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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

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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