I must admit to being shocked at some of my friends, who take a fiercely anti-establishment stance, taking the line that Julian Assange is a “rapist” and “should be extradited to Sweden” and “deserves all he gets”. For those who have not followed this news, Assange is an Australian, and leader of a website called Wikileaks, which has gained notoriety for exposing government secrets, particularly those of the USA, which suggest that the USA isn’t the open democratic society it pretends to be.
We were booked to play at the Cricketer’s Inn in Southend-on-Sea on Saturday 18th August. The original plan was that Russ would pick up the mini-bus, we’d meeting him at the Cherry Tree around 5, get all the stuff loaded up, get to Southend fairly early and do our set up and sound check and chill for an hour or so before playing. But you know about the best-laid plans of mice and men!
I was at home at 5:20 and had not had the call that we had the bus, so I phoned Russ, who was at the Cherry Tree packing up the bus already! I said I was on my way! But I got only as far as the bus stop outside Barking station, where the stubborn refusal of a number 5 bus to arrive, coupled with the caterwauling of a God-botherer who wrongly thought that her Lord had given her the gift of song, gave me 20 minutes of torture before I phoned Russ again, who by this time had packed the bus himself, and came and got me.
I have a cheap Harley Benton JBass, a JB20 – currently £75.20 from Thomann in Germany. That’s very cheap, and you don’t expect too much. Out of the box, I’d describe it as OK, and attractive enough, not great, but OK. One good point is that it seems to stay ruthlessly in tune. This is probably due to the bodywork, which is solid wood, and not MDF or plywood that you often get in cheap guitars. I since bought another bass, which is my main one now, and, due to my rather soft skin, I restrung it with Nylon covered strings. It sounds great, but very smooth, and doesn’t have that “twang” that you need with songs like “Substitute”.
So I thought I’d try something on the JB20: a set of traditional medium weight Rotosound roundwound strings. These were all the craze in the 60s, John Entwistle being a user. These, coupled with the very solid bodywork of the HB, resulted in a major transformation! Even before plugging the bass into an amp, I could hear the difference, though the strings did not look or feel all that different, but I got an audible twang replacing the dead sound of the unamplified original strings. I tuned the strings using an online site called tunemybass, gave them a week to stretch and tuned them again.