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Practice Session Tips

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In recent months I’ve been practicing a lot.  My father and I have spent a lot of time talking about Arnold Schultz and his techniques and concepts and some of it has resonated very strongly with me.

As I work on it, and as I record every practice session and listen to it, I continue to make interesting discoveries about my playing.  I think some of these things would be helpful for many other musicians so I thought I’d share a few.

My left hands leads. 
For many years I’d focused my attention on my right hand as the culprit for time and articulation issues.  I discussed it with Dave Weckl once and he suggested maybe it was my left hand.  After all this time it seems he was correct.  I’ve spent a lot of time practicing very softly, sometimes only articulating every 2 or 3 notes in the course of a fast passage (say 8th notes at ¼ note=300bpm) and realized that my left hand was kind off in…well…left field.  After clearing the confusion the right hand was causing out of the equation I was able to hone in on the left hand and realized that it hadn’t been carrying it’s own weight at all.  Now that I’ve brought the left hand into it’s proper role in the big picture, my right hand is left to play loud or soft, staccato or legato, warm or harsh…whatever.  It also really evens out the notes when you’re playing lines that are part right-hand articulated, and part hammered.  For me…for now…this starts happening once I exceed 1/8th notes at 1/4=300~320bpm.

Account for every note.  This is something else Weckl brought up with me and one of Anthony Jackson’s mantras.  I understood, of course, but was never able to wrap myself around the applied reality of it.  Now I see, though.  In the context of the Schultz paradigm, the consciousness is the conductor of what you do, and the motor nervous system is the executor.  In other words, you may consciously will a result, but the task of actually doing it needs to be delegated to the motor nervous system in order be done with accuracy and predictability.  In fact, this seems to me to be an absolute truth.  It’s hard to accept that we don’t directly consciously control our muscles…but we don’t.  Anyway, another thing the conscious mind does WHEN IMPROVISING in particular, is to establish WHAT to play and sort of reconcile it with the music.  I’ve been amazed at times when I’ve played lately that even in the context of an extremely fast or complicated line, I’m consciously aware of every single note that I’m GOING to play a split second before I play it.  Not groups or patterns, but every single detail.  This doesn’t happen constantly and in every situation yet as I haven’t really nailed the nervous coordination yet.  My goal is to be able to do that with everything all the time.

Legato seems to be the path to control.  For me, once I’m cool to play something very legato and perfectly in time, I can put any kind of articulation, dynamics, feel, etc. on it.  This is, again, more of a left hand issue.  Regardless of how you time the plucking of the note with the right hand, your left hand has to hold a note down as long as is possible before the next note is struck.  I know, it seems intuitive.  But when you’re really wailing around, the notes tend to get shorter because, I think, of an urgency to get the note sounded and get to the next one in time.  That tends to leave you relegated to playing the note however you can get it played, which often means the note name is the only factor that plays into your musical statement.  I believe this is part of where Victor Wooten is coming from with his “2 through 10” concept which points out to players that just the note name itself has only a small role in music.  Integrating other factors like articulation, dynamics, timbre, feel (and 5 more that I can’t remember…sorry Vic), and more specifically variations thereof, give the music much more meaning.

I hope this is helpful for somebody.  Keep working and remember, there’s no substitute for knowing what you’re doing!

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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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Bass Videos

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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