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Worship Bass With Steve Gregory: You Never Know the Impact You Will Have

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Meet Steve Gregory

On a recent Sunday a young woman brought her 4 year old son, who has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), to one of our services. During the service, the child was sitting down, standing up, standing on the chair, looking around, wandering several seats away from his mother, picking up a bulletin, talking to everyone around him, etc. This continued while our worship team played, but something odd happened when I played the bass solo section on Hillsong United’s “Salvation Is Here”. To his mom’s amazement, he stood up and stared at the stage, completely focused. As the solo section continued he told his mom, “Look at that guy Mom! The music is running through him! The music running completely through him! That is what I want to do!”

Two things struck me when I heard this story. First, the fact that my playing could affect a 4 year old – and one that suffers from ADD, no less – is astonishing and flattering. I’ve played for some tough crowds before, but I can honestly say that the 3-5 year old market, with their natural tendency to critique things as they see it without a filter, is intimidating. (An adult reviewing my playing: “The use of the Lydian b7 was an “interesting” choice and I’m sure you’re not happy with the cleanliness of that 16th note run”. A 4 year old’s evaluation: “You’re a stupid-head!”…*Ouch*)

My second thought was that while we may not recognize the impact our playing will have, the chance to affect people should shape our attitude toward worship bass. The 4 year old was telling it exactly as he saw it, so we know the impact that was made. What we don’t know is how our playing will influence the person in the service who is depressed. Or the person who is searching. Or the person who is wondering what their friend, who invited them to church, got them into. Or the person who wants to celebrate their relationship with God. Each person in the worship service could have his or her life changed by our playing. When we start to think of the impact we have as worship bassists, the seriousness of our role becomes obvious. I know that a bass player doesn’t “get it” when they tell me about the playing they are doing and add, “oh, and I’ve got a church gig too”. This is the wrong attitude! The church job is truly important and is difficult to do well! (And a church gig for 3-5 year old kids? Whoa…)

In order to break down this responsibility into manageable pieces, I’ve created a list below of “be’s” for the worship bassist. Before presenting the list, I do want to say that I’m writing these not from a “holier than thou” position; rather, I came up with these as things that I personally need to do consistently.

• Be present. This can be tough, but worship bassists have to leave the static of life at the door. When you are playing, nothing but the worship experience matters. I know that I’ve had to stop for a few moments and let bad traffic, monthly bills, spilt coffee, and other life irritants fall to the background before going on stage. Carry your bass on your shoulder, but don’t let life’s worries rest there too.

• Be passionate. Playing worship bass is all about passion! If you are willing to be present, then you can pour everything into the service. I personally make it a goal to have nothing left when I leave the stage. Why hold anything back? I challenge you to try it during your next worship set – if you need a nap afterwards, that’s a good sign!

• Be a humble servant. Being humble can be difficult to balance with presence and passion. As I talked about in my last article, worship bass is all about supporting the worship environment. Sometimes that flashy lick is truly cool, but doesn’t support the worship environment. You may think you are “feeling it”, but you have to remember: it’s not about you! Pour your passion into the worship, not into promoting yourself.

• Be prepared. This is critical! The fact of the matter is that being under prepared is a sure way to deflate the worship experience. Those in the congregation absolutely can and will sense when the bassist is not prepared. Listen to the music, learn the music, and practice the music – ahead of time!

• Be willing to work on your skills. Yep, I’m echoing every bass teacher you’ve ever had: practice! You have to keep your skills sharp in order to bring your best to the worship experience. There are great ways to focus practice time to fit into 30 minute or one hour blocks, so marathon sessions aren’t necessary. As far as practice material, make sure that you use your time for technique, theory, transcription, and other items that aren’t categorized as “stuff you already know”. For even more specific material, look no further than this magazine – I personally devour every issue to learn as much as I can from this amazing staff!

• Be serious, but not too serious. I’ve spent about 1000 words painting the seriousness of being a worship bassist and indeed, it is an important job. Having said that, you can’t let a sense of responsibility creep into becoming a state of obsessive, over analytical, stressful, non-feeling mechanics. For example: I was playing a song that opens with a bar of sixteenth notes, followed by a bar that contains a sixteen note rest, followed by sixteen notes for the remaining space. Somewhere in that run, my plucking hand decided it didn’t want to play one of the sixteenth notes in the second measure. The flub was shocking and embarrassing – I had played simple patterns like this a million times and my ears heard the mistake loud and clear. My natural tendency would be to stew over this for the rest of the song and perhaps for the rest of the service. When I looked out at the crowd though, hands were raised, people were singing, and they didn’t notice or care about the sixteenth note that meant so much to me. Don’t let the call to seriousness pull you away from your mission: to create the worship environment.

Being a worship bassist is a rewarding but challenging job. It’s easily one of the most amazing gigs out there because you can make a lifelong impact. How do I know? I heard about this guy (who may or may not be the writer of this article) who was establishing himself as a bass player, but was being bumped around in life and was searching for something. The girl he was dating took him to a church where the bass player obviously took his job seriously, because the playing that day led to a life changing turn to God and a dedication to playing worship music… (Thank goodness Dave Combs was a worship bassist who “got it”.)

Until next time, I hope that your bass playing is blessed and that you can bless others through your bass playing!

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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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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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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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