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Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Freddy Utrera

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Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Freddy Utrera - Basses Utrera 3Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Freddy Utrera…

How did you get your start in music?

From an early age I was surrounded by music, because several members of my family played instruments. I started playing electric bass at 11 years old, I remember that my first bass was a Fender Jazz Bass, a present from one of my uncles; from that moment it woke in me a great interest and passion. I continued playing as autodidact and then at 16 years old I began to study music at a conservatory, parallel I also began studying electric bass with professors with international careers. Around that time I made my debut as a bass player in a group of Salsa. Years later I studied harmony, jazz and improvisation and started playing different styles like Funk, Pop, Rock and Reggae. I have been a professional bassist since 1984.

Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Freddy Utrera - Namm show2

Are you still an active player?

Currently I am not playing bass with any group, but I try to dedicate an hour or more daily to play bass because of my passion for the instrument, its sound, melodic, and percussive notes continue making me happy and in love.

How did you get started as a Luthier? When did you build your first bass?

As a bass player I used several brands of basses. I frequently changed from one to another because it was difficult for me to find an Instrument that was final, that I felt totally comfortable with. I started to buy many books that talked about the whole process of making stringed instruments. One day talking to my wife after spending a lot of money on every purchase of a new instrument, I told to her, “This could only stop if I do an instrument that has all the features that I want in a bass”. She smiled and told me, “You’re crazy!!”

I began teaching myself, as I really didn’t have a teacher to teach me the art of being a Luthier. After various experiments in 1996 I manufactured my first bass; it was made with national woods like Puy and Algarrobo, those are really heavy woods.

 

How did you learn the art of woodworking/Luthier? Who would you consider a Mentor?

Being self-taught, I was inspired by the master, Michael Tobias, and his excellent taste to combine the woods.

How do you select the woods you choose to build with?

I am a lover of woods. I was buying different types and testing their sound. The blank wood goes through a selection process; I choose and buy woods that don’t have details, that you can really appreciate their beauty and excellent qualities. They are as dry as possible, ready to work immediately on them.

Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Freddy Utrera

How about pickups? What pickups did you use in the past? What electronics do you use right now?

In my firsts instruments I used Seymour Duncan and EMG. Today I work with Nordstrand Pickups, which are custom-made for us, as well as Aguilar Pickups & Preamps and EMG.

Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Freddy Utrera- Basses Utrera 6

Who were some of the first well-known musicians who started playing your basses?

  • Marco Navarro (Rubén Blades`s bass player)
  • Giovanni Ramírez (Ilan Chester and “El Puma” José Luis Rodríguez)
  • Henry Paul (Franco de Vita)

Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Freddy Utrera - Namm-Show-Edo Castro-Artist utrera

How do you develop a signature or custom bass for an artist?

The first step would be selecting the model; we have 6 different options to choose from. The next one would be the selection of woods for the body, neck, fingerboard and top, if the client chooses exotic woods. Next they decide the type of scale, hardware color, fret number, finish and type of pickups we work with, for example: JJ, PJ, JMM, Dualcoil.

Basses Utrera 1What are a few things that you are proud about your instruments and that you would consider unique in your instruments?

Their sound, as well as the esthetic that I’ve accomplished and the versatility for different musical styles. I think even though there are some standards established many years ago for the production of basses and guitars, each instrument is unique. You can build two basses with the exact same specifications, but you won’t get the same sound.

Basses Utrera 2Which one of the basses that you build is your favorite one?

Honestly I like them all. Every time that I finish an instrument it is difficult for me to accept that I can´t stay with him… but I have two favorite models, the Prestige and the Classic.

Can you give us a word of advice to young Luthiers who are just starting out?

Never stop fighting and pursuing their dreams, have a lot of discipline and dedication, as it is fundamental to achieve their goals. Today there are many resources to learn how to manufacture an instrument – schools, books and videos. Being a Luthier is more than a job; it is an art, so there must be a great passion for this craft.

Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Freddy Utrera - Workshop Utrera 2

What advice would you give a young musician trying to find his perfect bass?

In my experience as a bass player, I think that the most important things to consider are the sound, quality, comfort and design. Those are really the important aspects when you are purchasing an instrument.

Namm show

What is biggest success for you and for your company?

Being an exhibitor at Summer NAMM and Winter NAMM Shows, having recognized artists with experience using Utrera basses and the excellent receptivity that I have gained over years.

Are you preparing something new, some new model or new design? Or maybe some new gear amps, etc.

Yes, I just finished the design process of a semi-hollow model, it’s name is “Flamenco”, and others models that soon you will be seeing in my social networks.

What are your future plans?

Continue working, consolidating the brand, growing as a company, developing new models, technologies and projects always related to music. But above all to keep helping each musician that comes to build an instrument with me to find his sound, a high quality instrument that meets all his expectations and that will be a pleasure for him to play with it. As a musician that’s what fills me the most and that was the reason I started in this business.

 

Visit online:

 

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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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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