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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.

Bass CDs

New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

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New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

The Chilean bassist, producer and sociologist, Ben Mortiz, celebrates the launch of his latest studio work, “MORENO” an album that mixes jazz, soul, and funk following the characteristic Latin style of  Mortiz. The artist completely produced the album under the label “Fallen Lab Records” in the south of Chile.

“MORENO” brings deep and smooth sounds, expressing a sophisticated and elegant Latin vibe. You will find meditative harmonies and joyful melodic voices. The record’s core is the human vibration that Mortiz feels from the Latin American music. The Caribbean rhythms and strong Latin percussions are the musical glue in every song that emerges with the force of the electric bass.

“MORENO” creates a real connection between corporal reactions and mind sensations, always in reference to the originality of Mortiz to fuse modern and classic Latin sounds.

For more information, visit online at danielbenmortiz.com/

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Gear News

New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Dual Compressor/Effects Loop

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Duel Compressor/Effects Loop

Step Into X2C With Phil Jones Bass Dual Compressor/Effects Loop…

Phil Jones Bass latest pedal innovation is the X2C Dual Compressor with Dual Effects Loop for performance and recording. The X2C incorporates advanced compressor circuit technology and provides comprehensive tone control with a dual crossover feature which divides the signal into frequency bands ranging from 100Hz to 500Hz, ensuring exceptional clarity and dynamics in tone refinement. 

With insert jacks on each band, the X2C unlocks limitless creativity, enabling players to use various FX pedals for custom tone sculpting. Additionally, it functions as an electronic crossover, ideal for driving high-performance, 2-way bass rigs.

PJB’s Dual-Band compression design is more flexible than standard single-band compressors and provides a more natural and transparent sound. It also provides greater control over shaping and managing dynamics where standard compressors affect the entire frequency spectrum of an audio signal.  

PJB’s dual compressor enables the player to shape specific frequency ranges of an audio signal which allows for compressing the low frequencies while preserving the high frequencies, or vice-versa. Treating the low-end with a dedicated band also allows for heavy compression without affecting the midrange frequencies, which carry the attack of the sound. 

Effects can be plugged into the insert jacks on the X2C and controlled separately. As an example, the lows can be adjusted separately for an overdrive pedal while the highs can be controlled for a chorus. 

Dividing the audio spectrum into fundamental frequencies and harmonics is also effective in the enrichment of slapping techniques. The low frequencies can be compressed without changing the dynamics of the “slap”. By controlling the low frequencies and focusing the attack on the slap the amplifier will sound louder while avoiding overloading of the amp or speakers. The low band can be compressed without the harmonics being affected. In addition, the send jacks can go to different amplifiers/speakers for a bi-amplification set up.

Compact and potent, the X2C embodies studio-grade excellence, setting a new standard for dynamic processing in an uncompromising, portable pedal. The street price is $359.99.

Visit online at www.pjbworld.com

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Bass CDs

New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

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New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

CATTANEO, TIM LEFEBVRE AND ANDREA LOMBARDINI PRESENT ‘HYPERSPHERE’ EP
The members of Buñuel, David Bowie’s band and a prominent electronic artist are united and have releases their first collaborative release via Freecom Hub.

Hypersphere is an EP created by CATTANEOTim Lefebvre and Andrea Lombardini. Following their conceptual milestone, a dream team of bass players and multi-instrumentalists created fragments of music, coexisting and complementing each other individually and altogether. Having been playing with CATTANEO since 2016, Andrea Lombardini describes the process of their work as “strong musical connection”. Starting with the fully improvised set featuring drum-machine and pedal effects. “Some of Paolo’s keyboards are homemade and he has very unique sounds” – explains Andrea. Getting Tim Lefebvre to produce the EP, the duo simultaneously started another vehicle of their collaboration.

Moving their work organically, three extraordinary musicians managed to reach an almost-perfect balance between sounds of guitar and bass with electronic instruments. Morphing together, numerous guitar riffs, loops of synthesizers. Dominating electronic sounds get united with a rock take, depicting dark moods and ethereal landscapes. All these elements work in tandem to create something new each time.

Order Hypersprehere here.

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Bass Events

Milt Hinton Institute for Bass Summer Camp in New Jersey

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Milt Hinton Institute for Bass sSummer Camp in New Jersey

Milt Hinton Institute for Bass Summer Camp in New Jersey…

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) will host the Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass, an exceptional summer music education program for teens, in residence at Montclair State University, in July 2024. Unique among music camps, the Hinton Institute is designed to support intermediate and advanced bass players ages 14 through 18, for a week of expert classes, performances, ensemble work, studio sessions, lectures, workshops and more. The camp will run from July 14 through July 20, 2024Registration is open December 16, 2023, through  June 7, 2024for more information on applying to the Milt Hinton Institute, please visit njpac.org/hinton. Student musicians will be required to submit a video of themselves playing two performance pieces during the application process. Need-based tuition scholarships are available.

Peter Dominguez, acclaimed bassist and Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison, will serve as the Institute’s Artistic Director.  An extraordinary faculty of professionals from the music world — including Rufus Reid, Ben Williams, Luis Perdomo, Jeremy Smith, Sam Suggs, Martin Wind, Marcus McLaurine, Bill Moring, Mimi Jones, Emma Dayhuff, Diana Gannett, and Bill Crow — will  focus camp instruction on bass performance techniques and ensemble playing in a range of musical genres including classical, Latin and jazz. 

The camp is named for Milt Hinton (1910-2000) a prolific jazz bassist, studio musician and photographer whose career intersected with many of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The Institute has been held biennially since 2014. It joined forces with the Arts Center this season in part to draw a larger faculty of professional bass players from among the many musicians living and working in the New York City area. Notable guest artists from the region are expected to visit with campers as well.    

“We’re very pleased to have this program be part of the larger vision of NJPAC and its extensive Arts Education offerings. The work being done by the Arts Center has a significant social impact” said David G. Berger, a lifelong friend of Hinton’s, whose Berger Family Foundation helped support the camp.  “That would have been extremely attractive to Milt. He wanted everybody to be involved with music — old and young, men and women, all colors, all creeds. Long before it was popular, that’s the way he lived his life — he welcomed everyone.”

“I grew up in the jazz festival business, and there was no one whose artistry matched his heart  better than Milt Hinton,” said John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC. “He was a brilliant bassist and he also was a brilliant human being. He was the heartbeat of any band he played in and he exuded a kindness that to me exemplified the spirit of jazz.”

Known as “the dean of jazz bassists,” Hinton played with jazz greats from the early 1930s on, performing with Jabbo Smith, Eddie South, Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Erroll Garner, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and many others. Hinton also recorded with pop superstars including Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler and Willie Nelson. Hinton also toured extensively, and in 1993, he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship. He was also well known for his photography, through which he documented seven decades of jazz history. Hinton was renowned for his willingness to mentor young players; a scholarship program in his name was established by his friends and admirers on his 70th birthday. After Hinton’s passing, the Institute was conceived as a way to continue his work in supporting younger bass players. “Two of Milt’s favorite words — ‘cohesiveness’ and ‘sharing’ — are at the core of this week-long Institute that brings together emerging bassists who often are the singular players in their own community and school ensembles,” said Artistic Director Dominguez, (whose own career was advanced when he became one of the first winners of a Hinton Scholarship Competition  in 1981).  “To be a bass player is often to focus not on being a soloist, but on musical collaboration — making other musicians in an ensemble sound better. Bass players are the soul of ensemble playing, and to develop these young souls through arts education programming at NJPAC is both an honor for us and an important responsibility,” said David Rodriguez, NJPAC’s Executive Producer and Executive Vice President — and himself a well-known professional bass player.

The camp will be housed on the campus of Montclair State University in Montclair, where students will live, study and have the opportunity to take part in multiple performances. “Bringing the prestigious Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass to the campus of Montclair State University marks an exciting chapter for the College of the Arts, reinforcing our commitment to providing exceptional opportunities for young musicians,” said Daniel Gurskis, Dean of the College of the Arts. “With NJPAC as our partner, we look forward to creating an environment where passion meets skill, fostering a new generation of accomplished and versatile bassists. We are confident that the Institute will become a beacon, attracting talent from diverse backgrounds who are the future of bass music.”

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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 @astluthier @bqwbassguitar @foderaguitars @ramabass.ok @s.martyn_custom_basses @anacondabasses @capursoguitars @sireusaofficial @atelierz1988 @doctorbassburgos

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