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Steve Lawson

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    Birmingham, UK

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  1. Steve Lawson

    5's and 4's

    Perfect comparison - I love the sound of the TRBs (or at least, some of the iterations over the years) and John Patitucci was the first 6 string bassist I was properly aware of, but when I tried a TRB it just felt like it was designed for some kind of giant...! I was SO happy when I found the Modulus basses with their narrower spacing. Feels like they were designed for my hands. ...and then the Elricks actually WERE designed for my hands
  2. Steve Lawson

    5's and 4's

    ...it's also worth noting that the ergonomics of a 6 string bass mean that the experience of playing them fails or succeeds within much tighter parameters. I can't remember the last time I played a four string where anything other than string height felt like an impediment to playing - scale length, neck width, string spacing, on a four string are all workable within fairly wide parameters. With a 6, despite it being my chosen instrument, there are LOADS that I just can't play at all - the additional strings means that the effect of spacing differences are amplified, and the size ratio between finger length, arm reach and neck width makes that a far more critical measurement too... All of my 6s have the same string spacing (17mm) and the same nut/bridge width. The Modulus' are 35" and the Elricks are 33", which makes the Elricks pretty much exactly one fret shorter - when I pick up 6s with 18 or 19mm spacing, you might as well hand me a Harp... So, if you're interested in playing a 6, but find the ones you've tried uncomfortable, it may be worth investigating others with different spacing/scale length.
  3. Steve Lawson

    5's and 4's

    I played 4 exclusively for my first 12-13 years of bassing, then got a fretless 5 and 6 in the space of about 6 months in '99. Took the 6 out on tour as my main bass with Howard Jones about 5 weeks after I got it... that was a trial by fire! It took me 3 or 4 years before 6 felt as comfortable to play at 4, and about 8 or 9 years before I could read as fluently on it as on 4. 6 is now definitely my main instrument. I still play 4 regularly for teaching and sessions, and I enjoy the fact that it feels like a toy alongside the 6s, but my instrument is definitely 6 string bass... But anyway, don't feel bad about 5 or 6 (or 7+!) taking a while to get comfortable - if the music you hear in your head sounds like it needs the extra range and possibilities of the 6, stick at it, but there's obviously nothing superior about any number of strings on a bass. It's all about the right tool for the music you're trying to make, and the thing that inspires you to play... No-one else's opinion on your chosen instrument matters 1/10th as much as how you feel about it
  4. Steve Lawson

    Bass Player Magazine RIP

    My observation - from teaching and talking to an awful lot of bassists - is that the role that magazines played in terms of filling in historical knowledge isn't one that people are using the web for... It's weird, because YouTube is the greatest learning resource that humanity has ever come up with - whether you want to fix the screen on your phone, or work out what Allan Holdsworth was doing with symmetrical scales, there are SO many amazing lessons on there, but because the focus is on 'info that will benefit me right now' rather than the contained, delineated authoritative experience of reading an episodic magazine, it seems that relatively few people are spending time online digging into the history of the instrument. Reading BP cover to cover in the 90s (and reading every bass-related thing in Guitarist in the late 80s) was as much my school as the two years I did at music college. I have things I use every day in my playing that I learned from Rich Appleman's theory column in the 90s. I know about players because instead of, as has been indicated here, worrying that I didn't know who the players were, I read more voraciously when they were musicians I hadn't heard of than when it was ones I knew... So magazines were a way of accumulating knowledge... That was, in many ways, a problem, in that it meant that the writers and editors were the gatekeepers of knowledge, and as they were almost exclusively dudes (in the case of BP editors, all of them ever were men), women got WAY WAY worse coverage, and were often written about in a really shitty way. Likewise, the coverage was overwhelmingly US and Europe-centric. YouTube has its filters which provide similar levels of myopia if you use their algorithms to decide what to watch, but the capacity for learning is huge (I recently went on a Soca binge, and discovered a ton of amazing music and bass playing). ...So, I'm still a fan of magazines - the economics of running a mag is way more perilous than a website, you can get away with more auto-generated content on a website and have zero print costs (hosting doesn't even come close in terms of monthly outgoing per reader), even though mags have a cover price - there's obviously no granularity to the reader spend. You don't get people who give you 5p a month for reading a page or two and some who pay the full price. It's all or nothing... I greatly appreciate what No Treble are doing - particularly their attempts to fill that knowledge gap I suggested above - Ryan Madora's column on players to know is a really useful one, and the video tuition stuff is great - but the factors that drive virality, and therefor ad money, are far more damaging to so much web video content than perceived bias in reviews (there's SO much to say about reviewing, but my one observation would be that there is, objectively VERY little 'bad' gear out there now, above the rebadged absurdly cheap garbage on eBay from no-name manufacturers - the big players can't afford to make bad gear, and CNC means that consistency across instruments is lightyears beyond where it was 20 years ago when I was reviewing stuff for Bassist - I was regularly sent really bogus stuff, gave things mediocre reviews, and even refused to write about some stuff... It was way more useful to fill the pages with reviews of good stuff that I was to write a hit piece on some crappy gear. Ignore it, and it'll go away - at that point, magazines were the lifeblood of companies' ad strategy, so a bad review was actually more coverage than their rubbish gear deserved... But that's a whole other discussion) Anyway, decent journalism is expensive, so expensive that it makes a lot of magazines impossible to fund, and no commercial publisher is going to run a mag at a loss in order to meet readers' desires. The economics are a total mess right now. I'm really glad that we still have any print mags for bass at all, and I hope the people involved find a way to keep them going - my rate for writing in a UK bass mag is lower now than it was 20 years ago. They've cut everything back as far as it'll go, so we'll see if that's enough. I don't know the specifics of what was happening at BP, but I do know they ditched all their offices a while back and went to a remote working model to try and cut costs. I guess it wasn't enough.
  5. Steve Lawson

    Bass Player Magazine RIP

    not at all, I'm glad you'd like to read more from me I've always enjoyed explaining things from the ground up - I've never understood those teachers who say 'advanced students only' - that seems like a recipe for having to deal with other people's terrible pedagogy As the column progresses, it (at least from my perspective!) tackles a lot of things that are considered beginner concepts because of the physical requirements, but deals with them from a slightly more nuanced position than is often the case. For the new Bass Player re-launch, they've started my column back at the start again, whereas in BGM I'm about 2 years deep into it (they didn't want to suddenly drop into the series that far into it!)
  6. Midlands people! Gig coming up on November 25th at Tower Of Song - 

    info/tix here: https://music.stevelawson.net/merch/steve-lawson-and-pete-fraser-gig-birmingham-25-11-18 

    FB event with extra info is at https://www.facebook.com/events/2194279674148227/

    See you there! :) 

  7. Steve Lawson

    Bass Player Magazine RIP

    Thank you! That's awfully kind of you, but I don't have enough hours in the day for everything as it is... maybe once my PhD is finished I'll have time for more journalism I REALLY enjoy doing the beginner column for BGM - that Joel is not only fine with but encouraging of my desire to write a beginner column for intelligent adults (rather than one that assumes people with limited musical experience are also struggling in every other area of their education) is a real treat. It's telling, I guess that much of the feedback I get is from people who are technically way beyond the level of the column, but still find it conceptually and philosophically useful and worthwhile. I really did enjoy interviewing Stanley Clarke a few years back (my first artist interview for a mag in 15 years) but they're REALLY labour-intensive things to do, and just don't pay well enough to warrant the time it would take to do them regularly ...my back page pedals and effects column was, however, pretty much the most fun I've ever had writing for a mag (there's a compilation of those - with a couple of new articles - available to my subscribers on Bandcamp )
  8. Steve Lawson

    live looping?

    A couple of thoughts on looping multiple instruments, in case that's useful - software is one way to do it, but you can also do it with hardware loopers and a mixer. I started out using a little Behringer Desk almost 20 years ago, upgraded to a Mackie one in 2002, then switched to a MOTU Ultralite Soundcard (that works either hooked up to a laptop or standalone) in 2008. This year, I swapped that for a Keith McMillen K-Mix. What each of these allow me to do is have the looper on a 'send' of some sort. Either the effect send on the desk, or just one of the pairs of outputs from the soundcard. That way, I can have instruments plugged into any channel and route them to the looper, but with the soundcard version I can also route virtual instruments to it as well. I currently use a Quneo as a controller and play sounds that are generated in FL Studio - nothing's pre-recorded, and none of the sounds are loops, so I play the controller as percussion or 'keyboard' instrument... Then the big issue is thinking about the arrangement - layering things can either sound like the gradual evolution of the piece, or like you're constructing a loop to play over later on. I much prefer the former. The big advantage of looping inside a DAW is that you can do things that are partially pre-recorded, or that use pre-recorded loops that you're manipulating the way @urb does. But again, you'll need to think about how much of a 'construction' phrase you want to have as part of the performance... The trade off with this is very much audience-dependent. Some audiences will be wowed enough by the tech wizardry to give you pass if it takes you a while to build the track before it feels like the beginning, whereas an audience that are more familiar with the tech may be less forgiving in terms of what they expect from the music aside from the tech constraints, if that makes sense One thing that's definitely worth considering is how important it is to you that the live versions are anything like the recorded ones... making great music is way more important than faithfully recreating a studio experience on stage. A lot of bands/artists have come unstuck trying too hard to replicate the sound of their records like when with a little imagination they could've maximised what was great about their live lineup by allowing a more fluid approach to the arrangement/structure/instrumentation...
  9. Steve Lawson

    A few pieces for those of an ambient persuasion

    ...my brother still lives there so I borrow his residents parking permit
  10. Steve Lawson

    A few pieces for those of an ambient persuasion

    ...I left Berwick long before I had any notion of an audience! But I still go back often - such a beautiful part of the world, and an amazing place to make music...!
  11. Steve Lawson

    London bass guitar show 2018

    shortlist? or in the style of The Good Place, shirtlist
  12. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson in Birmingham, Feb 25th!

    Hey all, Sorry for the late notice - promo has been a little lax on this gig! I'm playing in Birmingham this Sunday, with a project that I really love - Illuminated Loops is me plus visual artist Poppy Porter - she's has synaesthetic superpowers, which means she sees sound. So as I play, she draws what she sees... it's pretty trippy, and a whole lot of fun, and there'll be Q&A for anyone whose going 'WTF?' after seeing it tickets and details are at http://music.stevelawson.net/merch/illuminated-loops-live-in-birmingham-advance-ticket and the FB event page (if you want to help out by sharing it around, which would be MASSIVELY appreciated ) is at https://www.facebook.com/events/409769609473669/ Hope to see some of you there (if you're coming into Brum for the British Guitar Show, this'll be the perfect antidote to shredlandia Steve www.stevelawson.net
  13. Steve Lawson

    London bass guitar show 2018

    The SBL room line-up would be worth the ticket price on its own! Holy stinky poo, Willis, Linder and RICH BROWN! That's nuts. However, anyone who misses either of my sessions in order to got to stuff in the SBL room is on my shitlist
  14. Steve Lawson

    London bass guitar show 2018

    Yup, will definitely have USB Sticks available over the weekend! Or check out the subscription offer at http://stevelawson.bandcamp.com/subscribe - same cost, slightly different set of material (if you subscribe before the show, come see me at the show and get the USB Stick half price )
  15. Steve Lawson

    London bass guitar show 2018

    indeed I will. I'll be around the whole time - looking forward to catching up with many of you
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