Monday, November 14, 2011

So I moved to Florida... Let the Bass Games Begin

It's a big move, with lots of crap to take with me.  People accumulate a lot over the years, and I've accumulated a music store's volume of basses - most of which go unplayed.  So it occurs to me what a great idea it is to sell my fretless, since I haven't played it in years.

Now, this is the one-same awesome fretless Alembic that's on Rick Olaguer's songs to the right. It sounds magnificent. "I'll never play fretless again," says me to myself.  And on to eBay we go.

After a bunch of negotiating, off it goes to a nice guy in North Carolina.  He loves it, but is going to have it refretted.  Go figure.

I arrive in Florida, Tampa-ish, and start making my presence known. My bud, Ron Zebron, is working mightily on his originals, and says he wants me to play bass on them.  Killer, methinks. I love Ron and love his songs. "I'm thinking fretless," Ron says. The irony thickens.

So off I go into the nether regions of Sarasota to acquire or somehow purloin a fretless.  Alas, none to be had.  Never fret (sic), there is the internet. And there I find the dearth of 5-string fretless basses available. Immediately, it occurs to me to defret one of my long-unplayed basses, but which? Most I actually don't like anymore, because the strings are too close together. These are the basses - fine ones though they may be - that are being sold.

I become interested in an inexpensive LTD fretless 5. Specs look good. Sam Ash has them. Off I go. I play one. Strings are too close, just like the basses I'm selling.  But they show me an MTD that can be had 5-string fretless, as the MTD Kingston Saratoga.  Now, bear in mind, there are only a couple of manufacturers that make a fretless 5 anymore, much less one I can afford (I'm long done with "boutique basses), so I'm running out of options fast. Out comes the card, the order is placed.

A couple of days later it arrives. Sigh. Made in China (the website said Korea).  This pisses me off. I made a commitment to myself to buy as little from China as I can (more on this in another post), so I check before I buy. MTDs used to be made in Korea, but they have let their website lapse. Anyway, the pickups can't be adjusted high enough. And it just sounds like poop - nothing like a Jazz Bass that, assuming from the pickup design, looks like was intended. Even though it plays OK, the negatives queer the deal. Back to Sam Ash I go.

Fortunately, I am a likeable soul (ahem...) and Carlo and Steve at Sam Ash Sarasota are super accommodating. After much playing and replaying of basses, I decide I'm going to buy a Mexican Fender DeLuxe Active Jazz Bass V . At least, if I buy Mexican, the guys who made it weren't in the US illegally. My plan is to have it defretted. Definitely the long way around, but what's a boy to do?

The bass arrives.  And... I love it. Best Jazz I've ever played, and that includes the vintage 1965 Jazz I had years ago. Better than Pedulla's version, leagues better than another Mexican J that I used to have. It sounds awesome, and as I'm playing it, it occurs to me what a sin it is to alter this bass. So now I have a killer Jazz bass, fretted.  And no fretless. And the irony is getting too thick to even cut with a machete.

I close my eyes, reach into my bass closet, and pull out one of my unplayed basses; off to the luthier I go. "De-claw her, " I say. But because it's now into the holiday season, might take awhile to get done.


So, I sell a killer fretless to have fewer basses. 3 months later I need to buy a new fretless, and end up buying a fretted bass that I didn't need. And I end up defretting one of my older basses anyway. And the overall number of basses I now have? Right back to the same number where I started. And my wallet is thinner.

Well, at least I have different basses that I like better than the old ones.  Maybe I'll play them all now.

Zebron and James