I regularly stray well beyond my home of extreme metal to experience other forms of audible beauty. Actually I believe that the soundtrack of my heart sounds more like Her Name Is Calla or Ólafur Arnalds rather than Cradle Of Filth and As I Lay Dying.
Playing the Bass Guitar
I play bass guitar since I was 15 years old. My first bass was a used Samick I took over from a friend. I do remember my first amp but not its brand or model – it was worn out and muffled in its sound. In 2007 I bought a five string Tanglewood Rebel 5K. People knowledgeable about guitar brands are often surprised they produce electric basses, too. Not much later I took over a Yorkville 200B amp from the same friend I got my first bass from. It was quite a bargain for what it had to offer. Brilliant heights and pushing depths. Because it was in use for more than 20 years I had to disassemble and solder on a few new potentionmeters in 2017. I was happy to find one replacement part at all: the volume potentiometer was a weird one and I had to order a Peavy branded replacement part from Spain because alternatively only parts from the United States were available for twice the price.
The Tanglewood Rebel served me well and I had a lot of fun with it ever since. Eleven years later I have grown and changed just as my skills developed. With much more clarity about the possibilities and my requirements I bought an ESP LTD B204SM. It feels like a big move forward. Back to four strings but with two humbuckers and active electronics with an amazing tone range offers a completely different sound and playing experience. When I was at home, I usually used headphones or my Hi-Fi speakers for practicing. Often part of the setup is my BOSS GT-1B multi-effects processor which I consider a decent product after trying out different devices of that kind. There are tons of possibilities and one utilizes its full potential only after a long time.
In the past I used to play much over my iMac with signal processors like Native Instruments Guitar Rig, AmpliTube or EZmix. Maybe it is because of my professional background that I do not have reservations as typical for rather conservative musicians. With my recent equipment choices my preference changed. In fact, I became tired of the wiring, the maintenance and the interaction for jamming. It appears simpler this way. I return in case of song writing or recording to Guitar Pro and REAPER on the computer, though.
After my Yorkville 200B combo broke in 2019 I decided to finally invest into new gear because the repair was way beyond the amps worth. The outcome was an Orange Terror Bass and an Orange OBC410 cabinet with 4×10" speakers. Damn worth it! It impressed me enough to buy an Orange Crush Bass 25 Combo for practicing at home, too. Suddenly my Tanglewood Rebel 5K sounded much more brilliant and powerful. It is hard to admit but at half the price it sounds twice as good on the Orange amps compared to the ESP LTD B204SM. I am so content with the tone that I often do not use any effects in between anymore. While the Terror Bass has a lot of power the Crush Bass 25 sounds delightfully great!
Playing the Electric Guitar
One year after I started with the bass guitar a few savings manifested in the cheapest electric guitar I could buy on the internet: a brand new Chinese no-name with a body of compressed wood for 40€. Some Saturdays I played from 10 in the morning until 10 in the evening. Measured by todays standards the sound was awful and I had to retune every 10 minutes while the strings felt like cutting into my fingertips. But I learned a lot and completely by myself.
In 2009 I bought a matte black Schecter Diamond Demon from the first salary I got. That was a hefty upgrade totally worth it. The years after I played with thick strings mostly in the tune range of Drop A to Drop C because I liked the deep and metallic sound as present on Bring Me The Horizon’s album Suicide Season.
Playing the Keys
I had a cheap MIDI keyboard a few years ago and played sampled instruments as well as synthesizers on my computer. I sold it at some point. It was a simple input device bundled with a hobbyist software. With my wife, who plays piano since the age of four, my interest in playing this instrument reignited. Having a decent hybrid Yamaha U1 Piano at disposal makes it much more pleasant to play. At most with the remarkably unique sound of Nils Frahms Una Corda sample library for Native Instruments Kontakt. I really love that sound.
The previously mentioned, cheap MIDI keyboard was bundled with Magix Music Maker. Looking back it was a beginner friendly introduction to the workflow and concept of digital audio workstations. I recorded my first title with Music Maker in 2008. Remembering it today it was a product which I would not be confidently selling. Slow, unstable and lacking precision in use of its interface. I got aware of Steinberg Cubase not so long after but with its ridiculous pricing it seemed out of question back then. I did not know much yet about alternative digital audio workstations.
Luckily I was introduced to REAPER in 2009. It is my main tool for recording, mixing and mastering since then. Nothing I tried could compete with REAPER. It is affordable, highly efficient, feature packed but without bloat. It is the best solution for recording music. For loop based live performance Ableton Live clearly took the lead. An important learning: taming a digital audio workstation requires a lot of time and once you gained the skill it also is an economic decision to either stick with it or switch to something new.
Lately I have been investing more and more time into Apple’s Logic Pro X which I like because it combines the linear recording with live looping. And I have developed a preference for its included sounds, instruments and effects because over time my interest shifted from tweaking the little bits of sound to actually recording something.