I had a brilliant time at the Mudslide Morris gig today. Me on double bass, Mudslide on guitar and harp (blues harp – not the angelic kind) and Graham on washboard at the top of the stairs in the town hall as people went in and out of the Green Fair. Splendid architecture with lots of curves and hard surfaces to amplify sounds and a batch of good ole, down home tunes to entertain the passing crowds.
The only downside was that, without any electric amplification, I was playing loud. Partly I wanted to ensure that I was heard and partly I just wanted to be able to hear myself. However, the result was four blisters by the end of the gig. If anyone wondered what my first and third finger technique was on my right hand, it wasn’t about tone so much as giving my second finger (with an impressive, flap-of-skin-hanging-off blister) a rest. By the end, I’d also picked up a couple of blisters on my first finger and a proto-blister on my left hand pinky. I think that is a consequence of it being a while since I last gigged on the double bass and much longer since I last did a session without an amp being available to take the strain.
I think I might be tempted to play electric bass at church tomorrow either with a pick or mainly with my thumb. However, once the blisters heal up, I need to put a bit of work on playing loudly but sustainably – more developed calluses, better techniques, an appreciation of how loud I need to be (given I’m behind the instrument) and getting a feel for sensing what I’m playing through the body of the bass rather than relying too much on what I’m hearing.