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Luthier Spotlight: Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Über Basses

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Luthier Spotlight: Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Über Basses

In this issue, I have the honor of interview pre-eminent luthier Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Über Basses (MüB). 

His gorgeous original designs, exquisitely crafted and great playing basses came to my attention a couple of years ago. As a result, I have always been curious about both the man who builds these world-class basses, as well as the MüB brand.

Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Uber Basses

Bass Musician Magazine (BMM):  Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your basses and background.  I know you are very busy in the shop with new builds, so I will take as little of your time as I can.  

Maurizio Über Basses (MüB): My pleasure! It’s very kind of you to take an interest in what I do. Talking to you and to your readers it exciting and an honor.

BMM: Thank you.  You are an elite luthier who builds some amazing custom basses.  I have been fortunate enough to see and play one of your basses you built for Chicago bassist Jauqo III-X.  That bass was exquisite and the playability was phenomenal.  It is the reason I wanted to know more about you and your company, Maurizio Über Basses.  

Can you briefly talk about your philosophy as a bass builder?

MüB: Thank you!  We have been quite lucky actually, with professional bass players supporting us quite early on – Jauqo III-X obviously being one of them.  I am glad you liked Jauqo’s bass – the J5 Funk Machine. Working with Jauqo was fun. He’s a great bass player with an unusually deep understanding of the instrument. Some of the ideas we came up with have become an integral part of my building style. Jauqo and I are currently working together on his 8 string headless bass and a few other projects. He’s a good friend and a great guy. I was lucky to have met him.

Luthier Spotlight - Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Uber Basses

MüB’s vision – I should say, mission – can be summed up by four words: Personal, Ergonomic, Surprising, Affordable.  As you might notice Tone is not one of them. To us, great tone is both a given and a personal thing. 

At its core, a MüB always sounds articulate and even across frequency range, with great attack, sustain. With that as a starting point, we then tweak the inherent voice of the bass to suit the owner’s preference. That, plus a unique look developed around the owner’s likes, dislikes is what Personal stands for. We want to build for you a bass that makes you want to pick it up and play every time you look at it. 

A MüB is always ergonomic. We take great pride in modifying the design to build a bass that fits its owner like a glove – weight, weight distribution, neck profile, angles at which the bass is most likely to be played. Little tweaks to facilitate whatever playing technique one uses, however unique. Countless details that make a bass feel right from the get-go.

Surprising: each MüB must have the Wow factor, otherwise, it’s not a MüB. It could just a simple detail, a little tweak no one has thought of, a very complex inlay. Sometimes it’s a detail only the owner is aware of. That’s true even for our entry-level bass, the MüB Classic.

Finally, Affordable. We are on a mission to make true custom basses available to real-world musicians. Not everyone can afford a bass that costs many thousands of dollars. We keep our prices as low as we can afford while still opening the shop in the morning. If one compares apples with apples it should be pretty evident that a MüB often costs 30% to 40% less than another bass at the same level. Many ask how do we do this. It’s actually deceptively simple: we make less profit. 

Maurizio Uber Basses

We honestly believe that, doing something that gives us so much pleasure every day is also profit. Some have suggested that building basses in Asia is cheaper. Actually, if one wants to build high-end instruments the opposite is true. Our hardware, pick-ups, electronics, finishes, many of our woods and most of our tools and machines are imported. Each bass costs us almost twice as much to build as it would if we were based in the USA or Europe. But the cost of living here is lower and that helps. We do not cut corners. We simply can’t afford it, And we would not build basses any other way.

BMM: Your mission or vision is admirable!  Bass players all over the world will be grateful to know that a luthier of your stature is working hard to build high-quality instruments that are well within reach of the working players.  Can you please talk a little bit about how you started as a luthier?   

MüB: My way into bass building has been perhaps a bit unorthodox. Typically, I suppose, builders come from either the repair or the woodworking end. Instead, I studied visual art, worked as an advertising creative director, then as a commercial film director. No wood, no power tools there. 

But I’ve been a bass player since I was a kid and that is an integral part of who I am. At some point, I started toying with the idea of building basses one day. I built my first bass many years ago, out of a broken Telecaster body a luthier in Milan gave me. I still have it: a barely playable piece of junk my band vetoed right away. But it was fun.

When one of my basses needed re-fretting I took it to a local shop. The owner turned out to be a very well known luthier – Jeffrey Yong, who makes phenomenal acoustic guitars.

I must have had a light-bulb moment when I asked him if I could instead pay him to teach me how to do replace the board, insert carbon fiber spars, glue on a new board, add an intricate inlay and fret it. To my surprise, he agreed. Jeffrey then became my mentor and today we’re good friends.

This first project was tough. I knew nothing! But had my introduction to tools, woods and leaned two things: that I liked it, and that I could do it. 

So I went back and built my own bass: a headless bass with a headstock filled with all my likes, dislikes, ideas and everything I had learned as a bass player and observed from a visual art, design angle. I took the Jazz Bass as a starting point, called my project ‘The Über-Jay’ and started a thread on the bass forum Talk Bass. To my surprise, the thread was quite successful. I received a lot of comments, constructive criticism, words of encouragement. It was wonderful and I am so grateful to all of those kind people.

Luthier Spotlight - Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Uber Basses

It took me eighteen months to finish it! Well, I had a day job, I was new to tools, process, woods, and I had to design and prototype the string anchors which were not available. It took me forever. But it was fun and I learned a lot. That rather crude early string anchor design eventually evolved into what we use today on our Headless-Hybrid model.

The first Über-Jay looked OK and sounded fine. A few flaws here and there, mostly in the woodwork department. But the idea worked. So, I built a second bass. The Über-Jay Eldorado looked better and sounded great. It’s still my main gig bass.

While building the Eldorado, I received my first order: it felt amazing and terrifying at the same time. I put all the budget into woods, parts, third party cost. I probably lost money too. But I couldn’t care less. It was my first build for a paying customer and it had to be the best bass I could build. 

It took me about eight months to finish The Über-Jay5 Ragnarök – which is still faster than the twelve months it took the Eldorado. And I was doing everything by hand in my spare time. The bass turned out pretty good actually. I was really proud.

More orders followed. I introduced a new design, the Über-Groove. Soon enough I had to make a choice. I loved film directing. But I loved building basses more. So I kissed advertising goodbye, started MüB and never looked back.

If I do look back though, I can’t believe how fast this whole thing went. I have been incredibly lucky and I am grateful to those who chose to trust a nobody with their dream bass and their hard-earned money. Thank you guys! You know who you are.

Luthier Spotlight - Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Uber Basses

BMM:  Your story is nothing short of amazing!  Your woodworking skills must have grown exponentially because your workmanship is world-class.  It comes as no surprise that you are also a bass player.  Also, your strong design background shows in your gorgeous and original designs.  Who are some of the players that are playing your basses?

MüB: We work with a few high profile artists in Asia. One of them is Andy Peterson, rightfully considered a point of reference for bassists in the East Asia region. Andy was a first adopter of the MüB Airborne, a model we developed together to make his life easier – Andy is on the road most of the time with some of the biggest names in the Asia music industry.

In India, which as you probably know is big on music, we work with quite a few professionals. One of them is Sheldon D’Silva, who’s very well known and active in the Jazz scene. Sheldon is a fantastic musician who has played with the likes of John McLaughlin, Tony Banks and many more.

The MüB Sheldon D’Silva signature is the result of one year of collaboration, exchanging ideas, learning the way Sheldon plays. His technique is pretty unique and complex, both melodic and percussive. The SD’S had to be rethought from the group up. We are very proud of the result. Some extremely talented musicians we work with are becoming increasingly successful. The fact that there is a MüB in their gig bag makes us proud. 

Luthier Spotlight - Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Uber Basses

Besides that, we stay in touch with most of our customers. You could call it, post-sale service. But we actually love doing that! We are all bass players, after all. And since our clientele is scattered all over, we get in return precious feedback from diverse environments, music cultures, industry standards and last but not the least, climates. You won’t believe how challenging humidity levels can be for a bass in some regions. All we learn finds its way in our R&D.

It is also interesting to note that, our clients play a rather broad range of music styles – jazz, metal, funk, gospel, pop, electronic, rock, Latino. And they are both touring and studio artists. A confirmations that each MüB is both fully tailored to the specific needs of our clients, and in itself a versatile instrument.

BMM:  Your “post-sale service” idea is wonderful!  I’m sure your customers feel like they belong to the MüB family.  Recently you added a new bass model – The Uber Compact.  It is a gorgeous headless compact bass that looks like it can fit into a backpack or messenger bag.  How did this new model come about?

David Foster

MüB: That’s the Miezo. Glad you like it! Basically, the Über-Compact series expands on our goal to create a MüB ecosystem, so to speak. The Ü-C family is made up of the Airborne and the Miezo, and it puts the accent on portability. I knew I wanted to do this since day one – I travel a lot and always wanted this kind of bass.

We did not invent the wheel though: the Ashbory De Armond in the 90s, the Kala bass, more recently the Wing Basses and a few other brands, each has come up with their unique take on a compact instrument. Even though we might have taken a different approach I wish to credit all of them for having inspired us.

The first Airborne for Andy was built in 2012: a 30” scale bolt-on, headless bass that is easy to disassemble and reassemble. It’s been a pretty successful model since inception. Shortly after we added the single-cut option which makes the Airborne even shorter once disassembled.

We have recently launched new options to complete the Ü-C family. The Airborne can now be ordered in a variety of scale lengths: 30”, 25.5”, 22.7”,  16”. The beauty of this is that each neck fits the same body and bold-on system with all parts being fully integrated. 

Luthier Spotlight - Maurizio Caduto

Say, you order your Airborne with a 30” and a 16” scale neck because you are a touring musician who spends long hours commuting to venues. On the bus, you could bolt the 16” scale neck onto the body and play while listening through your headphone, Then, at the venue, you replace the 16” scale neck with the 30” one and head to soundcheck. It really takes two minutes as both string and intonation are locked. You just have to tune the bass.

Now, all this addresses the practical side of things. But when you look at the impact it has on the instrument’s voice, then it really gets interesting. Different scale lengths sound and feel inherently different – which is a great thing!  When you throw at it variables such as open tuning, string type and gauge and – quite crucially – the native scale length of the string being used, then permutations become virtually infinite. Imagine what a studio artist could achieve with such a broad tone palette in just one instrument! 

It’s not over: based on our client’s preferences, we will fine-tune the wood choice of your Airborne so that, each body/neck combo complements or enhances a specific aspect of its scale length character. This is our approach to each MüB we build. On the Airborne, it really takes off.

Maurizio Caduto - Maurizio Uber Basses

As a bass player, the one thing I like the most of the Ü-C family is that it frees up creativity. In my mind, portability is a great by-product.

And then we have the Miezo – a16” scale instrument, like the Airborne, but carved out of a single body billet. It is very compact: a 6 stringer weighs about 5lbs, is 21 1/4” long, 11 1/2” wide, 1.57” thick including the knobs. 

One of MüB’s main design imperatives is ergonomics. A MüB must fit like a glove and feel right from the get-go. The Miezo recreates the feeling of our full-length basses – same body/instrument contact points, same playing position both sit and strapped on. Transitioning between Miezo 5 and, say, the 34” scale G5 feels pretty seamless.

Much like for the Airborne, with each string gauge, the Miezo gives you a different voice, tuning range and string tension which you can use creatively. I approach it as a different instrument because in a way, it is.

It is also a great way to let beginners into the world of bass playing and our entry-level Miezo is pretty affordable for a handmade instrument – which is an integral part of MüB’s vision.

That being said, each Miezo is crafted by the same people, with the same tools, care and custom approach we put in our high-end custom MüB – including all the bells and whistles one might desires. 

Luthier Spotlight - Maurizio Caduto of Maurizio Uber Basses

BMM: Wow!  What a fantastic idea!  Your interchangeable necks on the Airborne makes it an incredibly unique and versatile bass!  Traveling bassists all over the world will want to know about the AirBorne MüB.  One of the more challenging aspects for traveling musicians is having to deal with traveling with a bass through airports all over the world.  Your Airborne model solves this challenging problem.

Considering when you established your shop, you have come a long way in a very short time. As a luthier who is firmly in the upper echelon of bass builders, your exceptional designs, workmanship, and affordable pricing are amazing.  And your consistent innovation will always keep you among the bass builders that are moving the bass guitar forward.

Thank you so much for taking valuable time away from your shop to talk to our readers. 

Visit Maurizio Caduto online at mauriziouberbasses.com and follow on Facebook at @mauriziouberbasses

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Bass Videos

New Gear: Spector Woodstock Custom Collection Volume II

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New Gear: Spector Woodstock Custom Collection Volume II

Spector Launches Woodstock Custom Collection Volume II…

Spector Musical Instruments expands their celebrated Woodstock Custom Collection with the Volume II series – a breathtaking series of 12 handcrafted, one-of-a-kind bass guitars, each one masterfully designed by members of the Spector team. Crafted in the Spector USA Custom Shop in Woodstock, New York, these works of art go beyond musical instruments and expand the boundaries of Spector Bass design.

Spector’s iconic design lays the foundation for the Volume II collection. Each bass showcases a unique vision, including the selection of tonewoods, electronics, captivating finishes, and intricate design details. The collection highlights Spector’s commitment to craftsmanship and artistry and the individual people and stories that make up the team.

“The Woodstock Custom Collection was such a huge success, and we had so much fun with it that we couldn’t wait to do it again,” said John Stippell, Director – Korg Bass Division. “With Volume II, we’re expanding on everything we learned from the first collection, as well as pushing our design and Custom Shop team even further. These basses are a testament to the inspiring talent, creativity, and skill of every person on the Spector team. I’m excited for all of these basses and love how they tell the unique stories of all involved.”

Visit online at spectorbass.com/

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Bass Videos

New Gear: The Dingwall John Taylor Signature Model

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New Gear: The Dingwall John Taylor Signature Model

Dingwall John Taylor Signature Model…

After playing a limited edition Dingwall live with Duran Duran, John Taylor has launched his
Dingwall Guitars production model, loaded with a Rupert Neve Designs preamp and
Rio-inspired graphics.

Dingwall’s major launch for 2023 was the limited edition Rio Dream Bass, featuring an
innovative Rupert Neve Designs onboard preamp. A year later, the range has been bolstered
with the Canadian company now offering unlimited access to its continued collaboration with
John Taylor of Duran Duran.

Dingwall CEO Sheldon Dingwall says the basses are a response to Taylor’s upfront bass style.
“John’s bass playing with Duran Duran really imprinted on me how a bass should fit into a band mix. The combination of tastefully busy syncopation, his punchy tone, and tight performance immediately drew my ear. His basslines have always had a special combination of energy and elegance.”

The John Taylor Signature model follows the formula of the limited edition Rio Dream Bass,
combining a lightweight Nyatoh body with three neodymium pickups to produce what Dingwall deems “wonderful playability and tones that display a rare clarity and refinement.” The JT Signature model also updates the Rio Dream Bass with a range of new colors; Metallic Black, Primrose, Cranberry and Seafoam Green, as well as a new 5-string variant.

Other specs include a bolt-on Maple neck, a Pau Ferro multi-scale fingerboard with the ‘Rio Eye’ inlaid at the 12th fret, and Dingwall’s new ‘Minimalist’ bridge. The headstock sports lightweight tuners and a Rio-inspired graphic that complements the body stripes, designed by longtime Duran Duran collaborator, Patty Palazzo.

Finally, an onboard preamp designed and configured in collaboration with Rupert Neve Designs, whose studio consoles have long represented the pinnacle of high-end audio engineering, promises a clear voice that balances punch and sustain. “Duran’s breakthrough single, the title track from 1982’s Rio, was originally recorded on a Neve console, so the history was already there,” says Sheldon. “But the team at Rupert Neve Designs absolutely nailed the tone.”

Like the Rio Dream Bass, the JT Signature has also been configured to Taylor’s own personal
specifications. “It all started when I was in Toronto about six years ago,” says Taylor. “A friend
showed me a Dingwall bass on his phone. I loved how it looked and immediately said to my
tech, ‘You’ve got to reach out to these guys!’”

For further information on the range options, head to dingwallguitars.com

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Bass CDs

New Album: Killing Bees, Racing Towards Ruin

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New Album: Killing Bees, Racing Towards Ruin

Killing Bees Racing Towards Ruin out May 10th via Tonequake Records.

There are some records where the first note grabs you and doesn’t let go. Before the first lyric is sung, Killing Bees pull you into Racing Towards Ruins via the sheer power of TONES, MAN, TONES. Brown-note bass reverberations and gut-punch kickdrum snap the listener out of daily reverie instantaneously. Together, bassist/vocalist Nic Nifoussi and drummer Ray Mehlbaum (both of Automatic 7) and producer Andrew Scheps (Mars Volta, Audioslave, Adele) have crafted a piece of art that fuses low-rock minimalism, post-hardcore aggression, and SoCal throttle rock urgency into, well, a real ass-kicker. 

The bones of Killing Bees began their calcification when Nifoussi started a high school punk band called Automatic 7. They signed to BYO Records upon graduation and soon found themselves in need of a new drummer. Enter Ray Mehlbaum. Tours with Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Face 2 Face, Bouncing Souls, Suicide Machines, Unwritten Law, Youth Brigade, DOA, and others followed, as well as a deal with A&M Records. A&M got bought by Universal, the band moved to Vagrant Records, cut a new record, toured, then broke up. 

“Eventually, Ray and I decided to start a two-piece band” explains Nifoussi. “I was trying out a new sound using 2 amps and an A-B switch. Overdrive through one amp and playing a lot of chords to get a guitar-like sound. After years of playing together, we were already tight and used to writing together. The songs came quickly and easily.”

Via Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion, the band had come to know Grammy-winning producer and engineer Andrew Scheps. Though originally recommended as a producer for Automatic 7, when the band played him the Killing Bees songs, he loved the concept and the trio got to work on their self-titled debut. Following the record’s release on Guano Loco/Loose Fang Records, “we played a bunch of shows and eventually started writing the new record in our North Hollywood lockout” says Nifoussi.

Recorded once again at Scheps’ studio, drums and bass were recorded live, the only overdubs being vocals and some bass and accordion textures (Nifoussi is an accomplished accordionist). “We tracked the two together over 4 or 5 days and everything you hear was played live by talented humans, not put together after the fact.  I think that live energy is what makes the record so compelling!” says Scheps. “Andrew wanted to challenge us. We came in wired towards traditional songwriting – he wasn’t interested in that” explains Mehlbaum. “He encouraged us to think about instrumental bits that would drive the tune, as opposed to the sing-along chorus of a traditional song. As a drummer, he kicked my ass. I remember him saying “we’re gonna turn the click off. I want you to go completely ‘out of time’ then come back in.” That’s some crazy shit! But I fucking loved it.”

Thematically, the record deals with the dangers of love and politics in equal measure. As Nifoussi puts it, “if there’s a takeaway, it’s to be careful with who you love… and vote into government.” So, Racing Towards Ruin. A concise, compelling listen, arresting at first blush, and deeply moving upon completion. A modern rock record (not a modern-rock record), unrelentingly heavy and sonically immaculate. And loud. Super loud.  

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Gear News

New Gear: Nembrini Launches Bass Hammer Plugin

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New Gear: Nembrini Launches Bass Hammer Plugin

Bass Hammer Plugin…

Nembrini Audio launches the Bass Hammer plugin which is engineered for advanced bass tone sculpting. Modelled on the Aguilar Tone Hammer* which is renowned for its tone shaping flexibility, the Nembrini Bass Hammer features Adaptive Gain Sculpting, comprehensive EQ adjustments and versatile cabinet simulations.

The Nembrini Audio Bass Hammer plugin has been designed to infuse discerning musicians’ digital workspace with the legendary tonal characteristics and dynamic versatility of its hardware counterpart. The new plugin delivers all the distinct organic warmth, detailed midrange control and adaptive tonal shaping the Tone Hammer* is famous for in a flexible digital format.

Bass Hammer features Adaptive Gain Sculpting to transform a signal’s EQ curve and gain structure and alter the behaviour of the MID parameter.  The Graphic EQ has six bands enabling nuanced shaping across the bass frequency range. Plus, the four selected bass guitar cabinets, four carefully selected microphone emulations and a parallel D.I. signal with console compressor offer users plenty of scope to explore ambient reverb blending.

Introductory prices of $29.99 for the Desktop version (regular price $137) and $9.99 for the IOS form (regular price $19.99) are available until 30th April 2024. Bass Hammer is PC and Mac (VST2, VST3, AU, AAX) compatible and requires a FREE iLOK account.

To find out more and download the Bass Hammer plugin please go to nembriniaudio.com/products/bass-hammer-bass-amplifier or
apple.com/us/app/bass-hammer/id6480058361Video

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Edmond Gilmore

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Interview With Bassist Edmond Gilmore

Interview With Bassist Edmond Gilmore…

I am always impressed by the few members of our bass family who are equally proficient on upright as well as electric bass… Edmond Gilmore is one of those special individuals.

While he compartmentalizes his upright playing for mostly classical music and his electric for all the rest, Edmond has a diverse musical background and life experiences that have given him a unique perspective.

Join me as we hear about Edmond’s musical journey, how he gets his sound and his plans for the future.

Photo, Sandrice Lee

Follow Online

facebook.com/EdmondGilmoreBass
instagram.com/edmond_gilmore/
youtube.com/channel/UCCYoVZBLXL5nnaKS7XXivCQ

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