Planes, Trains & Basses… Is it Safe to Travel with Your Guitar on an Airplane?

One of the questions that comes up from time to time is about travelling on an airplane with your beloved bass.  It is safe to take a your bass guitar on an airplane and what’s the best way to make sure it arrives undamaged?  It’s a really a good question but, unfortunately, the answer is not so cut and dry.

Let’s start with the harsh reality.  Sometimes, despite your best thinking, there will be people that really don’t care about your property.  The most extreme example was presented in a video by Dave Carroll entitled “United Breaks Guitars”…

… The video exemplifies just how bad it can get when you check your guitar. You may expect a bit of rough handling, maybe the Tolex on your case gets gouged or that Rush sticker gets a bit torn, but that’s it right?

The reality can be anywhere from one extreme to the other.

Master Chapman Stick player, Tom Griesgraber, was telling me about one of his experiences.  He has a hardshell flight case, but chooses to carry his Stick in a gigbag.  He’s always carried it on the plane and stowed it in the overhead.  He does a fair amount of travelling and has never had a problem.  Except one time.  At check-in, the airline decided that the instrument had to be checked.  With only a gigbag, the Stick travel as baggage from San Diego, California to Paris, France.  Mortified, he phone the other musician he was meeting for the gig.  He had no idea what condition the instrument be in on arrival.  On arrival in Paris he picked up the instrument.  It was 100% fine.  No issues at all.

On a recent trip to Los Angles, my son purchased a bass, with only a gigbag.  He was quite concerned about the flight back to Vancouver, but was told he could store it in the closet.  He arrived home with his shinny new bass guitar without incident.

On a trip to Maui, I purchased an acoustic guitar with a hardshell case and checked it as baggage for my return to Vancouver.  On arrival all of our other bags came down the carousel, but no guitar.  After awhile an announcement came on about “picking  up special baggage” at a particular station.  The guitar was waiting there.  It seems that the baggage handlers didn’t want to send it down the conveyor.

After 911, security pretty much everywhere became extremely tight and I suppose that this had a negative effect on many musicians.  A few years after, a letter was sent to the American Federation of Musicians by the TSA outlining that it was policy to allow a musician to carry on instrument through security checkpoints.  It did, however, point out that the airlines, at their discretion, may not allow the instrument in the aircraft cabin.  Here’s a link to the letter.

About a year ago there was finally legislation in  US that defines what is allowed or not allowed.  In essence a musician is allowed to carry their instrument on board providing they can be safely stored in the cabin.  However, if instruments are very large you may be required to purchase a seat for the instrument.  I would suggest you read the article on BMI’s website and the FAA bill on the the subject.

One suggestion is that since gigbags are less bulky than most hardshell bass guitar cases, you stand a better chance of having that allowed on board the airplane.  But if for some reason you are forced to check the bass guitar, it stands a better chance if it is in a flight case.

One other thing to consider is locking your bass guitar case when checked as baggage.  Be aware that airport security may want to look inside your case.  If you have it locked, they are allowed to break the locks to obtain access.  There are a lot of cases now with TSA ATA locks.  This allows you to lock the case, but allows airport security to unlock it.  See this Gator case video as an example.

All this said, people are people, and airports and airlines are under a lot of pressure to keep the skies safe.  Most people will be reasonable and care about you and the safety of you and your belongings.  But occasionally you find someone that is overzealous.  Arguing with them is probably not going to get you what you want.  Try to stay calm.  On average, it appears that more often that not there will be no problem.  Mostly likely all will work out in the end.

Terri

Always Stay Tuned - Terri

PS  See more on Rick McLaughlin’s Blog.

 

How Terri’s Bass-Aholic Can Help You Promote Your Bass Brand

As of this writing (January 2013) Terri’s Bass-Aholic.com hosts web pages for 1037 brands of musical instruments.  That’s 1037 companies or groups that build instruments.  Of those, 923 pages are for companies that make electric bass guitars.  That’s a lot of basses.  There are easily a few hundred more brands that just don’t have pages yet.  So if your company doesn’t have a name like Fender or Gibson or a few dozen others,  and with so much competition, how do you get the exposure that helps you get your name out.

The good news to small builders comes in the name “Google”.  Google is a really good way for people to find out about your brand.Your map to the coolest bass guitars on planet earth  The problem is that, well, there’s a lot of competition out there. In fact that’s only one of the problems.

In the past decade or so, the Internet has become the place to do business and if you are a small builder, you need to have a web presence.

Many starting out will create a page on Facebook.  Since you can build and modify the page yourself, that’s not such a bad place to start. And as you create new models or develop new products, Facebook is a great way to get the news out.  Facebook is even a great place to stay in touch with your customers.

But beyond the basics you need to have your own website.  If you want to be taken seriously as the provider of quality musical instruments, you need to  have the look of a quality professional website.  Unfortunately, you’d rather spend your time in the workshop or at the drafting table.  Not on the computer, trying to learn how to build a WordPress site or trying to understand what SEO is.

The good news is that there are lots of professionals out there that can help.  Well at least they might appear to be professional.  I always joke about the commercial where the software developer builds the website with a fancy exploding volcano.  But what the business owner wanted was a website that allows their customers to track their orders.  The web developers build a very cool website, but unfortunately, it did not help the business owner fulfill the needs of their customers.  Sadly, this is all to often the case.

What can 101 Basses & Terri’s Bass-Aholic.com do for you???

Part of the answer lies in the resume of Bass-Aholic’s creator.

PHP Code in Bass Search Form

“For my entire professional career I’ve been a software developer, building business applications software.  (No volcanoes)  All of this work has been in a business environment solving business operational problems.  Over the past several years I’ve been working as a website developer.  I’ve built a great number of websites large and small that utilize a great number of web based technologies.

My other job, or night job, has been as a musician.  My musical background goes back to childhood and I’ve been playing bass since high school.  I’ve been a bassist first for virtually my entire life and have a great passion for bass.  I am a true bass-aholic.”

Put together a lifetime of technical expertise with a passion, almost obsession, for bass guitar and you’ve got someone with the drive to present your bass products in a way that reflects on the bottom line.

And isn’t the bottom line what it’s all about?  Regardless of your passion, your craftsmanship and your desire to build a truly amazing product, if you’re not making money you can only do this for so long.

A series of upcoming articles talk about how having a webpage on Bass-Aholic can help your customers find you and get a favourable view of you and your products.

We’re also going to talk about a lot of web tools and programs that you can utilize to promote your business.  You may want to build a website or maybe you just what to know how to talk to a web developer.  Or maybe you’d like to get some help from Bass-Aholic.

Always Stay Tuned - TerriStay Tuned! It’s gonna be fun!
Terri

 

Always Stay Tuned!

For a couple of years now I’ve been using “Stay Tuned” as a tag line. The idea, of course, is the double meaning of the term. The first comes from the age old broadcasting saying. “Stay tuned”, meant to not change your television or radio to another station.  The second meaning, for musicians, refers to keeping your instrument, or bass, correctly tuned.

So it seemed like a clever tag line.  Don’t you think?

Anyway, I figured for 2013 I’d start using a logo with the caption, “Always Stay Tuned – Terri”.  And here it is.  Hope you like it!

Always Stay Tuned - Terri

Merry Christmas!

In Vancouver it’s 6:00 AM December 24, but it’s already Christmas Day (3:00 AM) in Auckland. Yay, it’s Christmas!

To all my bass playing friends from every corner of the world, a very Merry Christmas to you! How ever you celebrate or don’t celebrate and regardless of your religious affiliations and spiritual beliefs and whether you call it Christmas or any number of other things, may you have peace and happiness at this time of year. And may the coming year be full of prosperity and especially full of music.

Being bass players and musicians makes us all part of a special community. Music heals the soul.

This coming year maybe we can all carry a bass instead of a rifle. Or carry a concealed harmonica instead of a hand gun. Maybe we’ll hear on the news of random acts of music.

May you all have a wonderful holiday and an upcoming year full of music.

Terri

The Bass Guitar Players Christmas Stocking Stuffer Idea List

I’m in a bit a unique situation. A lot of women out there are trying to figure out what to buy their bass playing boy friends or husbands for Christmas.  But for me, I’ve got a big Christmas bass guitar shopping list that I’d like for some handsome fellow to buy for me. Diamonds might be *most* girls best friend, but for me Santa Baby, I want bass guitars under the tree!

I know most guys want that vintage 1960 Fender Jazz bass under the tree.  But let’s face it. You’d never pick out the right one. So this year I thought I just come up with a list of mostly stocking stuffers idea that that would be great for that bass playing boy or girl on your list…

Cool Accessories For Any Bass Player
SN-5 GUITAR, BASS & VIOLIN TUNER These tuner are great for anyone that play guitar, bass guitar or violin in standard tuning.

  • Full Color Display rotates 360 degrees
  • “Stay put” clip
  • High Sensitivity Vibration Sensor
  • Features frequency range tailored to guitar, bass and violin
  • Tuner can be used on front or back of headstock (accommodates left and right handed players)
The Snark SN-2 All Instrument Clip-On Chromatic Tuner  Chromatic tuners are great for players that play more than just guitar or bass guitar.  These tuners are great for those that play instruments like the Pedal or lap steel guitars or Chapman Sticks.  Even for guitar players that using non-standard tuning such as Open-G tuning these tuners are indispensable.

  • Full Color Display rotates 360 degrees
  • “Stay put” clip
  • High Sensitivity Vibration Sensor
  • Features frequency range tailored to guitar, bass and violin
  • Tuner can be used on front or back of headstock (accommodates left and right handed players)
Dunlop 473R Triangle Stubby Guitar Picks 3.0MM 2 Dozen Do bass players play with picks?? Some do. Most don’t. And those that do will probably deny it. Till you’ll find that some of the best bassist on the planet do use picks. When I’m playing with a pick, like Carol Kaye says, it has to be large and hard. These 3.00mm large triangle picks are about as large and hard as they come. And the grips make them easy to hang on to. These are my personal favourites. And this package comes with 24.
Levy’s Soft Suede Guitar Strap  Even if your big strong man bass player doesn’t want to admit it. basses are heavy.  And having a wide leather or suede can help to take the stress off of the players shoulder.  These straps from Levy are my faves.  Since the strap buttons on each are positioned differently and the basses themselves are different sizes, I like to have one strap for each bass that I own.  I own a couple of these ones and they are awesome.
Levy’s Leathers MSS1-BLK Veg Tan Leather Guitar Strap Even if your big strong man bass player doesn’t want to admit it. basses are heavy.  And having a wide leather or suede can help to take the stress off of the players shoulder.  These straps from Levy are my faves.  Since the strap buttons on each are positioned differently and the basses themselves are different sizes, I like to have one strap for each bass that I own.  I own a couple of these ones and they are awesome.
Schaller Security Locks Black, Silver, Gold  What the heck are these shinny button things?  Well I have to tell you, they are one of the most ingenious things to come along since seat belts for cars.  If you’ve ever dropped a bass because the strap has come loose you have to have these.  One part of the lock attaches permanently to your strap, the other part replaces the strap button on the bass.  (Phillips screwdriver required).  When you put on your bass the strap latches on to the button, making it virtually impossible for the strap to accidentally pop off.  This is great for those heavy metal players, but it’s also just a good idea for anyone that wants to take care of their instruments.  A great stocking stuffer and they go really well with the Levy straps mentioned above.  Pick black, silver or gold to match the basses hardware, or pick silver if you’re sure which colour.
Led Zeppelin – Celebration Day On December 10 2007, Led Zeppelin performed a concert in London’s O2 Arena. The concert was filmed in HD and the sound is amazing. I’ve only seen the trailer, but would love to cuddle up with a bowl of popcorn and big glass of red wine to watch this after Christmas.
Hercules GS525B 5-Piece Guitar Rack For that true Bass-Aholic on your shopping list, this Hercules guitar rack is indispensable. How many times have you wanted to cuddle up on the couch and it was covered in basses. Well this will help with that problem. The guitar rack holds 5 bass guitars safely and securely. And will leave more room on the couch for you to get warm and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.
Hercules Stands Wallmount Guitar Hanger GSP39WB No room on the couch or the floor for all those bass guitars? How about the wall? That Royal Albert china is so blase anyway. Decorate your walls with basses instead. But if your honey is no handyman make sure he gets somebody with some building expertise to install the hanger before you showcase that ’51 Precision bass!

Cool Website – Build Your Own F-Bass Bass Guitar

What could be more fun for the serious bass-aholic, but to spend your day designing your very own high end boutique bass guitar?

In my cyber travels I’ve visited literally thousands of websites that have had something to do with musical instruments.  All too often I’m disappointed by poorly designed websites that don’t present, what might be a great product, in a way that might actually help sell their products.  My favourite example was a website for a bass builder that literally had a one inch square blurry picture of a bass with button that said “BUY NOW!”.  I’m guessing that over many years nobody would have clicked that button.

On the flip side are well designed, well written websites that have great graphics, (or photos) of the instrument you are interested in.  They have information about the builder, and even some geographical information.  (Imagine sending money to someone that doesn’t even have a postal address!)  They have videos and sound bytes and some endorsers.  Don’t you feel much better about dropping a few thousand dollars here?

One of things that are far too few and far between are the builders that actually get a professional web developer to build a full featured site for them.  And I’m not talking about fancy Flash presentations.  Too often web designers go crazy with technology and fancy graphics and forget they’re trying to sell a product.

George Furlanetto’s F bass website is one of those top notch websites that you love to see and love to spend time poking around it.  And what’s amazing is that F bass is not a huge company.  F bass builds high end bass guitars and has a staff of around ten people.

One of the things that’s really cool about their website is their custom build feature.  You will often see this with the big car companies like Honda and Ford, but how often do you see this with a small boutique bass guitar builder?

F-Bass Custom Build Webpage

F-Bass Custom Build Webpage

This web page lets you go through the process of designing your own custom F bass bass guitar.  If you are serious about buying an F bass, you can create a user and save your builds.  Presumably this will let you go in to the actual ordering process, but I’m afraid my Visa is not quite ready for this.  Instead, if you’re like me, you use the option for “just playing” and building the F bass of your dreams.

This site is a really cool idea for a number of reasons.  Firstly you can go through the process of deciding what kind of options are available.  This in itself is very useful, but more importantly you can see how much your exact bass is going to cost you.  This is great for those just kicking tires, but it’s probably really helpful for the F bass sales staff too.  This will avoid a lot of emails and phone calls from looky loos.  Those that might really be interested, but have no clue what the instruments cost. In the end, sales staff will only have to talk mostly with qualified buyers.

The build process takes you through numerous options from bass model, to string configuration, to orientation (right handed or lefty) to finish and hardware and so on.

This custom build page is one cool feature.  Well thought out and well designed.

I hope that other builders might look at this website as example of how to do it right!

Right on F bass!

“Stay Tuned!”
Terri

Note: The “F bass” logo uses a lower case “b” for bass.  101 basses may use “F-Bass”, “F Bass”, “FBass” or “F bass”.  We hope not to offend the builder.

F Bass - More on Bass-Aholic

 

Zig Ziglar — November 6, 1926 – November 28, 2012

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar

—–

This post has nothing to do with bass guitar, but is my tribute to someone that’s been a great inspiration to me.  Whether you are a politician, a sales person, or even a bass player.  We can all use a bit of Zig’s, “attitude of gratitude.”  R.I.P. Zig Ziglar.

—–

Many of us will remember the 1980’s as the time of the Yuppies or so called Young Urban Professionals.  I have to say that I was firmly embedded in that kind of thinking.  A time when each new car had to be a step up, from a status standpoint, from the previous one.

It was during this period that I came across the whole personal development craze.  We were all trying to become more and more successful and needed to find new ways to excel.  And suddenly there was a whole range of professionals that could show you how to get there.

We all remember the Tony Robbin infomercials.  At least those of us that couldn’t get to sleep at night.  (Probably worrying about their BMW payments.)  But you might not be familiar with one of the greatest motivational trainers of our time.

His name is Zig Ziglar.

Zig was born in Gary, Indiana in 1926, but moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi in 1931.  This is where he would spend most of his childhood and this is where so many of his stories of growing up were centered.  A year later his father died of a stroke and his sister died just two days after that.

During the war years he served in the US Navy from 1943 to 1945, but didn’t see combat service.

In 1944 he met the love of his life Jean and they were married in 1946.  Zig was a story teller and Jean was always present in his stories.  She was, as he put it, the “decided redhead”.  That was because, “one day, she just decided”, to be a redhead.

And that’s the way Zig was.  Always a funny story, but the story was always connected to a serious point. Continue reading

Let’s Play a Spunky Bass Guitar – Willows Spunky Royal

I set out to find a new bass guitar for Bass-Aholic.  After all it’s been some time since I’ve added any new basses.  I have something called a “pending list” on Bass-Aholic that has probably another hundred bass brands that still haven’t been covered.  So poking around I came across Willows.  And oddly, it seems to be a rather large company.  How could I have missed it all this time?

Willows-Spunky-Royal-5-string-Bass-Guitar

Willows Spunky Royal 5-string Bass Guitar

Willows Guitars are made in South Korea and making your way through their website is a bit of a challenge, even using Google Translate.

But the company seems to do quite a number of things.  This from producing guitar bodies and necks to supplying a large range of components including bridges, pickups, machine head and strings.  Everything you need to make a bass or a guitar or just buy one already put together.

So many Asia builders are large companies that produce not only large quantities of instruments, but also produce instruments for many brands.  And trying to figure out who actually builds what brand these days is getting very complicated.   Long gone are the days when you knew you bought a Fender bass that it was built in Fullerton California or that your Gibson bass guitar was build in Kalamazoo Michigan.

So I guess I’m saying that even though Willows appears to be an obscure brand, you just never know if they are being made side by side a Korean Gretsch.

The Wow Factor – The Spunky Royal Bass Guitar

When I’m researching bass guitar brands so often I find companies that build basses simply to produce a copy of a Fender Precision or Gibson Thunderbird.  This is not to dis the boutique builders such as Sadowsky, Nash or Regenerate that build basses based on Fender designs.  Those basses are almost entirely “better Fenders”.  Instead I’m talking about those that just build a copy simply for the sake of having something to sell and lack the creativity to build something unique.

Willows does a bit of that, but they’ve also stepped outside of the box and come up with some designs that put them up there with the boutique builders.

For me, the real standout is this Willows Spunky Royal bass guitar.  From the photos, this bass rivals the likes of Benavente, (who is a master of the buckeye burl top, IMO)

Willows-Spunky-Royal-Electronics

Copper Foil Shielding – Ya gotta love it!

The body is Honduras Mahogany and the fingerboard is Macassar Ebony. This is a really nice looking bass guitar and a fine piece of woodworking.

But beyond the fancy woodworking are some quality components like a Badass bridge and Hipshot tuners.  The preamp is from Kent Armstrong and the finish is nitrocellulose lacquer.  This all sounds like the making of a great bass.  Don’t you think?

One thing that really caught my interest was this photo of the electronics cavity.  I’m still astounded at paying $1700.00 for an American built Fender “Deluxe” bass with nothing but bare wood inside the electronic compartment.  This picture shows completely foil shielded cavity.  A bit of quality that doesn’t appear in Fender’s high end products.  (I had to pay an extra hundred bucks to get my brand new Fender fixed.)

Willows Hard Shell Case

Willows Hard Shell Case

One other nice feature is what Willows calls a “wood” case.  These look like high quality old school Fender cases, but even better.   From the picture, they look pretty rugged.  A very similar case is included in the price of the very inexpensive Levi brand bass.  And I really like the brown Tolex.  Pretty nice isn’t it.

And to top it all off the bass even includes a heavy leather strap from Levy.  These are premium straps that your local store charges a premium price for.  And it’s included.

As you can tell, I’m pretty impressed with Willows so far, but having said all this, I’ve yet to see one in person.  That means I haven’t held or played this bass guitar.  So I can say personally if it plays well or sounds good.

I have included a video for you to watch…

…hopefully this is helpful.

I also do not have any pricing for this bass guitar at this moment. I did find a Willows distributor in Italy and have send them an email requesting more information.

Will pass that on to everyone when I get it.

What do you think?  Would you buy a Willows bass?  Have you played one? Owned one?  I would love to hear from you.

“Stay Tuned!”
Terri

 

Come and Join the Group – 101 Basses on Facebook

Did you know that there are lots of bass fanatics and Bass-Aholics just like you out there??? Come and join us on Facebook! There’s lots of players, builders, luthiers and mostly just a lot of friends on our group. So come and join 101 Basses on Facebook and stay up-to-date on everything cool and new in the world of bass guitar!

“Stay Tuned!”
Terri

Join us at 101 Basses on Facebook

Join us at 101 Basses on Facebook

Learning Bass Guitar – Who’s The Next Great Bassist?

Well it might just be you!

Over the past while I’ve been finding a lack of information geared toward new bass players. Those that are starting out and have no idea where to go.

There are, of course, tones of people selling “how to play” courses, but isn’t there a whole lot more to getting from zero to famous musician?

How about just knowing what bass to buy when you are starting out?

Or, what about success training or music business training? These are the things that you just don’t think about when you pick up that first axe.

But all this is covered in a new website called BassGuitarPro.com This new website covers a lot of the stuff that new players need to know. Even some of the stuff you don’t even know you need to know.

This site is brand new and hot off the press, so I’d love to hear from anyone that can provide any constructive feedback as to how to make it better.  While keeping in mind that this site should be geared to new players that don’t have years of background behind them.

“Stay Tuned!”
Terri