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thebrig

What makeshift gear did you use when starting out all those years ago?

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I was 16 and started with a knackered Columbus jazz thru an old hi-fi amp and a box with a 12" bass speaker in it which kinda worked cause if I used the bridge PU and the bass turned down all was well, and then I saw an HH 100watt 15" combo in the local "classical" music store...but that's another thread entirely.

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I got a couple of clip on tuners from Amazon this morning. Go back to 1960 and it would have been WTF’s a tuner? In fact almost anything was hard to come by/afford. We played at an RAF base and coveted a length of black mains cable coiled up back stage. When we got back to the flat and unloaded all the gear one of the guys who was looking unnaturally plump asked us to ‘unwind me’. Yup, it was the cable all coiled round his torso. A great prize indeed.

My dad liberated a whole stack of ‘music while you work’ 4”x9” elliptical speakers from the biscuit factory that my brother and I built into PA columns. Reslo mics going into a 50watt hifi amp. When his band played support to the Stones at Reading Town Hall, they were so impressed with the PA that they used it. Probably sound like crap today.

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When I started, I was playing to a Bush tape stereo and a Vintage (brand) V4. Every night back from college. "Andrew do you want some dinner" No thanks mum, ill have it later. Press play to Incognito.

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I`ve no idea what it was but my mates Dad gave me an old radio/amp/thingy that I used to play through. Connected to a couple of very odd looking wedge speakers it had a rather nice sound as it was valved, so broke up when pushed.

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My first amp was putting the headstock against a door, I did find my bedroom door was very resonant and unscrewed it so it was easier to sit on the end of my bed and play!

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Seems to be a common theme of converted radiograms here, so I'll add my pennysworth....

My first amp (at 16) was a completely home made SS head built by my elder brother (who was a bit of an electronics whizz and went on to work for Siemens), that closely resembled explosive devices used by the Bader-Meinhof gang and their ilk at the time. Cab was the 2 speakers from the family radiogram ripped out and mounted in the wooden carcass of a de-gutted TV set. The cab entirely and spectacularly self destructed during the first practice with the band (this was the early days of punk)

1st bass was actually quite decent - A mid-60's Kalamazoo KB-1, cost me £25 - took me a good while before I learned you actually had to change the strings once in while though

Happy days! ;)

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My first gig I played through my mate's Goodmans twin cassette home karaoke machine.
Sounded dreadful and was almost inaudible but I didn't care.

Amazingly we actually managed to use that thing to create multi track recordings.
First recorded the drums onto one tape then played it back while playing along with the Bass and recording onto the second tape.
Kept repeating that bouncing it down each time until we had all the instruments and vocals recorded.
Wasn't exactly great quality obviously (the recording or our musicianship) but was so much fun at the time!

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[quote name='casapete' timestamp='1509546843' post='3399792']
Some great stuff in this thread.
My initial music was made via a no name semi acoustic, loosely based on a Gibson 335. Wasn't great, but it was
cherry red and looked a bit like Chuck Berry's so that was the main thing. Cost £33 in the early 70's from a shop selling
mainly household appliances in Hull. After my mate's father made me a faux mother of pearl Gibson logo for the
headstock (I'm cringing at this now...) I used it for my first band. Initially had an Antoria 5 watt valve combo I'd
swapped for my first dodgy acoustic guitar with a lad from school, but this had to go after it threw me across my
bedroom with the biggest electric shock I've ever had, bit like the bit in Back to the Future!
Next amp was a Zenta 10 watt head/cab combo, similar to the Audition range at Woolies. Had reverb too, which
was amazing at the time. When the next band started getting a bit more serious, we used a Tuac transistor 100
watt head into a Tuac 4x12 for rehearsals, loaned to us by my mate's brother who was in a soul band at the time.
Also remember borrowing a snakeskin Selmer Treble n bass 50 watt head and matching 18" cab, which sounded
much better IIRC. I was still on guitar at this point, gravitating to an Avon then an Antoria Les Paul copy.

Finally got my first proper guitar amp, a Marshall 1974 18 watt combo. Bought this from a brass instrument shop
in Shipley near Bradford, Ray something? It was £45, but Ray wouldn't accept a cheque for this amount as at the
time cheque guarantee cards (remember them) were only for £25 max, so I gave him two cheques of £25 and £20.
Still got the Marshall now, some 40+ years later. Just had it serviced and it still sounds the business.
[/quote]

I used to live near Shipley and remember the shop well. Ray was a Hammond player if I remember it correctly. I bought a Hohner P Bass copy off him new, the neck the size of a telephone pole. Did a Jaco and defretted it and epoxied the neck. Sold it on and a few years later found it again in a second hand shop in Bradford. I had no idea about intonating the Bass so whilst playing fretless had to adjust my playing whenever swapping from the E to A etc

Edited by yorks5stringer

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I had a second-hand bottom of the range Columbus that looked like a copy of a Woolworths Audition guitar.
I played this through our Decca valve record player until I got a Wem Westminster 10w valve amp, which was awesome, and I wish I'd never sold it.

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A fun topic!

My first bass was actually a very good instrument: a 1979 Ibanez Studio which I bought for $100 from a college friend sometime around 1985 or 86 (and which I still have).

My first rig was a borrowed Traynor 15" cab from the late 70s paired with a Yamaha powered mixer from the early 70s. That rig sounded better than it had any right to, mostly because those Traynor cabs are nice.

The rig that followed was given to me by a retired RCA engineer friend of the family who played keyboards in a wedding band. He had cobbled together a very small 50W solid state amp and built a gigantic cabinet with a single 15" driver and a big horn.

The little, plain aluminum box the head was built into looked ridiculous on top of this behemoth cabinet covered in ugly, brown vinyl. It sounded horrible for bass. But it was free and it was mine and I used it until I had the funds for a real rig.

Strangely, I have absolutely no recollection of where that rig ended up. I have a pretty good account of all the gear I've owned over the years and where it's all gone, but that amp and cab remain a black hole in my memory.

I sincerely hope it was incinerated....

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[quote name='obbm' timestamp='1509536612' post='3399663']
. . . . there were no tutors or internet back in 1963 so I bought just about the only tutorial book available and set out to learn some scales.




[/quote]

Wow Dave, a time warp moment . . . I bought that book as well. I don't remember it teaching me anything useful though.


edit . . . spilling!

Edited by chris_b

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After about 2 years, I replaced my Spanish guitar with a Framus Star bass. It cost £22 and some change. I worked for 5 1/2 days a week for 6 weeks on my Grandfathers nursery weeding, digging, planting and boxing fruit and flowers to afford that. I had to wait until the next years summer hols (at the Kiwi Shoe Polish factory) to earn enough to buy the amp.

Did anyone own an amp called a Nashville? 60 watts? My first amp and it sounded beautiful.

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My first bass was home made , fretless crude neck 4x2 neck , hamerite painted play body etc

Old Pa as amp , then an old 410 Fender guitar amp

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My first musical journey was as the Frontman for an Heavy Metal Band lol we gigged on and off for about 6 years i was a very late starter with the Bass about 40ish and I bought a second hand Encore Precision Bass in candy apple red and i stripped all the paint and filler off down to the bare wood and to my suprise it was a 3 piece body but not plywood so i was quite relieved and my first amp was a Carksbro viper 90w combo and I joined a Rock n Roll covers Band after just 6 months then about a year later i joined a pop/rock covers band plus a few others playing blues, folk and a bit of rock always covers but not done much lately because of work commitments but hopefully one day get back playing again

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I made my first bass around 1977-8. used an old mahogany desktop from my dad's office and my granddad gave me a lump of pine for the neck. The fret positions were taken from a jazz or precision in Rock city when it was still on the Bigg Market by marking them on the edge of a Burns Flyte brochure - forgot to mark the distance to the bridge!. needless to say it was absolutely crap. Remade it as a fretless with a solid oak neck (from a fireplace) and still have it to this day although it lives in a sack in the loft. Was quite surprised last week to find it was still more or less in tune when I was taking a new family photo.

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My first bass was a Top Twenty, bought from Kay Westworths in Cherry Street, Birmingham. My first amp was a Dallas 30w valve "combo" - combo in the sense that the amp lived upside down in the top of the speaker cabinet, and to play you unscrewed two bolts, turned the amp right side up, seated it back in place and screwed it down. If I recall correctly it had an 18" speaker. Happy days.....

Later I acquired a Selmer TB50, which got nicked. It was a cracking little amp, and I'd love to find another one now!

Graham

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My first bass was a Rosetti Lucky 7 with one pickup u/s.I plugged it into a little Gibson open backed combo of about 15 watts.My 2nd bass was a slightly updated Rosetti Lucky 7.I also remember plugging ALL our amps into 1 mains socket by means of removing the plugs off 2 of them and stuffing the bare wires into a socket and then plugging in the 3rd amp to the same socket,usually a little 5 amp one.Hey it worked! Young and foolish or what?

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[quote name='thebrig' timestamp='1509533027' post='3399626']
[color=#000000][font=Helvetica][size=3][size=4]Just been reading The Dood’s thread asking: [b][i]Is there any really bad new gear out there[/i][/b]? and chris b posted, [i]“[b]When I started I played bass lines on a Spanish guitar, and an amp was out of the question. A friend used his parents radiogram instead of an amp.[/b][/i][i][b]Today's rubbish gear is sheer luxury compared to the gear we started on back then[/b]”.[/i][/size][/size][/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Helvetica][size=3][size=4]And this prompted me to start this thread, I know there have been a few threads discussing our first basses, but I thought it might be interesting to find out what other bits and pieces we used all those years ago to make music when we were starting out.[/size][/size][/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Helvetica][size=3][size=4]I for one started off in the mid-sixties playing bass on an acoustic guitar strung with mono filament wound strings to make it sound a bit “bassier”, I put the cheap plastic mic that came with my Dad’s Philips Cossar tape recorder inside the soundhole, then plugged it into the mic-in socket on the tape recorder and away I went, it was only a little bit louder than playing acoustically, but being just a kid of about ten or eleven, the extra volume made me feel like a rock god! mind you, after a few months the tiny speaker was totally knackered.[/size][/size][/font][/color]
[color=#000000][font=Helvetica]The lad next door also played guitar through his parent's tape recorder, and we got together with another mate who played along with us on a kids snare drum which had Ringo’s head on the skin, and a tiny little cymbal that came with it.[/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Helvetica][size=3][size=4]These days a Squier starter bass and amp would probably cost less in real terms than what my acoustic guitar and tape recorder did back then, and definitely would have sounded better![/size][/size][/font][/color]

Edit: Thought I would add a pic of the tape recorder I used at the time.
[/quote]

There's lots to tell on the subject, but I built my speaker cabinets, pedals. preamp and power amplifier when I was in my teens because I couldn't afford to buy the real stuff. It took me ages to do and I was very fortunate that I was given some old speaker cones, wood and old IT kit for putting my amplifier in. I must also thank a wonderful chap called Steve Yelding who used to work for Marshall Amplification when I was a teen. sadly, no longer with us. He used to answer letters I sent (via my mum's work fax machine ha ha!) and helped me build my first 'distortion preamp' which featured a clean bass preamplifier and a guitar amp distortion channel in one box that you could mix together. Looking back, I was young and it was a long time ago long, before the likes of the current crop of 'blendable' pedals even existed :)

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[quote name='thebrig' timestamp='1509533027' post='3399626']
[color=#000000][font=Helvetica][size=3][size=4]Just been reading The Dood’s thread..[/size][/size][/font][/color]
[/quote]

It wasn't my OP lol, but thank you for this one as it's making interesting reading too!

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My first bass was a Kay short scale SG copy with action you could drive a bus under. Before that I'd been playing on a battered old acoustic guitar fitted with a cheap clip in pickup.

My first amp was a little 5W open backed practice amp - Futurama brand iirc. From there I progressed onto a 1x15 cab that my dad made me, fitted with a ripped speaker "mended" with tissue paper and wood glue. That was powered by the valve based internals of an old record player. My mum never did discover how one of her dining room chairs got a scorch mark :)

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[quote name='dood' timestamp='1509636474' post='3400510']
It wasn't my OP lol, but thank you for this one as it's making interesting reading too!
[/quote]Whoops! sorry, I should have given the credit to The Greek <_<

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Columbas Jazz bass bought from my Mothers mail order catalogue thru an old battered 2nd hand Selmer 50W combo.

Ah those were the days :lol:

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There was the time I made my own FM transmitter. I think it was a Maplin kit which I built into an old Colmans mustard tin. I calibrated it by tuning the Bush hifi to 108MHz and then manually tweaking the inductor coil on the transmitter until I got a cleanish signal. That was back in the day when 108MHz upwards was used by the emergency services!

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My first bass was a short scale EB copy which I got for about £20 from a bloke at school back in the early 80s. For some reason I covered it in Marvel stickers so it ended up looking quite shoite but it played pretty well. I then repainted it and it looked even sh*tt*er but it was still my only bass for about a dozen years and an embarrassment to many of the bands I was in which is why I tended to get stuck at the back of the stage. My only other instrument was a battered Eko 12-string acoustic with much of the lacquer peeling off but I still used it to gig with, feeding it through an antique Boss fuzz box and an anonymous wah pedal somebody left at my house and never came back for.

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I had an acoustic guitar bought for £4 in the seventies because Dad insisted that I start on acoustic. He had already refused to buy the Woolworths electric guitar that I had coveted for ages that cost £20. I had almost convinced him to open his wallet in Woolies' but when I mentioned that an amplifier was required the wallet disappeared instantly. It wasn't the fact that the amp would be extra, it was the notion of listening to a complete noob practising but [i]amplified[/i].

Wise decision Dad, I forgive you.

The acoustic was painful to play. It was built for nylon strings but was sold to us with a set of steel cheesewires, or so they felt. I also had a Bert Weedon [i]Play in a Day[/i] book. The book was a buzz-kill from the off. The tunes used for practice were alien and old and fusty. Because I had no way of knowing what the tunes were meant to sound like, it got ignored.

I jammed with it in company but I didn't like it for its flat fretboard. I defretted it, sanded a curve onto the fretboard and refretted it. Naturally it never played well after. I passed it on to the younger brother of a friend when I left home.

I later got pressed into playing a left-handed bass right-handed for a mate who lent me his brother's bass. I hacked along until I reckoned I might stick with this bass lark and bought a right-handed one for myself. Then I had to relearn all of the songs we'd worked on...

I have no regrets. I think I got more enjoyment out of making do than I get from the instant gratification that is expected these days.

Edited by SpondonBassed

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