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