Basschat Herts Bash 2015

It’s summer (at least according to the calendar) – that means Herts Bass Bash! This year the by now customary, and highly anticipated, appointment with Breaks Manor in Hatfield was on a cool, greyish Sunday in mid-June. Despite the England football match scheduled for the evening, this meetup was one of the most successful ever in terms of attendance numbers. That’s not surprising, really, as the timetable once again contained pretty damn unmissable events.

At the bash we would be not just treated to two talks (one about D’Addario strings and the other about modes and chords) and the unmissable comparison test, but also offered the chance to have our photo taken with our bass – or indeed someone else’s – by professional photographer Graham Poulton (aka Sibob’s dad!), in a dedicated corner of the small hall equipped with a black backdrop, and using Graham’s professional cameras. A jam session with drummer Tim Healy, and the usual bass-themed raffle rounded up the list of activities.


As always, the way in was through the kitchen/foyer area, where Bassface2k10 collected the entrance fee and welcomed us with a cuppa and a sticker to write our name and BC moniker on (unless we were already wearing a BC lanyard).

Bassface in the Foyer

Bassface2k10 in the Foyer

Before reaching the halls, we had to walk through the foyer, and nobody could avoid noticing that this year we had a lot of amazing prizes, offered by generous sponsors, heaped up in big piles, waiting to be picked by lucky winners from 4pm! (More of that later.)

There was also a table loaded with D’Addario goodies, and Sales Manager Andrew Needham was there to answer questions in advance of his talk in the main hall later, and offer advice and give us the option of filling in a questionnaire about our string preferences.

Andrew at the D'Addario table

Andrew at the D’Addario table

The D'Addario Table

The D’Addario Table

Andrew was also offering a number of cards giving 50% discount on their strings when bought on D’Addario’s website before 14th July 2015.

The D'Addario offer card

The D’Addario offer card

 


Meanwhile, the small hall had been turned into a photographer’s studio!

Graham with Ratman

Graham with Ratman

Mum, Dad and Sibob!

And now it's Mum's turn!

And now it’s Mum’s turn!

Graham with MacDaddy

Graham with MacDaddy

Some more of Graham’s photos were on display in the room.

Check out Status Quo on the table...

Check out Status Quo on the table…

Check out some of Graham’s photos of the attendees published in the relevant thread: Basschat Herts Bash photos thread.

 


 

Most of the attendees’ basses and rigs were in the middle hall, like last year, and the GAS was second to none.

For the first time ever, there was a proper Lefties Corner, as in, containing more than one bass! The lefty paradise was courtesy of el-gnomo and Pineweasel, while yours truly had had a senior moment in the morning and managed to leave her equally lefty bass behind (could have been worse, I could have forgotten to take the video camera with me…)

Lefties!

el-gnomo has an absolutely identical upright to mine!

Thing is, I didn’t have a single spare moment to try playing any of those gorgeous basses! Next time, guys.

As in previous years, there were a lot of awesome basses around, several of which were new purchases.

The Greek’s rig – we’ve seen it before but we’re NOT bored!

MacDaddy

Neither is MacDaddy…

The Greek’s rig on the left, and Sibob’s rig on the right

Sibob’s new Fodera and his pedalboard

And his Jazz. Incidentally, there was a lot of Barefaced and MarkBass around too!

Sibob with Ordep

Sibob with Ordep

Billy Apple

Billy Apple with his new Spector

Close-up!

Billy Apple

And Billy with Happy Jack’s newly acquired vintage Mosrite

Bottle

Bottle had an almost entirely home-made rig.

One of the most successful basses of the day was undeniably Happy Jack’s Mike Lull Thunderbird 5.

Happy Jack. Lozz and the T5

Happy Jack. Lozz and the T5

Lozz studies the sound from all angles

Grangur

Grangur looks inspired

Stingray5 tries to decide whether it’s any good for Prog

Many more attendees and rigs this way:

Lucky Ordep would go home with one more bass than he came in with, after winning the SUB in the raffle.

Do I spot a Pedulla on the right?

MacDaddy’s Shuker

Ratman’s rig

Unsurprisingly, there were basses in the main hall too!

Grangur's rig

Grangur’s rig

Such

Such jams along on the fretless Streamer

Some of Doctor of the Bass’s instruments, with Peter’s Legend on the left.

 


 

The main hall was were the talks, the test and the jamming would happen.

The first talk was by Andrew Needham of D’Addario. Andrew explained the company’s string production methods and the difference in performance between different string types, and gave details about D’Addario extensive range – roundwound, flatwound, half wound, tapewound strings and nickel, stainless steel and chrome. An equally informative Q&A session followed.

Mick introduces Andrew's talk

Mick introduces Andrew Needham’s talk

Andrew Needham

Andrew's audience

Andrew’s audience, plus a video camera 🙂

Andrew answers post-seminar questions from jp07071977

Soo many D’Addario strings!

Here is a video file with enhanced audio (with thanks to BCer Annoying Twit aka Ross).

 


 

The second afternoon slot was taken by the much-anticipated fretboard challenge.

In a similar vein to last year’s P-bass comparison, this year Lozz carried out a test aimed at ascertaining whether the audience could hear the difference between pairs of near-identical basses, played by him on exactly the same rig, where the only difference between the two instruments in each test pair was the fretboard: either maple or rosewood. The two basses in each test pair had been fitted with identical, brand-new D’Addario strings provided by Andrew Needham. Lozz played both basses from each pair, and then asked the audience to raise their hands for the sound they liked best. Louisa kept track of the score, as well as helping with the handling of the basses.

Lozz changes the strings

A certain amount of string-changing had been going on beforehand.

D'Addario strings

All brand new, and courtesy of D’Addario

Louisa

Honorary bass player and excellent assistant Louisa (Mrs Grangur)

Mick introduces Lozz, Louisa and the Fretboard Challenge

Mick introduces Lozz, Louisa and the Fretboard Challenge

The stage

The stage is set. Precisions, Jazzes, Stingrays, a Barefaced cab and an Aguilar Tonehammer.

The basses

The other basses

Precision

Precision

Jazz

Jazz

Stingray

Stingray

Audience

And a voting audience!

The video footage for this test is a single-camera file with boosted audio (again courtesy of BCer Annoying Twit aka Ross).

The results of the test were intriguing and somewhat surprising. Here are Lozz’s words.

In the end, as it was being videod I decided to not do this hidden behind a curtain, as that would have looked pretty daft. So I simply presented a pair of basses, played them both, then asked which one people preferred, the one with maple fretboard, or rosewood fretboard.

The basses were a pair of Precisions, a pair of Jazzes, and a pair of Stingrays. For the Jazzes I selected both pickups on full, and for the Stingrays, all EQs centered.

Each bass had a brand new set of strings on it, provided for the day by Andrew from D’Addario. The Precisions got Chrome flatwounds, the Jazzes got nickel rounds and the Stingrays got steel rounds.

The results were quite surprising:
Precisions – Maple 2, Rosewood 15, undecided 1
Jazzes – Maple 7, Rosewood 20, indecided 2
Stingrays – Maple 10, Rosewood 16, undecided 1

So maple was a poor loser to rosewood today. Now I know many say that fretboard material has no bearing on the sound, but to me, in all cases, the maple was brigher, and seemd to coax more gain from the sound, making it less clear/defined, whereas the rosewood sounded more balanced throughout and somewhat clearer. I don’t know if they were the thoughts of those listening/watching, but for the votes to be overwhelmingly in favour of one type has to say something.
Just my luck to have bought two maple fretboard basses last week eh?

 


 

In the time between one talk/test and another, some jamming happened!

Tim Healy

Tim Healy prepares to lay down some groove with the jammers

Seashell

Seashell is on first

Jazzneck

Then Jazzneck…

Stingray5

And then Stingray5, while Doctor of the Bass sets up for his talk.

 


 

The last talk of the day was by Doctor of the Bass, once again supported by his student Peter, like last year. Another fascinating foray into Modes and Chords and their uses in different music genres.

Nick & Peter

Doctor of the Bass and Peter

The Doctor has such an impressive collection of basses that he’s even ended up in Guitar&Bass Magazine!

See what I mean?

Watch the last few minutes of the talk, where Nick and Peter put theory into practice and jam along to Tim’s drumbeat:

 


 

And then it was time for the raffle! And I had to leave before it started, so I am posting here the snapshots taken by Graham Poulton, who kindly covered the raffle on my behalf.

The prizes were mouth-watering to say the least:

EBUK distributors Strings and Things kindly provided the following:
– MM RAY4 SUB Bass in Walnut Satin
– Ernie Ball Regular Bass strings (6 sets)
– 12 Ernie Ball Black Poly Straps

Renowned bassist and educator Stuart Clayton offered two books:
– ‘Plectrum Technique’ and
– ‘Advanced Studies for Bass Guitar’

– Basschatter Gary Mac donated a couple of years worth of Bass Guitar Magazine issues, in very lovely condition, and
– Blaze Publishing provided several current copies of the magazine (May and June 2015).

– We had several goodie bags from D’Addario UK, in addition to the four pairs of strings for the basses used in the fretboard test and the 50% discount on strings mentioned above.

– Basschatter Theyellowcar donated an immaculate, surplus-to-requirements Kinsman gig bag.

– Assorted pedals, DVDs, a scratchplate and a hat, from anonymous participants.

Basschat‘s head honcho Ped donated two BC shirts – like these! The winners would have to contact him to choose colour and size.

– Basschatter Hertsbass donated 5 hours free studio time at The Farm Factory, WGC. This was his message to the attendees:

A couple of months ago a friend and I bought Farm Factory, a long-established and well-regarded rehearsal room and recording studio in Welwyn Garden City. This is not a corporate, short-term money-grabbing acquisition; but a long-term business, funded and run by local musicians, for local musicians.
As such, your views are incredibly important to us. Can I therefore ask a couple of small favours.
Firstly, if you’re a Facebooker, please like our FB page (Farm Factory Studios). You’ll be the first to hear our news and any special offers. Our website (www.farmfactorystudios.com) is currently down, pending relaunch, but we’ll announce it on FB when it goes live again.
Secondly, if there’s anything you love, or hate, about us; or about studios in general, please PM me to let me know. We are always keen to know what we can improve, and any suggestions will help us tremendously.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) we’d be delighted to see you down at the studio. We have one recording studio and booth, six large and well-soundproofed rehearsal rooms (one DI’ed to the studio for live recording), plus four Ampeg SVT-350s and 8×10 cabs for anyone who wants to ‘go loud’.
It was great seeing you all today.
Simon (hertsbass)

The raffle prizes!

And here are Graham Poulton’s photos of the winners!

Ordep

SUB winner Ordep!

Billy Apple

Billy Apple

Bottle

Bottle

Chimike

Chimike

Doctor of the Bass

Doctor of the Bass

el-gnomo

el-gnomo

Grangur

Grangur

hertsbass

hertsbass

Jazzneck

Jazzneck

jp07071977

jp07071977

Lozz

Lozz

NickD

NickD

Pineweasel

Pineweasel

Ratman

Ratman

Sibob

Sibob

Stingray5

Stingray5

such

such

I’m kicking myself for missing the raffle! It won’t happen next year. Watch this space!

 

Additional link

Breaks Manor Youth Centre – All the money raised through the entrance fee and the sale of raffle tickets goes to the youth centre.

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