over the next couple weeks.  I always knew about the existence of so-called "cigar-box banjos" and the like, but this coffee table book really took it to the next level.  From the aesthetics of incorporating found objects to wiring diagrams and fretboard layouts, this book covers a lot of ground.  If you are in to musical instruments or building stuff (or both) definitely try and get your hands on a copy to check out.  I found it very inspirational, though I'm not sure how I intend to focus that inspiration.  As a bass player, an obvious route might be this:

The whamola.  I don't know if Les Claypool invented it exactly, but he gets a shout out in the book in the section about the washtub bass and its electric offspring.  I always loved the songs he does with upright bass and whamola, just because they have such a unique timbre - even compared to his normally unorthodox bass playing. Perhaps I will start by looking for cheap guitars to cannibalize. Spring is near, and that means yard sales and flea markets to scour for parts.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Plastilina Mosh

I've been thinking about all the great music I picked up through MTV Tres all those years ago, so I thought I'd make that my video theme for a while.  Plastilina Mosh reminds me of Primus for some reason.  Or maybe Beck.  Or perhaps the Beastie Boys.  None of them sound anything alike.  Maybe its just that they are a couple of weirdos making strange music.  I don't speak spanish, but that doesn't make the songs any less enjoyable.

Here is a different version of the same video.  I remember seeing both, but I think I like the first one better because it is so much more uncomfortable...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Boeing

It's just a chill-out kind of morning.  When the original MTV went down the tubes, there was a time when the wife and I started watching a lot of MTV Tres because she speaks spanish and I like music videos.  And they played everything from reggaeton to mellow trance music like Boeing here.  This album is my brain tranquilizer, and so is the video.  I think I'm finally over my six weeks of pneumonia, so hopefully I'll start generating some more bona fide content soon.  In the meantime, sit back and relax with Boeing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Mastodon vs. Metallica

This is something from a couple years ago I just ran across.  Not much of a video, but just the best metal instrumental of all time covered by Mastodon.  Rock!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Machine Head

Well, I developed a case of full blown pneumonia, and I'm on my second cycle of antibiotics.  Needless to say, I decided the sensible thing to do was stay home on Thursday night instead of going to see Machine Head as I originally intended.  How lame.  But as a consolation prize to myself, here is a pretty bad ass video. Maybe next time, Machine Head.  Maybe next time...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lamb of God Returns to Killadelphia!

Thursday, January 26th, 2012 - Philadelphia, PA

Best pic of the night.

Apparently is was Willie's birthday Thursday night.
He is an old bastard, just like me.

Some love for John Campbell holding down the low end.
I hugged him in a parking lot in Camden a few years ago.
Don't ask.

Generically awesome pics of Lamb rocking the house.

Lamb of God is just awesome live.  I don't know if it is their history with Philadelphia, the fact the they are so close to home or if they were just psyched to be back on tour.  They kill it in concert.  Kill.  I don't normally skip the opening acts, but weeknight shows are kind of a bitch that way.  But Lamb of God rocked hard enough for ten bands.  After they lay siege to stages in Europe for a while, they are supposed to return to the states. Do not miss them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Eluveitie

These guys came around with Amon Amarth when they toured the US in 2010.  Unfortunately, they were replaced by another band on the last leg of the tour that hit Philadelphia.  Death metal with folk instruments.  It takes a second for your brain to wrap around it, and you'll either love it or hate it.  I think these guys peg the balance between the two perfectly.  And their vocalists are all really good.  This is a tune of their upcoming album, and they put female vocalist Anna Murphy front and center in this song. Personally, I hope they rotate the singing duties just to keep things interesting.  They are touring the US next month, so if you dig them, check them out live.

Friday, January 20, 2012

In Flames & Friends Rock the Troc!

This week was a blur for some reason.  Probably because I went to a concert on Sunday night, had more beer and stayed up way later than is sensible with work the next morning.  But who cares?  Kyng and Veil of Maya sounded pretty decent, though I admit I was listening from the upstairs bar.  I don't have any history with Trivium, but they put on a competent show.  In Flames was great despite the fact that Anders sounded sick as dog.  He also confessed that they may have spent too much time at Yards Brewery earlier in the day.  His souvenir t-shirt seemed to confirm this story.  The picture above I stole from my pal over at Metal Mouth, who had the foresight to request a press pass.  You can check out some more of his pics here.  Catch the show if you can.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - In Flames

Concert time again!  Going to see In Flames tomorrow night, so I thought I would put up something off of their latest offering.  I missed them when they had to cancel Mayhem last summer.  They put on a really good live show.  Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The State of the Pedal Board - Part 2

For a quick review, here is part one.  Now on to the rest of my pedal board as it stands now.

Pedal #5

I normally use this pedal as an auto-wah type envelope filter.  It is a lot of fun to mess around with and can do a lot more.  It also has an octaver as one of its effect types, so I could see trying this out in the #2 slot as a dedicated octave pedal as opposed to an envelope filter.

Pedal #6

I have this acting as a volume pedal since I don't have a dedicated volume pedal up front.  One tap away it is set up to change into a wah pedal.  And then it does every other crazy thing that a multi-effect does.   It could easily be set up to serve as a reverb or delay, should the need arise for any particular cover tune that might require it.

Pedal #7

This is one I can't live without, and I have it doing something really boring.  Program one is nothing.  I leave it there when the song I'm playing wants more boom and less attack.  Program two is nothing but a "fat-wah" effect that is supposed to be controlled by an external pedal.  I don't have the external pedal, but what it ends up doing is adding an emphasis to the pick attack.  Program three is a low mid boost added to the "fat-wah" effect which gives the bass even more of a cutting edge.  I'm not sure what type of effect could replicate what I'm doing with this pedal at the moment.  Perhaps an EQ pedal?

Pedal #8

I got this pedal to learn about compression.  The article I used as the basis of my foray into effect pedals recommends a compressor at the end of the chain to add back in any life that was sucked out of your signal by running it through a bunch of little electronic boxes.  I still am no compression expert, but basically it adds gain and sustain.  I leave it on all the time.

The Pedal Board

Everything is mounted on an SKB PS-45.  The board was a good investment.  I probably would have spent what it cost in 9-volt batteries by now.

So there is the first generation of my pedal board.  I deviated from the article at almost every turn, so it ended up treating it more like a guideline than a rule.  I think that tuner up front, compressor at the end and overdrive before other tone-shaping effects are all good things to keep in mind.  I'll probably start rethinking and tearing apart my board now that I've been playing with it for the better part of a year.  I have a pretty good sense now of what I do and don't use and what type of effects generate the kinds of tones I'm looking for.  I hope I've helped someone learn something.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video - Lamb of God

I can't believe I haven't posted a Lamb of God video yet!  This one is a great way to usher in the Saturday Morning Music Video for 2012.  They have a new album coming out in weeks, and they are only playing six shows in the US before heading to Europe.  I got tickets months ago, but I think they are all sold out now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Women on the Verge of a (Low End) Breakdown

 Jeanne Sagan - killing it for All That Remains

Just thought I'd share this article I came across over at Guitar World.  Its a nice sampling from across the musical spectrum of some noteworthy females who are holding down the low end.  Of the featured bassists, I saw Jeanne Sagan playing for All That Remains when they were touring for their Overcome album.  I had no idea they had woman on the back-up vocals until I saw them live.  No love for Jo Bench, though.  Maybe next time...

Monday, January 2, 2012

The State of the Pedal Board - Part 1

For anyone just showing up to Bass Bottom Feeder for the first time, the original intent of this blog was to document the assembly a (fairly) cheap and effective pedal board for bass.  The jumping off point for this exercise was a great article in Bass Player written by Bryan Beller over a year ago.  I have added it to the link bar on the right for easy reference.  I basically followed his suggestions regarding effects type and order because he is a consummate professional, and I am not.

So here is the state of my pedal board in its first iteration, using the pedal board primer as my guide.  I have eight pedals at the moment, so I'll cover the first four in this post.

Pedal #1

The Primer recommends a volume pedal with a tuner input to facilitate silent tuning on stage.  The Korg lets you tune silently because it mutes your signal when you turn it on.  I have a volume pedal later in the chain in the form of the BP80 multi-effect.

Pedal #2

Mr. Beller has an octave pedal in the #2 slot, followed by an overdrive in slot #3.  I don't have a dedicated octave effect, so I went right to the overdrive.  The Tube Screamer has been serving me well, but now that I have a better sense of what each effect type brings to the table, I have a better idea of what I might be looking for in terms of specific sounds.  Overdrives are my favorite effect for bass, and there are lots of them to explore. For me, the overdrive is really the foundation of my sound. Everything else is just enhancement/manipulation of that basic tone.

Pedal #3

Distortion is next in line.  The MT-2 is a guitar effect, but it has a pretty cool fuzzed-out sound coming through on a bass, especially when you juice up your signal with the overdrive first. I like its overall sound, but it really kills the attack when you're down low.  Save it for big open notes, or when you are higher up on the neck.

Pedal #4

I have the chorus in slot four instead of another distortion effect.  I like chorus.  It adds a lot of depth without being all in your face.  Probably my most commonly used pedal after the overdrive.  Definitely has a better presence when it is used in conjunction with the Tube Screamer. 

I'll do the back four some time soon.  I suppose a demo video might be in order.  I'll see what I can come up with.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Well this is it.  The Mayans say the calendar runs out this year. Not quite sure if that is the same as the world ending, but everyone seems to think it is.  I do believe that the herald of Quetzalcoatl's imminent return is Les Claypool in a lobster costume.  It's 2012 now.  If tragedy ever was coming, now is as good a time as any.