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Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Michael Pedulla

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Michael Pedulla - decades ago

How did you get your start in music?

I inherited a violin when I was about 13 and that got me started. I attended a music college and violin was my major instrument, so I have a classical background. I did not pick up a guitar until I was in college.

Are you still an active player?

I no longer seem to have the time it takes to maintain any serious level.

How did you get started as a Luthier?

I first began while in college, we had an open end assignment in one of my ethnic music classes, I chose to build an Ud. I had picked up playing some banjo as well as guitar and the Ud was so much fun to make that I made myself a banjo next, then a dulcimer while still in school. Had a blast.

When did you build your first bass?

I began building instruments professionally in 1975 and my first bass was made in 1976.

How did you learn the art of woodworking/Luthier?

I always loved making things, somehow wood was always the attraction. I began helping my Dad with some projects when I was five. Although he was not a professional woodworker, he taught me many basic skills and, most importantly, to do it right or not at all (he was an Air Force pilot). I did not get in to working with instruments until much later. I learned design form doing repair work and the woodworking skills came with experience and always trying new things. I always had a love for engineering, physics, music and wood, so I put them all together and went after it. I did have formal training in classical music and violin but I never did have have any formal training in woodworking, I learned on my own.

Who would you consider a Mentor?

There is no single mentor, I had none in my profession. The tools I had to put the bass thing together came from my folks and inspiration from a vast array of people that chose to do something in their life with purpose, regardless of their profession. I did catch some breaks, I did have some help, no one accomplishes much without either. And I accepted failures, learned from them, and went back to it.

Michael Pedulla carving a bass neckHow do you select the woods you choose to build with?

At first it was all trial and error, the only way I could ever tell what would work and what wouldn’t was to try it. Currently, I choose my woods from what I’ve learned by building basses over the past four decades . They are different for each of the bass models I make now. They are chosen primarily for sound and looks. Within each type of wood there are many different factors: flat sawn, quartersawn, difference in density, color, figure etc. Unlike other materials, every piece of wood is different and must be treated as such.

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

My first electric guitars and basses had DiMarzio pickups, back in 1976. By chance I went to my first NAMM show in Chicago in 1978 and my booth was adjacent to “High A” pickups, Bartolini. Pat and Bill Bartolini showed me the ropes of doing a NAMM show, they gave me a few sets of pickups to try, and I have been using Bartolini ever since. Over the years, Bill designed our proprietary pickups and electronics, tweaking them to the sound I wanted for each new model. I use them exclusively, they are part of what provides the sound of each Pedulla bass.

Pedulla bass guitars

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

I worked with a number of great bassists during the mid to late 1970’s. Mark Egan and Tim Landers were the first, and both still play Pedulla basses. Mark was playing with Pat Matheny, Tim was with Al DiMeola. There were new demands being made in the role of the bass, and they were each looking for a new tool to meet those demands. We became good friends and have worked together to this day.

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

I don’t do custom basses. The problem with “custom” basses is that some people’s ideas of what they want just won’t work as well as they think. I’ve spent a lifetime putting together basses in various combinations of woods, electronics, designs, hardware, and I pretty much know what won’t work well together. It’s so much more than the components, it’s all about how you combine them. Like the million things that go in to an ecosystem that allows it to work, take a seemingly insignificant part out of it and it dies. Perhaps not on the same scale, but that is how it works for me. The only “Signature” bass I have done is the Mark Egan Signature, most recently a 40th Anniversary Edition.

MARK EGAN SIGNATURE MODEL - ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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

I consider the whole, and they are unique. The appearance and feel are unique and the sounds are signature and always will work because it is the heart of working bass. I build only my own bass designs.

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

They all are.

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

It’s harder than it may seem and in addition to being able to build truly useful and quality instruments, you’ll also need to know how to run a business and deal with the unexpected if you’re looking to make a living at it.

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

Don’t pay attention to the “flavor of the month” or the latest “fad” and don’t judge an instrument on looks alone. The only way to find the right bass for you is to try them. You may want to pay attention to what works for other bassists but not necessarily who endorses what because some companies give away instruments or pay for endorsements; The endorser may not have actually liked the bass enough to pay for it. We’ve never paid anyone to play a Pedulla bass and don’t give away basses… Pedulla Artists have all wanted their Pedulla basses enough to pay for them.

What is biggest success for you and for your company?

Working on year 41 and the basses are better than ever!

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

Yes. I am always working on something new, sometimes it takes years to go from thought to execution because I’m so busy filling bass orders, but it’s always there. I’m also constantly improving on current models in subtle ways, like improved electronics and more lustrous finishes.

What are your future plans?

I’m in my 60s and have been doing this full-time (often more than full time) for 41 years. Although I still love what I do, I may consider “semi-retirement” soon. Owning your own business is really a 24/7 job and I’d like to make more time for other things I enjoy doing. My schedule has been booked at least 3 months out with bass orders and if I “semi-retire”, that wait time for new basses may become longer.

Michael Pedulla - THEN AND NOW -MVP

Is there anything else you would like to share that we have not included?

I’d like to thank all of our customers, especially those who have been avid supporters and have provided great reviews, comments, social media posts, etc. All of those Pedulla bass (& Pedulla Bass Strings) buyers and supporters that have spread the word about the quality of our products and our dedication to what we do have contributed greatly to our longevity. We appreciate them very much – and appreciate you providing this opportunity to thank them!

Visit online:

www.facebook.com/PedullaBassGuitars

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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 @zonguitars @shukerbassguitars @bite.guitars @adamovicbasses @mayonesguitars @bassbros.uk @capursoguitars @overwaterbasses @saitiasguitars @ramabass.ok

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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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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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