Choosing an Electric Upright Bass (EUB)

NA003481Some of the frequently commonly asked questions of visitors are for advice on which Electric Upright Bass (EUB) they should choose. Everyone who plays one has their preference, so if you ask ten different people you’re going to get fifteen different answers. There is no clearly superior electric upright bass among the different good quality basses (costing $2000+), which is why all of them have their share of endorsements.

I don’t have much ownership experience with the entry level electric upright basses such as the Palatino and NS Design WAV basses. What I can say about them (which bass guitar players can relate to) is that picking up one feels the same way as when you pickup a Fender Squire or some other factory produced music instrument from Asia. There is a lack of consistency and they generally don’t feel or sound as good. After reading various comments from owners of these, these basses can be difficult to play and the sound is far from ideal. It seems that from day two after taking one home, those owners are already looking forward to the day when they can trade up. Circumstances may dictate that you may have to make due with a bass that is within your budget, but these guidelines will still be relevant.

Different Philosophies

People have different ideas of the ideal electric upright bass. Some want it as a direct substitute for an acoustic upright bass, while others want it to supplement their upright bass; as another tool. Players who want it as a direct replacement want it to sound and get as close to the “real thing” as possible, so that they no longer have to deal with some of the difficulties of a regular upright bass. Others have and love their upright basses, but want an EUB to compliment it; for a different sound or different purpose.

I fall into the latter category. In the past I was in search of an electric upright bass to substitute for the upright bass, but after many years, I knew that physically there is no possible way for an EUB to sound like a good upright bass; it’s physics. A semi-acoustic is our version of a guitar with a ukulele sized body. Maybe there will be some hi-tech method of making an electric upright bass sound like an acoustic, similar to the acoustic simulators which make electric guitars sound like acoustics, but it’s impossible physically. During those years however, I did grow fond of the electric upright bass for its distinct sound which expands my tonal pallet. I do use the electric upright bass as a tool also of convenience such as rehearsals or places that just aren’t safe to bring a regular upright bass (uncovered outdoor festivals and microscopic jazz cafes).

String Options

Upright Bass strings is where the tone and timbre of an upright bass starts from. If you want your electric upright bass to sound more like an upright bass and less like a bass guitar, you need to use upright bass strings. An electric upright bass should accommodate standard upright bass strings. Some electric upright basses use bass guitar strings or limit you to strings made only by them. Bass guitar strings will make an electric upright bass sound like a fretless bass guitar and basses that limit you to proprietary strings don’t allow you to change types of strings to adjust your sound. For some odd reason (maybe it’s cost cutting) even higher end electric uprights like the NS Design CR basses come with really crappy strings. I don’t know why NS Design would want to ship out basses sounding far from ideal due to bad strings. Fortunately you can change them out with real upright bass strings, and you have to right away! It makes a world of a difference.

String Length

String length is the term that is used for upright basses, but it’s the same thing as “scale length” for bass guitars. String Length should be around 41 1/2″, which is a common string length of most upright basses. Don’t worry if a bass is off by up to one inch shorter or longer. You should be able to find out this specification on most electric upright basses online. If in doubt, measure it out: measure the length from the nut to the bridge. There are a few companies that make electric upright basses in the bass guitar scale length of 35″ so check this specification prior to purchase. 35″ string length electric upright basses are more of a marketing gimmick which is targeted towards bass guitar players , but these sound just like fretless bass guitars.

Brand Difference

There aren’t huge tonal difference between different makers of good quality upright basses. There are far greater differences between string brands, types and lines. Upright bass strings come in different types of string cores, wrap materials, and gauges, which create hugh difference in timbre. Unlike bass guitar strings which are only steel cores, string cores can also be composed of gut, synthetic, nylon, velvet rope, and various alloys. Among the better electric upright bass brands, strings make a larger difference in sound than the actual bass themselves.

Some makers include electric upright basses with small hollow bodies to allow for resonance. I’ve never been a proponent for hollow-bodied electric upright basses, since they cost more without providing resonance that is anything similar to a real upright bass (once again, it’s like a ukulele body on a guitar). Arguably it is closer to the sound of a regular upright bass, but it’s still far from the real thing. If you want an EUB is a substitute for a regular upright bass, and your goal is to get as close as possible this would be a step closer, but it’s still nowhere near.

Hardware

One of the more significant differences between basses is in the design of their endpin and/or stand. Some basses only have endpins that extend out of the bottom, some are designed held by a tripod, while others have variations of either or both.

My preference is for a stand that allows for adjustments in tilt, whether it be tripod or endpin. My reason is because I use a Laborie endpin for my regular upright bass, which changes the angle of the fingerboard relative to the floor. This is a key, but commonly overlooked factor in choosing an electric upright. The hardware design should allow the EUB to feel transparent; not feel distractingly different than your upright bass.

Some companies like to incorporate features that mimic the bouts of an acoustic upright bass. Bouts shapes vary among basses and I’ve never used it for reference in playing any upright bass. Some people do, so this feature may be important to you if you need some physical cue to help you know where you are at on the fingerboard. As for others of you who use the Rabbath/Laborie Endpin on your bass, the location of the fake bouts on the EUB won’t be in the right location, since you are used to being in contact with the back corner of the bout rather than the front corner, so they are more of a nuisance in transporting and setting up the EUB than helpful when you play.

Get It and Forget It

The purpose of a bass is to be your tool in your musical journey. Remember that music comes from you not the instrument which is your tool to convey your music thoughts. After you’ve spent a few weeks getting yourself familiarized with your EUB and getting it dialed in, focus on the playing to further improve your sound, instead of continuing to obsess about the different EUB’s out there. Remember: It’s the ideas and the ability to convey those ideas that your audience hears, not the slight variations between the different EUB’s out there.

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Miking an Upright Bass: Stay Away From My f-hole

Figure3After stating that I prefer the AKG c 416 and its revision the AKG C 516, some people have emailed me and asked if I have tried the Applied Microphone Technology s25b on the upright bass. I have tried it for a few weeks, but there were a few things about it that didn’t work for me. The biggest thing is the placement of the microphone. The AMT s25b is designed to be placed at the f-hole.

I let luthiers figure out how to get the best sound out of my bass and sound engineers figure out how to reproduce the best sound. Professional studio engineers rarely agree. The ones that I have worked with all agree that the f-hole is one of the worst places to mic and upright bass. Put your ear next to the f-hole and have a friend play a little. Notice that the sound that you are hearing is an undeveloped sound? You hear air movement, uneven frequency response and loud boomy lows, and it doesn’t represent the overall sound of the bass because of the lack of definition. This is not the sound that we want if we want our tone amplified accurately.  If the flat frequency graph of the AMT mic holds true, then you are just getting a highly accurate reproduction of this undefined sound. This is equivalent to miking the port hole in you speaker cabinet. If you want to add this boominess to the sound from your pickup, (maybe it’s to make up for the lack of low end from a piezo pickup, in your bass or you just like more boominess than what naturally possible from an upright bass), but it doesn’t make sense to spend $700 on a flat frequency response mic to just to boost boominess, nor are you getting a true tone from your bass.

As a young engineer I kept running into bass players who were obsessed with something they called the “f hole”—so compulsive that at first I was afraid to ask what it was. I was relieved to learn that these were merely the two holes in the front of the bass. They are shaped like a cursive letter “f”. These bassists would insist that the very best sound is obtained by placing a mic right up on one of the f holes, and they usually had a preference for one or the other. I quickly learned that the sound coming out at that point is very dark and mushy, much like the sound of some of those pickups.

Once I was older and more experienced I found the courage and diplomatic skill to distract the bassist just long enough to place a large-diaphragm condenser mic directly in front of and about six inches from the strings, with the capsule halfway between the bridge and the bottom end of the fingerboard.

Click here for the complete source article

Move your head close to the bridge and you’ll hear a better sound. This is where a large majority of sound engineers prefer to mic and the consider the the sweet spot. I am not going to take credit for placing a condenser mic in that location as part of the amplification system, since it have been done already by some really great bassists, one of the most popular: Dave Holland. For an example, you can listen to his Extended Play: Live at Birdland CD.

This is not to say that the AMT is not a good quality microphone, but my preference is for the AKG. The newer tailpiece mounted model AMT S25b-tp would allow for miking where I’d like to pull sound from, but that mic is not removable for transport and it is too tightly focused to get a wider area of sound around it.

The AKG is not bass specific, nor does it need to be for where it’s located at. Because it is not instrument specific and AKG has the resources and experience to put together a reliable, durable, good sounding mic at a much lower cost (you’re sharing the R&D cost with tens of thousands of other people instead of a couple hundred).

I prefer BassBalsereit pickup because it picks up sound fairly even across the sound spectrum and can be cranked up with a good amount of feedback resistance. What sets the BassBalsereit apart is that you can turn the pickup and dial in the best and most accurate sound from your bass. It is the best pickup on the market based on my personal experience. The AKG mic does a great job of picking up the rich tone and nuances from that sweet spot on the bass. This all works nicely with the P.A. system and/or an accurate amp such as the Acoustic Image line of amps.

On Order Acoustic Image Coda+

I have just put in my order for the new Acoustic Image Coda+ through Bass Central. They anticipate that these will start shipping in a few weeks. I’ve known about Acoustic Image since they started, but until seeing this model, I was hesitant to change my decades old SWR/Bag End setup. Quite frankly, the first couple of Acoustic Image models always looked like they were works in progress . They have finally evolved to the point where I couldn’t resist this amp: It’s even lighter weight, more compact, very refined in construction and now they’ve added a head that you can undock (called the Cabrio System) that allows for the ultimate in flexibility. Most high end PA speaker manufacturers have already moved away from wood construction and have proven that material obsolete. Class D amps and sound chamber shaping abilities of molded polymer cabinetry has made the birch cabinets and class AB amps that I had seem so dated and unnecessarily heavy. I went ahead and ordered it. I sold off my amps and some cabinets, and then used that money to get this combo.

I’ve become a minimalist and my setup is now down to:

  • Old German Bass w/ Realist
  • NS Design CR4T (still waiting, it’s a special order)
  • Acoustic Image Coda+ (on order)

That list of gear pretty much does it for me. Maybe if I get the urge to be a coda_plus-design-lggearhead someday, I’ll buy the Acoustic Image Ten2 Ex to add to the Coda+ to get more volume if needed.

I’ll do a writeup on it when I get it in. It does seem a bit odd that all 100+ lbs of gear that I sold off is consolidated into this 20 lbs combo amp, but I’m sure my back will appreciate it. With the added AI Mooradian Soft Case, I’ll be able to roll my bass and tote the combo over my shoulder. It’ll be nice to be able to get everything in one trip, and still have 450 watts of quality sound. (Yes, I know that the specs say 800 watts; that’s only if you add another speaker and get the impedance down to 4 ohms.)

Turn My Amp Down? I Can Barely Hear Myself

backttfuture

Bigger is not necessarily better

A little technical talk here. Why are 10″ speakers preferable these days over 15″?  I’ve frequently been asked turn my bass amp down and/or roll off the lows by the people mixing, yet if I turned myself down anymore I wouldn’t be able to hear myself and rolling off the lows sound awful. I’m just trying to get a good sound at a reasonable level. The reason? I was using a 15″. Here’s a reprint of an Electronic Musician article by Glenn Letsche titled Speaker of the House for you gearheads who need to know why you’re better off sticking with 10″ speaker(s). Use multiples if you need to increase your stage volume. I wouldn’t buy an SVT for the upright bass, but the principle is the same overall for bass speaker selection.

Are you irritated with your stage rig because the low end sounds muddy, boomy, or thin? Did the sound person bounce you from the main mix at the last gig because your bass was too loud out front-and the real kicker was that you couldn’t even hear yourself on stage? Well, it may be time to investigate a new speaker cabinet. However, don’t go blindly into the forest of speaker sizes and configurations.

This may be hard to accept, but big, sexy, 18-inch speakers and biamped systems do not necessarily deliver the hippest bass sound. If you lust for a truly fabulous bass cabinet-one that will help you tear the roof off most clubs and compel those sweaty bodies out in the audience to move and groove-you must forget the technobabble about SPL, dB output, and frequency response. In fact, you can also rip up all those spec sheets, gang, because now it’s time for some good, old-fashioned common sense about 10, 15, and 18-inch speakers. Let’s check out which speaker configurations are really the best for producing slammin’ bass using the only measuring device we can trust: our ears.

The 18-inch colossus. Eighteen-inch speakers are great-if they’re part of a triamped concert sound system. For that application, they pump out tons of low end to help produce a full-range sound spectrum by anchoring the mid and high frequencies. But, for the bass player, an 18-inch speaker will sound too “woofy.” In addition, these giants project your sound too far beyond the stage. Typically, the sound waves do not develop until they reach the middle of the room. This means that on stage and in front of your amp you can barely hear yourself, while out front, the sound person is pulling down your fader to avoid getting clobbered by bass! In these cases, front-loaded cabinets (in which the speaker faces out) are bad enough, but folded-horn cabinets with the speaker facing the rear are a nightmare. So do yourself (and your audience) a favor and resist the machismo-fueled temptation to go with big, bad speaker cabinets.

The 15-inch giant. Fifteen-inch speakers suffer from the same sound dispersion problem as 18-inchers: the farther you move from the speakers, the louder they get, and the better they sound. This can be a drag, because most bassists stand close to their rigs. And who is out front, getting pummeled once again by bass frequencies? Right-the soundman. You can bet that your bass is no longer being suitably mixed into the main house speakers. Fifteen-inch speakers are typically front loaded in pairs. Although this configuration was the “standard” for years, I have never known a bass player who was content with this setup. Small wonder. In an effort to improve the sound of these cabinets, some bassists would upgrade the system with expensive speakers. That move would improve the timbre somewhat-especially at low volumes-but once the level was cranked up, that awful “woof tone” would reappear. Obviously, this is not the optimum system for a bassist who is serious about his or her sound.

The biamp boondoggle. Frustrated with their tone, confused bassists often run to the nearest music store, where a salesperson may suggest biamping a rig for true “audiophile” bass. (The term sounds good-whatever it means!) Various speaker combinations are auditioned-an 18 and a 15, an 18 and a 10, and so on. Everything looks great on paper. The rig even sounds wonderful when tested at home. But at the gig, once again, the bass frequencies simply disappear. There are lots of highs and lows being produced, but the low-end punch is gone. What happened? Well, when you biamp a bass guitar rig, you delegate the low frequencies to one cabinet (loaded with an 18- or 15-inch speaker) and the upper frequencies to another cabinet (typically loaded with a 15- or 10-inch speaker). As I stated earlier, on paper this looks like a great idea. But in practice, the midrange thrust of the overall bass sound is a whisper, and your ears are screaming, “Something is wrong here!” No, you’re not going crazy: a couple of bad things are definitely happening. First, the sound at the crossover point of the two speaker cabinets tends to disappear, creating an obvious vacancy in the tonal spectrum. Second-and more important-for a true, punchy bass sound, any note plucked on the bass guitar must saturate one size of speaker. The biamp system is robbing you of monster tone! It’s one thing to biamp or triamp a P.A. system to accurately reproduce each and every instrument in the band, but a bass guitar doesn’t require that level of signal manipulation. In this instance, more tonal options only serve to dissipate the aggressive wallop of the bass. The subwoofer system. A biamp configuration that can work-if used with extreme caution-is the subwoofer system. The massive low frequencies these systems generate are often unwieldy, although under rare circumstances, a subwoofer can produce incredible results. For example, when I played bass with Robin Trower, he wanted to feel a “blanket” of bass under his (very loud) solos. In that situation, my subwoofer system supplied a huge low-end floor to the sound of the power trio, and Trower was happy. Of course, in another performance situation, the added bass might have been too much, making the music mix sound muddy and flabby. Again, incorporate subs with caution. To set up a subwoofer system, your bass preamp must have separate subwoofer and full-range outputs. You must also have a separate stereo power amp. Send the subwoofer output of the preamp to one channel of the power amp, and connect a 15- or 18-inch speaker cabinet. Then send the full-range output of the preamp to the other channel of the power amp and connect that channel to a full-range speaker cabinet (preferably a 4 x 10 configuration). Bring up the volume of the full-range channel first, and set it to the desired volume. Now, set the crossover point for the subwoofer output between 100 Hz and 200 Hz (or wherever it sounds good), and crank up the volume until you achieve maximum thrust. If you’re using this setup for an appropriate application, it should work like a champ! The power of ten.

Okay, here’s the secret of a bass player’s success-the speaker system that works consistently in 95 percent of all live performance situations. It’s simple: tens, tens, and more tens. Ten-inch speaker cabinets (2 x 10, 4 x 10, or 8 x 10-you can’t lose!) supply tons of lows, mids, and highs. These cabinets will keep your bass sound tight and muscular. Trust me, your notes will sound big, round, and articulate. And if you still believe that an 18-inch speaker cabinet should kick butt on a “puny” 10-inch system, line up the two configurations side by side and compare the sound. Your ears will not lie to you. The tens will convert the most skeptical player. I guarantee it. After all, twenty-something years ago, Ampeg unleashed its SVT amp with 300 watts and two 8 x 10 cabinets (sixteen speakers!). This rig produced the first bass body massage and became the unofficial standard of stadium and club stages. Each of those 10-inch speakers acted like ten strong Swedish fingers, working and kneading every muscle in your back. Your body tingled with every pluck of the strings. Passing time has brought numerous refinements to speaker technology, but the functional concept of 10-inch speaker systems for the bassist rocks on. In fact, that old SVT sound continues to be a much lusted-after tone.

Why reinvent the wheel? Savvy players stick with what works best, and 10-inch speakers are the prime choice for raging bass sound. Now get down and go deep!

How to Make a Living (Part 3): Music Merchants

This is a continuation of the series on career choices for bassists. The Music Business that I’m referring to today is the merchant side of the business.

Aside from gearheads, sometimes aspiring musicians end up working in the music merchant business for reasons unknown to them. They usually assumed working because of their perception that the music merchant industry is closely related to the music making field. The fact is that these are two separate industries.

namm_floor1When I was in college, I worked a couple of summers at a bass amp manufacturer. Later on, I ran a modest online music products mail order retail, while simultaneously running a separate bass specific online music store to help pay for tuition. I’ve spent enough time in the music merchandising business to share some insights with you. Many musicians work in the music business to make ends meet, since it’s hard to make a living solely being a performing musician. If you enjoy selling musical instruments and working in a music store, then more power to you, but here’s some alternate practical ideas about how to juggle paying the mortgage while working on your career as a performing musician.

The music performance business is a completely different industry than the music merchandising business. Many people in the music merchandising business do have a music background, but the only real connection between the two is the word “music”. I’ve been in meetings with key people in music merchant companies and they never talked about music, they talked about what all other business people in any industry do; profits, efficiency, market-share, and manufacturing. They’re more likely to discuss their golf swing than music. Most workers are about the same, most of them don’t even know much about music, there is no musical background advantage or requirement when the companies are doing job interviews. Whether you work for them or Intel, there’s about the same amount of involvement with music: zero.

One of the common misconceptions is that working at a music store makes you more of a musician than working at a regular business. Whether you work at a music store or at Radio Shack, your tasks aren’t really much different. You are there to sell and provide customer service. There’s no benefit to you as a musician for working at a music store vs a general retailer, except maybe the discounts that you might get. When I worked at the amp manufacturer, it was a business. We might talk about something related to music every blue moon, but for the most part, we were focused on doing our job: manufacturing and getting the product out in time. Music merchant businesses are just as much of a dead end career-wise for performing musicians. Again, if you enjoy the music merchant business, then more power to you. There is nothing wrong with this business, it’s just that some aspiring performing musicians have a misconception that opportunities exist for them there.

Let’s get down to the bottom line. On average, a music store pays much less than a good retail business. From the management end, I made 2x more money as a general manager of a industrial equipment rental dealer versus an offer for an identical position at a corporate run music store. As a far as commissioned sales people, my salespeople were pulling in also 3x more than their counterparts at a well known corporate music store. If you are indifferent to working in a business that deals with guitars, violins, and drums versus a business that pays you better, it’s something to really consider. The bassist at the amp manufacturer didn’t do anything more musical than me during the day, just because he was in the music (merchandising) biz.

This perspective is not to discourage you from working in the music merchant industry if that’s what you enjoy. Some people run these businesses because they enjoy it. When I ran my music retail business, the margins were good, but the volume wasn’t there compared to other types of retail businesses. In other words, you’d better like doing it, because you could do better financially elsewhere. At the end of the day of working at a non-music business, I still aspired to do the same thing as any employee in the music merchant industry; I wanted to perform and make music. The difference is that I could pay the mortgage, have savings, support our family and we still had a decent living while I was pursuing my music career goals.

Why Are You Online? … Go And Play

Just putting another perspective on gear addicted bassists (gearheads)

kennyG

Kenny, should I 'Just Say No' to gear talk so that I don't have to accompany cheesy sax music?

I appreciate the hundreds of you that now visit this site daily. Your support is highly appreciated. I’d like to take this time to do a public service announcement: Don’t spend too much time online reading this stuff and importantly don’t get addicted to gear.

There are those that love the gear aspect of music (gearheads), which is not at all uncommon. As I have mentioned in previous posts, there are people who know and focus on gear far more than playing the instrument itself, are usually mediocre bassists at best.

Most of the best musicians that I know usually don’t obsess about equipment and they don’t care about the engineering behind a product. They don’t sit there on forums everyday writing about the difference between Underwood, Realist, Fishman and K&K. They go and try out stuff and when it sounds good, they buy it and they’re done. Equipment to them is the headache part of trying to get a good sound. There are only so many hours in a day and if someone is spending hours each day on the internet talking about gear, then that’s hours less they spent actually playing.

If your going to converse with other bassists online, your time would be spent better talking about anything else that actually addresses being a better bassist. You’ve gotta question the motives of someone who is always online posting about products (and plug their store). Of course the music retailers would love to perpetuate your addiction to gear by keeping you talking and thinking about gear; they want to keep the money rolling in.

Thinking about ways of playing better is far cheaper.

Gearheads: Let’s Care More About "Something More Human"

What type of bass do you play? Do you know what the best amp out there is? What’s the best mic for live vs studio? Carbon fiber vs pernambuco bow. What’s better, the Realist, Fishman, Underwood, or …?

It’s good to know how to get a good sound out there, but we shouldn’t spent time on things that are not perceivable to the audience. My wife is not a musician, but she appreciates music and attends concerts with me. I can spend a ton of money on gear and she couldn’t tell the difference. She can however, easily spot a good musician or performance from a mediocre or bad one.

At a certain point, are we taking away from developing as a musician by spending time studying up and talking about gear? As a whole, we’re not as bad as guitarists by a long shot, but we do get caught up in all of that “stuff”. But at the end of the day, we don’t want to be gearheads. How many us know guitarists that talk all day about guitars, but have thought to ourselves, “if you knew as much about music as you do about gear, you’d be the Yo-Yo Ma of guitar.” To add more flavor to that analogy, here’s a past article about Yo-Yo Ma’s perspective on his highly coveted $2.5 Million US Dollar cello.

Even while Yo-Yo Ma is playing on a grand and majestic Italian cello, worth
millions and with a distinguished pedigree, secretly he is hoping you won’t
notice it at all. “My personal goal is to transcend the instrument,” he says, so
that when you listen, it’s about the music.

Of course, if you do want to transcend your instrument, it helps to have
access to a really, really good one. Or two. When Ma tears into the Lalo Cello
Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood this afternoon, he’ll
be playing on a cello made in 1733 by the Venetian master luthier Domenico
Montagnana that is valued at about $2.5 million. He also performs on the
so-called Davidoff Stradivarius. Named for a former owner, it was also played by
the legendary British cellist Jacqueline du Pre (the instrument is now owned by
a group of investors; the Montagnana belongs to Ma). He calls the Strad
“innately gorgeous,” with an extremely refined sound, but says it is not as
forceful or versatile as the Montagnana, which he can use for rough-and-tumble
modern works as well as pieces from the standard cello repertoire. “You can ask
a lot of it and it keeps giving,” Ma says.

The Montagnana’s secret weapon is its powerhouse C string, the
lowest-pitched of the instrument’s four strings. Its sound and color are what
attracted Ma to begin with. He grew up with two violinists and a soprano in his
family, so he was “heavily into hearing treble,” he says. Ma chose the
Montagnana in the 1980s precisely because its strength was its bass.
But Ma
doesn’t get mystical about this cello, or speak, as some musicians do, about the
instrument as an extension of his soul. “It’s an object – a great object, an
artistic object – that you build a relationship with,” he says, “but if you’re
going to care about something, I want to care about something that’s
human.”

That said, a bit more fetishizing of his instrument might have come in
handy that infamous fall day in 1999 when Ma stepped out of a taxi on 55th
Street in Manhattan and left the Montagnana in the car’s trunk. Some three hours
later, after much hand-wringing and an intensive search effort that involved the
New York City Police Department, the cello was safely recovered in Queens – in
the trunk of the taxi. “I was just really absent-minded that day,” Ma says. “The
sad thing is that when my daughter loses something, and I look at her and say,
‘You can’t do that,’ she looks at me and says, ‘I come by it honestly.’ And
there’s very little I can say!”

Boston Globe 8/3/2008