More Snappy Answers to Snappy Questions
Last month I answered some of the most als receive. We will always reply, but when
common questions I get asked. These ques- we say that we cannot answer your question,
tions jogged my memory and also brought a it usually involves one of two things. One
smile to my face. This month I’ll answer a few is if it’s a question on a piece of gear that
more questions, along with a sticky one. I do not have in hand or a piece belong-
ing to another dealer. It’s not that we won’t
answer your question – it’s that we can’t. It
is impossible to offer a value or an opinion
on something sight unseen because we can-
not be sure that your description is accurate,
and our opinions carry a liability. Case in
point: Billy has an old refinished bass that
he described to Dealer Jim over the phone
as original. Billy really thinks it’s original, but
it isn’t. Billy takes Dealer Jim’s opinion and
sells the bass on the internet. The ad copy
says, “Dealer Jim says this is a cool bass and
worth X amount.” You just sold a refin as all
original after twisting Jim’s words, and that’s
where it gets messy.
A common complaint is that the bass
won’t stay in tune. The following are little
things everyone should be able to do to
solve the problem.
What amps do you own, use and wish you
still had? What is your desert island amp?
My amp collection is quite small. Amps
became an appliance for me, as opposed to
a part of my collection due to space, a 46-
year-old back and the maintenance needed.
My cornerstones are an amazing 1967 Ampeg
B- 15 in rough condition and a 1977 Ampeg
SVT rig with both cabinets. For some reason, I prefer the plastic rocker switch SVT
models over those with metal toggles; when
maintained properly, I’ve also found the later
seventies SVTs to be more
focused. For general noodling I use an older GK
RB400 with a pair of Bag
End 1x15 cabinets. For
those of you on a budget,
I bought this rig used for
under $500 and it sounds
great with older basses,
while still holding its own
against modern basses. My
main, general-purpose rig
that I use from small clubs
to large stages consists of
a Demeter preamp, Stewart
World 2. 1 power amp and Epifani 4x10 UL
cabinets. For small rooms, I’ll bring a single
cabinet as opposed to the entire stack.
• Tighten your tuners. There are screws in
the back, a nut on the front and a screw in
the end of the wing that can all work loose,
wreaking havoc on tuning stability.
• Is your instrument filthy? Cleaning your
fretboard will make your bass look and feel
better, and will also affect intonation.
• Do you know how to properly change your
strings? After you anchor them in the center
hole of the tuner, start your winding from top
to bottom and make sure the final winding
is on the bottom of the tuner shaft. If it’s too
high you may hear rattles.
• Finally, don’t go into a panic if your action
suddenly gets higher or your bass is chok-
ing – 99 percent of the
time, it is because of
the weather. If you have
too much relief, a quar-
ter turn of the truss rod
should get you back.
For back bow, loosen
the rod a quarter
turn – your intonation
should fall right into
place. If the bass does
not respond, take it to
The other thing professionals often see is
someone looking for a free evaluation of
their bass so they can sell it online. We don’t
like to be played for our knowledge. As for
commenting on another dealer’s bass, it’s
just not a cool thing to do and explains why
99 percent of dealers offer appraisals and
verifications of basses you own, not basses
you are speculating on. Don’t get me wrong
– we’ll offer tons of free advice, but it’s in
person and on a case-by-case basis for the
Remember, you are fix-
ing your bass at your own risk; never attempt
any repair you are not comfortable with, and
always take your time.
As for the amps I’ve owned and wish I’d kept,
it’s funny, but I never grew attached to amps.
However, some of the great ones I’ve owned
that got away were a red 1970 Marshall 1x18
cabinet and matching red Marshall Major. The
amp was painted black; thankfully old latex
paint comes off easily. I also owned an early-seventies Orange W-box cabinet with the
matching head, covers and tags. It’s the same
as the amp they just reissued.
I hope this series was fun and provided you
with some general insight. Next month I
will review the Dallas International Guitar
Festival from a vintage bass perspective.
Until next time, drop the gig bag and bring
Are there any repairs I can attempt myself?
Lastly, my desert island amp is a blue check
Ampeg B- 15.
Why won’t you supply an answer to my
question or email?
Are there basic things you can try on your
bass? The answer is yes, but I would consider
these maintenance tasks, not repair items.
Keep in mind, I get more repairs from people
unsuccessfully trying to do their own work
than anything else.
Kevin Borden has been a bass player since 1975, and is
currently President of Goodguysguitars.com.
Feel free to call him KeBo.
He can be reached at