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Applied Techniques With Igor Saavedra – The Path for a Proper Bass Sound Part 2

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Meet Igor Saavedra

The chain is only as strong as its weakest link……..

In the last issue we covered links 1 to 7 on this Path for a Proper Bass Sound. Now we will look at links 8 to 14 in order to finish this saga.

8 – The Bass Head
This is a very complex and simple link at the same time, but a very important one indeed. In order to be able to decide what type of bass head you need, it’s crucial to consider many factors such as price, power, size, noise/signal ratio, if it has an input attenuator, overload and clipping leds, the Eq type (Graphic, Knob, Semi parametric, etc), contour filters, if it has a balanced line output or just regular 1/4 connector, and if it also has level regulation for that specific output signal so that we make those level modifications just for the sound engineer without affecting our levels. It’s also important to consider if the bass head has a ground lift to avoid annoying noises that show up once in a while, and a “pre Eq” or “post Eq” selector to choose if the signal that we are going to send to the mix board is going to be affected by our Eq modifications, or if it’s going to be a neutral signal. Always try to use speakon connectors for the speaker outputs of your bass head. This is even more important for high current amplifiers that once in a while can send a deadly voltage into the metal ¼ connectors that in some circumstances can burn your fingers or even injure you if you are touching them, and your other hand is touching the ground. I know what I’m saying here because this happened to me once in a sound check and I did have to cancel that concert. Finally, also consider if this bass head is rack mountable or not.

9 – The Effects

For this link in particular we must apply the concept of “less is more”, so we have to be very cautious with how much of the effects we’re going to add to the signal. There’s nothing worse for our sound. Don’t fall into “abusing them”, instead of “using them”. It’s good not to forget that 90% of the time we are playing a “supportive bass” role, so the amount of effect must be very subtle.

For me, there’s nothing better than an analog effect, and I’ve had the best digital effects available on the market. Regarding compressors, if you are not prepared to spend a big amount of money on that, let it go, because there’s going to be a huge chance that this is going to harm your sound instead of helping it (same for wireless systems).

10 – The Eq concept

This is one of the “non technological links”, but requires a lot of experience. The best advice I can share on this link is to equalize “around 0 db” (especially on graphic equalizers), otherwise we will just be increasing or decreasing the gain with a potential overload or “underload” of the input signal. It’s also good to be clear on which Eq bands are related to specific notes in order to increase them or decrease them based on our taste.

11 – The Bass Cabinet
The biggest headache of a bass player is here, but what to say, we love them, and we want them big, and looking good, but mostly, “powerful and good sounding”.

The best wood for a bass cabinet is usually plywood, but new materials are coming out and very specific MDF’s are gaining terrain over plywood with the benefit of their ultra light weight. The proportion within the cabinet’s measurements is really very important. And not just the total internal volume, because maintaining the same internal volume is not the same with a deeper than wider cabinet, instead of a wider, deeper one, or a higher and wider cabinet, etc. Be sure to check that out.

It’s also important to consider the air vents and their size, or no air vents. Plastic accessories and their proper installation are important too, because if their quality is low, they will have a tendency to vibrate and loosen. The connectors are very important as well. I prefer using speakon connectors as much as possible. Finally, where to place the cabinet will make a huge difference in the sound. Obviously a cabinet placed on the ground will sound much deeper and will give a fuller sound to the bass frequencies, with less high or mid presence than the same cabinet placed higher on a table, or a chair.

12 – The Speakers
The so called “Output transducer” is one of the most important links on this chain, and one of its weakest points at the same time due to the fact that this link is the exact moment where the electric energy is transformed into mechanical energy, and this means there’s a huge loss of the original information. The game is about loosing the least amount of information as possible, so a poor quality speaker will definitely terminate any possibility of getting a good sound.

I will mention some of the characteristics you have to consider in order to be able to choose a bass cabinet properly:

1. Cone diameter (5″, 8″, 10″, 12″, 15″, and 18″)
Believe it or not, it’s proven that a vast amount of small diameter speakers within a cabinet will reach much lower frequencies than just a single 18 inch cabinet. So be sure to try everything, and pay attention to the sound.

2. Cone material
The list of materials is huge, and each of them will have different sound properties…Polypropylene, Aramid, Kapton, Kevlar, HCL, Cast aluminum and of course Paper which is the warmest.

3. Magnet material (Mostly Ferrite and Neodymium)
I would like to mention that regarding electric bass speakers, neodymium magnets have been slowly replacing ferrite magnets, mostly because of their awesome light weight and good sound.

4. Speaker power
Don’t be under the impression that “the powerful the speaker the better for you”. For example, a 200 watt amp going into a 2000 watt speaker will sound horrible. The reason for this is that a 200 watt amp will not even tickle a 2000 watt speaker because its stiff suspension is designed to start moving only with really high signals, so the final sound will have almost no low frequencies. For a 200 watt amplifier, a good 350 watt speaker will be just perfect.

13 – The listener… Oh, that means… YOU!!
Many times I’ve heard crazy things like “I always leave the bass knob a 12 pm., the mid bass at 10 Am., and the mid high at 2 pm. and the treble at 3 pm—that sounds really good”.

The only thing I will say here is that “There is no fixed equalization for the instrument that will work for every circumstance, so you must consider where you are playing—open space, concert hall, arena, only one wall behind the stage, only one wall in front of the stage, 4 walls, material of the walls and the roof, etc. And most important, you must pay attention and LISTEN to your sound in order to make the necessary adjustments considering all this factors.”

14 – General gear maintenance

Let’s say we’ve already considered and applied the information of all the links in this saga. Many of them will be useless if we don’t do any maintenance on our equipment. In realistic terms, it’s good to be conscious of taking care of our cables. Avoid pulling the cable wire—grab the connector. It’s good to keep your instrument clean, and in dry places with a medium temperature. Keep the strings clean as well, and to avoid cleaning them too often, it might be wise to wash your hands right before playing. Always keep your tools handy—Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, cutters, pliers, etc. If there’s a slight problem with your instrument before going on stage, your sound could be affected.

Finally, always carry ear plugs; they are “a must” for any serious professional bass player. Their use is mandatory for high volume concerts.

That’s it for now my friends. Don’t miss the next issue where we’ll talk about how to approach the teaching/learning process on electric bass.

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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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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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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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