Bergantino Artist Mitch Starkman

“I have a sensitive ear and am pretty particular on the way I like my tone. My bias is for transparency and a natural organic sound. This is the main reason why I’ve gone to Bergantino head and cabs. When I plug into this rig I hear my bass the way it sounds pretty much the way it sounds when I use a very direct recording chain. Although every situation you plug into colours your bass to some degree, after years of hearing your instruments in a direct signal chain WHILE in recording environments I got to know what they basically sound like as instruments, and when I plug into Bergantino that’s what I hear. Sold! 🙂 If I’m going to spend all this time and energy and money into getting the BASS specs perfect for what I wanted in any instrument, that’s what I want to hear come out of an amp. I believe in getting the flavour of my tone from the bass specs and my hands, and the amp should just reproduce that as accurately as possible”.

Location: Toronto, CANADA

Gear: The Reference 2 10” cab, Reference 1 12” cab, and a Forte head

Social Links:

https://www.facebook.com/mitch.starkman

https://www.instagram.com/mitchstarkman/

Bergantino Artist Mitch Starkman shares his bass journey with us!

WHERE YOU BORN AND RAISED IN CANADA?

Yes, I was born and raised in Toronto, CANADA.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED PLAYING THE BASS?

I was 12 and already had been taking classical piano lessons since the age of 7…and very reluctantly at that time.  I had also been listening to popular music on the radio and on records when someone I knew said that in the music I was hearing there was a “guitar -like instrument that had only four strings and played low notes”. Without even seeing or touching a bass I knew that was it..that’s where I wanted to be. It was like a huge light went off in my head and I was obsessed from that moment to find one and play it. It took another year for me to actually find one and put my hands on it, but I was sold sight- unseen. My first bass was an Epiphone Humbucker model that I rented from a local shop. It actually sounded great in retrospect… but I had no idea at the time! It sounded a lot like one of my “Bass Heroes” at 12: Glenn Cornick from Jethro Tull. Like most of you out there reading this, I wished I had that first one back.

DID PIANO HELP YOU IN YOUR EARLY BASS PLAYING?

Ultimately, immensely. Although my family would have probably disagreed with that considering the horrible noises coming from the basement in the first few years. It’s funny also that at that young age we didn’t have any concept of volume, and the effect it had on the victims around us. 🙂 But I’d have to admit at 12 the basic theory you learn from that formal piano education and ear training (plus the way music is laid out on a keyboard) gave me a huge head start in translating to the fretboard. Relationships and basic interval understanding was pretty much immediate and gave me a big head start. I continued with classical piano until I was 16 or 17 so the growth continued between the two. Although no one knew it, being forced to take piano lessons so early was one of the best thing that happened to me.

WHAT HAPPENED THEN?

I got into some early bands and then transitioned to doing mainly original music which was always my goal…being creative was always my main interest if I was allowed to do it. Early progressive rock projects transitioned to  doing demos/sessions and in my late teens and into my early 20s I found myself the “in house” bass player for many studios of different sizes, working with various producers and generally just hitting the recording scene as hard as I could. I should say that at that time in music culture the push to concentrate on your own music and record it in a studio where you need session players was much stronger than now. Machines and smaller digital studios with samples hit pretty hard starting in the 80s.  Then in my teens I discovered fusion, jazz, R and B, and funk/soul, getting into Weather Report, Headhunters, Return To Forever, Jaco and his band, and tons of other artists. That really began the process of maturing my playing and way of thinking (which never stops)… except for the dreaded “slap” that started to pierce the walls of my home and convinced the dog to never come downstairs again.

WHAT DID/DO YOU LIKE ABOUT STUDIO WORK?

The bright sun-lit rooms, the endless hours of getting a snare sound, the freshly prepared healthy meals, the bass always being way too loud on playbacks, and listening to every guitar through every guitar amp for every guitar part …while you were asked to just “plug in your Fender over there”…there’s so much! I kid, of course lol.  Really, the challenge of trying to be creative and authentic in different styles is very stimulating to me, and that you really have to be a good listener and be on your toes. The environment makes you better technically too, and allows you to play with different people, which is fun.

CAN YOU GIVE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK YOU’VE DONE?

I’ve done albums for major labels including Capitol/EMI, Attic Records, appeared on JUNO winning albums, commercial work, and numerous independent releases. I probably can’t count the number of demos also to add to that. 🙂 On the live side I’ve done the large arena, big stage, club circuit, and small venues of course.

WHO ARE YOUR INFLUENCERS?

That is almost impossible to answer fully..not enough space. 🙂 Just off the top of my head would be Anthony Jackson, Marcus Miller, Pino Palladio, Jaco, Peter Cetera, Chris Squire, Nathan East, James Jamerson, Gino Vanelli, Ian Anderson, Paul McCartney, Steve Gadd, Ralphe Armstrong, Coltrane , Tom Johnston, Herbie Hancock and a hundred more including my wife who tells me when I should ” stop doing that”, and I listen because she has better ears than I do. Really, its anyone who has moved me in some deep way with their talent and expression.

TELL ME ABOUT THE BASS R AND D INTEREST YOU HAVE.

It’s really a fun side interest I fell into in the last 20 years or so that was fueled by the quest for ultimate bass tone. I began to analyze what makes a bass sound the way it does and at the same time hooked up with FBass which is fairly close to where I live. There was a good opportunity to explore and discover (by experiment) all the factors and elements that affect tone using our ears and hands as the tools, and trying to improve anything that we could.  Bass is such a hands-on instrument, one where the relationship between the point of contact of your bare skin on your hand and the tone you eventually hear is so connected. That’s what makes it exciting for me to explore the R and D side to bass guitar. My R and D relationship with FBass remains up until today, along with being one of their artists. I’m also an artist for Alleva Coppolo Basses And Guitars and La Bella Olinto Basses, and have contributed to R and D for Alleva Coppolo as well.

THOUGHTS ON BERGANTINO AUDIO SYSTEMS?

I have a sensitive ear and am pretty particular on the way I like my tone. My bias is for transparency and a natural organic sound. This is the main reason why I’ve gone to Bergantino head and cabs. When I plug into this rig I hear my bass the way it sounds when I use a pretty direct recording chain. Although every situation or piece of equipment you plug into colours your bass to some degree, after years of hearing my instruments through a short recording chain I got to know how they basically sound like as instruments, and when I plug into Bergantino that’s what I hear. Sold! If I’m going to spend all this time and energy and money into getting the bass specs perfect for what I wanted in any instrument, that’s what I want to hear come out of an amp. I believe in getting the flavour of my tone from the bass specs and my hands, and the amp should just reproduce that as accurately as possible. Currently, when I do want to color my tone significantly I tend to use a tone shaping direct box with tubes or otherwise.

WHAT BERGANTINO RIG DO YOU HAVE CURRENTLY?

I have a Reference 2 10” cab, a Reference 1 12” cab, and a Forte head. This gives me a good combination of flexibility, bottom end, definition, punch, and transportability.

I opted for the Forte because I’m not really a “wires” guy, I’m a wood guy, so although the features of the B amp are great and the digital interface works well I just want something simple and fast …plug in and play. That’s what the Forte was designed to do and it does it well. I love it for that. Again, the natural basic sound of this rig is accurate and transparent to my bass which is what it’s all about for me.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO BESIDES PLAYING THE BASS?

I love to travel, especially to do mountain trekking or hiking. I’ve gone to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, and trek through the Swiss Alps regularly, now with my wife. We also love to be on wheels either bike or roller-blades. Travel and adventure are things that excite me, and I guess there is an analogy there with music and working with different projects. They are adventures, new or otherwise. Other things are aviation, hearing live music, and some relaxing time with the people around me.  The important thing is to have passions and interests to keep your life varied and meaningful. I also believe these things can make you a better musician.

 

 

 

 

Bergantino Artist David Goldflies

“I used the new bass rig on the gig – Blistering! If my notes were made of fluffy pastries before, they are now made out of tempered steel. Just clear, responsive, loud, nuanced — I play chords and every note is pristine. I used a Zoom B9.1ut effects pedal with it (Hartke amp pre) and the whole system gave me a new level of punch and crunch in the notes.” “The Forté has been rock solid, which is the first priority for any equipment used in performance. The sound has been clear and responsive. The Forté is providing me with all sorts of shades and nuance in my sound.”

Location: Florida

Gear: The forte’, the HG410 and the HDN212. They are both light and compact, and I can stack them for a very small stage footprint. Together they are incredible.

Bands: Allman Goldflies Band, Panama City POPS Orchestra, The New Electronic Orchestra

Social Links:

tneomusic.com

AllmanGoldfliesBand.com

facebook.com/tneomusic

www.goldfliesmusic.com

Bergantino Artist Rick Gauthier Jr.

“Bergantino is one of those names, that within the industry is well known that this brand is one of the highest quality of products. There were not a lot of dealers around where I grew up and it wasn’t until I moved to Chicago at which I spent a lot of time working at Bass Club Chicago and had the opportunity to play every product down the line side by side and choose what was best for my ears. What I found with the side by side comparison is if you were to put a blindfold on and have someone play what you will find is with this product you get unparallel clarity and really true tone. No matter what bass you plug into a Bergantino amplifier you are going to hear that bass in its purest form. What I love about the Bergantino fortè and B|AMP is that what you hear is not colored…. It amplifies the instrument you are using in the clearest way possible. I find the same thing with Bergantino Cabs. Your products are clean, transparent, and beautiful. Some amps sound like the amp no matter what you plug in. That greasy SVT tone for example. That sound is the same playing a P or a Warwick or a Lakland. The Bergantino amplifiers let you sound like your specific instrument. You’ll hear your bass more clearly than you every thought possible. Pure, transparent, and clean.”

Location: Manchester, New Hampshire

Gear: Bergantino forte’, Bergantino HG410, Bergantino HDN112

Bands:

Nick Drouin a country artist from New Hampshire and we just released our first record and it’s going really well. (www.Nickdrouin.com)

Romeo Dance Cheetah! It falls into the category of comedy rock. It’s a great time for everyone involved and really good music! We get to do very interesting things which makes it fun and it’s a talented group of people. (www.Romeodancecheetah.com)

Social Links:

https://www.facebook.com/RickGauthierJr

Instagram: @rickeatsbacon

“Rick Eats Bacon” aka Rick Gauthier Jr. the bearded Bergantino Artist with the Super Colossal personality shares his bass story with us!

“Rick Eats Bacon” aka Rick Gauthier Jr. the bearded Bergantino Artist with the Super Colossal personality shares his bass story with us!

How did you get interested in the bass and when did you start playing bass?

Like so many others, I started out not desiring to play the bass. Most people from my generation remember how cool “Slash” looked with his Les Paul slung low, doing his ripping guitar solo standing on top of a piano with the spotlight on and his hair blowing back in the wind. Turns out I don’t have the hair to live that dream. I actually started off playing the drums and I was terrible at that. When I was in middle school I caused some trouble and got grounded….for a long time! My parents took my drums out of my room and the only thing I had left was this old guitar that we had bought for a buck at a yard sale. I taught myself how to play out of shear boredom. To be honest, I was pretty terrible at that too, but I enjoyed it. I played the guitar in different bands in middle school until I had a friend who needed a bass player. I wanted to play with these people and learned how to play the bass out of necessity for the sake of playing with this group. It just worked for me, and it wasn’t before long that I realized playing bass just connected with me. It turned out to be something I could do well. I felt comfortable, I felt like I belonged somewhere.

You have been playing bass for quite some time now almost twenty years- how did you get here?

Growing up, you hear people saying things like “find something you love to do and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I heard the words, but I never took the advice. I spent so many years playing bass as a hobby, and not a career. I was afraid if I relied on this for income, and it was not my choice, I would stop enjoying playing so much.  I thought it would not be fun anymore if it became an obligation and I never wanted that fire to die for me.  I spent many years working at a job that I hated and playing the bass on weekends just to make myself happy.  When I hit my mid 30’s I thought “if I do this right I can make this a career”, and it will be the best time of my life. Ironically, I’ll be the first to tell the young kids that same advice. Do what you love. Make that what matters.

Who were your influencers?

As a musician in general I am probably the biggest Chris Cornell fan on earth. Unfortunately he passed away last year which was very sad. As a bass player, a couple of the top guys I look up to include Tim Commerford with Rage Against the Machine, Chris Wolstenholme from the band Muse, and Pete Connors from The States. I really like a lot of the extremely flashy stuff. A lot of the stuff Victor Wooten lays down completely blows my mind. The more I learn how to do borderline outlandish things the better I can get at everything. There are not going to be a lot of occasions where I could make practical use of those skills with the crazy all over the board slap stuff and the kind of wild stuff that Les Claypool does. Those things are impressive and amazing and learning how to do them will only make me better, but I find that if I work hard on stuff that I am terrible at, focus on what I don’t do well, I can get better at things that I am already good at (the basics, staying in the pocket, giving the song what it needs).  I get a lot of influence from people and musicians who do things that are not particularly applicable to my world but I like going out of my comfort zone a lot, it helps me to figure out where I need to be.

How did you learn to play?

I taught myself. I picked up that cheap yard sale guitar that we got. I would hear things on the radio and just spend time figuring out how to match pitches and find the sound I was looking to find. I started with one note at a time. I followed the root of the songs. This was all before YouTube and internet were tools you could use to learn! I had to figure out how to get my fingers to cooperate and figure out the physical skills to get my right hand and left hand to cooperate with each other and to get the sound I wanted to hear. There’s just no substitute for putting the work in, spending the time with your instrument to really understand it inside and out. It’s a relationship. You can’t get more out than you put into it. You have to put those thousands of hours in behind the scenes.

Are there musicians in your family?

My father loves to tell the story of taking me fishing when I was young. I was a kid, I didn’t really get it, the appeal of fishing. I did love spending time with my dad and my brother out by the water. He’d work hard all week and be so happy to get out and relax with a fishing pole on the weekend. I was more interested in wrapping the hook back around the base of the pole and plucking the fishing line while changing the tension on it, trying to play songs on my fishing pole. My heart was in music before I knew what music would mean to me. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a fantastic guitar player as well.

How would you describe your playing style?

I have a very realistic view of what my role is in the world of music. I use my right hand to communicate with the drummer. I will match up and lock in with percussive things the drummer is doing and follow the bass drum as a root guideline. I communicate with the guitar player and singer with my left hand by finding the actual note. My style is whatever the band needs. Sometimes that means I am playing single notes at a time and staying very basic. Sometimes there is just a lot of space left to be filled into full chords and or melodically pull things apart a little bit to fill the space. My style changes depending on who I am playing with. A bass player’s role is to use your fingers to communicate with everyone around you and fill in the holes as needed. You need to listen more than anything else, figure out what the song needs, and adapt to the moment.

What styles of music are your favorite to play?

As I play bass professionally, I find myself spending a significant amount of time listening to music that I would not normally listen to. You have to learn songs for different bands and it’s like any other job in that way, some of the parts of the job you love and some you don’t. Every great job has tasks you won’t love. Sometimes you have to clean the toilet or wash the windows (which is how I view playing “Footloose”). I do like to play anything outside my comfort zone. I find that I am at my best when I am the most uncomfortable and I do my best work when I am the worst musician in a group because I HAVE to work harder.  I am forced to bring my “A” Game and I do!

What was the first bass you have ever owned?

I picked it up in the late 90’s and it was a four string Ibanez ATK. Basically a MusicMan style bass with a single pickup. I own three basses currently-I always have a functional use for more than three but that’s what I currently have in rotation.

My main instrument that I play 90% of the time is my Dingwall NG2.  It’s a five string and by far the most comfortable and most versatile bass I have ever played.  It is physically high quality enough to withstand being played every single day of the week and has every type of sound you could want in it. It has a Darkglass preamp onboard which is very strong, loud, and versatile. It has all of the different tone options for basic jazz, a MusicMan style Humbucker sound, a P neck type sound, and everything you could need in one package which is really cool. Being a multi-scale instrument the clarity you get out of this instrument is just unparallel.  I’m a huge fan of these basses, and Sheldon Dingwall is one of my favorite people on earth.

My second favorite is a semi vintage Fender “P Bass” that all bass players are required to have in your tool box! I run Labella flatwound strings and it has EMG pickups in it and is from the early 80’s. I use it for blues and country stuff. It has this really nice woody thud type of sound to it. If you really bite in hard with your right hand it gives you a very flat, cool, woody warm tone which I like a lot. It’s black with a white pick guard.

The last one is a Warwick Streamer Stage 2 and I considered it my dream bass growing up. When I first started playing bass P nut from the band 311 and Dirk Lance from the band Incubus both used this bass. I always wanted to have that exact sound and I love the look of this bass. I saved up and traded up for this and got the holy grail of basses. I have so many memories with this bass touring the country and it never let me down. I’ve had this for a long time and it’s going nowhere.

I also have a custom fretless being built by Simonetti Custom Basses. I am wildly excited about this one. Ray Simonetti makes some of the highest quality basses I have ever played and I’m really beyond happy about this bass!

How did you find out about Bergantino?

Bergantino is one of those names, that within the industry it’s well known that this is one of the highest quality of products. There were not a lot of dealers around where I grew up and it wasn’t until I moved to Chicago at which I spent a lot of time working at Bass Club Chicago and had the opportunity to play every product down the line side by side and choose what was best for my ears. What I found with the side by side comparison is if you were to put a blindfold on and have someone play what you will find is with this product you get unparallel clarity and really true tone. No matter what bass you plug into a Bergantino amplifier you are going to hear that bass in its purest form. What I love about the Bergantino fortè and B|AMP is that what you hear is not colored…. It amplifies the instrument you are using in the clearest way possible.  I find the same thing with Bergantino Cabs.  Your products are clean, transparent, and beautiful. Some amps sound like the amp no matter what you plug in. That greasy SVT tone for example. That sound is the same playing a P or a Warwick or a Lakland. The Bergantino amplifiers let you sound like your specific instrument. You’ll hear your bass more clearly than you every thought possible. Pure, transparent, and clean.

Tell me about the bands you have been with and who you are playing with now.

My current projects are as follows:

I play with Nick Drouin who is a country artist from New Hampshire and we just released our first record and it’s going really well. (www.Nickdrouin.com)

Romeo Dance Cheetah! It falls into the category of comedy rock. It’s a great time for everyone involved and really good music! We get to do very interesting things which makes it fun and it’s a talented group of people. (www.Romeodancecheetah.com)

I played with a band called the Vital Might and we toured throughout the NE through Maine to PA and upstate NY, SXSW from Texas where we got a record deal. This band was a huge part of my life those guys will always be family to me! (www.thevitalmight.com)

I grew up in NH and recently moved back to NH to be closer to my family.

What’s the one song you love to play the most?

On the most recent Vital Might record there is a song called “I Found You”. During the chorus the band is unified and there is a part in the middle of the song where I play some higher register melodic things that really tie the song together in different ways. I get to showcase my skills with a variety of styles I play. I love the chords and love playing this song. (https://open.spotify.com/track/6MFLH0zkAM59KEjIPiYENd?si=njGx3pc-SaKvURAQBw3Wgw)

Social media seems to be a very large passion of yours?

Social media has become an important part of the world and I enjoy the creativity of making something special out of it. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about other people’s comments. I’ve realized that I have the ability to share my thoughts and network with other bass players and musicians that have many of the same passions that I do globally and have met some great people in doing so.  I do not take for granted my position within the bass community.  It’s more of an honor than I can explain to know that there people out there who want to advice from me. You can get great advice through the internet from others on product reviews, playing styles, etc.  Some good examples are my friends Andy Irvine and Patrick Hunter. These guys in very different ways use the internet to help other musicians learn about new gear, and show pros and cons of each piece of equipment.

What other passions do you have?

I am a Baseball fanatic and a complete statistics nerd! I love numbers! I like to cook and cook all kinds of stuff. I love to make pies….. a cinnamon apple pie with a bacon weaved top is one of my faves to make. It’s a crowd pleaser 🙂

“Rick Eats Bacon”- how did you get that nick name?

For some reason in the US bacon has become a thing….. One of my best friends and I would have an annual bacon party starting about 10 years ago. Everything we had was bacon related. Between us we probably had 10 pounds of bacon at an event for 5 people. Some things worked and some did not.  One of my friends froze bacon in ice cubes and we used in in our scotch. This was a really bad idea. We were bold! I am not unhealthy Harry here! I eat good food and just have fun with bacon! Nothing like the smell of bacon cooking!

What advice do you have for fellow bass players out there?

Say YES to everything. Go as far outside of your comfort zone as you can. Play with as many people as you can. Accept the challenges you don’t think you’re ready for. Do things that you don’t think you can do. If you’re a rock guy and someone wants you to go play country, go figure it out! Reggae? Rap? Bluegrass? If it’s not your thing, MAKE IT your thing. How do you get in to a groove sandwiched between a trombone and a banjo? You won’t know until you GO FOR IT. The more time you spend with your instrument, the better you will be at everything you do. Just keep playing, stay eager and stay positive. You’ll be amazed by what you didn’t know you were capable of 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/RickGauthierJr

@rickeatsbacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bergantino Artist Maurice Fitzgerald

“I was on this tone search and wanted my bass to sound the way it does when I hear it back in the studio—full, rich and lots of tone. I must say, this bass cab and amp exceeded my expectations. I love how Jim designed the forté head. That thing is incredible, it can handle anything and I love that big knob. It’s amazing like an old hi fi stereo. You have a hold on producing true tone, and I just love it.”

Location:  Chicago, Illinois

Gear: The HDN212, The Reference 112, The NV412T, and the forte’

Bands: The Isley Brothers Band

Social Links:

https://www.facebook.com/maurice.fitzgerald1

https://bassmods.3dcartstores.com/search.asp?keyword=MF5&search

Instagram @devinsdad23