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The Bass Pattern… Please Do Not Betray It!

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This month’s article will address, which in my opinion, is probably the most important asset that we the bass players have when it comes to exercising our profession… it’s name? “The Bass Pattern”.

The Bass Pattern is a musical concept that has existed for centuries before the appearance of the Electric Bass. We would be able to say that the first “Bass Pattern” that looked really close to what we play today on our basses, showed up during the Baroque period, about 500 years ago. We can even identify the concept of “bass lines” centuries before the Baroque, but those are not really similar to what we would understand by a Bass Pattern nowadays.

A Bass Pattern is a short bass melody that 90% of the time doesn’t surpasses the 4 bar barrier, in fact they generally last just 2 bars. The main requisite for a Bass Pattern is that it has to be repetitive and keep steady throughout most of the song or the musical piece.

A Bass Pattern in my opinion is, “The essential Cell of Bass Playing,” and responds to the minimalistic essence of our instrument.

The Minimalism is an art movement that is about the age of our instrument (little younger), and that essentially proposes that the strength of the idea relays on the maximum simplicity and the reiteration of small units within it. You can apply this concept to every artistic expression like Painting, Acting, Dancing, Poetry and obviously to Music.

The wonderful thing here, is that for some “magical” reason the fact of reiterating a really simple idea (in any artistic expression), starts producing and generating an amazing energy boost, exactly like a “Mantra” does, so the person who is performing a minimalistic art expression creates and feels that energy himself and also is able to make the ones that are around him to experience that energy too…. does this sounds familiar?

As you can see, when you describe “What is Minimalism” you are describing “What is Bass Playing”, so in my opinion that’s the main reason why we, the Bass Players, like to play this instrument; we are crazy enough to be able to enjoy playing the very same notes, mostly in the same order, for about 5 minutes and sometimes for more than 15 minutes!

A Bass walking line for example, doesn’t comply totally with this requisite, but rhythmically fills it, because even though the notes always vary, it remains playing usually quarter notes all the time, so the audience at least will be able to identify a Bass Pattern on its rhythmic aspect (very simple though), so the Minimalism of the expression will be still present.

I have to say here that if for some reason you don’t feel that you enjoy this essential aspect of bass playing, in my opinion it is very probably that you chose the wrong instrument…. oops…. sorry about that, but don’t forget it’s just my opinion. Guitars, keyboards or saxophones are maybe waiting for you, and I sincerely think you might enjoy music even more than you are now should you make the switch.

So, “When you betray the Bass Pattern you are betraying the soul of this instrument…”

What are (in my opinion) the ways for avoiding betraying the Bass Pattern?

It’s very easy and very hard at the same time. If the musical piece has one, two or three specific patterns, keep playing them and if you want to get creative, I have a most challenging task for you….

Be creative enough so to make sufficient variations to be able to allow the audience and fellow musicians of your band to recognize your Bass Pattern all the time throughout each and every song or musical piece!

Keep always in mind that the word “variation” don’t necessarily means “adding notes” like everybody has the tendency to think in the first place, it also means omitting them! In fact, the word variation in this context mostly refers to those variations that haven’t any relation with an “amount of things” whatsoever.

For example, you can vary the dynamics of every single note or you can make subtle variations with the length of the notes and the rests too (which for me is the most rhythmical variation). You can also add subtle nuances without adding any notes, like bendings, vibratos and short slides. There are lots of variations, more that I can mention here really.

I want to stress the fact that there’s nothing wrong with adding notes, but please always keep in mind that this specific variation is probably the most “dangerous” to address.

As a good example in the singing context, and the respect to the melody line that the singers have to always consider. Please recall the yearly interpretation of the Star-Spangled Banner performed at the Super Bowl by a talented singer… has this made you think sometimes, “Where’s the melody?”

Finally, if you start making variations on your Bass Pattern that eventually make your pattern disappear, all the essence, spirit and soul of the Electric Bass speech will be betrayed, even more than with the Double Bass because of its mainly different stylistic origin and application. Think why you play bass and you’ll find that is not just because of the low frequency coolness, it’s mainly because of its’ role and its’ function within the given contexts…. Try always respecting that.

Obviously, you are free to just simply forget about considering what I’m proposing here. In that case, I humbly suggest you find the proper music style to fit in with your bass (probably 1% of the music styles available); finding the proper musicians to play with (like a guitar player who likes to play the bass part for example); and finding the proper audience to play for (there will be always somebody attending with the proper advertising)…. but believe me that complying with those three requisites will be harder than ending world hunger… But anyway, the most important thing by far is your being happy!

That’s it for this month my friends… see you in the next.

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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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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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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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