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Audition Hell - Is this just me?


Wolverinebass
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First define the problem:

1. Lack of creative input, leading to...
2. Not being a living, breathing band member that helps craft the material, leading to...
3. Feeling that all the time and effort invested in learning the instrument is wasted.

Solution:

1. Join a musically adventurous band that's just starting up, so you get a decent say in forming where the band goes and what you play
2. Form your own band.

The audition problem is no-ones fault, you are just at musical odds with those you have auditioned for. There is nothing wrong with expecting a bass player to stick rigidly to a pre-determined part, it's just not for you. I really hope you find or form a band soon that allows you the creative space.

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[quote name='maxrossell' post='969086' date='Sep 27 2010, 07:31 AM']I've in the past turned down a rhythm guitar player without even hearing what his playing was like because he said he owned a brace of Ibanez RGs and wouldn't consider using anything else.[/quote]

that's crazy IMO

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[quote name='cheddatom' post='969126' date='Sep 27 2010, 08:43 AM']that's crazy IMO[/quote]

Not to me. I wouldn't necessarily recommend the course of action to anyone else, but the music we make is very deliberately stylised "old school". Vintage guitars, old tweed combos, the drummer plays a 70's Premier, we're into kind of heavy-soul-blues-rock with a tad of early 90's grunge thrown in (more Pearl Jam than Mudhoney). A guy glued to a pointy guitar with a Floyd on it just wouldn't work. And I don't like to make generalisations, but guys who collect 80s-style Japanese superstrats don't tend to focus their playing on sloppy first-position chords with a big wooly low-gain sound.

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[quote name='Wolverinebass' post='968980' date='Sep 26 2010, 11:13 PM']... but when note choice and freedom of expression starts getting taken away from you, that's what I mean by being dictated to ...[/quote]
But when you work with a band, especially at an audition, note choice and freedom of expression are always taken away from you at least in the sense of your freedom being limited - by the song and its needs, by the arrangement, by the very fact that you are working with others.

Music is a cooperative activity even when there is a leader/musical director, even when there are written parts. The one band I played with where the songwriter had written out all the parts in notation - and I'm a very slow reader - was the band where I learned the most.

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[quote name='Wolverinebass' post='968868' date='Sep 26 2010, 09:37 PM']The Peter Hook quote made me laugh. Top!!

I've not limited myself to stuff that's outside my comfort zone as I've done some singer songwriter stuff which was great and I certainly was playing very laid back. I thought that was fantastic fun. By the same token I've done stuff which has been more prog type material with tonto time changes in it. That was a brilliant challenge and one I relished as I'd never done that sort of stuff before.

I tend just to pick stuff I tend to like and see if it'll work. I quite often don't hear the bass on a song at all if it's really simple, I tend to hear what I'd play. That might be the issue. Quite a lot of the time that isn't that different, sometimes it really is very different. On a default setting though for types of bands, I'm not sure if I have one to be honest. Maybe that in itself [b]is[/b][u][/u] the problem. I don't know.

By the same token, because I listen to just about anything, I like lots of very, very different material, though this is in itself is not without it's problems. Whilst I think, say Tool are geniuses, I'm not entirely sure if I'd enjoy playing bass for them with all that unison riffing. Whilst that's probably an example that wouldn't be true if put to the test, I'm just trying to illustrate a point. If I didn't enjoy playing in a band or it's material, I just wouldn't do it. Just as paradoxically, just because I like a band's music doesn't mean I'd enjoy playing it.

I hope that kind of makes sense. It's just been a very frustrating time and in many ways, quite demoralising for me as I just want to play music I enjoy and have a reasonable amount of expression over what I play. Probably those things are mutually exclusive and I just haven't learned that lesson properly.[/quote]
Don't feel like you have to defend yourself. Music is personal to the musician!

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Auditioning for a band is only like a job interview if you are joining a covers/tribute band or a very very very good originals act (either already signed or gigging with a big local following). As even very good originals bands will struggle to make any money from their music, bands are mainly for having a bit of fun and not just for the singer/guitarist/drummer. One person doesn't have a monopoly on musical wisdom.

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[quote name='Wolverinebass' post='968727' date='Sep 26 2010, 07:40 PM']I then turn up and go for a jam. The guitarist says I'm playing the "wrong" notes as I'm playing the D an octave higher up. I could go on about this but if they had told me they wanted someone who had a bass with only 1 string I would have said "no thanks." It's not about scores or whatever, it's about people saying one thing and doing another.[/quote]

Some would argue that you can put your own stamp on the track, just in the correct register it was written in.

I'm currently working through some songs for a band that have a heavy dropped tuning and lots of open string riffage, very similar to Tool but it evolves all the way through the song instead of being a fairly repetative unison riffage. Now I'm learning it note for note from the notation they supplied even down to playing the notes on the correct string for example their tuning is GCGCF and I'm riffing away around the 5th and 7th fret on the higher G string then suddenly I have to jump to low down on the lower C string then up to the 8th fret on the low G String, now I could redo this so my hand is in a pretty static position but it doesn't sound right using thinner strings for these particular notes. It may sound pedantic but it works for what they are doing and they are very tone concious.

When I go to the audition I'm going to take my 8x10, 200w tube head, Overwater 5 string tuned GCGCF and my Rickenbacker 4003 Tuned CGCF now it maybe I end up retuning the Overwater to GDCGF as apparently they have songs in this tuning but so far I've not come across them.

I will likely end up using a smaller cab in future but I've done my research and its very likely they are massively loud so I'm making sure I take the right tool for the job, I'll also be taking my Line 6 M13 with a bunch of FX I've preprogrammed up to suit their music but it will only be getting stepped on if they ask me to, i.e something is pointed out as missing to my sound.

It sounds like your auditioning for the wrong things initially and secondly you aren't willing to just play what is required to get the job done, I mean are the songs you are learning for the audition the only songs they do? Will they never do anymore ever? What's to say if you like the people and like the music that you won't get to put your stamp on it in future writing sessions?

When we auditioned 2 new guitarist both of them had to play the songs note for note, why? because they were the album tracks from the album we released in Japan, it is what it is and it's essentially set in stone. However since they've been in the band we've written the 2nd album and its massively different, much heavier. much more the direction we wanted to move in and they facilitated this in the music they brought to the band and neither of them were told what to play or were told to play things simply.

Hope this helps

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It sounds like, as mentioned above, you are going for the wrong type of bands.

I think you suit something progressive! Try Dream Theatre! :)

I tried out for a few covers bands recently and gave up because the actual 'money' side wasnt worth it. Id prefer to write and enjoy myself with like minded musicians. I kept my originals band going at the same time, and Im glad I did because now we have finally nailed it, and we have our first 3 gigs lined up. It isnt massively complex, but it is exciting, and quite well thought through. We write the parts to what sounds correct, and we avoid repeating parts exactly the same unless its a great chorus hook. I play what I like because I started the band with the drummer, and they all give a little grin when I flash out a bass run or 'small' but melodic solo, (they arent really solos, just runs!). If I wasnt allowed to do that, it wouldnt be me playing. Its not what punk was about in the 70s, but modern punk bands can be pretty technical, (shock horror!).

I will end up in the covers scene in the future, but under my rules. Eg, everyone must have good equipment and respect each others equipment, and respect each other. Fair split on cash, (TOTALLY equal) and Id always want each musician to add their flair.

Edited by Musicman20
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[quote]sprung the "just play the root note" crap on me ([b]despite agreeing that I wouldn't have to do that[/b])[/quote]
Am I reading this correctly? You told them that you wouldn't be playing root notes, and they agreed... even if the song was begging for it.
If I was auditioning for a bass player and he told me what he would or would not play, I'm afraid the audition wouldn't get any further.

With that kind of attitude you've got to be pretty damn good to get the gigs.

N.B I don't know you - you're probably a lovely guy - my comments are only in reference to your post.

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[quote name='maxrossell' post='969130' date='Sep 27 2010, 08:49 AM']Not to me. I wouldn't necessarily recommend the course of action to anyone else, but the music we make is very deliberately stylised "old school". Vintage guitars, old tweed combos, the drummer plays a 70's Premier, we're into kind of heavy-soul-blues-rock with a tad of early 90's grunge thrown in (more Pearl Jam than Mudhoney). A guy glued to a pointy guitar with a Floyd on it just wouldn't work. And I don't like to make generalisations, but guys who collect 80s-style Japanese superstrats don't tend to focus their playing on sloppy first-position chords with a big wooly low-gain sound.[/quote]

I think your sweeping generalisation means you're risking missing out on the perfect guitarist. A good guitarist will be able to get loads of sounds out of his chosen gear. If RGs feel like the best guitar to him - who cares?

If I was auditioning for a blues band, i'd like to be able to take a 4 string P, but I only have 6 strings, so i'll take them. If the band reject me on the basis of too many strings, then they're stupid, because I can play blues pretty well.

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[quote name='cheddatom' post='969185' date='Sep 27 2010, 09:57 AM']I think your sweeping generalisation means you're risking missing out on the perfect guitarist. A good guitarist will be able to get loads of sounds out of his chosen gear. If RGs feel like the best guitar to him - who cares?[/quote]

In my experience, that's not the case. With guitarists generally, the choice of guitar says a massive amount about the player's tastes and style. Ibanez RGs are a particular case, in that they're very versatile and extremely well put together and so on, but are designed for and aimed at a very specific type of player.

If a guy just happened to own an Ibanez RG then I wouldn't comment, as long as he was also happy to use a Strat or a Les Paul or some kind of Gretsch or something of that variety in the band. It was the guy's insistence that he refuses to play on anything other than a precision-designed guitar aimed squarely at fast, technical players that immediately put me off. The whole idea behind the music in the band that we have is that it's played on clapped-out, gritty old instruments that you kind of have to fight with to make them work. That informs everything from the feel of the songs right down to even the lyrics. Putting a guy with an RG in there would be as jarring as having Kerry King strap on his BC Rich and play guitar for The Smiths. To me, at least.

That said, our bass player uses a Warwick Thumb, which works very nicely. But it sounds really old-school, and it looks like a blind guy carved it out of a dead tree.

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It sounds like you're trying to justify something totally unreasonable with reason. If it was purely on the basis of aesthetics then I totally understand. If you just decided that this guy couldn't get a "vintage" (or whatever is required) tone out of his RG, or if you decided that he couldn't play anything other than technical shredding without even listening to him, you made crazy assumptions IMO.

I actually know a couple of guys who like their Ibanezes. One of them plays really trashy punk, the other guy will play jazz, blues, rnb etc very well, and no he doesn't play it through a mesa with the gain on 10.

If you just said "I can't really justify it, but i'm not having a guy who only plays RGs in my band" - fair enough, but there's no logical reason to assume all these things about a player you've not heard!

I know what you're saying - in your experience, this is just how it's worked out. I suppose i'm trying to get you to open your mind a bit.

If I got turned down for a band just because of the bass i'd played I would be well pissed off.

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[quote name='Lozz196' post='969095' date='Sep 27 2010, 07:57 AM']...

Too often, in all walks of life, people want to change things, without learning the original part in the first place, be it basslines, work processes etc. Its ok to show initiative, but in order to change something effectively, you have to know the original part back to front in the first place. That's the area most fall down on.

...[/quote]

AND WHY the part is being played like it is.

I've played with original bands where the previous bass player has written lines or played lines that the guitarist has told him to play. I've learned those lines and played them exactly as was requested.

Occasionally those lines have had musical "flaws" in them. I've pointed out what was wrong and why and asked if I can show them a "better" line.

Usually they've said OK.

The problem then comes when they say No, they prefer it like they've always done it. You then have to play a line that you wouldn't have written yourself. In an originals "band" that means you could be being perceived as playing a line YOU have written and written badly at that. It's not as bad if you are supporting an originals singer/songwriter "artist".

However, if you play the lines as they want, at some stage they will write new material and it's unlikely that they will write the bass part. They will, however, be VERY vocal if they don't like your lines then.

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[quote]These days I only ever hire beginner bass players. Why? They know they're not sh*t-hot so they don't try to show off all the time, they don't have any funny ideas about bass being a lead instrument, and they don't think that they're in a position to rewrite all your stuff to make it more "interesting" for them to play.[/quote]

For some reason this is uncomfortable reading. You say you are a singer/songwriter and if you mean hire bass guitarists as a backing band for yourself, rather than a band per se then I can see your point. However it is sad to think that you believe that any (or most) bass players that are not beginners suddenly lose the ability to play to the music and want to fret-w**k everywhere. It is experience that has taught me how to play for the music, rather than for myself.

A beginner bass player you say will just do his job, but wouldn't you like someone who can not only do that job (with more ease), but to be able to contribute to your ideas and possibly make them better. A proper experienced bass player will not have ideas about being a lead instrument or want to rewrite every aspect of your music, or at least I wouldn't.

At the end of the day, I imagine bad experiences has lead to your actions, and if its working, then good on you and hope you every success. But as a bass player who plays in a band with fairly simple but effective basslines, and who appreciates the song as a whole, it is rather sad that you have to look at beginners who will have no input whatsoever.

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[quote name='cheddatom' post='969261' date='Sep 27 2010, 11:10 AM']If I got turned down for a band just because of the bass i'd played I would be well pissed off.[/quote]

But then again you'd have had a lucky escape. You might not have found out they were idiots until after you'd joined. :)

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[quote name='Johnston' post='969183' date='Sep 27 2010, 09:57 AM']Just to add to that I went for an audition for a blues band. Was a last minute thing just got talking to a guy in a shed and got invited along.

Pulled out my T-bird and one of the first things the guitard said was "oh I thought you would have a Precision" .

There was also a few other snide remarks made after that .[/quote]


Similar happened to me - took my Cort GB75 to a blues audition and there were mutterings about it not being a Fender and why the 5th string! (I only use the 5th string as I'm not too comfortable playing in open position and hate playing too far up when in D but I guess they read something else into it).

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[quote name='cheddatom' post='969261' date='Sep 27 2010, 11:10 AM']It sounds like you're trying to justify something totally unreasonable with reason. If it was purely on the basis of aesthetics then I totally understand. If you just decided that this guy couldn't get a "vintage" (or whatever is required) tone out of his RG, or if you decided that he couldn't play anything other than technical shredding without even listening to him, you made crazy assumptions IMO.

I actually know a couple of guys who like their Ibanezes. One of them plays really trashy punk, the other guy will play jazz, blues, rnb etc very well, and no he doesn't play it through a mesa with the gain on 10.

If you just said "I can't really justify it, but i'm not having a guy who only plays RGs in my band" - fair enough, but there's no logical reason to assume all these things about a player you've not heard!

I know what you're saying - in your experience, this is just how it's worked out. I suppose i'm trying to get you to open your mind a bit.

If I got turned down for a band just because of the bass i'd played I would be well pissed off.[/quote]

I have a really open mind. And you're right, to an extent it is an aesthetics thing.

But like I said, the judgement call was not based on the fact that he chose to own an RG. The judgement call was based on the fact that he [i]refused to try playing anything else[/i]. No single-coils, no semi-hollows, nothing. That's a degree of close-mindedness the band can't work with, specifically because of the kind of music we make and the way it sounds.

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[quote name='Bidd' post='969277' date='Sep 27 2010, 11:30 AM']For some reason this is uncomfortable reading. You say you are a singer/songwriter and if you mean hire bass guitarists as a backing band for yourself, rather than a band per se then I can see your point. However it is sad to think that you believe that any (or most) bass players that are not beginners suddenly lose the ability to play to the music and want to fret-w**k everywhere. It is experience that has taught me how to play for the music, rather than for myself.

A beginner bass player you say will just do his job, but wouldn't you like someone who can not only do that job (with more ease), but to be able to contribute to your ideas and possibly make them better. A proper experienced bass player will not have ideas about being a lead instrument or want to rewrite every aspect of your music, or at least I wouldn't.

At the end of the day, I imagine bad experiences has lead to your actions, and if its working, then good on you and hope you every success. But as a bass player who plays in a band with fairly simple but effective basslines, and who appreciates the song as a whole, it is rather sad that you have to look at beginners who will have no input whatsoever.[/quote]

Nah, I'm not making any blanket statements. It's just a personal preference thing based on experience, as you say. I've had way more luck with beginners who grow into the band, and endless headaches with advanced bassplayers who are so averse to the idea of "rhythm section" that they do everything they can to avoid the root and the beat. I'm not saying advanced bass players are all like that, of course, but it suits me because I like the bass in my band to be very simple and direct. It's not "The Max Project" by any means, but I do write all the music (I don't impose that, it's just the way it turned out) so I feel I'm entitled to some input on how the other guys approach it.

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[quote name='maxrossell' post='969300' date='Sep 27 2010, 11:47 AM']I have a really open mind. And you're right, to an extent it is an aesthetics thing.

But like I said, the judgement call was not based on the fact that he chose to own an RG. The judgement call was based on the fact that he [i]refused to try playing anything else[/i]. No single-coils, no semi-hollows, nothing. That's a degree of close-mindedness the band can't work with, specifically because of the kind of music we make and the way it sounds.[/quote]

It seemed more like you were making assumptions about his playing style based on his choice of instrument.

If he came to an audition, and you said "please could you try playing it on this other guitar?" and he just refused, I think that's fair enough.

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[quote name='cheddatom' post='969312' date='Sep 27 2010, 12:00 PM']It seemed more like you were making assumptions about his playing style based on his choice of instrument.

If he came to an audition, and you said "please could you try playing it on this other guitar?" and he just refused, I think that's fair enough.[/quote]

Again, it's not an assumption I would have made had it been just one of his guitars. It occurs to me I should point out that in the photos I've seen of him he's got long black hair and favours thrash t-shirts. Not again that that absolutely certifies him as being "that" type of player, but you gotta admit it's a pretty easy assumption to make.

He didn't make it as far as the audition. I asked him if he had gear, he said "Yeah, I have three Ibanez RGs, won't touch anything else." I asked him if he was joking, he said no, so I "forgot" to invite him to try out.

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I don't think its unreasonable to dictate what type of instrument to play if it is integral to the concept of the band. People forget that being in a band is a visual performance as much as an musical one. If three-quarters of a band are trying to present a beaten-up vintage concept and the other quarter is totally different it will undermine the whole idea of the band and look ridiculous. Some bands don't care about the visuals and that's cool, some care very much about the visuals and that is also cool, it's pointless arguing about it.

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I don't like playing the root note when I reckon something else would sound better, but I'm happy to do it...if the guitarist will let me tell him what to play on the guitar for any songs that I write. Of course, trying to get them to understand this can be a difficult matter.


Me: "Right, I've got an instrumental that I've written, nothing fancy but I reckon it could be good. I'll show it to you at practise on Saturday if you want."

Guitarist: "Awesome, you play it and I'll start soloing over the top of it..."

Me: "Erm...it doesn't have a solo in it..."

Guitarist: "What?!? Really?! Alright then, I'll just come up with some other riffs over it..."


Needless to say, it never came to frution :)

I'm happy to play a bassline that someone else wrote for their song (my current band doesn't see me slapping a solo into Blitzkreig Bop) but for me it has to be a two-way street. I know there are plenty of bands out there who are all the better because one person pretty much dictates the songs, but I myself wouldn't feel happy in them...guess I'm just awkward that way :lol:

Edited by the_skezz
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[quote name='Alfie' post='969322' date='Sep 27 2010, 12:10 PM']I don't think its unreasonable to dictate what type of instrument to play if it is integral to the concept of the band. People forget that being in a band is a visual performance as much as an musical one.
...[/quote]

My Jackson-Charvel went into retirement because I was playing functions and weddings. My choice entirely. Nothing wrong with the sound of it at all.

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I thought the quip about what bass I'd take to an audition was really funny. I've never, ever taken either the buzzard or the 8 string to an audition. Nor will I ever do so as I would imagine I'd look like a nutter. The Alembic I wouldn't say is as distinctly shaped and besides most people don't even know what it is anyway. Though I should say that I actually have been turned down for a band because I didn't have a precision. I laughed about it later, but I was quite angry at the time.

However, on a serious note, does owning a nice bass mark you out as a trouble making overplayer? That's not sarcasm, I'm really curious. I never got any of them to say "look at me!!," I actually got them because I needed a short scale bass at the time and I liked the Alembic's tone. I got the buzzard as I'm a massive Entwistle fan and the 8 string because I like JPJ and King's X. Basically, they all sound incredibly different from each other and I wanted to have lots of different sounds in the arsenal. Is that wrong? Or are we talking about people's initial thoughts when you pull an Alembic out the case? Would this not be the same for someone who has a custom Les Paul or something?

The simple reason I don't own a Fender Precision is simply because I don't really like that type of sound and it doesn't quite work for me. I could get that sound out of the Buzzard or the Alembic, but I probably couldn't do that the other way round.

You'll probably find this funny, but I went for something on Saturday and they asked me to bring the 8 string as well as a normal 4 string bass. As I don't have a car, I could only take one and I took the Alembic.

SteveK may have been confused by my post. I had asked the band if I had to stick rigidly to what was there (bearing in mind it had been played on a keyboard). Had they said "yes" I would have politely declined. They said I could put my own stamp on it. I wasn't going to go insane, just a few things in the chorus like 5ths or something. Nothing mental like triplet cascades or double hand tapping. Then when I got there the guitarist disagreed with what the singer told me and then said I couldn't and had to play it exactly how it was. I wouldn't have went along if I'd known that as I would have known that it wouldn't have been for me. Not that I have any problem with playing in drop D or E flat or anything, I've certainly done it loads in previous bands.

There is of course well made points on both sides. I probably should look past the initial uncomfortableness, but I've found that more often than not, the situation doesn't change when you're in situ and you start writing new material. I would be more than happy to be proved wrong on this as I know other people have different experience. I'm only basing my opinion on my own and sadly it's negative which is unfortunate.

It's possibly a style thing too. I basically taught myself to play bass by learning stuff like Quadrophenia and RHCP stuff. I don't know if that quite comes across in my playing, but that's all bass driven music to a degree, so maybe it has. The ultimate irony (and I have no idea why this is at all) is that my own playing style doesn't translate on my own material too much, which always has quite simple or functional bass parts in comparison with what I've done with or for other people. Maybe I subconciously do that to give other folk room to fill out. I have no idea why it's the case. Maybe I feel deep down like if I sit back, I'm insulting the person who has written the song by not coming up with something really good when possibly simplicity (or just slightly simpler) might be what they want. Possibly I'm just trying too hard and it's coming out in a different way to other people.

Musicman20's thought of something more progressive sounds like a plan to me. Forming my own band might be an idea as well. The idea of open mic nights sounds good too. Does one have to sing? (I can't, I'm afraid).

Thanks for the opinons. It's really appreciated.

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