Against the Blue Wall – Fender Telecaster Bass for the Modern Player Series

First, I have to say, this is going to be the last Against the Blue Wall, because I am moving apartments. I am still going to look at gear it just won’t be against this specific Blue Wall.

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to post this but a while ago I changed basses. If you look back into my postings I had a Schecter devil bass. It was a fine bass but mainly I wasn’t a big fan of the active pickups. I found I was just setting it to one setting and then leaving it. Heavy, very little treble or pop. It was also clearly a metal bass. It had these “tribal” markings on it. It was definitely a step up from my old Ibanez GIO but not everything I wanted. However, I believe the Ibanez GIO basses are the best beginner basses, if you want to spend less than $200 on one.

So I ended up trading it in for a Fender Telecaster bass. I know, it’s all teles with me. I had been eying a Gretsch hollow body bass, but ultimately the solid body suits me better.

I have gotten to like the Fender basses a lot more. For some reason I was always drawn to the Ibanez style basses in the past. I think I liked the simplicity of the design more. However, after playing through a few Gibsons and Epiphones, Squires and Fenders, some more Schecters and Warwicks and some acoustic basses , I decided on the telecaster bass. It’s in the modern player series, so it is imagining of a bass from the past that never existed, but it works. This one specifically has a really cool pickguard. I think Fender has come out with some of the coolest looking guitars and basses in the past few years. I am still waiting on the voyager because when that hits the shelf I am getting one. Basically, the reason I ended up getting it was that I liked the feel of the neck, the controls are really straight forward, I liked the tone and it has some cool humbuckers in it. I am also a fan of the butterscotch blonde finish.

One thing I really like on this bass as opposed Fender’s guitars is the neck has a high gloss finish all the way around it. I am not a fast bass player so maybe that’s why it isn’t in my way. I tried a few standard and American jazz and p basses, but this one just felt the best. That is one thing that the internet can never replicate, trying out basses and guitars in a store. It makes all the difference in the world.

Some of the features on this bass:

-20 Frets (the Schecter had 24, but I never went past 14)

-34” Scale (the Schecter was an extra long scale, it was more annoying that I thought it would be to find strings)

– open gear tuners-  I am super happy with these. I at first didn’t like the Key style of the tuners and I would always go for the wishbone shaped ones. Maybe it was just time but now I think they look pretty cool. These thing hold the tuning really well.

-2 Humbucker pickups – I think this is the most salient part. Almost all Fender basses have single coils so this one definitely stands out.

-2 volumes and 1 tone – This is all I need. Maybe I love this simple configuration because I never took the time to really play around with the active pickups. At this point though I don’t really care why I like but I do.

So the one thing I did change was the knobs. It comes with these lightweight little chrome knurled ones and they don’t feel really solid. So I bought a few P-Bass knobs and put them on. When I look on forums and reviews this is the biggest complaint. So instead of complaining I just swapped them. The saddles are solid I trust them. Anyway, all the other saddles on basses I used before were pretty cheap, so these brass ones sound great. The only other thing I am not so sure about is the nut. It looks kind of unfinished and unattractive but I won’t do anything now unless it cracks or breaks.

I think this is a great bass. Fender calls it an entry level bass and I guess for about $600 it is. I preferred it of the more expensive ones though. I play a lot out bass with others but my main focus is on guitar so that’s why more of my money goes into guitars.

Here are a few photos:

Fender Telecaster Bass - This pic makes it looks really long but it's not.

Fender Telecaster Bass – This pic makes it looks really long but it’s not.

Body Shot

Body Shot


Head Shot - the tuners have never slipped on me

Head Shot – the tuners have never slipped on me


From a Distance

From a Distance




Pedals – Fuzzy and Squishy

It seems logical that once you start buying guitars and amps that pedals will then follow. As of now this is my inventory



-2010 Taylor DN3e

-2000 Gibson SG special

-2010 American Standard Fender Telecaster


-Fender Modern Player Telecaster Bass (yeah I got rid of the Schecter, I’ve been playing a lot more and

It just wasn’t a comfortable bass. I can do into detail but not here.)


-Egnater 20 Rebel Half stack

-Behringer Thunderbird BX108


-Gold Tone cc-100 Open Back Banjo


-Fab Distortion (I got this one for free)

-MXR compressor

-not really a pedal but I got a nady line mixer and it has a delay in it and I like it for now


I have been looking a lot at pedals, just to see what is out there and there are so many pedals. I am not amazed but it is certainly overwhelming. For the longest time I was not a fan of pedals but then for a long time I wasn’t really playing anything but acoustic. I am beginning to see why people get into pedals. Right now I have all of the basic guitars covered, acoustic, single coil and humbucking, and guitar wise I am very happy. However, with pedals the types of tones grows exponentially and they are way cheaper than buying a new guitar. A couple of pedals keep on coming up over and over again, the Ibanez Tube screamer overdrive, the arbiter fuzz face and the big muff pi pedals.


So one question I had was what is the difference between fuzz, overdrive and distortion? They are all types of distortion but there has to be something different. So fuzz is a distortion pedal that really augments the sound. It is meant to be played with one note and the fuzz fills in the rest. I like to think of it as a bloom of sound. Distortion is like the most basic it just distorts the signal and no matter how hard you play it’s the same level. It’s just making you sound grittier. Finally, overdrive is the most interesting. It is made to mimic the overdriving of tubes in an amplifier. So the more you open up your volume the more distortion you get through the pedal. I have recently been looking at the boss blues driver. I tried it out at a guitar store down in Roanoke, VA. I like it and it’s supposed to assist in overdriving your tube amp. Which I assume is what a lot of overdrives do. It’s dynamic and variable using your guitar as a control.


The other pedal I have the MXR Compressor, I got because I like that clipped country sound and it smoothes out your guitar or bass’s tone. I really got it for the squishy sound it makes. There are compressors that get really squishy but they didn’t have them at the store so I didn’t try it out. I’m not going to get into compressor because there are a lot of sites that go into extreme detail about it. Next post I’ll be talking about my bass upgrade.


This is the compressor site I was talking about.

Here is a brief overview on distortion pedals

Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center

Since I opened up on guitar stores I have to talk about my favorite guitar store of all. Chuck Levin’s in Wheaton, Maryland. Chuck Levin’s has been around forever, and by forever I mean the 1950’s. I have gotten most of my big purchases from Chuck’s. My tele, my taylor and the amp I used to have the Peavy Bandit 112. If you read my blog you know how much I love my telecaster and I like to use my Taylor as a default picture.

Not only do I love supporting local music locations, but I also grew up a few miles away in Maryland and they have the lowest prices. I have seen them under cut craigslist. I don’t have to any comparison shopping. Also their employees have always been nice, which is not the norm. When the Johnny Marr Jaguar came out I wanted to play it immediately, and one day I ended up at Chuck Levins and they actually opened up a new case for me to try out. It was amazing. Also very knowledgeable, these guys have been in business for decades and are always willing to talk about guitars. They also have an extensive PRS section because of that special MD connection.

They also deal with other instruments besides guitar, bass and drums. So if you are in the market for a violin or cello, or maybe a trumpet you can pick one up along with the guitar you are most likely buying. I tried to get into violin, but it was not my destiny.

Here is the link and if you are ever in Wheaton, Maryland stop by. I don’t think they know who I am though.

A few items I have gotten there

Telecaster with black pick guard

Telecaster with black pick guard

Taylor against a blue Wall

Taylor DN3


I know a lot of this blog concerns the guitar and not the amplifier but I am starting to get more interested in amps. As someone who has been playing for a long time I know a lot less about amplifiers than I should. This also means I have been depriving myself of tone. Oh No! So I have been looking through the wide world of amps to try to figure out what I want. I should also mention that in almost every band I have played in I take the bass. I actually prefer it to guitar because you have a lot of freedom as long as you are on time. Not coincidentally I also like R and B, reggae and world music more.

With the bass I didn’t really care about tube amplifiers because I didn’t have the money and I wasn’t looking for tube driven distortion with a bass. However, the guitar amp is another story. I have always had solid state amps and now I think it is time for me to finally buy one.

Reasons to buy a tube amp

-The tone, this seems like such a vague descriptor but if mean that you want the distortion created by overdriving the vacuum tubes in the amplifier.

-The amp is ½ of the electric guitar. As an instrument an electric guitar on its own is quieter than a speaking voice, but when you plug it in then you get an instrument.

-Louder at less wattage

So I have been familiarizing myself with tube amps. They all have two different areas where the tubes are used preamp and power. Preamp prepares the electrical signal and power boosts the volume. I am also not taking this decision lightly because Tube amps are more expensive and delicate than their solid state counterparts.

One more thing about amp is that they come in a few different step ups either head and speaker cabinet or combo. The head and cabinet are nice because they get loud, you can switch up different heads and cabinets, but they are more expensive and bigger set ups. A combo is both head and speaker in one unit. It makes it more portable, usually cuts some cost, but they have to be miked if you need to play live.

I have been looking at Egnater, Marshall, Vox, Blackstar and Fender. So if anyone has any comments or suggestions let me know.


Gibson Moderne

3 versions of the Moderne from

3 versions of the Moderne from

So if you have been following the Gibson website, or any website where Gibson guitars come up. You have noticed the Moderne. It is a very interesting guitar with an interesting history.

The moderne was developed in the 50’s when the flying V and Explorer came out but it is now released again ( it was actually released in the 1980s for a brief time).  Here is a little bit of background to the ‘new’ designs that Gibson released. Gibson guitars were being overtaken by Fender in the late 50’s and Gibsons were seen as old and dated. Fender had these great surf rock style guitars that were taking over. Also Gibsons were built to be solid well made guitars, Fenders were built with interchangeable parts and mass produced. So to compete Gibson put out the explorer and the flying v. These guitars were truly revolutionary designs. Although they never made the impact that the Les Paul and SG did they are still crucial to the arsenal of Gibson. However, there was a third design the Moderne that was not produced in the late 50’s.

I personally love these guitars. I love fender and their innovation but what gibson has done with body design is simply ground breaking. The more I read about them the more excited I get about buying that Les Paul. I also love the space age look of these guitars, and I can’t imagine how futuristic they must have looked in 1957, when they still inspire today. I will probably never buy another  flying v or a moderne but I will always appreciate them.

Hello Music and Indaba Music

This is a quick one.

For all of you song writers out there there is a recording competition going on through Hello Music and Indaba music. For those who don’t know Hello Music is a discount seller like They sell a few music items every day like guitars, processors, pedals, amps, basses and services. Unfortunately no banjos which I happen to be in the market for right now. They started sometime last year and so far I have been following them, but I have yet to buy anything. They do repeat, especially Orange amps, Les Paul studios and american standard strats. Inbada music is like where you can sell or disperse your music around the internet. right now there is a contest to win $2,000 worth of recording gear for writing original songs. I know I’ll be entering. I have a couple new songs up my sleeve, and I am still a total stranger to home recording. Good Luck.

Here are the links

Also I am looking for a new banjo so if anyone has any suggestions or good sites to buy from I am all ears. Musician’s friend and guitar center are not that good selection wise, but I have been looking at I had to step up from my Epiphone because it was too unbalanced and I like to play clawhammer.


Fender and Gibson – NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants)

I have been browsing through The Music Zoo NAMM blog and I have found one of the best examples of why Fender is awesome. They premiered the Fender voyager series and it looks great. I think it’s a testament to Fender, that in an age where vintage guitars are the holy grail, they can make a totally new design and make it great. I am referencing the Gibson Dusk Tiger which looks like a space alien took over a Les Paul but not in a good way. There is another thing Gibson did that I know KISS fans all over love but I think it looks insane, the Budokan Ace Frehley Guitar. I think all the open screws on the pickups and the open humbuckers make it look too industrial. I’m sure it’s an excellent guitar but to me it just looks weird. Also they only made 150 of them. If I were to get a Les Paul it would be white and have a black pickguard and chrome hardware.

The really cool thing about the black Voyager that you see in the blog post, is that there is a pickup unter that chrome pickguard. I like the sleekness that it has. Also it appears as if they are using a Jaguar neck. The other yellow finish Voyager has a tele style pick up set up. I like the futuristic style and the body may look curiously like a firebird but I still like it.

LINKS! all from the music zoo

Also my 40th post. Thank you WordPress for alerting me.

Johnny Marr and the Jaguar

Fender® Johnny Marr Jaguar® Signature Model

Fender® Johnny Marr Jaguar® Signature Model, It's probably pretty obvuois where I got this photo from

The NAMM show recently wrapped up and as usual there were some awesome guitars, basses, amps, pro audio and so on. One that really caught my eye was the Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar. I am usually a telecaster enthusiast, but after reading about this guitar I am reall starting to appreciate and get into Jaguars and Mustangs. Of course not the cars, but the fender guitars. You can see the guitar on their website and I’ll post a link below.

Johnny Marr is an amazing guitarist. The Smiths were an outstanding band and in many ways shaped the current music scene. One of the key members was Johnny Marr. He had a very unique guitar sound. It was jangly and reverberating. He played an iconic lead and carried the rhythm. I don’t mean to undermine Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce, they were just as crucial. However, they dont currently have a signature Fender.

There are two things Marr helped to do. In a time when synth-pop reigned supreme and bands seemed to give way to solo and duo acts. He helped revitalize the popularity of the guitar. In fact the ’80s almost killed Martin guitars due to the low sales. Marr also helped bring back old styles that had fallen out of fashion in the 1960’s. Although Kurt Cobain really made the Fender Mustang popular, Marr’s Jaguar gave the Jaguar another shot.

These guitars are really cool. Leo fender was never a man to rest on his laurels and so after the stratocaster in 1954 he took some time and eventually developed the Jaguar Guitar in the 1960s. It had 2 single coil pickups, and several different knobs and switches to change the phases of the pickups, their circuit configurations and the lead or rhythm characteristics. It will never be as popular as a Strat or Tele but it’s a very interesting and one of the more advanced Fender guitars. It also had an off center waist which was another cool aesthetic feature. Finally, the Jaguar has this crazy looking tremelo system, which I personally feel that the strat tremolo was a better design but this one has stuck around. This system was touted as being a better tremolo sonically and structurally. The one thing that would piss me off is the arm sticks in between the b and e strings.

Anyway Marr’s guitar has a lot of small details that he likes in his Jaguar and like many gutiarists he has a very detailed video of the effort he put into his Jag. The biggest changes are the custom wound single coil pickups, the 4 blade pick up selector, the ’65 neck and the universal bright switch. Sounds pretty awesome. I usually have little interest in signature models, but this is one I would actually consider. Listening to how much someone cares about their instruments and the minute details really inspires.

Visit the Guitar

Music Wood and Sustainability

Taylor against a blue Wall

Taylor DN3- This is my guitar, it is not made from Bamboo.

I love guitars, obviously, but I am also into conservation. I have been seeing a lot recently about wood conservation and most of it from guitar makers. This comes from an industry that in realy consumes a very small percentage of the world’s lumber. Consider how much lumber goes into building one house versus one guitar. Even if the wood used for guitars is much better and is hardwood, rather than soft wood. Or consider how much paper is used in a day, all of that comes from wood pulp. Maybe a good reason to go out and buy an iPad.Music Wood is a Greenpeace based organization that has joined with Fender, Gibson, Yamaha, Martin and Taylor guitars to help advocate conservation of wood. This means that the guitars are build with sustainable woods purchased from reliable dealers. I am totally in favour of this and maybe this will help change the government’s mind about taking rosewood from Gibson. I really like supporting companies that practice sustainability and really by being careful they are helping themselves in the long run. When I first saw this list I was very proud to see almost all of my instruments came from companies who were on the Music Wood list. Now if only Schecter could buy sustainable woods.

The site is good, it has a lot of articles on differences that are being made in the music industry. One feature I thought was cool is the interactive map that shows which woods come from and which woods are used on which parts of the guitar. They *are also working on a documentary, which will be out in 2012*. I think it sends out a good message. I usually am a Sierra Club and Conservation International man, but this definitely makes me like Greenpeace more. Now if only they could stop asking me for my credit card number on the street.

On the other hand I have been seeing more sustainable resource guitars and instruments. I saw a bamboo guitar and there are a lot more carbon fiber guitars coming out now. I haven’t played any bamboo ones but I have played a RainSong carbon fiber. I like it, it sounds pretty good and it is not sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. I still like my Taylor but if I lived in Arizona i would consider it. However, I’m not ready to give up on wood.

Here are some links
Music Wood
Bamboo Guitars – Who knows?     Also bamboo is a rapidly growing grass

* I edited this thanks to Josh G. He pointed out the documentary is not out yet. So don’t fret if you thought you had missed it.