I wasn’t the first?!

It appears I’m not the only person to take a sander to a Fender.  Jeff Beck ‘reprofiled’ his Esquire in the same way I did my old P-Bass.  Fancy that!

Posted in Music | Tagged , | 58 Comments

58 Responses to I wasn’t the first?!

  1. Mike Miller says:

    I see today the old boss joins the old fart’s club. It may sound like I’m trying to start some shit here, but actually I still have enormous respect for good portion of his work. Hope it’s good one for him.

    • Bruce says:

      Bruce Springsteen has commented on claims that Uruguayan footballer Luis Suarez bit Italian player Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match yesterday (June 24).

      “Biting has no place in sports,” said Springsteen to a reporter from TMZ who quizzed him about the incident. “What are the rules about biting in the World Cup?” he asked. “There probably should be one.”

      …Mind slipping away already :)

    • Mike Miller says:

      I thought about an Armadillo, but I think he’s got one already.

  2. Mike Miller says:

    I’ve been shopping around for a new car and I think this is the one for me….economical!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUKolh8Q9hA&list=UUo9y5HWCSccfYNnTIfZ7obA

  3. Bruce, why is it that a simple descending major scale (as a bass part) is SO effective? I can’t begin to define “why” this is, I just know that it is. It’s one of the things I always thought you utilized very well, and so I try to do it too. An *ascending* just doesn’t pack as much of a punch.

    • Bruce says:

      I think Bach figured that out too — “Air on a G string” and others. Possibly it’s because the intervals in the diatonic scale relate directly to the vibrations of the spectrum of colour, the proportions of the human body’s various limbs, the distances between the planets, the periodic table of chemical elements and so on and so on — and the relationships of various whole numbber fractions. The scale was devized by a medieval monk called Guido d’Arrezo to reflect this order. (I’m not sure if he had “Oliver’s Army” in mind at the time). You’re right about the ascending line — The “Doh a Deer, a female deer, Ray a drop of golden sun” song from the Sound of Music hasn’t quite got the punch. As with a lot of (most) things, the direct experience of why something works or doesn’t is more relevant than the intellectual explanation.

      • Mike Miller says:

        ‘Whiter Shade of Pale” has got it all. IMHO one of the most perfect songs ever recorded.

      • Bruce says:

        Yes, I thought of that as soon as I’d posted the other comment. You’re right. “Accidents Will Happen” has the same descending line.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Here’s the technical details for Wiki:

        The song is in moderate time in C major, and is characterised by the bassline moving stepwise downwards in a repeated pattern throughout. In classical music this is known as a ground bass. The harmonic structure is identical for the organ melody, the verse and the chorus, except that the chorus finishes with a cadence. The main organ melody appears at the beginning and after each verse/chorus. But it is also heard throughout, playing variations of its theme and counterpointing the vocal line. The vocal and organ accompaniment reach a high point at the beginning of the chorus “And so it was, and later …”; where the organist rapidly runs his finger down and up the entire keyboard. The final instrumental fades out to silence – a common device in pop music of the time.

        Dutch author Maarten ‘t Hart calls “A Whiter Shade of Pale” an “original adaptation” of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe, BWV 156. Besides, the Hammond organ line of the song came from Bach’s “Sleepers, Wake!” and “Air on the G String” – both of which use a similar stepwise bass motion. The similarity is referred to in the 1982 play The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard and 1991 film The Commitments. The music also borrows ideas from “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge.

      • Bruce says:

        Get on wiki and cite “Oliver’s Army” chorus and “Accidents”.

      • “Accidents will happen” (the beginning of the verses) is precisely what i was thinking of. Nice touch also by the way of varying the rhythm on the descending scales of the first and second verses.

        “Oliver’s Army” – the bass under the “I would rather be anywhere else…” part.

        Other examples:

        Friend of the Devil (Greatful Dead)
        Funny Face (Muffs)

  4. Roddy Ring says:

    As a long time bass player and first-time commentor to this page, let me first thank you for providing this forum for music, writing and other miscellaneous oddities of human interaction.
    Mr. Beck’s guitar reminds me of the Fender Road Worn© line, to which I comment the first time I saw one, “if I want a new guitar to look like that, I’ll have the pleasure of taking a belt sander to it myself, rather than pay extra for someone else to do it.” Apparently, Jeff and you were of similar minds.

  5. David Witherington says:

    Hey, Bruce! A belated Happy Birthday to one of the greatest bass players in all of history. Your melodic and very creative fills helped shape Elvis Costello’s great pop songs into great pop records. EC’s records, as time has proven, never needed anyone but you, Steve and Pete behind him. Those are the records that demanded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I’m so glad that the whole band was inducted. Peace and love, brother, and I hope you had a wonderful and blessed birthday. Here’s to many more! :)

  6. Happy birthday Bruce! I read the entirety of Big Wheel during the train ride to New York. It was interesting, though not at all what I imagined. It is more of an abstract, philosophical travelogue than a typical “rock memoir,” to its credit. Parts of it actually reminded me of “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut. In case you’re wondering if Middle America has changed since you toured through it with EC&tA, the answer is, NO, it hasn’t. It is, for the most part, as bleak (and bloated) as it is in your book. Where there were once farms and industry, there are now just horrid stretches of strip malls, Wal-Marts, fast food chains, liquor stores, gas stations, etc. Actually, there are still some very beautiful areas in the country, but at least everywhere the interstate highways go, is hideous.

    I’ll begin “Fighting Spirit” on the train to Montreal tomorrow morning. Cheers!

    • Bruce says:

      That’s the good thing about America — it’s too big too screw up quickly. There are still parts of the UK that are unspolied, believe it or not. I’m saving the typical rock memoir for later :)

  7. Mike Miller says:

    Well, it was your birthday. Hope it was a good one!

    My Dad told me many gears ago that once you hit 30, it goes fast.

  8. Bruce, I bought a copy of “The Big Wheel” some weeks ago and have been saving it for my upcoming vacation to Nova Scotia, which will include several multi-day railroad trips and require interesting reading material. I await the reading of it as eagerly as anything else I’m planning to do…as I have resisted the temptation for the past weeks to look at a single page. Also, inspired by your example, I recently got a Precision Bass after more than a decade of playing a Jazz Bass exclusively – and I could not be more happy with it. In any case – it’s great that you maintain this online presence….I have enjoyed the interesting and hilarious posts and discussions here. Cheers!!

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for your kind comments — but if I were you I’d read it slowly and look out of the window a lot — it’s not a long read. And do remember it’s very much of its time. Perhaps I’ll write my memoirs yet, just to put it all in perspective. Enjoy your trip, railway is still my preferred mode of travel. Hope to see you on here again.

      • Oh, I’ll do my share of looking out the windows, especially on the ride from NY to Montreal and from Montreal to N.S. I’ll do most of my reading on the way to NY, as I have seen those sights many times already. I’ll enjoy the trip, though I’ll miss my bass dearly. But I will bring along a 25-key portable MIDI keyboard. Just over a foot long and fits right in my backpack.

        I ordered a copy of Fighting Spirit just in time for my departure next week – yay for Amazon Prime 2 day shipping! Can’t wait to read it. I am indeed interested in martial arts and Bruce Lee is a fascinating figure.

      • Bruce says:

        Have a good trip. Best railroad journey I ever did was the Chihuahua-Pacific railroad from Chihuahua to Los Mochis — tunnels and bridges all the way – I stood ny the door and hung out the window the whole way..

    • Mike Miller says:

      Also, consider reading Bruce’s book “Fighting Spirit”. I really didn’t think I had much interest in the subject, but I found it fascinating and a great read.

  9. Andy Radford says:

    Someone out there must have your original P bass – it would be great to see it show up again!
    Do you still have the yellow Hamer 8string?

    • Bruce says:

      I reckon that bass went to Japan — don’t know why, just an intuition. To be honest if it did show up again it would probably go on the wall next to the one I made in my shed when I was 15, as I find my new basses so much better to play. The Hamer 8-string lasted barely half a gig. It was like trying to do a driving test in a combine harvester. The 12-string bass I tried lasted half a song! I did actually have good 8-string bass for a while — a Swedish make, Hagstrom. I believe Tim Schmidt of the Eagles used to play one for a while.

  10. Mike Miller says:

    Mine’s L38216 Sept 64. Fender was really cranking out guitars in those days.

    I’ve got my eye out for it.

  11. Mike Miller says:

    You’ll be giving me shared billing pretty soon:

    Mike Miller…Tries to play bass….Can’t spell worth shucks

  12. Mike Miller says:

    From what I just read, the prior owner actually did the “re-profiling”.

    http://iconicaxes.blogspot.com/2012/09/jeff-beck-1954-fender-esquire.html

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