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Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat

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Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat-1

Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat…

How did you get your start in music? 

I played the recorder and guitar when I was a little kid, nothing serious. But I always wanted to play music. In my first year of college, my friends had a rock band, and their bassist left the group… so it was my opportunity.

Are you still an active player?  

No, I wish! Family and work don’t leave me much free time!

Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat-2

How did you get started as a Luthier?  

When I was a kid in my father’s workshop, I built an inspiring “mini harp” (a frame with rubberband strings!)  But seriously, how it all started was a life chance. I met my American wife in college in Barcelona and I later came to the USA to be with her. To get the funds to move, I sold my own bass and the music equipment I was using. I knew how to work with woods, so I decided I would craft my own bass. As you can imagine, this first bass was a piece of crap! But this first attempt at building sparked curiousity me. That’s where the passion to craft a perfect bass began… ahhaha! Years and years of learning; in the beginning through books and studying theory and later in the workshop of the master luthier Steve Higgins. Prat Basses has only been around 10 years of professional building and I’m still learning!

Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat-3

When did you build your first bass?  

I can say I built my first real bass, the first “good” instrument, in the year 2000. I never wanted to make a Fender copy or something like that. Maybe it is a smoother route to understand some concepts, but I always wanted to develop my own idea and so mine was a longer path.

How did you learn the art of woodworking/Luthier?   

I started seriously with the theory. At that time the internet was in its early stages, so the only resources I had were books. Like you know, I lived in Barcelona at that time, and my English was really limited and the few books I had were in English. It took a lot of effort to understand all the concepts. With these books I built a few basses, but then I met Steve Higgins. He was an incredible American luthier living in Barcelona, making classic and acoustic guitars. He accepted me as a student, and it was cool because he had never built an electric bass, so we both learned together!  We crafted a few instruments together, until I developed my own style.

Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat-4

Who would you consider a Mentor?? 

Steve was my Master Luthier and mentor. Our friendship taught me what is was to be a Luthier. Back in the USA, I marketed my instruments and myself as a Luthier. It was risky, because I had never really compared my basses with other professional basses, ever. But I always believed in my work.

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

The wood says a lot just how it shows. I always had a connection with wood, because I worked restoring antique furniture in Spain, and also I had my own antique store in Barcelona for years. I think it is a mix of intuition and past experience. I always choose small quantities of the wood, selecting the very best of the pile!

How about pickups?  

I really don’t have any preference for pickups. The customer should make their choice. But of course I like to work with companies that have good customer service and can fulfill my requests for custom pickups or electronics.

Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat-8

What electronics do you use right now??

Currently, I’m using Nordstrand pickups (USA) and Noll preamps (Germany) for my standar orders, but like I said, all pickups and electronics are available.

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

Before I moved to the USA, Josep “professor” Merchant, and Charlie Moreno. Here in The USA, Garry Goodman and Jared Lees, to say some.

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

To build a signature bass we first need to have a connection, not just agree to build a “different” bass. I need to know the artist personally, and I need to have a positive feeling.  Normally it is “easy” to work with a great bassist, because they know very well what they want! I have a clear idea of what the artist wants before I start building –  almost like following instructions… hahaha!

Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat-8-7

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

There are so many good Luthiers! I am truly humbled when I go to the NAMM shows and I can see the work of other colleagues. Almost everybody comments about my instruments playability and choice of woods. I agree with these opinions.

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

All of them.

Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat-6

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

I’d say not to choose this work for money. It is a very difficult profession, because the industry has its own standards and stars and it is very hard to be recognized. You need to believe in yourself and love the work firstly.

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

Go to the music shop with a blindfold. Play a few basses with the blindfold on and make a mental list of which is your favorite, the second favorite… buy the first one if you can.

Sometimes we just look at brands!

What is biggest success for you and for your company?  

I consider myself so lucky. I won the Bass Gear Magazine award for best bass product in my first NAMM show in 2010. I have always had so much support from everybody in the industry; from so many amazing players, so many great companies… but the most important to me is that I’ve made so many good friends through my work.

Year of the Luthier – Oscar Prat-5

Are you preparing something new, some new model or new design?  

I’ve had my standard models for a while now. I’m playing with some new ideas and objectives, maybe moving to Europe, again, who knows? New models always resulted from personal life experiences… It is an artistic projection!

What are your future plans? 2 words:  

Family. Basses.

Visit online at www.pratbasses.com

 

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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Gear News

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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Bass Events

Milt Hinton Institute for Bass Summer Camp in New Jersey

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Milt Hinton Institute for Bass sSummer Camp in New Jersey

Milt Hinton Institute for Bass Summer Camp in New Jersey…

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) will host the Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass, an exceptional summer music education program for teens, in residence at Montclair State University, in July 2024. Unique among music camps, the Hinton Institute is designed to support intermediate and advanced bass players ages 14 through 18, for a week of expert classes, performances, ensemble work, studio sessions, lectures, workshops and more. The camp will run from July 14 through July 20, 2024Registration is open December 16, 2023, through  June 7, 2024for more information on applying to the Milt Hinton Institute, please visit njpac.org/hinton. Student musicians will be required to submit a video of themselves playing two performance pieces during the application process. Need-based tuition scholarships are available.

Peter Dominguez, acclaimed bassist and Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison, will serve as the Institute’s Artistic Director.  An extraordinary faculty of professionals from the music world — including Rufus Reid, Ben Williams, Luis Perdomo, Jeremy Smith, Sam Suggs, Martin Wind, Marcus McLaurine, Bill Moring, Mimi Jones, Emma Dayhuff, Diana Gannett, and Bill Crow — will  focus camp instruction on bass performance techniques and ensemble playing in a range of musical genres including classical, Latin and jazz. 

The camp is named for Milt Hinton (1910-2000) a prolific jazz bassist, studio musician and photographer whose career intersected with many of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The Institute has been held biennially since 2014. It joined forces with the Arts Center this season in part to draw a larger faculty of professional bass players from among the many musicians living and working in the New York City area. Notable guest artists from the region are expected to visit with campers as well.    

“We’re very pleased to have this program be part of the larger vision of NJPAC and its extensive Arts Education offerings. The work being done by the Arts Center has a significant social impact” said David G. Berger, a lifelong friend of Hinton’s, whose Berger Family Foundation helped support the camp.  “That would have been extremely attractive to Milt. He wanted everybody to be involved with music — old and young, men and women, all colors, all creeds. Long before it was popular, that’s the way he lived his life — he welcomed everyone.”

“I grew up in the jazz festival business, and there was no one whose artistry matched his heart  better than Milt Hinton,” said John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC. “He was a brilliant bassist and he also was a brilliant human being. He was the heartbeat of any band he played in and he exuded a kindness that to me exemplified the spirit of jazz.”

Known as “the dean of jazz bassists,” Hinton played with jazz greats from the early 1930s on, performing with Jabbo Smith, Eddie South, Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Erroll Garner, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and many others. Hinton also recorded with pop superstars including Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler and Willie Nelson. Hinton also toured extensively, and in 1993, he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship. He was also well known for his photography, through which he documented seven decades of jazz history. Hinton was renowned for his willingness to mentor young players; a scholarship program in his name was established by his friends and admirers on his 70th birthday. After Hinton’s passing, the Institute was conceived as a way to continue his work in supporting younger bass players. “Two of Milt’s favorite words — ‘cohesiveness’ and ‘sharing’ — are at the core of this week-long Institute that brings together emerging bassists who often are the singular players in their own community and school ensembles,” said Artistic Director Dominguez, (whose own career was advanced when he became one of the first winners of a Hinton Scholarship Competition  in 1981).  “To be a bass player is often to focus not on being a soloist, but on musical collaboration — making other musicians in an ensemble sound better. Bass players are the soul of ensemble playing, and to develop these young souls through arts education programming at NJPAC is both an honor for us and an important responsibility,” said David Rodriguez, NJPAC’s Executive Producer and Executive Vice President — and himself a well-known professional bass player.

The camp will be housed on the campus of Montclair State University in Montclair, where students will live, study and have the opportunity to take part in multiple performances. “Bringing the prestigious Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass to the campus of Montclair State University marks an exciting chapter for the College of the Arts, reinforcing our commitment to providing exceptional opportunities for young musicians,” said Daniel Gurskis, Dean of the College of the Arts. “With NJPAC as our partner, we look forward to creating an environment where passion meets skill, fostering a new generation of accomplished and versatile bassists. We are confident that the Institute will become a beacon, attracting talent from diverse backgrounds who are the future of bass music.”

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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 @astluthier @bqwbassguitar @foderaguitars @ramabass.ok @s.martyn_custom_basses @anacondabasses @capursoguitars @sireusaofficial @atelierz1988 @doctorbassburgos

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