Cliff Engel's Institute Of Bass




Interviews


As editor of the the International Institute of Bassists website, I conducted hundreds of interviews with many of the world's leading bassists. In this archive, you will find a compilation of my favorite interviews with bassists including Michael Manring, Stuart Hamm, Jeff Berlin, Gary Willis, Brian Bromberg, and Esperanza Spalding as well as with many equipment manufacturers such as Zon, Aguilar, Markbass, Gallien-Krueger, and Evidence Audio.




Michael Manring

Michael Manring

Expanding upon the concepts firmly established by his former instructor, the late bass icon Jaco Pastorius, in the 1970's, solo bassist Michael Manring has pioneered a non-traditional approach to unaccompanied electric bass performance that incorporates unconventional tunings, astoundingly virtuoso technical innovations, and ground-breaking methodologies. ... Read More!



Stuart Hamm

Stuart Hamm

Through his innovative work as a solo artist and his contributions as a sideman to Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, Stuart Hamm has firmly established himself as one of the most influential electric bassists of the past half-century. Extending the non-traditional function of the electric bass previously revolutionized by Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke in the 1970's, Hamm helped to reshape the contemporary concept of the bass guitar as an unaccompanied instrument with the utilization of polyphonic, two-handed tapping, slapping and popping techniques, chords, and harmonics. ... Read More!



Jeff Berlin

Jeff Berlin

"When it comes to music, you can take my word as gospel", states legendary bassist Jeff Berlin. With Berlin's remarkable resume, how can you argue with that? Never one to shy away from controversy as it pertains to music education, Berlin has been backing up his no-holds-barred statements with demonstrations in classes at the Players School of Music, lesson articles, and in bass clinics around the world for the past three decades. While most bassists of the 1970's were busy trying to emulate Jaco or Stanley, Berlin was refining his own unique approach to bass playing. Few bassists have possessed his musical prowess and even fewer have displayed his unparalleled technical facility and advanced utilization of improvisation. ... Read More!



Gary Willis

Gary Willis

Merging technical virtuosity with musical mastery, Gary Willis is widely acknowledged by fans, peers, and critics alike as one of the most influential voices of our time. Recognized for his fretless bass prowess and fingerboard harmony concepts, Willis' unconventional musical facility is demonstrated through often thick, 16th note-laced, hypnotic grooves and lyrical solo flights entrenched with a dynamic melodic sense. Over the past two decades, Willis' innovative, ultra-light right-hand approach has defined economy-of-motion while the depth and scope of his musical vision has often defied easy categorization. Now a resident of Barcelona, Spain, Willis' story begins as a Texas-native. ... Read More!



Brian Bromberg

Brian Bromberg

He has been called "phenomenally talented", "beyond genius", and a "technical wizard" by the critics, acknowledged as "the greatest bass player in the world" by his colleagues, and hailed by listeners around the world as "a virtuoso bassist without parallel." They may disagree on how to classify him, but one thing remains certain. Critics, colleagues, and fans alike all agree that there is something very special about bassist, Brian Bromberg. Just when everyone thought that bass playing had been pushed to the envelope, Bromberg burst onto the scene in the early 80's with dazzling displays of technical proficiency and lyrically inspiring improvisations. ... Read More!



Todd Johnson

Todd Johnson

Todd Johnson is not a typical bass player. Few bassists have been accepted for their performance of traditional jazz music on electric bass and even fewer have become widely recognized for their contributions. On his latest project, a trio recording of straight-ahead jazz compositions titled Get Happy, Johnson continues his pioneering efforts on six-string electric bass alongside highly revered upright bassist/singer Kristin Korb. ... Read More!



Anthony Vitti

Anthony Vitti

Anthony Vitti is an associate professor of bass at the Berklee College of Music where he graduated with honors and a degree in Music Production and Engineering in 1986. After obtaining his degree from Berklee, Vitti went on to pursue a masters degree in jazz performance from the University of Lowell and then later returned to Berklee where he has been teaching within the bass department since 1989. ... Read More!



Norm Stockton

Norm Stockton

Eight years removed from Pondering The Sushi, his acclaimed debut as a solo artist, Norm Stockton released his second independent production, Tea In The Typhoon. Spanning jazz, fusion, funk, rock, classical, and West African influences, Stockton's latest session features performances by John Patitucci, Michael Manring, Etienne Mbappe, Gregg Bissonette, Lincoln Brewster, and many other outstanding guest artists. With nearly seven hours of instruction covering fundamental concepts to many of the most advanced techniques utilized in the vocabulary of contemporary bass playing, Stockton's Grooving For Heaven video series is recognized as an indispensable resource for any dedicated bassist looking to take their grooving ability to the next level. ... Read More!



Adam Nitti

Adam Nitti

Merging components of funk, blues, rock, jazz, and fusion into an extraordinary compilation of contemporary instrumental tracks, Adam Nitti released, Liminal, his fourth project as an independent frontman in March, 2009. To provide an affordable and flexible means of music education to students, working adults, and professional musicians alike while eliminating the geographic and time constraints imposed by traditional music programs at colleges and universities, Nitti founded MusicDojo in 2003 where he serves as Chief Learning Officer. ... Read More!



Keith Horne

Keith Horne

Acknowledged as an award-winning flat-picking guitar champion in his home state of Virginia, Keith Horne got his start in music playing guitar in his dad's country band at age 6 and later picked up bass when he was 12 years old. After winning a number of contests, Horne put together a jazz band that backed Ramsey Lewis on the BET cable channel. In 1985, Horne became a member of Secrets, a fusion group which included drummer Carter Beauford of the Dave Matthews Band and continued to play with them for the next seven years. Through the encouragement of the Wooten brothers (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), whom he grew up with, Horne relocated to Nashville in 1992 in order to expand his visibility, and he maintains residence there today. ... Read More!



Trip Wamsley

Trip Wamsley

Although bass-centric solo projects are often revered only by dedicated bass enthusiasts, Trip Wamsley's music contains a remarkable balance of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic variety which extends to an audience beyond that of strictly bass aficionados. After distributing his first independent endeavor, Dancing About Architecture, in 1996, subsequent solo efforts included The Difference Engine (1998) and It's Better This Way (2003). ... Read More!



Ray Riendeau

Ray Riendeau

Utilizing a repertoire of innovative arrangements and contemporary techniques, Ray Riendeau has showcased his virtuoso bass playing ability on four discs including All Funked Up, Groove Therapy, Enlightenment, and Arrhythmia that he has released through his Groove Theory Records label. Before Rob Halford left to rejoin Judas Priest in 2003, Riendeau recorded two studio projects, a live double CD release, and toured around the world with the Priest frontman as a member of the band Halford. Besides his work with Halford, Riendeau is acknowledged for his contributions alongside highly-revered guitarists such as Gary Hoey, Greg Koch, and Neil Zaza. ... Read More!



Zander Zon

Zander Zon

Three years after producing his acclaimed debut as a solo bass guitarist, Zander Zon returned with his second session, Saturn Return, in April 2013. Included on his latest 10-track collection are six new compositions for unaccompanied bass guitar, three orchestrations, as well as an inventive adaptation of Johann Pachelbel's classic Baroque work, "Canon In D." Having emerged only a few years ago through his captivating video performances on YouTube, today Zander is recognized as one of the most notable contemporary solo bassists who continues to explore new sonorities through altered tunings and expand the repertoire of solo bass music. ... Read More!



Jeff Schmidt

Jeff Schmidt

On October 7, bassist Jeff Schmidt of San Rafael, California was declared the winner of the first Bass Extremes International Contemporary Solo Bass Competition. Before a live audience and an all-star panel of judges including bass greats Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey, Anthony Jackson, Will Lee, and drummer Gregg Bissonette, Schmidt performed three compositions for unaccompanied bass guitar at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "If this competition was about who could display the best knowledge and application of music theory, I wouldn't have been there. ... Read More!



Matt Garrison

Matt Garrison

Four years after debuting as a solo artist with his self-titled recording, acclaimed electric bassist Matt Garrison returned in August 2004 with the simultaneous release of Shapeshifter, featuring a fusion of world music elements, dense harmonic textures, electronica soundscapes, and experimental tones, as well as a live DVD/CD titled Matt Garrison Live. Garrison, a second generation bassist, spent his early childhood in the vibrant 1970's loft scene in New York City. His father, the legendary Jimmy Garrison, is regarded as one of the greatest jazz bassists in history having played alongside pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones in the classic John Coltrane Quartet of the 1960's. ... Read More!



Peter Muller

Peter Muller

More than four years removed from the release of his acclaimed debut on M-Vibez in 2003, Peter Muller has produced his second solo session, The Flow. With his classic 1979 Fender Jazz bass, Muller blends funk, contemporary jazz, r&b, and soul sounds with oriental and latin elements over the course of 10 remarkable tracks that he compiled in his own Wave Island studio in Germany and released under his own label, Mullenium Records. As a sideman and leader of his own group, Muller has become a well known bass figure throughout Europe over the past two decades and is widely acknowledged for his ability to improvise heavy grooves and his profound passion for funk music. Between his own solo projects, Muller works as a recording engineer and maintains a busy schedule mixing and mastering numerous side productions for artists who are seeking to capture the Muller sound. ... Read More!



Doug Johns

Doug Johns

After dedicating over 25 years to performing in local, national, and international venues, Doug Johns has developed and refined his own brand of horn-injected funk which merges virtuoso technical facility with sophisticated compositional skills. On the stage and in the studio, Johns has worked with the likes of Victor Wooten, Neil Zaza, Dweezil Zappa, Steve Smith, Buddy Miles, and many other notable artists. A couple years removed from the release of his acclaimed and self-titled debut as a solo artist in 2006, Johns produced Pocket Fulla Nasty, a groove-induced showcase of 11 tracks featuring an electric fusion of funk, jazz, and R&B styles. ... Read More!



Joseph Patrick Moore

Joseph Patrick Moore

Whether recording as a solo artist, performing as a member of E.M.P. Project, or touring as a sideman, Joseph Patrick Moore has demonstrated the diversity of his musical prowess across a broad spectrum of musical genres while utilizing acoustic upright, electric, and fretless basses. Moore's fascination with music began at a young age. With encouragement from his family, Moore started playing alto saxophone at age eight before switching to drums and then later bass in high school. Following high school, Moore attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) on a full scholarship to pursue double and electric bass studies with a major in both classical and jazz performance. ... Read More!



Tom Kennedy

Tom Kennedy

For the past three decades, St. Louis' Tom Kennedy has been a consummate, first-call bassist in the world of instrumental-based music. Alongside his piano-playing brother, Ray, Kennedy started building his now prolific career around the St. Louis area at age nine on the acoustic upright bass by playing mainstream jazz music. ... Read More!



Mike Pope

Mike Pope

Raised on the sounds of classical and jazz piano in Bowling Green, Ohio, Mike Pope's musical development began as a pianist at age seven. Through his brother, Pope discovered the electric bass, and by age 12, he began emulating the lines of Jaco Pastorius. Just a couple years later, with the encouragement of his teacher, Jeff Halsey, Pope began studying the acoustic upright. ... Read More!



Damian Erskine

Damian Erskine

Equally versed at solidifying grooves, blowing lyrical solos, and providing chordal textures on his 6-string bass, Damian Erskine showcased his extraordinary level of musicianship with the release of Trios, his debut as a leader, in February, 2007. As the nephew of world-renowned drummer Peter Erskine (Weather Report), Damian spent much of his childhood surrounded by many legendary musicians. In addition to the degree he earned from Berklee College of Music, Erskine has studied privately with bassists including Marc Johnson, Victor Wooten, Reggie Hamilton, and Kai Eckhardt. Erskine maintains an active presence in the club scene and performs regularly at festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest. ... Read More!



Jonni Lightfoot

Jonni Lightfoot

From sold out soccer stadiums in Mexico to packed arenas in Asia and abroad, Jonni Lightfoot has toured extensively throughout the world since becoming a member of Air Supply in 2001. Lightfoot, a native of Salt Lake City, performed before 175,000 people in 2005 as part of only the second Western group to ever play inside Cuba. Along with his bass playing duties in Air Supply, Lightfoot has also assumed the roles of the band's studio engineer and musical director. ... Read More!



Yves Carbonne

Yves Carbonne

Born and raised in France, sub-contra bassist Yves Carbonne started learning classical piano at age seven. His career on electric bass commenced when he was 13 years-old, and two years later, he began playing the acoustic upright bass. Upon hearing the music of bass icons Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius, Carbonne's interest in jazz became apparent, and he soon pursued the sounds of fretless bass. Over the past twenty years, Carbonne has spent time in private studies with fretless bass virtuoso Alain Caron and former John McLaughlin Trio bass great Dominique Di Piazza. ... Read More!



Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins

On his acclaimed 2004 debut solo project, Mad Science, Steve Jenkins established himself as one of today's brightest up-and-coming electric bassists by merging serious bass chops and a sophisticated sense of melody within the context of groove-oriented compositions. While a student on scholarship at Berklee College of Music, Jenkins honed his advanced technical proficiency through his studies with renowned bass instructor and long-time faculty member, Bruce Gertz. ... Read More!



Chris Tarry

Chris Tarry

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, bassist Chris Tarry has firmly established himself amongst his contemporaries as both an award-winning leader and a sideman on a global scale. Over the past decade, Tarry has appeared on a collection of recordings with artists that span a wide range of musical genres and has participated in tours extending from one end of North America to the other and abroad. ... Read More!



Brady Muckelroy

Brady Muckelroy

After years of percussion-related studies that were pursued on the college level with the intent of becoming a band director, Brady Muckelroy turned his attention to bass guitar. By fusing his previously-acquired percussion experience with the harmonic and melodic potential of alternately-tuned fretted and fretless electric basses, Muckelroy found his voice as a solo bassist. Since 2001, Muckelroy has released two recordings as a leader, Brady Muckelroy Live (2004) and Too Much Coffee (2001). As a soloist, Muckelroy has toured throughout the United States and has performed at bass events such as BassUp! and the Bozeman Bass Bash. ... Read More!



Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding

A musical prodigy since her early childhood, Esperanza Spalding had become the concertmaster of her local community orchestra in Portland, Oregon by the time she was 15 years old. Through the encouragement of her high school band director, Spalding began playing bass and left high school a year later to enroll in the music program at Portland State University. ... Read More!



Zon Guitars

Zon Guitars

Originally established as a repair and custom guitar shop in a retail music store called the Buffalo Guitar Outlet, Zon Guitars was founded by Joe Zon in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, in 1981. As a repair technician, Zon had earned a reputation for years of high-quality repairs and building customized instruments. In order to address all the problematic issues encountered with instruments while a repairman, Zon designed his first production-model instruments in 1982, the Standard and Signature model basses. After years of continued growth, Zon relocated his shop to Redwood City, California, in 1987, which continues to facilitate as Zon's base of operations today. ... Read More!



Evidence Audio

Evidence Audio

Specializing in high performance instrument, microphone, and speaker cables for both live and studio applications, Evidence Audio was founded by Tony Farinella in 1997. As one of the most critical components placed in the path of an audio signal, cables can degrade tone by adding unwanted coloration, obscuring definition, and compressing dynamics. Even the best cables influence the sound to a certain extent, and since no cable can actually improve tone, the primary goal of Evidence Audio has always been to produce transparent cables that don't impart their own sonic signature on the sound being generated. Rather than creating products based on marketing hype, Evidence Audio has conducted years of research in cable theory and design to formulate an award-winning series of cables. Unlike most instrument cables that are constructed with stranded wire, at the foundation of Evidence Audio's cables are solid core conductors which preserve clarity, nuances, and articulation. Evidence Audio cables are engineered to faithfully transmit the characteristics of all instruments as signal is passed from its source to its output destination, but they are especially suited for handling the speed, power, and resolution required of bass amplification. Featuring an international list of endorsing artists that includes bassists such as Alain Caron and Stuart Hamm, Evidence Audio cables are becoming the choice of bass players around the world. ... Read More!



Aguilar Amplification

Aguilar Amplification

"If we can't accomplish the goals of musicality and application, we aren't going to build it," states the co-founder and president of Aguilar Amplification, Dave Boonshoft. This year, Aguilar celebrates its 10th anniversary, and over the past decade, this founding principle remains at the forefront of Aguilar's groundbreaking design and engineering concepts. In 1995, Aguilar began as the manufacturer of a single bass preamp. Today, that same preamp is recognized as a contemporary classic and the industry standard in major recording studios found throughout the world. Along the way, Aguilar has become one of the fastest-growing manufacturers of high-end bass amplification with the addition of power amps, speaker cabinets, combo amps, onboard preamps, and a direct box to their product line. ... Read More!



Gallien-Krueger

Gallien-Krueger Amplification

"There are so many amps that are being made today that sound great when you are sitting in your living room practicing, but then when it comes to live performance applications, they simply can't step up and deliver. Building affordable and reliable bass amplification systems which are specifically designed for live performance is the foundation of everything we do," states Gallien-Krueger founder Bob Gallien. "When you look at the entire bass amplification market as a whole and analyze all of the amps currently being manufactured today, you will find that there are really only two basic sounds that are being produced, and everyone is emulating one or the other. There is the solid state G-K sound which is very articulate and punchy, and you also have the warm tube sound. Since a low rumbling bass sound can screw up the entire mix of a show, producing a bass tone that has the punch of a kick drum has really been the basis of my designs," adds Gallien. ... Read More!



Markbass Amplification

Markbass Amplification

"The Markbass product line is specifically engineered to not color the sound of the bass. Rather, our gear is designed to faithfully replicate the unique tonal characteristics of whatever instrument is being played through it. That has been our mission since the beginning," asserts Marco De Virgiliis, the founder of Markbass Amplification. He adds, "instead of imposing my idea of a particular sound on the market, I'm simply responding to what I hear over and over from bass players around the world." For this reason, Markbass has become acknowledged as an innovator of high-end sound reinforcement amongst the international bass community in just four years. With its facilities based in Italy, Markbass utilizes state-of-the-art technology to produce several product lines of amps, cabinets, and combo amps to address the needs of professional bass players in every performance application. ... Read More!



Thunderfunk

Thunderfunk Amplification

Designed to amplify the natural characteristics of bass instruments, Thunderfunk amplifiers are becoming the choice of the world's best bassists. Founded by electronics designer Dave Funk, Thunderfunk Amplification manufactures one of the most versatile, lightweight, and powerful tube bass amplifiers currently being produced. Thunderfunk's newest model, the TFB750A, is constructed of an aluminum chassis that weighs only 21 lbs., and it can be utilized as a fully integrated amplifier, DI, preamp, or power amplifier. Among its numerous components are a built-in limiter, 4-band semi-parametric equalizer, enhance and timbre controls for tone sculpting, "the switch," and a cooling fan that can be left on or turned off for quiet operation. In addition to building amps for the working bassist, Funk is also the author of a tube amp workbook which is recognized as a standard reference guide for collectors, owners, and technicians of vintage Fender tube guitar amplifiers. ... Read More!



AccuGroove

AccuGroove Amplification

"AccuGroove is not a market-driven company where we have pressure being placed upon us from the sales department in trying to get us to introduce something before its ready," asserts AccuGroove co-founder Mark Wright. "When we start a project, there are no time restrictions or budget limitations. The only goal is sonic purity and total reliability. We don't even calculate the cost of any cabinet until the project has been completed and our objectives have been reached. We simply refuse to compromise the sound and reliability of our products in order to deliver something to the market faster," adds Wright. ... Read More!



Phil Jones Bass

Phil Jones Bass

"Phil Jones Bass is all about being extreme, and I am not going to make any gear that is just good enough," states Phil Jones. As the president of PJB and a professional bass player himself, the British-born Jones adds, "speaker design is an exact science these days, and we calculate things such as cone excursion and air flow velocity in the vents per given frequency long before we even build a cabinet." By combining this no-compromise philosophy with over 25 years of experience in the audiophile stereo world and a fanatical degree of attention to detail, Jones and PJB have emerged at the forefront of contemporary bass amplification design and sound reinforcement. ... Read More!



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