Thursday, June 14, 2012

Trailers And Amps

Ever have one of those weeks when it seems like everything is a little off?


Coming home from a show in Kerrville in the wee hours of last Saturday morning, everything was fine.
Just two band brothers yapping about The Spurs and music and such while dragging a heavy trailer up those damned hills on IH10.
I pulled up in front of our house, unloaded my personal gear, and bid my boss good night.
Some time later he called with the news that the trailer's axle had parted company with the suspension in a most catastrophic fashion and asked my advice on what he might do about it:
Being late, I was tired and a bit in my cups, so I wasn't particularly helpful.
He was only a mile from his house, but had to call a tow truck to get the trailer the rest of the way.

The tire grabbed the fender and folded it up rather well while also shredding.

Somehow, the other fender sustained damage as well.
I'm just glad it didn't happen while I was driving in the middle of Nowhere, Texas.
We had to split the gear between our pickups for the next gig, which luckily was a private party that didn't require all of it.

He bought a new (used) trailer today that's a bit bigger in every dimension but height (to fit his garage) so the good news is more space for more stuff.
Bad news is I'm still going to hit my head at least twice a week for the next few years.


By my count I have used at least six different amp/speaker combinations since I started playing bass a couple years ago, first with Loud Nine and now for Televators. It gets old pretty fast, borrowing stuff and never getting the chance to settle on ONE amp rig that you can get used-to and fine-tune over time.
If I wasn't a sound expert I think I would have gone insane, but luckily it's fairly easy for me to get wildly different products to do what I need them to do.
Doesn't mean I like this situation--it really blows and I hate it.

A big step forward was buying a Peavey bass speaker cabinet from my friend Buz.
It was part of the rig I used with great success in the studio two months ago.
Still need to pay him for it...

While working up amp situation #7 this week I took a peek in the rear port of the cabinet and spotted this:
Never seen such a thing--a bottle of something was neatly wedged between the frame and cone of a speaker.

Mickey Mouse Shampoo & Conditioner.
The kind you find in your hotel room at Epcot Center or Disneyland I suppose.
Buz had zero idea where it came from or how it got there.
And yes, it's location will have an effect on the sound but with the other 3 speakers involved it would be hard to notice, even for an "expert" like myself.

It took a while for me to take a hard look at the bass amp that's been sitting in Bex Televator's practice room, rather than treating it like a carpet-covered nuisance that's only good for banging my knees and holding up my soda and camera bag. When I finally had no choice but to use the thing there were issues with random volume drops, so I brought the sucker home and took it apart.
As I suspected there were some cracked solder joints on the input jack, and a couple more on one of the power transistors.
Fixed in mere minutes thanks to the best invention in recent years--the cordless drill/screwdriver. (Mine is a 24-volt Black & Decker we got at Target for a mere $36 with many accessories).

As it turns out, for a basic "practice" combo amp it has WAY more features than usual.
In fact, it's preamp section is a near clone of the one Buz let me use in the studio minus the tube section--it's all solid-state circuitry. Good thing I have a tube preamp/direct box to put in front of it for some old-school tone through the amp and also sent to the PA system.
I did a bunch of stuff to the 4x10" cabinet, including the addition of a big metal 1970's vintage Peavey logo and removing the casters so it'll stack nicely. Not done yet, but getting close.

Used this rig at practice tonight and we all agreed is sounded fine.
I'll be using it for the next Televator's show, June 23rd at Charlie Brown's on Starcrest. Hope to see some of you there.

This doesn't change anything. I still NEED a complete bass amp system of my own.
I've selected the specific items I want, and it's going to sound way better than rigs costing 3x as much.

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