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Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – George and Marcel Furlanetto

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George-Marcel

Interview with Luthiers George and Marcel Furlanetto, F Bass –

F Bass – Past, Present and Future…

KG: George, F Bass has been around for many years. How and when did you get started?

GF: A friend introduced me to guitar when I was 16; that was 1967, right in the middle of guitar-centred, rock music era. I loved it instantly, learning from the instructional Ventures records. Throw into that mix my interest in improving things, and I started tinkering with guitars. I think I have to credit my parents’ inherited genes; my dad was a very good artist and craftsperson, as well as being able to repair almost anything, and my mom had a fabulous, natural singing voice.

In 1969 I started doing guitar repairs in a well-established, local music store. By a stroke of luck (mine), their repairperson had been AWOL for two weeks. In 1976 I opened my own repair business and built my first electric guitar that year. The first electric bass build came in 1978.

Gage Park Hamilton 1980

George in Gage Park, 1980

KG: Marcel, when did you join your father’s business and what prompted you to do so? What would you say your role is at F Bass right now?

MF: While growing up I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by all facets of music, but it was gear itself that really drew my attention. I was fascinated with the construction of guitars & basses, their history/origin, the tonal variation between wood species, strings, hardware, and many other components. It was actually a little embarrassing how excited I got over wood…there’s a better way to put that…but I haven’t found it yet. At the age of 16 my father guided me through my first proper guitar and bass builds, it was at this point that he allowed me to get my hands dirty with F Basses. I started off on knob duty (yup, those are handmade as well) and graduated to various stages of production before delving into business studies. After snagging a couple of diplomas in Business by 2010, I turned my full attention to F Bass Artist Relations, Customer Support, Marketing, R&D, Sales, etc.

BN6 100 year old underwater Redwood with matching pickups and ramp

KG: Who are some of the artists you have worked with in the past and how would you they have helped to shape F Bass?

GF: It started out with a few local bassists until a mutual friend in Montreal introduced me to UZEB in 1982. I first built synth loaded guitars for Michel Cusson, the guitarist in the band, then in 1983 I convinced Alain to play a 5-string rather than the 32-fret 4-string he was playing. The relationship blossomed as he and I had similar tastes in bass and tone. He is very analytical in all aspects of his music and instrumentation, so he helped in the development of his signature fretless model as well as his fretted. As a highly respected and visible artist in the bass community, he helped immensely in the sale of basses from that time on.

Alain-Caron-Original

The other prominent artists at that time were, Marcus Miller, Tom Hamilton of AEROSMTH, Mike Porcaro of TOTO, and Myron Dove of SANTANA

MF: We’ve worked with a handful of artists from local instructors to players touring the globe relentlessly. They’ve all contributed to the F Bass design, influenced sales, and of course shaped the overall feel of the “company”, which feels more like a massive family.

F Bass has been well known in the Jazz world for decades, though we’ve been expanding into so many genres/sub-genres/sub-sub genres with the help of several talented artists joining us in recent years. To name a few: Joe Cleveland (Rita Ora, Nick Jonas), Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Charles Spearin (Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think, Feist), and Ryan Stasik (Umphrey’s McGee).

KG: How has the industry changed for Luthiers over the recent years?

GF: The Internet has brought a lot of knowledge of guitar (and bass) construction to the forefront, as well as educating the buying customer, that is resulting in the proliferation of individual bass builders. So competition has stiffened, but the buyer has a wider awareness of the product and what they really want in a bass.

MF: There have always been a slew of badass Luthiers out there and it’s great to see Social Media outlets offering platforms for everyone to share their work. The community seems to be growing faster than ever and it’s fantastic to see so many pockets within our niche market being filled. Everyone is pushing each other slightly outside of their comfort zones and it’s amounting to so many fresh ideas coming to fruition.

black-and-white-ceruse

KG: How would you guide a first-time buyer in purchasing their first F Bass or handmade bass? What questions should they ask themselves?

GF & MF: To shorten the process and turn it into a more positive one, we suggest speaking to a manufacturer/Luthier about your desired tone. They’ll be able to recommend wood and construction combos and gear you towards suitable models.

Once you’ve got a model/specs in your crosshairs, it’s recommended that you try the instrument out in person, if possible. If the bass sounds great unplugged, then you know you’re off to a great start. Make sure to test through a fairly transparent amp with the EQ set flat. Note: you’d be amazed at how much different strings and a proper set up can tweak your tone!

BN5-tops

KG: Can you talk in general terms about the different choices in wood and how they affect tone? For body? Neck? Fingerboard?

MF: All wood used in our instruments is carefully selected and has to meet several criteria (size, weight, density, moisture content, overall quality, and aesthetics) before entering our shop doors. The standard 2pc Northern Ash or Swamp Ash body and 3pc quarter-sawn Maple necks offer the perfect canvas for painting varying tones. Ash lends itself well to a big/tight bottom end with clear high-end presence. Our 3-piece, quarter-sawn Hard Canadian Maple necks and fingerboards bring in rich mids that cut through a mix and offer great stability, top-end clarity, and a snappy attack. Depending on the desired outcome, the tone can then be coloured through varying construction methods and/or by substituting different wood species.

Some examples:

  • Alder body or body wings add lows and low mids
    – 1 piece body over 2 or 3 pc adds resonance
  • -Rosewood fingerboard rounds off the highs with an overall darker/warmer tone
  • Macassar Ebony fingerboards tighten up the low end and add compression…this paired with its quick attack bodes well for chords and quick runs
  • Dense exotic wood top (like Macassar Ebony or Ziricote) adds compression and amounts to a more focused tone

…This list is quite extensive as we offer nearly 20 different species of wood. Contacting us to discuss the tone of your bass is strongly suggested…we’re always here to help.

redwood twins facebook

KG: For those of us who care about aesthetics, what are some of the options we have in making our bass a better representation of who we are as artists and musicians?

MF: Wood combos aren’t only great for attaining a player’s voice, but for aesthetics as well. We have an abundance of neat fingerboard, pickup shell, and top wood options in addition to a library of finishes. The finishes range anywhere from transparent colours with enhanced grain, opaque vintage Fender pastels, both traditional and vertically faded bursts…we’ve even had an Elvis/Madonna/MJ airbrush job come through. Oh, did I mention fingerboard inlays or wooden pickguards? The list goes on and if you haven’t seen it from F Bass, chances are our production team (Chadd, Dan, George, Jon, Paul, Rich, and Sarah) can make it happen.

KG: F Bass has been a long time exhibitor at the annual NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in California. How does it, and other trade shows, help a small bass manufacturing company like F Bass?

GF: NAMM is a very good arena to display our basses to those that have not seen them before, and to show any new developments that we’ve made. It’s also an excellent networking environment for meeting and collaborating with artists, manufacturers, and suppliers of bass components and sharing in the camaraderie of other bass Luthiers.

namm8

KG: While you’re based out of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, I was surprised to see a full page of authorized dealers and retailers on your website. How many countries are you in now?

MF: We’re proud to have over 30 dealers in 17 different countries carrying F Basses. While in depth phone calls and emails are always fun and helpful, there’s nothing like trying the real thing in person.

KG: Tell us about the BASS CAMP you’re running this year.

MF: A little blurb from our website if you will:

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Markbass, LaBella, and Long & McQuade to support the 2nd annual ‘Ultimate Bass Camp’ featuring F Bass artists Alain Caron and Hadrien Feraud.

The week-long camp will be held at the world renowned Orford Arts Centre in Mont Orford, Quebec, Canada, from August 15 to 20, 2016. A few of us from F Bass will also join in to host clinics on live sound & wood/bass construction in addition to the artist clinics.

Between lessons, evening artist performances, and impromptu kickball should the mood strike…bassists will have free rein on our jam room loaded with F Basses, Markbass amps, and oodles of our favourite pedals.

The camp is open to all ages and skill levels, and two groups will be made to ensure everyone takes away as much as possible from the clinics. Details on pricing/registry can be found on our website at www.fbass.com

Redwood-Spalted-BigGuy

KG: George, you’re still having fun and playing with your buddies. Tell us a bit about your band and how long you’ve been playing together.

GF: I happened to fall into a band where the two requirements were that you needed to be Italian and have a mortgage; the latter showed stability and longevity. I have been with them for 33 years. We all get along, including the wives. We all have gone on vacation together (eleven of us), which seems logistically impossible. It’s a fun band as we get to play a huge variety of music, from polkas and waltzes, R&B, Latin, Portuguese, Jazz standards, dance, etc. and I get to try/test my basses live. We all have become incredibly good friends

KG: Where would you like to see F Bass in the future?

GF & MF: As an ongoing strong entity in the bass community, where bassists would look to for their ultimate instrument. As a forward-looking company that constantly evolves in small, secure increments with new ideas and materials.

Visit online:

 Burled Maple Made in Canada

 

 

 

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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