Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Can Compression Help My Sound?

     Perhaps one of the most useful tools a Bassist can use, the Compressor/Limiter, is often a miss-understood effect and shrouded in mystery as to what it does and how it can help you. The Electric Bass Guitar has a huge dynamic range and it can be difficult to gain definition due to its pitch and difference in volume between its lowest notes and highest notes. Good technique definitely helps, but it is not the only way to make what you are playing more audible or well defined. Adding a bit of compression helps tame these volume peaks so that no matter where you play on the neck or how hard or soft or the techniques you are using , the notes can be heard. Sound Engineers and Recording Engineers apply Compression to Bass Guitar almost always to help it Sit in a mix better. Extreme Use of Compression can have negative affects on you sound, so it must be used carefully.

      The MXR M87 is A Great Example of A Compressor that provides extensive control of how the compression is applied. It has an Attack Knob, which determines how fast the signal gets compressed(Fast Attack grabs note right way). A release Knob which Determines how quickly after compression the note releases out of compression, and a Ratio Knob which Determines the amount of compression being applied. Input and output are how you match level after application of compression. With the Advent of all these sophisticated and high output on board pre-amps, We have found the M87 to be invaluable in taming the output on ALOT of these hi output basses to a manageable level so it is not clipping input stages of amplifiers and sending square waves to power sections which can ultimately do damage to speakers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tips for Choosing the Right Boutique Bass Amp

With so many options out there, it can be hard to narrow your search for the perfect bass amp. In reality there may not be one perfect amp. For many players, it’s common to own multiple amps and cabinets depending on their needs. Certainly a home practice amp does not need to meet the same specs as an arena rocker. Let’s take a look at some of the considerations you should be aware of before purchasing a boutique bass amp for your home or studio.

How much power is too much power? I guess that depends on where you’re playing. For a small space, a 15-30 watt model may be all you need to do the trick, but for gigging around bars and clubs you will probably want something with a little more punch. For some, 100 watts may be all that’s needed, for others 500 watts is more appropriate. If you’re powering a large cabinet, or a series of cabinets you may need to go even higher to get the volume and clarity you desire.

When it comes to bass cabinets and combo amps, bigger isn’t always better. Large bass drivers are great at delivering deep powerful bass, but the waves take a larger distance to mature, so they aren’t a great choice for small venues. Large speakers also respond slower, so if you’re a very fast player this can result in a muddied sound. For many players, the ideal set up is a cabinet with an array of 10” speakers. These speakers have a quick response, and a great presence up close or at a distance.


Every amp has its own unique tonal qualities. The way the signal breaks up and naturally distorts can add an amazing texture to one players sound or ruin another’s. Ultimately bass tone comes down to personal preference based on the style of music you play. Most amps today offer extensive controls for shaping the tone, but the underlying sound signature is as unique as a fingerprint, so play around, experiment, tweak some knobs and decide what tone is right for you.  

A Brief History of the Legendary Alembic Bass Guitars

From the very beginning, Alembic set out to do things differently. The company took shape when founder Ron Wickersham teamed up with the Grateful Dead to help improve the sound quality on their recordings. Wickersham was a design engineer who had worked with Ampex, so he was familiar with all the inner workings of the studio gear. It wasn’t long before the first versions of the Alembic electronics and pickups were designed and installed into the instruments of the some of the most pivotal 60’s musicians, including David Crosby, Jack Casady, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh.

During the 1970s Alembic was refining their electronics and developing custom bass guitars. In addition, they were creating a state-of-the-art 16 track recording studio in San Francisco. By 1972, Stanley Clarke got his hands on an Alembic bass, and their pedigree for creating the most technically sophisticated bass guitars was beginning to solidify. To this day, the sound and build quality of an Alembic bass is in a class of its own.

Unlike other instrument companies who were quick to give their basses to famous musicians in an effort to promote themselves, Alembic made musicians pay for them. The thought process behind their no endorsement deal was that famous musicians were in the best financial position to pay for them. It seems like a logical thought process, but it was very different approach from that of their competitors.

Today, Alembic bass guitars are still one of the most highly regarded instruments, with many designs passing into the realm of fine art. To see our selection of Alembic basses, visit today!