Alright, so! I mentioned in my last post that I had a bass in progress. Not that I’ve properly learned guitar. Or ukelele for that matter. That’s OKAY. It all has strings. It’s all conceptually similar. Don’t roll your eyes, okay? I have twenty years of misspent youth to make up over here! 🙂 And, the most important thing is that I’m having fun fumbling around with it all at least 95% of the time. I can’t play worth a damn, but life is good. 🙂
So, I made a couple of reckless ebay purchases.
First, this little girl:
As you can see, she arrived with a broken string. Well, she was $8 and change, so no big deal. I wasn’t expecting miracles here, but thought a puny little ukelele-sized 6 string would make a really good practice option. I’d take it places I might not take a full sized guitar, it’s no more inconvenient to lug around than a handbag. I figured I could restring it lefty, might have to replace the nut, but whatever.
No dice. I have no idea what strings this was initially strung with, but a regular E string has to be muscled through the bridge, which is predictably plastic. (Hey, I wasn’t really expecting much of anything fancy. The tuning knobs are also a problem. They don’t grip well at all and can in no way, shape, or form hold up against string tension. Long story short – she’s completely untuneable. Maybe down the road if I learn some alternate tuning that doesn’t require much string tension, or my skills at disassembling and reassembling these things improves, I’ll be able to do something with it, but for the moment, it was wasted money. Whatever. Skipped my Friday night Sushi this week, so I’ve already broken even. lol.
Now, my other terrible ebay purchase:
This entire purchase was a disaster. USPS lost it for a good week somewhere in Pennsylvania. (I suspect Harrisburg). So my two day priority shipping took over a week. Even so, it arrived, the seller communicated well, and really, you can’t blame an ebay seller for the postal service not having their heads screwed on right. So, whatever.
Because of the extensive communication I felt really bad when I had to return it. Not a lot of info here: maple neck, rosewood fretboard, “solid wood body”. Now, I know as well as anyone that means cheap crap. I’m a newbie; I’m fine with cheap crap. Cheap crap is budget friendly. And, I will totally admit, I fell madly in love with that deep green. lol.
What you can’t see in this picture is that the body of the guitar is floating off the table. I’m about to give some measurements. Understand, this is NOT exact. My weighing method is the same one I used to weigh my 20 lb cat (he’s got to be on steroids. It’s pure muscle. lol.): get on the scale, then get on the scale with the thing I want to weigh, and subtract.
So, this bass weighed in at 7.7 lbs. If I were to venture a guess, 7 of those pounds were in the neck. It was so incredibly top heavy that if you put a strap on it and slung it over your shoulder, without any assistance from your hands, the headstock would be pointing at your toes in 5 seconds or less. So, I cried a little (okay, only on the inside).
In the process of this major ebay purchase bombing, I learned one of the reasons my electric guitar is giving me such a problem with getting a strap for it, though – it’s surprisingly heavy! As a knock-off of the fender squier (maple neck/basswood body), I suspected something in the general ballpark of 7 lbs. Given the above weighing method, it weighed in at 9.3. I would never ever have guessed it was that heavy, but I guess I really have nothing to compare it to.
That said, I returned the pretty green POS and fell back on what is becoming my tried and true retailer: Musician’s Friend. They’re reliable, and they ship via UPS instead of USPS. USPS has been having a lot of issues for me lately (lots of delays, packages just sitting in the middle of nowhere for a week or more…ugh), so I admit the UPS shipping, when they have always been much more consistent for me was a huge selling point.
So, I wanted to buy the cheapest one they had available. It came in colors (I like colors, okay?), and I knew from my previous purchase of the Rogue acoustic that this was a pretty solid beginners brand. The next one up on the price list was a Dean Edge. Just past that was a low end Ibanez. I debated on that a lot because I didn’t want to spend much. Because I’m a lefty my options in left handed bass guitars are…well, on the low end of the price bracket I’ve basically just listed all of them. After the off-brand ebay burn, I sucked it up and went with the Ibanes GSR100EXL.
I’m not going to review it, because frankly, it’s my first bass, how can I? I don’t know what to look for as pros and cons, but it seems solid. Maple neck, agathis body, and again, significantly lighter than my electric guitar. If I’m to believe my scale, it’s about 6.5 lbs. I don’t believe my scale. It’s impossible that a well balanced piece of equipment weighs less than that green disaster. I would guess it more in the ballpark of 8 lbs, give or take. Lightweight, in any case. Then again, all I have to compare it to is a 9+ lb fender knockoff, so what do I know? lol.
Onward to Rocksmith with my new toy!
Today I learned:
1. Bass is about 100000000 times easier than guitar. At least it sure seems that way for now. I’ve reached 96% completion of a song on day one. I have yet to surpass the 30-40% range on any songs with my guitar, and I’m struggling to maintain even that. (Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is apparently my nemesis, which is ridiculous because it shouldn’t be a hard song to play! What can I say? Chords are evil. hehe.)
2. When you get to a certain level of completion in a song on rocksmith, it takes the notes away, assuming you’re that good because you remember them, not because they just happen to be slow enough and easy enough to follow along. No, Rocksmith, I did NOT, in fact, memorize the bass part of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” in 15 minutes. It’s just that I spend half of the song standing there scratching myself while waiting for you to get around to giving me something to do. 😀 That caught me off guard, really. I knew they get lighter in “master mode”, because I noticed that with a few parts of “R U Mine?” by Arctic Monkeys and…uh, that other one I’ve been playing to death that I totally just blanked on the name of. But, I did not know that the game was going to take the notes away entirely! Now I have to remember things? I’m DOOMED. lol.
So, I think I’ll be stuck at 96% or so for a bit on this song, since I’m not going to be able to finish it until I can remember it, apparently.
All in all, most of tonight’s mess ups have been me acclimating to the instrument – the frets are further apart, so I’ve screwed up a few times for falling a little short. Really though, no complaints. Day one of bass practice has basically been cake compared to guitar and ukelele.
Something that was really bugging me about tab is that the note on the bottom of the tab is on the top of the guitar. It didn’t make any kind of sense, until…I started reading an article on how to read sheet music. A-ha! It’s like any language: fucked up by it’s predecessors. Now it makes sense. Since, on sheet music, the low notes are at the bottom, the high at the top, they just took that template and translated it to guitar tabs. Great, simple, a format that already exists. Now, guitarists everywhere: get used to reading shit upside down. Enjoy that. It’s still silly, but at least it makes sense. Low notes on bottom; high notes on top. As long as there’s a reason, it makes it all easier to get my head around. I won’t share that article because I never did bookmark it, or finish reading it. I got about halfway through before things got really technical and I started to zone out. That was my cue to say ‘okay, I’m not ready for this just yet. Will stick to the first half of the article for now.’
Oh, and I am getting better with that ‘rock’ strumming pattern. Not great. Not perfect, but I’m able to play it without mucking it up for longer periods of time. Those aren’t very long periods of time, but they will be, eventually.
Until next time, the toys are time sharing, and the learning continues.