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Taking Off the Rose Tinted Headphones by Steve Gregory

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I am fortunate to have an appointment to meet with an amazing teacher each week.  This teacher has the remarkable ability to show me positives of my playing, flaws that need to be corrected, and specific situations that I can analyze.  The lesson time is tough, but ultimately rewarding, because brutal honesty is an understood requirement.  It is not uncommon to have a weakness exposed and unapologetically (sometimes relentlessly, it seems) examined.  I leave each lesson with a catalog of things that are good, things that need work, and homework to do for the week.  This teacher is one of the very best I have ever had!  I am very happy to say that this teacher has immediate availability for students and I truly hope you will try to schedule a lesson time soon!

The teacher is your own playing, recorded, and then listened to with an honest and critical ear.

A recording is simply unable to lie; therefore, what you hear is what really happened.  This is a revealing and sometimes humbling practice:  flaws that weren’t realized during performance become evident and spots that seemed to be perfect fall flat in retrospect.  Fortunately, there will also be moments that are wonderful and even some pleasant surprises that escaped the ear in live performance.

This practice is invaluable!  With discipline and honesty, these listening sessions can accurately determine what is happening during live performance.  Further, there is a great opportunity for playing refinement and becoming a better bass musician with every single lesson.  Here is a suggested outline for doing this:

  1. Get a recording. This can be from the soundboard, from video, from a recorder placed in the audience or given to someone, or from a personal line out.  The capture doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to have a level of clarity that allows for accuracy in playback.
  2. Use a good set of headphones or speakers. Make sure that the system used for playback is of good quality.  It does no good to capture a performance, but not be able to determine later what was played.  I personally like to use headphones for this, but I know of players that prefer to use quality speakers.  Whatever the choice, audio quality is important.
  3. Perform an intention check and put your ego aside. The purpose of this exercise is to get better, not to prove worth or inflate a sense of self.  Make sure that all listening is done with an honest and critical ear.  If this doesn’t happen, the session is usually a waste of time.
  4. Listen to the entire recording and note the spots that are good, bad, and ugly. The first review is used to find the spots that should be explored in more detail. Just make notes with a time mark and a quick description, such as, “5:10, rushed chorus” or “18:11, locked with drums!”.
  5. Go back and listen to the specific moments listed and determine what happened and why it happened. Using our examples from above, in the section that was rushed, was it because of emotion?  Lost focus with the drummer?  Anxiety?  Technique problems?  Remember to do this for positive notes also.  When there was a good lock with the drums, was it a part that was worked out in rehearsal?  Had the section been practiced separately?  It is just as important to figure out what is good as it is to discover what is not going so well.
  6. Determine the lesson and the homework for the moments you have studied. What can be done to either remedy the problem or repeat the positive?  Continuing with our examples above, the rushed section may lead to more metronome work, increased practice of technically challenging pieces, or an emphasis on in-performance focus.  The solid rhythm section example may reveal the good that came from practicing a specific song section or rehearsing the figure at slower tempos with a drummer.

I know from experience that this plan will lead to amazing results and transformed playing.  This same process can also be applied to individual practice – record a session and listen back a later time.  When I do this, I am constantly amazed at the wealth of information I gain.  Also, if a video recording is used, there is another set of variables to study, such as hand position, body stance, technique, and much more.

Whatever your choice, I encourage you to sign up for a lesson with this great teacher today!  I’d love to hear about your experiences – leave a comment below to share what you discover when you try this exercise.

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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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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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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