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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

 

Gear News

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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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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