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The Large Sound of Ashbory Bass


I can't even remember how I ran across the Ashbory bass, but it's a pretty remarkable instrument.  With an 18" scale (compared to a standard bass at 34" or a Stratocaster at 25.5") it's the most compact bass you can imagine.  But with it's unique silicone rubber strings, it has a rich, upright bass sound.  It requires a different style of playing due to the fact that it's fretless and, of course, given the shorter scale.   While it's not likely as easy for a beginner to learn as a fretted bass, it's a heckuva lot more portable and weighs only 2 pounds.

The original design dates back to 1985 when it was invented by a couple of brits (Ashworth and Thornbory) and was previously marketed by Guild and later DeArmond.  Now Fender owns the brand and you can order them on the web and see them on eBay routinely for under $300.  Brock Frazier's web site has a ton of information on this unique instrument and also sells them for around $250.  

I picked up one of these recently on Craigslist, and while I'm not a bass player, it seems pretty wild.  It weighs next to nothing and is by far the most portable instrument I own.  It may take some time to figure out how to play this thing, but its pretty cool looking and has a very rich sound.

Will FTC Disclosure Rules Cut Down on Bogus Review Sites?

Apple Bans Developer for Bogus Reviews on iTunes

Normally I just write about music and guitars on this site, but Doug Marks, the guy behind the  Metal Method DVD Course, let me know about a pretty serious issue: the proliferation of  bogus review sites and misleading Google ads.  For most people, guitar lessons are a hobby, but for Doug it's how he makes a living.  So he has a vested interest in getting this problem fixed.

I blogged about it on InfoWorld:

 These sites purport to provide objective evaluation of consumer products, but they are simply paid advertisements.  The sites are typically either selling the products or receiving a kick-back or commission for referrals.  If you dig into these sites its not uncommon to see half a dozen similar sites with the same format and content, but slightly varied graphics.  I have no idea whether these sites make much money, but the fact that there are so many, is a strong indicator.  Even Google is benefiting from the ad words these sites are running.

Doug has exposed some of the dubious practices among his competitors and has raised the issue to Google. But so far, no response.  And its not just scams about guitar and piano lessons.  There are fake review sites on language instruction, vitamin supplements, exercise equipment and even software packages.  I don't know if the competing guitar instruction sites are good or not, but it makes me suspicious when someone goes to the trouble of creating these kind of misleading ads.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons the FTC's is requiring bloggers to disclose their financial relationships effective December 1.  And hopefully it will get tougher for these scam sites to operate.  

Apple Removes Developer from iTunes

Interesting note that today, Apple uncovered a developer who was posting bogus reviews for their applications on iTunes.  Apple wasted no time in removing all of the developers applications and their reviews for violating Apple's iTunes policies.  Looks like at Apple takes this a lot more seriously than Google does. 

Have you seen these bogus guitar lesson review sites?   If you've used any of these other products, let me know what you think of them.  In fairness, I should also say that I'm an affiliate with Metal Method.


  • Metal Method: Main site, Complete Basic Course,Speed Kills, Forum
  • GuitarVibe: Guitar Lesson Scams, Guitar Mastery, More Time for Guitar

  • Ramones: It's Alive DVD


    The Ramones have put out a collection of live footage: It's Alive 1974-1996.  The DVD captures the band from their rough gigs at CBGBs in the early 70's through major concerts like the sweltering hot US festival in San Bernardino 1982 (shown below) to their final tour in 1996.  After 22 years on the road and over 2,000 gigs, the band hung up their gear and retired. 

    While the Ramones never achieved the recognition they deserved when they were touring, they spawned the UK punk rock invasion of the late 70's, inspiring bands like the Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash.  And their influence went beyond the 70's to impact heavy metal and nu-metal that came in the 80's and 90's.  If there was ever an inspiration to the musically challenged, it was the Ramones.  They proved that you didn't need to have good looks or natural talent to create a band.  In any other outcome these guys would have been construction workers.  But they picked up guitars and rocked louder and faster than anyone else.  Johnny Ramone got more out of 3 barre chords on his $50 Mosrite guitar than most virtuousos get in a thirty minute solo.  And I defy anyone to listen to classic songs like "Rock and Roll Radio," "Sheena Was a Punk Rocker" or "Blitzkrieg Bop" and not start moving to the beat. 

    Clocking in over 4 hours across 2 DVDs, there's some great footage as well as a few rough spots.  The video from a concert in Argentina at times feels like it was shot from a pogoing punk in the audience.  But the good footage more than makes up for poor production on some numbers.  You see po-faced Johnny with his classic buzzsaw guitar technique, Dee Dee bashing his low-slung Precision Bass at a million miles an hour, all acompanied by no-frills frenetic 4/4 drumming.

    Also worth checking out is the documentary End of the Century DVD which tells the whole Ramones story upto and including their indoctrination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   And their greatest hits CD Ramones Anthology makes a good intro to the band.

    Gabba gabba hey!