Have you heard? New York is cool...

The Basses of the Big Apple

Ah, perks. I've got 'em. Before you think I'm gloating at your expense, trust me...being a BP editor is real work. LONG hours. Relentless deadlines. The donning of many hats. The stressors are real and ever-present.

But every so often, my special job feels extra-special. Take, for example, my recent trip to New York. I've long wanted to do a full-on bass geekfest in NYC, but other than our Bass Player Live! events--which, though memorably awesome, had me stuck in a midtown hotel for 5 days--I haven't had the time to see all the phenomenal bass builders in NY and thereabouts. With this trip, I aimed to see as much sweet gear as humanly possible.

After a cross-country trip on Virgin America (BTW, want to be forever spoiled? Fly Virgin. Nevermind the movies, TV, video games, halfway decent food...they've got WiFi and power outlets at every seat!), I made my way to my room in the city to crash. The next day began at David Gage's shop. Gage, if you don't know, runs the top acoustic bass repair and sales shop in NY, which basically means he runs the top shop on planet earth. His lovably cluttered multi-floor Tribeca shop is satisfying old world and vibe-y, and it's stuffed to the rafters, literally, with gorgeous instruments, many much older than the building their housed in.

Next, off to Soho to visit Aguilar Amps, mostly to check out their new octave pedal, the Octamizer. It's red. And rad. A delicious, if overpriced lunch, and then it was off to see the not-quite-open Warwick Showroom in the East Village. The space promises to be a major destination for all-things-Warwick, as it will display many high-end custom-shop instruments that most people have yet to see in person.

A quick freshening at the room and it was off to Sam Ash to see Doug Wimbish & Stuart Spector give a clinic and answer questions for a group of lucky fans. Wimbish is such an inspiring cat. I can't think of too many players who could bring such pure Rock & Roll energy to a relatively staid space like the Sam Ash guitar retail showroom. While there, in what struck me as such a only-in-NY moment, I bumped into the phenomenal guitarist Oz Noy, who was checking out monitors with his girlfriend. It led to a gig! Ah, NY....

That night, Steely Dan at the Beacon. It was "request" night. They were doing a long string of shows, covering records in their entirety, but that night, it was all fan-requests via their website. "Ready" Freddie Washington grooved hard, looking cool as a cucumber on his P-Bass through an Aguilar AG500+ GS 410 rig.

Woodstock was next, and it just so happened that the 40th anniversary of the festival was that week. Strangely, there was virtually nothing going on to commemorate it, except for a few TV cameras trying to make it seem like there were something happening. I found out that the actual event was about 50 miles from the town...

In Woodstock I visited Mike Tobias, Harvey Citron, Joe Veillette, Stuart Spector, and Martin Keith. Each is making extraordinary instruments that seemed organically connected to the stunning natural beauty all around. Perhaps my biggest reaction, other that a blessed feeling of contentment at being able to fondle all these lusty basses, was how truly boutique each operation was: most had a single room (although Spector had a slightly larger operation) stuffed w/ hand-operated tools and aging wood. That night, an epic dinner with all the above-mentioned builders went deep into the night. A good time was had by all.

Back to NYC the next day. Brooklyn, in fact, to first see Roger Sadowsky in his rather fashionable Dumbo shop. Roger takes the prize for coolest showroom. Once in the door, there's a large space with walls covered with his beautiful basses and guitars.

Next stop, Fodera in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The alchemy going on at that shop is extraordinary. I can't begin to describe how dingy and industrial the building is...truly gritty in that inimitable NY way. The shop, too, is just absolutely packed full of stuff. Yet, from this chaos comes some of the most beautiful musical instruments around. One major bonus: Anthony Jackson and Tom Kennedy just so happened to stop by while I was there. Oh, another major bonus: the best pizza I've ever had.

Downstairs from Fodera: Epifani. It was cool seeing all the old cabinets and getting a clear sense of the development of the line to its current state. Got to check out the new picollo head with some of their hot new D.I.S.T. switchable impedance cabs...

A mad dash WAY out to Long Island to tour the Samson facility. Not much to see here, other than a giant warehouse full of cool stuff. I did get my hands of the new Zoom H4n...stay tuned for a review.

The dash was mad b/c I had to get back to the city to see John Patittuci w/ Brian Blade and Joe Lovano at the amazing Dizzy's club at Lincoln Center, with its giant window overlooking central park. Patitucci was incredible on acoustic and electric...Brian Blade. Wow.

That was basically it. An incredible trip....can't wait to go back.


New York State of Mind

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MAKES NEW YORK SO INCREDIBLE is its sheer density of interesting, creative people. It’s as evident in the music as it is among the people making the tools for those musicians. I recently headed east to visit a bunch of the top bass and amp builders in the biz. One thing I learned: when it comes to bass building, tiny little Woodstock gives the Big Apple a run for its money! The shot at left was from heck of a memorable dinner with some of the brightest bulbs in bass. There’s many more cool pix from my week-long sojourn to check out. Just got to our blog www.bassplayer.com.

Beller Pedalboard

New Gear Blog: Mike Lull T-Bass, New Pedalboard

First, it's come to my attention that the kind folks at Bass Player Magazine have launched a new website (www.bassplayer.com), and as part of it they're posting blogs by their writers. So some of the stuff I write here will end up over there. If you're reading this at the BP site already, well, hello!

SXSW 2010 Location, Location, Location

The next big thing in mobile internet technology is location. With GPS-enabled smart phones like the iPhone, Blackberrys and Android phones, software like Google Buzz, Foursquare and Gowalla, and location-enhanced options coming to Twitter and Facebook, its becoming easier to check in to the cyber world while on the go, and follow your friends in real time.

NAMM--Halfway there!

 The Winter NAMM show is in full swing, and to my eyes, it's the busiest one in a while. Bass wise, there's much to check out. Some notable early highlights the Fender 50th Anniversary Jazz Bass, the Aguilar Filter Twin


The Real World: Spencer Pyne

Home base Centennial, Colorado Occupation IT Professional Gigs Zing , Coral Creek, Eddie & The Haskells, Exit 232, The Naughty Chanteuse Review Basses Kinal SKB 5, STR LS 549, LeFay Midas 5, Brooklyn Custom 5, Xotic XB 2 6, Stambaugh