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Gear Question Archives

Switching Between 4, 5, and 6-string Basses
Ask Damian Erskine

Switching Between 4, 5, and 6-string Basses

This week’s “Ask” question starts like this: “How do you switch between 4/5/6 strings when the low E has been ingrained in my memory?” Check out what Damian has to say about making the switch.

Series vs. Parallel Wired Pickups
Ask Damian Erskine

Series vs. Parallel Wired Pickups

In this week’s “Ask” column, a reader asked Damian to explain the difference between series and parallel circuitry in pickups. Check out Damian’s excellent overview on the topic.

Using an Active/Passive Toggle on Your Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Using an Active/Passive Toggle on Your Bass

Q: I’ve got a toggle on my bass for passive and active. I hardly use it. Could you explain the benefits and drawbacks of each? Do you ever toggle during a gig? Thanks! A: I’ve more recently become more enamored with the sound of my basses in passive mode. For me, it partially reflects a change in my stylistic preferences,...

Should I Use A Compressor with My Bass?
Ask Damian Erskine

Should I Use A Compressor with My Bass?

Q: I wanted to ask about running a compressor, as everyone seems to suggest how beneficial it is for the instrument. I like how it tightens up the low end and brings up latent harmonic content in my otherwise quite dull sounding bass. However, I mainly play jazz and I realize that I might be missing out on the subtler...

How High Should I Set My Bass Strings?
Ask Damian Erskine

How High Should I Set My Bass Strings?

Q: What’s your take on string height? For over a decade, I’ve subscribed to Anthony Jackson’s view that the neck must be as flat/straight as possible and the strings as low as possible. And while I’ve spent as much time refining a light touch, I sometimes wonder if I’m spending too much time worrying about my touch and how much...

Should I Go Active? A Discussion for Bass Players
Ask Damian Erskine

Should I Go Active? A Discussion for Bass Players

Q: I’m once again considering using active electronics on my bass, a pre-amp of some kind. It is still a bit of a debate I notice amongst bass players. Some say it’s “colder,” some say it’s difficult to work with, especially on stage. I even had stories from sound engineers who are not too keen on active basses when having...

Curved vs. Flat Fingerboards on Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Curved vs. Flat Fingerboards on Bass

Q: Why are some fingerboards curved and some flat? Is there any benefit to one over the other? A: The curve in the fretboard is called a radius, and there are varying arguments I’ve found for the reason. Many people agree that a radiused fretboard works best with the natural curvature of the hand. This is especially geared towards guitarists...

Getting the Most Out of Your Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Getting the Most Out of Your Bass

Q: I use a Fender American Standard Jazz bass and have Labella Flats on it. It’s a great bass, but not suitable for the type of genres that I play. I am seeking for a fatter and tighter sound, as deep as possible but with a lot of clarity. I have been looking into different pickups too. What should be...

Gigging Without a Car: A Discussion on Gear
Ask Damian Erskine

Gigging Without a Car: A Discussion on Gear

Q: Since I don’t own a car anymore, I was thinking about changing my gear to better fit my new way of moving around (public transportation). Do you have any suggestion about ways to reduce the amount of stock I need to move around while keeping a good sound on stage? A: I think that even those of us with...

Should I Use an Amp, a Monitor or In-Ears?
Ask Damian Erskine

Should I Use an Amp, a Monitor or In-Ears?

Q: I want to choose a new rig. I’m quite happy with my basses and my effects I own at the moment, and I am searching now for a way to amplify my signal. I have a very good, portable upper-middle-class halfstack, but I can rarely use it because I often do small gigs and it is a little bit...