Dec 24 2011

Quick Pre-Christmas End of Year Roundup!

Good evening folks,

Thought I’d sneak in a quick blog post before Christmas is officially upon us. It’s also my first attempt at writing the blog using the WordPress iPad app(lication). It’ll be interesting to see what a hash I make of the formatting if nothing else. I apologise in advance if it comes out looking like a dog’s dinner and littered with typos.

I’m sitting here watching the excellent Victor Wooten Groove Workshop DVD which arrived this morning. Yes indeed folks, I am a proper bass geek.

It’s been a fantastic year. The quiet first few months gave me time to record my second solo album The Knowledge of Things To Come (and the 5-track Rejectamenta EP)and put it out via Bandcamp and CD Baby. When things get busy there just isn’t enough time to concentrate on my own music so this year I’ve learnt to embrace the occasional ‘gig drought’ and make the most of my time…

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As well as touring with Clare Teal and Lea DeLaria I’ve been lucky enough to play for two shows at the National Theatre this year. In the Spring I was playing the Double Feature in the Paintframe with Ben, Phil and Mark from the Duke Special band. We had a great time and it was amazing to play in such a special venue. I wrote a whole post on the Double Feature earlier this year. Obviously, the Paintframe theatre isn’t there anymore (they started tearing it down straight after our last show) but I reckon we’ll be hearing from the band sometime next year. Watch this space…

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A couple of months after finishing the Double Feature I was called back to the National for Dominic Cooke’s production of The Comedy of Errors, which opened in November. We’re currently right in middle of our run of over 80 shows in the Olivier (back in on Boxing Day!). We had some fantastic reviews and he shows are selling out so if you’re gonna come; book your tickets sooner rather than later folks…

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Aside from playing and writing I also got quite involved with the fight against Westminster Council’s plans for evening and weekend parking charges. I had conversations with the Musicians Union and the BBC. I wrote about it extensively on my site and Twitter. I even spent one rather wet night in the street outside Westminster City Hall with a load of musicians and bikers (!) handing out leaflets. I have never done that before…

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Well, having postponed the charges until January (supposedly so as not to ruin Christmas) Westminster Council has now decided to wait until after the Olympics to implement their ridiculous plans. Although apparently there are Council elections in May so hopefully we’ll have seen the last of them by then. Why anyone would vote Colin Barrow back in after this is beyond me. I shall keep you posted…

So I accidentally bought two new basses this year. First was the Fender 60th Anniversary Precision bass which has already seen plenty of action this year. About a month ago after much searching I bought a Breedlove acoustic bass. Having been playing an ABG for The Comedy of Errors I’ve gotten used to idea and actually really started appreciating he sound (if not the action!). So I’ve decided to record a new solo record next year entirely on acoustic and was therefore forced to buy one. Honestly. There was no other option. This afternoon I put the Breedlove through the looping rig to see how it recorded. This is the first demo, a quick improvisation on the acoustic…

Breedlove Acoustic Demo #1 by simonlittlebass

Well that was a long post. It’s been a great year and I’m looking forward to 2012 and all the exciting new projects that are coming up. Little Alex and Triage are both set to be doing all kinds of good things next year. And I’ll eventually have another solo record for you. You lucky things…

Merry Christmas everybody and have a happy new year!

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Sep 9 2011

The Line 6 Post

Hello folks,

Two blogs in one week?! You are lucky…

My latest album The Knowledge of Things To Come was featured in this month’s newsletter from Line 6. So I thought now would be a good time to say a few things about my effects setup for the solo project. Over the last few months since the album was released, a lot of people have been asking me how I get all the sounds and what effects I used. Let me clear that up for you…

After I finished Mandala, I decided that I wanted to further explore the world of multi-effects. I used my Lexicon MPX-G2 with the Looperlative for all the sounds on Mandala and whilst I loved some of the sparkly sounds and pitch shift effects, I couldn’t quite get the more guitar-orientated tones I was looking for. After much research online and faffing about in various guitar shops I eventually decided to invest in a Line 6 Pod X3 Pro (the rackmounted version). I also bought the FBV foot controller to give me some proper control.

The unit is dead easy to program and some of the presets (I use both bass and guitar presets) are astounding. They are also incredibly easy to tweak. I always found the Lexicon UI massively complicated and unrewarding, but the X3 Pro is very intuitive and sounds great. Each patch I program is like having access to a whole new rig and switching between sounds is fast and reliable, especially with the foot controller.

Line 6 have been very helpful and have been plugging the album since it’s release a few months ago. They asked me to upload some of the key tones from The Knowledge of Things To Come to their Custom Tone site so that other Pod users can download my patches and work with them on their own machines. So I uploaded six of the key tone patches from the album. You can download them all at the following address:

http://uk.line6.com/customtone/profile/simonlittlebass/

I hope you have fun with some of the patches. The L For Leather patch is particularly fun…

If you haven’t got your copy of the album yet, you can download it from the Music page, where you’ll also find Mandala (CD and download) and the Rejectamenta EP. I’ve still got plenty of CD copies of Mandala left, so if you want a signed copy just let me know when you order.

Here’s a little player so you can have a listen. Until next time…


Sep 6 2011

Introducing my new bass!! (and the art of bass shopping)

*Bass Geek Alert*

Some non-bass players might find this post a bit boring. You have been warned…

Hello folks,

I’ve just got home from one last stint of hardcore concentrated bass shopping and thought I’d post a picture of the results…

Oh yes indeed folks; I’ve bought another one! After many years of really not getting on with Precision basses, even though they are the staple for most bass players and producers, I endeavored to find one that I liked. A few months ago a had the great pleasure of playing a Custom Shop Pino Palladino Signature Precision at Guitar Amp & Keyboard (GAK) in Brighton. Totally fell in love with it. It looked and played like the best vintage Fender you’ll ever find (and I’ve tried loads), but it was bloody expensive. Try £2329.00. Ouch.

After much deliberation I decided to go back to Brighton last week and see if I could make them an offer. But guess what? They’d only gone and sold it! Yep, very irritating indeed as it was (and is) still advertised on  their website. Their offer to order me another from Fender proved less than welcome when they told me it would probably take a year…

So I sat down and tried all their other Precision basses. Including the cheapo ones just in case. It’s always worth trying out the opposite end of your price range (both upwards and down) when buying a new instrument so you have something to compare it to. I wanted to see whether a bass that was half the price of the Pino (which was virtually all of them) was up to the same standards. Eventually I played the 60th Anniversary model and really liked it. Not wanting to rush in I left it there to have a think…

In the meantime I tried out a few other tasty basses including a rather lovely if slightly weighty red 80’s P-Bass at The Gallery in Camden (the best bass shop in the world!). Check it out if you’re in the area. I discovered that another 60th Anniversary bass was located at Guitar Guitar in Epsom, which frankly I didn’t know existed. I’d been to the Glasgow shop many times as it’s right opposite where we used to rehearse with Maggie Reilly but had no idea there were other branches. It’s a great shop folks; massive selection and they have great little practice booths for trying out gear. I highly recommend you check it out if you’re in the area.

Anyway, I tried another bunch of p-basses against the 60th Anniversary. Was torn between that and a lovely Japanese 70’s Reissue which also sounded great and came in a good few hundred quid cheaper…

Eventually I decided the 60th Anniversary model had a superior retro tone across the board, although the Japanese bass had a lovely warm  punch to it. So I bought the 60th Anniversary bass. And am very happy with it indeed. Looking forward to putting it to work instantly. I might even play it at Friday’s gig at Pizza Express Jazz Club with Nina Ferro (which you should all come to by the way!).

Until next time…