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A Bag of Tricks, or a Toolbox?

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Jonathan-MoodyLast Sunday at church, we had a dilemma; the drummer that was supposed to be playing that day with us was a no-show. While I could comment on a lot of the damage that this caused, that’s not what I want to get into (and if you’ve been reading my “Freelancing…” articles, you probably already know what kind of ramifications this type of thing may have). The fact was that, drummer or no, we still had a service to provide and the congregation really didn’t care that we didn’t have a drummer. Thankfully, much of the music was very upbeat so I pulled out my best Larry Graham impersonation and slapped and popped my way through the service, keeping it simple and going back to the fundamentals of approaching my bass much like a drummer approaches their kit. The best compliment I received was from the Music Director, who said “On more than one occasion, I could’ve sworn there was a drummer back there!”

Now, you could say that I grabbed something out of my “bag of tricks” to achieve the end result. I take umbrage to this, mainly because a “bag of tricks” is usually considered exactly that; tricks that you use to cover things up. Someone that has a “bag of tricks” usually has a stigma of pulling technique out that is 1. not fully understood or 2. only used as a gimmick. As a working musician, there can’t really be any sort of sleight of hand that happens on a regular basis (when problems happen, that’s a different story). Therefore, I don’t have a “bag of tricks,” but a toolbox.

Much like any carpenter or handyman, a toolbox is exactly that; your box where all the tools are kept. Depending on your technique level, the toolbox can be as expansive as you allow it. There is so much to learn out there, why would you not spend the time to learn as much as you can, and more than that, why wouldn’t you learn as much as you could? It’s one thing to use a hammer to pound in a nail but quite another to know how to properly wield the hammer to get everything done.

Another case in point: a few years back I was in an original musical theatre production (the guitarist in the pit was the composer). There were a number of tunes that were classic metal basslines, which I was not completely familiar or comfortable with. Instead of telling the guitarist what my limitations were, I told him I wasn’t familiar with the styles. But then – and here’s the important part – I asked him what he’d recommend to become familiar. I left that rehearsal with a list of “must listen” albums (many of which I’d only heard the band names) and specific styles to glean (the Steve Harris gallop is one that pops to mind). Two weeks of solid listening and research, I was ready to play the musical the way it was envisioned. Not perfect, but enough that I was authentic.

In full disclosure, I can’t match Harris’ gallop with just two fingers. He’s a monster and me? I have to use three.

And that has paid off. Much like how a carpenter will buy tool A for a specific job and then later on, use it again for another, the skills learned during that musical theatre show have come back. A number of times when I find myself in a situation where someone really wants a forward motion feel without playing faster, the Steve Harris gallop becomes a very valuable technique to bring out. The ensuing compliments (usually followed by “That’s it!” or “Wow!”) are enough to prove that the time learning the skill was worth it.

So, the next time you’re in a situation where you need to draw from your list of skills for a particular gig, ask yourself: do you have a bag of tricks or a toolbox? And if it’s the former, what are you willing to do in order to make it the latter? Have a great month and let me know what kind of skills you’ve picked up in the past that have come full circle.

Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Curly Hendo

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Interview Wity Bassist Curly Hendo

Bassist Curly Hendo…

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, bassist Curly Hendo has been super busy. Starting with dance from a young age, Curly took up bass shortly after and has been going strong ever since. She has collaborated with numerous acts worldwide and is an in-demand session/touring bassist and musical director.

Join me as we learn about Curly’s musical journey, how she gets her sound, and her plans for a very bright future.

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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 @jermsbass @degierguitars @meridian_guitars @xvector_basses @marleaux_bassguitars @mattissonbass @alesvychodilbasses @gvguitars @thebassplace @xylembassguitar

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Bass CDs

New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

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New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

The Chilean bassist, producer and sociologist, Ben Mortiz, celebrates the launch of his latest studio work, “MORENO” an album that mixes jazz, soul, and funk following the characteristic Latin style of  Mortiz. The artist completely produced the album under the label “Fallen Lab Records” in the south of Chile.

“MORENO” brings deep and smooth sounds, expressing a sophisticated and elegant Latin vibe. You will find meditative harmonies and joyful melodic voices. The record’s core is the human vibration that Mortiz feels from the Latin American music. The Caribbean rhythms and strong Latin percussions are the musical glue in every song that emerges with the force of the electric bass.

“MORENO” creates a real connection between corporal reactions and mind sensations, always in reference to the originality of Mortiz to fuse modern and classic Latin sounds.

For more information, visit online at danielbenmortiz.com/

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Dual Compressor/Effects Loop

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Duel Compressor/Effects Loop

Step Into X2C With Phil Jones Bass Dual Compressor/Effects Loop…

Phil Jones Bass latest pedal innovation is the X2C Dual Compressor with Dual Effects Loop for performance and recording. The X2C incorporates advanced compressor circuit technology and provides comprehensive tone control with a dual crossover feature which divides the signal into frequency bands ranging from 100Hz to 500Hz, ensuring exceptional clarity and dynamics in tone refinement. 

With insert jacks on each band, the X2C unlocks limitless creativity, enabling players to use various FX pedals for custom tone sculpting. Additionally, it functions as an electronic crossover, ideal for driving high-performance, 2-way bass rigs.

PJB’s Dual-Band compression design is more flexible than standard single-band compressors and provides a more natural and transparent sound. It also provides greater control over shaping and managing dynamics where standard compressors affect the entire frequency spectrum of an audio signal.  

PJB’s dual compressor enables the player to shape specific frequency ranges of an audio signal which allows for compressing the low frequencies while preserving the high frequencies, or vice-versa. Treating the low-end with a dedicated band also allows for heavy compression without affecting the midrange frequencies, which carry the attack of the sound. 

Effects can be plugged into the insert jacks on the X2C and controlled separately. As an example, the lows can be adjusted separately for an overdrive pedal while the highs can be controlled for a chorus. 

Dividing the audio spectrum into fundamental frequencies and harmonics is also effective in the enrichment of slapping techniques. The low frequencies can be compressed without changing the dynamics of the “slap”. By controlling the low frequencies and focusing the attack on the slap the amplifier will sound louder while avoiding overloading of the amp or speakers. The low band can be compressed without the harmonics being affected. In addition, the send jacks can go to different amplifiers/speakers for a bi-amplification set up.

Compact and potent, the X2C embodies studio-grade excellence, setting a new standard for dynamic processing in an uncompromising, portable pedal. The street price is $359.99.

Visit online at www.pjbworld.com

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Bass CDs

New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

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New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

CATTANEO, TIM LEFEBVRE AND ANDREA LOMBARDINI PRESENT ‘HYPERSPHERE’ EP
The members of Buñuel, David Bowie’s band and a prominent electronic artist are united and have releases their first collaborative release via Freecom Hub.

Hypersphere is an EP created by CATTANEOTim Lefebvre and Andrea Lombardini. Following their conceptual milestone, a dream team of bass players and multi-instrumentalists created fragments of music, coexisting and complementing each other individually and altogether. Having been playing with CATTANEO since 2016, Andrea Lombardini describes the process of their work as “strong musical connection”. Starting with the fully improvised set featuring drum-machine and pedal effects. “Some of Paolo’s keyboards are homemade and he has very unique sounds” – explains Andrea. Getting Tim Lefebvre to produce the EP, the duo simultaneously started another vehicle of their collaboration.

Moving their work organically, three extraordinary musicians managed to reach an almost-perfect balance between sounds of guitar and bass with electronic instruments. Morphing together, numerous guitar riffs, loops of synthesizers. Dominating electronic sounds get united with a rock take, depicting dark moods and ethereal landscapes. All these elements work in tandem to create something new each time.

Order Hypersprehere here.

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