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Bill Bartolini: Something to Share

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Meet Bill Bartolini –

This article was published in the Tri-Valley Herald (Livermore, CA area) in the late ’60’s or early ’70’s. I have lost the original and cannot credit it properly from the dog-eared copy I found recently.

The Sound of History
Ray Orrock

As I get older, I keep bumping into bits of information that I feel I should have known all my life, but which no one ever bothered to tell me.

For example, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the invention of the loudspeaker, a device that is now an integral part of our daily lives.  Edison’s  original phonograph was a purely mechanical device, and the sound it produced was mechanically enhanced by the use of a large goosenecked horn.  Until 1915, so was the sound emanating from any sonic device – a weak sound, incapable of being heard clearly from a distance of more than a few feet.

It wasn’t until the loudspeaker was invented, to electronically amplify these puny mechanical vibrations, that the groundwork was laid for the panoply of sound that currently surrounds us – radio in our cars, television and stereo speakers in our homes, ghetto blasters on the street, public address systems at the ballpark, all the voices and all the music that now inform and entertain us every day.

And it wasn’t until just last week that I learned the loudspeaker was invented in my old hometown, just a few blocks from where I grew up.

My hometown is Napa, and the revelation came by way of an article in the Napa Register, by staff writer Kevin Courtney, earlier this month.

From it, I discovered that the human voice was amplified for the first time by two men working out of a farmhouse on F Street in Napa.  I suppose I passed that little house hundreds of times in my youth without ever being aware of the history that had been made there.

The two men were Edwin Pridham and Peter Jensen, a pair of San Francisco inventors who came to Napa in 1911 because it was “an isolated place” and, as Jensen later wrote, “permitted us to work along with a single purpose in mind, undisturbed by expert technical advice and by businessmen who certainly could predict nothing but ultimate failure for our new adventure.”

Pridham and Jensen had originally set out to invent a wireless telephone receiver.  When that went nowhere, they tried to improve the conventional telephone, but their final device was so bulky no one would buy it.

One day a blacksmith friend of theirs named Ray Galbreath suggested they might put a horn on their telephone and make it talk louder.  This set them thinking about a process that might amplify any sort of sound, and they began to work out a system for doing it.

They took a horn from an Edison cylinder phonograph, microphones from some of their earlier unsuccessful experiments, a transformer and a 12-volt battery and wired them together into what – even though they didn’t know it at the time – was the equivalent of a 25-watt sound system.

Then they turned the rig on and spoke into the microphone – and the sound nearly blew the roof off the house.

It tickles me to think about that moment.  It’s hard to imagine what the first amplified sounds must have done to the mind of someone who had never heard amplified sound before.

In his journal, Jensen wrote: “The howling was probably thousands of times louder that any we had heard before, and it burst upon us so unexpectedly that we were amazed.”

“We disconnected the system again, but we knew now we stood on the threshold of something great.  In the shortest possible time, we ran a line up to the roof of our bungalow and we placed the loudspeaker on top of the chimney, with the horn pointing northwest, out towards the open country.”

Jensen stood outside, and Pridham spoke into the mike.  “It sounded like a voice not of this earth,” Jensen recalled.  “Had I closed my eyes it would have been easy to imagine that a supernatural colossus was shouting up the chimney.”

And then, overcome with excitement and  elation, Jensen began to run.  He ran down roads, across open fields-almost a full mile before he could no longer clearly hear his partners voice.

And when, breathless, he finally got back to the little house, Pridham ran outside, jumped on his bicycle, and began to pedal away from the source of the sound.

“There was great jubilation among us that day,” wrote Jensen.  “We felt sure we had taken part in history in the making, for on that winter day in Napa we had heard a human voice which was far louder than any ever heard before anywhere in the world.”

The company Pridham and Jensen formed to market their invention was the one we know today as Magnavox (Latin for “great voice”).  Pridham stayed with that company all his life; Jensen later established the Jensen speaker empire.

But there was another entry in Jensen’s journal that delighted me.  “The nights in Napa Valley are frequently surprisingly quiet, and conditions are very favorable for sending sound through the air over great distances.  Using our powerful sound system, we often played music in the early evening for the entertainment of all the townspeople.  We would put the loudspeaker on the chimney and point it towards the town and our music could be heard plainly all over.”

What a marvel that must have been to anyone who heard it.

How come nobody in Napa ever told me about that when I was a kid?  Until last week, I’d never heard it mentioned.

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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 @meridian_guitars @mgbassguitars @utreraguitars @adamovicbasses @marleaux_bassguitars @str_guitars @foderaguitars @mauriziouberbasses @officialspector @normstockton

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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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