Atlanta bassist, band leader and producer Jermaine Hall wants to tell you all about his new Prat bass, and the builder of these great instruments, Oscar Pratt. A long-time 5-string player, Jermaine has recently returned to the electric contra-bass guitar via this beautiful 6-string that allows him to speak his fertile musical mind. During the course of our conversation, Jermaine also talked about his forthcoming project, and his latest gear-choices! I learned a lot and felt the information more than worthy of sharing with our readers! Let’s dig in!
BAJ: Jermaine! It’s good to hear from you, man! Let’s unpack this great find of yours! First of all, I will say that this instrument is gorgeous! How did you discover Oscar Pratt and what can you tell us about him?
JH: There is so much I can say about Oscar Prat! But for the sake of time… I will keep it as brief as possible.
I have always been impressed with Oscars work as a Luthier, and when I attended NAMM, earlier this year, I had the pleasure of visiting his booth. As I looked around the Prat booth, I realized tat I was surrounded by some of the most abstract, and yet beautiful, bass guitars that I have ever seen! Right then, I made up my mind to approach Oscar about creating an instrument I had begun assembling in my imagination. Oscar made my dream come true in ever way! In my humble opinion, Oscar Pratt is one of the greatest Luthiers on the planet at this time. His design and perfectionist craftsmanship is first-class from top to bottom, and his instruments are works of art. I am honored to be a part of his vision and I’m excited about what the future holds for Oscar, and for Prat basses!!!
BAJ: So… How are you hoping to expand this burgeoning partnership? Will we see a signature instrument in the near future? Also, can you give us a heads-up about what to look for in your next Prat bass?
JH: Oscar is a builder who can listen to anyone describe a bass (or what they think that they may want in a bass) and build it to exceed his or her expectations! The possibilities of expansion are endless, to say the least! So, my scheduled appearances will be with my Prat basses, along with my Trick Fish gear.
Oscar and I, along with a few other artists, will be presenting a few clinics and shows together to showcase the product-line that Oscar has to offer. New performance and instrument construction videos and website updates are also in the works at this time. I have quite a few instrument design ideas that Oscar and I will be working on in the coming months.
So yes… there will surely be a signature bass in the works very soon. As much as I would like to divulge the details of my next Prat bass… I digress and must honor my vow of secrecy, for the time being!
BAJ: Cool, man! Okay… As someone who plays (and reads about) great many “game changing” basses throughout the year… what would you tell me about the Prat basses that help me decide to look into Oscar and his work?
JH: A key aspect that I love about this bass is the neck radius! This bass is very fast, and it is completely effortless to play! No bassist wants to struggle with his or her instrument and that fear is irradiated with this bass. In addition, the total weight of the instrument is only 9 pounds – which is AMAZING!
As far as fit and finish… I absolutely love the redwood burl top – even if it Resembles Freddy Kruger’s complexion, a bit! I’m kidding! The top wood blends well with the tone of the mahogany body – which is one of my favorite woods to use for a body on bass guitar. Finally, my new bass is loaded with a Noll 18-volt preamp. Without a doubt, the pickups give me a wealth of tonal options. In all, I am extremely happy with this amazing work of art by Oscar Prat, and I happily suggest checking out Oscar and his designs. If you’re looking for an instrument that captures your imagination…
BAJ: Let’s also talk about the Ebony nut on your new instrument! There are only a few of the newer builders bold enough to employ a hard wood as the instrument’s nut!! Have you noticed an affect on sound and/or function due to this feature?
JH: I must admit that I was shocked to see a wooden nut! Now that I’ve played the instrument, I am very pleased with it Oscar’s choice, and there really isn’t much of a difference – tonally, or in the area of the nut’s strength. I love it, and the more I play this instrument, the more I appreciate his creativity! Oscar felt that since the bass is made from wood… why not (also) make the nut from wood?
BAJ: That’s really good to hear! It is so very important to feel that the instrument we’re playing truly gets the creative juices flowing – while giving us the tonal palette only heard in our heads! It’s also wonderful learn that Oscar is coming from a very creative place in his design and concepts!
I have noticed that many of the new instruments on the scene seem to be built from the often non-musician Luthier’s perspective more so than from a player’s perspective. It is great to hear that a builder’s designs can be comfortable and cognitive!
JH: Yes! This bass “has it all”, as they say!
BAJ: What is the perfect tone for your mind’s ear, and what other tools (besides your instrument) do you employ to achieve the basics of your sound?
JH: The perfect tone for me would be a blend of low end and mid range, without a lot of high end. If I had to site an example… I would say Richard Bona’s tone. His tone is absolutely marvelous! I also really like Tony Grey and Mike Pope, and both have great tone.
For the past several months, I am using Trick Fish Amplification – which, is absolutely amazing gear! Richard Ruse and his team of masterminds seem to understand what is needed, as it relates to what bass players want in an amp, and did they ever “get it right”! I really love being able to just plug in and play!
I’m using two of the BM 1×12 cabs in addition to the Bullhead 1k amplifier. The unit has plenty of power, and it is reliable, accurate and virtually capable of handling any type of situation! Period.
BAJ: Several players are using the 33”-scale in the past few years. What is the draw to the shorter scale length for you? Also, talk with us about your return to the 6-string!
JH: I fell in love with the 33”-scale a few years ago. I was always reading about Matt Garrison, and he would talk about the shorter scale that he uses on his basses. I was fortunate to check out his bass at a NAMM, not long after reading about the 33”-scale, and it was by far the most comfortable scale length ever! In addition to the “less distance between frets”, the overall physical size and compact general dimension made a lasting impact on me! I’m not a big guy with a huge reach, and I love being comfortable while playing… So, the 33”-scale became home for me.
My heart has always been for the 6-string bass guitar. I tried doing the high-strung 5-string (E, A, D, G, C) thing for a while… But, I began missing the low B-string… a lot! So, when Oscar and I began discussing this bass, I decided to return to what was familiar to my sound and the range I work within. Humorously, I found myself getting frustrated with switching basses between songs when I needed a low B-string. Now, I have everything I need at my fingertips!
BAJ: Okay. You’ve found “the One”, and you are excited and inspired! What can we expect from the next Jermaine Hall release, and how will the new material feature the Prat bass?
JH: I have been writing a lot of new material on my new Prat bass! This next project will be a bit more commercial than the first one – and it will feature original material along with a few cover tunes that I have decided to experiment with this time around. There will be lots of vocals, and tons of different instruments that I have been wanting to create melodies around. Naturally, I’m extremely excited about it! The Prat bass will absolutely be in full effect on this project… and I may even pull out the fretless. It wouldn’t hurt, I guess!
Luthier Oscar Prat added this information about Jermaine’s instrument:
Jermaine’s bass is a Model M-BSV that incorporates a 33”-scale wenge fingerboard on a 28-fret Curly maple/wenge neck, and an ebony nut. The African mahogany body features a Lace redwood top with a Tru Oil finish.
The electronics are a pair of Nordstrand DC pickups with a NOLL 4-band preamp that features a volume/tone, balance, treble, hi/low mid, bass a/p switch and a series/single/parallel for each pickup. Finally, the hardware is Hipshot – Ultralite tuners and an A-Type 16.5mm bridge.
Check out Prat Basses at www.pratbasses.com