It’s summer (at least according to the calendar) – that means Herts Bass Bash! This year the by now customary, and highly anticipated, appointment with Breaks Manor in Hatfield was on a cool, greyish Sunday in mid-June. Despite the England football match scheduled for the evening, this meetup was one of the most successful ever in terms of attendance numbers. That’s not surprising, really, as the timetable once again contained pretty damn unmissable events.
At the bash we would be not just treated to two talks (one about D’Addario strings and the other about modes and chords) and the unmissable comparison test, but also offered the chance to have our photo taken with our bass – or indeed someone else’s – by professional photographer Graham Poulton (aka Sibob’s dad!), in a dedicated corner of the small hall equipped with a black backdrop, and using Graham’s professional cameras. A jam session with drummer Tim Healy, and the usual bass-themed raffle rounded up the list of activities.
As always, the way in was through the kitchen/foyer area, where Bassface2k10 collected the entrance fee and welcomed us with a cuppa and a sticker to write our name and BC moniker on (unless we were already wearing a BC lanyard).
Before reaching the halls, we had to walk through the foyer, and nobody could avoid noticing that this year we had a lot of amazing prizes, offered by generous sponsors, heaped up in big piles, waiting to be picked by lucky winners from 4pm! (More of that later.)
There was also a table loaded with D’Addario goodies, and Sales Manager Andrew Needham was there to answer questions in advance of his talk in the main hall later, and offer advice and give us the option of filling in a questionnaire about our string preferences.
Andrew was also offering a number of cards giving 50% discount on their strings when bought on D’Addario’s website before 14th July 2015.
Meanwhile, the small hall had been turned into a photographer’s studio!
Some more of Graham’s photos were on display in the room.
Check out some of Graham’s photos of the attendees published in the relevant thread: Basschat Herts Bash photos thread.
Most of the attendees’ basses and rigs were in the middle hall, like last year, and the GAS was second to none.
For the first time ever, there was a proper Lefties Corner, as in, containing more than one bass! The lefty paradise was courtesy of el-gnomo and Pineweasel, while yours truly had had a senior moment in the morning and managed to leave her equally lefty bass behind (could have been worse, I could have forgotten to take the video camera with me…)
As in previous years, there were a lot of awesome basses around, several of which were new purchases.
One of the most successful basses of the day was undeniably Happy Jack’s Mike Lull Thunderbird 5.
Many more attendees and rigs this way:
Unsurprisingly, there were basses in the main hall too!
The main hall was were the talks, the test and the jamming would happen.
The first talk was by Andrew Needham of D’Addario. Andrew explained the company’s string production methods and the difference in performance between different string types, and gave details about D’Addario extensive range – roundwound, flatwound, half wound, tapewound strings and nickel, stainless steel and chrome. An equally informative Q&A session followed.
Here is a video file with enhanced audio (with thanks to BCer Annoying Twit aka Ross).
The second afternoon slot was taken by the much-anticipated fretboard challenge.
In a similar vein to last year’s P-bass comparison, this year Lozz carried out a test aimed at ascertaining whether the audience could hear the difference between pairs of near-identical basses, played by him on exactly the same rig, where the only difference between the two instruments in each test pair was the fretboard: either maple or rosewood. The two basses in each test pair had been fitted with identical, brand-new D’Addario strings provided by Andrew Needham. Lozz played both basses from each pair, and then asked the audience to raise their hands for the sound they liked best. Louisa kept track of the score, as well as helping with the handling of the basses.
The video footage for this test is a single-camera file with boosted audio (again courtesy of BCer Annoying Twit aka Ross).
The results of the test were intriguing and somewhat surprising. Here are Lozz’s words.
In the end, as it was being videod I decided to not do this hidden behind a curtain, as that would have looked pretty daft. So I simply presented a pair of basses, played them both, then asked which one people preferred, the one with maple fretboard, or rosewood fretboard.
The basses were a pair of Precisions, a pair of Jazzes, and a pair of Stingrays. For the Jazzes I selected both pickups on full, and for the Stingrays, all EQs centered.
Each bass had a brand new set of strings on it, provided for the day by Andrew from D’Addario. The Precisions got Chrome flatwounds, the Jazzes got nickel rounds and the Stingrays got steel rounds.
The results were quite surprising:
Precisions – Maple 2, Rosewood 15, undecided 1
Jazzes – Maple 7, Rosewood 20, indecided 2
Stingrays – Maple 10, Rosewood 16, undecided 1
So maple was a poor loser to rosewood today. Now I know many say that fretboard material has no bearing on the sound, but to me, in all cases, the maple was brigher, and seemd to coax more gain from the sound, making it less clear/defined, whereas the rosewood sounded more balanced throughout and somewhat clearer. I don’t know if they were the thoughts of those listening/watching, but for the votes to be overwhelmingly in favour of one type has to say something.
Just my luck to have bought two maple fretboard basses last week eh?
In the time between one talk/test and another, some jamming happened!
The last talk of the day was by Doctor of the Bass, once again supported by his student Peter, like last year. Another fascinating foray into Modes and Chords and their uses in different music genres.
Watch the last few minutes of the talk, where Nick and Peter put theory into practice and jam along to Tim’s drumbeat:
And then it was time for the raffle! And I had to leave before it started, so I am posting here the snapshots taken by Graham Poulton, who kindly covered the raffle on my behalf.
The prizes were mouth-watering to say the least:
EBUK distributors Strings and Things kindly provided the following:
– MM RAY4 SUB Bass in Walnut Satin
– Ernie Ball Regular Bass strings (6 sets)
– 12 Ernie Ball Black Poly Straps
Renowned bassist and educator Stuart Clayton offered two books:
– ‘Plectrum Technique’ and
– ‘Advanced Studies for Bass Guitar’
– Basschatter Gary Mac donated a couple of years worth of Bass Guitar Magazine issues, in very lovely condition, and
– Blaze Publishing provided several current copies of the magazine (May and June 2015).
– We had several goodie bags from D’Addario UK, in addition to the four pairs of strings for the basses used in the fretboard test and the 50% discount on strings mentioned above.
– Basschatter Theyellowcar donated an immaculate, surplus-to-requirements Kinsman gig bag.
– Assorted pedals, DVDs, a scratchplate and a hat, from anonymous participants.
– Basschat‘s head honcho Ped donated two BC shirts – like these! The winners would have to contact him to choose colour and size.
– Basschatter Hertsbass donated 5 hours free studio time at The Farm Factory, WGC. This was his message to the attendees:
A couple of months ago a friend and I bought Farm Factory, a long-established and well-regarded rehearsal room and recording studio in Welwyn Garden City. This is not a corporate, short-term money-grabbing acquisition; but a long-term business, funded and run by local musicians, for local musicians.
As such, your views are incredibly important to us. Can I therefore ask a couple of small favours.
Firstly, if you’re a Facebooker, please like our FB page (Farm Factory Studios). You’ll be the first to hear our news and any special offers. Our website (www.farmfactorystudios.com) is currently down, pending relaunch, but we’ll announce it on FB when it goes live again.
Secondly, if there’s anything you love, or hate, about us; or about studios in general, please PM me to let me know. We are always keen to know what we can improve, and any suggestions will help us tremendously.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) we’d be delighted to see you down at the studio. We have one recording studio and booth, six large and well-soundproofed rehearsal rooms (one DI’ed to the studio for live recording), plus four Ampeg SVT-350s and 8×10 cabs for anyone who wants to ‘go loud’.
It was great seeing you all today.
The raffle prizes!
And here are Graham Poulton’s photos of the winners!
I’m kicking myself for missing the raffle! It won’t happen next year. Watch this space!
Breaks Manor Youth Centre – All the money raised through the entrance fee and the sale of raffle tickets goes to the youth centre.