Although I’ve been getting stuff done slowly this year with the Presence of Mind project, I haven’t been progressing as fast as I’d like.  This is for a number of reasons, though one of them being a clear plan on WTF I need to do next.  Taking a hint from my own day job, I decided to go full retard and build a scrum board, a tool often used in Agile project management.

So far I’ve managed to get the bass, keys, and drums done for Parts 9-17 (the end).  The drums are complete for Parts 1-8, so I’m currently working on re-learning all the keyboard parts, which I’ll record next.  Then comes the bass, which should be pretty straightforward as I’ve got most of it mapped out already.  For guitars I’m going to shoot to record all the rhythms from start to finish, in hopes of giving it some more continuity (instead of the “reverse” recording I’ve done thus far).  Then I still need to sort out the vocals…it will all get done sooner or later ;)

Status: Own
Born: March 24, 1991
Owned since: 2012
Made in: Germany / 08258 Markneukirchen
Serial number: C 024 91
Type: Five string fretted
Body: 3 pcs. Boire Wood, solid
Neck: Wenge with azelia strips, hidden neck through construction
Fingerboard: Wenge with mother of pearl dolphin inlays, bronze frets, ??? radius
Scale: 34″
Electronics: 2 passive Bartolini Humbuckers, 2 Band electronic by MEC
Tuning: B E A D G
String spacing: Fixed 20mm
Typically strung with: DR Marcus Miller Fat Beams (MM5-130); .045 .065 .085 .105 .130
Misc: Brass nut with individual string vertical adjustment

I’ve been wanting a 5 string Dolphin since I first saw a dude playing one on a late night show (Letterman or Arsenio?) back around 1990.  Once I discovered I was a wide spacing guy, it’s been a battle ever since to land a broadneck on the used market.  It seems every time  they pop up (which has been really rare), I either don’t have the cash at the time, or I just get out bid.  You can imagine my delight when I saw this one recently…and I landed it for much less than I expected.  Yey me :-)

For being over 20 years old, the bass was in great shape.  Once I it cleaned up I gave it to my buddy Ross for a thorough once-over and set up.  When it comes to such things, Ross is the man.  Besides some minor fret issues (not surprising given the age) he got it dialed in and I couldn’t be happier with the way it plays.

I was surprised at how versatile the bass tone is.  Between the Bartolini’s and MEC preamp, there is a much wider range of tone adjustment than any other Warwick I’ve tried.  It’s very different from the growly focused sound of my Thumb, but in a good way.  Being an older bass, it also has something all other Warwick’s I’ve either own or played don’t have; real tuners!  This guy came with REAL Gotoh’s out of the box, a nice touch.  See my Thumb review for more on the tuner rant.  Like most Warwick’s it’s a big on the heavy side scale wise, but the bass so well balanced that I really don’t notice it any more than another bass.  I think the shape is absolutely beautiful, and now that I own one, so are the ergonomics.

One Bad Oyster played a show in Wilton, CT in support of the Cord Foundation, dubbed the “2nd Annual Great Wilton Scavenger Hunt“.  The event planner Jeff Snyder is a friend of the band, and his daughter Kennedy has been unfortunately battling spinal cord cancer most of her life.  What a great guy and an amazing little girl.

It was a beautiful day for playing outside.  Despite having them for sale at the time, I decided to bring my Schroeder 1212BMF cabs.  IMO, these cabs cannot be beat for power to weight ratio. It’s laughable as to how loud these things are, never mind that you can carry one in each hand with ease. If you are a 4 string player in any sort of loud, live band, I don’t think you can find a better cabinet for being heard through the mix at any range. That said, I don’t always care for the super focused tone and attenuated low end for some types of music that I play.  Nearly every instrument I play these days has a low B, and it’s too attenuated for my tastes sometimes, especially with my Warwick Thumb (which already has kind of an attenuated sound to begin with). I can EQ beef back in via bass and amp, but it’s still not always what I’m looking for.  I recently heard my Genz ShuttleMAX 12.0 through a Genz cabinet and it was to die for (so I picked up a used Neox 212).  For smaller indoor stuff, I’ve been favoring an Aguilar DB112NT paired with my Acoustic Image Focus 2r Series III.

I rediscovered however one of the main things I love about the Schroeder’s; they kick ass outside.  Loud, clear, full, and great throw to the back row.  They’re so light that I can have both set up quickly, and with the AI head I’ve got 4×12″ at 1000W (2 ohm)…tons of headroom!  I also finally had my Ergo 5 string EUB dialed in since buying it.  Even front-ending it with a Fishman B-II preamp, the piezo equipped EUB needs quite a bit of gain to match an active electric bass, so the headroom is welcome.

Very cool cab. Great looks, great sound. The only thing I’ve done is put some plastic feet on the side opposite side from the handle. Much safer when putting it down after carrying (seems like lots of people do this, and with good reason). The usual spec stuff:

More at Aggie’s site.

This is the model WITHOUT a tweeter, so here’s a quick clip just to get an idea of how it sounds recorded by default. Just a little ditty I came up with on the spot, I didn’t spend too much time getting locked in with the drums so excuse the less than perfect groove :D

http://www.trya.us/music/Misc/AguilarDB112NT.mp3

Everything is flat/no EQ;

  • 5 string MM/J Nords
  • Acoustic Image Focus 2R Series III
  • EV N/D868
  • Avalon VT-737SP
  • Event Layla
  • Sonar

There’s some compression (inboard and out) and 60 hz high pass filtering on the preamp. It’s a bit woofy through some speakers, but that’s mainly because it’s not EQ’d. IMO, having played both the with and without tweeter models, I prefer the NT (though I recall you can turn the tweeter down on the other one?).

Here’s another clip, slightly different: http://www.trya.us/music/Misc/AguilarDB112NT-b.mp3

Similar set up from above, but my Warwick Dolphin Pro I 5 string and Markbass LMK instead.  I’ve got the bass, amp, and Sonar EQ’d like I typically would live in this case.  The parts I played are slightly different as well…only because there was @30 mins between takes, I forgot exactly what I played to begin with, and was too lazy to figure it out ;-)

One thing I’ve noticed in general with the DB 112′s, they can take quite a bit of power, and just get louder, deeper, and clearer as you crank into them. It’s impressive.  Paired with my Tone Hammer preamp pedal, it’s killer!

Status: Own
Born: June 25, 2010
Owned since: 2011
Made in: Germany
Serial number: F 154537 10
Type: Six string fretted
Body: 2 piece ovangkol
Neck: Ovangkol, single truss (headstock)
Fingerboard: Wenge fretted, ??? radius
Scale: 34″
Electronics: Active MEC Gold Soapbar Pickups & MEC 2-Band
Tuning: B E A D G C
String spacing: Fixed 20mm
Typically strung with: DR Marcus Miller Fat Beams (MM6-130); .030 .045 .065 .085 .105 .130
Misc: Brass Just-A-Nut III

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t buy the same thing twice.  I think my pinnacle of G.A.S. stupidity had been buying the infamous Roland GP-8 four or five times since the mid 80′s.  Oh well.  This time at least I can say there are some noticeable differences with the Wicks.

Having previously bought and sold a Warwick Thumb Bolt-On 6 string Broadneck, I kind of surprised even myself when I picked up this new one.  I had been after a different sound not long after starting Infinitas, as none of the instruments I had at the time we’re doing it for me.  My TRB had the play-ability but not the sound.  The Godlyke had a cool sound but honestly it was hard to play many of the parts I wrote with those doubled strings.  Any of my fretlesses just didn’t cut enough for the more metal stuff we were doing.  I found myself over at The Low End browsing, and it was long before I was purchasing this bass from Brian.  In my experience broadnecks don’t pop up too often, and certainly not at the price I land this one.

For whatever reason, this particular bass (unlike the last Thumb) is exactly what I was looking for, and I can’t imagine selling it.  Playing is truly effortless and the sound is perfect for this more aggressive style of music (of course not limited to).  The only thing it needed was new strings and a swap out on the tuners (Hipshot Ultralights)…I still don’t understand why Warwick uses such crappy tuners (even on a Custom Shop bass!)  I was curious why someone would go through the effort of a Custom Shop order for a bass that I was previously able to buy stock though.  I figured there must have been something else unique that I was missing, so I emailed Warwick.  It turns out sometime between purchasing the last one and the new one, broadnecks stopped being a standard option.  It now is a Custom Shop only feature.  The gentleman also said that was the reason for the brass nut as well, because all Custom Shop units get a brass nut by default.  I had forgotten that my first one had the plastic Just-A-Nut III.

One Bad Oyster will be playing in Georgetown (West Redding) CT, at the Lumberyard Pub on Friday 9/16/2011.  Stop by, have a drink, and say hi!

A quest for overdrive

I’ve been on an effects kick lately. I hadn’t really been interested in pedals and stuff since probably college, but getting together with the guys in Infinitas had me wanting to experiment. That, and I just tend to like to buy gear and try it out when I can ;) I started back into the fray with some of the usuals; Boss bass chorus, a Big Muff Pi, a Boss digital delay. I still had my original Boss bass EQ and OC-2, and a half broken EHX Doctor Q, so they go busted out as well. I quickly determined I was after more, so after doing lots of reading, I ended up selling just about all of them (kept the Boss EQ out of sentimental value) and picked up a used Line 6 M13. I quickly determined two things;

  • The M13 could do just about everything I wanted (and more)
  • I couldn’t come up with a decent envelope filter if my life depended on it

The latter had me quickly deciding between the 3leaf filter and the Source Audio BEF, of which the Source Audio won and I haven’t looked back since.

Like many players, I got the overdrive bug. I have two lovable sounds in my head from years ago…playing live through a borrowed SVT, and using a guitar players Matchless head (also live) back in college when my amp died. Of course I’ve heard all sorts of tasty overdriven tones since, but those two really stick out.

Although I’ve found the M13 is good with creating distortion tones, the overdrives just weren’t cutting it for me. I got a few patches working decently through headphones, but after trying them out at practice, it just wasn’t happening. I also tried driving the front of my GB SM 12.0 tube channel with a booster patch, but again, the organic feel and sound that I had in my head just wasn’t there.

Only one thing left to do…start buying and trying pedals :)

Aguilar Agro
Pro’s: One of the most organic sounding pedals I’ve ever heard.  I realize that’s a lame, subjective term, but I don’t know how else to describe it.  I got the same vibe with their octave pedal that I tried at a store.  There’s just something very natural about the tone it produces.  There’s definitely some flexibility in the controls, which is great.  It does this very cool thing to harmonic content that I absolutely love.  So inspiring in fact that I ended up writing an entire song with the pedal on most on the time.  The battery compartment design on the Aguilar pedals is cool too (not that I typically use batteries).  I’ve also really enjoyed pairing this pedal with my Source Audio BEF…I’ve been able to come up with some really cool, thick, heavy, aggressive sounds.

Con’s: The case design sucks.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice looking, robust pedal, but the design doesn’t allow for typical pedal board stuff. Hard to Velcro the bottom because of the case lip; I had to add a riser.  Angled connectors aren’t a fit for the same reasons.  Another potential con is that it definitely loses low end content.  I actually don’t mind it all that much because of the tone it brings to the table, but it would be great if there was a built in blend so you could get more of the original signal on top of what it’s doing.  Regardless, I’m keeping it for the foreseeable future.

Wren and Cuff Phat Phuk B
Pro’s: Simplicity.  One knob, one purpose.  Sounds amazing driving the front of my iPad’s Amplitube SVT model, which is kind of comical I think.  Sounds great in front of the tube channel on my Genz Benz ShuttleMAX 12.0.  Small form factor.  Doesn’t seem to lose any low end.

Con’s: Since there’s only one knob, matching volume and tone with the pedal On and Off is a PITA.  With the tone that I like,  my amp’s channel volume is too high.  With the volume set where it normally is, I need to set the Phat Phuk much lower than I’d like to match.  I realize this is by design and essentially how it works, but it’s a pain.  I need to either:

  • use the tube channel on my GB SM exclusively for the Phat Phuk and set the volumes accordingly
  • accept that kicking on the Phat will result in a huge volume increase
  • use a blender or some other means to control the volume

In the end though I’ve been able to find a happy medium, and I really enjoy this pedal live.

Fuzzrocious Dark Driving
Pro’s: Like the Phat Phuk, really simple with one knob.  You can open it up and adjust a few pots for variety, but I found what I believe to be the “stock” setting to be best for me.  I’ve got the Phat Phuk set up kind of like a tone “goose”; just a bit o’ grit and actually adds a bit of clarity.  Then the Dark Driving kicks it up a notch, things get a little woolly and, well, dark.  Then the Agro is next to tear your face off.

Con’s: The pedal is noisy.  I tried a variety of things (different power sources, cables, etc.) but I could not get rid of a noticeable hum whilst recording.  I don’t know if it’s a shielding or grounding thing, or just the circuit design.  That said, it’s perfectly at home on my pedalboard where I’m really not concerned with a little hum (only while engaged) in a live setting.

*** UPDATE *** I’ve realized that with the sound clips I’ve captured below, there actually wasn’t much hum (if any at all). I recently re-did most of the cabling on my pedalboard, so I’m wondering if what I ran into before was maybe a cabling problem, or just the signal chain I had going last time I tried recording with the pedal.

Amptweaker Bass Tightdrive
This one requires a bit more than just Pro’s and Con’s.  I was the most excited about getting this pedal (vs. the other two) after hearing the demo’s online, but after trying it out at first I was kind of left with the feeling of “meh”.  The unit is built like a tank and certainly feels as though you could throw it at a brick wall and it would simply just laugh at you.  It’s got a really cool battery compartment design as well.  The knobs are rock solid and overall it just exudes quality.  The adjustable placement loop on the unit is a great idea too.

I played around with it a bit at home, but overall found the tone either too thin, or too woolly…there wasn’t much middle ground.  I tried it at a few live practices, and it was more of the same; too much low end loss when I was dialing in a razor sharp cutting tone that I liked, or way too woolly when I tried to get the bass back.  I just kept jumping back to one of the other three pedals above, or any number of patches on my M13.  I though later about trying to use an EQ pedal either after it or in it’s own loop, but ended up putting it down for a few weeks…I was kind of depressed that it wasn’t what I’d hoped for, despite getting a great deal on eBay.  I was convinced that the Doug Pinnick demo on the site was waaaay over processed or something.

That got me thinking.  What about using the Tightdrive for recording?  Long story short; this is where the magic finally happened, and why I’m not likely to get rid of the pedal.  I found that if I dialed in that razor sharp cutting tone (with bass loss) on one channel, and then used a separate channel for a more traditional fatter tone (specifically my Avalon 737 and IK Multimedia’s Ampeg SVX), I ended up with a great monster rock tone.  I had tried this approach with other pedals and amps before, but was never really happy with the results.  The Tightdrive has really nailed it for me now.  So, I’m not using it live, but it’s almost a good thing because I can just leave it set up at home in my recording chain and not need to screw around with pulling stuff off my pedalboard or hooking up a bunch of crap every time I want to lay something down.

So having said all that…here are some clips!  As usual, something I came up with on the spot, and not much of a focus on execution (all single takes, except for one where I really screwed the pooch).  The drum part is courtesy of Mr. Tomas Haake, straight out of the Toontrack EZX Metalheads collection (they are sections from the Meshuggah song Lethargica).  I tried to cover both low and high end, with a few chords and even some slap.  The bass was my Warwick Custom Shop Thumb BO 6.  Each pedal went through a SWR MM2 preamp, into my Event Layla, through Cakewalk Sonar 6.  I tried to get each of the bass tracks level the same, and put a limiter and slight compression on the bass channel bus.  Clip 10 is from the Presence of Mind concept piece I’m writing and recording, and is an example of the Tightdrive blended with SVX.

As a comparison, you can also check out the clips I did on the Genz Benz ShuttleMAX 12.0 tube swap I did a while back, there are some grungy tones floating around there as well. I’m actually planning on grabbing a few more clips at some point with the boost pedals driving the tube channel. Something else to note is that in my opinion, all these pedals sound 25-50% more aggressive in my live rig (all settings re iq ing the same), when everything is turned up to volume…just food for thought.

Enjoy!

I’m selling my beloved Euphonic Audio VL-108 and VL-110 cabs.  I’ve had the VL-108 for a while now, and it was well loved prior to me having it.  A year or two ago I got the VL-110 to match it, with the plan of using both for double bass work.  Unfortunately, I’m just not using them much anymore since getting any of my Schroeder cabs.  I originally didn’t like the sound of the Schroeder’s with my double bass, but that was in the confines of my home and not out in the real world.  I’ve come to find they sound great and cut through, just like I expect on electric.  Given the music I’m typically playing on double bass these days, I’ve found I need more power and volume than the VL’s are designed for.  The specs for the cabs are in one of the images above.

So, they should probably head to a better home than I’m giving them.  Great, GREAT cabs though.

One Bad Oyster will be playing a private show in Wilton CT, on Saturday 8/20/2011.  I’d say stop by…but it’s private ;-)

I’m selling my Aria Pro II Avante fretless unlined 6 string bass.  I haven’t had it very long, but I’ve decided to sink some money into my Laurus Quasar and get it to where I’d like it to be.  I believe I’m the second owner of the Aria, as I recall the gentleman I bought it from said he bought it originally back in 2000.  Some stats:

  • Alder body
  • Maple neck
  • Ebody board
  • Active electronics (rear battery compartment, always nice to have!)
  • @ 13.5 lbs
  • SN: S4111468

The only thing wrong with it is the E string tuner head has a broken bushing (the little plastic piece between the tuning leaf and the rest of the post, on the back side of the headstock).  Very minor, and doesn’t seem to affect tuning stability.

Great bass, but just not for me.