Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has communicated birthday wishes via phone message, email, or on their journals! You are a wonderful and loving bunch of people, and I am honoured to call you all my friends.
The weather is lovely, which is a gift in and of itself. My birthday celebration began a wee bit early; last night, in fact, when t! and I went to to hang out with Jes, the bassist of local Celtic band Squidjigger, and I came home with a new friend. Almost exactly thirteen years to the day after I bought my cello, a new bass instrument has entered my life.
She is a Vantage fretless bass, model number 330b (we think), with a lovely grained rosewood fingerboard, satin-finished neck, and a deep emerald-green stained body. She hasn’t told me her name yet, although I suspect one. She’s about ten years old but has only been played a handful of times, and never gigged, so she is in almost original condition. The jack is a bit finicky and she needs a tune-up, but that’s standard maintenance.
There is an entire subculture of basses with cello tuning, called tenor basses. Bet you didn’t know that. I didn’t until I started researching it idly a couple of weeks ago, because I can’t even conceive of finding the time or brain space with which to learn new fingering and scale system on an instrument with different strings. I knew that if I was ever to play an electric bass, I would want to up- or downtune it to cello tuning, because then all my fingering would be the same. And then… a fretless bass showed up on Craiglist at a really excellent price. (I didn’t even know there were such things as fretless basses. Shows how much attention I paid at the instrument and lutherie exhibit downtown last year. Although to be fair, I was searching for electric cellos to test, not looking at basses.) The idea of fretless appealed to me because I can’t stand the idea, sound, or feel of frets under a string when I play. It’s not like I was actively seeking a bass. It was just a vague if-ever thing sitting in the back of my mind that put up its hand and cleared its throat diffidently when I saw the listing.
I tested it with a clear mind, ready to say no if it felt wrong or if I was at all uncomfortable with the instrument or the situation, but from the moment Jes handed it to me and I put it on my lap it felt balanced. Usually when people hand me guitars I feel awkward and as if I have to hold them in place or keep them from falling. t! says the moment he saw me holding it he knew it was going home with me, but I don’t know when I decided it was actually mine. I think I slowly grew into it over the evening, as I explored the feel and sound of it, and talked with t! and Jes about basses and styles and makes and music in general. Aside from acquiring the new instrument I made a new friend, because Jes is a freelance writer-theatre-music person like I am, and we intend to stay in touch. I knew things were going well when no one made noises about wrapping things up once I’d sat with the bass for a little bit. We ended up spending two and a half hours there. He has handsome cats, and lovebirds too.
Also, the bass is pretty. I wouldn’t have even looked twice at the ad if the pictures had shown it to be a loud colour, a strange shape, or painted oddly. I wish the picture did her more justice; she has a pretty glow thanks to the varnish, and the flash seems to have pointed out fingerprints that I was certain I’d polished away. She is pretty, and she feels good in my hands. And she was astonishingly inexpensive. Anything is cheap in comparison to the price scale of the cello, but this was half the price of what decent quality fretless basses start at in store, and certainly more than acceptable for an instrument that will be experimental, never my primary focus, and may be played twice a month. t! sent me home with a practice amp, too, so I don’t need to invest in anything more.
Adele feels very kindly towards her new younger sister; no scraps or arguments or snits. All is well.