If You Squeeze Coal Hard Enough, You Get a Diamond
by Pril Stevenson

gsr100.jpgI have a couple of basses, and I love both of them. But one is a 40-year-old hollowbody and one is a 10-year-old solid. The hollowbody is fractious and temperamental, but beautiful. The 10-year-old, like all 10-year-olds, is indestructable.

This is an Ibanez GSR100 I picked up at a pawn shop in 2001 for $95. When Ibanez was still making them, they were the bottom of the line. You could buy one new for about $120-$150. Let me tell you about this amazing little bass…

I didn’t have a case for it until about a week ago. It has slept overnight in the car many times, through unbearable humidity, bone chilling cold, and merciless heat. It’s been dropped more times than I can count. It has slid down walls and crashed onto the floor, with a loud and alarming “CRACK!”.

I get it onstage and tune it. I guess I have the tuner in hand just for show, because it’s rarely more than a half-step out on the low E. Even last week, when it was dropped from the stage onto its face, and the bar went deathly quiet at the sound, I picked it up, plugged it into the tuner, and.. well… it wasn’t out of tune.

Believe it.

Out of paranoia induced by people like Cullen who insist on proper care and feeding, I have taken it to shops for “tune-ups”. That’s where they set the intonation, adjust the neck, reset the action, etc. When I go pick it up, the guy usually says “It was fine. I tightened your tone knob for you”.

No shit. I pay them anyway for their trouble.

I can’t remember the last time I ran a polishing rag over it. Maybe that one night we spilled a pitcher of beer on it.

And, ok, the strings. Everyone who plays this bass loves my strings. They stop playing, cuddle the bass up close and tell me it’s coming home with them. Then I grab it and beat them to death with it, plug it into a tuner, and it’s still in tune. But I digress. I use only DR flatwound strings on this bass.

The current set has been on since about two weeks after I got the thing. So, six years. Give or take. And I mean they have been ON THE BASS. Haven’t taken them off for any reason, just loosen them occasionally to clean the fretboard up. Two reasons, really. One, they sound fine. I don’t like the high tinny bits you get from new strings anyway. Two, the fuckers cost almost $70 a set, and I have to order them. That’s a good pair of shoes. That’s 70 Wendy’s junior bacon cheeseburgers. That’s my tab at jam night. I just never think to buy new strings for it. Even though I head into the guitar shop and pick up 3 sets of classical acoustic and 3 sets of whatever medium electric strings are available. Some things I just don’t think about. But the bass strings. They MUST be DR flats.

I guess it’s like putting Gucci on a homeless person, using DRs on a cheap bass, but this baby has treated me right, so it only gets the best strings.

I know people who treat their guitars like fine china. I’m hard on my shit, no matter what it is, and it better measure up to what I put it through. I would be asking for trouble if I bought a $1500 bass. It would bust up on its first night out and I’d be out $1500 and still playing the Ibanez.

What made me buy the bass in the first place? It has a sticker on the back that says “Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck”.


The anti-Cullen article. Heh.

I had an Ibanez G-10 or Gi0 or whatever the hell it was. A very cheap RG-like beginner's guitar. And it was one of the best I've ever played. Sounded like shit though (Ibanez stock Powersound pickups blow), and I never replaced 'em. But it would have been an easy fix.

I certainly don't hold the belief that most guitars are fragile, nor do I treat mine like china. But I do take good care of it.

I kind of like to think of my guitar like a firearm. When I use it, I use it like it's supposed to be used and sometimes that can be rough.

But there are things you gotta do after you're done playing, and preventive maintenance you should do every so often, to keep your equipment working its best.

And then someone comes along with a story like yours and shoots my theories all to heck.

I'll be the first to admit, though, that I am a guitar and music enthusiast more than a guitarist or musician. I enjoy the end product and the mechanics of it more than the performing.

Different strokes.


I always had the belief that bass players and guitarists are just different types of people. Ya know, guitarists and kinda of, well, wimpy with their instruments

but the townsend and entwhistle come along and screw my theory all to hell, too


Aw Cullen, i wuv u neway.

I do really sort of baby my hollowbody. Just because it's temperamental. I don't play it outside anymore. Hell, i got it for $75 in '97 and i think i've put $300 into it (neck and headstock repairs, new bridge, resoldering wires, fixing splits in the wood). Not including the damn $200 case. Getting the Ibanez was like being set free, sort of. The Ibanez is like an 80s Toyota truck. I love it.


and something else- i'll freely admit i know really almost nothing about gear. I like my basses because i don't know any better. I like the acrylic drumsticks that light up that i got at Walmart because i don't know any better. I don't know if i want to know any better, because it seems like that would just suck the joy out of making noise. Theory, i like that, i work on it whenever i can, but as long as the sounds travel through the pickups, through the wiring, down the cord and out the amp, i'm happy. heh.


The three of my guitars together are worth about 700 dollars and I love all of them, especially the Hi-Flyer. I have a cheap ass strat that I bought a cheap ass humbucker for and now the guitar sounds like nothing I have ever heard before.


When it comes to playing distorted music, all that high-end crap isn't too important. Except for the pickups.

The Powersounds in the Ibanez I had just had no middle. And once you cranked up the distortion too much, it just became complete noise -- no definition at all.

However, my bass is a freaking $99 Dean Playmate. I love the thing to death. My bass amp is a super cheap-o Rogue (Musician's Friend brand) amp. But it gives me exactly the sound I want.

Still working on that guitar sound.


You know what April?
You are kick butt...lol...
Yes things that can take the crap we throw at it are awesome.....especially when I am the owner...
Good Job!!!

Why pay more anyways when that cheap awesome little thing kicks butt!!lol L8er


I seem to recall Rogue being a Fender product at one point. Huh. Now i will have to find out.


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