Saturday, April 05, 2008

How Did That Happen?

What is this?

That's easy. It's a broken one of these:

Which usually sits right here (top left of the body of the bass):

And is used to hold this:

There is another fastener at the bottom of the body, but that one is not relevant to the story.

The useful life of this one fastener came to an end during last night's gig. Not only has this little component resisted gravity just in holding up the bass for the past two-plus years, but it resisted the added force from my jumping up and down during a number of songs that a bandmate of mine says have "jump value".

We were playing Take Me Out, the last song of our second set. On the jump value scale from 1-10, I say it ranks an 11.

About 1:10 into the song, right before we lead into the first verse, it happened! The fastener broke. It wasn't that the screw holding in the fastener was stripped and fell out of the hole. The fastener snapped. One piece went somewhere - where, I don't know. The other piece was still screwed into the bass itself. The accompanying part of the fastener, which is clipped to the strap, shaved through the part that was mounted on the bass.

Hence, the strap was no longer connected to the bass. The body of the bass started dropping, and I had to catch it. You're talking about 12-14 lbs of unbalanced weight, with the heavy part - the body - being the unheld part. Not only did I have to make sure I didn't hit any wrong notes as it was falling, I had to make sure the body didn't hit the ground - all with my weaker hand, which is loosely surrounding the top of the fretboard, at the position farthest away from the center of gravity.

Left hand works as planned. No bad notes, no dinged instruments.

But wait, there's more. I saw what happened to the fastener immediately, and knew there was nothing - NOTHING! - I could do during the song to fix it during the song. Yikes!

Having been on all types of stages - from making presentations in front of corporate officers, to performing in rock and jazz bands - I knew the show must go on. Thankfully, I was positioned right next to our speakers, so I was able to stretch up one of my legs onto the speaker cabinet, and prop up the bass on my knee. Okay, so that only took half the first verse straighten out.

Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to co-lead on the vocals on this song, too. So much for the first verse. But one of our singers had presence of mind to move my mic where I could use it, and I was able perform the rest of the song well, but without all the requisite jumping. It's a hard song not to move around to, but I did it.

During our break, I took off the fasteners, leaving only the screw used to attach the fastener to the bass. I attached the strap to that screw. This wasn't a great fix, but it mostly got me through the night. My focus on the strap did cause me to forget the first verse of Hang On Sloopy. (No Polly, that's not a reason for us to stop playing the song. Sorry.) No one cued me, because I'm known in the band for being the lyric guy; no one thinks I ever, ever forget lyrics.

Thankfully, I had all the proper hardware at home, and replaced the fasteners this morning. All is in working order again, ready for hundreds of jumps!

Come see us if you can. We are playing at Blue Canyon in Twinsburg on April 12 (a week from today), then at Flyers in Parma Heights on Friday, April 25. Come to think of it, I think that's the second anniversary of Running in Circles being on the gig circuit. Way cool!


Des_Moines_Girl said...

The show must go on! Good for you!!!

Reminds me of 8th grade concert band when in the middle of a piece the end of mallet (I played the xylophone) flew off. No fellow band mates were injured but several audience members in the front rows saw me "mouthing" a few choice words and wondered what had happened. ;-)

Marie N. said...

Glad there were no injuries to player, audience, or bass!

Patron: Waiter, There's a sheared bolt in my soup.
Waiter: Shhhh... or the others will be wanting one too.