So we got to the time of year for our annual bass-themed catch-up in Addlestone, thanks to organisers Hamster (Colin) and Silverfoxnik (Nik). It was a relaxed affair, with a timetable that survived being messed around with (thank you, public transport and road network). As always, this year we had a star guest (Richard Searle, see below!), the For Sale corner, a well-stocked raffle prizes table, several tasty rigs in the Main Hall, and a few ‘star instruments’. One of them was definitely the Rob Allen Mouse; in fact, I should probably say the Rob Allen Mice, as there were two, a 4-stringer (owned by Frank Blank) and a 5-stringer MB2 (owned by ezbass).
Bassace’s DB corner
Jabba The Gut’s corner
Jez had brought in some of his amazing home-made basses, including the mini bass, which was an instant hit.
Jabba’s other beauties!
The Main Hall
The lefty corner, courtesy of Seer73
Random awesome rigs
The Elwray corner
The Elwray Infinga 4 Bass was another star. It was sent in from Belgium by new luthier Marco Elwray to start a pass-around for testing purposes.
The Blind Bass Tone Test
Following a lengthy debate on the forum, we decided to set up a test that would allow us to determine, once and for all, whether it’s possible to tell apart different makes and vintages of bass guitars just by listening to their tone, with no visual clues. We had a choice of basses, one amp, one cab, and one bassist playing exactly the same riff twice on each instrument, the first time fingerstyle and the second with a plectrum, behind a curtain. Cetera (Gary) provided the playing hands, while NancyJohnson (Paul) hosted.
Believe it or not, very few of us managed to tell which bass, from the printed list provided, we were hearing at any given time. And when we guessed right, it was just on one or two occasions, not on the whole list. Even the owners who lent their instruments for the test struggled to recognise the sound of their own basses. So now you know – while using a certain rig, you will always end up sounding more or less like yourself, no matter whether you plug in a cheap Squier or a Fodera. We have footage to prove that!
Basses in the test:
Rickenbacker 4003 (ezbass)
Wal Mk1 (TrevorR)
Aria SB700 (TrevorR)
JR Bass JM4 (Jabba_the_Gut)
Spector NS2 (cetera)
Epiphone Vintage Pro Thunderbird (Cetera)
Gibson Thunderbird (Silverfoxnik)
Fender Precision (GraemeR)
Fender Jazz Deluxe (GraemeR)
Sire Marcus Miller V7 (GraemeR)
Rickenbacker 4001 from the 1960s (Prowla)
Warwick Streamer Double Buck (rodfunnel)
Musicman Stingray from 1978 (rodfunnel)
Maruszczyk Elwood (ezbass)
Aria Primary Bass (NancyJonhson)
Video of the test:
The Heft test
Here is another question Basschat needed to find an answer to: can we feel the difference between valve amps and Class D amps? Does the sheer heft of the sound make our trousers flap when we stand in front of a cab connected to one of those huge, heavy, valve-filled heads, justifying the effort of carrying the latter around? Or are we better off being nice to our back, and putting a small, lightweight Class D head in our shoulder bag?
We connected a variety of heads, one after the other, to the same Vanderkley 212MNT cab, Paul played the same bass throughout, and… our trousers didn’t flap. Not even when the valves were glowing and the sound of the bass was enveloping us all in warm, soft tones. We could tell the difference in tone, oh yes, but heft? No trace of it. So there you go.
Amps in the test:
Trace Elliot V6
Solid State/Class D:
Quilter Bass Block 800
Aguilar Tone Hammer 500
And here is the video:
Entertaining, instructive and intriguing – we had Richard Searle as a guest speaker this year, following the heft test, part of which he was able to attend (his knowledgeable comments can be heard in the recording above). The video of his entire talk about his career, music and gear is a treat, but I’ll release it only after you have had a taster in audio format through the forthcoming episode of the Basschat Podcast. For the moment, here are a few photos.
Finally, we had the Raffle!
With Darren Redick of Planet Rock
That’s all for this year. I’m getting my cameras ready for the next one!