Thursday, 7 June 2012

Miscellaneous Bass Gear

Here are some of the various products in my bass gear collection.


Nothing fancy here. Standard tuner.

It attaches to the bass with a Planet Waves adapter - the kind with fancy compression springs that hold it in place.


You can read my report on Planet Waves compression spring jacks on Thunder Row.


I got my thumb-rests from Guy Lewis in the UK. I have two - one on the Soundgear and one on the Jet King. Though they are both ebony, the one on the Jet King has been painted white to fit the decor.  Highly recommended!


Again, nothing fancy here. Cheap, $20.00 metronome. Ticky-tocky, ticky-tocky.


I have quite a few cables - mostly just generic - but the two fancy-schmancy ones that I use all the time are the Core One Bullet Cable (above) and the Planet Waves (below). My Planet Waves is the one in my Thunder Row review HERE (Except mine has straight ends, as in the pic below).


The Bullet Cable is a coiled cable and I love this thing to death! My review of this one is also on Thunder Row.


I use Wedgie rubber picks. Good solid feel. I've tried thin nylon picks, but I don't like the cold, harsh sound they make.


I also have this little doo-dad whatchamacallit that you attach to the headstock. A place to store the Wedgies when not in use.


I use the Hercules Ultimate stand. It's pretty heavy duty.


This next one is a little gem called the Cable Caddy. You use it to hook your cable to your strap. It relieves the pressure from the cable jack so that the wires don't separate from bending.



You're supposed to link it up like in the first example (above), but since I usually play sitting down, and often don't wear a strap, I load the end that is supposed to go onto the strap onto the tail-pin instead. It serves exactly the same function. Instead of looping the end of the Cable Caddy over itself as in the picture above, you just loop the slotted opening over the tail-pin, exactly as if it was the end of a strap. The snap in the middle allows you to remove the cable and leave the tail-pin half attached to the bass for next time. This is a great little gadget. Works very well. Keeps the weight of the cable completely off the jack. Cost me about $3.00.


My strap is the Neo-Tech Mega Bass Strap. As I said before, I don't always wear a strap, but when I do, this is my baby. Very comfortable. Takes the weight of the instrument off your shoulders. As well, instead of having plastic rings or clips at the adjusting end (everything is sewn and woven in place), there is no risk of breaking the plastic clips that hold a lot of straps together.


To clean the strings, I use Bass Brites. Fantastic product. I did a feature on this product on Thunder Row. Check it out HERE.





My Bass Strings

I've tried a few different types of strings and found some faves.  These are the top of the pile.


    
  

DR Neon Strings - Orange/Yellow/Green/Pink
Gauge .45 .65 .85 .105

When they first came out, a lot of people thought the DR Neons would be a gimmick - just a "toy" string made to glow under black light. The DRs are actually high quality nickel wound and won best in show (strings) at the January 2011 NAMM show. They squeak a little when you're breaking them in, but it fades away soon enough.

Read my review of DR neon strings here on Thunder Row.



DR Extra Life Strings - Black Beauties
Gauge .45 .65 .85 .105

These are great - like their brothers, the Neons.
They feel good - I'd say they have a slightly sharper tone than the Neons.



D'Addario Flatwound Chromes
Gauge .50 .70 .85 .105

Flats are always a heavy, thumpy sounding string - they don't have a lot of treble definition, but you can get them to growl by upping the treble on the amp. I use the OVERDRIVE feature to wake up the bark on these strings.

But sometimes, thumpy and dark is exactly the sound a person needs. There's less noise on these strings than with a roundwound. No zipping or clicking. Sometimes I get experimental and play this bass with a violin bow. You don't want to do this with roundwound strings - it will eat through the hairs on your bow.



D'Addario Half Rounds
Gauge .45 .65 .80 .100

Very interesting feel and sound on these. They're as smooth as a regular flatwound string, but have more punch, like a traditional roundwound. They start out as a roundwound string, but then the manufacturer grinds off the textured surface of the windings, so the outside is flat.

As with the Chromes, they are not coated, but with a slick, polished surface, they don't really need it.





Friday, 1 June 2012

Miles Mosley is a Bear



Album Review
Miles Mosley - Bear
Genre - Alternative

I love Alternative music for many reasons, the most notable of which is that you never know what you're going to get. If you buy a Country album, you can be reasonably certain that no matter how different or unique are the songs, all of the cuts will be in the Country style. Same goes for Blues, Pop, Jazz, Heavy Metal...you know what you're going to get.

Alternative music comes close to reminding me of movie soundtrack music. It can be anything and go anywhere. There are no rules.

While listening to Brian Bromberg's Bass on The Broadband, I was very glad I stumbled across the music of Miles Mosley. They played the title song from his solo bass album, "Bear" and I was hooked. I turned into Wil Smith from Independence Day. "I have GOT to get me one-a THESE!"

I've never heard anything like this before! If more people put this kind of intense feeling into their music, we'd never have time to do anything but listen! Obviously, Bass on The Broadband knows this. Wow! And thank you!
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Let's go exploring. First off, who is Miles Mosley?

From Wikipedia:

"Miles Mosley is a vocalist, bassist, guitarist, pianist, composer and arranger from Hollywood, California. He was named after Miles Davis.

"Miles Mosley was trained in classical music and jazz at Colburn School of Music in downtown L.A. Mosley has studied with some of jazz's finest musicians, including John Clayton, Ray Brown and Al McKibbon. He claims he picked the upright bass because it was the only instrument at his school that he did not have to bring home with him. Mosley's style has often been described as brothel jazz; Mosley himself describes it as if Jimi Hendrix played upright bass in Prince's band.

"Throughout the years Mosley has written, composed, performed live and appeared in videos for various artists including Chris Cornell, Jonathan Davis, Everlast, Terrence Howard, Joni Mitchell, Lauryn Hill, Gnarls Barkley, Jeff Beck, Common, Christina Aguilera, Lesa Carlson.

"Mosley has released a number of albums containing his own solo work. In addition, he has worked for Creative Counseling Network, a non-profit organization that provides access to the arts for under-served young people."


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To the album itself...

"Bear", by Miles Mosley is an incredibly diverse collection of tuneage. Within the fourteen tracks, there's rock, soul, funk, jazz, salsa, classical, stage-theatrical, romantic balladry, and even a smattering of rap (yes, I know what you're thinking, but it really works). If someone asks about the genre of your new album purchase, just shrug, lower the brim of your fedora, and say with a grin, "Hey, man...it's Miles Mosley."

I usually like to run through each of the tracks and give kind of a blow-by-blow feel for each song. I've decided to skip that. This is the first time I feel it would spoil the surprise. Heh, heh. You need to hear this one for yourself.

Suffice to say that you are in for a monumental treat of bass theatrics. At times, a stand-up bass played with a bow, and wired through enough electronics to power your electric toothbrush for a week! Then there are the parts where it's just the pure, vibrating wooden beauty of the raw bass - where you can hear the strings shake and Mosley's fingers whap and pound against the fretboard.

He is a dramatic and intense musician, and I wish we had more of this. Here are a couple of videos samples of songs from "Bear".




To me, the most jaw-dropping pieces are the title track, "Bear" (a dark sampler of what bears must sound like - grizzlies, angry men, a bad day at work), "Take Me Home", "Princess Beth and the Cellar Door" (one of the finest bass melodies I've ever heard), "Bravery", "Marching", "Rise" (a pure study in the most dangerous and troubled mood a bass can project), and "Shine" - Mosley's take on "Maria" from West Side Story. All done up and fancy, with horns and soul and style.


Track Listing:

01 - Bear
02 - Photograph
03 - Voodoo Child
04 - Can Can
05 - Back it Up
06 - 1000 X's
07 - My Customers
08 - Take Me Home
09 - Princess Beth and the Cellar Door
10 - Bravery
11 - Marching
12 - Clarity
13 - Rise
14 - Shine

Bass lovers, give your ears a gift - try out Miles Mosley's "Bear". They will thank you a thousand times over!

© 2012 CL Seamus for Thunder Row

Bear is available on iTunes and Amazon. Visit Miles Mosley on the internet.