A wise man once said

‘All a man will ever truly know is his own opinion. And opinions change all the time.’  Dömuddha (me)

 

Everything I say is filtered through my playing/life experience and personal preferences. As much as I try to be objective, my perspective is my own, not anyone else’s and definitely not universal.

So, read this subjective REVIEW but make up your own mind by checking out the DEMO.

Now, let’s begin.

TAN basses

are a small one-man-shop from the town of Galați, Romania. Andrei, the bass-maker, started building instruments around 2012, mostly because he couldn’t afford neck-through basses, according to his own words. Up until now he built around 15 basses, all of them custom tailored to fit his clients’ desires. I had the pleasure of demo-ing a TAN S-Type Singlecut and although I appreciated all the bells and whistles (e.g. the Mike Pope preamp) on it, I must say, I prefer the meat and potato approach of the Blue bass.

The TAN Classic Deluxe

is a new take on the well known and much appraised Jazz Bass sound. Passive, sporting two Aguilar 5J-HC pickups, it has an organic, meaty voice suited for more musical situations than you’d give it credit for. Upon holding it in my hands, my first impression was that it might be the illegitimate child of a Fender Jazz Bass and a Warwick Streamer. It certainly bears resemblance to both, the upper horn hinting at the classic lines while the curves of the body and the lower horn give it a more modern appearance.

Look wise

the Blue Sparkle finish is a bit of an eye candy. I must confess I was pleasantly surprised, I expected it to be more plastic-y but the sparkles give the paint job a bit more depth. I’d love to see how it ages and what kind of yellowish or maybe greenish hue it gets over time. The matching headstock is also a nice touch, gives it a nice retro vibe. The familiar angled tuners and the old school pearloid pickguard reinforce the feeling that this bass is the marriage of old and new.

 

Build wise

the Classic Deluxe is a well constructed instrument, featuring some high grade components. The wood choices ( all maple except the american walnut fretboard binding) line up with the classic approach, while the hardware (custom high mass bridge, Schaller tuners and LEDs) might make it more desirable for the modern player. While not everything is perfectly done (my knack for finding imperfections can be both a blessing and a curse) the attention to detail is certainly to be appreciated.

Tone and feel

I’ve only had the bass a month, played it just a couple of days on and off, due to my busy schedule but I felt at home playing the TAN. Although my experience with more ‘classic sounding’ instruments is limited to my own 1995 Japanese Fender Precision bass and the times I fiddled a couple of vintage Fender Jazz basses, I recognised the old school ‘snap and bite’ to the tone, especially with both pickups full on. Talking about the ‘snap’, the maple fretboard is definitely a large contributor.

The lows are clear and punchy, the mids are not overwhelming and the highs cut through. Maple is often associated with brighter sounds and although the TAN can be pretty sizzly at times, it doesn’t go overboard. There is a bit of a mid scoop to my ears, mostly because I am so used to my mid-heavy Warwick basses, but I didn’t feel the need to compensate with electronics. ‘The tone is in your hands’ might be an overused cliche but it’s true – you carry your sound with you but you need to invest time to get to know your instrument.

There is a certain hollowness (not lack of mids, but don’t know how else to describe it) that adds a very interesting character to the sound. The bass stays true to the Jazz Bass spirit but puts a spin of its own on it.

Ergonomics

Sometimes comfort is sacrificed in order to get that specific tone or sleek look. Heavy exotic woods, smaller bodies. I should know, my Thumb bass isn’t the most snuggliest snuggly bear when it comes to adapting to my body and being comfy to play. Thankfully the TAN has no issues in the neck dive department, it’s easily one of the most well balanced instrument I played lately. It weighs just about 4,45 kg / 9,81 lbs, making it a ‘lighter’ bass, when compared to my 5,6 kg – 4,9 kg heavy weights. Props for fighting the good fight for our backs!

I would have liked for it to have a satin finished or oil finished neck, because I’m not particularly fond of lacquered necks but it did not feel overly sticky. The neck profile is in the ‘slimmer’ category, making it easy to jump around the fretboard.

At the request of the builder I didn’t change strings or fiddle with the action, I played it with the exact setup I received it. It didn’t take too long to get used to the wider 18mm string spacing, even after 15 years or so of 16,5mm. The action was medium low, maybe a tid bit too high for my taste, but definitely easily playable.

The only issues I found with the bass were an unfortunate combination of factors that culminated in a bit of intermittent buzzing. I had a hard time pinpointing the source of the noise but it was obvious from the get go that it is a grounding issue. Turns out the coated Elixir strings are not conductive and can cause problems in certain combinations with passive electronics/pickups. Roger Sadowsky has a more extensive article on this issue, check it out if you have similar problems with coated strings. Bottom line is once you change the strings, the problem goes away.

Talking about the strings, I found that the A string has a bit more output than the rest of the strings. That might be because the exposed pole pieces of the Aguilar pickups that are a bit higher under the A string. Also, might be easily solvable with a little setup.

 

All in all

I found this bass comfortable to play, pretty versatile tone wise – should fit into most musical situations. The Blue Sparkle finish makes it stand out on stage and the extra LED blue side dots not only help you find your way in the dark but add to the premium feel of the instrument.

 

Although TAN are not yet ready to compete with the experience and fame of well established international boutique manufacturers ( Fodera, Ken Smith, F Bass etc) I certainly salute their tenacity and persistence to become one of Romania’s finest custom bass builders.

 

please check out the full DEMO if you haven’t already:

 

here are the specs of the bass:

34″ scale

24 frets

all maple bass

Blue Sparkle finish

Aguilar AG 5J-HC pickups

Passive electronics

Schaller hardware

Elixir Nanoweb light .045″ strings

4,45 kg / 9,81 lbs

 

For availability, pricing and more info, check the TAN Basses Facebook page.

 

thanks for reading through to the end!

stay safe!

Long story short

back in 2016 I purchased a 2004 Warwick Streamer LX 6 string bass with the sole purpose of de-fretting it since I was in dire need of a fretless. It was the smoothest transaction ever, I bought it from a good friend, bassmaster Chris Kollias from Greece.
What I didn’t expect though is to really like the way it sounded with frets! I managed to do a couple of videos, but I had made up my mind and had it de-fretted with a couple of coats of epoxy on the fretboard. Lookie here!

Fast forward a couple of years and another 200+ gigs with my beloved Thumb bass and I started to think about options for a lighter or at least a better balanced bass. The Thumb is 5,6kg/12.3pounds, in case you’re wondering. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still the Mother Of All Basses in my book, but I’ve reached an age where…

After a long battle of trying to justify to myself (and to my wife, though she actually welcomed the idea (!!)) why I’d want another bass, I started the search. It took a couple of months of digging through the internets and a couple of missed deals, but finally I struck gold(en hardware).
With the help of my friends Michi and Alberto I managed to snag this 1998, WENGE necked Streamer all the way from Italy.

Full disclosure

it cost me a whopping 850 € + 30 € shipping fees. A good price, if I do say so myself, for a bass in this condition. 6 string basses (or maybe just 6 string Warwicks?) tend to be the sellers’ nightmare, they are not exactly fashionable these days. Except from hip brands like Kiesel or Dingwall, otherwise they might be a hard sell.

I also intended to change the hardware to black, as I prefer black to golden, so that added to the cost.

  • black bridge – 49,58 €
  • 6 black tuners – 50,88 €
  • black flush mount straplocks – 20,92 €
  • 4 black knobs – 10,40 €
  • 4 pickup screws – 5,12 €

I refuse to do the final math but all in all I like the bass a lot, even with its small problems that you can see in the video below. The beauty spot above the pickups is just mojo and we approve of mojo in this house.

 

I documented the “restoration” in my lengthiest video yet, 18+ minutes, I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed geeking out while making it.

I like acoustic gigs

Even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic, we managed to play 6 acoustic gigs in the last few weeks (and a fiery electric gig in the mountains) – all of them adhering to the new and strict social distancing and safety regulations, of course. Some might say it can’t be much of a rock concert with the audience glued to their seats, each table at a specific distance from the other, but hey – it’s for our own safety and that’s all we’ve got now. It’s not the case for ‘it’s better than nothing’ – in fact it’s the only way forward for now.

Let’s see what sept-oct-nov and dec-ember bring.

Gepostet von byron am Samstag, 15. August 2020

photo – faber.community

So why do I like acoustic gigs

besides the obvious fact that I actually get to play music with my bandmates, here’s a list of reasons:

  • old geezer Döme gets to play sitting down as opposed to schlepping a 5,6kg bass around the stage for 1 and a half hours
  • waaay less set up time! (here’s to minimalism)
  • 1 bass + 1 DI box + cables – no pedalboard, no synth, no amp + cab
  • it’s a workout for a different muscle group than regular gigs – I get to get jiggy with it on a stool, core and butt muscles in Billy Blanks mode
  • drinking tea onstage looks less weird than at electric gigs (newest discovery btw – huge fan of drinking tea while on the gig)
  • usually ends earlier than regular gigs -> I get to go to bed earlier, also a hobby of mine
  • most importantly – teardown time is shorter as well – bass in gigbag, old geezer Döme sooner in bed at the hotel, everybody wins!

so here’s to acoustic gigs, may we all enjoy them as long as we can! we really do and as far as I can tell the audience does as well!

ALSO

I made another macro video and executive producercat insisted to participate. Who am I to refuse her?

 

Time and time again

I am reminded of the importance of observing the details. The tiny cogs that help move things along but never get noticed.

Like bees, often overlooked but crucial to the planet’s survival.

We rarely zoom in on the seemingly unimportant. Like just taking a minute to stare out your window and realise that you yourself are a seemingly unimportant detail in this world.

Yet you are your own tiny cog, turning and turning, connecting and communicating with other tiny cogs. Moving things along.

Gepostet von absurdcus am Freitag, 12. Juni 2020

A quick little kiss on the forehead of your loved one. A word well placed to brighten someone’s day.

Maybe the larger portions of our lives wouldn’t seem so sombre if we’d rejoice more in the little things.

Observe the details, take them in.

Be bees, my good dudes, be bees.

Today we’ll be talking about the quest for the perfect bass tone

But first I’d like to tell you a few things about the ever-elusive component of life called Unobtainium. To be more specific, about a certain sub-type of it called Unobtainium Mutatio Semperium (UMS for short).

Even though by its nature UMS likes to remain hidden, many of us have come in contact with it. It morphs into different forms, comes in all shapes and sizes, colours and smells. Rears its ugly head in the happiest moments but also in the most uncomfortable of situations. It first appears to you as a random thought and after a while shifts into a daydream, until, finally, it gets its roots lodged into your mind and you can’t get rid of it. The more you think about it, the heavier it weighs on you. It becomes an invisible hand whose grasp can start pulling at the steering wheel. A seedling growing into a tree you dream of climbing on top of one day.

UMS contagion manifests itself in the little things ‘hey, I want that dress. I think it would make me look thinner’ or ‘hey, if I just buy this piece of gear I’ll be happy for the rest of my life’. Happens to everyone, falling head over heels for the perceived benefit of an idea. This wouldn’t pose much of a problem, it’s a pretty common occurrence in the long walk of life, might even be mistaken for the pursuit of happiness sometimes. But instead of keeping things simple, mischievous Mother Nature makes UMS an ever-mutating phenomenon. An ever-shifting desire.

A strangely specific and very localised example

You wake up one day – after having the same idea of The Perfect Bass Sound for the last 15 years – wanting something totally different. Without any well documented and peer reviewed explanation. You just feel like BOOM instead of CLANK one morning. And it’s very confusing as you fear that this new disposition might cancel out all the efforts of the last 20 years, searching and researching The Holy Grail of Bass Tones. You’ve heard BOOM all your life, all around you and that was what attracted you to CLANK in the first place. BOOM was plain. CLANK is more rare and it makes you feel more special. CLANK is harder to manage, therefore makes you work harder and you appreciate that. CLANK is gold.

Then you discover the traces of UMS around you and at first it scares you. The discovery puts things into a different perspective. You realise that you weren’t chasing a dream, but in fact you were dreaming of chasing your own tail. There is no such thing as The Perfect Bass Tone, there is just the pursuit that will ultimately take you to many places and let you try out many things. And you will end up keeping those that work for you and get rid of those that don’t.

And you come to terms with the fact that you don’t actually spend copious amounts of cash on The Gear That Will Get You The Perfect Sound. But instead you are paying for your own comfort and pleasure as you go for the ride. Like switching from taking smelly cabs to work to riding your bicycle, both will get you all the way, probably both will make you smell, but you’ll end up preferring one to the other. Which one, that’s ultimately up to you.

So here’s some BOOM for you

After this convoluted piece about how gear doesn’t really matter here’s a bass play through of ‘El Dorado‘, where I use too much gear, duh.

It’s a live version of the song off of our most recent record ‘Nouă‘, followed by a short and hopefully insightful explanation of how I recorded the bass for this video. If you like that sort of thing. Listening to my adorable English accent, I mean. As all in life, it’s a convoluted wörk in progress!

 

You can check out the whole live session I talk about in the video here – byron nouă – live la Cincșor.

Maybe even consider subscribing the Overground Showroom platform, there’s a quite a few cool concerts from Romanian artists, and the list is ever-growing.

 

P.S.

There is an antidote to UMS, of course. It’s called NORC, but that’s for another episode.

 

Looks like I’ve been doing this for quite a while

Apparently I’ve been doing this for years now, must’ve had a lot of free time on my hands back in the day.

I’ve looked it up in the archives and the image below might be the very first instance of me photoshopping a bass (albeit not my own) into someone else’s hand:

hello, 2014.

(it’s supposed to be monster me)

Then I jumped straight into deep water trying my luck with Jaco Pastorius and boy did that cause a sh*t storm among 4 string purists. Looks like everyone felt the need of repeating the same old mantra – “Jaco only needed 4 strings” and “This is blasphemy”

Well, I’ll believe the first part when I see it in writing and signed by Jaco himself.

Jaco only needed talent and practice, my good dudes.

I continued on experimenting with ideas, mostly fueled by boredom and what I was watching at that particular moment in time, and did my most shared Photoshop with Yoda and my mini Thumb toy bass (5,8K shares – not to brag but that’s like a small country)

Eventually I ended up adventuring into cartoon territory as well, doing a brief stint with the Simpsons:

Then other people started image-manipulating basses into photos, the whole meme thing started getting boring real quick, so I quietly retired my graphic tablet from the world of photoshopped basses, why should I have all the glory?

Now that I think of it, I think my old drawings were the first attempt to put basses into people’s hands.

Here is a prophetic self portrait from 2003 sporting a 6 string Thumb bass, about 5,5 years before I managed to actually buy one. Eat your heart out, Nostradamus!

But what I actually wanted to say with this long winded incursion into absurdcusian history no one really cares about is that this quarantine made me pick up my pen again.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a story on my Instagram asking people which one of my basses I should Photoshop in Victor Wooten‘s hands.

Selecting Victor was not as random as it seems, he is one of my favourite musicians and I’ve just watched a couple of master classes with him online, so he looked like the perfect choice.

My Instagram dudes decided that my beloved Thumb should be the one to be photoshopped into Victor’s hands, so I did it and even made a video about it!

lookie below!

 

bonus – that one time I did a remove-only job, I still get a giggle out of it.