My first bass ever was a Yakima P-bass copy. To be honest, it was a total and complete POS, but I learned how to do a few of things on it. I've actually tried to find any information on it, but I haven't been all that successful (any help would be greatly appreciated). After about two years on the Yakima, I moved to a Charvel P/J bass. It was a bolt-on neck, passive electronics with a rosewood fretboard. I don't remember much else about the construction of the guitar. It was a lower-tier bass, set up for rock music and such; good for someone who was a little more than a beginner, but not much more.
A few years ago, I did a studio project with a girl who was playing Arabic music. I quickly found out that the Charvel just wasn't going to cut it anymore, and I needed something quick. So I went down to Guitar Center and picked up a low end Ibanez six string bass. For what I paid for it, I have been very happy with this bass. It has good sound, great bottom end and the components are pretty good. When I use it these days, I'm going for that really fat, crunchy low end kind of sound. The sound works really well for raunchy rock kind of music, particularly when I string it with Rotosounds.
In 2001, I found my baby. Hanging on the wall in the used pile of a Guitar Center was a Fodera Monarch Deluxe four string (serial number M41026N). I pulled it off the wall, plugged it in for a little bit, and just about asked the clerk if I could be alone with the bass for a few minutes. It was (and still is) the single best bass I had ever played in my life. As soon as I left the store, I started to fish about, looking for what I could do to make that guitar mine. I ended up writing a pretty large check, as well as trading in three guitars and one combo amp. It was completely worth it -- I would have paid twice as much and still felt like I got a good deal.
Around the start of October 2003, I took it up to the guys at Fodera for them to do a little work on it. They replaced the on-board pre-amp, rebuilt the bridge, told me all about the history of the guitar and did some minor touch-ups on it. I can't say enough good things about those guys (more on that here). Joey and Vinnie told me more about the construction of this bass. It has a quilted maple top, a mahogany body and some walnut pieces in the middle of the body; the fretboard is ebony. This bass was completed on October 1, 1996.
For some strange reason after the Fodera, I didn't buy much equipment for a while. In fact, it was almost eighteen months later when I bought my next bass -- a Kubicki Ex-Factor fretless. I had remembered seeing it hanging in the used section of a store a year or so earlier, and it was still there fourteen months later. So, I bargained with the sales manager (on the grounds that if it hadn't already sold in fourteen months, it would probably be fourteen more before it did). We agreed on a decent price, I took it home and promptly shipped back to the manufacturer for reconditioning. Phil Kubicki (the maker of the basses) and I talked about what he was going to do to the bass. We swapped out the neck, the electronics and the tuning mechanism -- basically, he custom made me a Kubicki fretless bass. I have to say that I am really enjoying this fretless. I can pop from an E to a D and back again with out changing my tuning or changing the tension of the E string. That's pretty bloody sweet. That it plays very nicely is just a bonus.
As a side note, I got the fretless done without any lines. To me, getting lines painted on a fretless defeats a large part of the purpose of getting a fretless. I play a fretless primarily for two reasons -- that very particular "Mmphmm-wwaahh" sound that is so distinctive of fretless basses and to have the freedom to cleanly play any semitone that fits the tune at hand. Painting lines presents into the mind the "stay within the lines" type of approach that I am trying to avoid in the first place.
In the fall of '03, I started getting requests/invitations to play some acoustic shows. So I went and picked up a decent Ibanez AEB305 acoustic⁄electric. It's a bit of challenge to play: the action is set way too high, and the bridge is fixed, so I largely have to live with that; slapping/popping is a fiction and the body is wide enough that it frequently gets in the way. For all that, it has a good, warm tone to it, particularly when I let the strings age and dull. I've gotten to the point with this bass that I have several sets of strings, each aging away so that they all have just the right amount of dullness when I go out with this bass.
Now, I have to be honest -- I would much rather have an upright. I think uprights have a better sound, better feel and are generally more where I want to be going with my playing and my sound. But, as I'm sure many other players out there know, bad uprights start for a grand or so, good ones for several grand and great ones for five figures. So, an acoustic for a few hundred will do for now until it earns its way into an upright.
I actually still have my original bass amp. A Fender Sidekick 15. It's ragged out like you wouldn't believe, but it still plays. What's more, it pretty much has that Keith Richard's "amp-with-a- million-miles-on-it" sound now.
I've been playing through Ampeg reinforcement for a long time now. I really like their tone. My first head was a SVT-3 PRO -- tube and solid state in the same head, nice sound, nice customization ability, but I found that I was having to push my rig way too hard to get the levels I wanted. So I soon upgraded to the SVT-4 PRO. Now I have the same kind of sound, even more customization options, stereo outs and all sorts of headroom (up to 1600 watts RMS, mono bridged). My cabinets are Ampeg as well: a BXT-115HL4 on the bottom of the stack (for the nice, warm round tone in blues and such) and a BSE-410H on top (for nice, tight, punchy response).
For effects, I don't really use all that much right now. I have a Lexicon MPX-1, and I can get just about everything I need from it (delay, reverb, chorus, flange, etc.). Connected to the MPX-1 is Lexi's footboard (MPX-R1) that can drive not only the MPX-1, but any other MIDI box as well. The other three other things in my rig are a Furman power/lighting unit, a wireless unit from Sennhesier, and a Korg tuner. I also use Sensaphonics hearing protection.