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Matt's Music Blog

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gigging With Car2Go

Car2Go is a new kind of car-sharing program that just arrived in Toronto.  The idea is that there are hundreds of SmartCars parked in city-operated parking lots all over Toronto.  Pressing your membership card to a sensor on the windshield of any car will unlock the vehicle, allowing you to rent it for 38 cents/minute, $13.99/hour, or $72.99/day (plus tax) - the longer you drive, the better value you get. The unique thing about Car2Go (as opposed to ZipCar or AutoShare) is that you don't have to return the car to the spot you picked it up from - you can leave it in any municipal parking lot.  This makes it economical for me to take a Car2Go to a gig, park it in a nearby municipal lot, and not be charged for renting the car while I'm playing. (You might think it would be a worry that someone would drive the car away during the gig and I'd have no way of getting home, but in practice there has always be a surplus of nearby Car2Gos to choose from.)

But Can You Actually Fit A Double Bass and An Amp In A SmartCar?

Usually, yes! I think most basses would probably fit in very easily, as in this video.  Unfortunately my bass is a bit bigger then most, so I discovered it was very awkward to fit into a SmartCar - I had to put it in diagonally, with the driver's seat way forward, which made it very uncomfortable and probably unsafe to drive.  But did I let that stop me? Never! I decided that I would have my bass' scroll modified so that it was removable.  I figured that if the bass was just a bit shorter, I wouldn't have to put it diagonally, and everything would fit in much more comfortably and easily.

Off With Its Head!

Inexplicably, when I called some local string-instrument repair shops to ask them how much it would cost to modify my scroll so that it was removable, they seemed to think I was crazy!  One shop in particular actually seemed angry with me that I would even consider chopping up an instrument like that.  Undiscouraged, I found a luthier on the Danforth named Philip Davis who was willing to do the modification. We copied the design of the David Gage Czech-Ease, using a super-strong "rare-earth" magnet and three wooden dowels to connect the scroll to the bass.

Bass side

Scroll side

From even a few feet away, it is almost impossible to notice that the scroll has been modified.

You have to get fairly close before you can notice the cut line.
Crazy Am I? Crazy Like A Fox!!

It took Philip a few days to do the modification and if was fairly inexpensive. It looks great, and I'm happy to say the bass sounds just as good as it did before the scroll was modified. But does the bass now easily fit in to a SmartCar? Why yes, yes it does!

I can now easily fit both my bass and amp into a Car2Go SmartCar.

I even have a reasonably good view of the right side-view mirror while driving.
Shoulder checking might be a bit of a problem... I'll try to be careful!!
Don't forget I still have the option of using the trailer that I made to pull behind my bike.  I feel like I'm really breaking ground in environmentally friendly double-bass transportation! I'll only use Car2Go when there is bad weather, or the gig is really far away and/or uphill.

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