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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The 12-String Bass: Callus Master Ralph

posted by on June 26 at 16:05 PM


Yes, you read that right 12-string bass. Just thinking about it can give your fingers calluses. Eric Corson from the Long Winters has one and has calluses. But hes master of the callus. Hes also master of the bass:

What made you want to get a 12-string bass?
Eric: I like weird bass instruments and when the opportunity to have a 12-string bass presented itself, I couldn’t turn it down.

Where did you get it?
A company called Waterstone Guitars makes the one that I have. It’s the Tom Petersson model. Tom Petersson is the bassist for Cheap Trick and hes the person responsible for the invention of the 12-string bass.

Is it hard to play?
Yes, but you get acclimated to it if you play it often enough. Each of the four bass strings is accompanied by two additional smaller strings and the fret board is slightly larger to accommodate for that. That means you have to press down harder when hitting a note and you have to stretch your fingers a bit more when playing. It takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it. That muscle under your thumb on your fret hand burns a lot at first. It can also be kind of hard to keep in tune.

Are you ever like, “Ah, this song needs the 12-string.” ?
What happens is you end up writing something on the 12-string that you’d never have come up with on any other instrument. But I don’t think, “Oh my God! I’m going to put 12-string bass on every song!!” Actually, I do kind of think that.

What do you play with it?
Currently there are no Long Winters songs featuring it but it’s down in our practice space and we play it when we’re messing around with new stuff. I once played it along with “Achilles Last Stand” by Led Zeppelin (from the Presence album).

Do you have a nickname for it?
No nickname for it. And now that I think of it, we don’t really have nicknames for any of our instruments. Does that mean we don’t love them enough?

No, I think you have love for your instruments. I will name the 12-string bass for you now. Henceforth it shall be called Ralph.

Do you know anyone else that plays one?
I don’t personally know anyone who has one of these, although I think Jeff Ament plays one.

Do you ever sleep with Ralph?
No, Ive never slept with Ralph. Ill have to try that though.

RSS icon Comments


Jim Sangster from Thee Sgt Major III plays one of these. Badass!

Posted by Dave Hates Chico | June 26, 2008 4:23 PM

Typing '12-string bass' burns.

Posted by trent moorman | June 26, 2008 4:25 PM

A friend of mine in Brooklyn had one years ago... brings back memories to see one of those. I wasn't sure there was even a manufacturer making those.

The freight ship of the highways.

Posted by Wolf Blitzer | June 26, 2008 4:30 PM

I've heard good things about those Waterstone basses, and Tom Peterson is one of my all time favorite bassists. Would love to have one someday, though I might just go for the 8-string for ease of use and tuning.

Dork Note: I'm pretty sure the bass on "Achilles' Last Stand" is an 8-string, but its a great example of the instrument.

Posted by tallchris | June 26, 2008 5:27 PM

The bass on Achilles' Last Stand is indeed an 8 string made by Alembic. Probably much easier to play than a 12. :)

Posted by Eric | June 26, 2008 7:11 PM

Do you have to have a permit to play that thing?

Posted by powerlounge | June 26, 2008 7:28 PM

If I was going to have a 8-string or 12-string bass, I think I would have this guy do it:

Posted by tallchris | June 27, 2008 7:09 AM

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