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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bass Notes - A Tribute to Bassists and Their Instruments

I have been tuned in to the bass lines of almost every type of music since I was a kid...many, many years ago.

My first record player used a steel needle and played 78's riding the groove pretty heavily and producing a crackly treble-heavy sound. I wanted more bass so I built a bass reflex speaker box from a set of plans I found in a Popular Mechanics magazine. I mounted a 10" cone speaker in the box and attached the wires from that speaker to the built-in speaker of the record player. This set-up was monaural and certainly not hi-fi but the resulting sound with the added bass made me happy...for a while!

After several interim upgrades and the introduction of stereo, but before the miniaturization of all things electronic, I purchased a set of Wharfdale speakers that had 15" bass woofers. Now that was some bass producing equipment that lasted until the introduction of quadriphonic records and 8-tracks requiring the purchase of two more speakers and another amp with all the associated specially designed decoders. The first surround sound available to me was a commercial failure.

At some point in my early musical fantasy of playing a bass, I built a "gutbucket" or washtub bass. Mine was the simple variety with only one string (rope) attached to a broom handle on one end and the bottom of a washtub turned upside down. Pitch was adjusted by pushing or pulling on the stick to change the tension. I have recently seen a band of buskers playing this very primitive instrument in Asheville, NC and achieving some very nice bass lines.

So with this brief introduction of my fascination with the bass sound, here is a tribute video I created to the many bass players I have had the pleasure of shooting during live concerts and jam sessions. The video includes 120 photos of 41 different bassists accompanied by 8 bass lines performed by some of my favorite players.