| Jeff Schmidt, Bassist
Subscribe to Jeff's Blog - RSS Feed

Blog Search

« June 2008 | August 2008 »

July 23, 2008

Progressive Bulgarian Wedding Music

This is . . . . uh . . . . . amazing.

Stick with it. About halfway, after the woman sings they shred over some wacky time signatures and tempo changes. It's pretty awesome. In that non-western music kinda way.

Ivo Papazov and his Wedding Band

and yes - I do think that's David Sanborn doing the intro. His "do" leads me to think this is 1980s.

July 13, 2008


Recently, on twitter and myspace I've been tossing out inflammatory bombs about fender basses. Obviously, this is kind of fun for me because the responses are predictable. And who doesn't enjoy a little action/reaction predictability now & again?

But there's a little more going on beneath the surface. I'm not sure when it started, but I've been getting into a retro kick recently. I think pushing the technology angle so hard has me longing for the organic. I've started appreciating retro production & instrument sounds.

Oh - I should probably point out that I've never owned a Fender bass. When I got back into playing in 04, getting an instrument that to my mind was so common, so pedestrian and predictable was the last thing I wanted to do. Musically, I wasn't interested in doing anything where the answer was - "Fender Jazz Bass".

However - part of my new appreciation for retro sounds had me noticing older and "classic" bass sounds. These are sounds that I considered so common I never really paid much attention to them directly - even as a bass player. I always wrote it off as "The Big Dumb Fender Sound".

Among other experiments in retro, I decided to try out the fender thing. I got a lefty 2008 American P Bass. At first I was seriously underwhelmed. It was such a simple instrument. The neck felt clumsy and, well, dumb. It sounded, well, dumb. I played around with it and thought - "I'm sending it back. This thing is lame - I don't get it".

One morning before work - I loaded up some "real" drum sound drum patterns, pulled out the P bass, hit record and started playing for a few minutes.

Big Dumb Fendizzle

It was kinda fun to play "bass" with a "real bass". I hadn't turned the strings upside down yet so I was forced to play simply. As an aside - the downside to having above average technical abilities is that it's really hard not to use it all the time. If you have this affliction - turn the strings upside down. ;)

So off to work I went and forgot all about it. When I came home that night, as I was setting up my laptop - I pressed play on the material I recorded in the morning and was instantly struck by what I heard. It was THAT sound. The classic P Bass sound, with ME playing it!

Ok - I know this sounds geeky - but I've NEVER sounded like that before. It was wild. I had played a mix of finger-style & pick. The pick stuff just blew me away with how authentic it sounded. The bass just seemed to sit in so perfectly with the drums - no eq was needed.

I finally "got it". For the first time ever - I appreciated the fender P for being the fender P. I pretty much decided right there I was going to keep the bass.

I may not use it that much - but it's the most common electric bass sound in pop music and it's important to have if for no other reason than accessibility. I began to realize that perhaps some of the Ruiner Severhead material might have sounded more accessible had I used at least 1 easily recognizable bass sound. P bass with a pick and some overdrive is - really friggin sweet.

At that point I started to re-evaluate my entire view of these basses. I thought if the P bass sounded good - maybe I should have a jazz bass also to round out my "basic bass sounds" inventory. Instead of going the same route as I had with the new AMERICAN P bass, I hunted down a used lefty made in mexico jazz for pretty cheap.

Fendizzle 2

The build quality difference between a new American P and a used MIM jazz is noticeable - but not tremendous. Not nearly the difference between my MTD535 and the Kingston which I would classify as severe.

Sound wise - the jazz sounded like a fender jazz - but not as WOW to me as the P bass.

So I thought I'd change the pickups. I tossed in a set of Nordstrand Js. The before & after recordings I did revealed the stock pups were voiced hotter, and a littler higher in the frequency range with very little sub frequencies but kinda closed sounding up top.

The Nordstrands were lower output, voiced a little lower frequency and were a little more open sounding.

Anyway - I quickly realized the it's the Jazz sound that I'm not really a fan of. I don't hate it - but it just doesn't speak to me. The P bass has character - a personality. The Jazz seems.... well - that's the "common" sound I guess I always complain about.

But again - in the mix - it sits nicely and fills the bass role wonderfully. The fender sound plays nice with everything else that's going on. I've noticed this when artists come through the radio station. I never have to do much with fenders sound wise - just a little compression and move on to the vocal or whatever.

So mea culpa. I get Fender now. At least as a palette of sounds that are pretty important in pop music.

These are sounds I've been uninterested in as I pursued my solo bass work. But now as I explore a wider range of musical ideas I'm glad to have these sounds at my disposal. It's also great fun to play a 4 string. It's all so - familiar. I guess I didn't realize how far off the "bass" reservation I had gone with my boutique, piccolo, solo bass concept.

And at the end of the day - I'm still a bass player and I still love the sound of a good bass.

BTW - I sold one of my pedulla fretless basses to grab these fenders. I know. A few weeks ago that would have seemed insane to me. But I still have a killer pedulla. Now I have some of the most classic bass sounds too.

July 12, 2008

Watch this