All posts by Wade Craver

Bassist and founder of NorCal BASSIX

KrashBurn Atlas 5 Multi Scale Bass

Listen to the sound of this bass now (Music by: Wade Craver using this featured bass by KrashBurn):

KrashBurn Creates Another Masterpiece

We first came to know bass builder, Jim Kafalas a few years ago because he’s a local guy (Redding, our home town) who’s been gaining a lot of attention for his custom built guitars and basses.  So, of course, we had to find out more!  Since then we have managed to do a handful of video reviews of his basses over the last year and even went to the NAMM show in 2016 to help promote his new, custom basses to the world!  The whole experience went really well for him and we are glad to see him succeed in the world of bass building because his custom work is some of the finest that we have ever seen!

This latest creation is a one to behold!  We have taken some photographs and have given you all of the specs below.  It is a beautiful bass with all of the best features built right into it.  No need to customize because it is all done for you!  KrashBurn will custom design your dream instrument! His attention to detail is superb.  These instruments are the perfect balance of playability and design.

Flamed Maple top, Swamp Ash body laminated with grain accent.

Ebony fretboard with Abalam “V” inlay at 12th fret with Luminlay fret position markers. This amazing multi scale design provides an incredible low B with a scale length of 37″ to a G scale length of 34″.
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The colors are incredible!

With recessed knobs, EVO Gold fretwire banjo size and Kalium Strings.

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Nordstrand Pickups Big Singles.

With Darkglass Electronics Tone Capsule Preamp. What else is there to say? This thing is a tone machine!

 

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Hipshot Products Inc.

 Solo string Bridge saddles.

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Jim Dunlop Guitar Products locking strap buttons.

Screwless control cover plate which I think is a must have for anyone that spends time in the control cavity (i.e. battery replacement, parameter adjustments etc.)

The balance of the Atlas 5 was excellent in all playing positions.

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Hipshot Products Inc.

UltraLight Tuners provide a smooth and secure tuning platform for any bass.

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 Wenge deep bolt neck 4 ply laminated with Carbon fiber rods and threaded steel inserts.

Take a close look at the heel cavity and its tight fit. This kind of precision plays a crucial role in a bolt-on’s resonance, increasing tonality.

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Hidden input jack.

Not your typical 1/4″ input, KrashBurn has developed a very unique method of hiding the input jack.

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Custom Made In Redding, CA.

Quality craftsmanship!

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Find out more at: KrashBurnguitars.com!

Accugroove – El Whappo

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As we spend an enormous amount of time practicing, recording and experimenting with various bass techniques, a players’ ear is on the “never-ending” quest for tone. To some, the quest has come to an end many years ago with the creation of various types of bass enclosures. Whether you’re a fan of the 15″ sub-woofer enclosure or a 410 cab, odds are some of you are still on this quest of tone. After years and years of playing through every type of bass enclosure I could imagine, I still find myself analyzing my tone. Then there’s the fact that  once recorded, the tone of the bass is then played back through studio monitors, home theater systems, headphones etc. Now….ask yourself, what do these have in common? They all playback in a full range spectrum (meaning that the lows, mids and highs are perceived equally). Well….why not just have your bass tone come out in a full range spectrum to begin with? Good question.
Accugroove has provided the solution to this very question. Offering a selection of various full range speaker enclosures is the bread and butter of Accugroove. I was given the prilvilege of sitting down with the El Whappo from Accugroove. The El Whappo is an enclosure featuring a 15″ Neo Sub-Woofer, 12″ Neo Mid-Woofer, 6″ mid range and 2 Neo tweeters w/ circuit breakers. Equipped with Speakon connectors and a handling capability of 800 watts at 4 ohms, the El Whappo, delivers a clean, crisp, full range tone, in a single enclosure at an impressive 58 lbs.
During the review, we chose to run a couple different heads through the El Whappo. To start, we used a Tech21 VT Bass 1969 head, rated at 350 watts. The El Whappo easily provided a clean tone, allowing the true characteristics of the Tech21 to come through. The other head chosen was the Gallien Krueger MB 250, for its crisp clean tone. Again the El Whappo successfully reproduced everything with sonic perfection. The basses used were a Regenerate Malibu 5 and Regenerator 5.4, a ZON Sonus Special 5 and a Kala Ubass. All of these basses provide different tones yet the El Whappo always provided a clean and precise way for each bass to show its characteristics. To put it simply… Accugroove enclosures offer an uncolored, clean, studio monitor sound, that lets you hear the true sound of your bass.
So…. if you feel that Accugroove can bring your quest to an end, check ’em out and see what they have for you.

Regenerate Guitar Works Review

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Well, it’s that time of year again…. NAMM. This year the NorCal BASSIX crew, consisting of Bruce Calin, Ryan Trujillo, ConStancE aka ConArtistE (the actual brains behind NorCal BASSIX) and myself, endured the road trip to sunny Anaheim. I must say it was the best year ever. We got to see friends from the entire world all under one roof. How cool is that? You could say that for me, it truly is the kid in the candy store effect. Is it possible to say too many basses in one place….nah. So after hours and hours and hours of listening to the worlds top bassists playing the worlds top basses through the worlds top gear, I continuously found myself standing in front of the same booth. The Regenerate Guitar Worksbooth…..hmm. What can I say, I guess I just follow good tone.

Once I realized something kept bringing back to this point, I figured that I better review these basses.

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Regenerate Guitar Works is a Seattle based company built solely around the concept of providing top quality instruments at an affordable price and made in the USA. Also focusing on both right and left-handed players to ensure that no matter your technique, your Regenerate bass will play the way you want. Whether you prefer an exotic Cemphor Burl top or a stunning metallic green paint job, a jazz bass or precision bass, soapbars, active, passive, 4, 5 or 6 string, Regenerate can not only provide these options, but provide them at an amazing level of precision. Anytime I get a bass in my hands, I find myself checking for building flaws (that’s what you get from repairing basses for 20 years) After doing the eye comb over the Regenerate basses, I could honestly not find one design flaw.

Loaded with Nordstrand pickups, Hipshot bridge and tuners and slung with Regenerate strings, every model from Regenerate Guitar Works, was in itself a true piece of art. Models include the the VRB (Vintage Recording Bass), Regenerator, Malibu Series and more.

Shortly after NAMM, the crew was given the rare opportunity to demo a wide array of Regenerate basses in our studio.

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We not only got to play these great basses, we also had the opportunity to ask Rod Banach many questions about what actually goes into the building of these instruments. He was even kind enough to open a couple instruments, in order to see the shielding throughout the control cavity. It was like having the writer of a great novel explain why he wrote what he wrote.

Regenerate offers all instruments in a wide array of active/passive pickups and circuitry from Nordstrand pickups. Regenerate also offers the Duo-Tone option which gives you two passive tones in a single control knob. This push/pull tone knob provides your standard tone controls in one position, but in the second position you get more of the upper mids left in your tone. This provides an upper mid snap, unlike your standard passive tone. All in all…..Regenerate Guitar Works offers a very complete line of basses and guitars that anyone can enjoy.
A huge thank you to our photographer, Jazmin Mae. Without you, we wouldn’t have captured this experience.

Check out our video review:

 

UBass S-U-B from KALA

While attending yet another NAMM show in Anaheim, the NorCal BASSIX crew came across a product easily deserving of the NorCal BASSIX Bass Innovation Award. This ground-breaking product was the UBass by KALA. The UBass is a 21″ scale powerhouse of an instrument, designed with the working bassist in mind. The UBass allows bassists to travel the globe with an airline friendly bass that is sure to impress. This review will be focused on the new and improved 2013UBass S-U-B model in sunburst strung with Pyramid silk core strings.

At a lower price point,the UBass S-U-B features a poplar body, maple bolt-on neck with rosewood fretboard, active 2-band E.Q.(bass, treble) with a SHADOW pickup system located in the bridge, Hipshot tuners and is available in various color options. The construction of the UBass S-U-B is as durable as any full size bass on the market. This assures an instrument that is dependable and built to last. UBass has made a few upgrades to the S-U-B model since its original debut. These upgrades include an adjustable truss rod as well as a bridge that is slightly angled toward the lower register strings. This angle provides better intonation and overall clarity of the E and A strings.

Check them out:

 

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See our video review:

Some of you may remember our past review of the 2012 UBass S-U-B, strung with its proprietary polyurethane strings, posted on NorCal BASSIX TV. One of the more frequently asked questions in regard to the UBass was about the strings. To some players the smooth and flexible feel of the polyurethane strings seemed a bit awkward. This question has been answered with the introduction of Pyramid silk core steel wrapped strings. Designed specifically for the UBass. Pyramid strings provide bassists a string that sounds and feels just like your typical roundwound bass string. And yes…. you can even slap on the Pyramid strings. Whether strung with Pyramid strings or polyurethane strings, the UBass provides a subsonic level of bass unlike any I have heard. The SHADOW pickup also provides crisp clean highs, which nicely blend with the impressive lows. Having a wide array of tones makes the UBass suitable for any situation.

The UBass is also available in the California model which is available in 4&5 string, fretted & fretless and constructed of top quality woods and color options built in California. Be sure to visit the UBass website for a complete listing of these wonderful products.

Aside from the S-U-B model, UBass also provides a wide selection of gig bags, hard cases, string types, replacement parts, electronics, apparel as well as UBass kits for those wanting to construct their own UBass.

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Tsunami Cables

By Wade Craver

OK, you’ve got your dream bass, a brand new amp with cabinet, endless effects pedals on an enormous pedal board and your ready to go. The stage lights dim and your given the “go ahead” to hit the stage. As the first chord is played, you notice that you have no signal going to your amp. “CRAP”! Now you stand there looking at a spaghetti pile of cables running everywhere, wondering where the bad connection lies. Sound familiar?
A bad cable can render $10,000 in gear useless in an instant. Having top quality cables is essential to any setup, whether its bass, guitar, pro audio….you name it. The solution to this problem is simple…..use better quality cables. I recently had the opportunity to check out some amazing cables from Tsunami Cables. These cables feature bullet proof construction with top quality connectors.

There’s no “bad cable” shutting down your rig with Tsunami Cables.

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Available in a wide array of colors, lengths, straight and right angle connectors(for that enormous pedal board), mic cables,speaker cables, power cables and more, Tsunami Cables are hands down some of the finest cables I’ve ever used. Although, there are many manufacturers of cables out there, I prefer a manufacturer that not only offers the best of the best, but also takes the time to truly care about those who spend their hard earned money on products. That being said, I’m proud to announce that Tsunami Cables will now be the official cable of NorCal BASSIX. Check out Tsunami Cables for all your cable needs.

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Aahh…the Red Ripper from Tech21

By Wade Craver

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As I sit here looking at my laptop, trying to come up with some “snazzy” opener for this review, I find myself speechless for once. The Red Ripper is indeed the cause of this mind-funk that I find myself in. To put it simple, the Red Ripper is a monster distortion pedal, unlike any other. The Red Ripper combines various levels of distortion with slight characteristics of a flanger or envelope filter. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

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To start with, the Red Ripper is housed in a rock solid chassis, equipped with 1/4″ input and outputs, a studio quality 3 band E.Q.(Low, Mid, High), Level (adjusts the output level), Drive (adjusts overall amount of gain and overdrive) and of course the R.I.P. control. Once you set the E.Q. to your desired tone, you can then increase the Drive control to reach unbelievable depths of distortion. Then, using the R.I.P. control, phase through various harmonic ranges of distortion. This lets you go from a gnarly fuzz tone to straight up grunge distortion with the turn of a knob. The Red Ripper also features a Low Pass Filter switch that provides a thick low end while engaged. Turning off the Low Pass Filter, provides a brighter tone and harmonic range. A buffered bypass footswitch, means no more pops and clicks when you activate the pedal.

As I mentioned, the Red Ripper, has slight characteristics of a flanger or envelope filter. Though it’s hard to describe in writing, when you play an open E for instance, you can hear a slight phasing in the distortion, similar to a light flanger. The Red Ripper also behaves similar to a envelope filter, by sensing your picking attack. Pick harder for more distortion and pick lighter for less. You’ll get a much better idea when we post the video review to NorCal BASSIX T.V.

Another thing I’d like to mention, or should I say, warn you about. When using the Red Ripper with the Drive set to max, be sure that the level control is set low. While running the Red Ripper through the paces at the NorCal BASSIX studio, we neglected to adjust the Level control to compensate for the increase in Drive. When we activated the pedal, we nearly blew the windows out, not to mention every ear drum in northern California. Did I mention that we were running the Red Ripper directly into a Tech21 VT Bass 1969 head and two B410 cabs? Whew…

So, to be blunt, if you feel like stomping on a pedal with killer graphics and achieving the monster fuzz bomb or a shredding distortion, stomp on a Red Ripper from Tech21 and stand back.

WARRIOR Bella 62 J Bass

By Brian Wilkes
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Warrior basses are legendary and when they came out with this 60’s style bass when the Jazz bass became a legend, I just had to have one!  This bass is inspired by the tone of the old style and brings it into a modern time.  The past is preserved, using only the finest materials with no rushing involved. Each of these Bella basses are built by hand in the USA by Warrior and this particular one is #18.

#18 – 5 string bass in a J bass style.

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The bass is called Bella 62. They also have an “Isabella” and a “Dran Michael”. The founder and owner of Warrior, JD, told me that he will be adding the Bella to his line of basses. This bass has a great sound and you can get this P bass sound especially if you put wound strings on it for a nice J bass Jaco sound.

The bass has good action and a nice finish the all around.BassCraversWarriorBella6

The clear coat on the body and the urethane finish on the neck and fingerboard makes it very smooth, topped off with black binding on the neck and black block inlays on the fingerboard. The sound comes from a P bass Bar-tolini pick up in the middle, and a Fralin J bass pickup at the bridge and a black and silver Hipshot A style bridge also silver Hipshot tuning heads. Also with a Bartolini 2 band eq with a Volume, pan, mid range tone, bass and tre-ble knobs. The bass and treble are stacked. And has a white tortoise shell pick guard.

This is a great bass if you are looking for a bass that can do just about anything. It looks good and plays and sounds great!

Swamp ash body and Maple neck  

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Maple fretboard, Fralin j and Bartolini p pickups with Bartolini 2 band EQ

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Krashburn Multi Scale 4 – By Wade Craver

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When it comes to reviewing basses, I focus on several things such as tone, balance, construction, components and price. Krashburn Guitars, located in Redding California, offers custom handmade basses and guitars that are sure to impress. I was recently fortunate to review the new Multi Scale 4 from Krashburn Guitars. At first glance, this bass is a beast. With great components, solid construction, perfect balance and a price range comparible to many high-end manufacturers.

 Features:

Body wood, 2 pc black limba -spalted-top wood, Buckeye burl bookmatched- stained with black leather dye and sanded back single cut design with beveled edges and belly cut.

hidden input jack, locking style by neutrik
neck: 7 ply maple wenge bubinga construction, carbon fiber neck reinforcement rods, 2 way truss rod, roasted birdseye maple fret board w/ EVO Gold frets 24 jumbo size, luminlay glow in the dark side dot markers (charge as needed with LED flashlight)
6 bolt neck with brass 1/4 inch bolts with threaded inserts in neck.
Pickups: Lace Alumitones Bass Bars 4.0 wired vol/vol/tone CTS pots Mojo tone Capacitor .022 cloth wire
Hardware: Hipshot USA ultralite tuners 1/2, Solo bridge saddles, Rotosound strings light ga. 45-85
misc. Wenge headstock veneer, tung oil finish wipe on for satin look, black buffalo horn string nut, Scale length 35″ bass x 33″ treble

The neck is hand crafted with three, flat sides for easy handling and fretting positions. The neck and body balance perfectly both seated and standing, which is crucial in a bass.

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Having a heavy neck, causes the bass to “neck dive”, which can lead to wrist problems. Krashburn2The six bolt neck is most securely fastened to the body with an extremely tight fit.

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The Volume, Volume, Tone configuration is a perfect way to go for all you jazz bass guys. The Bass Bars 4.o are amazing as well.

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Since the Multiscale 4 was built for a female bassist, I thought why not ask our wonderful videographer, ConArtistE, to give the Krashburn a run.

Hello, ConArtistE here, audio/videographer for NorCal BASSIX.  When Wade told me that he was doing a new review for KRASHBURN Guitars, I was certainly expecting to see an exceptional instrument.  With that in mind, I was STILL blown away by the quality of this bass!  I picked it up and easily played on it like it was meant to be.  The size, spacing and overall craftsmanship made me want one for myself.  Not to mention the absolutely beautiful wood used throughout! I have to say, the neck and the fanned fretting is what did it for me. My fingers are short and it is often hard for me to reach along the full range of the neck on most basses but not this one. The flat backside and edges gives me a firm grip to lay my fingers where they may and the fanned fretting feels like a natural reach for me.   I’m always glad when my playing improves, even a little, simply because I’m on the right size and style instrument.  KRASHBURN designed this for a female bassist and I’m sure it will suit her well.  So, good luck to her in all she does with it and thanks for choosing a builder from Redding, CA.

 It’s clear that our little neck of the woods is producing some talented people.  KRASHBURN is no exception.  We are proud to present for your consideration, our video review for this bass, enjoy!

 

Playing What You Hear By Jonathan Stoyanoff

How many times have you heard musicians lament, “If I could only play what I’m hearing in my head I’d be amazing.” It is a common theme amongst improvising musicians, and one that has a concrete solution. The question is not if you can play what you hear, but whether or not you have the time and patience to bring what you hear into being. Sound like a bunch of existential malarkey? Not at all…


Don’t Let Your Fingers Do the Talking

Stoyanoff
Many musicians build their musical vocabulary using the trial and error method. We put our hands on the instrument and…go! While this certainly has its place in the creative process, it’s not necessarily the best way to develop meaningful ideas. Our fingers will generally find the path of least resistance, especially in the early stages of learning an instrument or style when the time spent playing isn’t balanced out with an equal or greater amount of listening, (more on this later). We find comfortable pathways to move around the instrument, which are then reinforced by repetition. This can lead to extremely bad habits, especially if what’s being reinforced isn’t musical or includes poor technique.
So how do we minimize the role of the fingers in creating vocabulary, and maximize what’s going on in our heads? It’s a matter of training your fingers to play what you hear, and not hearing only what your fingers already know how to do.


Steady and Slow…Really, Really Slow…Wins the Race


When we are performing, we don’t have the luxury of slowing things down for a difficult section, or backing up to take another pass at that lick we just flubbed. Music in an art form that is expressed through time, and to some extent must be practiced in time. Practicing with a metronome or drum machine is essential in developing good time and feel, especially if you make it as challenging as possible, (see Tyler Mansfield’s article on this site). But that is how we practice vocabulary, not how we build it.
Slowing the process down to zero on the metronome levels the playing field considerably when it comes to the creative process. At this tempo, anything you can imagine playing on your instrument becomes immediately possible…you just have to put the time into creating it. With no tempo restrictions, we can thoughtfully compose superb solos, licks, concepts, and techniques, which then become the foundation of our practice. It can be very time consuming, and depending on how much virtuosity you are writing into your practice it may take many months or even years to fully realize what you are working on. However, in the final analysis you will achieve your goals much faster, eliminate countless hours of wasted practice time, and create music that is yours. There is nothing that resonates stronger in our playing than that which we have created for ourselves.


Damian Erskine’s Right Hand Drive and The Improvisor’s Path

NorCal BASSIX recently held the 2014 Bass Day event in sunny northern California, which featured Michael Manring, Jean Baudin and Damian Erskine. Gathering some of the worlds finest bassists under one roof takes hours and hours of scheduling, preparations and a lot of phone tag. Luckily all the hard work pays off in the end. Those who attended the event, were given the opportunity to learn from the best. Whether it was the jaw dropping mastery of the fretless bass from Michael Manring, astounding tapping skills of Jean Baudin or the unsurpassed theory knowledge of Damian Erskine, I think its safe to say that everyone learned more than they expected from one day of bass.
The biggest benefit of hosting these events, for me, is getting to spend time with these amazing bassists behind the scenes. I was fortunate enough to spend several days with Damian Erskine. As I continuously picked his brain over many cups of coffee, I was most impressed with his knowledge and understanding of theory. I must admit, it can be nerve racking to sit and play with such an impressive teacher inches away from you. Regardless, being put in a one on one situation such as this can do nothing but you make you a better player.

Damian had just finished his second instructional book titled “The Improvisor’s Path”.

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This book is packed full of what I feel are the most fundamental goals of theory for bassists. The Improvisor’s Path is a must for any bassist striving to gain an efficient understanding of theory and how to use it. As a bass instructor, I constantly press my students to spend time practicing scales, modes, arpeggios and chordal theory. Erskine’s newest book is a breath of fresh air for the teaching of these subjects. With an included CD, The Improvisor’s Path is a must for everyone.

The Improvisor’s Path is a follow up to Erskine’s previous book titled “Right Hand Drive”‘ which focuses on Erskine’s signature right hand technique.

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This book is also jam packed with wonderful lessons focused on developing right hand techniques for bass. So, if you find yourself in that dreaded theory rut, I strongly urge you to order these great instructional books from Damian Erskine and get on the path to theory knowledge.