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Re-living the past, bassically…

In 1987, for my birthday, my parents bought me my very first bass guitar. That instrument was a “Rock Bass” from Epiphone/Gibson, a basic, passive model with a J-J pickup configuration. It was a great “starter” bass for the time; made in Korea, back when there wasn’t anything worth owning coming out of China – it was solid, well-appointed, good-sounding and even kinda cool looking (pointy headstocks were all the rage in the late 80’s.)

That bass carried me through my early years as a player; it was my main bass for Outcry, my first “real” band that played “real” gigs (only two of them, but we rocked out both times!) When I co-formed Ransomed Soul with my friend Scott in 1990, that was the bass I was playing. It saw lots of action at lots of seedy bars (can I get a shout-out for Bonnie’s Roxx?) and sounded really good.

When I cobbled together the scratch, I upgraded the pickups to an EMG JJ set. When we recorded our debut album(s), I ran the bass right into the mixing console with no additional preamping or other toys – and the bass really sounds tight on those recordings. And it played really well.

As the years went on, 5-string basses became more popular, and I eventually found one that worked really well for me and started using that as my main bass, which relegated the Epi to backup duty. Once Ransomed Soul broke up, she mostly gathered dust. When (with Scott, again) I co-founded Second Story in 1996, it was playing my new SIX-string bass. Knowing that there was little to no chance that I’d be using the four string for any of the Second Story material, and needing the duckets for other musical gear (a future post will detail my INSANE Second Story rig), I sold “Heather” (yes, she had a name) to my co-worker and friend – and aspiring musician – Tom. A few months later, I was transferred to a new store, and I lost touch with Tom, the bass, and eventually, that job.

I’ve recently been feeling a bit nostalgic for old musical toys, and I don’t really have a way to get in touch with Tom – so, I’ve been trolling eBay for similar basses to the old girl – and a little over a week ago, I found one: Epiphone Rock Bass, late 80’s vintage, black hardware (rare) on black bass, rosewood fingerboard, JJ pickup setup… in good, played but not abused condition. The bass is virtually identical, and even came with the original case. So, I snagged it.

Because I’m a total freak, I also snagged a set of EMG old-model JJ pickups on eBay for cheap – used, but not abused. I figure that a little soldering will get me an almost exact duplicate of my original bass – all I need now is a set of black Dunlop Straploks and a purple strap…

So I’m really digging re-living the past – the bass will mostly live on the wall in my home studio, and maybe get pulled out for the occasional studio track. But it’s cool that I was able to find it.

It’s sometimes nice to go home again.

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  • Mikey on

    Aaah yes, the past…that thumping RS bass. Really great memories of Mom come to mind.(Mrs.G) I really miss her. Hey Phillies just won 4 in a row!! Go mom! Memories of going to Wawa for Fudge pops in the hot summer!! Mmmmm. We were going to be endorsed by Wawa Fudge pops when we went on tour remember? LMAO. How about the RS listening parties when we asked our friends if we should sign the Cassette jackets. We handed out a survey to our friends. I believe Josh said, “You’re not Bon Jovi!” Priceless times when we were still teens at heart in our early 20s. Aah yes, SO classic. How about the Na-na Pizza song!! Lisa and Leslie would go get us pizza while singing the beginning of RS’s Night Shadows. Our first Ransomed Soul song written. That old bass is partial to the reason I have to turn the bass all the way up on my car sterio when listening to the radio to this day. 6 Years of Ransomed Soul will take some hearing away from you. Or…was that due to my 25 year old 20 some-odd inch Zildjian cymbals? Or maybe just 21 years of hard ass rocking.
    I still have, gathering dust in my basement, my orginal Ludwig Rockers set bought from Joe for 600bucks at Rod Damore’s Underground Studios in Norma, NJ. That old studio burned to the ground. ­čÖü I just couldn’t part with them and they now bring my children much joy to thrash on them from time to time!! Oh and we can’t forget those glorious roto-toms. You gotta love Alex Van Halen!! I still have them too. I was in my third band Hear On Earth when I bought the Ludwigs. The roto-toms I got for Xmas later that year. After leaving The Driven I followed bassist Gene Munson to Hear on Earth. He’s now a Navy Seal. God Bless him wherever he is on July 4th America’s B-day. My best High School memory of Gene was at the Talent Show when he and Dale Hoffman played Simon and Garfunkle’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on acoustic guitars. He had Schalick Cougar green gym shorts on with no underwear!! Dude, his nut sack was hanging out. I was in the front row. Laughed my ass off, in fear and disgust. In 90 I soon joined Ransomed Soul and happy to say, we had the best times of our lives during those college years. It’s because of that band I now have been happily married for 11 years with 2 kids and have known that gang for now almost 18 years.
    Back to the drums. I left one mounted Ludwig Rocker tom-tom at John Steinbeck’s mother’s house.(yes the great grandson of THE John Streinbeck..man that guy could sing) We formed a band St. James Place which later became Dharma where my Rockers where joined at the hip. This was not before Marchella’s dream where John Lewis gave me the musical freedom to just BE. I did not have to think about the 3 part harmonies and I could humm and rant my head off while playing.(see RS Earth Day video clip..Remember? Before I got used to having a head-set mic on while playing, I would humm my drum fills?) After leaving Marchella Dream, John joined Second Story. Seems like yesterday we were jamming in Mike Tabasco’s studio in Belmawr.
    I long to refinish the six-ply that lies beneath the battered white-covered shells. I’m currently having a love affair with my beautiful Carribean Blue wood-finished Birch Fusion Gretsch set(now discontinued) longing for my 16 inch……..Ludwig Rocker floor-tom to match my 8-10-12 and 14 inch toms. It’s amazing the resonance and the pleasure it gives to think about the past. Thanks for the memories Mark.
    Oh wait…we can’t forget Bonnies Roxx where I would take my drum sticks and rub them up and down ABC gum (already been chewed gum) stuck on the bottoms of tables in the kitchen at Bonnies. It helped me to hold on to my sticks. My hand sweat so much while playing. This before I graduated to the stick wraps. Now, I play the AMAZING Zildjian DIP Sticks. Haven’t dropped a stick in years. Hope we can get an RS reunion together soon. Mikey.
    I love you man!!

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