Want to buy one?
To purchase a facebass please go ahead to our new online shop. If you have any questions please use our contact form to write us a message.
click here for Charlie's showreel 2007 video and see the FACEBASS in action
The face bass uses a transducer which is a contact vibration sensor not the same as a pise contact sensor commonly use on musical instruments. It was developed for audio by Peter Paisley and Charlie Mc Mahon in 1997, as an alternative to microphones for amplifying & recording didjeridu. While Peter worked on the equipment Charlie experimented with the positioning of the contact. On the surface of the face, the Face Bass produced a deeper resonance and inside the mouth the sound was more dynamic for high and low frequency response. The difficulty with inside the mouth positions is mainly avoiding contact with the teeth which produces sever cracking sounds and some discomfort. An unintended but very useful function of Face Bass was the way that drum sounds like snare and kick can be made by taping it with finger or finger nail. Since discovering Face Bass many new sounds have been produced with it: deep breath sounds, strange vocals, and unusual uses like twirling it in the air, dropping the head frame but stoping the fall in mid air or letting it randomly rumble on the ground.
The head frame of the Face Bass is a metal tube, plastic coated with the standard three microphone wires inside; earth active and audio. The materials comply with EU health and safety regulation. The lead wire from the head frame to the Noitrix mono jack is very strong with a Kevlar lining, so it will not break easily. A strong person can not break it by hand. The face bass pre amp is a simple and small unit with only volume control, and its price is only 25% of the head frame price. The preamp output is line (not mic) so it can go into a stage amp (modern bass amps are recommended) and it works well with fx units such as delay, reverb, loop etc. Indeed it is recommended to use fx because that is where face bass has the maximum advantage over microphones. For an alternative pre amp the US made LR Baggs Gig Pro Belt Clip works well with Face Bass, but you need to turn on the Gig Pro internal phantom power switch. To use other pre amps some rewiring may be needed.
- When bending the frame start with the "U" bend in the mouth
- Carefully shape over the top one ear and then around the back of the head to loop around the opposite ear. (Where the lead emerges from the head frame).
- The diagram shows the Face Bass position when the Didjeridu is played on the right side of the mouth.
The Artist DaveJ uses the FACEBASS in a different way but very similar to the way we recommend.
The head frame shape can be altered by bending it but great care must be taken because the metal is brittle and will break if acute angle bends or bends of 90’ or less’ are attempted. Only curve bends are recommended and it should be by hand, not pliers or any other griping tool. The preamp has a 9 volt battery which should be ok for up to 100 hours of use and plugs should be disconnected when not in use to avoid wasting battery power. When playing and connected to a mains power supply make sure that the electricity has a power surge shut down switch to prevent the remote chance of an electric shock.
Face Bass encourages the user to experiment with sound. Charlie came up with the idea because he was not happy with the audio response microphones for didjeridu. He could hear how mics placed at the distal end of the didj did not pick up all the subtle sounds he could hear resonating is his head so he wondered “how can I record on the inside” Also didj as an overtone and low frequency sound was often too soft to be heard when mixed with sounds from most ‘modern’ instruments like guitar keyboards etc. which are louder from being tonally less complex and brighter than didj.. Face Bass solved the subtle sound problem by being inside or on the face. Loudness was increased by making the signal line and both volume and dynamics were improved by the way Face Bass seems to eliminate some of the ‘messy mids’ of the drone while enhancing low and high frequency sounds. That is evident be observing how for a didj tack recorded with Face Bass there is significant movement up and down on the volume meter, while for a didj on mic there is slight movement especially with fast rhythms where the volume only goes low when the playing stops. So Face Bass makes spaces in the didj drone that allow accents to he audible and makes the sound more interesting. In music, the intervals between sounds, the silences, are as important as the sounds themselves
Charlie Mc Mahon’s experimental approach has led him to other successful experiments. In 1981 Charlie invented the pitch shift didj (also known as ‘Slide Didj’) and called it a Didjeribone since it combines features of Didjeridu & Trombone. He recorded the first contemporary music based on Didjeridu, Terra Incognita a 12’ LP by Gondwana Land (1983). Many of his original didj riffs on that record like Emu, Drought & Morning are now didj standards, and now even aborigines play rhythms the same as Charlies. On his Travelling Songs cd (Gondwana 1994 reissued as Didjeridu Travelling Songs by ARC label 2003) he pioneered complex rhythms like the wobble which requires about 125 breaths per minute and the high paced ride riff at 160 Beats per minute. In1996 Charlie recorded a warm, all acoustic and steady paced CD, Tjilatjila (reissued by ARC as Didjeridu Vibrations 2000) under his own name, and introduced the Didj Horns concept whereby the “toot” or trumpeted tones of didjeridu are tuned precisely and chromatically. Face Bass is the latest experiment from Charlie and with long time friend, Reinhard Wedemeyer, he has established the Rhythm Organism site to give his sounds and innovations a home where people can check out some the freshest and most original sounds in music.