Ask Willis - Novermber - 2000

Hey Willis
How do you get those sounds on the Rocket Science CD? You know, the wahs, the distortion, etc. Maybe you can narrow it down a bit. So it's not the Phillips 75w track light bulbs, but what about the other 42 things on your list?

OK, here's the effects...tune by tune:

Saturn 5 Lexicon MPX1: Octave
Astro Chimp Lexicon MPX1: Envelop Follower
Song Holy Hall
Rocket Science Line 6 Bass Pod: Distortion
Mini Me Line 6 Bass Pod: S & H Flanger
Space Camel Rocket Science plug-in for MOTU (bass solo)
Moonshine MoogerFooger (borrowed from Henderson)
Cap'n Kirk Rubber Band around neck/fingerboard for intro
The Econoline Rocket Science plug-in for MOTU (bass solo)

Hey Willis
How do you get that auto-wah sound out of the MPX1?

Here's page by page breakdown of the settings:
The most critical part of it is how your input opens the filter. If your input is too hot then the filter will operate only at the upper end of the spectrum and you won't get much "wah" out of it. Also, to get the most out of the effect, you have to leave enough space after the notes so that it has time to close for the next one.

Edit the EQ section:
Then Configure the Patch Section:

Hey Willis
I really like your music, your playing, your site..etc. You brought a new attitude for todays jazz, and that is great.
1. I'm a pretty advenced player. I'm aware of my fingerboard - but I still have problems with my improvisation, when the changes are fast. I know were to put my fingers, but they (my fingers) seem to take over the solo and play what they want, and it is usally don't come out so good (I could have done it better than them - my ideas are good). I need your solution (a good exercise, a big statment.. anything).
2. I am looking for a good music school. Have you seen one? I want it to be a college/university in France, or a one in USA that doesn't cost millions of dollars for a year. Where did you learn? Do you have a degree?
3. I would also like to know when are you coming to Israel again. Thank you, I hope that's not to much for me to ask, and for you to answer.

Thank you for the kind words. Like I always say, there's no question too long that a short answer can't handle.
1. Even at slower tempos, you need to make sure that your imagination is in control. Another thing you need to develop is a "filter" to eliminate playing the same old ideas. What I mean is that you have to become familiar enough with your own vocabulary to instantly recognize the "same old ideas" that you're about to play and react quickly enough to try something that's more creative. If you develop these instincts at slower tempos, then they'll be in place when the changes and tempos increase.
2. I don't think I can help much as far as a school, especially in France. It's been 20 years since I was at North Texas State. I learned a lot there, but I didn't get a degree.
3. As far as my next trip to Israel, who knows? I don't get to pick and choose. 'Have to wait for the next invitation...hint...hint.

Hey Willis
Im planning on buying your transcription book. I was wondering if you did the transcriptions.
Also, what tribal tech albums do I need to have all the recorded tracks?(sorry, I dont have them all yet but I will, I swear!)

I did participate in editing the transcriptions so they are very correct. I can't say perfect, but no one's complained yet. I plan on putting up MP3's of these tunes in the book when I get home in Dec. Meanwhile, here's the transcriptions/CD list.

Babylon Illicit
The Big Wave Illicit
Canine Face First
Dense Dance Tribal Tech
Face First Face First
The Necessary Blonde Tribal Tech
Nite Club Reality Check
Paha-Sapa Illicit
Self Defense Nomad
Speak Reality Check
Wounded Face First

Hey Willis
What do you do, if you're stuck in a cheesefrog money gig and can't get the nerve to quit, although if you play Mustang Sally one more time at a wedding reception, you'll die?

Although it's the first time I've ever seen the word "cheesefrog", I think we all know what you mean. We all have to do things we don't like to support our "habit". You just have to weigh how much time it takes out of your life, vs. the mental/ego/boredom factors that it affects. Another way to look it is that you're exploiting the situation for the money so that you can do what you want musically the rest of the gear, add to your home studio, invest in that new IT Communications -- IPO, whatever.
Have you ever tried to play Mustang Sally while only using the E string, the 4th finger of your left hand and only the 2nd and 3rd fingers of your right hand?

Hey Willis
Hi. I read all about the ramps on your basses and I love the idea. I have been looking for something like that for a long time but could never find anything like it. I had come to the conclusion that no company made anything like that. I have never played a bass with one, but it seems like a very good idea for getting all different sounds and tones out of a bass. I was wondering if I would be able to buy one anywhere to put on my own bass. Or are they only available for your basses?

I'm starting to see them on other builder's basses but there's no "Ramps-R-Us" store that I know of. Since there are so many diffierent pickup configurations out there, there' no way to manufacture and sell one without coming up with 50 versions. Over the years, I've probably made over 200 ramps for a huge varitey of different student's basses. Still, the best results come from purchasing the original Ibanez GWB1 or GWB2 with the integrated Bartolini pickup/Ramp combination.

Hey Willis
What's up with Aikman?

Some quarterbacks are able to maintain a high level of proficiency no matter who their reciers are. Aikman isn't one of them. Once Novacek left, he was never the same. As soon as Jerry Jones announced he was sticking with Aikman this year (removing Campo from the hot seat) the season was over. Randall Cunningham is 2 years removed from being league MVP and would have probably gotten them to the playoffs with his mobility. Unfortuantely, the Cowboys can't look forward to an Elway-like career ending with Aikman.