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QRD #44 - Bass Player Special
about this issue
Bassist Interviews with:
CJ Boyd
Monte Allen of Rollerball
Nicholas Slaton of slicnaton
Trevor Dunn of Fantomas
Jeffrey Roden
Phillip Palmer of Port City Music
Nat Baldwin of Dirty Projectors
Frank Alexander of Triplicity
Brian Preston
Jason Ajemian
Darin DePaolo
Jill Palumbo of The Torches
Jon Case of Irata
James Newman of Plumerai
Matteo Bennici
Tim Dahl of Child Abuse
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Bassist Interview with Tim Dahl of Child Abuse 
October 2010

Name: Tim Dahl
Bands: Child Abuse 
Websites: http://soundsofchildabuse.com

QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?

Tim – A 1983 Ibanez Roadstar II. It is still the main electric bass that I use today, although it has been modified.

QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier?

Tim – Bass-active splitter -
Channel 1-channel b of a/b box
Channel 2-envelope filter-ring modulator-distortion-channel a of a/b box
a/b box out - volume pedal -digital delay - amp

QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – bass, amplifier, or effects?

Tim – All equally important.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Tim – With Child Abuse I use a GK RB1001II head. I can get my sound out of it & it is also super durable on the road. With that, I use Bag End & Mesa cabs. With quieter clean bass gigs, I often use the Walter Woods head.

QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?

Tim – Most of my art music gigs I play electric bass. Most of my local money/working gigs I play upright. I love them both.

QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow?

Tim – I don’t know how to play with a pick. I enjoy both playing with my fingers & a bow. I rarely play music that requires arco parts, so I usually play with my fingers.

QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have?

Tim – As many as it needs.

QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?

Tim – I know how to play bass. I don’t know how to play guitar.

QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch?

Tim – An electric bass guitar isn’t a whole lot different than a guitar except that it is constructed differently. It is an octave lower & it is traditionally tuned only in 4ths. Where a guitar is traditionally tuned in 4ths & one 3rd between the G & B string. The main difference is its role in the music rather than the tool itself.

QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such?

Tim – My main electric bass is the first bass that I ever had. It was originally a P-bass design. I have since made it fretless, installed Bartolini P-bass pickups & a Bartolini humbucker bridge pickup. I also converted the tone knob into a pan knob. Lastly I put a Wilkinson bridge on it.

QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses?

Tim – I don’t have any real experience with them to comment.
QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?

Tim – It would be setup the same way as my bass is now.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?

Tim – It would interface with my brain & any timbre I imagined would be applied on demand.
QRD – How many basses do you own?

Tim – 6.
QRD – How & where do you store your basses?

Tim – At my house & my rehearsal studio.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass?

Tim – I haven’t bought a bass in 8 years & am not even thinking about it.
QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost?

Tim – It really depends on what one is going for.  For some music you can get away with a $50 piece of shit.  Other music truly sounds best with a $30,000 Italian double-bass.  It all comes down to what you’re trying to achieve.
QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?

Tim – I change my tone around a lot.  But it is these multiple timbres that make “my tone” on a macro-aesthetic level.
QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?

Tim – The ones I have.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there?

Tim – General solid construction.
QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made?

Tim – A guitar strap was the best bass purchase I made because it enabled me to walk around & play.  The worst was some faulty strings I bought once.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?

Tim – I like the GK heads & Bag End cabs because they hold up on the road.  I was in a car accident where all of my gear was launched out of the vehicle.  The GK was under water & the cabs were about 50 yards into the woods.  They all work fine to this day.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass?

Tim – A bunch of random notes.

QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass?

Tim – At age 11 I started fucking around on the bass because I wanted to be in a rock band.  I didn’t start taking lessons until the 8th grade.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing?

Tim – I am hoping I haven’t achieved that yet.
QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements?

Tim – Depends on the music you are playing.

QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass?
Tim – Both.

QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments?
Tim – At this point I have been playing it so long that it is just part of who I am.

QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?
Tim – It can be both.  In general I try not to write through any instrument.  That way my ideas are not being filtered through the limitations of that instrument.  With Child Abuse however, I am doing a lot of writing with the bass.

QRD – Who are the bassists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Tim – There’s a lot.  Bootsy Collins, Jaco, who ever Waylon Jennings bass player was in the late 70s etc...  In terms of sound, different timbres that I find attractive from all music & the environment have influenced me.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)?

Tim – I think everyone should do it.

QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it?

Tim – I broke a tuning peg by dropping my bass once.

QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Tim – Scales & arpeggios at very slow tempi.  I practice different time schemes against the metronome.

QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to?

Tim – 20+ hours in general.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Tim – 105, 85, 65, 45.

QRD – How often do you change strings?
Tim – Depends on what bass.  If I’m playing with Child Abuse on the road, I change them about every 5 shows.

QRD – How often do you break strings?
Tim – I used to break them regularly, but I had some custom work done on my saddles & now it is less common.  However, if I am doing a more improv based tour, I tend to break them more often.

QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Tim – I would say both hands are equally good/bad.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Tim – Standard EADG.

QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Tim – Standard notation, graphs, & recording are the ways I generally “write down” my ideas.  Tablature seems to be a very strange thing to use in the year 2010.

QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?

Tim – Not properly warming up before performances.

QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing?
Tim – Piano.

QRD – What’s a type of bass playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Tim – Merenge.  I can fake it, but placements of certain sustained notes & glissandi seem to be a cultural thing that I don’t have internalized.

QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished?
Tim – Learning swept arpeggios.

QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned?
Tim – Can’t remember.

QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Tim – Yes, I have taken many bass lessons.  I learned technique.

QRD – What would you teach someone in a bass lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a bass teacher?
Tim – How to use an amp.

QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Tim – Morph into me.

QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Tim – Yes.

QRD – What famous musician’s bass would you like to own & why?
Tim – Paul McCartney’s Hofner bass.  I could sell it for a lot of money.

QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative bass player & why?
Tim – There are so many great bass players.  Bootsy Collins always seems innovative to me.  Mostly from a timbral perspective.

QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?
Tim – Child Abuse’s “Cut & Run.”

QRD – Anything else?
Tim – Bass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!