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A Little Guide on How to Choose Bass Strings by Igor Saavedra

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A Little Guide on How to Choose Bass Strings by Igor Saavedra… First of all I want to apologize with my readers for the delay on this April article. As you surely know I was in a tour in Europe playing in Germany at the Musikmesse and also in Spain and I just couldn’t find some good quality time to write.

Now concerning bass strings… Going into this subject, to my surprise, people frequently ask me things about strings that I took for granted that everybody knew. In this short article I will just give you a list of the things that everyone should know before choosing their strings.

1) “Rigidness” is not the same as “Tension”… that means a string can be very rigid but not necessarily very tense, or the opposite.  A good example is when you play close to the bridge. Obviously the string feels very rigid right there, but the tension is quite the same all along the string.

2) Taking a four-string Bass as an example, the “Scale” (34”, 35”, 35”, etc.) of that Bass is measured from the nut to the exact point where the string makes contact with the bridge saddle and considering that not every string has the same scale because that scale distance usually increases towards the lower strings, the string that is taken as a reference is usually the G string.

3) The reason why the gauge of the strings is different is because that’s the best way to compensate for the lower tuning. A lower tuning on a string will apply less tension to it, but if you increase the gauge that will increase the tension of the string and compensate things; the wider the gauge the higher the tension.

4) Investigate… don’t assume that the “pre cocked” combination of gauges (tensions) that the string sets have are the best option for you, not everybody has the same hands, fingers, strength, angle of attack, sound preferences, etc., You can like a very tense “heavy” G string but a very soft “light” E string or quite the opposite, and that’s something you won’t find on string sets because either all the strings are “heavy” or all the strings are “light”, so my advice is trying to find single strings on the market and experiment as much as you can… you will be surprised. In fact, the gauges on my basses are just crazy, completely unavailable on standard string sets, but they perfectly suit my needs and preferences, which I think is far away the most important thing… experiment!

5) String gauge is expressed on “thousands of an inch”. That is for example a .040 G string has 40 thousands of an inch, so that’s the reason for the point on the left of the number. People in the US usually are more familiar with this information, but that doesn’t happen in the rest of the world where the Metric System is the one who reigns…

6) Learn and study about “Twelfth root of 2”… The scale of an instrument and the fretting is strictly related with this amazing number. I don’t want to extend this list explaining to you all the details about this, but I think it is a good idea to just give you the concept so you can find out more about it.  String tension is closely related to this…

7) If you are looking for a brighter sound go for Roundwound strings. Roundwound is the most brilliant winding, though is a little noisier because of the increased friction with the fingertips. If you want less bright and less friction noise go for Halfwounds. And finally if bright sound and slapping are not important for you I would suggest using Flatwounds.

8) In relation to the materials, if you are looking for a brighter sound, go for Stainless Steel, then Nickel Plated Steel, and finally Nickel, which has the less bright. There are some Bronze windings that have a very bright sound but they will usually leave a lot of dirt on your fingertips.

9) You can get even brighter if you choose ”Exposed Core”, or “Contact Core” strings, where the core of the string, which has a higher harmonic composition, is exposed on the bridge saddle area so it can make direct contact with it. My advice is that you have to consider that if you choose this option as you’ll have to move the bridge saddles a little bit up so to compensate for this gauge reduction on that area, which will make the rest of the string, “which is wounded”, to be a little closer to the frets.

10) The Bass Pickups generate an electromagnetic field around each string. That electromagnetic field is altered by the string vibration and that vibration will have a different harmonic composition so it will behave differently depending on the string tension, the string material, the string construction, the tuning, the construction and woods of that particular Bass, the technique, the finger touch, the size of your hand and your fingertips, etc. The configuration of the particles (electrons, protons, etc.) obtained by this specific alteration then will travel from your pickups through your cable and will reach the amp and finally will go out from the speaker… so that’s how an Electric Bass sounds! For an Electric Guitar, obviously is the same principle… but we don’t care too much about that over here  🙂

That’s for this month my dear friends!

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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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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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