Tuesday, September 9, 2014

DBP T-Shirts - 100% Cotton T-shirts in men's and women's sizes!

The Deadline for orders is Sunday, October 5th, 2014. No orders will be accepted after midnight on that date.



The shirts are made to order.  I do not buy a load of shirts and sell them.  I take your order for whichever shirt(s) you want, you pay--in advance--using PayPal, then I take all the orders to the printer at once.  This means you will have to wait a bit before you get your shirt.  This is the way I have always done it. The hundreds of members, proudly wearing their DBP shirts, all ordered theirs the same way.  Please be patient.  I will keep everyone informed on the Detroit Bass Players group page (www.facebook.com/groups/DetroitBassPlayers/).

You do not need a PayPal account to order!  The checkout process allows for you to use whatever method of payment you choose.

No pick up service will be available.  Every order will be shipped to the address provided through PayPal.

Shipping is $5.50 for the first shirt, and and additional $1.50 for each additional shirt--up to $12.00 for five and up.  If you want to order more than 7 shirts, you'll need to place two orders.

**No international orders will be accepted. The shipping rates are extremely high.**



Men's Shirts

Size chart below.


Women's Shirts

Size chart below.


I am not in the T-shirt business.  I get these made for the Detroit Bass Players facebook group members.  I do my best to provide good quality shirts at a reasonable price.  I do my best to get the shirts shipped quickly. 

Thank you for making sure you read the entire page!

Craig - Detroit Bass Players

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bass Day 2014 – United Sound

This year, Detroit Bass Day 2014 will be held at United Sound System Recording Studios (USSRS).  United Sound was chosen for its long history in Detroit. 

Once a year, the #DetroitBassPlayers group meets to take a group photo.  What started as a simple “meet and greet” has become “Detroit Bass Day” with the help of Kern Brantley and friends putting together a themed concert.  This will be the second year the concert runs in conjunction with the gathering.  Last year’s concert was a tribute to James Jamerson that included performances by several prominent touring and local bassists. The Jamerson family also attended.  This year is a tribute to Funk, to be held inside Studio A at USSRS.  We’re hoping to make Detroit Bass Day an annual tradition. 

There will be various prizes given away throughout the event.  All prizes have been donated by our most gracious sponsors: GHS Strings, Hipshot Products, PickGuy Custom Picks, and GruvGear.

The Detroit Bass Players raffle is free to all members.  You will get a raffle ticket when you arrive. Various promotional items, in gift bags, will also be given to attendees.  Supplies are limited.

A 11" by 17", limited edition, Bass Day - United Sound poster will also be available for purchase. Price to be determined.

The gathering starts at 11:00 am on August 9th. Doors open for the concert at 1:00 pm.  We would love to see you! 

You do not need a ticket to attend the Detroit Bass Players meeting, outside United Sound.  You will, however, need a ticket for the concert.

TICKETS AVAILABLE at DetroitBassDay.com

Press Release:  

Join famed Detroit musician Mr. Kern Brantley and friends honoring funk music pioneers like Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham and George Duke. 

This year #DetroitBassDay will take place at the legendary United Sounds Systems Recording Studio home of the late great Don Davis as well as George Clinton and P-Funk Labs. The day’s events include performances from an elite group of bass players, all whom have been inspired by the hypnotic groove of the Funk and stay on the One. Detroit Bass Day 2014 will “tear the roof off the mutha sucka...”

TICKETS AVAILABLE at DetroitBassDay.com

Welcoming Special Guest - Bobby Vega:

Detroit Bass Players is proud to announce special guest Bobby Vega will be appearing at the Bass Day 2014 event! He's not just coming to play; he's coming to hang out with everyone!

Bobby is a recording artist, clinician, and product representative. He has performed and recorded with Tower Of Power, Sly and The Family Stone, Etta James, Jefferson Starship, and many others! We're looking forward to having Bobby play a tune in the Bass Day 2014 show!

We would like to thank EMG Pickups for sponsoring Bobby's trip to Detroit.

Huge thanks go out to our friend, Rene' Santiago, for his help setting this in motion.

Bass Day 2014 Performing Bassists:

Kern Brantley , Emily Rogers, Nate Watts, Lamont Johnson, Ralphe Armstrong, Brandon Rose, Lonnie Motley, Wendell Lucas, Brad Russell, Craig Skoney, Micheal K. Fredricks, Ivan (Big Ive) Williams, William Pope, Goldie Glenn, Lone Wolf, Bobby Vega, Larry Lee, Craig Shephard, and Edward Tony (T-Money) Green.

The Band:
Eric Gaston, Kevin Ritter, Kevin Carter, Alex Goss, Brandon Blane, Ladarell Sax, D.Love, Paula, Tosha O, Donna, Donal Ray, Lola George, Keithe John, Curtis Boone, and Gwen Foxx.

Get ready for some of the baddest funkin' bass players in the city to converge at the laboratory of the notorious Dr. Funkenstein!

TICKETS AVAILABLE at DetroitBassDay.com

• 11:00 The Detroit Bass Players meet in front of United Sound Systems
Recording Studios
• 12:00 The Detroit Bass Players group photo shoot.
• 1:00 Doors open for Meet and Greet with a “round table discussion” Tours of the historic United
Sound Systems Recording Studios
• 2:00 Awards, Speeches and Acknowledgments: (a small tribute to the passing of Don
Davis and co-founder of Bass Day Yvonne C. Butler)
• 3:00 The Tribute to the Funk Concert (featuring the performers listed above)
• 5:00 Grand Prize Raffle. There will be smaller raffles throughout the whole event from our
most appreciated sponsors.
• Special Invited Guest Appearances: by Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Amp
Fidler, Luis Resto and Jeff Bass.
• 9:00 Official After Party and Open Jam.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Major 7 Fingerboard Pattern Exercise - Eddie Kohen

Detroit Bass Player Eddie Kohen.
Detroit Bass Players is proud to welcome Eddie Kohen as a columnist. This is Eddie's first of (hopefully) many installments in a series of exercises to help improve your knowledge of the bass.  Thank you, Eddie!

So, until I can figure this video stuff out I thought I would try to write out some fun exercises to stay busy during this beautiful weather.  If this is familiar it can be made as challenging as you like, I will explain at the end. This is an exercise that will quickly improve your ability to recognize chord shapes wherever you are on the fingerboard. For the first part of this we will do Major 7th chords thru the circle of 4ths (all keys).

There are 3 common patterns that use 3 strings, forward (starting with 1st finger), middle (starting with middle finger), and backward (starting with pinky). You should try starting the etude with each pattern so it varies, you will pick the next pattern by finding the next closest root.

I'll get ya started with the middle pattern, as it is common. Ascend then descend:
C (2nd finger, 3rd fret A string) E (1st finger, 2nd fret D string)
G (4th finger, 5th fret D string) B (3rd finger, 4th fret G string) 

Next chord F (forward pattern):
F (1st finger, 1st fret E string) A (4th finger, 5th fret E string)
C (2nd finger, 3rd fret A string) E (1st finger, 2nd fret D string)

 Next chord Bb (forward pattern):

Next chord Eb (backward pattern):
Eb (4th finger, 6th fret A string) G (3rd finger, 5th fret D string)
Bb (1st finger, 3rd fret G string) D (4th finger, 7th fret G string)

Continue on through the circle of fourths using the described patterns:
  • Ab (middle pattern)
  • Db (middle pattern)
  • Gb (forward pattern)
  • B (forward pattern)
  • E (backward pattern)
  • A (middle pattern)
  • D (middle pattern)
  • G (forward pattern)

You can make this more challenging by ascending the first chord then descend the 2nd and so on. This is one of many permutations that can keep this interesting. Of course, we will move on to other chord types. In just one week, this will drastically improve your ability to quickly recognize chord shapes on your fingerboard. So, go on! Do It! :)

Eddie Kohen currently teaches at Motor City Guitar, Monday through Thursday. He can be reached directly at 248-880-0042.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shawn May of May Custom Basses

In the basement of 312 S. Ashley, in Ann Arbor, is the dusty, slightly cluttered workshop of Shawn May of May Custom Basses. You might describe the shop as "lived in".  To me, it looks like a guitar bomb exploded.  My favorite kind of place! There are basses here and there, all at different stages of completion, as well as pieces and parts waiting to be used for the various projects. Several wood working machines fill the room.  Wood blanks are stored on a rack in the corner. Figured wood veneers are leaning against a table in the front of the room. Twelve Foot Ninja is playing on the sound system.

Fred Robinson's May SC5 (single cut 5-string)
When I arrived, Shawn was fine tuning Fred Robinson's (aka Detroit Bass Player Freddy Rodriguez) single cut 5 string.  A beautiful bass!  A tweak here a little filing there. Freddy plays the bass. Shawn tweaks a little more. Freddy plays for a few minutes while Shawn heads outside for a break.  Back to tweaking then playing...  There it is! Ready to go.  Freddy smiles as he says goodbye. Another happy customer!  

Shawn moves directly onto the next project. He tells me  the next customer will be there soon. He jokes and says "I need to make it look like I'm doing something". Watching him work, I can tell Shawn isn't one to sit idle in the shop.

Shawn is now carefully sanding a nice flame maple body that belongs to only the third bolt on bass he has been asked to build. He says it's the first bolt on bass to have the LED side markers.  He never stopped working as long as I was there.

This is the bass Shawn was working on, during the interview.

*You'll have to pardon my amateur attempt at interviewing.  This is my first face to face.  I didn't write out any questions, so I'm 'winging it'.

DBP:  What got you started, as a luthier?

SM: I wish I had a more involved story.  It started with a book. When I was in school, my step-mom would go to the library. She was an avid reader, and when she went to the library, she would be there for hours, so I'd have to find something to keep myself busy. I found the music section of the library. I'm poking through and I found this book titled "Make Your Own Electric Guitar". I had been playing about a year or so, but I was really into reading Bass Player Magazine.  I was up on all the builders and being 17, I really couldn't afford anything and there's this book about making your own electric guitar or bass. You know, I'll try it and see what happens. I've always been more on the artistic side doing hands on kind of stuff, so I started building this bass. My buddy had a table saw and basically just enough stuff to start it.  It was kind of slow progressing, because I didn't really know what I was doing.  That's when I lost interest for a while. There was a lot of other things going on with high school and I started working... But the interest was always there. I kept pursuing it and pursuing it and I was about 22 or so when I got my first one together.  It turned out a lot better than I expected.  That gave me more confidence to try another one and all of a sudden I get a phone call "hey, I heard you're making basses".  Wow!  You want to pay me to attempt to make you an instrument?! Cool! And that's it.  Here I am 36 instruments later.  That's not a lot, but it's a good amount.

DBP: Give me an idea of your build process.

SM:  After the woods are selected by the customer, all the wood has to be cut and glued together.  I have templates for the bodies.  They're all cut out by hand. Nothing is machined. I can't stress that enough.  Not that I have any issue with anyone [using machines to cut their instruments]. If that's their thing, that's their thing. Some people use CNCs (Computer Numeric Control [Computer controlled milling machines]). In time, when my back gives out (chuckle), you know I'll probably end up using a CNC, but until then, this is the creation for me. Like right now, my legs are killing me (Shawn is kneeling on the shop floor), I'm half way done sanding this, my arms are going to be 'noodley'. But this is what I like. It's like therapy.  I can just shut everything out and focus on what I'm doing, listen to some music... Next thing you know, it's done! 

*There is a brief break in the interview when customer Michael St. Antoine arrives. It is Michael's bass Shawn has been sanding as we were talking.  A testament to the quality of May basses, this is Michael's second May bass. 

Michael St. Antoine's new bass with the stain applied.

DBP:  Talk about your bass, Michael. What do you like about about May basses?

MSA: I'd say the main thing is the feel. You could spend $10,000.00 for a 'custom' off the shelf, but I like how this guy just knows how they should feel. The sound is up to you, though.

*Note: Shawn is not only a builder, but he's a player with some major label success. 

SM:  I don't really play much anymore. I'm usually building.  I'll always own an instrument, but I don't even own one of my custom basses, because I'm always making them for other people. (Shawn does have a fretless May Bass in process for himself.  He works on it if there is time.)

DBP: Let's talk about choosing the wood.  Is it a customer choice? Do you choose?  Do you have recommendations for specific woods? Do you think wood affects the tone a lot or do the strings and the pickups matter more? 

SM:  It all depends on the person.  I start by asking “what does the customer want?”. Are you looking for a certain look? Are you looking for a certain sound? If they don't know, I can make suggestions based on the type of music they're into or...

I believe there's more coming from the electronics than from the wood, but the wood is your foundation and it's going to generate tone, however, now-a-days with all the different options in electronics, you can manipulate that tone to just about anything, anymore. I've had people order and they want a light colored or a dark colored bass.  That's pretty generic, considering how many hundreds of species of wood there are.  It's a matter of narrowing it down from there. I've also had people say "hey, do your thing. Surprise me!" You know, not like that's any pressure or anything.

DBP: That lets you be creative, though. I've seen some of your basses I think are incredibly beautiful. One you just finished with gold hardware I recently spoke to you about, is probably my favorite so far. (pictured below)

SM:  It's funny.  Every one I'm working on or have just finished is my favorite.

DBP: Bolt on or neck through?  What's your preference and why?

SM: All of the above. Neck through, as a builder, is typically easier for me.  I don't really have any set options.  Some builders that are more established have set measurements. "This is our neck width. If you don't like it, too bad." Because I build these [basses] to extreme custom order, we can change spacing and everything.  I just have to make a template every time, for each instrument, other than the body.  If anybody wants a narrow spaced five string or a wide spaced six string or whatever, I make a new template. So, for me, neck through is easier.  I also like the unhindered access to the upper frets, but sometimes there's a "tone thing" with a bolt on. Maybe it goes back to the Fender thing.  The Jazz Bass, for me, I can pick up a Jazz Bass and it just feels "right".

DBP:  Describe the "tone thing" you just mentioned. Is it punchier? What is it? I recognize it, but I'm not sure how to describe it.

SM: Maybe it's an aggressive type thing. It's like being slapped in the face versus being punched in the face, if that makes any sense.

DBP: Which one would the bolt on be?

Shawn playing his '77 Jazz Bass at a rare show

SM:  That would be the punch. Or if you’re talking about my '77 Jazz, that would be a swift kick instead of a punch. That thing's a beast.

DBP: Talking about your '77 Jazz.  I've had it on my shoulder and it's heavy.

SM:  It probably hurt!

DBP: Do you think weight matters? Some people equate weight with sustain. What's your opinion?

SM: Dense material has a tendency to sustain more. With some woods, the tone can get 'swallowed up'. For me, I actually prefer a little heavier instrument. It just feels more solid to me. Not saying light means cheap. But there's a security for me with a heavier instrument.  This is coming from a guy that has a 12 pound Jazz Bass.  I also had a Warwick and a Tobias that weighed 12 pounds. Yeah me, the 130 pound guy (laughter). 

DBP: Every May bass I've held feels like a feather compared to those. 

SM:  My basses are typically smaller than your average Fender or...

Bassist William Pope and Shawn May
DBP:  Who owns your basses that we might know?

SM: Reg Canty! Fred Robinson, Guy Warren, the dude from Alien Ant Farm, and I just sent one to Australia for a rock band over there called Karnivool[link].  I think William Pope has one.  Oh wait...  No he doesn't! 

DBP: I just had a vision of a AAA flame maple with an orange stain and great big mother of pearl Popestar inlays!

SM: with some sort of crushed velour or something... (laughter) It says "mannnnn...."  (more laughter [we love you Pope!])

DBP:  How many basses do you have in queue?

SM: Last time I counted, 11. For most builders that doesn't sound like a lot, but considering I have a full time job, that's next year for me. A year worth of work.

DBP:  I realize it could vary greatly based on the options chosen for each bass, but about how long on average does it take you to finish a bass?

SM: I'd say 8 to 12 months to the customer.  That doesn't mean it actually takes that long to build each bass.  I'm usually working in batches, so I'll do four or five t a time. How long it actually takes to make them, I couldn't tell you.  I never really kept track. I don't want to spend time logging how many hours.  I want to spend my time on the work. One of these days I'll have to figure it all out to find out if it's worthwhile to do this. As long as I'm not losing money, it's worthwhile. 30 years from now, I hope to be the Vinnie Fodera of Michigan! I admire that he is still hands on.  He's not handling paperwork. He's building basses.

Left to right:  The legendary Chuck Rainey, bassist Doug Johns and Shawn May

DBP:  Is there something you might like to say that you haven't said in any other interview, or anything you think is important to mention?

SM: Whether it be food or music or instruments or whatever... Preference is a huge word for me. If we're talking about building an instrument for someone, their preference might be a color,  a style or weight. I hear people trash bands, sometimes. Not everyone likes the same thing. I had a conversation recently.  We were talking about companies that make, basically, Jazz Basses, but they're $5000.00. I'm a Jazz Bass guy, for sure, but paying $5000.00 for a Jazz Bass is not my thing.  Am I going to say "that guy's dumb for buying that."? No. It's just preference. That's it. That's my philosophy, right there.  You see my bass and you don't like it.  You've got an issue with it.  Okay. That's fine. I'm not trying to say I make the best basses you'll ever play. It might not be for you. It's all preference.  That's huge with me.

DBP:  I'd like to thank Shawn for taking some time to talk to Detroit Bass Players!

Visit http://www.maycustombasses.com/ for more information on May Custom Basses.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rocky Rocheleau - Not just another bass player from Detroit

An appreciation of Rocky Rocheleau (1949-2013)

Rocky Rocheleau’s last public appearance was on Aug. 3 in Detroit at Hitsville U.S.A, the Motown Museum, at the third annual meet-up of Detroit Bass Players. In a photo (above) from the group’s website he’s in the second row, seventh person from the left, in a red t-shirt, brandishing his prized 1962 Fender Jazz bass.

Rocky was one of more than 100 bassists who showed up that day to celebrate the music they loved and played their entire lives. Some of them were successful pros, while most, like Rocky, were never famous. But when he died too soon on Oct. 18, at age 62,I lost my first and most important influence — who taught me about music, Detroit and the meaning of soul.

Just 10 years older than me, my uncle Robert Rocheleau was my personal rock star, and I was his biggest fan. (Some school chums gave him the nickname Rocky after Detroit Tiger Rocky Colavito.) Whenever he came to our house, I wanted him to go outside with me so the neighborhood kids could see me with my cool, teenage hippy friend. Usually, though, I saw Rocky on Sundays, when we would visit my grandparents on Kramer in St. Clair Shores. As an 18-year-old working musician, he, of course, would sleep in very late. By mid-afternoon his bedroom door would open and he would emerge, usually in his beat-up bathrobe, long tangled hair and beard. Today we’d say he looked like Jeffrey Lebowski, but back then my father would just look at him and announce “Christ has Risen.”

Those Sunday afternoons were like church to me. This is when he would sit me down at the foot of his bed and play records. We didn’t just listen to them. We devoured them. Over the years his favorites would change, but his taste would remain impeccable: In 1968 it was Cream, Hendrix, the White Album and, of course, Motown. By 1970 it was James Brown, Sly and Miles Davis. By 1972 it was Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal, John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder and Parliament Funkadelic. By 1974 I was borrowing stacks of his albums and memorizing the names of the session musicians. Keep in mind that all of this was going on while Detroit was recovering from the 1967 riots. It was the era of racial polarization, George Wallace and Coleman Young. Every white family, including ours, was fleeing to the suburbs. Yet there was Rocky, turning me onto black classical music, black pride and black culture. Rocky was too intelligent, too insightful to buy into racism — instead his everyday life was lived respecting all people and their varying experiences. So his influence on me went beyond music. Rocky was my musical pastor and ethical-spiritual tour guide.

Rocky picked up the bass guitar in his early teens and never really put it down. Over the years he remained loyal to the same ‘62 Fender Jazz with the sunburst finish. He played it with his first bands, White Heat and Attack. He played it when Attack got its ultimate gig: February 21, 1969, at the Grande Ballroom, where they were the first act on a bill that included Van Morrison and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. I asked Rocky about that night a few years ago and this is what he wrote: “Paul Butterfield, a delight, walked into the dressing room, and put down a case of Budweiser and said ‘Help yourself.’ I never saw Van Morrison backstage. Did not meet him. We went on first. The crowd put us at ease with very polite applause. They probably noticed the look of absolute terror on our faces. I was the oldest one in the band, by the way [he was 18]. Van came on next. I can honestly tell you, that the crowd liked us much better than Mr. Morrison. You see, he went acoustic that night.”

Rocky sensed my musical inclinations early on and encouraged me to start playing. I started trumpet at age 12, after he turned me onto Miles, and he was kind enough to come over and play bass when I formed my first rock band. By 14, in awe of Herbie Hancock, I started studying piano and have been playing jazz ever since.

Rocky was never famous and he never wrote a hit single. But through the years, he remained my gold standard for what is hip and musically legitimate. He also had a subtle, subversive sense of humor. A master of the pithy aside, his best lines would explode on you like a hand grenade. One day in the late seventies, I couldn’t wait to tell Rocky about going to Cobo Hall the previous night to see Gino Vannelli — he of the flowing curly hair and skin tight leather pants. Amazed by his musicianship, I said to Rocky: I don’t know how he does it. Rocky replied: “I think he paints them on.”

When Rocky married his wife Gail in the late eighties, it was like a second lifetime for him. He was already pushing 40, but it was like suddenly he had grown up. He took his responsibilities as a husband and father more seriously than I’d ever seen him take anything. And it was beautiful to see. His children, Danielle and Michael, grew up not only to be remarkably similar looking to their parents, but also sharing in their traits. Michael replaced me years ago as Rocky’s sidekick and understudy — and in recent years he has outdone even his old man with his love of making people laugh. To paraphrase Lennon and McCartney: Rocky you’ve met your match.

In all his life Rocky never particularly enjoyed traveling, or even driving very far. If he were a species of bird the field guide would say: reclusive and hard to spot outdoors. Habitat limited to 3-5 mile radius of Eastpointe, rarely spotted north of 12 Mile Road or west of Woodward. And he sure as hell never enjoyed doing anything early, whether it was showing up or waking up — which was tough, considering he worked crazy shifts for nearly four decades as a security officer at Cottage Hospital in Grosse Pointe.

So for a guy who preferred to stay close to home and hated being early, it’s understandable that it seems so wrong for him to now be so far away, and leaving us so soon. Except, of course, Rocky will always be close to home, in the hearts and memories of those who loved him. Although I was his nephew, Rocky was my brother. He laid down the bass line for me — and I’m grateful for every note he played in my life.

—Mike Mills, October 26, 2013

Rest in peace, bass brother Rocky Rocheleau.