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strung out

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Spring is here, allegedly, but you wouldn’t know it from the weather we’re having. The temperature has been hovering between freezing and about 6°C for about a month, with the warmer times bringing rain and occasional sleet. One aspect of a coastal climate: the base temperature is moderate, and doesn’t change that quickly, with all the water around us.

It took a long time for real winter to set in last year – it didn’t get this cold until later December – and it’s taking a long time for the cold to leave. It’s most obvious at home, in my flat on the top floor of the building with the poorly-insulated roof. The cold is in the walls, and electric heaters only partly relieve it, at great expense. I don’t remember a Winter this persistent for years.

I have a flying trip to London coming up next weekend, to meet up with old school friends, get a dose of culture (Tate Modern etc.), and some shopping. I’ve been threatening to buy a new main bass, for the first time in years. My current main instrument dates back to 1987 or so, and is definitely showing its age. It’s a 5-string bass that is not much use as a 5-string, since the low B is flappy and wooly, no matter what strings I put on it. It currently has marvellous (and expensive) roundcore strings from Status on it, but as good as the other strings sound, the low B is not up to the job at all.

So I’m giving up: my next main bass will be a modern 4-string that benefits from the advances of the last 20 years. I particularly want to move to a 35-inch scale length, which narrows the shortlist down to just three instruments in a sensible price range. In alphabetical order:

Of those, the Ibanez is the most radical departure from my current setup, and the one I’m leaning towards. The reports I’ve read about the sound and playability are very encouraging, and I also like the clean looks. The Peavey doesn’t look as good in pictures, but I might be swayed if I get one in my paws. As for the Yamaha: I was prepared to buy one via eBay a couple of weeks ago, sight unseen, but only if the price was right. That auction went way beyond what I was prepared to pay for an unseen and unheard instrument of uncertain provenance.

The major reason why I’m in the market for a more “normal” bass than my current headless instruments is an ambition to return to live playing, some time, possibly starting with a “sit-in” or two. It’s been too long, and I’ve not been encouraged by the scene here in Dublin, which reminds me of London without the variety. I recently met someone who gave me a CD I was decidedly unimpressed with, yet he is getting gigs and encouragement. I just don’t think I should try and do it by myself, and that’s about all that’s slowing things down.

Written by brian t

March 21, 2006 at 3:10 pm

Posted in music, travel

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