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The Lightbulb Moment: Coppersox And The Three Straps

Bassist Right Hand Closeup

There was once a young girl named Goldilocks, who frequently went gallivanting around the woods looking for porridge. Most days, she left the house simply to get away from her older brother, who happened to smell profusely and play bass for hours on end. He shook the house with his low and rumbling frequencies, making everyone in his family aware of the fact that he was learning how to “slappa da bass.” In addition to playing bass, Goldilocks’ brother was a strong-minded teenager who regularly refused to bathe or change his clothes. He believed that his grotesque, discolored, and offensively stinky socks contributed to his inherent funkiness, so much so, he gave himself the nickname “Coppersox.”

One day, Coppersox decided that he wanted to buy himself a new strap for his bass. It was time for him to work on his stage antics, develop his true musical persona, and join a band so that he could feel the rumble of his bass alongside the screeching guitars and crashing drums. What more could a teenage boy ask for? Coppersox went out to his local music store and began browsing through all of the straps. There were hundreds! Leather straps, cloth straps, and straps make from repurposed seatbelts. Straps that were solid colors, straps that looked like police caution tape, and straps that had small metal spikes. Coppersox finally settled on the perfect one, took it home, and was ready to get down to business.

Just as Coppersox was about to put the strap on his bass, he realized that there were three different notches to choose from. Depending on which one he used, the bass would end up being a different height. Coppersox thought to himself for a minute and decided that it would be best to try out each one to see which would be the most comfortable.

First, he thought that it would be super cool to wear the bass as low as possible. Not only would it look awesome, he would be emulating his two favorite bass playing “Roberts,” Trujillo and DeLeo. Coppersox adjusted the strap to make it as long as possible and spent all evening rocking out with the instrument down to his knees. He played with both of his arms extended and realized that the bass seemed a lot farther away from him than it did while sitting. In fact, it was difficult to see the fretboard and he had to strain his neck to look down. While he was able to pluck the strings with ease, he discovered a few aches and pains the following morning: his shoulder hurt from the weight of the bass, the wrist of his fretting hand ached, and his forearm felt like Jell-O. Coppersox never experienced pain like this before and decided that maybe wearing the bass too low was the culprit. Since he was in pain, he took the day off from playing and decided to draft up some angsty band logos.

After a day of rest, the young whippersnapper gave it another go. This time, he adjusted the strap to be as short as possible. “I’ve seen some of the jazz guys do this… it must be right,” he thought to himself. Coppersox played all day long with the bass high on his chest. While his fretting arm didn’t have as much pain as before, he realized that the wrist of his plucking hand was at a very sharp angle. He felt a terrible strain in the muscles of his hand and felt self-conscious about looking too much like a tyrannosaurus rex. He stopped playing after a while and decided to go back to designing logos.

After a few days of inconsistent noise, Goldilocks decided to investigate. She put a hazard mask on and went down to visit Coppersox in his man cave.

“Hey Coppersox… I haven’t heard you playing bass today, is something wrong?”

“It sure is, Goldilocks,” he replied. “I bought a new strap a few days ago and used to be so excited about standing up and playing! I’ve adjusted it a couple of times but can’t seem to get the height right. Now I’m in pain and it’s making me really frustrated. I’m worried that it’s not fun to play anymore.”

Goldilocks deliberated for a second and decided that although she enjoyed having some peace and quiet around the house, she knew that her brother was unhappy.

“I hate seeing you so sad,” said Goldilocks. “There must be something you can do! Have you tried adjusting the strap while sitting down? That might make it just right.”

Surprised by her kind suggestion, Coppersox replied, “I haven’t, but I guess that’s a good idea.”

While he was reluctant to take his younger sister’s advice, Coppersox sat down with his bass, put the strap on the middle notch, and adjusted the belt. He made the strap just long enough to hold the bass comfortably around his neck while sitting in a chair but made sure that there wasn’t too much pressure on his back. Then, he stood up. “Wow!” he exclaimed! “It’s much more comfortable this way and there isn’t a big difference between sitting and standing!” Coppersox was delighted by this and spent the rest of the afternoon playing while standing up. He didn’t have to strain his neck, his wrists felt better, and he was excited to play again.

The next day, Coppersox woke up without any pain and spent the whole day making the house rumble. He thanked his sister for her suggestion and asked if there was anything that he could do to repay her. “You could take a shower, do some laundry, and put on a fresh pair of socks,” she replied. Coppersox thought about it for a second and, despite how much his sister had helped him, he decided that he could not betray his musical identity nor compromise his artistic integrity.

Coppersox stood up with his bass and loudly pronounced:

“Absolutely not. The funk shall remain.”

Ryan Madora is a professional bass player and educator living in Nashville, TN. In addition to touring and playing sessions, she fronts an original music project, The Interludes and teaches private lessons. Visit her website to learn more about her music or to inquire about lessons.

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