I wrote a while back about my first guitar, a’58 Reissue Fender Precision Bass. I love this thing more at this point, mostly because I have been learning more how to tweak the tone and get different stuff out of it and have been lucky in getting opportunities to play it out in front of people. At our big show last week, two different bass players came up to me to say my bass was sick and what the hell was I using for an amp. I was incredibly lucky to find an amazing amp for an excellent price right before our first show as a whole band last year and right in my back yard basically.
But I get ahead of myself.
I first had a borrowed amp from a girl I was dating at the time. It was a small solid state Ampeg 110 combo amp and I vividly remember the first time I plugged in my also borrowed cobalt blue Ibanaez electric bass. Going from an acoustic bass whose intonation was so bad it could barely hold a tune to even this low-fi set up was just amazing. I could crack that thing up to ten and make the bottom floor of my house shake.
You slowly learn how to adjust the volume and the tone knobs on the guitar in conjunction with the amp itself and you just sort of lose yourself for hours on end messing with the thing. I can’t say how important this was in the aftermath of my father‘s passing, just to have something to focus on. Let me tell you, there’s something about making a bunch of noise that really takes your mind off of things.
I got my new guitar a few months after borrowing the amp which only intensified my zeal for volume and tone control. That was just months before the band played our first show, which really was just the lead singer and myself chugging through some songs at a keg party and trying to do some weak vocal harmonies. Hey, it’s not Madison Square Garden, but it was a decent start and at one point, about twenty people on ATV’s showed up with numerous half gallons of Jim Beam in tow. Our show seemed to perk up then and our dreams of rock stardom only grew.
That fall, having no other shows planned, we decided to try and get an actual band together. I briefly mentioned this before and how we had a million people play drums and pretty good luck in finding a lead guitar right off. The lead singer in the band had a funk band in college so he already had mikes, a PA and plenty of other musical gear and it was pretty much ditto for the lead guitar player.
What we still lacked was an amp for me that would play to a large room. It didn’t really matter as we had no gigs or even a drummer, but this changed. As I mentioned a while back in reference to my dive bar, we got asked to play a party to celebrate the birth of the General’s son and to get people to bring diapers to help defray that massive cost. With George Harrison looming in the wings to play drums for us, I needed a good amp and now!
Naturally, I looked everywhere in the local area and online. The lead singer kept saying that if I didn’t buy a tube amp, I shouldn’t buy any amp at all so this is where I set my sights. There is a huge variety of options for this and costs from about five hundred for something decent to into the thousands for something amazing. I glanced at the same back country music store where my brother got his Telecaster in his band days. As usual, I found something that was out of this world. He had a 1977 Fender Studio Bass tube amp for under six bills and I came back that day to pick it up with cash. What a work of art.
They only made this beast for three years, probably because it only has a 15′ speaker but one can easily take the head out and put it in a different rig with more speakers, maybe like 4 10’s? Yes, I also did not know what any of what I just said meant not too long ago and all I’m saying really is I can put bigger speakers in it. As you can see, it has quite a bit more knobs on it than the borrowed Ampeg so this created a whole new agenda for me that continues to this day.
This thing is bad-ass and is capable of making just about any tone you want from a bass without any effects at all. I spend endless hours tweaking the output and the volume on the amp and then doing the same on my guitar. That segues into adjusting the highs, mids and lows which usually folds into messing with the five knob equalization panel. Yeah, I spend way too much time on this but it’s fun and not hurting anyone. Now if I only could learn how to play “Jerry was a Race Car Driver”
Musicians tend to come up and ask about it because of it’s rarity and as a musical novice, I am always happy to talk about it and always end up learning something new. I am incredibly lucky to have so many musical people in my life already and it’s excellent to meet more. That’s pretty much all I have for musical instruments and gear so I guess I will have to make more money so I can buy a Fender J- Bass and then write about it. Maybe the Geddy Lee Edition?