Thursday, July 31, 2008

made in Tacoma

I was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington -- a city not known for too much, really, though you may have heard of the "aroma of Tacoma." That was the sulfur fumes from an old paper mill that's been shut down, and I can proudly say that Tacoma no longer stinks. Or at least I can't smell it anymore.

My point is not to rain on Tacoma, though (the city is also known for getting rained on a lot), but to share a discovery I recently made while researching acoustic bass guitars. Some of the best acoustic bass guitars are being made right in Tacoma, by a shop called Tacoma Guitars. It's a subsidiary of Fender, but the company's founders are Tacomans, and apparently proud of it.

I haven't tried out a Tacoma acoustic bass guitar yet -- which is officially known as the Tacoma (R) CB10C Thunderchief Bass Guitar -- but the photos look intriguing. They have done away with the traditional f-hole design, and instead use a large comet-shaped opening on the upper left bout.

You can also watch some guy playing one on YouTube, though the audio quality is not so great:
Still, that's pretty impressive compared to an average bass guitar. (I was always better at producing splunks and splats than actual pitches.) Maybe all that rain is good for basses.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

bass blog links

Hella Frisch has been hibernating, I guess, or perhaps outside enjoying Calgary's few months of warm weather. I've been taking a look at some other bass blogs I though, hoping they will get me inspired to write something original soon:

  • Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog has a fresh clean look for the summer -- probably this happened months ago, but I usually read it through Google Reader, and so didn't notice. Jason has always been the king of bass-related content, it's just been difficult to wade through it all.
  • PBDB, the Peabody Double Bass studio blog, links to a great video by Ira Glass which is relevant to anyone doing creative work. Playing the bass is creative work, right?
  • Michael Hovnanian reports on a week of contrasts at Ravinia -- and how video screens tend to draw the audience's attention away from the action on stage:
    The Sunday concert was a weird amalgamation of the Schreker Chamber Symphony... and Lang Lang playing a couple of warhorses, the entire lurid spectacle projected onto huge screens. As my attention inevitably wandered, I caught sight of audience members in the center section craning their necks to look at the screens rather than focusing on the stage straight ahead.
    There's definitely something to this. I observed the same thing at the Calgary Folk Festival last weekend. Of course, most of us spend a lot of our time watching screens -- you'd think we'd want to take a break at a concert. But there's something instinctual about watching a performer's face, seeing how the expressions change with the music, that you often can't get from 50 rows back. (Though Lang Lang does his best to emote all the way to the back row.)