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Worship Bassist’s Toolkit – Technique Awareness by Steven Gregory

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In my last article, we started to look at the “worship bassist’s toolkit”.  Rather than the cables, tuners, and other physical items we need to have, this toolkit contains the musical tools that are required to create artful worship.  In order to be truly free to play with passion, it is critical that these musical tools be available, maintained, and ready for use.

In this article, the tool we will explore is technique awareness. Technique and the means by which we play our instrument are, in many cases, looked at from only one perspective.  In this view, technique is initially defined as the base mechanics we use to play when we first learn the instrument.  After we have developed enough to play our instrument reasonably well, technique is then viewed as “add-ons”:  slapping, tapping, harmonics, etc.  It is common to hear bassists speak of “learning a new technique”.

While I understand this view, I believe that there are a few pitfalls to this approach.  First, the bassist who does not constantly monitor their technique as a whole is in danger of slipping into bad habits.  This trap is particularly common among worship bassists who, not often needing dazzling technique, will not realize that their playing is moving toward the lazy and sloppy.  Second, without consistent improvement to all aspects of technique, some worship bassists find themselves in a situation where they suddenly lack the abilities to play what is necessary.  I call this the “Salvation Is Here Syndrome”.  In Hillsong’s “Salvation Is Here”, the bridge contains a quick, sixteenth note bass solo/groove that is challenging to play well.  After a set of slower, root-based eighth note lines, the bassist who is not prepared is stung when suddenly needing extra technical ability to play the “Salvation Is Here” line.  There is personal embarrassment from this, but more importantly, worship is disrupted by the noticeable struggle.  Third, when a worship bassist is focused on, and fumbling with, technique in any manner, their ability to give their best in worship is greatly diminished.

Rather than view technique as a basic kit with add-ons, I propose that we view technique as an ongoing, never-ending journey of improvement.  Our vehicle for this journey is technique awareness.  Technique awareness has six steps, which are outlined here:

Notice

This is the most critical step to take in order to change our perspective on technique.  It is imperative that we make ourselves aware of our playing, without excuses.  This awareness needs to happen when something unexpected challenges us in a live situation and when we notice something in review. (See my article, “Taking Off the Rose Tinted Headphones” -https://bassmusicianmagazine.com/2011/06/taking-off-the-rose-tinted-headphones-by-steve-gregory/ – for review ideas).  Noticing problems simply takes a bit of focus, with the honesty to admit when we find an issue.

Analyze

Once we have noticed a problem, we have to understand the problem.  This means breaking down the issue:  is it laziness?  Ability that has not been developed?  Something else? Once the broad scope is defined, we can break it down to identify specific issues, such as string skipping, right hand technique, muting, etc.

Find the Remedy

The problem has been noticed and analyzed, so now we need to figure out how to fix it!  This is done most easily with a skilled instructor, who can provide guidance.  Without an instructor, it is possible to develop exercises from the analysis above.  For example, if the analysis revealed a string skipping issue, exercises that are developed specifically to challenge that problem can be used.   For right hand technique, practice would include patterns that allow you to place focus on your right hand and work on the issue.  Each situation will be unique, so be patient and re-analyze the problem more in depth if necessary.

Practice

One time analysis and running through an exercise does not cause real change in playing.  In order to replace habits and/or develop technical ability it is important that the exercises discussed above are put into a practice routine.  Repetition is required to remove the old and replace with the new.

Review

At this stage, the problem has been noticed, the issue analyzed, a plan has been developed to remedy the problem, and practice with the new mechanics has been done.  It’s time to ask important questions:  is it working?  Do the exercises need to be modified?  Are we causing injury to other areas of our playing as a “crutch” to fix this problem?  Remember, the technique journey is ongoing and it’s important to be aware during all stages of our trip.

Repeat

Technique awareness is like steering a boat:  if you point your vessel at your destination and never alter your steering, you will find yourself completely off course.  You must adjust as you go:  a little left, a little right, making changes as you need.  This means that, in order to travel toward excellence and the ability to create worshipful art, you must keep the technique awareness cycle going

The worship bassist is called to create amazing worship.  It is not necessary to be the most flashy, technically impressive player on the planet.  However, it is critical that worship bassists use technique awareness to constantly improve so that the very best is given to worship.

Do you use technique awareness?  Have you found yourself in a situation where technique problems disrupted your ability to worship?  I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts – leave a comment below!

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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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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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 @loritabassworks @meridian_guitars @alpherinstruments @phdbassguitars @mgbassguitars @mauriziouberbasses @utreraguitars @sugi_guitars @branco_luthier @blasiusguitars

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

D’Addario’s New Humidipak Absorb Protects Instruments Against Excess Moisture…

Utilizing two-way humidity control technology, D’Addario’s new Humidipak Absorb protects against damage to wooden instruments in environments with too much humidity. 

Humidipak Absorb allows players to safely return an instrument and case to the ideal relative humidity level. Using Boveda’s patented two-way humidity control technology, Absorb automatically soaks up excess moisture at a safe rate, re-establishing the right humidity level and eliminating the guesswork of revitalizing your instrument. 

Like all the Humidipaks before, using Humidipak Absorb is easy—there’s no dripping sponges or manual adjustments. All players need to do is put the humidification packets in the included pouches and place them in the instrument case, close the lid, and relax. The instrument and case will remain at the optimal 45-50% relative humidity level for 2-6 months. 

D’Addario’s other Humidipaks, Restore and Maintain, are still available for those who need to increase and sustain the humidity around their instrument. 

To learn more about Humidipak Absorb, visit ddar.io/absorb-pr 

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