Playubass in Brazil 2015!

Playing a gig at the pub, Stadt Bier in Brasilia, Brazil

In the end of May 2015 I did my first ever trip to Brazil! I have been listening to Brazilian music since the early 90’s and have played Brazilian music for quite some time too. See previous posts with a Brazilian content: Post 1 | Post 2 | Post 3 | Post 4 | Post 5 | Post 6 | Post 7 |

Finally being able to travel to Brazil was a very big thing for me!

The main reason for this trip was to visit schools and find out ways to set up some kind of exchange program between the school where I work in Sweden and schools in the capital city of Brazil, Brasilia.

I had a really busy travel plan with several visits booked for almost everyday of the eight-day trip. These visits were to different schools with arts and music focus. I’ll try to write more about this later. We’ll see what happens with these ”might-be” exchanges. It’s interesting to see how it unfolds and evolves.

Besides these visits I also got to play some Music! With me on this trip was my colleague, Eva Stenström. We had prepared some songs we could perform on only bass and vocals. To make the travel easy I brought my spruce Kala Ubass and the new Phil Jones Bass ”Double Four” amp I just bought just before the trip. Traveling with this setup was very nice and I was able to get both the UBass and the amp into the cabin of each flight we did.

I will write more about the Phil Jones Double Four in a future blog post. Until then you can check it out on the company’s webpage.

Kala Ubass and Phil Jones Bass Double Four at Café C’est La Vie

Me and Eva did a few workshops involving playing, different vocal techniques and I also did a short live looping workshop featuring the TC Electronic Ditto looper. If someone is interested in knowing more about live looping with the ubass (and other instruments) please let me know and I could make a series of posts on the subject! Send an email to ubasslessons@gmail.com [Older post featuring Ubass and the ditto looper!]

We met a lot of really great musicians and teachers and students at all three schools we visited. A very big thanks for taking such good care of us. Extra big thanks to: Lucas at Escola de Musica, Henrique at Escola de Choro, Antenor and Alexei at University of Brasilia, William and Barbara for giving us a great tour of Brasilia!

Workshop and concert at Escola de Musica, Brasilia

Besides playing as a duo we also got joined bit different Brazilian musicians and also got the change to sit in on a concert and also do a ”club” gig with two great Brazilian musicians that will come to Sweden this fall. I hope we will be able make some more music together. Stay tuned!

There isn’t that many recorded videos from this trip but I will let you hear some music bits and pieces. See this video! There is also a gallery of photos from our workshops, concerts and some scenic ones too!

It was a great trip with lots of interesting meets with universal language of music as a great common ground! Thanks to everyone that made our first trip so fantastic!

Some links you check out!
Lucas de Campos, guitarist and professor at Escola de Musica
One of his projects (Text in Portuguese)

Choro pra Cinco (A great Choro group!) Link to YouTube-video

Info about the great bass player Oswaldo Amorim (and also about the late great Nico Assumpção)

Great Facebook page about Brazilian bass: Baixobrasil

Lucas Fernandes, bass player, there is also a Ubass track on his Soundcloud!

Henrique Alvim, guitar player. Check out his band A Engrenagem

Paula Zimbres – a great bass player I met and heard in Brasilia

Paula played with Sergio Boré at Clube do Choro!
See video below!

The schools and some places we visited
Escola de Musica
Escola de Choro
Universidade de Brasilia
Clube do Choro

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Play Music,
Magnus

Review of the Pyramid Black Nylon Tape on a fretless acoustic/electric Ubass

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Hi!

I came home from this years Musikmesse (music trade show) in Frankfurt. Germany with strings from the German string manufacturer Pyramid. I had previously heard about their Silver-plated copper-wound strings (on a nylon silk core) but the Black Tape Nylon strings was news to me.
I decided to take the black tape nylons for a spin first!

I have also asked the president of Pyramid strings, Max Junger, some questions and you can find his answers below!

Putting the strings on
Stringing the Ubass with these string was a bit like a usual electric bass stringing session. Since they feature a steel core they are not as stretchy as the original Road Toad Music Pahoehoe or Aquila Thundergut strings. In other words they settle in faster than the before mentioned strings. I used my usual approach, for steel strings, sticking the end of the string into the hole in the string post.
I also used a plastic washer (from a Aquila set) and put the string through the washer so the ball end got a bit bigger, preventing the metal ball end to eat its way into the wood in the back of the bridge.

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Time to change the G-string

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Plastic washer between the metal ball end and wooden bridge

The feel and sound
I’m quite used to the feel of tape nylon strings having played these types of strings for more then 10 years on regular electric basses. Here’s a recent example with my Rob Allen Guitars MB-2: http://youtu.be/AXIGwa-UUtk
The strings has a texture that feels a bit like ”cloth”. If I compare the feel of my La Bella Tape Nylon strings, the Pyramids feels more like a regular roundwound string.
The higher tension makes playing faster passages easier. So if fast is your thing these strings might be just right for you 🙂
I really like the added tension of these strings, they obviously feel more like a regular bass string. The sound is also very nice ranging from fat, thubby low end (perfect for thumb mute style playing) to a nice top end (making harmonics sing more than other Ubass strings).

Acoustically
They are a bit louder when played acoustically. The top end is a bit more pronounced. You can hear this in the video below. Harmonics do pop out more then on Pahoehoe or Thundergut strings but this is quite obvious because of the different materials and construction of the black tape nylon strings.

Intonation
I have only tried these strings on my fretless Ubass and I find it a bit hard to play in tune compared to with the pahoehoe and thundergut strings I’m used to.
The further up the fingerboard I play, the harder it is to play in tune. I have to compensate quite a bit. When comparing an open string to the 12th fret on that same string I have to shift towards the 11th fret so my octave don’t go sharp.
For a trained ear, playing a fretless Ubass with these strings will/can work but on a fretted Ubass it will be hard playing in tune over, I guess, the 9th fret. (I haven’t tried the strings on a fretted Ubass yet).
If these intonation issues can be fixed these strings are a serious alternative to the Ubass strings already on the market.

Here is some info I have received from Max Junger, the President of Pyramid strings.
– The strings are available directly from Pyramid and retails for about €42. (Art.-No. is # 508/BT)
– For now they are only available for the acoustic/electric UBass. (Up to 53 cm/21 inch scale length).
– They have sold quite a few sets already and the customer feedback have been great.
– Although not yet available for solid body Ubasses there might be plans for some testing in the pipeline 🙂
The company will work on a way to solve the intonation problems I mentioned above. Great!

If you have tried these strings please let me know what you think!

That’s all for this time. I hope to try these strings some more on both fretted and fretless acoustic/electric and solid body Ubasses soon!
Now please check out the video below!

Links:
Pyramid saiten (German language)
Pyramidstrings.com (English language)

Pyramid-2

Pyramid-1

Jammin’ with my Kala UBass | 26 In my studio with musicians from São Tomé!

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Hi!

A while back I did a blog post about rehearsing with musicians from São Tome e Principe for a couple of outdoor shows. We did the shows in the end of August and after those I managed to invite Oswaldo, Guilherme and PA to my home studio for some jammin’.
The song featured in the YouTube-clip below (‘Mêcê’ (Desire) was one of the songs we played. The song is written by Oswaldo and Guilherme. The other song ‘Every day’ (Written by Guilherme) will hopefully end up on the upcoming Ubass CD! I’m overdubbing some parts and will start mixing that song soon!

Although the take of ‘Mêcê’ wasn’t perfect we sure had so much fun playing together and I hope this transcends through the computer screen!

A big thank you to Oswaldo, Guilherme and PA for those great musical moments in my studio that late August evening!

I have some video from the actual shows too. I’ll post this later. Stay tuned for more!

Guilherme de Carvalho, vocals and guitar
Oswaldo Santos, vocals and lead guitar
PA Larsson, djembe
Magnus Sjöquist, fretless kala ubass

[Gig Report] Gospel music on the Kala SUB

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Rehearseing with the Kala SUB

Hi there!
A couple of weeks ago I played a gig featuring gospel music. I used the Kala S.U.B. on a couple of songs (and my Ares 5-string and Rob Allen fretless MB-2 on the rest).

I played the SUB through my Headway preamp. Used the a/b function on the Tech21 VT Bass Deluxe and then to my Aguilar Tonehammer 500 and SL-112 cab.

I used the SUB on the more ‘spiritual’/traditional songs.
I might feature some gospel music on the ‘Speaking UBass!?’ project too, we’ll see 🙂

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