Sunday 31 May 2015

Basses Part 4 - Rob Allen Fretless

Shown above is my only five string, a fretless Rob Allen MB-2.
I first became aware of Rob Allen basses on a visit to the bass department of Rudy's in New York City some years ago.
I was extremely close to laying out for a very nice four string version, when a moment of realisation struck me that, at that point, I simply didn't have the money.
These basses are not mass produced so sometimes a little hard to find, and subsequent "cashed up" visits to Rudy's and also Bass Northwest,  in Seattle (the only other place that seemed to stock them) left me with the choice of either five strings, lined fretboards or fretted versions, and not the unlined 4 string fretless that I was really after.
Eventually, after some searching, I bought this five string second hand in the UK, and realising the rarity of them, I was happy to forego my usual preference for four strings.
I have no idea why it never occurred to me to simply get one direct from the source….but in any case it's proved useful for me to have the low B on occasion.

A 35" inch scale.

 I am using the recommended LaBella strings.
Piezo pick up is located under the bridge, the only control is the volume pot.

The sound is somewhere closer to an upright bass than most fretless basses, I guess because of the semi hollow body construction, and even with such a simplistic control, it's an extremely expressive instrument, responding sonically to changes in touch and plucking position.

It's also a fantastic piece of craftsmanship, and a real joy to play.
I have made a lot of use of this bass with Ex-Wise Heads, especially on the more recent material, and it can be heard on these tracks below:

More to follow,


Thursday 28 May 2015

Obake Live Photos

Thanks to Alistair Peck for these shots from the Obake gig at London's Desertfest last month.

Lef in full flow.
Bass (and backing vocals, a first for me)
                                                     Eraldo Bernocchi on Baritone Guitar
Not visible is drummer Jacopo Peirazuolli, seen on the left above, these portraits by Federico Pedrotti.

You'll also find a selection of live shots from out first Belgian show here

Saturday 9 May 2015

My Basses Part 3 - Wal Fretless

When I started my hunt for a good fretless bass, I had already been playing a fretted Wal for a couple of years, a solid ash model, originally made for my bass playing friend Martin Elliott.
At the time,  I was looking to replace a cheap and cheerful Westone Thunder 1A fretless with something a bit more serious. 
I opted for another Wal for two main reasons, one being that I was already comfortable with the string spacing and fretboard feel, so making the leap to playing fretless was, I reasoned, sure to be less problematic, and secondly, I was confident that in choosing another Wal I could be sure the craftsmanship and materials would mean I was going to find another really great instrument.

Wal basses have become very sought after in recent years, but at the time, a secondhand Wal could be found fairly regularly in the pages of Loot (…now replaced by Ebay and the like) for somewhere around the £400 - £500 mark, which seems amazing today given the prices they go for.

Made in 1984 at Electric Wood in the UK, my Wal fretless has a Brazillian Mahogany Core with American Cherry wood facings and an Indian Ebony fretboard.

Wal's own design active pick-ups, extremely flexible in terms of tone. Note worn varnish above the pick-ups, I  had the bass revarnished by Electric Wood some years ago.

XLR output socket next to the main output visible below the controls. This only works when there is a jack in the main output, it's very useful when recording for taking a signal direct from the bass.

Currently strung with D'Addario Flatwounds.
View of the Bridge.

Headstock, Hipshot D- Tuner not visible.

Serial number on the backplate.

This is probably my most played bass, I used it almost exclusively for a number of years, below a selection of tracks, old and newer:

I am lucky enough to own three Wals, my most recent acquisition being another 80's era fretted which was previously owned by Jack Monck and given a thorough working out on The Incident tour and album with Porcupine Tree.

Bye for now,


Sunday 3 May 2015

Metallic Taste of Blood - Album Trailer & Pre-Orders

Above, a short preview of some tracks from the upcoming Metallic Taste of Blood album "Doctoring the Dead", to be released May 26th.

You can read a bit more about this second album, on my previous post here, and the first review has just been posted on Echoes and Dust

To Pre-Order "Doctoring the Dead" please follow this link where various formats, (vinyl, CD, FLAC etc) are available.



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