Gear Acquisition Syndrome, or NAMM – Day One

NAMM Show Floor (2014) - your source of gear acquisition syndrome

It’s the opening day of Winter NAMM 2017, the music gear event of the year for most musicians I know.  Vendors roll out their latest drool-worthy instruments and gear. And there’s a name for the affliction many musicians emerge from NAMM with – Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS).

Umm… Gear Acquisition Syndrome?

Yep, it’s a thing. GAS’s key symptom is a relentless drive to grab your wallet and upgrade all your instruments, gear, and accessories to the shiny new hotness you’ve just played with.  When it comes to GAS afflictees, I’m pretty much a poster child – so it’s a good thing that I’m not attending in person this year.  Restraining my wallet hand is getting easier with age, but from early signs we may need medics at NAMM this year.  It’s gonna be a gear acquisition syndrome outbreak!

Here’s my first two candidates for ‘wallet magnet of the week’.

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Install a Badass or Omega bridge on your bass.

Installing a Badass II bridge in your bass

I’ve installed Badass high-mass bridges in every bass in my collection that will take them. Why? I love ’em to death for their beefy sustain and definition. That said, they often come without string slots cut. This doesn’t exactly make them a drop-in mod, they’ll need some handiwork to install. I avoid the pre-slotted bridges, as cutting them yourself allows you to get a perfect string spacing and fit for your particular bass. If you’ve got an unslotted Badass bridge (or one of the recently-available Omega bass bridges from Allparts, which from what I can tell are exact replicas of the Badasses, even constructed w/zinc), here’s a rundown of how to install them.

UPDATE: re-edited this in January 2017 to add pictures (finally!) from a new build. Also note- if you’ve got an Omega bridge, these steps should also work.

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The Road Ahead

Forging the road ahead.

2017 hasn’t come fully into focus yet, but already feels like a breath of fresh air. I haven’t really gotten back into the swing of my daily routine(s) yet, but I already feel like the baggage of 2016 has finally slipped free. The road ahead is foggy but highlights are starting to poke through the haze, drawing me forward with curiosity and intent.

I decided to not kid myself this year with the usual New Year’s resolutions. Instead I’m just sticking to the basics, with the goal of leaving this year stronger than I began it. And by doing so, hopefully find the road ahead to more productive paths for personal and professional growth.

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Looping a loop on bass guitar

Loop practice on bass

I recently experimented with an improvised bass loop using a T.C. Electronics Ditto looper pedal I’ve had sitting around for a while. Of course, it was tons of fun. I originally bought the pedal to run simple bass line loops at the front of my pedalboard. It’s helpful for fine-tuning tones and settings without having to play bass at the same time. However, so far I’ve only used it as a test simulator in the studio. I’d secretly been wanting to play around with it more creatively for a while. I wish I hadn’t waited, as live looping is a ton of fun!

Accordingly, I took the plunge and improvised a quick composition live on the spot.  One pass, under a camera’s eye, with the record light on for a bit of pressure.  Enjoy!

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An armchair, post-NAMM wishlist.

2014 NAMM Show - Day 3

I always look forward to January, and my annual trip to the NAMM show in Anaheim to gawk at the cutting edge of music hardware (and software).  When I realized my schedule wouldn’t get me to NAMM this month I was bummed, but kept my ears and eyes peeled online. Despite no significant time on the show floor this year, there were a few announcements and developments at NAMM 2015 that still caught my attention. It should come as no surprise that I’m rather focused on effects & amps for guitar & bass. Here’s my video post-NAMM wishlist, with commentary.

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July 2013: My ear magnets

July was an interesting month for listening. I was a bit over-obsessed with French pop/hip-hop and the grandiose new release from Aussie prog-rock uberheroes Karnivool, but still fit in some old Beastie Boys and a spattering of west-coast American hipster pop fluff. Makes a fun mix for a bright summer’s day.