Level 42 Bass Guitar Gold

This is just a really quick post to share something that I found entertaining on a number of levels.

The video below is by Giorgio Tonazzo, who is undoubtedly a fine bassist by anyone’s standards. He’s really nailed the bass part for Level 42’s “Children Say” and adds in his own little flourishes and twiddles to great effect.

The real stars of the video, though are his kids (I assume they are his anyway), who make an appearance at 0:49. At first they sneak in but they go on to get ever more bold in their bid for internet stardom. Enjoy their dance moves!

Bass Guitar For Dummies

Right then, I came across this little gem of a “Dummies” book the other week when surfing around on Amazon during my lunch hour. I’m a huge fan of the Dummies guides and my bookshelf has quite a few of those yellow and black spines lined up. Some of them are pretty well thumbed, too.

The details of this particular one are as follows:

TITLE: Bass Guitar For Dummies
AUTHOR: Patrick Pfeiffer
BINDING: Paperback

It has been updated since the last version and now contains info relating to cutting edge bass gear and technology, all the wee nick knacks and accessories that you’re likely to need as well as some new songs and tricks to master.

No matter what anyone says about the bass guitar, it forms the bedrock – along with the drums – upon which all the other instruments depend. Imagine the Jimi Hendrix Experience with no bass guitarist. It would have been absolute mayhem. Jimi was, of course, a master guitarist and his licks were as varied and unpredictable as they come, but add Mitch Mitchell into the mix and it made for pretty heady and chaotic stuff. Thank god for Noel Redding and his simple basslines, which held the music together and prevented it from turning into an incomprehensible cacophony. I’ve often thought it was a good job that Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers was too young to hook up with those guys because that kind of bass playing could have royally messed up the magic.

If you read Bass Guitar For Dummies, 2nd Edition, I can’t promise you that you’ll be as good as flea – or even Noel Redding. But if you put what you learn into practice and work at it, chances are that you’ll end up being at elast as good as Redding anyway. Because, let’s face it, Redding didn’t need to be all that good technically, he just had to hold down the bassline that kept the rest of the band together.

The book will give you the benefit of advice from the experts on the fundamentals of bass guitar playing, including what kind of bass to buy in the first place, and what to look out for when making that all important first purchase. It will also take you through what extra peripheral gear you might need… as well as what gear you can get along just fine without.

Add to that all the stuff you need to know about how to get the ball rolling musically, including musical theory, aspects of technique and how to improvise and you’re now talking about a book that is well worth the cash outlay.

According to the bumph on Amazon, it includes these nifty elements:

  • New coverage of slaps, double stops, de-tuning, and fretless techniques
  • New musical exercises as well as updates to charts, illustrations, photos, and resources
  • Includes bonus CD with audio clips of all the examples in the book

So don’t just take my word for it, click on that funky box below and get yourself a copy of the best dang beginners to advanced reference book that a Dummy’s money can buy!


The History of a Guitar

I’ve always wanted to play the guitar. As a teenager I was very envious of those kids who could play the guitar. It was such a cool talent to have at parties. I imagined that being able to play the guitar would make me more interesting and appealing to the fairer sex. Like most teenagers, I preferred to dream than to act.

My ambition to play the guitar was completely forgotten until I was 22. I had left university and had spent a year saving up money to go on a big overseas trip. My plan was to start out in Europe and then to go east to Turkey, India, South East Asia, China and then finally to Japan to see my older brother who is living in the Land of the Rising Sun.

One of the first countries on my tour was Spain. I went to Granada and visited the famous Alhambra. In the back streets of the city I found a small shop that sold Spanish guitars. I bought one for 70 Euros.

For the next few months I travelled around Europe and then headed East, first to Turkey and then to India. During this time I used to practice my guitar whenever I could. I met lots of people along the way to give me free lessons. By the time I reached Madras in the south of India I could play The Times are a Changing by Bob Dylan and Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. Playing and singing at the same time was tough but I used to try. The people that I met traveling were very forgiving.

After 4 months in India, I sadly said goodbye to the country. It remains my favorite place in the world – so cheap, so exciting and so intellectual.

My next port of call was Thailand. I had little time to play guitar during my first few days in Bangkok. It was a hectic time of sightseeing and drinking.

Next I went to Lamkaen Beach, just south of Khao Lak town. I chose this place because some other people I met were heading there for the surfing. I thought I would try the waves as well. Lamkaen was a really relaxed beach. There were few people around and yet it was only a few clicks into town.

One night I left my guitar on my balcony. In the morning it was gone. I was devastated. The next day I went back to Bangkok and bought a new one. Still I remember that first guitar, and the great times I had learning to play guitar.

Humidity and the Guitar

Most guitars, especially Spanish guitars and acoustic guitars, are made from wood. The wood is still a ‘live’ entity. That means the wood is liable to change its dimensions ever so slightly. This is caused by humidity. Too much water vapor in the air causes the wood to expand; too little water vapor in the air and the wood is liable to shrink. Expand or shrink, these two movements are going to crack the guitar and ruin the sound of the musical instrument.

If you live in a climate where there are sharp rises and/or falls in humidity then you should consider buying a programmable thermostat that will regulate humidity in the room where you keep your guitar. Any good programmable thermostat will keep a home at a comfortable temperature. Judicious use of an air-con or central air system can take high humidity from the air. Unfortunately, only a humidifier can put water back into the air when it is too dry.

The Honeywell Prestige HD is one of the few programmable thermostats on the market with the ability to regulate both humidifier and dehumidifier units. This thermostat will give you piece of mind that your guitar is being kept in the right climate. The Honeywell Prestige HD thermostat, however, is a top of the range model that costs about $400.

If only high humidity is a problem a good programmable thermostat to get is the Honeywell VisionPro 8000. This model detects high levels of humidity and gives the room a quick spurt of air-con to lower humidity levels.

Finally, there is the popular Lux Products TX1500E that is only $40. It has a monitor that reads humidity in a room. This allows you to check every so often. If you think your guitar is in danger boil some water  to humidify the room or turn on the air-con to dehumidify.

Re-purposing Guitars

The greatest challenge of this century will be conserving natural resources. Already it seems that reserves of hardwood, oil, natural gas, coal, fresh water and minerals are running low. Companies are attempting ever more dangerous extractions to meet the world’s growing demand for natural resources. As the world’s population continues to expand and as more of the world is entering a consumer paradigm the problem is getting worse. Not only is the sea, soil and sky becoming polluted but also carbon emissions are threatening to radically change the weather.

One of the many solutions that will need to be applied to avert disaster is to practice better recycling. At the moment most recycling involves extracting raw materials. For example, we take old news papers and make paper pulp. What is much harder is to take something that is broken or not wanted and turn it into something that is new. This process is called upcycling or re-purposing.

We have been conditioned to throw electrical appliances out when they don’t work. We have lost the ability to fix things. This is partly because technology has become more complicated, and partly because of conditioning inherent in the consumer society model.

Hackers are people who refuse to accept this situation. They see a broken VHS player or electric guitar and they are inspired to find a different use for the working components inside the machines. It is a mistaken notion that hackers only work on computers. Far from it, any technology interests hackers. It is about reclaiming the right to use things beyond their original purpose. It is this philosophy that needs to more widely disseminated in order to combat the myriad environmental problems that are on the near event horizon.

Private Villa Hire in Koh Phangan

Tourist destinations in Thailand go through a pattern of development that varies very little from place to place. It can be instructive to be aware of this pattern if you are an investor so as to spot a possible opportunity for being there at the beginning of a new lucrative trend. For the tourist it can be useful to know all the options available so the right one can be chosen.

Generally, a tourist destination in Thailand starts off attracting the lower end of clients. This is backpackers and independent travelers. The facilities and amenities are basic. Often power is supplied by a generator. If there is internet it is very slow, and there are few choices about where to eat and stay. At this stage of development tourists stay in simple wooden bungalows with fans and mosquito nets.

As a place becomes more popular the accommodation starts to improve along with the infrastructure. Concrete bungalows with air-con and hot water become available. The influx of more money to an area often improves the roads and mains electricity becomes more common.

At the same time tourists with more money appear. They have heard about the exciting new destination and unspoiled nature and they want to see what all the fuss is about. These people have more money to spend on their holiday. As a result more bars and restaurants spring up offering better and more expensive wining and dining options.

Once a tourist destination in Thailand becomes a ‘hit’ developers with an eye for a bargain often appear on the scene. They build luxury resorts with swimming pools, charge high prices for food and drink and use a network of overseas travel agents to pull in the customers.

What was once a travelers’ secret becomes common knowledge. Not just Europeans start holidaying in the place but also Russians, Chinese and Japanese. The place assumes a gloss of desirability and people start to buy land in the area for private residences.

The island of Koh Phangan hit this point in 2007. Land prices started going up every year as people realized that the island was far more beautiful and unspoiled than the neighboring island of Koh Samui. Especially the Thong Nai Pan area in the north-east attracted a lot of attention from those looking to invest in land.

In 2008 the land price bubble burst but all is not bad news for the area. Several private villas have been built in Koh Phangan. In the hills around Thong Nai Pan there are a few luxury villas for rent. The price to stay in a hotel in Thong Nai Pan has soared to over $1,000 a night. It is at this point private villa rental in Thong Nai Pan becomes not only a viable business but a good budget option for tourists.

Places such as Sunrise Villa in Thong Nai Pan Noi can be rented for as little as $200 a night. For that renters get 3 bedrooms, not one. They also get a fully equipped kitchen, TV, hot water, air-con and all the amenities offered by the hotels but at a fraction of the cost.

For those put off by the high prices now being charged to stay in Koh Phangan it is worth checking out villa hire. The island has reached that stage in its development where there is enough demand for better value accommodation to make building luxury villas viable despite the current world house price downturn.