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Tips for Up-and-Coming Bassists with Carl Dawkins: Thoughts & Building Confidence

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Meet Carl Dawkins –

While deciding which topic to focus on next, I hit a bit of a fork in the road. There were several options I considered as far as where to take these columns. Many of them overlapped to a point, but all drew from different criteria I always find circumstantial to the individual. Faced with this dilemma, I decided to call Jake Kot (BMM editor) to discuss my role in the magazine and what I might offer as far as my articles are concerned. After a lengthy discussion, it was left up to me…that’s right, total control.

This however made things a bit more difficult as far as what topics to address and whether they would be beneficial for you, the reader. To cut a long story short, I’m not one for wasting time or using unnecessary minutes solely on deciding what to write about. So in great British form, I’m winging it, which ironically is the whole point of this article.

There will be situations in your career where you are caught off guard, or thrown into unusual situations where all of a sudden you’re called to do some playing, but the fact is you haven’t practiced in a while. These things happen to every musician, and these are the situations that define us as players.

So how do we get around these situations? We can always prepare for the unexpected, but that takes time away from preparing for the expected, not to mention there are so many different scenarios that can arise it would be almost impossible to prepare for all of them. With all of this in mind, you may now be thinking twice before stepping out of your door to take your dog for a walk contemplating what might show up seconds later.

With so many working musicians in the industry, and taking into account that I said every musician encounters situations such as these, you might be coming to the conclusion that there might be some “trick” to handling them. The truth is, it comes down to one thing…confidence. Some of you might know the illusionist Darren Brown. A lot of his work and his stunts are based around the confidence he has, and the tone in his voice that may make for example a bookie to pay out on a losing betting slip. The same principle applies to us as musicians. When faced with precarious situations, just try to be confident in your decisions, which might involve your attitude, your note choice, or section changes (in a song).

A motto I’ve always tried to follow is, “be loud–be confident–be wrong—in that order”. When you’re on stage, you’re all relying on each other to be confident. If you’re loud, and confident, and wrong the first time, the next time you’ll cut that scenario back because then you’ll be more confident about handling the correction.

Imagine this scenario: You haven’t played for a week due to the strains of life, and you go to watch a gig with a friend. Your friend pushes you to go up and sit in. Instantly you’re nervous, anxious, and thinking to yourself, why did I come up here? This will unequivocally show up in your body language, which instantly gives off bad vibes to the audience. When you’ve gained everyone’s attention, what you want to try to do is project feelings of relaxation and confidence. Don’t slouch, look around the venue, make eye contact, and clear your head. Just be a solid player, trust your instincts, and be confident.

I never suggest turning down gigs, but if you’re seriously under-qualified, it might be wise to tell them your busy and recommend someone you know that might be able to handle the gig—then get “right to work” so you don’t have to do a replay of that the next time the phone rings. Or you can just go for it, show them you’re not a bedroom warrior[1] and learn from the experience.

Confidence, being able and willing to wing it, as well as playing a simple solid line if asked to are the keys to handling any situation. Your look /image and your body language on and off stage are very important as well, as you are trying to create a good impression. They say the first 10 seconds after you’ve walked into a room are the most important, and leave the biggest impression.

We gain power through experience, and although you may have some hiccups, and may regret certain actions, that experience is still invaluable. The more people know about you in a positive light, the quicker word gets out, meaning your phone will start ringing and the emails will flood in!

Like David Gilmour once said “bass players are ten a penny, but one with a good wit is hard to find”. The point is, it’s not just your playing that counts, it’s everything about you, especially if you’re auditioning for a full time member slot, or auditioning for a touring band. Be yourself, be confident, and be professional.

[1] If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s basically a musician that spends a lot of time in his room practicing and learning all the unnecessary bitts you wouldn’t use in a song – so they post videos on the internet.

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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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Latest

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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Gear News

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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Gear News

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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