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Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Stephen Sukop, Sukop Basses

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Meet Stephen Sukop of Sukop Basses

How did you get your start in music?

I started playing bass at 10, began playing in clubs with some local groups at 15.

Are you still an active player?

Still playing bass a bit, but now I’m doing a solo acoustic guitar gig, country!

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

I always felt that if you played guitar and worked with wood, guitar making was a natural curiosity and I fell in the middle. I was 16 when I made my first bass, a fretless acoustic made from the wood of an old TV console. The sides were plywood and I soaked it in a tub to bend into a frame. Incredibly crude, but it worked! I still have it here at the shop.

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

I’m self-taught as a builder; trial and error, I love to experiment! I think if you learn from sombody else, you may just continue to do it that way; I want to see every avenue/option. I feel there’s always one best way to do anything. I definitely borrowed some ideas from basses I liked and fused those influences into what I do today.

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

Certain woods have been used since the beginnings of Fender. Hard maple for necks, and alder bodies have a definite familiarity with players, but as a custom builder, guys can choose whatever they like. Main thing is that the selected timbers have lots of time to season and relax.

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

I’ve been using Bartolini pickups and preamps for a long time; I view these as very high-quality, industry standard. I remember a guy asking me at a show what I though about this or that pickup or preamp. I told him, “I can’t really have an opinion on every new thing that comes out, I have a life! If you think one thing is better for you than another, just tell me and I can put it in your custom build order.”

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

The cool thing about builders is we are all so different. In the end everyone’s work will be their own interpretation of what they have as an ultimate vision. I put great emphasis on the feel of the instruments, I believe this is most important, and tone will follow. How good could anything sound if one must struggle to play it? A unique feature I am very proud of is my custom bridge, which I designed several years ago. Made of brass, they are independent saddles, which allow for varying string widths, along with a very close profile against the body. The ball end is also set in a notched brass sleeve in the face of the instrument, giving tight string through body-like contact, but is still quick release.

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

I don’t think I really have any favorites, I love all my children equally – LOL!   The design needs to be the customer’s favorite, thus the reason for many different model styles.  My job is really to give them exactly what they want; I don’t like to steer the project too much during a custom build, I think it’s better they decide the directions.

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

A famous bass builder I won’t name here told me, “If you were smart enough, you wouldn’t be in this business…” HA!   That said, there are easier ways to earn money. I do realize I am incredibly fortunate to have anything to show for what I chose to do for a living, but mostly a lot of hard work, overcoming failures and perhaps a bit of luck led to what could probably be termed a success. I feel I was born to do this. Follow your heart if you think this is really what you want to do, try not to be discouraged especially in the beginning.

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

Go with your gut. There are so many possibilities to choose from it’s mind numbing. Basses are like the musicians that play them, none are really better than the next, mostly just DIFFERENT. What works for one person may not work for another. You’ll know when you feel and hear it. I like to think as builders we definitely have more control over the physical aspects of the design than so much the tone; I say if it feels right you’ll get the sound. How good could something sound if you had to struggle to play it?  In the end I want my basses to be sort of invisible, that the sounds just come out of your head. Looking at the Mona Lisa, you don’t see the brush!

What is biggest success for you and for your company?

There’s a lot of ways success could be measured. For some it’s about the number of instruments produced and the revenues gained. For me it’s about making the best product I can possibly build and having extremely happy customers. Again, I’ve been lucky enough to “make it “.  If I never made another bass I’d be happy with what I’ve done, I have competed at a world-class level.

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

I still want to do a piezo bridge option, it’s been on the table for a bit now. Thinking about also doing another retro-version, maybe like a Jaguar bass, as I do love certain shapes for their timeless Americana appeal. My thanks to the customers, who always push me to try something new. It’s healthy growth to be tossed outside my comfort zone, and I’m always going to try to give them exactly what they ask for. I just did my first neck with inlaid graphite!

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What are your future plans?

For the future I’d love to simply continue what I’ve been doing, to keep refining the process and grow as an artist. It’s important for people to know there are alternative choices among instruments out there, not just the stuff you see at your local music store.

Thanks for the opportunity to showcase some of my work here.

Visit online at sukop.com

Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

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Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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IG &FB @bythethousands
YTB @BytheThousands

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Bass CDs

Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Amazon.com. Visit Mark online at markegan.com.

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.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 @cb_basses @alesvychodilbasses @odiengcustom @ramabass.ok @mauriziouberbasses @mgbassguitars @capursoguitars @thebassplace @adamovicbasses @ishguitars

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Bass CDs

New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album

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New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce "Kingdom of Shred" Album

ALBERTO RIGONI’s New Project NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album, Feat. Super Talented Guests Such as Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner + Many Others

Worldwide known Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI (soloist, BAD As, Kim Bingham, Vivaldi Metal Project, etc.) announces the new album “Kingdom of Shred” of his new project NEMESIS CALL. 

Alberto says: 
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, was released on June 4th 2024, I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental shred/prog/rock/metal/melodic album, that will feature many talented top-notch musicians such as drummer Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner, Alexandra Lioness, Aanika Pai (11 years old!), Keiji by Zero (19 years old!), SAKI and many others TBA/TBC). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025 or maybe for Christmas!.”

As an independent artist, Alberto Rigoni has launched a fundraising campaign to support the project. Support at www.albertorigoni.net/nemesiscall. 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro (www.legadelfilodoro.it/it), an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Visit online at www.albertorigoni.net | albertorigoni.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/albertorigonimusic | www.badas.rocks

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