[ok, it's tomorrow morning !!]
Does Musical Background matter ??
I'm going to say it does, and here's why: I come from a Irish German family, where music was always of an important role. On the Irish side, which would be my father... the emphasis was on classical music, from a listeners standpoint.
This led to an appreciation [which still carries through today] of proper sounding hi-fi systems, and a pretty substantial collection of records, tapes, and compact discs.
On the German side, which would be my mother - the emphasis was also on classic music, but because of their humble upbringings after WWII the emphasis was on performance, mainly with the violin... of which I have an uncle who went on to play with symphony orchestras, etc....
Anyhow, although I am from Germany, back when The Wall was still fairly new - I did indeed grow in in Brooklyn NY, and discovered my own musical tastes somewhere in the mid 1970s.
The first two records I ever received as gifts were Close To The Edge, by Yes... and of all things: Raw Power, by Iggy and The Stooges....
My father took great interest in what I had selected, and while I knew Yes would go over well, The Stooges kind of worried me - to which my father stated that he was not quite ready for that.
I turned 18 in 1983, but by 1980, and 81 [81 being the last year I returned to Germany, and incidently got to spend some time in the East... not too many people can say that !!] my musical tastes included Brian Eno, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, etc... and I was now interested in creating my own music.
By 1983, I was embracing all things hardcore punk - but at the same time - all things no wave, and experimental.
This was not just limited to music, but also performance art, along with art itself.... and to me there was no better place to be than NYC because everything was happening all at once.
Sonic Youth changed my life, along with hearing Jon Hassell.... also PlL's Flowers of Romance and Commercial Zone records....
By 1983, I was a part of a performance art duo called Third Uncle, and I was playing a short scale electric bass which could be described as both cheap and unplayable.
Later on, I found out why: the bridge needed to be moved back a solid two inches so it could intonate properly !!
*But this did not matter at the time, I was performing on an instrument which had all different kinds of strings and tunings, so the fact that it did not intonate meant nothing to me, until I got better...
Meanwhile, I got turned on to King Crimson's album Discipline - and Tony's Stick which at the time while I loved this record as a whole, the whole Stick thing while I appreciated, it never really became something I'd be interested in until about 10 years ago, maybe 15....
By the late 80s, I got my first two proper instruments: an L-2 Steinberger prototype [or so I'm told...] and a 1959 [for real !!] Danelectro double neck.
Both of those instruments were being played through a Roland JC-120 with a digitech bass harmony machine, and a Rockman stereo echo, and sustainer.....
Wow !! This was the start of what would wind up being the beginnings of collecting all kinds of instruments, and the continuation of constructing a personal recording studio, which really went full speed by the early 1990s once I moved to Connecticut.
Musically - maybe Stylistically - my taste in music has not really changed since the 1980s, but is has expanded some - and today I [still] listen to Sonic Youth, Philip Glass, Suzanne Vega, Jane Siberry, King Crimson, Trey Gunn Band…. Tony Gerballe…. Flipper, PiL, Wire… not to mention old friends from NYC the False Prophets…
But I also still like what was happening in the late 1970s early 1980s which could be loosely termed Ambient Music.
Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Jon Hassel, all the artists on Obscure Records, Cluster, all the SKY records artists….
[I am now cheating and taking some lines out of the answer I gave to a similar thread on Sticklist...]
Now - somewhere along the lines in the late 1990s, I started tapping on a Gibson Les Paul Bass, a new one - that was very expensive - that had a very flat straight neck.
God I wish I did not trade it now...
Then, as I was now focusing on both recording and playing out - eventually the notion of buying a Stick stated to come into play.
I'd already been turned on to tuning in 5ths since the early 1990s, while working with a long time partner who studied in the late 80s with the Crafty Guitarists such as Tony Gerballe, and Robert Fripp.
Tuning in 5ths excited me, it forced me to see things differently - and eventually - I started swapping strings around - to mimmick the divided fingerboards of the Stick with several 4 string basses, and 5/6 string as well.
At this point I was known for modifying instruments left and right, I took a 1968 Danelecrto Coral longhorn hollowbody longscale bass [try and find one of those !!] and converted it to an 8 string [octive strings] but the switched the E and A pairings, and decided that I would set up some of the remaining strings for droning, and that instrument changed my life forever.
Trey Gunn got to see that one, and even signed it for me.
Speaking of Trey, I saw KC in 2003, and his Warr Guitar playing was just beyond belief.
His solo work was even more astonishing.
I then saw the Tony Levin Band a year later maybe, and WOW was Tony on fire that night - it was essentially the Peter Gabriel Band, minus Peter... and there was maybe 50 of us in the audience...
So, lest September I decided I was ready for a Stick.
I drove Grace and Cambria nuts going back and forth regarding a used Ironwood they had, in the end someone else got it.
Then, as luck would have it a used Warr Phalanx appeared out of the blue - set up with the bass half on the bottom of the neck as usual, and the melody on top but with a twist: set up so the heaviest string is paired up with the low B bass string - so like an upside down Stick....
*I'm still trying to figure out the right tuning for that but right now 5ths melody and 4ths Bass is the way it is set up.
Then, I discovered Traktor Topaz and the mighty Mobius Megatar and my life was completely changed forever.
I found a modified Toneweaver for sale, set up in 3rds - with a custom peg set up made by a luthier in Oregon... and I bought that instrument for exactly what the seller was asking, and in return I got a lifes work of calculations of string theory and physical aspects for every possible tuning under the sun - it was the best deal I ever made, besides adopting my dog !!
The tuning in 3rds I had never heard of or even considered - but when I told the seller that I was going to keep this instrument set up the way he set it up, he sent me a check so I could buy a complete new set of strings and gave me all the info on how to correctly go about doing that.
I believe he is a retired building engineer/designer so his brilliance was quite apparent while going over all his hand written notes on tuning which he so generously gave me as part of the deal. *I want to say he's well advanced in age, hence why he parted with this instrument - which I will play as if it were a cello as well because that's a great idea....
Meanwhile, thanks to the internet I'm researching all things Traktor.. and wow - the hate coming from the Stick crowd was beyond belief !!
I mean, a lawsuit - really ?? *there's no comparison whatsoever !!
I watched all kinds of videos on line, and saw a distinct difference stylistically between people playing the Stick, a Warr, or a Megatar... and started to really believe I made the right choices based on my own avant garde way of doing things....
A second Mobius Megatar came available - a regular one - and I jumped on that immediatly as well, and set it up like a Grand Stick.
Immediately I loved the feel and comfort of this instrument - it hung so perfectly on me, felt to comfortable, balanced so perfectly.... I knew i was in, but i also knew that some day I would still get the real deal.
Meanwhile this past March, a used Railboard showed up for sale at S.E. and I wrote to Cambria and Grace - only to find out it was sold.
I mused about that while it remained for sale for like two more weeks, to the point where I felt i was now blacklisted.
But I did find a used Ironwood from the mid 1980s on my own, it was advertised as a 90s natural Stick but I kind of knew that was wrong.
I even offered the seller more money once I confirmed this but he was just happy to see it go to a good home.
So, to my horror and surprise this forum vanishes and I wound up trying Sticklist - since I now owned a Stick, I felt this would work.
But I soon realized that I was not going to fit in, everyone there is so properly trained and scared to try anything different or out of the ordinary.
It's like - all the focus on is more training and who can play the most intricate thing, or these strange covers with to me make no sense.
I mentioned an off hand remark to a person there I knew from here about our tuning in 3rds conversation [here on this forum] and all kinds of red flags and warning went off, so I knew that was the end for me there, and by chance - this forum is back up and running.
So - yes - background - mine which encompasses the NYC experimental music/art scene along with the New Haven experimental music/noise scene - that's what it's all about with me.
I freely admit I know nothing about reading music, notes - but I have a full understanding of string relationships with tunings in 5ths 3rds, etc.... as far as octaves go, etc...
I think the important thing is to use one's musical background what ever it may be to play from the heart, to do something truly original and unique that speaks for one's self.
In my studio I have a self fill with over 100 tapes of sessions I've been involved with.
For someone who knows nothing about music theory as far as reading and notes go, I must have done something right !!
I apologize for the spelling errors.
I could have copied and pasted what I posted on S.E. but felt this would be better.
I lastly want to add that in the last 6-7 months of researching tapping, while the Stick players are definately doing some incredible music, and the Warr crowd is definately doing some very wild music - it's the Megatar crowd which I resonate with the most.
I love my Ironwood, but it's going to take a life time to master it properly - while the Megatar's I can just plug in and play and now worry about a damn thing 😉
WARR, Mobius Megatar , Syme, KYDD, Ovation , Steinberger , Tune, Schecter, Musicmakers [lyres, etc...], Ibanez SRAS7 “Ashula”
digitech, T.C. Electronics, ART, Lexicon, GK, Markbass, EA, Bag End, Guild/Hartke, SWR, EV, Radial, Furman
RAMSA, Alesis, Tascam, Fostex, Panasonic, Marantz, Sony, Roland, Yamaha, Audio Technica, AKG