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Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Marco Cortes, Marco Bass Guitars




Meet Marco Cortes of Marco Bass Guitars…

How did you get your start in music?

I started to take acoustic guitar lessons when I was 16 but after a year or smy church needed a bass player and I switched instruments from guitar to bass.

Are you still an active player?

Yes, I continue to play bass. It’s for sure one of my passions, and especially with my type of work. I play it every day, one way or another.



How did you get started as a Luthier? When did you build your first bass? 

When I started to play bass, I didn’t have money to buy a good one. I was about 17 when I decided to build a bass for myself..


How did you learn the art of woodworking/Luthier? Who would you consider a Mentor? 

I pretty much learned by myself. I went through several magazines, books and had to do a lot of trials and errors. In Brazil, at that time, the resources were very scarce. It was very difficult to buy tools, and I had to rely on some woodworking shops for the initial cuts. I had to do a lot of the work manually, with very few tools, which also forced me to learn how to make my own tools and develop the whole process literally from scratch. At some point, I was making everything – not only the woodworking part, but also the hardware – tuners, bridges – and that’s how I started to make my own pickups too.

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

Usually, I select the wood by weight, species and sound. I buy it already pre-dried and finalize the drying process in my shop, kind of seasoning the wood for my specs. But I have fun in doing so. I live in an area that has beautiful types of wood, and every time I go to the suppliers, I select them personally, already envisioning the next instrument.


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

I make my own pickups, which helps me, since I can play with them and have a greater variety of tones.

I have used all kinds of brands in the past – EMG, Bartolini, DiMarzio, but since it was too expensive and very difficult to buy them in Brazil, when I started making basses, I had to learn to develop and make my own pickups. I guess that the difficulties at the beginning of my career forced me to learn all kinds of trades in this profession, including making pickups.

Regarding the preamps, I have also used most of the ones in the market, but recently I have been using more Noll Preamp because they are very clean, not very voiced. Because I use my own pickups, I can develop my own tones for the basses. I don’t want an overly voiced preamp as to not clash with the unique sound of my pickups, but, I am always trying out different preamps.



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

The very first one was Nico Assuncao, one of the greatest bassist in Brazil, a true legend, and Claudio Beltrami, also in Brazil.

Here in the America, one of the very first ones was Abraham Laboriel.

I’m very blessed to have a great variety of talented musicians that play with my basses, like Matt Kirkwood, Chuck Jacobs, Dwayne Mono Neon, Ariel Garcia, Chris Mercedes, Todde Funk, Nick G, Pepe Bao, Claus Nauer Reher-Langberg, Caleb Gonzales, etc., just to name a few. There are so many good players and I truly appreciate all of them for their artistry.


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

First of all, I listen to the artist; he or she needs to be the first one to be in love with the bass, otherwise, they won’t play it. So, I try to get all the details, tones, preferences, etc., and from there, we go together in this building process, which is a partnership.

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

One thing that always concerns me the most is the action – and my basses have a really good action, but also my pickups – they are pretty unique.

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

I think my favorite one is usually the most recent I build.

But, there is a specific model, called VD (Victory Day), which is a model that I’ve put my heart and soul on it, meaning that it incorporates the best of the best that I have learned about the art of building basses all these years… all the aspects of the best characteristics from wood selection to the architecture of the construction of the blanks, how to position them with the right combination of each wood, to get the best reverberation, the best sound. Every single detail was meticulously thought through. I don’t even build them commercially, because they require a lot time and effort. I just use them to exercise and improve my techniques, and what I learn from these models, I apply in my other models, that are more commercial.

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

Yes, my advice is don’t build instruments for your own taste, but listen to the musicians and what they want. However, take some time to develop your own style, exercising your creativity.

marco-cortes-marco-bass-guitars-6What advice would you give a young musician trying to find his perfect bass?

First of all, you need to find a bass that will be an extension of your voice as an artist. Sometimes, people go just for the looks, the visual, but you need to feel the instrument, if the action is good, if it feels comfortable and can help you to become a better artist too.

What is biggest success for you and for your company?

My biggest success is building basses that everyone else in the entire world are building, which are the classic J and P basses models. Those are my forte. They are very successful and everyone that buys one of these bases, they always come back to buy a second or third bass.


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

I am always trying something new. I have that “craving” not only for continuing to improve my work, but also to continue to be creative. Right now, I am doing some basses, which are a variation of the J Bass model. I am also going back to making my own designs as well and I’m in the process of developing some signature basses for some musicians. I have an extensive line of instruments with single cuts and high-end models, however the market requires the more affordable ones.

What are your future plans?

I just want to continue to establish what I have already been doing but also having my instruments in the hands of more musicians. I also want to move forward with my line of electric guitars.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Just to thank all the musicians for all the support. I couldn’t do anything without them. In this journey of making basses, I am blessed for having made great friends. Most of my clients become friends and some I can even call part of my family too. It has been a great and rewarding ride. I enjoy what I do, but especially for being able to hang out and chat with great people from all over the world. I love what I do!

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram



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 @adamovicbasses @mayonesguitars @capursoguitars @overwaterbasses @saitiasguitars @ramabass.ok

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Gear News

New Gear: Elrick Bass Guitars Headless Series



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, 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)



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:

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

Bruegel Hall at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna:

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser



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: 
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



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

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