Geoff Chalmers Pro’s Tools
Pro’s Tools is a Basslines series of articles by professional bass players in which they describe what gear they use and why.
This is Pro’s Tools #3 by Geoff Chalmers
I’ve been working professionally as a musician since 2004 when I graduated with a BA(Hons) in Jazz Studies from Leeds College of Music. I studied jazz bass guitar with Zoltan Dekany who also introduced me to double bass. I was lucky to have a teacher who is so proficient in both instruments and who inspired me to work as a ‘doubler’ on upright and electric basses.
In 2008 I returned to studying, this time classical double bass at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. In 2010 I completed a two year full time Post Graduate Diploma. I studied with Roberto Carillio-Garcia (principle bassist with the Halle) and also Jirji Hudec (principle bassist with the Czech Philharmonic). Whilst studying at the RNCM I was kindly supported by the Martin Edwards Jazz bursary and the Rega Heesom Award.
I live in the north of England and have played numerous gigs/concerts/recording sessions and shows both across the UK and abroad. I was the regular bassist for the ‘Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular’ show from 2004-2009 playing in the UK, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Spain. I have also appeared on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ show backing singer Ray Quinn. My most regular work is as a jazz double bassist in small groups and big bands. I have also played a lot of pop music on bass guitar with many function bands throughout the UK.
More recent projects include playing for the Kilworth House Christmas show. This was particularly enjoyable as I lived in the hotel for a month whilst the rest of the UK was dealing with the December 2010 snow.
I also do occasional work for P&O cruises. In January 2011 enjoyed Caribbean cruise as a bassist in one of their show bands.
Apart from jazz I love playing in shows and with Orchestras/concert bands. I played double bass in the 2010 ‘Vienna Proms – A Summer Night’s Concert’ Tour’. I recently played bass guitar with the Inspiration Choir and the Northern Sinfonia at the Sage in Gateshead. I also played bass guitar at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Perfect Pitch concert in Birkenhead.
I seem to be playing with a lot of choirs recently and am playing in a concert with ‘That Day We Sang’ children’s choir at the 2011 Manchester International Festival.
I’m a member of the unusual, but extremely enjoyable function band, the ‘Tarantino Band’. We only play music from films by Quentin Tarantino and have a great time doing it.
I’m the double bassist for, ‘The Mini Big Band’. I love the big band/ repertoire but we also get the chance to do more modern arrangements of bands like Radiohead and Oasis.
I have always enjoyed teaching and have taught bass guitar on the degree courses at Hull University and Hull College. I have also taught bass guitar and double bass in schools and had many private students.
I’ve owned and played numerous bass guitars. I currently own only one instrument; an ash bodied Sadowsky Metro M5-24. I love the fact its sound is so consistent. I’m often using rented backline and it sounds great in every context as well as being reliable and very easy to play. I also use Sadowsky strings.
I own a composite double bass made up of parts. Last year it was completely rebuilt by luthier Martyn Bailey. The set up on double basses is crucial to sound and playability. Martyn did an wonderful job of bringing the best out of the instrument. He also makes amazing double basses which I would recommend to anyone looking for a professional instrument.
I use Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Weich double bass strings.
My double bass is fitted with a Fishman Full Circle which I consider to be the best pickup currently available.
Amp and Cabinets
I use an Acoustic Image Clarus amplifier for both double bass and bass guitar. It’s really clear and sounds particularly good with double bass.
I use a Euphonic Audio 12″ M-Line Wizzy cabinet with double bass and bass guitar. If it’s a bigger gig I have another 12″ Wizzy and use both. I’ve owned many 410s but find a modular 2×12″ cabs much easier to move about whilst still being able to get as loud as I need.
My Myspace Page: www.myspace.com/geoffchalmers
My You Tube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/chalmersg
Zoltan Dekany: www.zoltandekany.co.uk
Kilworth House Hotel: www.kilworthhousetheatre.co.uk
Martyn Bailey Luthier: www.mjbl.co.uk
Tarantino Band: www.thetarantinoband.co.uk
Mini Big Band: www.theminibigband.com