Christopher Whitt the Bassist

...playing electric bass guitar for more than a decade, and loving it...

[Me and my double bass] I've been playing electric bass since around 1991, and the double bass since about 1993. I've played other instruments before (see my musical history, below) but bass playing has become my love.

Eventually I will add to this page some pics of my basses and equipment, and maybe some info on a few projects that I've completed. In 1997 I built my own 1x10" cabinet based on the design of Len Moscowitz, and in 2001 I had Griffeth's Guitar Works complete the custom 6 string fretless that I started building with my grandfather in the mid 1990s. But school, work and all that stuff keeps me real busy, so it'll all come in slowly. I am ashamed to say that I hardly play up upright anymore, and that picture is embarassing. Most of the items on this page are probably out of date, but I will eventually update them.


Gear

At the moment I have 3 electric basses, a cheap acoustic bass guitar, a preamp, power amp, a 1x10 cab, a cheap effects unit, a 1x12" combo, an upright, an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, and a pair of drumsticks (I want to be a drummer). I had a tenor saxophone, but it sort of became my parent's again, since I no longer play it, and they bought it for me in grade school.

Double Bass

The bass in the picture at the top of the page is my first and current double bass. It's what some politely call 'laminated,' meaning it's a student instrument with plywood front and back instead of solid carved wood. The label says "B&H 400 - Made in Czeckoslovakia." It's 3/4 size (which is standard for basses).

Considering the level of instrument it is, the sound is very good. My former teacher agreed that it sounds reasonable for a student bass. I use a German bow, and I usually sit on a stool.

Electric Basses

My newest bass is my custom 6-string fretless. I love it. I designed and started building it myself along time ago, and had it finished by Griffeth's Guitar Works in 2001. Griffeth's has some pictures on the website for their custom shop. It has a 7-piece maple and walnet neck, with through-body construction. The body wings are southern (swamp) ash. The finish is tung oil, and the fingerboard is Macassar Ebony with a pronounced grain that looks very nice. The electronics are Carvin. I suspect they're really OEM'd by EMG, but I'm not sure. The bass is a little hard to play, and I take the blame for it. If I ever start another bass project, I'll definitely do a better job. Still, it sounds really nice and it's my main instrument.

My second bass is my beautiful Carvin LB76A. I ordered it with all my favorite options in late October 1996, and it arrived just in time for Christmas. Hopefully I'll have a picture of it here soon. It is a 34" scale six-string fretted bass. The options I ordered include: 5-piece maple/koa neck; koa body sides with tung oil finish; matching headstock laminate; rounded body sides; no fingerboard inlays; black hardware; Dunlop straplocks. I also apparently got (but didn't pay for) the midrange boost module in addition to the standard active onboard preamp/tone controls. The construction quality of this instrument is very high, especially considering the incredible price I paid. I don't know what Carvin prices are like these days, but in 1997 it was a steal.

Around the time that my fretless was completed, Griffeth's had a decent acoustic bass guitar selling used for $250 CAD, which I couldn't pass up. It has no pickup, but it is solid and sounds ok. I'll probably keep it around as a beater for quite a while.

I have previously owned a black Washburn XS-5 five-string fretted bass, and my first bass was a $75 third-hand ivory colored Profile P-bass copy. I no longer have those two instruments.

Amplification

These days I mostly play in church, and I hardly ever use an amp. Since I've been spending a lot of time as a sound tech, I appreciate the fight to keep stage volume down. I often just use a wedge, and for special occasions I have a little junky mixer that I use to drive headphone, which is great since it really cuts down the cymbal racket.

For amplification I have an Alembic FX-1 preamp. It's a VERY nice sounding tube preamp with just basic tone controls, and DI output and a crossover. I also picked up an old Yamaha FX500B bass effect half-rack box with a MIDI foot controller cheap 2 years ago. It's a bit noisy and I should probably sell it.

I carry my rack equipment in a 4-space SKB rack, and in the other two spaces there is a QSC MX700 power amp, which I use to drive my custom 1x10" cab. For those of you familiar with Len Moscowitz on TBL or rec.music.makers.bass, the design I used to build the cab is his 'Big Bottom' design as published in speaker builder magazine and on TBL #400.

I built it myself in early April of 1997. It was a very straight-forward and fun project, and I'm ecstatic with the results. Len's comments at the end of his article are spot on - the cab is not deafeningly loud, but the sound is sweet - one of the best bass enclosure I've ever played.

I also have a Yorkville BLOC80B 1x12" combo that I got for Christmas 5 years ago when I started playing. I don't use it anymore, so if you're interested in this item, I'd love to sell it.

Other

My acoustic guitar is a Norman. It has the base model pickup and electronics package, but it sounds good on a budget. I got the folk style body which is a lot smaller than the typical dreadnought and cutaways that most people have. What can I say, I like to be different.

My electric guitar is a basic red Yamaha electric, thought I can't remember the model number. It spends most of it's time in the case in the basement. The drumsticks are Vic Firth 7A American Classic wood tips, and hopefully I'll start using them more often.


Destinations

Whenever I'm off the rock (Newfoundland is a big rock of an island for those of you who are not Canadians or are geographically impaired) I make a special effort to seek out large music stores to check out some of my favorite names in high end bass gear. I've played a nice assortment of equipment over the years, during trips to New York, London, Boston, Toronto and Montreal.

In NYC West 48th, just off Times Square is the place to go. There's Sam Ash and Manny's, but Rudy's Bass shop seems to be the place for really nice gear. I've always found that I can walk in and be treated well, play some really nice gear, and maybe rub shoulders with a few classy players, too. I've visited in 1999, 2001 and 2002.

When I was in London in 1997 I enjoyed a trip to The Bass Centre, out in Whopping in the East End. I managed to get in nearly an hour of relaxing in the beautiful showroom at the Bass Centre. I was referred to Nick, one of the salesmen, by an employee of a smaller music shop downtown, and he went out of his way to accomidate me. I played Tung, Fodera, Status, and Ken Smith 6 string fretted basses, and (yes, you can be impressed now) a gorgeous Alembic Series II 4 string (just like in the catalog!). They were sadly low on fretless 6's in stock at the time I was there, and I just didn't have time to explore the Alembic, but I did get a nice feel for the other basses. All except the Ken Smith were various shades of mediocrity, with problems ranging from setup to bland tone. However, the Ken Smith BT 6 G was great. If I ever spend five grand plus on a bass, this one will be on top of my short-list!

Lessons

Here's just a small sampling of articles on practising and playing bass that I have gathered from rec.music.makers.bass as well as the churchbass mail digest in the mid 1990s (apologies for the poor HTML conversion in some cases):
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2002-06-18