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Bass Concepts With Billy Dickens: Concentrate on Music

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Meet Bill “The Buddha” Dickens –

Hey everybody, it’s Bill “The Buddha” Dickens here. I just wanted to say thank you for all of your compliments. It is wonderful to be known all over the world for my technique and everything that I do.

The message I’d like to begin with, and share with all of you, is “not” to be focusing on just technique. You should be concentrating on the nature of the music itself, because at the end of the day, just speed and technique alone is not going to get you the recording session or tour that you desire. For me, being “musical” is what it’s all about. Bass is not my only instrument. I also play drums, piano, acoustic guitar, as well as being an arranger and vocal coach. I read all clefs, and can translate those ideas onto the bass, which helps me come up with ideas that most people wouldn’t think of.

As I see it, my job as a bassist can be twofold. One is just holding down the groove and supporting the music I’m playing. This is the art of knowing when to play, as well as when not to. I’ve worked hard on mastering “space”, and when it’s appropriate, as well as keeping the groove and complimenting the music. The other role I’m able to execute is playing chords and chord inversions behind singers or soloists, or preparing and playing a solo piece myself, and that part of my playing developed from studying jazz theory and improvisation, as well as investigating classical music.

What I choose to play as a rhythm section player or a soloist has been well thought out, and sometimes I get the impression that people don’t understand what I’m doing, and here’s my thoughts on that. There’s a whole generation of players out there who don’t have the institutions available to them as I did, to help them at an early age begin to prepare for being able to handle whatever is presented musically, as a rhythm section player, as well as a soloist. A basic understanding of how things work on a harmonic level is a valuable commodity.

I tell you this because I’m not just a bassist; I’m a producer as well.

Some of the things that have helped me to become a better bassist came from some of the greatest musicians in the world. What I’ve learned from them is what makes my approach unique. It’s helped me to be able to cover all genres of music as well, which has been documented on numerous records and projects that I’ve been on over the last thirty years. I have to admit it has troubled me when people see me only as far as my technique, rather then understanding it’s only one part of what I do as a musician, and what I’ve learned.

A question that I’m often asked is “How did you come up with your own technique”? I try to explain it’s a combination of what I’ve learned, playing multiple instruments, and having a trained ear, that opened the door for the techniques I’ve developed. So once again you see, it’s not about the technique, but what got you there that’s important. I was lucky to have a mom that encouraged me to play many different instruments at a young age, as well as sight read, and this as well helped me develop my approach to playing.

Let me explain how I tie all this together. On my right hand, I play with all my fingers individually, as well as 5 of my nails in a synergistic symphony. An analogy would be like having 5 fingerpicks. So I’m able to play to the speed of any drummer, or back it off and play percussively behind a hip-hop or rock groove, right down to a good feel for slow funk tune, or ballad. My point is, my technique is just a tool to make a groove feel better.

I hope I’m able to a leave some great music for generations to come, and those that listen, enjoy, and then take it to another level. I thank everyone for their support, and quite honestly for their criticism as well, because I grow as a person from both. I thank my fans, and my dearest friend Victor Wooten who has always been an inspiration to me, as well as my good friend Jeff Berlin, who is one of the few people who understands where I’m trying to go.

I look forward to presenting through this magazine new music, new ideas, new techniques, and my thoughts on whatever I feel might be helpful, and hopefully relevant to any aspiring musician. I’ve been given a gift from God, and I look forward to sharing that with you.

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @zonguitars @shukerbassguitars @bite.guitars @adamovicbasses @mayonesguitars @bassbros.uk @capursoguitars @overwaterbasses @saitiasguitars @ramabass.ok

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New Gear: Elrick Bass Guitars Headless Series

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New Gear: Elrick Bass Guitars Headless Series

New from Elrick Bass Guitars, Headless Series added to Custom Lineup…

Elrick Bass Guitars is excited to announce the addition of a headless option on hand-carved series bass guitars. Initially previewed on the 2023 Gold Series SLC MkII bass of prolific solo bass practitioner and educator Steve Lawson, a headless bass option is now available to all. According the Elrick, “The excitement surrounding Steve’s MkII SLC bass at 2024 NAMM confirmed that the time is right to add a headless option to our extensive range of custom options.” To date, Elrick instruments have only been offered with traditional headstock construction but, in response to market demand, custom features will now include a headless option in 4-, 5- and 6-string models.

Headless bass guitars share these features with the traditional headstock series:

24 frets + zero fret
exotic wood top
hand-rubbed oil finish
2-way adjustable truss rod
custom Bartolini pickups
custom Bartolini 3-band preamp
fully shielded control cavity
Hipshot bridge
Dunlop Straploks
Elrick Fundamental strings

The headless option can now be selected when submitting custom order requests via the form on elrick.com, contacting the Elrick Sales Office directly, or working with your favorite Elrick dealer.

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Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

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Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)…

Flemish Master Pieter Bruegel the Elder probably had many things in mind when painting his Hunters in the Snow in oil on oak wood in 1565. This masterpiece tells plenty of little stories about winterly pastimes and precarious livelihoods in the Early Modern Age. What Bruegel presumably did not have in mind was that this painting would, several centuries later, become one of the most popular ones in fine arts globally, displayed in a permanent exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) Vienna. The painting’s popularity was lately taken to a different level as it was replicated by hand to design an exclusive BITE bass.

An international art collector and bass player who regularly visits Vienna to immerse himself in the wonderworld of Kunsthistorisches’ Bruegel Hall asked BITE to replicate the painting on a bass body. BITE Guitars, an Austrian premium manufacturer exporting most of their basses to the US, has become renowned for colorful artwork basses, offering a range of manual and digital techniques. The firm’s art director Peter, a trained scenic painter of Oscar and Palme d’Or rank, specializes in photo-realistic reproductions. He also painted the bass for Robbie Williams’ 2023 world tour by faithfully replicating Robbie’s own stage design onto the tour bass.

Peter copied the Bruegel motif onto the bass body in minute detail, little twigs even by one-hair-brush. Positioning the rectangular image section on the body shape proved to be a special challege that he met by repositioning little elements, a bird here, a horse and cart there.

It all came together in a memorable video shooting in front of the original painting in the Museum’s Bruegel Hall: venerable fine arts, premium handicraft and groovy jazz tunes.

View video at the museum: www.youtube.com/shorts/2evdqfR6gUE

What’s the conclusion of BITE’s client, our Vienna, art and bass lover? “It’s a magical bass! When I touch the strings, I feel warm inside.”

Specs highlights:
Bass model: BITE Evening Star, the proprietary BITE premium model with inward curved horns
Pickups: 2 x BITE 1000 millivolt passive split-coils (PP)
Neck: roasted maple neck and roasted flamed maple fretboard

Price tag incl. insured door-to-door express shipping:
New York: 4726 USD
London: 3645 GBP
Berlin: 4965 EUR

Full specs available at bite.guitars/old-master-bass/

Bruegel Hall at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna: 
khm.at/en/visit/collections/picture-gallery/the-best-of-bruegel-only-in-vienna/

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Gear News

New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

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New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar…

Black Ice Enterprises introduces Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort, small, battery-free devices that can be easily installed in a bass or guitar.

Black Ice Boost offers two selectable stages of up to 7 dB of boost, broadly concentrated in the midrange frequencies to add humbucker-like qualities to Strat®, Tele® and other types of single-coil pickups. Black Ice Distort is an overdrive module that can be configured to offer anything from slight overdrive to distortion. Both models are compatible with all passive guitar pickups and electronics (they’re not compatible with battery-powered active pickups).

Black Ice Boost (SRP: $119.95; MAP, $79.95) can be installed using several wiring options, including a simple “stealth” install that utilizes a single push-pull pot, and a dual-switch option that allows users to select between two different levels of boost. For those using the boost along with Black Ice Distort, a second push-pull pot or switch can be used to select a clean or distorted boost.

The Black Ice Boost module is approximately 2/3 the size of a 9-volt battery, and can be easily installed in most instruments with no routing or permanent modifications required. The tone of the instrument remains completely unaffected when the boost is bypassed.

In addition to use with popular single-coil pickups, Black Ice Boost can also be used with other pickup types. Use it to fatten up a P-90 style pickup, or add girth to a low-wind humbucker. Jazz Bass® players can use the additional midrange content provided by Black Ice Boost to produce a sound that’s reminiscent of a P-Bass® or soapbar-type pickup. Black Ice Boost is not recommended for use with high-output humbuckers and other dark-sounding pickups.

Black Ice Distort (SRP: $27.95; MAP, $21.95) is an overdrive module that can be configured for just a touch of grit, or a more aggressive grind, all the way to a 1960’s-flavored fuzz. While its battery-free circuit will never replace the more refined sound of a well-designed pedal, it provides handy, there-when-you-need-it access to a variety of fun old-school flavors, and is a great way to add additional textures to an already overdriven amp or pedal. Bass players will especially dig its raw dirty grind.

Like Black Ice Boost, the sugar-cube-sized Black Ice Distort provides a lifetime of tone with no maintenance or power source required. A variety of wiring options are included that let you activate the Distort via a switch or push-pull pot, or by easily converting your guitar’s tone control into a control for the Black Ice Distort circuit. It can be used in conjunction with the Black Ice Boost for a wide variety of useful tones.

Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort are now shipping.

Visit online at www.blackiceoverdrive.com

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