all about that bass

ABOUT STONEFIELD

 
 
 
 
Join us at our Eastgate Mall location on Wednesday, April 25 for a one of a kind workshop and clinic as we proudly present a bass guitar rarely seen before in the United States, the Stonefield Bass! Begun in 1993, dabbled with for over a decade and revitalised as a project with serious focus in 2008, the Stonefield Musical Instrument Company brings together diverse elements of stringed instrument design that founder Tomm Stanley had puzzled over for years with the question of both manufacturers and independent makers: ”why don’t they do this on a bass?”  After analyzing the use of floating bridge systems, various neck and body geometries and the use non-traditional, responsibly sourced timbers, more than five years of development time was spent on tailpiece tuning systems, passive electronics that include high, mid and low tone controls and a host of other innovative features.  In the end, Stonefield has brought together classic luthiery and new tech into what is no less than a ground-breaking change of direction in the design, build and playability of the electric bass.  Offered in a range of build specifications and price points that cater to any serious player, regardless of the style of music you play, the Stonefield bass can be your go-to instrument choice.

EVENT SCHEDULE

JD Clinic:

4:30–5:30 PM  

  • Tone – instrument and techniques
  • The bass from a compositional perspective (cinematic)
  • Chords on bass – voicings, and inversion
  • Motifs
  • Incorporating concepts with the I-V-vi-IV progression
  • Playing examples – BassDbler tracks

Freekbass Masterclass:

6:00–7:00 PM  

  • Stretching & strength (beginner to intermediate)
  • Theory and understanding the fretboard (beginner to intermediate)
    •  Major scale uni-pattern
    •  Minor-scale uni-pattern
    •  Pentatonic and Blues scales
    •  Major and minor arpeggios
  • Rhythm and pocket playing (beginner to advanced)
  • Thumping and plucking (intermediate to advanced)
  • Creating bass lines for songs (intermediate to advanced)

Combined Clinic with Freek, JD & Tomm:

7:30–9:00 PM  

  • The Influence of stylistic differences on similar musical passages
  • Improvising and working together
  • Two (or more) player techniques to span all genres of music
  • The unique fit of a Stonefield bass into JD and Freek’s playing
  • Q & A – JD & Freek interviewing Tomm about his background, luthiery and design influences and other factors that lead to the Stonefield line of basses

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

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Freekbass
Freekbass is a master funk bassist, known for his technical virtuosity and dynamic, infectious live performances.  Freekbass was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and honed his chops at an early age in the local music scene, one that is known for producing a long list of legendary funk musicians such as Zapp, Bootsy Collins, The Ohio Players, and Midnight Star.  After graduating from The School for Creative and Performing Arts, Freekbass formed the very successful national touring band, Shag and eventually his own band, Freekbass.
Freekbass brings to the stage monster grooves that showcase his superlative technical ability, master showmanship and solid musical sensibility.  Freekbass has played onstage and recorded with a multitude of notable musicians including Bernie Worrell, Victor Wooten, DJ Logic, Bootsy Collins, Mike Gordon, and Buckethead.  Legendary funk icon Bootsy Collins calls Freekbass “The new Spiritual Warrior for the Funk”.
Freekbass has released five CDs, and a live DVD, and has garnered glowing reviews in the magazines Bass Player and The UK’s Bass Guitar Magazine.  Freekbass continues to maintain a student roster and has released several instructional DVDs.  Currently, he tours with his funk ensemble, “Freekbass & The Bump Assembly” including members of Bootsy’s Rubberband, George Clinton and P-Funk.
“Bringing the Funk into the Future” is the mission-statement of Freekbass.
Freekbass is an endorsing artist for Eden Amplification, D’Addario Strings, Stonefield Musical Instrument Company, Pigtronix, MXR/Dunlop and Momo.
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JD Short

JD Short is a bassist and composer who is known by the musical persona BassDbler (bās dŭb’lər).  Originally, from Indiana, JD cut his teeth playing the Midwest’s independent music scenes before focusing on formalized musical training at the University of Evansville and Indiana University Bloomington, after which he moved to California for a role building basses and guitars at Rickenbacker.

While based in California, several musical collaborations, including a stint with the Orange County Avant-Garde Jazz Ensemble, ensued before JD relocated to Auckland, New Zealand where his interest in electronic music began to solidify.  By the time he returned to California, JD had realized that electronic music spoke to his DIY nature.  This realization gave rise to new understandings and musical explorations, resulting in the debut of his Dune-themed concept album, Slow Blade Penetrates the Shield.  The follow-up album, Machine & Ghola incorporates more acoustic sounds alongside the electronic soundscapes.  A BassDbler performance is an engaging sonic experience, often described as cinematic trip-hop.  BassDbler has shared billings with bass luminaries including Freekbass & Steve Lawson and is currently playing shows supporting JD’s third album, The Universe Is Ours.

JD Short composes and plays all of the parts for each album and also composes music for video games, short and feature-length films and serves as the Music Director for the Giant Fire Breathing Robot website and family of podcasts.

JD Short is an endorsing artist for Eden Amplification and Stonefield Musical Instrument Company.

tomm stanley

Tomm Stanley

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in Orlando, Florida, Tomm Stanley started playing guitar at about 12 years old, making the switch to bass about seven years later when offered the spot in a friend’s band.  He really connected with the instrument and very quickly started changing the electronics, reshaping bodies conducting other modifications.  Altering his basses and guitars lead to an interest in making instruments, with his first bass completed in 1993 at McMurdo Station, Antarctica as an off-work project during the months of 24-hour winter darkness.  Time and career took him to other places but in 2008, and now living in Christchurch, New Zealand, his serious development work began.  After acquiring numerous patents, design protections and creating many unique features not found on any other electric bass, he was satisfied that he had something wonderful to offer his fellow low-end artists and brought the Stonefield brand into the international musical instrument market.

MORE ABOUT STONEFIELD BASS

X3: The first “Real” Stonefield Bass

The 2010 bass was referred to as X3, for being Tomm’s third experimental instrument.  It played well and incorporated many of the features found on Stonefield basses today:

• 14 deg back-angle on the headstock

• Straight-through string alignment from the bridge to headstock attachment

• 3 deg back angle on the neck • Floating wooden bridge

• Fully shielded electronics

Tomm felt that it was still missing the ‘wow’ factor though. “What could I focus on to make a bass that was truly better than what I could buy?”

The balance was the answer to that question.

Striking a Balance

Like so many bassists Tomm was unhappy with the tendency of an electric bass to pull down on the headstock from the weight of the tuners: neck diving. The common way manufacturers worked around the problem was to incorporate a long upper horn on the body to allow a better fulcrum point. The uncommon way was to shift the balance off of the headstock and to the body of the instrument by using a tailpiece tuning mechanism. Not generally preferring the look of a long upper horn on the body, Tomm decided that if he could design a better tailpiece tuner than the two makes that had been available since the introduction of the concept in the 1980’s, he’d have something worth investing both time and money in.

The path of experimentation with tailpiece tuning lead to some surprising choices and after a freak moment (the ‘eureka’ moment?) while testing one concept on the bridge of a through-body strung P-bass copy, a proof of concept device was fabricated. The device was crude and difficult to operate but it proved that another method for tuning an instrument from the tail end was possible and resulted in the first meeting with a patent attorney.

Legal Fees and Another

Another year of testing and tuning created a version of the tailpiece tuner that worked easily and also lead to the creation of X4, another experimental bass, which this time incorporated the new tuning system as well as a through-body core neck system, a changed design to the upper and lower body sections and the first attempt at a passive electronics configuration that included a mid-range notch filter.

After an extensive search of patent records revealed that no other tuning mechanism on record operated in a similar manner, the choice was made to seek legal protection.  The expenses mounted and friendships were strained when non-disclosure agreement requests became commonplace as Tomm began to circulate the instrument for the opinion of players.  After receiving overwhelmingly positive review from his test players, Tomm set to work making tweaks to things players didn’t like so much and then finally moving into a stage of production level prototyping in which engineering shops were engaged to make the metal components and a CNC machine assisted with the preparation of body and neck component blanks.

Still not entirely happy with the electronics in the instrument, Tomm invested in a few books, did a lot of net surfing and bought a new soldering station. The main goal was a passive circuit – no batteries, preamps or buffers – that would provide high, mid and low-frequency tone control.  High and low control in a passive circuit was not that unusual; creating a truly effective mid-range control was another story.

More Testing, More Tuning, Going Global

It would take three more years of testing, tuning and playing before, in March of 2016, Tomm would introduce the Stonefield M Series (then referred to as the Model One) to the world at the London Bass Guitar Show. With critical acclaim for the tuning system, the industry-leading electronics as well as the remarkable level of hand craftsmanship, feedback from that show fueled his passion.  A request from many players for a more affordable Stonefield bass also came from that show and further development time was devoted to that request.  In September of 2016, he completed the C Series instruments and introduced them along with the M Series to the US at the Bass Player Live show in Anaheim California the following month.

The Golden Prize

On November 15th, not even three weeks after Bass Player Live, Tomm’s tuning system was granted a US Patent, The system had received a New Zealand patent earlier in the year but the US patent was one of the big milestones.  At the time of this writing (Dec 2016), UK and EU patents are still pending.

Looking Ahead

“My goal now is to continue on this pathway of development, looking for new and better ways to create instruments that allow players to freely express their inner musical voice. It’s not easy but I also can’t really imagine a time when we will run out of ideas. We’re now just looking for the players that will inspire us to keep pushing the limits of electric bass design.”