Ask Willis - March - 2000

Hey Tillis,
Just caught all y'all in Branson, MO and got to visit y'all fabuless theater. Man y'all with Waylon Jennings? THAT IS THE STUFF! I never seen two dueling banjos do that before! I was ready to run for my rifle and shoot mah pesky neighbors just for the heck of it all! Now, what up with this here website of yours? It ain't like I remember. Where's the giftshop? Remember it Mel? It was here:
What happened to your Stutterin' Boy Deep Divin' Lure dammit!? You sell out and become one of them thar bass boys? Banjo not good enough for you? What about the Mel's A Cookin' home video!? I like this here Bible Tech thing I see here, although my dsyleixia makin' me think it may be something of the devil's concoctifying and not the praise hallelujah chitlins I is used to.

Anyhaw, I still liken to listen to your 'Big Balls in Cowtown' and other golden favireets I reckon y'all used to have at the old store where it was at:
I hope ye repent and become a fearin' man.
Banjo forever!
Eltar J. McGillicuddy

4th from left:

OK, it was just one radio broadcast made into a record. At the time, too many folks were confusing me with Mel and he just couldn't stand the attention I was getting. We parted ways amicably but for some reason, I never worked in Nashville again...?

Hey Willis,
Well here is a question. How is this possible? Lydian mode has sharp 11, Lydian dominant has sharp 11. Then why is Mixolydian called MixoLydian even though it does not have sharp 11? What does it mix with?

Actually, because of Queen Lydia, all the scales used to have the name "lydia" in them: ionalydian, doralydian, phrygalidian, aolalydian, locralydian. The 5th degree's scale was called "ionoadoralydian" , named after mixing the first part of ionalydian and the second part of doralydian. Then the shortcut "mixolydian" caught on. Soon, all the scales had shortened names until Queen Lydia had the music scholars beheaded.
Here's some other names for ionadoralydian that resulted in death:
Lydian non-sharp IV
Ionian flat VII
Dorian raised III
Aolian raised III & VI

Hey Willis,
My G3 400 DVD PowerBook arrived today. Now I need to order options. Would like to add 256 Meg RAM chip to take total to 320. Do you think this is serious overkill? or Could add 128 now and try 192 for awhile... & Later trade in the OEM 64 for 128 for a total of 256

Cool....When in doubt, go for the ram, you never can have too much ram. Although, I've been getting by fine with 192 on my ancient G3 PowerBook 266. But if you're going to do any video intensive apps, 320 is the way to go. Besides, there's not that much of a market for used PowerBook ram.

Hey Willis, I have an intonation problem for you. ( I think ). I get my trust rod and saddles just right and for some reason I get fret buzz off the b natural on my g string. All the rest of my bass plays fine ( with no fret buzz ). It's like a dead spot on the neck. I play a through body carvin fretted 6 string. Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated... Thanks

My first suggestion is to sell the Carvin and get a Willis bass..... of course;-)
It's actually not an intonation problem.
If you don't have general buzzing on either end of the fingerboard, it's an isolated bad fret. That is the general location of a dead spot but the buzz either means that the B-fret is low or the C fret is high or a combination of both. The only solution is to have some fret work done. It's pretty easy to fix isolated frets if you have the tools. See if a pro will do that and try not to spring for a whole fret job just to fix one fret.

Hey Willis,
Fairly new at this bass thing, am usually a percussionist. But I find I really love the bass too. My question is: I read about people who say "This bass stays in tune forever". Does this mean that they don't loosen their strings practice and/or gigs? And if so, is this okay? I've been loosening my strings after use because of fears that if I don't use it for a day (or a few days) the continues tension might boe the neck too much. Am I correct in doing this or am I just being paranoid on the issue?

"Paranoid" is a little severe, but whoever said the bass stays in tune forever is an idiot.....
Now, the metal strings are not like the animal-skin conga heads that need to be loosened after every gig. It's better for the neck to have consistent tension at all times. Definitely stop loosening the strings. There's a metal truss rod that helps the woooden neck balance the tension that comes from the strings. Removing the tension from the strings allows the truss rod to pull on the neck without resistance. Leave the strings "tuned-up" so that the tension on the neck will be even. Because it's mosty wood, the neck will still move on its own from time to time because of age and climate changes, even with the help of the truss rod. I recommend changing strings one at a time in order to prevent the extremes in pressure that come from removing all the strings at once, even for as long as it takes to put on new ones.

Mr. Willis, do you have the greatest job in the world or what?

I used to think so, but I've been thinking more and more about this Clown College thing.

Hey Willis,
I have a Fender Jazz Bass and I love how it sounds but its too heavy, what do you recommend about other bass that could sound similar and be lighter. I have another question .what do you recommend for me in terms of amplification, Im planning to buy an amp. but Im confused.

I'd try a lighter body from Warmoth or a Luthier's supply place like Stewart-MacDonald. Alder, Basswood (no pun intended)or a light piece of Ash will make the bass lighter and it'll sound fatter, because you're lowering the resonant frequency with a lighter body.

EDEN makes the best stuff, period. If you can't afford EDEN then try their lower line: Nemesis.'still great stuff.

Hey Willis,
Im curious, how high are your strings at the 12th fret, measured holding down the string at the first fret? By the way, you da man!

I've actually never measured that before, I've always gone by the feel and how the bass plays.
It ranges from 1.2mm on the G string to 1.75mm on the B string.