RPM Challenge: Day 1

So far, so good. Well, maybe not so good. But… so far, anyway.

I made up my mind a few weeks ago that I was going to start at it right away at midnight on February 1, so that’s what I did. I plugged away at a brand new idea for about two hours, but at the end felt very disappointed with my progress. I blame two things:

1. My piece of $#!+ electric guitar (MIM Fender Strat). Pickups buzz (minor problem) and the damn thing won’t stay in tune long enough for me to even finish tuning!!! (Yeah yeah… new pickups, shielding, locking tuners… no I haven’t done any of those things and no it’s not going to happen this month!)

2. Steve Martin. Yes, Steve Martin. I spent the 90 minutes leading up to midnight watching one of my childhood heroes systematically dismantle every remaining scrap of respect I had for his work while hosting one of the most miserably bad episodes of SNL I have ever seen, culminating in an appalling performance of a song from his new banjo CD. Yes, his banjo playing is competent, not great, but the song was crap! It wasn’t well-written, his singing is, well, not even singing, and it told a lame story that wasn’t even remotely funny. Boo! Why, Steve, why?

So, I slept on it. I think a good night’s sleep helped. I listened back to the bare bones of the song I started last night (because I had deleted a few instrument tracks from it in frustration), and it’s actually kind of cool, so I think I’m going to use it.

I started two other new songs today that seem to be going well. One of them is almost done, the other is maybe 50%.

My electric guitar is also being more cooperative today as well, and my bass sounds great! Unfortunately my bass plucking fingers are no longer up to the task — I’ve slacked off on bass practice too much and I’ve lost my calluses. 30 minutes of bass playing and I have a big nasty blister on the tip of my index finger! :o

Oh well… although I used to be very anti-pick on the bass, I’ve since mellowed and now probably use a pick 60-70% of the time when I play bass. And on this album, it looks like that’s going to be somewhere in the ballpark of… 100%!

Time to call it a day, with the kids returning and my parents coming to watch the Super Bowl on the big TV. But I may resume again tonight after kids go to bed.

One disappointment with myself overall so far: I haven’t branched out with instruments or recording techniques. But I think that will come.

Selling the Music Man!

Say it ain’t so! Well, it’s so. I have my Music Man StingRay 5 bass up for auction on eBay.

I love that bass, but I just can’t justify having a $1400 bass that sits in its case 99% of the time. Especially when I can sell it and use the money to buy both a bass and a guitar from Fender’s Mexican factory. And have almost half the money left over.

Say what you will about Ed Roman, but he had it right when he was talking about the likes of Fender and Gibson. (I think he was ripping more on Gibson, because of their obscenely high prices for U.S.-made guitars, but the message applies to Fender too.) Fender has 3 basic lines of products: their low-end beginner instruments made in China under the Squier brand, their “standard” line of Fender guitars made in Mexico, and the high-end stuff made in California. But the fact is, while there’s a huge chasm in quality between the Chinese Squiers and the Mexican Fenders, at about double the retail price, there’s very little difference between the very nice Mexican Fenders and the vastly overpriced American Fenders.

This was reinforced for me last weekend when I played my father-in-law’s Mexican-made Precision Bass. He bought it to play for the contemporary services at his church, based on my recommendation. I figured it would be a decent, reliable instrument, and it would only set him back 400 bucks. I had owned a Mexican-made Fender Jazz back in high school, and it was great until I decided to take it apart and muck around with it, and even after that it was still pretty decent. But I think the Mexican factory has made great strides; if I didn’t know better, I’d never guess that P-Bass wasn’t a U.S. model.

So it is, in a week or less the Music Man will be on its way to a new home, and I’ll be applying that cash towards…

Fender Standard Jazz Bass V

…and…

Fender Standard Stratocaster

…and while I’m at it, this, to (finally!) rip all of my LPs…

USB turntable

Rush Bass Tabs!

I’m posting this mainly to remind myself to check it out more fully at a later date. (Hmm… could just bookmark it…)

Just what I was looking for (even though, curiously enough, I wasn’t looking for it at the time when I found it): Rush bass tabs! Any Rush fan or bass player (or, both, and I’d guess that both do occur in disproportionate numbers to that of the general populace) would want to check this out.

Frankly, since I can read music, I’d rather have actual notation instead of tablature, but any transcription is a good transcription. (Check that; not every transcription is a good one, but I’ll have to study these more closely to determine if that is true in this case.)