Bass, Low Range addiction, ERBs, a rant

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Why Nautilus‽, Jun 29, 2021.

  1. An unfamiliar wrist pain has put me off of practicing for a few days, so instead I’m writing this post!

    Hi! I’m Whynautilus! Just shy of 30 at this point, and despite this accounts creation in 2015, I’ve been following this forum probably since 2004 when I started playing.

    I started with an OLP stingray copy and a Crate 25 watt amp (still have the amp, not the bass). I took lessons, learned the basics, and started experimenting pretty quickly. My first “invention” was to play with a slide on my right hand, creating a sound similar to an EBow but much less pretty and consistent. I would continue listening to and being inspired by experimental music, trying new and weirder playing methods.

    I started dabbling with lower tunings, switching out my strings for BEAD (annoying my teacher) until I was gifted a used Washburn Hammerhead. It was heavy as a Warwick, with a Buzz Feiten tuning system, massive baseball neck, smelled terrible, and was painted by the former surfer who owned it. My teacher absolutely hated this bass, mostly because it played terribly.

    I discovered this forum, created an account (that I can’t remember, it’s probably still floating here somewhere) and discovered Extended Range Basses. Between this site and the lovely Namm Oddities, I was hooked. Printing massive color pictures of conklins, warriors, anything I could find.
    I started listening to Nuclear Rabbit, Yves Carbonne, and I watched the lecture videos by Stew McKinsey. I sent emails to countless luthiers, asking for advice, pricing, and probably just generally annoying everyone.

    I was convinced I needed an ERB. I asked you all what kind of amp I could use and was told the Alesis Sumo 100 (still my amp to this day). I started learning chords, tapping, floating thumb, muting. All in preparation for my ERB. I looked up string manufacturers (fewer back then), even went down to what kind of cable to use (I’m one of those dudes who bought a Monster Cable).

    Around the same time, I received my Red Rider BB gun. A Gary Willis Ibanez signature (the black ebanol one, not the fancy Bart). With this I really felt like a bassist. I practiced Les Claypool, Jaco, and refined my technique until I felt good enough to perform.

    High School and college passed. Degree in music, newfound love of jazz and classical, skill with an upright.

    I got my first couple jobs and finally saved up enough for my ERB.

    In 2015, I contacted Prometeus Guitars and asked him to build my dream: an 11 string fanned fret bass, shaped loosely like a fish (another obsession of mine). The design process was a dream. A true collaboration with the builder, and I was finally able to get what I had hoped for.

    I waited (im)patiently for the bass to be completed. When it finally arrived, I had a full 4 hours of work to wait until I could play it. It was horrible.

    The bass was flawless. I couldn’t be happier with it. I’m not the biggest handed guy, and this was well designed for me.

    Flash forward to now, 2021. Playing has slowed down greatly for me. I don’t find myself writing as much as I used to, and the band I’m in primarily plays covers of pop punk and 80s metal. I find myself using my 4 string Squier for most gigs, and I’m more content to noodle for a while rather than make Jazz Odyssey part 2. It hurts me to say it, but I’m finding bass is becoming a hobby more than a job. If I had the opportunity to do it for a job, I would in a heartbeat, but I can’t see that happening in my near future. My 11 string sits proudly on display next to my other instruments in my collection, but it is not played as much as I’d hoped when I first got it.

    This year I purchased a Gear4Music Colosseum 5 string, strung it up with sub bass strings (F Bb Eb Ab Db), and that has become my low bass workhorse.

    Anyway, the point of this rant is: I worked very hard to get to the point where I could invite an ERB into my life. I don’t regret that at all, and I’d never sell it. It’s my instrument, made specifically for me. But I am disappointed that I haven’t found or created more opportunities to use it yet.

    I acknowledge that I’ve been fortunate in life, and my story isn’t the same as other folk. I am lucky enough to have supportive parents and a supportive spouse encouraging my musical explorations.

    Final thought, as I’ve gone long enough now. ERBs are amazing instruments, especially when well crafted and in the hands of talented musicians. They deserve their place in the bass community. I hope anyone reading this who has thought about getting one will have that opportunity.
    I also hope that by that time, I’ll be feeling better and playing more too.

    Since this is a misc thread, if anyone wants to share similar stories I’d love to hear em!
    taketwo likes this.
  2. beatmachine pro

    beatmachine pro Inactive

    Jun 13, 2021
    wow my bass only goes down to B, and thats pretty frappy
    love low end

    didnt know about e.r.b.'s
  3. It’s a big ol world of bass!

    here’s some of my favorite ERB videos

  4. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    I think it's natural for all bassists to go through a "what's possible" phase, before settling on more traditional choices. You had to travel through the valley of the ERB to become the bass player you are today, even if you don't play the ERB that much anymore.
    Sascha Erni and Why Nautilus‽ like this.
  5. This is a really excellent way to look at it! I appreciate your perspective!
  6. spooncaptain


    Sep 30, 2020

    I picked up an 11 string early this year. It's an amazing (albeit a bit ovewhelming) instrument and I love playing it and I also already want to throw sub bass strings on a 4 or 5 string so that I have a simpler bass that I can play those ridiculously low notes on.
    Why Nautilus‽ likes this.
  7. This is exactly my experience. I’ve had my 11 for a while and yes, it’s overwhelming. It’s a monster of an instrument to learn how to play but it has its own rewards.

    That said, in a (non prog) band setting or something where you need simple access to the low strings, you can’t beat the sub bass.
  8. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    If you want to play outside of the box, you usually have to make your own opportunities.
    S-Bigbottom likes this.