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Slap Basics With Doug Johns : NAMM Chops

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Meet Doug Johns

I think this article is timely in that it coincides with the season for the winter NAMM show. I think everyone should go to at least one NAMM show – it truly is a spectacle to behold. In a nutshell, the show is comprised of just about all the companies in the world that make anything related to the “music industry.” And it’s all there for the public to see.

A useful byproduct of the show is that it has become a prime networking tool for many of the world’s artists. It gives all of us a chance to reconnect, face to face, with the many companies that support our musical endeavors.

One of the useless byproducts of the NAMM show is the NAMM chop.

The what?

Yes, the NAMM chop – or plural, NAMM chops – are something my drummer, Chris Ceja, and I have often joked about. If not kept under control, the NAMM chops can quickly turn you into a NAMM Chump. Now, we’re probably not the first to coin the phrase; and, if I’m to be perfectly honest, I’ve been guilty of it myself a time or two.

So, who is the NAMM Chump?

Imagine yourself walking through the endless halls of the Anaheim Convention Center. Listen closely, and you’ll hear a lot of NAMM chops – not all played by NAMM Chumps, but a fair share of them: “musicians” trying out instruments and proceeding to play every lick they know, usually as loud and as fast as they can, until the well runs dry.

Now, I hate to dog anybody – I truly believe we’re all in this together. And everybody usually learns first by emulating their favorite musicians. But the thing is, nine times out of ten, the NAMM Chump has all the “drop your jaw to the floor” licks, but has nothing to say when playing in an ensemble. The NAMM Chump (especially amongst bassists) doesn’t know his role.

When I say you should know your role, I mean just that. Unless your set is specifically geared toward playing as many notes as fast as you can (which I doubt), we as bass players need to be “laying it down” for the group. Learning to play up, in, and around the pocket is something that takes a lifetime to master. But, knowing your role will be a guaranteed key to becoming a great artist with lots of gigs.

I think a perfect example of a bass player knowing his role is Tower of Power’s Rocco Prestia. Rocco is definitely a master of “laying it down” within a group of stellar musicians. He always gives the song only exactly what it needs, in the deepest, funkiest way, and all without the flash of a million notes.

The most effective way to learn your role as a bass player is just jamming with somebody, sitting in on the bandstand. When playing with an unfamiliar group of musicians, you definitely don’t want to get the look – you know the look – from the guys in the front of the group. It’s the look that says, “Man, you better quit with all that latest video licks crap.” The bass player’s role is to lay down the groove.

Don’t be a NAMM Chump. Techniques are just tools to help you get the car to the racetrack. Once you get there, you need to know your role as a bass player, and serve the song. Groove deep in the pocket and bear your soul.

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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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 @loritabassworks @meridian_guitars @alpherinstruments @phdbassguitars @mgbassguitars @mauriziouberbasses @utreraguitars @sugi_guitars @branco_luthier @blasiusguitars

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Gear News

New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

D’Addario’s New Humidipak Absorb Protects Instruments Against Excess Moisture…

Utilizing two-way humidity control technology, D’Addario’s new Humidipak Absorb protects against damage to wooden instruments in environments with too much humidity. 

Humidipak Absorb allows players to safely return an instrument and case to the ideal relative humidity level. Using Boveda’s patented two-way humidity control technology, Absorb automatically soaks up excess moisture at a safe rate, re-establishing the right humidity level and eliminating the guesswork of revitalizing your instrument. 

Like all the Humidipaks before, using Humidipak Absorb is easy—there’s no dripping sponges or manual adjustments. All players need to do is put the humidification packets in the included pouches and place them in the instrument case, close the lid, and relax. The instrument and case will remain at the optimal 45-50% relative humidity level for 2-6 months. 

D’Addario’s other Humidipaks, Restore and Maintain, are still available for those who need to increase and sustain the humidity around their instrument. 

To learn more about Humidipak Absorb, visit ddar.io/absorb-pr 

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book

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Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:

www.thetravisbook.com
www.thestringdusters.com
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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