Author Topic: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...  (Read 732 times)

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Offline TheCountOfNYC

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My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« on: July 08, 2020, 04:45:22 AM »
I don't frequently post in this section of the forums, as most of my professional music is in the bar and wedding cover band scene so I don't really have anything creative to show off (hopefully that will be changing shortly, but that's a discussion for another time). However, I finally found a reason to make my way back over here, although it's the result of me being At Wit's End (see what I did there?) with my search for my perfect bass. That's not an entirely accurate statement. You see, I found her, and it was true love from the moment I first played her. The problem is that after that fateful day in Guitar Center, she has eluded me ever since.

This story starts with John Myung. I discovered Dream Theater in 2008 through Panic Attack being in the rhythm game Rock Band 2. By this point, I had been playing bass for three years, and was pretty adamant about only playing a four string. I was learning my instrument quickly, with Cliff Burton and Flea my biggest influences at this point (Cliff still is and always will be, but Flea has fallen down my rankings quite a bit), but I knew nothing about the technological aspect of my instrument yet, trying to get that heavy Metallica sound with a passive Fender Jazz. I still don't know much about the technological side of things, but I at least know pickups.

Anyway, hearing the opening bass line of Panic Attack changed my life. I had a new band in my rotation, and for the first time, a bass hero who played an extended range instrument. In discovering this band, I also had my first glimpse at my bass guitar soulmate: the Music Man Bongo. As said earlier, I discovered Dream Theater in 2008, one year removed from when John Myung switched from Yamaha to Music Man. This bass looked nothing like anything I had ever seen before, and I was intrigued. Alas, I wouldn't come into contact with one for another ten years.

Fast foward to 2018, I am now an experienced bass player who had been using an Ibanez six string bass for the past two years, having fully embraced the world of extended range bass guitars. I also was making money as a musician for the first time ever, having joined a cover band earlier in the year. Unfortunately, at a gig in Manhattan, my Ibanez broke. It was a minor piece of damage, as the C string's tuning machine broke, but it was enough to put my main axe out of commission until my local music store could get the part needed to fix it. The biggest problem was that the six string was my only extended range bass I owned. I would have to reteach myself all three hours worth of my band's set on a four string, and sadly the only time I had to do so due to work was when I dropped off my six string about an hour before I was set to head to my next gig. With my Fender already loaded in the car, I decided to sit in the music store and relearn the sets there. It was then that I saw that they were carrying a four string Bongo. I grabbed it and immediately felt comfortable with the instrument, flying through the songs as if I wasn't making the shift from six to four at all. I was blown away by both the feel and the sound, it was everything I had ever wanted from a bass, except that I now needed at the very least a low B string.

It's 2019 now, and that bass is in my head. I have my Ibanez back, but I'm still thinking about the Bongo. I want one. No. I need one. There's only one problem. I make minimum wage and don't really have money to throw at a 1,000 dollar or more bass guitar. But I look at prices anyway. I start thinking about the three basses I own that I never gig with. Thinking about how much I can get for them. Then, my band has a double header. A street fair in the afternoon and a bar at night. In between gigs, my keyboard player and I go to Applebee's for dinner (the life of luxury) and in that same lot is a Guitar Center. We walk in and that's when I see her. Ernie Ball Music Man. Bongo. Five strings. HS pickup configuration. Black body with a rosewood fretboard. I walk right towards her, almost like she's a siren, luring me into my doom with her seductive call.

I grab her off the wall. I sit down. I plug her in. I start playing. And it's perfection. The fretboard radius. The pickup configuration. The feel. The sound. The look. The note range. The versatility. It's everything I wanted and more. The HS configuration was like a Fender Jazz on steroids, punchy attack with a nice meaty and sustained low end. The 5 string configuration with the 11" fretboard radius and 24 frets gave me the range needed to play my sets without my hand being stretched to oblivion like on my Ibanez. The look was sleek and menacing while not being overly aggressive. It could play anything, from the pop I get paid to perform to the prog and metal I write for fun. And the feel. My right hand rested perfectly over the strings, the single coil neck pickup the perfect place to anchor my thumb. My left hand glided effortlessly up and down the fretboard, me able to play things I had never dreamed of before. For the first time in my fourteen years of playing, it truly felt like my instrument was working with me. I came so dangerously close to financing the bass and walking out with it right there, but I knew that there were too many economic variables in my life for me to make that big financial decision. Walking out without that bass was brutal, but it gave me a goal. One day, I would own my perfect bass: the Music Man Bongo 5 HS in black. Or so I thought...

Music Man discontinued the HS configuration for the Bongo starting in the second half of 2019, and also offered limited color options. For me to buy the instrument I wanted, I would have to either shop used, or spend even more money on a now rare model. I played the HH setup since then, and it just didn't have the same level of comfort or the same sound that the HS had. I would constantly look on Reverb and Guitar Center to see what was available, and the number just kept getting lower and lower. I looked on Andertons and Thomann, but by the time rosewood fretboards were allowed to be shipped internationally, they too were out of stock.

That brings us to tonight. I got that itch again, and started looking. And there was nothing. Not on Reverb. Not on Sweetwater. Not on Guitar Center. Not on Musicians Friend. Not on Sam Ash. Not on American Music Supply. Not on Andertons, Thomann, Amazon, or even Ebay. My dream instrument, at least for now, is gone. And it leaves me with questions. Should I have taken a financial risk to ensure I would have the instrument when I first played it? Should I have walked away from the courts back in 2017, ignoring my fears of owning a gun with depression so I could have a career that I didn't really want, but would have had the money to afford the things that I DO want? Is it just not meant to be? Will I be stuck searching for my instrument soulmate for the rest of my musical career? Or will she resurface when I'm financially ready for her, bringing me the happily ever after that has eluded me?
« Last Edit: July 15, 2020, 10:30:28 AM by TheCountOfNYC »
People figured out that the white thing that comes out of cows' titties could be drunk, and the relation between sweet desires and women's bellies growing up for 9 months. It can't be THAT hard to figure out how a trumpet works.Ē

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Offline Vmadera00

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2020, 03:34:40 PM »
Beautifully written. Which Guitar Center did you go to in Manhattan? I worked in both (Times Square and Union Square) years back. I was actually part of the grand opening crew for the Times Square store.

For what is worth, I had a similar story to you. I felt in love with the JP Music Man when I first saw him playing it in 2007, when I first discovered DT. I went to a couple of stores and was able to tried the JP6 and I wanted it, oh I wanted it so bad but I was as broke. Fast forward to 2014 and I see the Majesty Music Man and I think, "the JP guitars are pretty good, wonder if this design is better" and sure enough it felt so much better. I pull the trigger a few months later and never looked back. I also bought a JP6 on 2017 and ended up getting rid of it, not because I didn't like it but because I only had so much space for guitars at home. I needed my acoustic, I needed my Ibanez and my Strat so it was between the JP6 and the majesty.

Another quick story. A friend of mine was desperate to find a JPM100 (JP 90's Ibanez guitar, multicolor faces). He spent more than 8 years looking for an original one in good condition and in 2018, he finally found one for a decent price.

My point is, it might take you some time, but you could find the bongo again. I see reverb has a few 5 string HS and guitar center has this one from 2010

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Ernie-Ball-Music-Man/2010s-Bongo-5-String-Electric-Bass-Guitar-115397468.gc?rNtt=Music%20Man%20Bongo%205%20HS&index=8

Offline pg1067

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2020, 06:06:00 PM »
Beautifully written. Which Guitar Center did you go to in Manhattan? I worked in both (Times Square and Union Square) years back. I was actually part of the grand opening crew for the Times Square store.

Cross-referencing Applebee's locations with Guitar Center locations ("my keyboard player and I go to Applebee's for dinner (the life of luxury) and in that same lot is a Guitar Center"), shows the Times Square GC location (218 W. 44th) is near (but not in the same lot as) the Applebee's at 234 W. 44th.  There is no other Applebee's location near a GC in Manhattan (although, maybe locations have changed in the last year).


Count:  I don't have anything to offer you beyond what Vmadera00 provided, but I do have a question.

How does JM fret the intro to Panic Attack?  I too have a Yamaha 6-string and have always played it on the C-string (3-0-0-2-0-0-3-0-0-5-0-0-3-0-2-0, etc.), but that becomes a problem when the pattern drops by an octave.  Songsterr.com shows it on a 6-string that is tuned down a full step with the F (normally G) string at 10-9-10-12, etc. pedaling off the open C (normally D) string, but that doesn't sound right either.  Looking at Chaos in Motion live, he looks to have his index finger around the 7th fret, but I can't figure that out at all.  Any help would be appreciated.
"There's a bass solo in a song called Metropolis where I do a bass solo."  John Myung

Offline TheCountOfNYC

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2020, 08:40:49 PM »
Beautifully written. Which Guitar Center did you go to in Manhattan? I worked in both (Times Square and Union Square) years back. I was actually part of the grand opening crew for the Times Square store.

Cross-referencing Applebee's locations with Guitar Center locations ("my keyboard player and I go to Applebee's for dinner (the life of luxury) and in that same lot is a Guitar Center"), shows the Times Square GC location (218 W. 44th) is near (but not in the same lot as) the Applebee's at 234 W. 44th.  There is no other Applebee's location near a GC in Manhattan (although, maybe locations have changed in the last year).
Count:  I don't have anything to offer you beyond what Vmadera00 provided, but I do have a question.

How does JM fret the intro to Panic Attack?  I too have a Yamaha 6-string and have always played it on the C-string (3-0-0-2-0-0-3-0-0-5-0-0-3-0-2-0, etc.), but that becomes a problem when the pattern drops by an octave.  Songsterr.com shows it on a 6-string that is tuned down a full step with the F (normally G) string at 10-9-10-12, etc. pedaling off the open C (normally D) string, but that doesn't sound right either.  Looking at Chaos in Motion live, he looks to have his index finger around the 7th fret, but I can't figure that out at all.  Any help would be appreciated.

It was in New Jersey. Donít remember the town off the top of my head.

And the tuning for Panic Attack is E standard with the B string tuned down to Bb, but the intro has the D string tuned down to C. The moving line (Eb, D, Eb, F, Eb, D, Eb, D, Eb, Ab, G, F) is played on the G sting (fretting is 8, 7, 8, 10, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 13, 12, 10) and the open C is pedaled in between those notes.
People figured out that the white thing that comes out of cows' titties could be drunk, and the relation between sweet desires and women's bellies growing up for 9 months. It can't be THAT hard to figure out how a trumpet works.Ē

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Offline pg1067

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2020, 10:04:49 PM »
And the tuning for Panic Attack is E standard with the B string tuned down to Bb, but the intro has the D string tuned down to C. The moving line (Eb, D, Eb, F, Eb, D, Eb, D, Eb, Ab, G, F) is played on the G sting (fretting is 8, 7, 8, 10, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 13, 12, 10) and the open C is pedaled in between those notes.

Wow...that sounds unnecessarily complicated, but I'll give it a try.  Thanks!
"There's a bass solo in a song called Metropolis where I do a bass solo."  John Myung

Offline TheCountOfNYC

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2020, 10:39:08 AM »
And the tuning for Panic Attack is E standard with the B string tuned down to Bb, but the intro has the D string tuned down to C. The moving line (Eb, D, Eb, F, Eb, D, Eb, D, Eb, Ab, G, F) is played on the G sting (fretting is 8, 7, 8, 10, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 13, 12, 10) and the open C is pedaled in between those notes.

Wow...that sounds unnecessarily complicated, but I'll give it a try.  Thanks!

Another option is getting a pitch shifting pedal. Tune the bass itself down a half step so you can get the usual fingerings while getting the low Bb necessary. Then set the pedal to drop the bass down another half step so the Db string is now a C. Then once the bass solo intro is done turn the pedal off.
People figured out that the white thing that comes out of cows' titties could be drunk, and the relation between sweet desires and women's bellies growing up for 9 months. It can't be THAT hard to figure out how a trumpet works.Ē

-MirrorMask

Offline Samsara

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2020, 03:48:02 PM »
It's hard, but never doubt the path you are on. It's the right one. Perhaps that bass, as incredible as it was, was a temptation that would have led you into financial issues and you would have only played her to lose her.

Continue the hunt. Make the effort. And when it is really time, you will find that bass, or another that will be everything you want in an instrument.
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Offline jonny108

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2020, 02:46:50 PM »
Saw this on the FB marketplace and it reminded me of this thread https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/583514015858529/

Offline TheCountOfNYC

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2020, 12:31:29 AM »
Saw this on the FB marketplace and it reminded me of this thread https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/583514015858529/

You know thatís a great price. If it wasnít blue I would consider it lol.
People figured out that the white thing that comes out of cows' titties could be drunk, and the relation between sweet desires and women's bellies growing up for 9 months. It can't be THAT hard to figure out how a trumpet works.Ē

-MirrorMask

Offline TheCountOfNYC

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2020, 02:51:24 PM »
New information has changed the plan. With the announcement of the John Myung signature six string, I have a new dream bass. And price aside, this one should be easier to get a hold of.
People figured out that the white thing that comes out of cows' titties could be drunk, and the relation between sweet desires and women's bellies growing up for 9 months. It can't be THAT hard to figure out how a trumpet works.Ē

-MirrorMask

Offline kirksnosehair

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2020, 12:44:48 PM »
I've got a 5 string.  How does it work with a 6 string?  Do you get a low A string?

Offline Adami

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2020, 12:47:05 PM »
I've got a 5 string.  How does it work with a 6 string?  Do you get a low A string?

Standard tuning 6 string adds a high C

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Offline kirksnosehair

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2020, 12:58:52 PM »
Useful for doing bass solos, I suppose.  To me the 5-string bass guitar was one of the greatest improvements to a standard instrument since they added floating tremolos to guitars.  Having that low B string to hit those ball-tickling lows really makes a huge impact, at least in my own compositions

Offline TheCountOfNYC

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2021, 12:14:02 PM »
So slight detour in my journey, but itís certainly paying off so far. My current Ibanez six string is having electrical problems, and this is the fourth time itís been out of commission in two years. I had to make the tough decision to retire it as my main gigging bass and needed an immediate replacement. I couldnít afford the Myung signature just yet, so I turned to the only other brand besides Music Man that Iíve gravitated towards through the years: Schecter.

https://www.schecterguitars.com/bass/j-5-black-detail

From the moment this bass arrived at my house and I played it for the first time it just felt right. Super comfortable to play, sounds tremendous and punchy, and it looks gorgeous to boot (I got the black one). I havenít touched any of my other basses since I got this thing, and it definitely makes my journey towards the Bongo more of a want than need. I will own that beauty eventually, but for the time being, this Schecter is everything I could ever want or need from an instrument.
People figured out that the white thing that comes out of cows' titties could be drunk, and the relation between sweet desires and women's bellies growing up for 9 months. It can't be THAT hard to figure out how a trumpet works.Ē

-MirrorMask

Offline TheCountOfNYC

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2021, 09:11:35 PM »
So new update: Iíve been working crazy hours between two jobs and itís making me completely miserable. I need to feel like Iím working towards something so I stick it out for at least a few months until I can figure out if Iím doing whatís best for me, so I decided that Iím gonna put money aside from each paycheck and buy the John Myung Bongo.
People figured out that the white thing that comes out of cows' titties could be drunk, and the relation between sweet desires and women's bellies growing up for 9 months. It can't be THAT hard to figure out how a trumpet works.Ē

-MirrorMask

Offline jonny108

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Re: My seemingly futile quest to find my perfect bass...
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2021, 06:43:19 PM »
Nice! Best of luck with that.  I have a Bongo (4HH) and it's such a great bass (had a slight issue with the neck when it arrived but took it good luthier and all was good). I got mine on finance back in 2013 when they were only £1400 (about £50 a month after deposit over 2 years). They seem to have gone up a fair bit now.

It's worth the pain of working the extra shifts though!