Setting up the Pedalboard and signal path for Fun Home…and how the basses tell the story…

Consider yourself warned; we’re getting deep into the music nerding today, dear reader. We’ve got more tales from the Fun Home office. Today’s installment; the signal path for 5 basses. And what roles these 5 basses play in the show.

I’m running a pedalboard with two Baggs Paraacoustic DIs out. The top chain (with the white Boss TU2) handles the Spector, the Ibanez, and the DIY fretless.

The Nitewalker Bass Guitar Tube Preamp is used to boost and warm the fretless before it hits the input to the pedalboard since that bass is passive. (Thank you Cliff Latshaw for developing this sweet little piece of gear).

The fretless gets some nice melodies that usher in the finale, and David Landrum, our music director, then lets me stay on it to perform the bows.

The Spector is often being used for timbrel shifts to “modern” versions of the protagonist …or it is used in essential moments that tie to the present versions of the character. (“Ring of Keys”, for example).

The Ibanez is dialed in fully on the P pickups. I use it when the plot of this show “time travels”. So it comes into play when I need a Motown tone or we jump to the 70’s (think Partridge family).

The other channel on the board (the channel with the Korg Pitchblack tuner) handles the Hohner acoustic bass and the NS CR5M.

The Hohner is perfect to channel the acoustic/folk vibe that is prevalent on college campuses of certain time periods (think Indigo Girls/Dar Williams/early Jeffery Gaines). I got lucky on finding this one just in time for the show; I literally fixed it up (new strings and tuners) and brought it to rehearsal a few days after I got it.

The NS CR5M upright seems to be a voice connected to the scenes involving the protagonist’s father; a call back to refinement and tradition. There are some exceptions. Most of the exceptions are logical or textural needs in the score. In one case, it’s a waltz ( the bass is a good fit, genre-wise) but the main character also had a life development that created some similarities to her father’s nature.

Another example of this in action; there is a descending theme that is the father’s motif. It is played on upright and cello in the Opening. In the same piece, the plot time jumps forward to modern day. I have about 10, maybe 12 bars to switch instruments. At that point the Spector comes in, announcing the father’s motif for a grown up version of the main character, who is at that point reminiscing about her father.

For any bassists coming to the show; listen carefully and you’ll hear the instrument swaps I’m doing and how they tell/connect the storyline of the character. All the musicians involved have to do this, in their own way.

Two outputs run to house, and I have two outputs out to my Carvin AG100D.

Four more shows left to go! This weekend the schedule runs Thursday to Saturday, 11/21- 11/23, 7:30 PM, and Sunday 11/24 at 2 PM.

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