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Tips, tricks, and uncommon knowledge


fig

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I wanted to start a thread where people can post tips, tricks and things that other bassists may not be aware of. I know that as I read thru this forum, and others, I'll pick up a gem or nugget of knowledge that helps me out, something I didn't know before, but wish I had.

 

Not so much about tips on playing riffs, or singing and playing at the same time (which are already in this forum, and can be added to anytime), but things like sometimes turning your cabinet around to face the wall to splash the sound around, or adding a terminal lug to your bridge grouding wire, for ease of attaching/removing for noisy environments, etc.

 

So my offering to start this thread is about witness points on the strings.

 

I've copied this from another thread, but due to the title of that thread, people might not look in there.

 

As the fatter strings, notably the B and E strings, sit on the nut and bridge, the thickness of the strings causes them to gently arc over those components. What we want are the strings to immediately angle off the nut and bridge saddle.

 

So when you get the strings tuned to pitch, take your thumb and push down on the string just behind (fretboard side) the nut. Do this just forward (pickup side) of the bridge saddle. This takes away the gentle roll and provides a defined vibrating point at the point of contact on the bridge and nut.

 

What this does is:

--by doing this at the nut end, the first fret notes (B#, F, etc) are now as easy to play as any other note on the freboard. If you find fingering the first fret notes on your bass is a bit harder to do than any other note, put a witness point on those strings. You'll be amazed. Plus, the open notes get a little better sound and sustain.

 

--by doing this at the bridge end, you'll find sometimes intonation and note wavering problems disappear. More importantly, notes become a bit clearer, as that string now has a defined vibrating point on the bridge saddle.

 

I do this on all the strings, though honestly it doesn't seem to matter on the D and G strings as the natural tension pulls out any arcing over the bridge. Definitely do this on the B, E, and A strings, as they are rather thick. You may or may not actually see the arcing of the thicker strings over the bridge or nut. Do it anyway. You'll feel and hear a difference. Takes all of 2 seconds to make each witness point. Do it on one of your basses sitting around right now, or wait until a string change. You'll notice the string height will drop a small bit. If desired, readjust bridge height to taste.

 

Anyway, post some 'good to know' things in here, things you might assume everyone knows, but really doesn't yet. I always like learning ways to improve the things I do.
Bassplayers aren't paid to play fast, they're paid to listen fast.
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When you put your instruments on an instrument stand, put them on "face first" with the back of the instrument facing out. It discourages casual passersby (children, visitors, drunk bar patrons) from absentmindedly and clumsily strumming across the strings, and also helps ensure that any nicks from other equipment (people winding cables and the plug whacking the bass, walking by with cabs or cases) end up on the back side of the instrument where they aren't as visible.

 

Of course, it decreases the show-off factor of having the instrument on display, but it's the price you pay. :)

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Clark, where were you with this suggestion a month ago! :)

 

My guitarist spilled his drink, sloshing across the front of the body of my bass during a break. Had to take it apart for a good cleaning out of the pickup cavities.

 

Damn it, a month too late, but I'm turning it around now. Those simple solutions just escape me most of the time. Too many drugs as a youth, I think. ;)

 

I'm likin' this thread already....

Bassplayers aren't paid to play fast, they're paid to listen fast.
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Here are a couple:

 

1. Always use cable wraps. This will eliminate your cables from getting tangled and knotted. In addition they help keep you gig bag nice and organized.

 

2. Always carry backups - batteries, cables, strings, strap...etc. You never know when you will have to use them.

 

ikestr

...hertz down low....
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Sounds like an obvious one, but remember to loop your cable through your strap before you plug in your bass... Why? It reduces stress on your jack and eliminates the danger of accidental unplugging incidents if you should step on the cable.

 

Another one about cables: loop your cable around your amp handle or similar stable protrusion before plugging into your amp. Why? See reasons above.

 

Also regarding cables: right angle-ended plugs are less prone to being bumped or broken when plugged into most basses because they don't stick out very much.

 

And... Bring more than one high-quality cable to your shows and recording sessions. Ya never, never know...

 

On a different note: A 20-lb weight dropped over the main pole of your mic stand will keep your mic stable on almost any stage.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I've found that it's easy to hear yourself when you're practicing without an amp... simply rest your chin on top of the horn or body of the bass while you play... tones vibrate through your head... this is how I practiced throughout college while living in a dorm...
"Tea & Cake, or Death!"
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Buy some straplocks, ferpetesake. They're worth much more than the $15 you'll spend on 'em.... takes a whole 5 minutes to CAREFULLY install them. One note on these as well... I personally ALWAYS use the original screws to attach the straplock buttons, not the screws that come with the straplocks... sometimes it's a tight fit, but this will ensure that the threads are the same as before - duh - this is not usually the case (in my experience) with the straplock provided screws.

-Mike

...simply stating.
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Great thread!

 

O.K here goes, for Ric owners mainly. When putting on new strings, while stretching them DON'T pull the string away from the body, why? Cause Rickenbacker now use plastic rear pick-up gaurds, metal beats plastic (Scissors, paper, stone style) and I've learnt this from experience last Sunday. :cry: Better to stretch from side to side.

 

P.S, the Ric's a beautiful instrument, pure American made...why o why did they have to replace a chrome part with crappy plastic?

 

CupMcMali...this monkey's gone to heaven :freak:

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Good advice about looping cables, CMDN; I do the same thing with my cable from the line-out, too (when I use one). I once wrecked a brand new, tweed-covered cable by stepping on it too close to the amp; bent the plug right over. :cry: So easy to avoid.

 

A couple of things I like to bring along that might not be obvious:

 

A pair of fingernail clippers. I hate being on my way to play & remember that I forgot to clip my nails on my plucking fingers.

 

A tool the right size to tighten down the knobs on your bass. Once I'd taken a knob off & put it back on, but evidently not tight enough, because it fell off during the next rehearsal! :mad: Actually, for any component that could need tightening, loosening, or adjusting, bring the right tool; I've got a little pouch in my little backpack that has all that stuff. So easy!

 

And here's one for Ric owners (thanks, Cup!): take out the capacitor on the treble volume knob & replace it with plain wire. This brings the volume of the bridge pickup to a an equal output level to the neck pickup.

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I use white vinegar to remove those pesky coffee pot stains....

 

Sorry. Wrong forum.

 

I keep a washcloth and a little thing of soap in my gig bag. Serious on this one. My hands sweat and I have had too many gigs that did'nt even have running water. Thats when I use the washcloths. Very absorbent. ;)

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If you can't be bothered to buy strap locks...then the little rubber washers off the tops of bottles of Grolsch will work just as well.
Free your mind and your ass will follow.
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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Instead, use the "over and under" method.

Good golly, you really can find just about anything on this here internet! Who woulda thought that there would be on-line instructions for cable-coiling?! :eek::D

 

Great tips so far fellahs. CMDN posted what I would've already about instrument and amp cables. :thu:

 

Peace.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Okay, here are a few...

 

Specific to theater/church/choral gigs.

 

Take:

 

Battery Operated music stand light. Never know when a bulb will blow.

 

Tape/scissors...never know when you need to cut a paste piano music to make your own part.

 

One of those enormous Clik=Stick erasers...at the end of the show you will need to erase your part.

 

Weekly World News. I only read this when I'm doing a show in a pit...but it's invaluable for killing time. It's always fun to flash the MD a pick of Clinton shaking an alien's hand.

 

It's easy to be perceived as a genius if you're well prepared.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Need a big low note, but don't have a 5-string? Try playing the note on your 4-string register, along with a 5th and octave. When you do it just right (so no one note stands out) it creates the effect of a single note an octave down. Thus, you can create an artificial low D, C, A, even a low G! It works best for long notes like at the ending of a song. Not reccomended for scalar runs or repeditive lines...

 

More gaff tape uses: use a relatively full roll for a mic stand weight, paperweight (outdoors) or to put your drink in to prevent spills.

 

While you're at the pro lighting shop that sells gaff tape, maybe pick up a box of 9Vs for cheap. My place sells boxes of 12 ProCells (Duracell w/o the packaging) for cheap. If you have a few active basses and/or preamps/effects and you get your batteries 1 or 2 at a time at a normal store, you're getting hosed.

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In some cases on cheap basses, the bridge's components seem to "stick out." While taking the bass out of the case, make sure these parts don't get caught to the gig bag. It really rips it up, and sometime cuts you.

 

If your strap decides it doesn't want to go straight, don't yell at it and get angry. Just take it off and fix it.

 

Bring backups, yada yada yada.

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Also, if your stand holds two basses, then make sure to put padding between them, like foam padding. This prevents added string tension and mars that would happen otherwise.

 

Protect your finish and carry your bass outwards while walking. If it bumps into a wall, no one will notice when it comes time to play.

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THE DOUBLE SLAP

this is a technique I (think) I invented. To get a quick sterile, slappy, pick like riff with your hands, double your ring finger onto your pinky, and instead of just striking the string with your thumb horizontally, adjust your hand so you are hitting the string at an angle and twist your hand back and forth at a desired speed hitting once with your thumb and once with your pinky/ring double. This technique will sound raunchy untill you get used to it, but i have found it usefull and hope you do too.

My Bass is my emotional outlet

My Songs are my canvass

My Music is my life

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One thing the "over and under" method of cable coiling didn't touch on - winding the cable "straight" as it coils up.

 

When you wind a cable in a coil, you don't want the internal wires to undergo any kind of twisting action at all. I learned this from 4 years of working in the theatre and stage lighting industry - you treat those cables like they're made of gold, or else you fired!

 

So you have to twist the cable with your index finger and thumb, through each loop as you coil it up, to keep the cable from resting with any twist. Simplest way is to draw an imaginary chalk line along the cable as it lays straight. Then as you coil it, do it so to keep the imaginary chalk line consistently on the outside of the coil.

 

In the last 7 years I've never had to replace a cable due to breakage or anything. It works really well!

 

Another tip - your bass' and you amp's volume controls. Don't always just leave them in one position. They have an inherently self cleaning action when used regularly.

 

So once you're done playing for the evening, turn the pots down to minimum. Otherwise, just by leaving them in one position for a long time, it lets excessive dirt accumulate on the rest of the resistive element, so much that the wiper cannot clean it all.

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; one lick and you suck forever.
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Always have cable ties of some sort, always nice to know your cables arent all over the place, grab them quick, and keep them where you want them. Those twist ties off of sandwich baggies work really well!

 

Also in the home studio, make sure you toss the cables behind furniture when running them around the room, always nice to know your cables won't be getting tangled with those that are permanent fixtures.

\m/ Timothy Lyons
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To make a cheap but effective drink holder, buy one of those cheapy car drink holders meant to

hang from your door/window slot, usually 2-3 for a dollar at walgreens, drill a 5/8" hole in the top angle piece to fit over your mic stand, I've been using mine for 2 yrs. - works great!

water bottle - soda - uh... beer all within your arms reach. oh yeah, I also heard that those flat

plastic things that keep bread bags closed up, work good for strap locks (makes a good emergency backup pick for you or guit. player too ) !!!!!!

:idea:

I'm Todbass62 on MySpace
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Make sure you have a hand truck or cart to move your gear.

 

I use a "rock 'n' roller" cart which folds to a very small size so I can get it in the car and which expands to a large size so I can get all my gear on it.

 

If you have to make more than one trip to get your stuff into the club, you're doing something wrong.

 

Don't forget the bungee cords to hold everything in place on the cart.

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In my experience, I can fit quite a bit of gear into a small car. However, the make or break issue is the size of the openings! Too many newer cars have very reasonable trunk space, but tiny little openings -- so even though my gear would fit inside, I can't get it through the opening!

 

So what's the tip? When buying, leasing, renting, or borrowing a vehicle to move gear, pay attention to the size of the openings. This is especially crucial for 2-door vehicles, where you don't have the fallback of sliding that 4x10 cab onto the backseat through a rear passenger door. (Ever try to do that in a 2-door with the front seat folded down? It sucks.)

 

Sidenote: thankfully I've noticed that big city taxis tend to have big friggin' trunks with big friggin' openings.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Another tip: Nobody wants to hear you tune your instrument -- especially on big stages at good gigs.

 

Most of the time, even if your amp has a "tuner out," your bass will still come through the mains even if your amp is on "standby" because your bass will probably be running through a D.I. to the board. To avoid letting the audience hear you take part in the ancient art of Tu-Ning, buy a $25 A/B box and run your bass through that before it hits your amp. Plug output "A" into your amp and output "B" into your tuner. This will totally mute your bass, allowing you to tune silently.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I've been gigging every weekend at bars or clubs, and noticed my cabinet is stinking up the car (new car, so it's really noticable). The cabinet is felt/fuzz covered, and seems to hold stench really well.

 

Bought some carpet deoderizer, powder type, and sprinkled it on each side, rubbed it in with a bristle brush, waited about 10 minutes, and vacuumed.

 

It looks better, and is springtime fresh! :)

Bassplayers aren't paid to play fast, they're paid to listen fast.
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Ok, here's one to try on screws that are frequently removed/replaced that you want to avoid stripping or those that you want to "treat" while you have them out at some point (i.e. pickguard, bridge, pickups, neck, etc.)

 

While you have the screws out, rub the threads across a bar of soap, or a piece of beeswax, or a candle... you want to pick up enough to coat the threads as they are screwed into place, but don't overdo it. This will provide long lasting lubrication that keeps the metal threads from picking up pieces of wood on their way back out. It also makes them MUCH easier to remove/replace.

 

It would make sense that this could allow some screws in high vibration/flexing areas to "back out" over time, but it's never presented a problem for me.

 

[by the way, kudos to Fig for starting this great thread.]

 

-Mike

...simply stating.
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While I agree with your thoughts on silent tuning, and yes that blatant,audible, on stage tuning reeks of amateurism, those $25 A/B boxes have a tendency to load down the signal coming from your bass. I have noticed this with both active and passive basses (tho quite obvious with the latter) and even piezoes.

 

There are better things out there, such as Renz-Mute boxes, which use higher quality switches, true-bypass switching, and a higher input impedence load. Yes, they cost more but in the long run it is worth the extra $. It is really not worth compromising the intregrity of your bass signal just so the audience doesn't have to hear you tune.

 

Better yet, learn creative ways to accomplish tuning rather than the standard fretted/open string or harmonic method. Tune to a chord, learn to make quick and subtle tuning adjustments which sound musical and not annoying.

Or, have your bass well maintained and adjusted so that it both plays and stays in tune.

 

Funny thing about tuning...I have attended a number of Master Classes by some very well-known player/teachers and all seem to agree on the concept behind our tuning ritual: it is impossible to accurately tune a bass (or any guitar for that matter) so that it is truely intonated. The ritual act of tuning is not really the musician tuning his/her instrument, but rather the musician tuning themselves to that instrument. Some have even made it analogous to a private prayer........

 

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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NickT
If you can't be bothered to buy strap locks...then the little rubber washers off the tops of bottles of Grolsch will work just as well.
Hmmm...Well you've given me a good excuse to go buy a sixer of Grolsch. :idea::) Hopefully they are the same over here in the states. I think I remember their tops being different. Little rubber washer huh? Does is it really work well?
"Don't Ask Me I'm Just The Bassplayer" UBP
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