Tech tips, tricks of the trade and general advice.


-Different Songs, Different Strings! 

Live and in the studio- using a variety of different string types can really open new tonal and creative possibilities.


For years and years, all I used as a bass player was roundwound strings. Roundwounds are great - they offer the broadest range of tone (arguably), sit well in mixes and are the most familiar feeling string for most of today's players.  I never really thought much about string types until I started playing more sessions and would inevitably get asked if I had a P-Bass strung with flats with me.  This led me down the road of researching what Jamerson, McCartney, Entwistle and all the iconic bassists known for distinctive tone used...

These days, I cannot imagine not having different string choices.  While roundwounds probably serve my needs about 70% of the time, flatwounds and 'tapes' have become indispensable to me!  I don't know how I lasted as long as I did without broadening my string horizons.  If you are like I was, and are still clinging to the same type of string you started on, you owe it to yourself to try something different.  There is a whole landscape of tones and textures you are missing out on!


Flatwounds, particularly D'Addario Chromes, have become my second favorite string and a studio necessity.  Flats impart that classic 'Motown' vibe with deep bass, thumpy attack and smooth transitions between notes.  They are actually more fun to play with their smooth texture and inspire you to play differently.  With their subdued highs, as compared to roundwounds, flatwounds lend themselves to sit in a mixplucking on some flats on an old Yamaha very well without drawing unwanted attention.  (read: Get away with playing more complex bass lines without overpowering the song!) ;-)   D'Addario Chromes have a little bit brighter overall sound so you get more flexibility compared to some other flats as well.  From overdriven rock to muted pick playing (Beach Boys-esque) to deep reggae dub - flatwounds deliver in a BIG way!


I was turned onto Nylon Tapewounds a few years ago by a colleague.  Tapes have a roundwound-like tone, but with their flat nylon wrappings they prompt you to play them like a flat.  With less sustain than a roundwound, they do sound unique though!  Tapewounds are particularly well suited to hollowbody instruments and acoustic bass guitars.  I have a neat short-scale hollowbody Hofner-like bass that I cannot imagine using any other string on.  It was a pretty so-so sounding instrument until I put a set of D'Addario Nylon Tapewounds on it.  


 I'm fortunate to have a pretty extensive stable of instruments.  Some that I tour with and a bunch that are more studio tools.  Lately, I've been trying out D'Addario's EXP Coated Bass Strings.  I have a handful of basses that only get used a few times a year & I like the strings to still sound fresh when I finally pick one of them up.  The EXP strings still sound new on a couple of basses that I strung up a year ago!  A nice side-benefit of the EXP's is that they are marginally less bright as a freshly strung roundwound, more like a brand new string that I like to keep options near-at-hand while workinghas been played a few hours (in other words, perfect!)...  D'Adddario's proprietary coating process also makes for a string that feels nearly identical to a traditional roundwound without the "coated feel" and fraying that occurs with some other brands.  If you have acidic skin and experience early corrosion problems, coated strings are worth a try!  They may be more expensive than uncoated strings, but with a triple lifespan you might actualy save a few bucks!


Don't be like me & play the same kind of string for over a decade before you expand your palette...  Go try a set of flats, tapes, halfrounds or coated strings today!


A spice rack featuring Tapes, Rounds, Halfrounds and Flats. Spicy!




-Assembling George L's Cable

I often get asked about George L's solderless cable.  It's a wonderful product that sounds great, but I see a lot of musicians trash it because of problems with cable failure.  This is unfortunate because it is a great sounding cable with very low capacitance (treble loss over long lengths) and is quick and easy to customize.  I've been wiring my pedalboards with George L's for well over a decade.  In that time, I've experienced zero failures!  My equipment gets subjected to some pretty harsh treatment, too!  International touring, flights, local loading crews, crazy temperatures, etc...  Why have I been so "lucky" with the reliability of my George L's cable?  Proper assembly!  Using my tips below & 3 crucial steps, you can enjoy the same success rate!


First, a note on application:  I do not like George L's for certain cable runs.  The connection from my instrument to amp or pedalboard, from pedalboard to amp, or any other longer run that is subject to direct cutting-abuse.  The George L's product features a very small diameter cable (perfect for tight pedalboards, but less so for an active stage environment!).  While this small cable size is perfect for tight spaces, I don't feel it offers a robust enough outer jacket for anywhere that it might get stepped on hard, road cases rolled over it or other heavy abuse. 


The Tools:


Pliers, a sharp utility knife or razor blade, cable, plugs and a cable tester (optional, but recommended for peace-of-mind).  Note the absence of scissors or cable cutters! (More regarding that below!) I use an old cutting board as well.

STEP 1: Cutting 
Use a razor blade or sharp utility knife to cut your cable to length.  Roll the cable while you cut (see video below), letting the sharp blade do the work.  You don't want to press down too hard. The goal is a flat, clean cut that leaves a perfectly round cut-end.  It should be clean and round like this:
Using scissors or cutting pliers will result in a crushed cut-end with a flattened oval shape. This is the #1 cause of a dead George L's cable!  There's a tiny pin inside the plug that needs to be fed straight into the center of the cable, this prospect is a little sketchy if the cable isn't perfectly round!  In the pic below, the cable on the left was cut with scissors and the cable on the right using my method.  See the difference?

Step 2: Insertion

Press the cable in to the plug until it stops, then rotate the plug 360' while applying light pressure inward to 'seat' the connection.  Then, pull the cable down into the groove lightly & only far enough to enable you to start threading the cap portion of the plug- don't bend too far!
You need to let the threaded cap push into & pierce the black insulation of the cable while you thread it on. This is the only way to ensure a good ground (shielding/sleeve) connection.  If you pull the cable back all the way to 90', the cap might not have enough time to pierce the jacket adequately.  Let the cap do the work!

STEP 3: Tighten

Use a pair of pliers to firmly tighten the cap.  Using pliers will help you torque the cap down, thus eliminating any need for thread-locking solutions like Lock-Tite or those little plastic sleeves George L's makes. If you tighten it enough - it won't come loose!


Using the following 3 crucial steps, you should have perfect success with your custom-made George L's!

1) DON'T use scissors!  Use a sharp razor blade & a rocking motion to ensure a perfectly round cut-end.

2) DON'T bend the cable too far before threading the cap on!  Let the cap cut into the cable jacket.

3)DO use pliers!  Pliers will ensure a tight cap that doesn't work itself loose.


If that all  seems complicated & time consuming above, just watch the video below.