NEW Video Interview: Ubassists of the world – Håvard Mathisen Tanner

Håvard Mathisen and me jammin’ at Paddington Station, London back in September

 

Hi,

It’s time for a new interview in my Ubassists of the world – series! I started doing these back in 2014 (!) and did a few of them for a couple of years. Now I have a new one for you and you can choose to read it or see it…or both!

The written interview isn’t a transcript of the video interview so there will be some stuff thats different so I recommend that you both read and watch!

Background of ubassist Håvard Mathisen Tanner

I am a Norwegian bass player based in London. I started out playing classical music  when i was a kid, and only played classical for a long time, however during high school I started with bands, and soon I was touring all around Norway. I moved to London to study music and did a bachelor’s degree in bass performance and production at LCCM (London Centre of Contemporary Music), and a masters degree in jazz performance at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

 

My Main band is Swing’it Dixieband, they are based mainly in Norway but also London. Swing’it play 20s jazz with a bit more energy and humor. we play all over Europe and are going to USA in February next year. In 2018 we came all the way to the semi finals in Norway Got Talent.

In London I play with the band Robohands, but do mainly freelance work, gypsy jazz, symphony orchestras, studio sessions, etc…

I’ve done recordings for Sony Music Norway/Columbia Records with my previous band MHOO. 

Recently I represented Norway In The Earth Orchestra by George Fenton recording at Abbey Road Studios for Universal Music UK.



Q and A

Why Ubass?
I was mainly a double bass player, and when I started to travel a lot with my band Swing’it dixieband it became a lot of hazzle to borrow and rent double basses (since my double bass is in London). The Ubass wasn’t only small enough to fit as hand luggage it also sounded amazing! 

Where did you first hear about Ubass?
I heard about Ubass online (talkbass, YouTube videos from the NAMM show), this was fairly soon after it came out, but it took quite a few years before I managed to buy one myself. 

How long have you played the Ubass?
I started using the Ubass about 3 years ago. The first year I borrowed a mahogany fretless from a friend, then a year after I bought my own spruce top fretless. 

 

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How do you use your Ubass? (different settings and styles/genres..)
I use the spruce top fretless Ubass, and the strings I currently use is Galli black nylon. I’ve been playing around 50-60 gigs with these strings over the summer and I really enjoy the sound and the feel of the strings. I run it through a Fishman platinum pro EQ, since the Ubass has such dense frequencies the low cut and EQ makes it very easy to shape the tone you want. And lastly I usually run through different Markbass amps, I really like the clarity the amp gives me. But recently I’ve bought a small acoustic amplifier (Guitar Sound Systems 06b400) just to use with my double bass and Ubass. I’ve started using the new amp and the Ubass sounds very double bass like, the amp is very clear sounding. And this gives a very honest acoustic sound.

One aspect I should mention is that it took me quite a while to get a comfortable swing feel similar to the double bass. On double bass you would use your whole arm, shoulder, and body to get the tone and feel, your swing feel is in your body! However on the Ubass you have to play very light because of the light tension in the strings, I recently switched to Galli Black nylon strings, these strings have more tension so you can play a bit harder, but also they are not sticky, much smoother to play on, and if you play outside they are less affected by changes in humidity, like the older Thunderguts and Pahoehoe strings. Another aspect is your wrist. It’s easy to get an angle over the body of the Ubass, so I always try to bring the bottom of the Ubass back and my arm forward, this makes it easier to have a straight wrist and to prevent any potential tendonitis. 

I’ve been using the Ubass mainly as a replacement for my double bass in a 20s jazz band (Swing’it), we play a lot of festivals, events, weddings and jazz clubs, I’ve even used it when we played live TV on Norway got talent! Swing’it are releasing an album next year, and the majority of the songs are recorded with the ubass! 

I’m very pleased with how the Ubass sits in the mix and the live sound on stage, it has the woody open tone of the double bass and the punch of the electric bass. 

I’ve also used the Ubass live with another band called Robohands, which is a smooth jazz/funk band with influences of hip hop. 

Can you recommend others to start playing Ubass? Who can benefit from adding a Ubass as a new musical tool?
I would definitely recommend others to try out the Ubass, especially if you are struggling with back pain from carrying gear or the physical aspects of playing. The Ubass has a much lighter touch, and weigh next to nothing!  If you are a double bass player and need a small easy to travel instrument, then I would definitely recommend the Ubass as an option.

Links

Håvard Mathisen Tanner (Instagram)

Swing it Dixieband
Youtube-channel
Instagram

 

Ubass sighting: Fretted acoustic/electric ubass spotted with Bokanté!

A

Hi,

The pictures above are from my trip to the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA back in January. I will do a featured blog post about the show but haven’t had the time to do that yet but it will come! So why are these pictures in this post about a ubass sighting? Well, Mr Michael League was one of several featured bass players at this years Bass Bash. He played with one of his bands FORQ. They played a great set and it was great to once again hear Michael play. I was at a show in Stockholm back in 2015 when he was there with his most famous band Snarky Puppy. I have featured Snarky Puppy before in a Ubass Sightings blog post.

This post will feature yet another of Michaels bands, Bokanté! This band has a really nice lineup with three guitar players, three percussion players, a pedal steel player and a lead vocalist…and a (u)bass player of course!

Here’s som info about the group from musicworksinternational.com

The word bokanté means “exchange” in Creole, the language of vocalist Malika Tirolien’s youth growing up on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Now living in Montreal, she stands among 8 musicians from 4 continents, each one accomplished in their own right and well versed in music far beyond that of their point of origin. Two-time Grammy award-winning guitarists Michael League, Chris McQueen, and Bob Lanzetti (all from Snarky Puppy), percussion legend Jamey Haddad (Paul Simon, Sting), pedal and lap steel virtuoso Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys, Karl Denson), and unplaceable percussionists André Ferrari (Väsen) and Keita Ogawa (Banda Magda, Yo-Yo Ma) come together to create a diverse ensemble rich in groove, melody, and soul.

In the song ”O La” you can hear and see that the low end is handled with a fretted acoustic/electric ubass with some help from the baritone guitar Michael is playing. He usually plays bass in his bands but in Bokanté he plays both bass/ubass and baritone guitar on the studio album ”Strange Circles” that will be released in June 2017. [Pre-order available here] On the live shows he will play the baritone guitar exclusively. He recently said in an interview for Scotts Bass Lessons that he wanted to have the chance to play with some of his favorite bass players. On the upcoming tours the bass chair will be filled by different bass players. See and read more here.

Please have a listen…and a look. I hope they will come to Sweden someday soon so I get to hear them live!

PS. One of the percussionists (André Ferrari) is from Sweden. He’s also featured in the video I referred to in the beginning of this post!

PS2 Please check out Ariane Cap (she’s in the picture at the top of the post) and the great book she has written about music theory with a bass player focus!

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Some quotes about Bokanté:

“One of the more versatile groups on the planet right now”

-Rolling Stone

“A barnstorming, groove-centric instrumental act with a rabid fan base… if the name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s probably just a matter of time”

-The New York Times

“Big, rich and funky.”

NPR Music

“Stands out with a furious commitment to defying musical categories.”

-LA Times

“Sounds like one spotless collection of intricate musics performed by just one very skilled, albeit extended, band.”

Yahoo Music

“Thinking person’s feel-good music.”

-Downbeat

“A big, happy band of skilled musicians whose tunes are both complex and easy to dance to.”

-LA Weekly

Picture wall about to go live! Please send me more pics so it will get big and bold :-)

Picposter - Ubassists @ playubass.com

Hi!

I have just added a new page to playubass.com! It’s the ”Picture poster wall – ubassists of the world”! Please send me a pic with you and your ubass preferably in a place you really love, why not in the outdoors! I could also be a gig pic of course.

Let’s get together and make this wall a big and cozy place for all the cool ubassists of the world to be seen! Send pics to ubasslessons@gmail.com Check out the page now! (Will soon take away the ”curtain” and really make it live!)
(PS. Will soon send out a new newsletter too!)

All the best,
Magnus

 

 

NEW INTERVIEW! Ubassists of the world – Peter Laustsen (Norway)

In this series of interviews I will try to find out how and why Ubass has become a new tool for different musicians around the world to express their Music!

For a even nicer reading experience please consider my PDF version of this interview!

Interview 2 Peter Laustsen (Norway)
For my second interview I look a bit to the west. The featured Ubassist lives in the southwest parts of Norway only about 800 km from where I live in Sweden. I got to know Peter through our mutual interest in all things bass and of course Ubass. We are also both educators in the wonderful world of Music!

I would have loved doing this interview in person but it wasn’t possible this time. I simply sent Peter my questions and he sent back his answers super quick! Thanks, Peter, for being part of the world of Ubass and wanting to be my second interviewee!

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Jamming on my doorstep

First up is Peters introduction.

Hi Magnus!

First, thanks a lot for inviting me to this interview, you’ve got a great site which is so informative regarding the Ubass and everything about it. There are many questions to answer when buying a Ubass, but you and your site are just such an excellent knowledge resource. Thanks again.
/Peter

Let the interview begin.

Magnus: Why Ubass?
Peter: Well, that’s a looong story, I’ll try to make it short…
I’m a professional bass player and a music teacher (read more at http://www.peterlaustsen.com). Permanent positions in this particular field here in Norway are scarce and far between. This often means that you’ll have to work long hours and commute for a lot of miles to get a decent permanent job. For the past 5 years I’ve commuted about 600km by train per week to teach at a music department at a high school. Bringing all your stuff on the train is quite cumbersome and the less you have to carry the better. I bought an Aria Sinsonido travel bass second hand a few years ago, which I used to bring along on the road, but it just wasn’t that good and still quite big (34″ scale).

The size of this little beast is one thing, but the sound is what really sells the Ubass.

When I bought the Ubass (I own an acoustic fretless spruce) it took over immediately and I loved it from the first moment. Works well for me when traveling by bus, light rail and train on a daily basis (although you loose the coolness of looking like a ”real” bass player).

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Playing a concert with Bergen Impro Storband (Bergen Impro Big Band)

The size of this little beast is one thing, but the sound is what really sells the Ubass. I loved it from the first moment, both the acoustic sound and the amplified sound. I also play double bass and I love dark and mellow tones, the Ubass is warm and moves a lot of air when amplified, that’s all I need most of the time. I’ll always try to ”get away” with bringing the Ubass instead of my 3/4 upright to a gig/rehearsal whenever I can. It’s just so much easier in every way, especially on your back!
I can utilize all kinds of public transport with my bass rig and that’s a big deal when you live in the city. My rig consists of a Walter Woods Ultra head, hooked up to an Acme Low B1 cabinet. I just use a small trolley to move it around, it’s excellent and I’ll never go back to the heavy tube amps and cabs that I used to play (Mesa 400+ and Ampeg SVT-2). More bass, less space!

M: Where did you first hear about Ubass?
P: I don’t quite remember, but I think I read about it on the TalkBass forum online when I browsed through threads about travel basses. Yeah, I think that’s where I picked up on it. I’ve never seen anybody play one in real life though, I seem to be the only one in Bergen who owns one as far as I know.

M: How long have you played the Ubass?
P: I bought my fretless spruce in august 2012, so almost 2 years ago and have played it ever since.

M: How do you use your Ubass? (different settings and styles/genres..)
P: I play my Ubass live as much as I can! I haven’t had that many live gigs lately due to my busy family situation, but I always keep it close at hand on the wall in the living room. Limitations in terms of genres? None really, but I personally don’t see it fit in metal, but that’s it really.
I love many genres of music, my roots mainly grew out of rock, blues and reggae. I’ve also played some jazz and I love to improvise freely as well. So, I’m pretty much all over the spectrum and I use my Ubass all over as well.
I use the Ubass when I teach, for live gigs, in practice, for learning songs late at night in my living room and just for fun. I’ve played a few country rock concerts a few years ago and I just wished I had it back then, it would have blended right in.
My model is one of the older ones without a built-in preamp, so I use a Fishman B-II Acoustic Preamp to bump up the piezo, which works just fine. I could go without a preamp because my Walter Woods head supports it, but I always bring the Fishman along for other amps than my own.

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Teaching bass

M: Can you recommend others to start playing Ubass? Who can benefit from adding a Ubass as a new musical tool?
P: Having such a small portable bass which sounds so good would suit anybody who bring their instruments beyond their own front door. My neighbor, who’s an occasional indoor electric bassist, loves my Ubass and he didn’t even realize that it was fretless at first because the ”fret spacing” felt so natural. That says it all doesn’t it? It just feels better anatomically not to stretch your fingers as much as 34″+ basses and double bass requires you to do.
The prices of the cheapest Ubass models are also affordable, especially compared to other short scale basses out there.

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Backing the students of a local music school in concert.

I think any bass loving person would dig to play the Ubass. I get run down on every gig I play by people who wonder what instrument I play and ”where that bass sound came from”. Most of them fall in love when I let them try it out. Even kids can get into bass playing now because of the super short scale length. Btw, a colleague of mine just purchased two rumbler’s for the youngest players at the music school where he teaches. Just excellent!
The only problem with the Ubass… is that you want more!
I’m currently saving up cash to buy an US ”exotic top” fretless 4-string solid body.

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