After last year’s November date, this year the South East Bass Bash was back to its more customary slot at the end of September. And a very well attended bash it was.
The event’s schedule was as fascinating and as full as ever: a talk about setting up our basses, one about a year in the music industry from the point of view of marketing manager Andrew Needham of D’Addario UK, and one about the double bass by Basschatter Bassace. At the end of those, it would be time for The Big Cab Shootout with Lozz and Nik, and as a last treat, we would be able to attend a presentation on the history of the Wal bass by Basschatter TrevorR.
The first treat was a detailed workshop on guitar/bass setup – from saddle height, to action and truss rod tweaking, to nut filing, and more – courtesy of Robert van der Linde of Levinson Guitars and Blade Guitars. A veritable godsend for those of us who can’t setup/won’t setup their instruments, especially as Robert made himself available for individual instruments setup and advice throughout the day after his talk. Many Basschatters went home with a much more playable bass than they came in with, and didn’t even have to give in to GAS for that!
Following seamlessly from hearing about setups with Robert, at the opposite corner of the foyer our regular bassist-friendly string manufacturer contact Andrew of D’Addario UK was waiting for us, so he could tell us a quick history of the company with particular focus on the UK branch. He then agreed to answer our questions and, predictably, the string enthusiasts among us bombarded him with technical queries. Some of us even received a free set to try on our favourite bass and review in due course. Watch this space, and Basschat, for some of that.
This is a video of the first 10 minutes of Andrew’s talk – unfortunately, the foyer was quite noisy at that time.
After a pause which most of us spent ogling, playing and gassing about each other’s basses, amps, cabs and even guitars, the long scale lovers among us gathered around Bassace for his talk about everything double bass – as in the real thing in all its wooden beauty, considerable size, and special requirements in terms of plucking and fingering style and feedback-free amplification.
It was then time for the long-awaited cab shootout with Lozz196 and Silverfoxnik – our usual gear test slot, for which a good number of Basschatters always kindly offer their gear, and this time was no exception. We had many high-end cabs of different power and specifications, one really little cab which could still hold its own beside the bigger boys, and a really cheap cab which, on paper, should have been blown out of the water by the units costing ten times as much. Real life did not follow the book, and the results of the test threw up some surprises.
We have selected three short videos from the cab shootout. Normal test in the first video, cheap cab tested in the second video, mini cab tested in the third. Unfortunately, the camera’s automatic sound compression makes it impossible to hear any difference between the cabs, so these can only give a rough idea of the proceedings rather than a faithful recording.
This is what Lozz had to say by way of summary:
So, the idea was, following on from last years amp shootout, to use the same bass and amp into a variety of cabs, and see if there was a particular theme/overall winner. As such, using my 2015 US Precision into a fairly neutral sounding Tecamp Puma 900 with all eq set at midday (in the hope it would be a flat setting), the cabs below were investigated. We did a section on 2x12s which seems to be a very poular cab nowadays, 1x15s, 1x12s, and then a very small misc section. For the purposes of the test if the cabs had tweeters I set them to be full on. I`ll list each cab, and the amount of votes it got from the audience as to whether it was their fave.
So the 2×12 section, starting with my very own cab:
Barefaced Super12T – 1
Schroeder 212 – 8
Bergantino CN212 – 9
EBS Neo 212 – 2
EAD 2×12 – 5
So a winner for the Bergantino, and pretty fed up that I made my own cab come last!
Onto the 1x15s
Markbass Traveller 115 – 3
Barefaced Compact (Gen2) – 8
Schroeder 115 – 11
Barefaced Compact (Gen 1) – 3
So a winner for Schroeder
Onto the 1x12s
Barefaced Super Midget (Gen 3) – 3
Schroeder 112 – 3
Fearless 112 (with mid speaker, think a 6?) – 13
Barefaced Big Baby2 (Gen 3) – 7
Prosound PA Cab – 2
A runaway victory for the Fearless then.
The misc section was very small, being OBBMs Phil Jones 4×5 – so it won that section hands down (well done Dave).
So onto the overall faves then, putting the winners from each section above:
Fearless 112 – 4
Schroeder 115 – 5
Bergantino CN212 – 20
So overall the Berg tops it, but it was interesting that over the range of cabs that Schroeder, given the lack of presence of their cabs over here, did so well in all sections. I`m sure a lot of it is to do with the cabs fitting my attack-based playing style, but overall the Schros did very well. Many thanks to Brian (Oldman) for bringing them along.
So, what were my impressions of the cabs used? Well my fave for the type of music I currently play was the Schroeder 212, as it really adds a cutting presence, a hi-mid bias I would say. For bands I`ve been in previously it would have been the Berg. But there were four real revelations for me:
1. The Barefaced Super Midget Gen 3 – such an amazing amount of sound from such a little cab. And quality sound too, not just volume.
2. Likewise with the Phil Jones 4×5, real presence and quality sound.
3. The Prosound PA Speaker – apparently £60 from Maplins. Did the job fine, and wasn`t lacking in any way.
4. I managed, yet again, to get my own gear to come last. This is a pattern that seems to be repeating itself.
But the main thing was, given the variety of cab brands, sizes, configurations, was that I would have been happy to use any of them at a gig. Sure there were nuances to each cab, but overall this shootout showed me that gear is gear, and sure, we all like to get our own sounds if possible, but workable sounds can be gotten from an array of different speaker cabs. Maybe we all obsess just that bit too much (I`ve certainly established that I do from this).
The last talk of the day was about the highly fascinating history of the Wal bass, given by Basschatter TrevorR, and was attended by proud Wal owners as well as lovers of high-end British basses in general. Trevor, author of a superb blog dedicated to all things Wal, took us from the company’s beginnings through its decline and the its renewed popularity, all with the help of his visual presentation and an eminently GAS-inducing display of gorgeous Wals from different eras, belonging to some of the attendees.
This is my recording of Trevor’s presentation. Apologies for the iffy sound and the shaking in some places – the acoustics of the large room and my position in the audience weren’t always helpful.
As always, when we weren’t occupied with listening to talks, there was plenty of gear to lust after.
Throughout the day, our jam room with Paul of the Junkyard Dogs was very well attended – there were the most participants for several years – and much fun was had by all. We even had a dedicated guitar amp!
The raffle at the end of the bash had the usual GAS-worthy prizes, offered by kind-hearted Basschatters as well as by D’Addario UK. All proceedings after expenses go to charity – more details as soon as we get them.
Well, I’m already counting down to next year’s bass bashes… are you? 😉