The Bass-ment

NBD: I just can’t stop playing my White Falcon…

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...BASS! I'll probably have to quit my job just to make time for it. Boom boom thunder thunder lightning on top.

Of course it's too big for me. Wife says it looks giant. Almost put another tine in the headstock fork compliments of ceiling fan (we have them in every room). She steered me off. I explained how many headstocks have come to grief on ceiling fans, generally when proud new owners were showing off their guitars in basement practice rooms. Every time I walk around with it, she reminds me. Probably good - I don't have body-image instincts for bass-size instruments.


Wait! What am I doing with a White Falcon - of any description? Have I lost my mind? Has my taste gone to schmuck?

No no no, hear me out. I'm still not a great fan of the Falcon graphic treatment: to repeat my tired (and pointless) objections, the gold sparkle and the forkéd headstock are just a bling too far for my staid tastes. And since you can get Falcon specs and performance in guitars which are not Falcons, I've been able to stay away from them in the 6-string domain.

But I make exceptions for instruments whose spec cannot be duplicated outside the avian flock (and the centerblock Falcons, which I prefer to Panthers, but I digress). And the magnificent White Falcon Bass, hammer of Thor, is certainly one of those.

As I've splained more than once, the WF Bass I heard in the hands of the Cadillac Angels' bassist at NAMM 2008 left a lasting impression: as deep fundamentally bottomful as any electric bass I've heard, but with marvelous grand-pianistic clarity above. The unquestioned Voice of Bass Authority. Thought it would be nice to have one someday.

Expensive though! How could a mere guitarist, a dilettante of a marginally competent bass clef dabbler, ever justify same?

Particularly when long-suffering wife has laid down the guitar-count law: they must fit neatly in the new studio/music room, and a strict one-for-one (if not one-for-two) new-in/old-out policy?

Ah. I was able to negotiate a bucket-list codicil to the policy, which allowed for a lifetime quota of three always-wanted-one instruments. I had mentioned a Falcon bass as one of these. (I wonder what the others are.)

Also: there's a reasonable argument for actual musical need here. Despite an embarrassment of excess in guitars, I am indeed short on basses: an 80s Westone utility bass whose whereabouts are unknown, the Ashbory "Gumby" bass, and a low-line Yamaha fretless. And as I frequently undertake to do bass parts on my studio projects, I arguably "needed" a good bass. (Because, you know. I am going to start recording again. Soon. Anytime. Before you know it.)

Still. Abstract aspiration is not enough. There must be opportunity.

And as Joe the C says, every guitar has a story. Here's this one's.

It starts with the White Falcon Bass Impulse Purchase thread that recently came back to life. A nice lady in Canada, with a WF Bass for sale on a Canadian version of Craigslist, found the thread and joined the GDP to mention her bass. Opportunity out of the serendipitous blue! I fairly leapt.

Many emails followed. Price was reasonable, but she would not ship it. Not even within Canada, to any theoretical GDP buddy who would then ship it to me in the lower 48. And only cash would do. Seemed so near to slip so far away.

A look at the map revealed she was really barely in Canada - just across the water from Buffalo/Niagara Falls...

Idea! I turns to my wife, I does, and I says "hey, how about a trip to Niagara Falls this weekend?" We hadn't been in years, and after our long remodeling/moving project we were due for a getaway. No planning, no problem: we've always had the best time on spurs of moments.

Stephanie of Canada agreed to meet us on the American side should we make the trek. We managed to book the only available room at the guaranteed-romantic Red Coach Inn right across from the Falls for Saturday night. This could work!

We made the trek, leaving at 4 in the afternoon last Friday: 6 hours got us to just east of Blossom Music Center, south of Cleveland for the night. 57.00 room at Motel 6! Another 3 and a half hours on Saturday, lovely weather, and we made the Falls.

Bit of a lookaround at the lay of the land, and Stephanie was waiting for us in the lobby of the Red Coach. (Reckon she recognized me from the Gretsch logo on the Roundup T-shirt.) Bass was in her car, out in the parking lot. Bass was inspected, briefly test-played, all was as represented. Money changed hands. No drama, easy as that!


Checked into the marvelously decorated room in the English lodge-themed 1923 hotel and parked the bass. (I didn't even look at it again till Monday.) Fine English meal in the inn's restaurant (behind slumping leaded-glass windows); wife had Shepherd's Pie, I had Fish-n-Chips. Concierge service at the desk gave us great advice about how to see what there was to see (walk to the park, Prospect Point, do Maid of the Mist, stick around for the colored lights at night).

We followed the instructions and had a lovely day, just the right amount of tourism, all the photos one could want. (Turns out the Rainbow Cabins Marilyn stayed in during the 1953 movie were just a set built for the purpose on the Canadian side, long ago removed, so we couldn't have stayed there anyway.)

It's hard not to be impressed at the number of Indian and Asian tourists in the area.

Then complimentary wine and cheese back in the room to wind down the evening.

Sunday breakfast in the dining room, then a sidetrip to the Niagara Power Project/Robert Moses hydroelectric plant. I love that stuff. Power! Lectricity! Bridges galore! 50s-60s edge-of-modernity functional architecture. Fine educational displays in the purpose-built facility above the dam/power plant, including a great mocked-up video debate between Thomas the Plodder DC Edison and Nikolai the Wizard AC Tesla.

I was initially disappointed that we didn't get to go down to the plant floor to stand among the 13 turbines which provide 20% of New York State's power (remembering having done so years ago at the Hoover Dam) - but I immediately understood that times have changed, and that it will probably be a long while before tourists get unfettered access to such essential infrastructure. More's the pity.

Then bingo zingo, a 10-hour interstate dash through Buffalo (wife reading Wiki about industrial history), Lake Erie on the right, NY wine and native American country (Wiki about tribal affairs and Indian gaming), a corner of Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville and home to Indiana. Then a good night's sleep before Monday morning's dentist appointment.

Whoosh! Quick decision, lots of driving, international commerce, a whole vacation in just over two days. All on the wings of a White Falcon.

I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

(If I'd had a third day, I suppose we could've stopped at the R&R HoF in Cleveland. Where the heart of rock & roll is still beatin'. In Cleveland.)


But this is about the bass, sorry.

I spent an evening with rubbing compound, erasing some discoloration on the back, bottom rim, and lower bout arm area, polishing the gold, etc. (I find that cleaning and polishing a thing - a car, a guitar - is a form of bonding.)

Anyway the bass is beautiful. Majestic. Great neck. Great unplugged sound. Sounds great plugged in (at low volume, so far). Very responsive to playing technique (nails, index fingertip, thumb).

I've known my way around a bass for ages, only rarely played live (just for utility purposes), and don't really have bass chops to speak of - but the Falcon is inspiring me to spend time and effort at it. The long scale is a stretch for me (I'm short, short arms, small hands), but I wouldn't even think of shortening it. It's worth the effort.

As I said - I can't stop playing it. It'll come to the Roundup and be available for Timmie the Staff Bassist (and others) so everyone can hear it.

And oh yeah - it's a 2008, 125th Anniversary badge on the headstock. In that way - and in its thin-body double-cutaway 17" whiteness - it's a companion piece to my custom Dynasonic Gent. It's also in excellent- to near-mint condition. It needs nothing in the way of mods - other than a brass Tru-Arc bass bridge, of course, which is on its way. What's not to like?

Stephanie bought it new, played it a lot in her band (there's some finish wear on the back of the neck), and has taken marvelous care of it. Now arthritis has started to get to her. She's scaled back to a 30" bass, and the Falcon has been in its case for a couple of years.

She wanted it to go to a good home and seemed satisfied that I might provide that. I'm equally glad it came from a good home.

Can't wait to hear it through big gear. I have a 2-15 blue sparkle Kustom cabinet and am on the prowl for a matching bass head for it. Any of y'all know where there might be one, let me know...


Stand by for more pictures. (Bass and Niagara Falls. Of course.)

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Faméd forkéd headstock.

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It's hard to show the whole thing at any size. It's just...so...LONG.

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Mmmm, smoooth. Falcon a la Creme.

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Backpad. Silly silly backpad. These 8 big SNAPS prevent beltbuckle damage.

But it's part of the package.

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And here it is from THIS side...

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Welcome to the Red Coach Inn.

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The hotel was named in honor of the red coach a British nobleman drove to an early Niagara Falls lodge in 1825. That's a picture of the scene distant on yon restaurant wall.

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Top of the Canadian/Horseshoe Falls.

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Murrican Falls. Canada over yonder.

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Rainbow Bridge to Canada from Maid of the Mist tower.

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She loads way down yonder there. (And only an hour in line to get to this point!)

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Maid of Mist observation deck/elevator tower. Towering at great elevation over the big ditch.

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You've all taken this boat ride, right? I'm just posting this because I got started and I can't stop now?

American Falls from the bottom. Note brutal "debris field" at bottom, where a zillion tons of Prospect Point fell in sometime in the 50s. This must not be the falls that fellers fall over on purpose.

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We approach the Canadian Falls. They're big. In fact, 90% of the water falling over the falls falls over the Canadian Falls.

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I think I just "creamed" my jeans.

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Closer and closer we approacher. At some point, as the diesel strains against the hydraulic turmoil, and the tiny ship is tossed, the thought "this is crazy, this is crazy" does enter the mind.

But after all, there you are in your thin thin plastic raincoat with the 28th load of 300 tourists who've been there that day, and they've been doing it since 1845...

Rainbow! See the rainbow!

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There, see that? We're close enough to see individual droplets of Niagara water.

(At which point the iPhone had taken so much water behind the screen that it stopped working. It recovered a few minutes later, but enough was enough.)

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Did we got wet? We did, we did, we DID got wet! (Also, no knack at selfies. No falls are visible in this picture. I can't prove it wasn't taken in our shower.)

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The long view from observation deck.

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Yeah yeah, at night they shine lights.

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That's American power on the right, Canadian power on the left. And they wouldn't let me go down to see any of the turbines.

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But an example of the turbine itself was thoughtfully provided in the parking lot.

I love this stuff. The mechanism of POWER!

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Like this!


And thank you for your kind attention to my NBD travelogue...


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