Stew McKinsey (California, USA)

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Stew McKinsey is a very prominent extended-range bassist based in California.

Hi Andy,

I injured my left arm and have not been able to play bass for about 4 months now, so you can imagine how nuts I was getting. Until the Wing arrived. Not only can I play it, I can play it comfortably for hours! I’ll be flying to spend the holidays with my folks this weekend and am ecstatic I’ll be able to make music while I’m away. That hasn’t been a practical option in my life for years. Do you have any idea the hassle involved in transporting a 10 string bass? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!

What I’m learning about the Wing is that it’s not just the upper register of a bass, it’s got its own unique voice and I’m building a vocabulary for it. Initially, I was thinking this was something I could incorporate into a solo set, but what I’m finding is that the Wing can do many, many things that the big basses can and I envision being able to play a solo show with this.

Because I’m treating it as a new class of instrument, and not as just a novelty bass, I’m not really thinking of it in terms of good and bad so much as seeing the things that are a challenge, and the things that are easier.

Harmonics speak differently. Sustain and note envelope are very different from what I know. String tension is its own animal and the physical object is an adjustment. But I’m thinking of myself as a student learning something new, not as a veteran bassist fumbling with a novelty instrument. I love this thing’s voice!!

The only real major challenges for me are playing in first position and making peace with the fact that I can’t really move smoothly through the highest register until my hands are really warm. But let me repeat: these are not bad things. These are steps in learning a new instrument.

I am having a blast. Every day I discover something new and as I haven’t been able to make sounds with the basses I already owned, this is glorious. I’m nowhere near fluent of fluid as a Wing player yet, but I am having the best time exploring and writing. I find it’s really easy to write on this.

What I’d hoped has also proven out: the Wing is helping me to break old habits and patterns. I find it much easier to play vertically on this, moving across the neck rather than along the length as I generally so. Although playing horizontally is a lot easier, too.

I’m still hoping I can go back to bass at some point but in the meantime, the Wing is a breath of fresh air in my life. Even if I can go back to bass at some point, I fully expect the Wing to remain in the arsenal as an active and regular piece. I think it will bring freshness to what I do on the big beasts and believe it will continue to challenge me in great ways.

I am a very happy musician, Andy. Thank you.

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