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Gear Post 2012: Zen Edition

Okay, okay, okay... I'll write the gear post before the year's over! One of the things that keeps me from writing all year is that it never really feels like the stuff in my pack has changed all that much. I switch one item at a time, never thinking I have much to write about. Then the end of the year comes, the citizenry demands a post, and I'm always surprised to see just how much has changed.

I called last year's gear post the Style Edition because although it was 100% functional, I also made a few choices to have slightly better looking clothing. That trend has continued a little bit this year, but I'm calling this one the Zen Edition because my already minimal packing list has become even shorter.

When I first started traveling, the minimalism aspect of it was pure coincidence. I had intended on buying a normal backpack, but Todd convinced me to go smaller. Our first 28L Deuter Futura backpacks seemed impossibly small at first, but after a year of learning what is and isn't necessary, space gradually opened up. My response was to fill it with new gadgets-- eventually I had a portable kettlebell, a full cot with silk sheets, and who knows what else.

As the years went on, Todd continued to get smaller backpacks, which influenced me to get smaller backpacks as well. I would always pack them completely full until recently. Last year I had some empty space, and now my pack is less than halfway full. If I could find a well organized and designed 12 liter pack, I would use it.

Part of the reason I have less stuff now is because technology keeps getting better. My laptop is tiny and light. The camera I have now couldn't exist five years ago when I started all this. Everything charges with the same cable. The other reason I've continued to reduce what I travel with, though, is because carry unnecessary items makes your trip worse. They weigh your pack down, clutter it up, and make it take longer to pack and unpack. The less I travel with, the better my experience is. At this point my pack weighs 10.7 pounds, which makes it trivial to carry it all day, even when climbing through the mountains.

Rock that Bass! How to get a great Rock bass guitar sound.

On Chris Scheidies

This was published in Premiere guitar magazine here.

http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2009/Sep/Rock_that_Bass.aspx

Why is it that the engineer says, “Here’s a direct box. Plug in and let’s get recording,” when a bass player shows up at a studio, then proceeds to spend hours and hours setting up the drums, guitar cabs, mics, pedals, etc? Without a kickin’ bass line, there is no foundation for the music. You need a bass sound that will punch, thump, rumble, boom, and articulate. So, how do we add rocket sauce to bass tracks?

The ProcessObviously you need to start with a great bass and new strings. For rock and metal there are some fantastic choices. I love Ibanez basses for this purpose. Fender, Tobias, Music Man, and others also make solid, quality choices. As far as strings go, I’ve found DR hand-wound strings sound and feel incredible, but this is purely a personal preference. Get yourself a nice bass amp/cab rig— I enjoy Ampeg, SWR, or Trace Elliot. Any sort of speaker configuration will work. I have managed to get amazing sounds out of a diverse range of gear, from tiny combos to giant-sized cabinets.

To begin, mic the speaker up. One of my favorite bass amp mics is the Sennheiser MD 421. I use this mic constantly. If you want a little extra zing or sparkle to bring out articulation and attack, grab a nice condenser mic as well—there are tons of them out there from Neumann, Shure, AKG, Audio-Technica, Blue, Rode, among others. Putting the mic directly in front of the cone often works to achieve a punchy, “in your face” sound. But you can also experiment with placing the mic near the edge of the cone, placing it halfway between the center and edge of the cone, turning it off-axis (turned slightly away from pointing straight on to the cone), and pulled back varying distances from the cabinet. Try a few things to see what you like and what works for the track.

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