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Interview with Jason How of Rotosound

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Interview with Jason How of Rotosound

Jason How of Rotosound…

A few weeks ago, Tim Fletcher was lucky enough to be invited to visit the Rotosound factory in Kent, England, and he took the opportunity to chat to company chairman Jason How.

They talked about the brand’s history, the difficulty of getting a new product to be accepted by bass players who can be somewhat set in their ways, and the company’s new Ultramag bass strings. Oh, and Steve Harris uses flats…

How’s Business Jason?

It’s fantastic – it’s mad at the moment! Although strings are maybe not the most exciting product, but they are an accessory product which is a consumable. You might buy several guitars in a lifetime, but you’ll probably buy several hundred sets of strings, so it’s a good business.

Rotosound are perhaps best known for stainless steel products – are they still your main bass strings?

Yes definitely – it’s what we’re known for. Trends come and go and people’s tastes change, but our stainless-steel strings are something that goes back to the sixties. If you’ve heard J. J. Burnel from The Stranglers, if you’ve heard Bruce Foxton from The Jam, or Chris Squire or Geddy Lee, you’ll get the idea of what the sound is all about.

Some of your products are nickel-based, but do you think they are perhaps not as well-known as your stainless-steel strings?

We make the Roto Bass, which is a less expensive set, and we now do the new Ultramag which is a very high-end, nickel-based string, so we’re hoping that this will attract some newer players.

From what I’ve read, it uses the type 52 alloy – what is that?

It’s 52% nickel and 48% iron – not a new material, but we’ve never used it for bass strings before. Our other nickel strings are 8% nickel, so having 52% is a big change.

How does the type 52 alloy affect the sound and playability of the string?

The main point is it’s a louder sound, and it’s slightly brighter – it’s a clearer sounding string.

What was the reason for developing the Ultramag strings, as it was a bit of a step away from what you’d been doing?

We needed to have a product at that price point in the market, that was a real high-end product. People are always looking for something better – what can they go up to. Our Swing Bass range covers 99% of what we do and what players want, but there was nowhere to go above that in a higher-end more prestigious string, and we wanted something for that market.

When are the Ultramag strings going to be available to buy?

They’re out there now – one of the first dealers was Strings Direct. The reps have had them to sell since the middle of January, so if they’re doing their job, they should be in the shops.

Thinking about putting new products on the market, do you think bass players are perhaps a bit more conservative than guitarists – more reluctant to try new things?

Guitarists are very conservative – super conservative! I think that probably all musicians are conservative, although on the surface you don’t see that, but there are a lot of traditionalists out there. Getting people to start onto something new, once they have used the same product for a while is quite difficult.

View: The Birth of the Roundwound Bass String

You talked earlier about the changes of taste in strings – I’ve noticed there’s recently been a lot more talk about flat-wounds. For example, more people putting them on Precisions and getting that old-fashioned, late fifties, more ‘original’ sound. Have you notice a recent increase in sales of flats?

Actually, we can’t make enough of them! They are very, very time-consuming and very difficult to make, so we don’t really advertise them. We have only a selection of our string makers that can make flats as it takes nearly a year to go through the training to learn how to make them. We have machines that which I designed back in 2002 that make round-wound strings fairly automatically, and people that come here and work on those machines can make 100% perfect strings – the first strings they make will be perfect. There’s little training needed because the machines have taken away most of the manual input, but the flat-wounds are still 100% human element input to the labour – so it’s much more of a skilled job. As for the sound, people say ‘it’s for jazz or blues’ but it’s not really, it’s just a different sound. Steve Harris from Iron Maiden is one of our biggest endorsees of flat-wounds.

That is going to be a big surprise for people – the idea of Iron Maiden being a major metal band, but their bass player using a string developed in the 1950s…

Yeah, and it’s perfect for him – we sometimes suggest new products for him and say ‘try this Steve’ but he says, ‘I don’t want it…I want what you’ve originally made – that’s my sound’.

What’s next for Rotosound?

There are a few things going on in the background that we are working on – probably not coming out this year, but hopefully next year…

But you can’t tell us?

No, I’d have to shoot you!

Visit online at rotosound.com

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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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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book

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Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:

www.thetravisbook.com
www.thestringdusters.com
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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Bass Videos

Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Malcolm-Jamal Warner…

I am pretty sure that everyone is aware of Malcom-Jamal Warner’s work as an actor. What may be less known is his work as a director, poet, musician, and most importantly for us, a bass player. With four albums of his own, Grammy nominations and wins, as well as a sizable amount of ongoing live gigs, Malcolm is dedicating a serious amount of his attention to his music.

Join me as we hear about Malcom’s musical journey, projects, his gear choices, and plans for the future.

Here is Malcom-Jamal Warner!

Photos: Dwain Govan @dwain_go / Conrad Montgomery Mckethan @eyeconimages

Visit Online:

malcolmjamalwarner.com
IG @malcolmjamalwar
Twitter @malcolmjamalwar 
Facebook: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Bass Videos

Interview With The Labex Funk Project

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Interview With The Labex Funk Project

Interview With The Labex Funk Project…

Time really flies when you are having fun! Just over a decade ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michel “Labex” Labaki for our July 2013 cover.

At that time, much of our conversation concerned his personal approach to bass playing and his techniques. Fast forward to now and I am pleased to discover Michel’s new endeavor, the Labex Funk Project.

Join me as we meet the band:
Kynion Lanier on vocals
Pablo Batista on percussion
Jake Brightman on Guitar
Daniel Gonzalez on Drums
And Michel “Labex”Labaki on bass

As a bonus, we have the band’s producer Phillippe Dib in on this video chat as well.

Here is the Labex Funk Project!

Visit online:

michellabaki.com
www.facebook.com/MichelLabexLabaki/
www.instagram.com/michellabaki
www.youtube.com/c/MichelLabaki
FB @LabexFunkProject
IG @ Labex Funk Project

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

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Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

Bassist Tony Newton…

I am always learning new details about Bass history when I get the opportunity to talk with seasoned players like Tony Newton. Tony, a Detroit native, came up in the golden years of Motown and laid down the low end for countless performers and studio sessions; he has performed on over 25 gold and platinum hit recordings.

As time went by, and the whole Detroit scene dwindled, Tony relocated to LA where he worked a busy schedule, even going back to school to learn about music theory and composition.

Over the years he performed on many historic hit recordings and tours with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson(music Director), the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Funk Brothers and more, as well as working with veteran rock guitarist, Gary Moore in the British group G-Force.

Presently, Tony is super busy and on the verge of releasing a movie titled “Mars Quest” among his numerous other projects.

Join me as we get to enjoy all the history and knowledge that Tony has to share along with the details about his new Signature bass from BITE Guitars named “The  Punchtown Bass”.

Here is Tony Newton…

Photos: Mary K. Brand, Mitch Snyder, Haneefa Karrim, Hans Adamsen

Visit Online:

tonynewtonmusic.com/
FB @ TonyNewtonMusic Artist
YTB @ antoniotonynewtonmusic

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