Bass Bench

Photo 1: Despite the ornamental look of this golden Celestion speaker from 1924, its main components are essentially the same as today's.

Courtesy of Wikimedia

A rumination on the history of bass speakers and how they compare to their guitar-amplifying kin.

Musicians rarely see the huge effect a speaker or cabinet has on their sound, as our relationship to our instrument is way more emotional and intense than with what comes after the output jack. In 1915, Peter Jensen perplexed those who attended his Magnavox speaker demonstration with the amplification of a human voice. The construction of that speaker—a conical membrane and a voice coil in a magnetic field—is principally the same as what we use today, although the Celestion speaker from 1924 looks quite different to what we are used to seeing (Photo 1). The tonal goals in the world of hi-fi speakers are pretty clear: a wide frequency range and high linearity, which is far from what our rigs require.

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The 1976-issued Schaffer­–Vega Diversity SVDS Model X-10 Transmitter & 63EX Receiver system was discontinued in 1981, but a reproduction is now available.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia.com

Wireless technology is thriving in all parts of the techno-sphere and it's time for bassists to catch up.

What were the most dangerous times for bassists, guitarists, and singers? Surely the '60s. Not because of wild backstage parties, drug abuse, or high-risk early international travel, but simply because of electrocution caused by amateurish electrical installations with missing grounds.

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An older pickup winding machine, which requires the human operator to use an apparatus to guide the wire.

Courtesy of Delano Pickup Systems

Beware of technical marketing claims and misinformation when choosing your pickups.

There is no question that magnetic pickups are at the core of our electric instruments, with some players and manufacturers going as far as saying they are all that matters. So, it's no wonder that pickups are surrounded by a lot of myths. Some manufacturers make bold claims and share flowery descriptions of what to expect, while at the same time failing to deliver at least some facts and meaningful data. The fact that invisible, mystical magnetism is involved doesn't help. But while it's easy to bash them for failing to deliver hard facts, we also have to ask ourselves whether we could understand this information and how far we're willing to dig into the technical basics.

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