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Freelancing in a College Town: Know Your Role by Jonathan Moody

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Freelancing in a College Town: Know Your Role by Jonathan Moody… In the past two articles in this series, we’ve discussed things that aren’t as music oriented as they are professional (being dependable and reliable). This month I’m going to focus more on one of the key elements that the freelancer will use on the bandstand; the ability to know your role. I’m going to break this down into two portions; the technique and the gear.

This concept was firmly planted into my brain years ago when I went to one of the Victor Wooten/Steve Bailey “Bass Extremes” shows. During the Q&A section, I asked them what they think about when they’re backing up someone. I don’t remember Vic’s comment, but Steve looked me directly in the eye and said “My job is to make the lead sound as great as possible. I will play as much or as little to achieve that end result.” I didn’t fully understand (or appreciate) the lesson until years later, when I was freelancing with a number of groups.

Oftentimes, we have the luxury to stick with styles of music that we know, are comfortable with and want to play. However, there are those times that you may be faced with something that you may not want to do, or are not familiar with. In the case of my wake up call, I was playing bass in a country cover band. I was intrigued by the monetary aspect, but was not happy with the basslines of the songs; to be honest, I felt they were below me. However, with Bailey’s comment in my head, I decided to focus more on how the bassline fit in the songs over the specific notes that were used. While I ended up only playing with that group for a couple of months, I held the group together and helped move the songs along, mainly from putting my ego aside and focusing on what was most important; the song itself.

Currently one of my gigs is backing up a folk duo. Technically speaking, I am playing a lot of root notes, and whole notes at that. However, when you look at how the simplicity of the bassline moves the songs along, it is imperative that it stays rock solid and fluid; again, the notes are not as important as the song. And to be honest, keeping something simple with a lot of movement can be tough. However, I’m having a ball with my role in this group.

Secondly, in knowing your role, you also should know what gear to bring. This isn’t your “what bass is best for metal?” thread that we’re talking about; this is more of the “Don’t bring an electric bass to an upright bass gig” statement. With the aforementioned folk group, I use my NS Design CR-5M electric upright bass, because it more closely fits the style of the music. The ability to use a bow is another bonus over just bringing an electric to this gig.

In the case of freelancing, this is one of the questions you need to ask upfront; what is the person hiring you expecting, and can you deliver? I’m in the position that I can bring an electric and/or an upright, but for some people that may not be an option (either you don’t have an upright or do not possess the skills to gig with one). If your gear isn’t exactly what the person is expecting, you need to let them know. Whether or not you think it’s a big deal isn’t important; what they think is. And from talking with a lot of peers, if you address this upfront, you’ll find out that it isn’t a big deal. But that’s the thing; you have to ask. And in that oft chance that it IS a big deal, it is better to back out at the beginning and allow them to find someone that better fits their situation over showing up to the gig with gear that they were not expecting and fighting the sound all night.

Personally, I try to bring the gear I think is necessary for doing my job well and stylistically fits. With that has to come the flexibility to change things up if they aren’t working, or if there is a specific request. I’m currently in a run of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” probably one of my favorite musicals, at the local Civic theatre. This show is scored for electric and upright bass, and the whole pit is using in-ear monitors. During the tech rehearsals, the drummer was having issues hearing the upright as well as the electric; the MD requested I play the whole show on electric. I can fake an upright sound with my thumb muting technique, so it’s no big deal. I really like playing the upright in this score (it’s my second production of this show), but personal gratification at the expense of the quality of the show is not the preferred result, nor is it the way to get hired again.

When it comes to “knowing your role” in the gig, it’s all-encompassing. Musically, you want to play what is appropriate for the style and genre of music that you’re playing. This translates into the gear that you bring into the gig. You’re definitely not going to walk into an orchestral gig with an electric bass, so make sure that whatever you use fits the music and the expectations of the person hiring you. A superior musical product is the desired result, and you need to be able to check your ego at the door in order to do as much – or as little – as is called for to perform your duties to the best of your ability.

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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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