Music Gear

Bass Rig Evolution

Click on the image thumbnails for larger versions.

Stagg BA20

Stagg BA20

December 1997 – Present
Output: 20W
Speaker: 8″
Weight: 10kg

This was my first bass amp, and was used at a fair number of quiet pub gigs. I’ve never attempted to use it “against” a drummer, and I don’t think that it would cope. I have used it for rehearsal a couple of times in the last year or so, but on the whole, it’s not very satisfying to play through as there isn’t any decent bass response.

The control panel is a little peculiar – the EQ section has the knobs in the order Treble, Middle, Bass whereas convention normally puts Bass on the left.

Peavey Nitrobass + 2 x Peavey 115BX BW

My old Peavey Rig

August 2001 – July 2008
Output: 450W
Speaker: 2×15″
Weight: 92kg

Initially just a head and single cab, I got the second 115 cab in August 2002. This spent most of its time in the bedroom, only getting taken out for 3 gigs. Fantastic to play through – power in droves, trouser-flapping bass. Unfortunately it’s not very transportable – to just take the head and a single cab to band practise required me to lower the back seat on my Astra, which becomes a bit of a chore when you also have a toddler’s car seat to uninstall/reinstall each time. That said, when I did eventually sell it, the buyer managed to fit the whole lot in his Micra.

Ashdown EB12-180

Ashdown EB12-180

June 2008 – Present
Output: 130W (180W with an additional 8Ω cab)
Speaker: 12″
Weight: 27kg

I replaced the Peavey rig with this, as it fits into the boot of my car with no fuss, yet still goes loud enough to meet my present needs. Unfortunately, carrying 27kg in one hand over long distances is no fun (in fact, I generally need to stop periodically to change sides), and so this year I decided to start thinking about furnishing myself with my dream rig.

Hartke LH500 + Barefacedbass Compact

Hartke LH500 and Barefaced Compact

April 2009 – Present
Output: 380W (500W with an additional 8Ω cab)
Speaker: 15″
Weight: 25kg

This, in the words of Alex Claber ((owner/designer of Barefacedbass)), is a “righteous rig”. That’s no ordinary 15″ speaker in there, either – that’s a lightweight, high-sensitivity Eminence Kappalite 3015. The cab weighs less than half of one of those old Peavey 115BX BWs, and is roughly the same size as the Ashdown combo, so will fit in my car’s boot easily. I’m looking forward to gigging this little beaut.

Music Gear Photos

Hanging guitars

My guitars

Left to right: Epiphone SG and Squier Vintage Modified Fretless Jazz (in the sitting room), Aria Sinsonido fretless and Richwood RD-18-EQ (on adjacent walls in the Man Cave) and a Yamaha BBG4SII (on the opposite wall in the Man Cave). The Aria is on a custom-built mount, but the others can move about as my mood dictates.

Not pictured – my Jim Harley P-bass copy. Those who are regular watchers of my Flickr account will have seen a photo of it recently. I keep it in a soft case because I very rarely play it.

DIY Gaming Gardening IAMOWIM Music Gear Parenting

What have I been up to lately?

Not blogging, that’s for sure.


I’ve got a couple of new toys, a Squier Vintage Modified fretless Jazz Bass, and a Zoom H2, which is a nifty little recording device that contains 4 internal microphones and records WAV and MP3 files to SD cards in startlingly good quality. It’s loaded with bells and whistles and is just what I’ve been looking for all these years. I’ve also restrung my acoustic guitar and have purchased a set of strings for my Epiphone SG. This happens quite infrequently. I’ve also got my guitars up on wall hangers these days, which means that I have to spend less time picking them up off of the floor and retuning them.


I have a new Krups coffee machine, the XP4020 ((the Krups website is antler-scratchingly bad, so I refuse to link to it)). I’m getting superb espresso out of it but it’s still taking some time to get used to. The grounds are very wet after use (which is supposedly due to the grounds not being tamped down hard enough, but I’ve tried a range of forces between featherly and elephantine and it’s making no difference) and I can’t get a decent foam on my milk. It will come in time, I’m sure. I’m really appreciating how much more quickly I can make a good cup of coffee these days. With the old machine I’d spend a fair amount of time waiting, but now I can do the whole process with no wasted time.


Haven’t been doing much of this, though on a couple of occasions lately the three of us have cycled round to some nearby brambles and gathered up kilos of blackberries. That’s damn good fun.

Playing Tomb Raider 2

As mentioned recently. Ah, they don’t make them like they used to. I’m playing in little bursts, half an hour or so every other day, and I’m currently a short way into the 40 Fathoms level.

Watching CSI, 3rd Rock From The Sun and Sapphire and Steel

Thanks to Mr Hg for the latter. We’re currently half way through season 5 of CSI, and we’re working our way through them at a rate of approximately one season every month. I think that we’ve seen most of seasons 6 and 7 already but we’ll enjoy re-watching them, and we’re definitely looking forward to season 8 which we haven’t yet seen. And I’m watching 3rd Rock in order too – I’ve just started season 4 and I think that for the most part I haven’t seen any episodes in seasons 4 to 6.


I’ve actually been reading more recently, getting through about a book per week. It’s not the most readious period of my life to date, but it’s definitely well above average.


Wandering around parks and playgrounds, taking photos of things and sharing mischievous smiles with Bernard. His language development is currently at a stage which I would describe as “explosive” with new words being added to his vocabulary daily. I’ve also organised all my photos from the last few weeks, so there will be a photo-based post on this site every evening for the next week.

Gardening and DIY

A little of this, but not too much. The occasional carefully-chosen task, selected for optimal benefit:time ratio. That said, the garden and allotment are both in reasonable condition. So it must be a case of working smarter, not harder.

Contemplating felines

We’re pretty much decided on this one, actually. We’re intending to go round to the rescue shelter tomorrow to see who is around. All three of us are cat lovers, so we’re unanimous on this one.

Complaining about my wrist

10 days ago I woke up with a very sore wrist. I wore a support bandage quite a lot over the next few days. People would put on concerned faces and ask me what happened, and I had to sheepishly respond that actually I just slept on it a bit funny. Karen thought that it was RSI from all the Tomb Raider I’ve been playing. After 5 days, it was not getting better. As an experiment, I took the bandage off, and kept it off. It’s been getting better ever since. I’ve decided to attribute the persistence of the discomfort to muscle atrophy, and what the injury needed was not rest, but exercise.

Music Gear Photos

How to make an amp cover on the cheap

When the time comes when you need to carry your amp a short distance through a rain shower, you’ll find yourself wishing that you had a nifty means of keeping it dry. You can buy a fitted cover for a tidy sum, or throw something together on the cheap that does an adequate job.

My bass amp

This is my new bass amp – an Ashdown Electric Blue 12-180. You can get a fitted cover for £35 but I’m making one out of a spare Ikea shopping bag that cost 25p.

Music Gear

He brought his dog too

As I mentioned a while ago, I was considering selling my big bass stack. I decided to go ahead, and the buyer came to collect it this evening. He arrived just after 8pm, and I let him in to look at the rig. I plugged it in so that he could verify that it was all in working order, though obviously he couldn’t turn it up very loud because my son was being put to sleep upstairs. He gave me the money in £20 notes, which was perfect (one of my concerns had been that he’d try to pay me in mixed denominations).

“Might have to take it in two trips” he said.

“What kind of car have you brought?” I asked.

“Nissan Micra” he said.

“Ah” I replied.

Not only had he come round in a Nissan Micra, but he’d also brought his ladyfriend. I also discovered, as we took the first cab out to the street, that his chihuahua had come along too. He’d also brought his bass along, and the floor of his boot was scattered with cassette tapes and batteries (to which I remarked words to the effect of “uh, do you want to tidy this up, or should I just crush it with this 80lb cabinet?) The most startling thing of all was that it fit in the car. A snug fit, admittedly, but I was still impressed. The boot closed and everything.

I just hope that he drove home gently. A severe bump could have pushed one of those cabinets through his read windscreen.

An era ends.

Music Gear

New gear!

I have had a Stagg BA-20 bass combo amp for ten and a half years. I was given it for Christmas in 1997, after I had been playing bass for a few months. It’s quite weak, with only 20W power output, but I actually used it for practises and small gigs for many years.

I was then given a real bass rig by my mother for my 21st birthday. It consisted of a Peavey Nitrobass head and a Peavey 115BX BW cabinet (which contains 1 15″ Black Widow speaker). The Nitrobass head is still manufactured under the name of the Max 450. I used this rig at a few gigs, and much like broadband internet, it set new expectations for my bass sound. The little Stagg bass amp now sounded pathetic and barely useable by comparison.

My mum gave me a second 115BX BW cabinet, I think it was for my 22nd birthday. However, I haven’t done a gig since, so I’ve never gigged with both cabinets together. In fact, I haven’t used both simultaneously for at least the last four and a half years. These days I keep one of them upstairs in my music room, and the other downstairs, so that I can take the head and one cabinet to band practises without needing to lug an 80lb cabinet downstairs and then back up again (also, I don’t really have room upstairs for both cabs!)

I’ve been considering getting a combo amp that is more appropriate for my needs. My dad was down this weekend, and when I mentioned it, he said “well, it’s your birthday in a couple of months, so let’s go shopping, and I’ll pay.” In the event, he forgot to take his credit card, so I paid, but he will reimburse me.

So I now have an Ashdown EB 12-180. It’s not as loud as the Peavey rig, but it’s loud enough for my needs. It weighs less than each 115BX BW cabinet, and will fit in the boot of my car. If I’ve done my calculations correctly, it has the portability of the Stagg amp, combined with the volume of the Peavey. It’s the only bass amp I need, and I can now sell the others (though I don’t expect much for the Stagg).

There is a possibility that in a few years I may find myself playing larger venues, and the Ashdown won’t have enough oomph. If this happens, then it will have made sense to hold onto the Peavey rig. But I think the chances of this are slender – if it does turn out this way, then I guess I’ll look for a second hand rig. But let’s assume that this isn’t going to happen.

The Peavey rig is in great condition, and it will be a shame if I don’t get 50% of the original price for it. My mum has a very generous streak in her, which sometimes leads her to buy overly extravagant gifts. In this case, she spent £900 on a bass rig for me 7 years ago, which I have never really been able to push to its limit, and all the money lost to depreciation has just disappeared into the ether (or into the pockets of the Peavey company, technically).

That said, I don’t think she’s expecting me to pay her back for it, so I’m actually going to end up £450 better off (albeit at her expense). Maybe I should just shut up.