Practice What You Preach
This month’s column brings together ideas
from a few of my previous columns and
applies them to gigs I’ve done recently. In particular, those columns have discussed finding
a versatile rig (Nov. 2007), learning how to use
it (Mar. 2008, Nov. 2009, and Feb. 2010), and
branching out beyond the basic 4-string (May
2009)—all ideas that can help you become a
versatile player who gets more gigs.
Gig #2: Wine-Bar Blues
This place had a tiny space for us to play in.
The instruments were guitar, bass and harmonica, plus vocals, and we needed to keep
the volume down. This time, I went with my
Azola upright into the EA Micro and the 1x10
Wizzy—which barely squeezed into my spot
on the floor. I’m happy to report that the tiny
bass rig did its job with volume to spare and
plenty of bottom end. Having that little cab
made the load-in a breeze, too.
the photo reference helped him get back to
his own settings quickly.
Choosing Versatile Gear
In a web-exclusive “On Bass” column from
Nov. 2007, I wrote about searching for a
portable, powerful, versatile rig to be used
mainly with upright bass. At the time, I had
settled on a small Acoustic Image Claus amp
that put out 400 watts and a Euphonic Audio
Wizzy cab with one 12" speaker and trans-mission-line porting that weighed less than
30 pounds. Since then, I’ve liked that cab so
much that I bought a second, plus a similar
model from the same company that has a
10" speaker. I also picked up a two-channel
Euphonic Audio Micro amp, which is among
the many great offerings of micro-sized bass
amps now reaching the bass world. I still use
the AI sometimes, but I really like the Micro’s
two channels. Together, this gear forms a
flexible and lightweight setup that can be
adapted to almost everything I get myself
into—not just acoustic-bass stuff. Now I’ll
show how this gear fits my gigs.
Gig #3: Opening Act
At this gig, our four-piece blues band opened
for a national act in a big ballroom. Unlike
the other gigs, this show provided backline—
Gig #4: Going to the Big Show and Locking In
Finally, I just finished a musical theater production that had a 29-piece orchestra. For
this gig, I brought my Azola upright to help
squish into the cramped playing quarters.
My rig started with the EA Micro and Wizzy
1x12 cab. We quickly found that the group
could come unlocked rhythmically because
of the wide seating arrangement. The electronic keyboard had only a small onboard
amp and speaker and couldn’t be heard by
players more than a few feet away—and that
keyboard player needed to drive the whole
The stage was boomy, so rather than just
turn up more and more, I kept the amp’s
bass EQ flat and bumped up the midrange.
a pair of SWR WorkingPro 4x10 cabs powered by an SWR WorkingPro 700-watt top. I’d
never used a pair of 4x10 cabs before, but I
was pleased not to have hauled it all in.
Gig #1: Electric Blues
This gig was in a medium-sized tavern with
PA support. The band had drums, bass,
guitar and harmonica (plus shared vocals),
and my rig was the Euphonic Audio Micro
head with a stacked pair of 1x12 Wizzy cabs.
When I plugged my amp’s DI into the PA, I
got some hum, which suggested a ground
loop between my rig and the in-house
sound system. Because my amp didn’t have
a ground-lift switch, I ran an MXR Bass DI+
box out of the amp’s effects send and all
was good. I plugged my four-string 1981
G&L L-1000 electric into one channel and
an Azola BugBass upright into the other.
Each channel had its own gain and EQ settings, so I could switch quickly between the
two instruments with the push of a button.
Having one of the cabs up off the floor made
my basses easy to hear, too.
The SWR head was a single-channel amp,
and I needed to play electric and electric
upright, so I set up a Boss AB- 2 pedal to
switch between the two and set compromise
volume and tone settings. Because I had
owned three different SWR amps in the past,
I was able to dial in my sound quite easily.
The stage was boomy, so when it came time
for soundcheck, rather than just turning up
more and more, I kept the amp’s bass EQ flat
and bumped up the midrange. That helped
my sound cut through the onstage mix
and cleaned things up a little. This worked
especially well because the amp sent its
DI signal before any EQ settings. Then the
sound tech could mix for the house, tweaking
the bottom and overall level.
group! My solution was to grab an instrument
cable and plug it from the keyboard’s mono
out into the second channel of my bass amp.
I pointed the speaker toward the drummer so
he could hear the keyboard and lock in, but
the horns were still disconnected from the
rhythm players. The next night, I brought a
second Wizzy 1x12 and a 25' speaker cable,
running it across to the horns. Voila Now
they, too, could lock with the rhythm section
and the whole show was glued together.
Musical Versatility + Gear Versatility = Success
Okay, I’ve had a chance to show how ideas
from some of my previous “On Bass” columns—versatile rig, versatile instruments,
comfort in a variety of musical genres—fit
together to help you get more gigs. Through
this, I’m able to keep as musically busy as
I can with my day-job schedule. And it’s a
good way to keep things interesting!
The headline act soundchecked first, and
their bass player did something clever—
before leaving the stage, he pulled out an
iPhone and took a photo of his EQ settings.
When he got back onstage later that night,
Dan is a professor by day and a bass player when the sun
goes down. He plays both electric and upright bass in
blues, jazz and pit settings.