As one of my goals for 2016, I resolved to pick up my bass and guitar and start playing regularly again. The bass is an easier lift, because I can keep it quiet through headphones with the practice amp Santa gave me last year when the girls are in bed. As a result I’ve been playing a lot the last couple of months, and it feels great.
As I normally do with things I’m interested in, I’ve had Craigslist alerts watching used Fender basses for years now. My budget is very low, so I haven’t actively pursued anything, but I came close about four years ago when a guy in Baltimore was selling a MIJ Precision Bass for $150. He sold it before I could make it out to his house.
Last week I found out about a used Jazz Bass on Craigslist in DC and I asked my coworker to check it out for me. He went to the guy’s house on his way to band practice (ha!) and looked it over. Everything checked out (he’s pretty knowledgeable about instruments) so he picked it up for me.
It’s a 1997 made in Mexico Deluxe Series, based on the serial number, with a black body and tortoiseshell pickguard. Deluxe means it was made with active pickups, but the previous owner removed those and replaced them with a set of Fender Noiseless pickups and standard Jazz electronics. The battery plate on the back is held on with two pieces of clear tape, and the jack in the side of the body is disconnected (and held in with a wood screw). The bass has been beat up pretty good; there’s a chip out of the headstock, a good sized ding in the bottom, and a bit of buckle rash on the back side.
It’s strung with a set of roundwounds that only buzz on the E, so the action needs to be adjusted, but the neck is straight and it plays well. The neck itself is fast–it’s thinner than my Steinberger neck, actually, at the same length, but the Steinberger has two more frets. (I was always under the impression the Steinberger was short scale, but I was mistaken). It’s fast and light, which is amazing for a bass its size–I’ve been playing a headless bass for over 20 years, so it takes getting used to. The sound is rich and the tone is beautiful. In fact, there are several songs I’ve played where the tone I’m getting is almost exactly what was recorded.
The biggest issue is that it absolutely stinks of nicotine. The PO was obviously a heavy smoker, so the gig bag and the strings reek of smoke. I wiped the wood down with Murphy’s Oil Soap last night, but I’ve got to take the strings off and wipe the front of the neck down to get more of the yuck off. The bag is hanging out on the back porch, and will be, for the next week or so. Hopefully the sun and the air will pull some of the smoke out.
Now I’m trolling YouTube for instructional videos on how to set up guitars, which I’ll get to in the coming weeks. It needs a new set of strings for sure, so I’ll walk or ride down to Bill’s Music and see if they can tell me what’s on it right now, because I like them despite their stink.
I hopped on to Reverb last week to see what the latest comparable offerings to my Steinberger were, and the first one that popped up was a twin to mine, and the only other red XP-2 I’ve ever seen, for sale in Austin, Texas. It looks like pricing has come down some since I listed my bass—the average seems to be hovering right above $2000. The shop selling this one is calling it “rare” and are hoping to get another $500 above average, but it’s also been for sale since last year.
My listing is down, as I only got one inquiry (a trade offer for a Rickenbacker 4003) in the year I’d listed it, and no serious offers. Perhaps I lower the price and relist in the spring. It’s sitting in the corner doing nothing and I’d love to see it move to a good home.
This afternoon, on a phone call, I moved some data into Flourish and built a story around the four main cancer data points: white and red blood cells, and lymphocytes. This is a much easier way to display (and update) the data as I get it.
Wow. If Dad were still alive, I would buy this and offer to fly out to the West Coast to drive it back with him: a 1968 Ford Country Squire wagon, the spitting image of the wagon he had when Renie and I were little kids. This one has a couple of dents and dings, but overall looks like it’s in good shape. Of course, a 390 under the hood means we’d be filling it up every 15 miles, but that would be an epic trip.
I would do some light modification to this wagon—I’d repaint it in the original Ford green, find a roof rack (or the equivalent Thule roof basket) and lift it slightly for some better tires—but keep the stock hubcaps. Refresh the engine, suspension and brakes, sort out the interior, and drive the piss out of it.
* * *
So Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday after a bout of lung cancer. Cancer does suck, but seriously, fuck that guy. He and his kind are a cancer on our democracy; maybe that’s a sign of cosmic justice out there somewhere.
* * *
Good grief. One of my go-to podcasts, Reply All, did a series on the racism scandal at Bon Appétit, a very popular magazine and online property which has been accused of keeping people of color out of the spotlight. That exposed an identical problem at Gimlet Media, the podcast channel that publishes Reply All. What a mess.
* * *
I went back and looked at the Reverb listing for my bass after having forgotten it for a couple of weeks; it’s been viewed 8,000 times but there are still no concrete offers. Meanwhile there are a couple of others listed for more money elsewhere; I’d love to know if anything is moving right now. Here’s to hoping an offer comes out of the blue.
So far there have been no bites on the Steinberger; the listing has gotten 800+ views and 4 watchers but no offers. I’m not paying anything to leave it up there, so I’ll just sit on it and see what happens. Update: I got one offer this morning from a guy who wants to trade it for a Rickenbacker 4003 Pearlstar—something I might have been interested in back in my Geddy Lee worship days, but at this point I’d rather have the cash.
* * *
At work, I finally completed a torturous process that began two months ago to design and publish a digital report. The report itself launched last month but due to various editorial and review issues I had to update the PDF and then build the digital report. It’s a high-level view of the state of climate action with an eye towards the next 20 years, and it was a challenge to bring together all of the text, graphics, and digital assets. Even though the process is automated, I found myself diving into code at the tail end and fixing a ton of issues by hand, which was a pleasant surprise.
* * *
We’ve now made two different batches of Bailey’s, one from the recipe I posted earlier in the week and one from the Betty Crocker cookbook. Before you get the idea we’ve just been pouring cups of it over our cornflakes every morning, we’ve been sipping on each one slowly—the online recipe is lighter and very almondy and the Betty Crocker recipe is much heavier with more chocolate—but neither are a 100% stand-in for the real thing. So we’ll make our way through these and then we’ll try another recipe.
Jen did break out and use the galette iron on Tuesday, filling the house with the smell of Belgian dessert waffles and making it impossible to concentrate on work. There’s now a full batch sitting on the counter ready to eat when the urge to snack hits. She’s not as pleased with this batch compared to the previous one, so the search for the right modifications to that recipe continues as well.
And the duck boots that I ordered over a month ago finally arrived the other day: they are 1 size too small for my feet, which means I’m going to have to brave the crowds at Nordstrom Rack to return them sometime next week (depending on what the return window is). That was a bummer.
I posted the Steinberger on Reverb Monday morning, after replacing three of the string jaws and cleaning the whole thing up. So far there are 100+ views and 5 people “watching,” but no offers yet. I wonder if this is a good time or a bad time to sell?
It’s been pretty quiet otherwise. We’re slowly working our way through the Harry Potter films, averaging one a night, and tonight is Deathly Hallows Pt. 1. Jen made Butterbeer from a second recipe last weekend which was much better than the first attempt—but was richer than what we had at the park. In hindsight, I hadn’t really remembered how good the Half-Blood Prince is, and my ranking of Azkaban has dropped commensurately. What will we do when we’re out of movies? Well, there’s the Pixar catalog… Finn and I watched Up (thanks Linda!) together over the holiday, and enjoyed every single moment of it.
New jaws are installed and I scrubbed it down last night to take some beauty pictures. There’s a little more pitting in the aluminum than I remember but she still looks great.