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Old 04-27-2006, 09:35 PM
Sherry Crann (sherry)
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Default Howdy, I've been workin


I've been working on a little side project now for a while, and while trying to keep the post germane to the topic of "Share your music", I'll also post a piece that I came up with for a bass duet.

Actually, I'll go ahead and post the duet first, because the story is a little long

I came up with this arrangement using Band in a Box as starting point, and then tweaking it and recording parts of it for a backing track through Composer. It's just a very simple, very open arrangement of Adeste Fidelis, and I made it for two basses to trade off alternately between the bass line, and the melody. This file is more for "demonstration purposes", as we embellished the performances somewhat, but one great thing was that by having the files (Woong also has Composer), we could practice at our own convenience. I set up this file as the "main" file. This is the file that I used, minus the melody and bass lines, to record our backing track of drums and piano that we used for the performance. I also made two separate practice files - one for me and one for Woong - that had our own part muted out so that we could practice virtually when it was convenient. This technique made it really easy for us to only have a few practices together to get a fairly polished performance.

<center><table border=1><tr><td>Adeste Fidelis for two basses
Adeste fidelis for bass duet.not (203.1 k)</td></tr></table></center>

You'll notice that I left the melody notation in treble clef. Woong also plays clarinet and I play whistle, so it wasn't a problem, and I left it that way to sort of remind us that when we were playing melody, it was to be a different feel than when we were playing the "bass line".

The little side project is a new, hand carved, mahogany and purpleheart electric bass. It started out last summer, when I discovered an old piece of mahogany out in my woodshop that I had forgotten that I had. It was an extra piece for a stair tread that was left over from our kitchen renovation, but it was a beautiful piece of wood, and quite dense. I thought it would make a fun "in my spare time" project to carve it into a new body for my electric bass. Rarely do any of my projects turn out that simply, though, and this was no exception. Here is a shot of the first rough cut mahogany blank.

I researched (hands-on, visiting a music store with lots of really nice basses) body shapes for balance, overall weight, how they hung (for easy access to different positions for playing), etc., and I'm really glad I did. In the meantime, I was conversing with one of my virtual friends on my church bass email list. I had thought about trying to find some sort of "show" wood to put on the top face, to contrast against the mahogany. But since I was trying to keep this project cheap (ie, free), I didn't pursue it. Donl is getting into luthiery, and he was very excited about my little project (he's also helping me with electronics on my fretless bass), and said he had some flamed purpleheart (rather rare) that would look really nice with this, would I like some? Not being one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, I said sure So he sent me a really nice piece of flamed purple heart, along with some trim strips he had cut from some necks he was making (I've never done a neck, and probably never will ).

So I cut out some pieces from this, after looking at it carefully, and figuring out how the trim strips would look proportionally, etc. and this is what I came up with at that point:

The color really shows up here - yow! Having it on a yellow background sort of brings that out

After that, I had to rout the holes for the pickups and electronics, decide on the final body shape, the dimensions for carving, etc. I used the bandsaw, tilted over about 45 degrees, for the rough shaping, then files and rasps for the final shaping. I then sanded it down, and used a cabinet scraper to get the final smoothness. I used polyurethane as the finish coat. I didn't use a filler, because I actually like to feel a little grain - it reminds me that it's wood and not plastic

I also covered the headstock with a piece of purpleheart veneer, as well as the "tongue" on the neck, to tie it all together. I made knobs out of some of the scraps of the purpleheart, because the big knobs that had been on it before were just too obtrusive. I also cut a new nut for it out of micarta, and that helps the sustain, too, as the previous nut was just plastic. Here's the finished project:

For other techno-geeks out there, the pickups are dual EMG-style humbuckers, active/passive controls, pickup pan, bass and treble controls (for active only). I string it through the body, and the sustain now is incredible. I also have more definition on the low end, and that 0-B is low I'm quite happy with how this has turned out - the research on bodies was time well spent, because this bass just fits me perfectly - easy access with left hand to frets and right hand positions for tonal differences, the smaller body is well balanced even though it's heavier than the previous larger body (the original body is basswood), and it's just some beautiful wood. I bevelled the edges to show off the mahogany vs. purpleheart contrast around the edges. I love nice wood

So anyway, that's what I've been doing in my spare time lately. Now I have to make myself do the "gotta does" to keep me from just sitting and messing around with my bass all the time

I'm planning to record the above Adeste Fidelis piece using my bass and the performance accompaniment track that Woong and I used, and I'll post it on my SoundClick site when I do.


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