We live in incredible times. I write this post whilst holed up in a Singapore hotel room on compulsory quarantine. I'm not allowed to step out of the room and if I do it's a possible prison sentence and large fine! All in the name of curbing Covid so I'm all for it.
But this presented a potential problem for me as a fair slice of my income as a pro musician comes from remote bass guitar sessions. With the wonders of modern gear it was actually a doddle...
I'm going to do an updated studio tour as soon as my gear arrives from London on a shipping container (my family having moved here due to my wife's job). Here's my old studio in all it's humble glory.
This is my current portable set up. Notice how little gear you need to do this.
Bag 1 - Bass + Outboard
I have two of these beauties (Fusion F1 Gig Bag) and they're a level up from a soft gig bag and not quite a hard case. It's amazing how much stuff you can get in here. Here's what I have:
- MusicMan StingRay 5. You can't see it but it's in there. I decided to take this bass out of the many I own as the B string gives me more options. I happen to have had a few sessions before this trip that required some below E action so a 5 string made the cut. I love this bass anyway.
- Rupert Neve DI. A DI takes the signal of your bass and adjusts it to the correct level for your mic input. This came highly recommended and I love the size. When recording, you need a few 'boring' bits of gear that do the job with no fuss. This is one of them. The other main reason for using it is that it has a thru out so I can record another signal into my laptop (an effects track: see next bullet).
- Zoom B3n. This is an affordable unit I bought as a practice aid. The sounds are really decent though and if I need anything fancy, it can do it. I'll be doing some sound demos and lessons on this and using effects in general so make sure you signup to the newsletter - scroll down for that.
- Cables. I use three from Providence. One to connect the bass into the DI, one to come out of the DI and into the Zoom and one to come out of that into the Arrow (see below). The DI hooks up to the Arrow via a microphone cable. Always invest in good quality cables. This is an important part of your chain and you should invest in good ones.
- Tools. After a long flight, a bass can be in need of adjustment. Due to some of the tools I have, I couldn't carry them in the gig bag (which came on board with me on this occasion) but I usually do store them there. I can setup the bass how I like with these tools. I follow the Fodera guys when it comes to tweaking my bass. A well setup, buzz-free, easy to play instrument is an absolute must when you're recording. Knowing how to make those little adjustments yourself will save you money and also connect you closer to your instrument as well as get it to play optimally.
Bag 2- Laptop/Cables/Converter
I can't tell you how many hours I geeked out over the bag I'd use for this part of my rig. At one point I worried about my sanity. I'm delighted with the Black Ember Citadel R2 which I bought from a really great online shop, Mukama. It holds everything I need it to, I like the clamshell opening for ease of access and its IPX6 waterproof rating ensures that if I get caught in a rain storm my gear will be fine. Here are the contents.
- 2019 Macbook Pro. I've been a Mac/Logic user for a while and I know my way around it. I also use this computer to run the blog and edit my videos. It's a monster. The iPad has loads of charts on it.
- Universal Audio Arrow. Here's another one of those boring-but-crucial pieces. I absolutely love this thing. I have an Apollo in my main studio and this is basically a smaller version that gets its power off the Mac. You can use it with UA's excellent plugins. It's main job is to convert the analog bass signal to digital going into the laptop. Along with the Mac, it's the brains of the entire rig. It has two inputs so I can use one channel for a dry, clean signal from the Neve and another for the effects (if using). It llives in this excellent UDG Creator Hardcase.
Cables/Misc. With the clamshell opening to the bag, I like to organise everything modularly using cases. My cables go in this UGREEN case, hard drives and plugs into this, and pens into this Lihit Lab Japanese pencil case.
This particular session was for The Studio Rats and Grammy award winner Mike Exeter is mixing it. I'll post the results when I get them!