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                      The Swiss Army Bass  
 

 

 

Yup, ...that's right. It's a bass guitar with a midi keyboard shamelessly mounted on it-......Yes, the two are played simultaneously. The bass is played with the left hand alone using a guitar technique known as “hammer-ons” while the keyboard (sounding  roughly like a guitar, -if you kind of squint your ears) is played with the right  . This instrument has a weight equivalent to that of a small motorcycle, and as you might have guessed ... it's an absolute  cinch to play

I discovered my ability to play Bass & keys simultaneously living in NYC ..the logical (?) progression was to go out and get one of these nerdy keytars that were popular at the time and mount on a bass...... and start playing around town. The instrument was christened  on the stage of CBGBs back when the drummer in another band  on the bill complimented me  on my "Swiss Army Bass"  a far more dignified title then what I called at the time ...."The Self Abuser".

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some extremely supportive people & fellow musicians. I had access to equipment and the creative & open minded world that NYC was at the time, giving me the inspiration and means  to really start developing my ability and to play.

It's a long story.

 

 
 

The challenge of playing an instrument (s) like this is obvious. What isn't is its use as a compositional/ improvisational tool and the means of creating big balls of music, unrestricted by predetermined chord changes or rhythmic elements... in real time. The coordination of the two elements - bass & keyboard far outweigh the physical & technical limitations of playing single handed  - similar to a drum set  -- this entire LP was conceived on the instrument and it's most of what you hear.

 

This  bass is (or was) an unfortunate bright pink, piece of shit, Ibanez  Destroyer 2,  begging to have its tacky rear rudder  assembly  hacked off with a skilsaw (hence the name my band) Needless to say, My friend & resentful,

 sometimes Johnny Skilsaw drummer, Ron Auber  & I had it plugged into an amp at the time -- yeah of course we recorded it .  This particular bass, with out  any major neck or pick up adjustments, seems to lend itself well to the well to the one handed hammer-on technique.

Outside of  having no electrical components to it, other than  a  single guitar pick up without any volume or tone controls,  there’s  no other modifications to the bass,…… midi or other,….. its just a stupid bass,…a really stupid bass? …. keyboard thing  hanging from it. 

 

 

Believe it or not, after years of  playing the bass with one hand,  I’m able to  achieve more punch, tone, sustain and articulation  than could if I were playing with both hands…Go figure?
Plugging  Boss compressor is the key to success at playing bass guitar with one hand - it also allows you sing with one hand if you plug a microphone into it.   

 

 
 The Boss Compressor is the awnser to everything It's ALL you'll ever need
The Swiss army Bass Circa mid '90s prior to it's stylish woodgrain makeover  

The keyboard that you see, a Yamaha KX-5, is a nightmare artifact from a problem decade. (the 80s.)This is one of those things looser/music nerds felt compelled to dub "a MIDI controller" -The crappy feel and respnce literally drove me to invent The Egotar

At this point in history, some people have the  audacity to put these up on ebay and delare them "rare/classic midi-controler" and completly overcharge for them.. I guerentee you, ...the only reason they're "rare" is because I've bought and destroyed most of them --

Anyway, the term, "midi controller" means that it doesn’t make any sound on its own –it plugs into other things that do. ... and if you're not careful,  you're on the hook to spend a lifetime devising creative ways to acquire "the things that do", and devote all your resources to making them  sound good and lugging them around.

This keyboard controls a series of dinosaur “sound modules” in my rig ……. the pea, electronic brains - of keyboards popular in the mid-80s. The Yamaha  TX-7 (DX-7 brain) that I use for my primary  sound,  has  the capability of producing hundreds of crappy sounds of which, of course,  I use only one.  A clav sound from this device  when put through a wah-wah pedal and a fuzz box,  though hard on the ears is capable of producing tones that are not entirely dissimilar to that of an electric guitar—

 

...The thing sounds like this