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Freelancing in a College Town: Reliability by Jonathan Moody

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In my first installment, I talked about being dependable and consistent, allowing whoever hires you to make one call and not worry about anything else. This second subject is directly related to the first one, because it’s a vital part about being dependable. Today, we’re discussing reliability. According to dictionary.com, reliability is the act of being “able to be trusted, predictable or dependable.” How that relates to you as a freelance musician is two-fold. Your reliability as a person and with the gear you work with is going to say volumes before you have a chance to.

Simply put, as a musician you are the most important piece of equipment that you have. It is imperative that you are at your best, in mind and body, at all times. In his policy on bassology.net, Anthony Wellington explains:

“Since I am a professional musician, my livelihood depends on my good health. Illness for me is a major problem, because it means cancelled concerts, lessons and lost income.”

It’s ironic that I’m writing this while nursing a cold (that put me in bed one night at 6pm after downing a liberal dose of NyQuil). Many of us don’t consider our own health and well being as part of the equation, but we need to. Take care of yourself! I have a lot of stories from my days as a naive youngster in college playing gigs extremely drunk, hungover or “should I go to the ER?” sick. I also remember those gigs when I had a sprained hand from some hijinks earlier in the day and I battled through the pain.

And looking back, while I can say I still played the gigs, did I do my best and present myself in a professional manner that resulted in more gigs? I don’t think I did. How is that being a reliable musician (or person, for that matter) that the people that hire you can depend on? It’s not. It’s showing that you don’t care enough about your health, let alone the gig you’re doing.

Today, I’m a lot more cognizant of my health, especially with a daughter (read: germ magnet) around. Any inkling of sickness I will reach for medicine to take care of it. Especially in the cold and flu season, I keep a container of Airborne in my bag in case I’m playing next to a sick musician (which seem to more often be college students). I’ll stretch my arms and hands before shows, especially during those days when you’re pulling double – or triple – duty. In the event of a sprain, I wrap it up and try to keep it as immobile as possible. The last thing you need is to be at the first gig and sprain your hand to the point where you’re working through the pain during gig 2.

The other part of reliability is related to your gear.  It should be a no-brainer that you want your gear to work, and to work correctly each and every time you plug it in, tune it up and go. I strongly recommend that you take some time to learn how to do simple repairs and set ups on every instrument you plan on gigging with. For those of us that use amps, we may not be able to learn the electronics necessary for amp repairs, so familiarize yourself with the folks in town that are, for that one time that you may need to call. Some simple knowledge of your instrument can save you money down the road (if you choose to do set ups yourself), but more importantly it will save you some headache and hassle if you’re minutes before a gig with a finicky instrument.

Case in point; a week ago a reed player had something go wrong on his bass clarinet ten minutes before a gig; I’m not sure what, but he was frantic. He pulled out a set of small screwdrivers, fiddled with it, and fixed the issue before the curtain speech. I have to admit, it was impressive! Without knowledge of the instrument, he would’ve been stuck and it would’ve been an interesting show without that instrument. But more importantly, how would he have looked to the director?

This also shows the value of having supplies on hand to be able to handle any major issues that could happen. Carry extra strings, picks, instrument cords, etc.. anything that, if something simple goes wrong, it can easily be fixed with a minimum of hassle. My auxiliary bag is full of a lot of these things, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been happy to have that extra cord, even if it’s to help out a friend who’s having issues.

And while we’re talking about gear, let me quickly touch on two arguments that seem to always show up on forums:

DIY Set Ups vs Taking it to a Luthier: When it comes down to it, what is your time worth? I take my basses into a luthier often because I’m so busy, paying someone to work on it is worth more to me because it allows me have bass #1 in the shop while I’m gigging with bass #2. Only you can answer this question for your situation.

The Price Tag of your Instrument is Related to its Reliability: I’ve gigged with $300 instruments and I’ve gigged with $5,000 instruments. Your gear needs to be something you will stand behind because the people that hired you won’t usually care about the brand or the price tag, but they WILL care if it’s always in the shop or not working consistently. Again, only you can answer this as to how it fits your situation and needs.

Reliability is all-encompassing. Simply put, you need your gear to be rock solid and reliable, each and every time you use it. You need to be healthy and well in order to give every performance your best. You also need to be knowledgeable to know if something is wrong with any part of the equation and fix it quickly. Keeping everything in working order will show everyone you work with how seriously you take your job, and the pride you put behind it.

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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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