Korg DT-4 Tuner

My trusty 20 year old Korg DT-1 is on its last leg so it was time to go shopping for a new tuner. This tuner lasted me through a lot of rough handling in high school, college, and beyond. The fact that the Korg lasted as many years as it had me favoring another Korg tuner. Back in the 1980’s that tuner cost me about $100 if I recall right. The tuner never gave me any problems except that a few of the LED’s had stopped working over the years so I had to rely on my sense of pitch to substitute for the led’s that used to light up above Bb & Gb. It worked great until recently when I would have to hit it harder and harder to get it to start working. At that point, it was time to buy a new one.

When I was shopping for a new tuner, there were some features of the DT-1 that I wanted to have in my new tuner. Some of the features that I liked about the Korg DT-1 over other types of tuners was that it could be viewed low lighting situations. Back when it first was introduced, most tuners were the needle type which were fragile, due to the mechanical nature of them. Later I saw a lot of people using LCD tuners, but didn’t like them because they were hard to read in dark settings (even with the backlights). When you backlight something, you’re essentially looking its shadow, which isn’t as easy to read as a straightforward LED. The LCD simulated needle was also hard to read at a distance, because it was a thin line. The LCD’s also seemed slower and visually not very responsive to slight changes in pitch, but that could also be because those tuners were cheap.

The downside of the DT-1 was that the small LED’s got washed out outdoors. If I had to read it in that situation, I would have to cup the tuner so that the LED’s wouldn’t get washed out. Since the LED’s lit above an ink labeled letter for each of the 12 tones, it was also difficult to use in complete darkness since you wouldn’t know what note letter that the led was lit above. It was always accurate, reliable, and easy to use overall.

When I started shopping for the new tuner, I was drawn to the DT-4, which incorporated the same concepts but had a lot of improvements. A few revisions have passed since I purchased my DT-1 and it looks like Korg did not sit idle on their product. The DT-4 has larger and far brighter LED’s that were much harder to wash out in sunlight, it was even more compact, and it responded quickly just like the DT-1. The DT-4 also lights up the letter of the tone that you are playing so that you can use this in complete darkness. Best of all I was finding these at $30 at stores because of some heavy discounting out there. The tuner was very accurate and responsive to slight pitch changes, which allows for easy tuning. Since almost everyone has them now priced at more than 60% off, it’s a great time to try out the new Korg DT-4 tuner. I highly recommend it for use on our upright bass.


Link Added: Prochownik Bows

I’ve been a strong advocate of Z. Prochownik Bows for many years and think very highly of his work. I bought a bow from him over 10 years ago and it’s still my main bow for both Jazz, Solo Arco, and Orchestral styles. I’ve always liked it for its quality and value. Make no mistake about that statement, it is definitely a professional bow.

My style of arco may be different than yours, so your results with his bows may vary, but it suits mine perfectly. For those of you like me prefer a cellist style of bowing (no downward pressure on the bow, hand-weight only) you’ll find that Z. Prochownik’s bows work perfectly. Balance is ideal as is its ability to effortlessly draw a quality, large sound from a bass. It is a responsive bow that plays by finesse rather than strength. I tend to put lighter than average tension on my bows and for me, volume is achieved by lateral placement of the bow on string and bow speed instead. It’s not wimpy, I can still dig down without overplaying when the tonal effect is needed, nor have I ever felt hampered or limited by the bow.

I should add a caveat; there are bassists that have tried my Z. Prochownik bow and it did not suit their style. If you like to romp and play with a large amount of downward pressure on bow and string, the bow may not suit you as well as an alternative.

The next time you are in the market for a professional caliber bow, be sure to give Mr Prochownik a call.

Discounts for Upright Bass Stuff

mainPromo_1Music123, which is not a upright bass store, is running a 20% off sale until next Tuesday. Thomastik Spirocores are on sale and AMT s25b bass condenser mic at 20% and free shipping for those of you who have been waiting to buy one. I prefer the AKG C516 non-instrument specific condenser mic, which I also got another one for 20%.

There are some exclusions on brands, but most are included in this sale. The AKG is usually excluded from sales, but it was included in this one. Also, the discount is only for stuff in stock. They won’t give you 20% off of items that are out of stock.

A Bass By Any Name Is Not … Quite Agreed Upon

I remember reading Gary Karr’s Article in Double-Bassist that was about the unresolved disagreement about what our type of bass is called. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the orchestral genre of bass, Gary Karr is a virtuoso solo bassist. His story and solo bass in the orchestral genre can’t be covered easily in a few sentences, so suffice to say that a certain segment of bassist jaws drop at what he can play on a bass. This article was written about 10 years ago and now that the upright bass has reemerged in popularity, it looks like things have sorted themselves out.

Let’s recall the names:

upright bass
double bass (with no dash)
string bass
bass violin
bass viol
standup bass
Contra Bass

Talk about subjective subjects, it’s one that I’ve struggled with when people ask me what “the thing” that I play is. Of course, I just call it a bass, but if people ask me to elaborate my answer might depend on what day of the week it was. In other words, it depended on what type of music I was playing at that time:

Double-bass (orchestral)

Upright bass (For anything else)

The term “upright” used to sound goofy to me and I preferred “string bass” over it, but I’m just relieved that there are less names to deal with. It seemed as if since we couldn’t agree on a name, the music merchants industry worked it out for us. Marketing people need one name for a product as do the Web designers. I saw a pivot point when there were links on music store websites and tags on instruments labeled “upright bass”. If an Upright Bass is what I play, so be it. Now the name has finally grown on me.

However, it seems that there are still those two names left on the list. Orchestral people call it Double-bass, which has been written on orchestral scores for centuries, because in early music, basses played cello parts and doubled it since it plays an octave below what is notated. For everyone else, that name makes no sense since functionally we rarely double anything except maybe on a few notable tunes for a few bars. Even anything past the baroque period has independent bass parts, so we deviated from that. It never sounded right to me calling it a double bass in a jazz or miscellaneous setting.

With a large majority bassists (including people who play bass guitar) calling it an upright, maybe at some point in the future I’ll have to get used to the term Upright Bass even in an orchestra. For now I liken it to Fiddle vs Violin; what genre it’s in determines what it’s call. Life is easier just calling it a bass.

Archiving Your CD Collection

Lossless Image

Lossless Image

I’ve amassed a fairly sizable CD collection (over 1000 CD’s) over the years and I have been archiving them onto my hard drive for the last year. I can use every square foot of home that I can get (houses here cost about $500+ per square foot), plus I like the convenience of having quick access and search for any title or artist. I still buy CD’s because MP3’s and iTunes are lossy codecs, which brings me to my point; archive with a lossless codec. Whether it be FLAC, iTunes Lossless, or Windows Audio Lossless, the key is to use a lossless codec.

It’s fascinating to me how your average consumer is demanding more and more details out of a digital camera, while they are are settling for lower resolution and compressed music. Equate lossy compressed music to your digital camera from 10 years back versus lossless compressed music which is better than your high end digital camera today.

Here’s the scoop. Lossy compression methods means that details and nuances in a song are dropped in favor of making that file as small as possible. In pop music where there aren’t as many nuances and details to

lossy image

Lossy Image

lose, it may not be as perceptible. For music with more complex instruments, you most likely will perceive the loss when you go back and listen to the original uncompressed source. When you compress it using a lossy compression, once it’s lost, it’s lost. No software will be able to recover those details. Hard drive space is now cheap at less than $100 for 1TeraByte (1000GB). An average CD using the lossless codec will take us less than 400MB to archive, which means you will be able to store about 2500 CD’s on a hard drive. I actually backup my music onto another hard drive in case of a hard drive crash.

Hard drive space being so cheap, there’s no reason not to want lossless as your primary music storage method. If you prefer to buy music online, try to find a vendor who sells that music as a lossless format. From what I’ve heard, they don’t cost much more if any. This will future proof your collection, since in all likelihood, online music distribution will gravitate to lossless and higher resolutions.

I use Windows Media Player because it’s an easy to use, convenient software. You can probably find out how to do that on your preferred software by doing an online search.  To archive lossless, go to options, rip music, and then select Windows Media Audio Lossless as the format.

Internet: The Misinformation Age

Thanks to the Internet and it’s vast amounts of raw, unfiltered data, we have a wealth of information and even more misinformation.

I find this guy hilarious to watch. It’s like watching one of the Muppets teaching upright bass.

Kids, don’t try this at home. Ever!

Welcome to OUR site

This is my first post and my first blog. Since I currently have zero subscribers, I am hearing the echos of an empty virtual room.

As some of you have known, I’ve been sitting on the domain names of uprightbass.com, bassviolin.com, and double-bass.com for some years now without doing much with them. When I was in college I did run an modest online store to pay for my school expenses, which some of you had supported. After I graduated, I sold off the business to pay for my college debts.

After selling off the business about 10 years ago, uprightbass.com went into limbo as I pursued my career and worked hard to make ends meet. Now it had finally reemerged as a blog.

While I don’t have specific vision for it at this point, what I wanted to do is allow it to grow and see what comes from it organically. For that to happen, you the readers will have the say on which way uprightbass.com will grow. For my part, I’m going to do what the blogger does and write about what comes to my mind and we will see how this site grows. Since this is called ‘Upright Bass dot com’, it would make sense that the majority of people peeking in would be interested in genres of music aside from orchestral. That topic is very well covered by Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog.

I’d especially like to encourage those people who are doing something a little out there or innovative. Are you playing the upright bass where people normally play bass guitar? Are you playing music that’s really pushing the envelope?

As we grow, I’ll get some other professionals to also do some writing for us, because a topic such as the bass can’t be covered by one person alone.

Send me an E-mail. Whether you’ve never seen a bass or we’ve met at some point down the road as professional bassists, let’s start the dialog. Drop me a line and say hi. For those of you that want a little exposure; I’d like to do some profiles of bassists at various stages in their career as part of the blog.