A couple of days before Christmas I got a call from Larry Hartke. Hartke is the man who owns and runs Hartke Amplifiers, which you may know better as "those bass amps with the aluminum speakers and the reputation for blowing up." Of course, he didn't just call me out of the blue. For the last few months, the back page ad for Bass Player (and probably other bassist magazines) has featured Larry and his cell phone number, and asked people to call. Then they updated the ad, and said that Larry wanted to hear people's music. I'm a sucker for futile promotion efforts, so I called and left a message.
Larry called back a couple of days later, and we had a brief chat. He asked what kind of gear I used, and what kind of music I play. I mentioned the web site for the pretentious solo project, for which I have been woefully unproductive this vacation, and asked how the response to the ads has been. Hartke said he gets between 50 and 60 calls a day. "I've missed a lot of playoff games," he said, but added that he'd heard from bassists all around the country. Have hearts and minds been changed? Probably not, but that sounds like a pretty good connection to the community--and now people know who to call if their amp has problems, until he changes his number.
He's also sending callers a free set of bass strings, so if yours are sounding a little dull, it probably wouldn't hurt to ring him up.