Bergantino welcomes Kelly Clifton

Bass playing dynamo, Kelly Clifton of the band J.Graves, was nice enough to sit down with Holly and give some insight to her thoughts and approach of the instrument.

 

 Hey Kelly, what have you been up to?

I am finishing up an LP with J. Graves. I have also been recording two EPs with The Cabin Project. When I am not playing music, I work as a luthier.

 

So, tell us where were you born and raised?

I was born in Miami, Florida, and was raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

 

What makes the bass so special to you particularly and how did you gravitate to it?

When I began playing saxophone in my teenage years, I was primarily trained in performing the middle and bass voicings of musical compositions. Later, in my 20s, when I began playing guitar with what became my first bandmate, Stephanie Strange of Strange and the Familiars, I found myself gravitating more towards the bass notes. I began fleshing out pieces of the songs with bass lines, which led me to purchase my first bass guitar.

Every person experiences music differently, and it can affect them in different ways. For me, part of what makes the bass so special is not just the sonic and cognitive experience, but also the physical resonance in my body. I find the vibration of bass is hypnotic, euphoric, and soothing. I like the subtle power bass has to create or change the entire context of a melody, and using that in collaborative songwriting is my greatest musical strength.

How did you learn to play?

I learned by jamming with other musicians. I started with just a few notes and then learned by emulating what other guitar players were doing on their low E and A strings. I really began to progress with bass when I joined a blues and rock cover band and started learning bass lines and styles ranging from James Jamerson to Dusty Hill. From there, I became involved with many musical groups that helped progress my playing, songwriting ability and understanding of my instrument. I enjoy self-learning and continue to expand my knowledge with online resources such as Scott’s Bass Lessons.

 

Are there any other instruments you play?

I can play piano, saxophone, traditional flutes, guitar, and baritone ukulele.

 

How has your playing evolved over the years and have you made changes from your start until now- can you describe the changes?

When I began with bass, I didn’t know the note names on the fretboard, and I played by ear as well as by patterns. Since then, I have familiarized myself with the fretboard and unlocked the ability to play what I think, and it has taken a lot of guesswork out of playing. If I feel the music, I can now very easily figure out how to play what I imagine in a way that is more precise and easily communicated with my fellow bandmates. I am now more adventurous, experimenting with how much sonic space I can fill, finding where chords are too much or just right, where less subtle or more lead lines can be brought forth, instead of timidly riding beneath the guitar lines.

 

Describe your playing style(s), tone, strengths and/or areas that can be improved on the bass.

I approach playing the bass with reverence and try my best to serve the song. I gravitate towards warmer and darker tones and almost exclusively play fingerstyle with flat or pressure wound strings. I am confident in styles like indie, folk, rock and blues, but I would like to be more proficient with metal, slap, funk and jazz improvisation as it is quite different from my current style.

 

Where do you see the instrument in 5, 10, or even 20 years from now?

As far as the bass instrument, I see bass manufacturers continuing to explore new sizes and materials. For example, Taylor came out with the GS mini bass in the mid-2010s; it was a bass that was so short-scale they had to develop a brand new bass string to accommodate the new string tension. I think it would be interesting to see more basses designed for different kinds of bodies. In a world moving towards more inclusivity, basses that suit more body types would make the bass more approachable by all. As far as materials for the instrument are concerned, there have been serious concerns around sustainability and supply chains. Forestry management and material sourcing abilities will dictate what is available. We’ll likely see more of a departure from using the coveted and traditional tonewoods, which can lead to innovation and unique workarounds in times of scarcity.

 

Who would you say out of four players that would make the cut as your influencer and why?  

Tal Wilkenfeld, Victor Wooten, Paul Denman, and Flea.

When I first began listening to Tal Wilkenfeld, I was impressed with how she held her own with the likes of Jeff Beck and the Allman Brothers, but her solo album is uniquely and genuinely her.

I have appreciated Victor Wooten for some time because he never lost his musicality in the flashiness of his technique. He continually expands what I think is humanly possible on the bass.

Paul Denman may be my all-time favorite bassist. He is not flashy; he creates a mood with sparseness and rhythm. He is like the person who says very few words to you, but makes a bigger impact on your life than an entire book. Even though his technique impresses me, it’s his tone that grabs me the most.

What I like about Flea is while he can play a simple bass line, he can also create memorable counter-melodies. His ability to play hard rock and funk, as well as gorgeous chordal and melodic music, is impressive and inspiring.

 

Let us know what you are currently working on (studio, tour, side projects, etc.).

I work primarily with two bands. One is called J.Graves, who just finished up an LP titled Fortress of Fun. It was mixed by Sylvia Massy, and mastered by Amy Dragon, who are incredibly talented people we were stoked to work with. We also recently finished shooting six music videos, all with a related storyline, with a choose-your-own-adventure theme. They will be released sometime in 2022.

The other band I am working with is called The Cabin Project, and we are working on a double EP currently being recorded at the Map Room in Portland, Oregon. This EP features some of my most ambitious bass parts.

I work a day job at a violin shop. My career as a luthier began as an apprenticeship, and I have continued to work with masters of the trade who are currently teaching me more advanced violin repair techniques. I am also halfway through my first bass guitar build. The bass is a neck-through, 33” scale, maple neck and walnut body, Hipshot drop D tuning machine for the E string. Pickups/electronics are yet undecided.

 

How did you find Bergantino, and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?

One night back in 2018, I went to a jam at a local blues club in Portland. It was hosted by Saxophonist Fenix Sanders and his band. I’d played with Fenix many times in my blues and rock cover band, but this was my first time meeting his bassist, Calen. When I hopped up on stage to play a song, Calen plugged me into his B|Amp and a Bergantino 410 Cab. I still remember playing the first few notes of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love.” That day was the start of my appreciation for Bergantino. In the eleven basses I have played, nothing made as much of a difference as playing through that amp.

The first thing I noticed with the Bergantino gear was the incredibly clear, effortless articulation. It felt like I got ten years better at the bass the moment I plugged in and played. Calen was a great bass player, but at that moment, I felt like I had discovered one of his secrets. In the times when I played with Fenix before, he’d often lean over to me in between songs and ask me to turn my mids up. Little did I know he was completely spoiled by the power and sound of the Berg amp he was used to hearing. At one point, I told him not to worry, that I’d get a Bergantino someday.

 

Tell us about your favorite basses.

I have owned eleven basses since I started playing in 2012, and both perform and record almost exclusively with my Fender Jazz bass. I find the neck profile of this bass more comfortable for my style. I also appreciate the tonal variety of this bass, I can make it sound beautiful, warm, and soft, and I can also make it growl. It works for all the styles I play.

My second favorite bass is my Aria Pro II Thor Sound bass. It is a 32” scale bass, and its string spacing is very tight, which allows me to more comfortably explore bass chords and stretches that are hard to reach on the jazz bass.

 

What else do you like to do besides playing bass?

I am a hobbyist knifemaker. I love hiking, particularly in the Columbia River Gorge, or anywhere in the mountains. I really enjoy practicing traditional archery. I also have a not-so-minor ongoing obsession with the show “Xena: Warrior Princess”.

 

What have you had more time to work on or explore since COVID?

At first I had a lot more downtime, which has helped me realize the importance of physical upkeep as a musician. I now better understand the necessity of balance in juggling my art, profession, and personal life in the less active time of COVID. I also have spent more time on my own with songwriting, which has been a good exploration in relying solely on myself for material.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I am quite curious about electronics and why Bergantino amps and cabs work so well. I am friends with Howard Gee, the head designer of KittyCaster FX Pedals (formerly of Catalinbread), and have had the pleasure of picking his mind about how they designed some of their top-selling pedals. I enjoy learning more from engineers in the musical world, and would like the opportunity to glean more in-depth knowledge about Bergantino products. Knowing more about this would help me connect with other musicians who want to know more about how Bergantino could benefit their sound. I have a mind for the technical details as well as the art of music and would like to share my love for Bergantino in a knowledgeable way.

Follow Kelly:

IG: https://www.instagram.com/boxcar_lucy/

https://www.instagram.com/jgraves.xyz/

https://www.instagram.com/thecabinproject/

Web:
www.jgraves.xyz

www.thecabinproject.com

 

 

 

 

 

Bergantino Audio Systems is proud to welcome Jeff Matz to our family of artists.

Jeff Matz interview with Bergantino’s Lee Presgrave 

Jeff Matz is proof there is still a place for nice guys in rock and roll. Don’t let his easy-going demeanor fool you, inside his body is a steady-state of simmering riffs and grooves just dying to get out. Jeff has been in the music industry for quite some time and we were lucky enough to virtually sit down with him, ask a few questions and hear what he and the band have been up to lately. Please enjoy! 

Thanks for sitting down with us, Jeff. What have you been up to lately? 

I just returned home from playing some East Coast shows with High On Fire. We played New York and Boston. It was so great to return to those cities. With HOF, we have been focusing our efforts on writing a new album with our new drummer Coady Willis; it is coming along nicely. As far as upcoming HOF shows, we are about to play 3 nights in Chicago, then we have a short West Coast run around New Year’s Eve and a European tour planned for June-July 2022.

In addition to High On Fire, I have also joined Mutoid Man, which I’m very excited about! They have been one of my favorite bands for years, so it’s a blast to perform those songs live with them and writing new music with Steve and Ben has been amazing. I’m also working on another exciting project, which I can’t talk about just yet, as well as preparing an album of solo material–lots of irons in the fire at the moment!

Can you explain how you guys write those incredible High On Fire riffs? Most know Matt is also in the doom metal band Sleep, and both bands are very different. Do you have to record a song or an album with a particular mindset?

It’s not difficult at all. Sleep and High On Fire are such different animals and they operate completely independent of one another. When High On Fire does slow, heavy material, it naturally ends up sounding much different from Sleep. Most of the time we don’t have a preconception of what our new material should sound like. It typically comes about and evolves pretty organically.

“King of Days” has such a great bass melody in the intro and outro. How was that song born? 

That song grew out of a bass loop I came up with late one night in 2010. I came up with the main melody spontaneously while I was playing around with my looper. Then I came up with the main chord progression underneath it and then the harmonies. That’s how the basis of the song came to be. We kicked it around at practice and Matt came up with the B part/chorus and the lyrics/vocal melody. Also, a lot of people think that it’s guitar playing the harmonized lines at the end of the song, but it’s actually bass.

How are you and your band dealing with this last year, and what does your future look like?

We’ve all had to figure out new ways to get by since we weren’t able to tour. I started teaching private bass students via Skype and Zoom, which I still continue to do. It’s been a really great experience. I’ve met so many cool people through teaching, and it’s pushed me to expand my knowledge of music and continue to improve as a player. During the whole lockdown, we continued to work on music for a new HOF album. Now we’re finally back to playing shows again. It felt strange at first, getting on stage again after so much time off. But now it feels somewhat “normal” again. I’m so grateful to be performing live again. I missed it so much.

You have a monstrous bass tone. What led you to incorporate large amounts of drive in your tone? 

I’ve always loved overdriven and distorted bass sounds. Some of my big influences sound-wise are Lemmy, Geezer Butler, Jack Bruce, Andrew Weiss with Rollins Band, Greg Lake with ELP and King Crimson and John Wetton with King Crimson as well, Martin Turner from Wishbone Ash, and of course Cliff Burton.

I’ve spent a lot of time playing bass in three-piece bands, and the desire to fill up sonic space is what led me to incorporate distortion pedals, and later adding guitar stacks to my bass rig. 

What other instruments do you play? 

I’m a bassist first and foremost, but I also play a lot of guitar. I write a lot of High On Fire’s riffs on guitar. The last few years I’ve also been studying Turkish folk music on the traditional Turkish lute, the bağlama or saz. İt’s an amazing sounding instrument and Turkish folk music is so rich. The melodies and rhythms are beautiful and at the same time very heavy sounding to my ears. I think it blends very well with heavy music. I also play the tanbour, another type of lute from Iran, which I played on a couple tracks on Death Is This Communion, the first album I recorded with High On Fire. I’m also working on becoming a better keyboard player, and I have also been singing a lot more these days.

Tell us about your signature bass with Dunable and how that came to be.

I’ve known Sacha Dunable for quite a few years. His band Intronaut toured with High On Fire back in 2007. I saw Intronaut play at the Road to Burn festival in Holland in 2013 and was admiring the other guitarist David’s unique looking guitar. I asked him about it, and he told me that Sacha built it for him. He encouraged me to talk to Sacha about having him build me a bass. Sacha and I discussed it, which eventually led to him building the first Dunable bass for me in 2014. We have been working together ever since. He approached me about doing a signature series around 2017. We collaborated on the body shape and specs, and this current signature bass is the fourth iteration of the JM series. We refined the body shape a bit more, and it’s also the first Dunable custom shop instrument to feature a gloss finish. It has a precision style pickup in the classic p bass spot and a relatively hot single coil in the bridge position. I’m really happy with how this run of basses turned out. I just finished doing some recording with it, and it sounds amazing.

What led you to check out Bergantino gear?

I was attracted to Bergantino cabinets after seeing/hearing my friend Aaron Rieseberg from the band Yob play through a Bergantino 215 and a 610. It sounded so clear and punchy, but organic. I was very impressed by the sound and the volume of air being moved. That’s what led me to reach out to the company. Now, owning some of the gear, I can say that the NXT212’s are some of the best sounding cabinets I’ve tried, and Forte HP is great sounding head with an insane amount of power on tap. All the Bergantino gear is meticulously engineered–top quality stuff!

About Bergantino Audio Systems: Bergantino Audio Systems has been dedicated to developing and building the highest quality audio products and bass guitar amplification systems since 2001. Founder Jim Bergantino has worked in a number of fields in his career – from hi-tech electrical engineering to high-end hi-fi and the professional audio world. After designing custom bass cabinets for many other leading brands, he went out on his own to start Bergantino Audio Systems. We have received numerous accolades within the musical instrument industry and continue to look forward with our designs and our unique approach to developing products. https://bergantino.com/

 

A clip of bass player extraordinaire, Mr. Frank Itt from “Bass the World” demoing the Forté D and the NXT210. Head over to Bass the World’s YouTube channel to see the full review.

Bergantino Player Joey Dammacco shares his story with us!

Okay Joey, right out of the gate, who do you think makes a better sauce and meatballs, you or Jim?

  • Jim for sure… that’s because I don’t know how to make meatballs, but if I put him head to head with my Nana, he will most likely not come out on top of that one.

Where were you born and raised?

  • Bellmore, Long Island, New York

What makes the bass so special to you particularly, and how did you gravitate to it?

  • I didn’t start wanting to play bass. I most definitely failed at drums and guitar when I was a kid, but when I was 15, I chose bass and fell in love. My dad has been playing since I was a baby, and it’s always been around me in my life. Once I picked up my first bass and felt that low end, I knew there was no turning back. I was a bassist for life.

How did you learn to play?

  • I took lessons for many years with a private instructor, Jon Middleman, who played in a band called Greyscale. Not only did he teach me how to play my instrument, but he also used to sneak me into venues that I wasn’t old enough to be in and taught me what it takes to work hard to actually BE a working musician. Field experience is where I really learned the ins and outs.

Are there any other instruments you play?

  • I dabble with keys and guitar.

How has your playing evolved over the years? Can you describe the changes you have made from your start until now?

  • When I first started, I wanted to be a very flashy player (solo, tap, slap style), and as I learned more and more, I realized I am so much more interested in playing in the pocket and keeping the foundation of the song intact. I love to keep that low end pumping so you always feel the bass.

Where do you see the instrument 5, 10, or even 20 years from now?

  • I think bass has really evolved from when the electric bass first came on the scene. From active electronics, multiscale, fanned frets, extended range (5/6/7/8/9 string) and everything in between, its much different now. With the popularity of digital modeling, I can see pickups and preamps capable of digital modeling being introduced.

Who would you say are the four players who would make the cut as your influencers and why?

  • Jon Middleman, my teacher. He influenced everything I know about my instruments and how I approach songs.
  • John Dammacco, my father. When I was young and impressionable, we would take a day every time I would visit him to jam together and listen to music. It kept me interested and kept me learning.
  • Justin Chancellor from Tool. It’s almost cliché to mention Justin, but what rock player wasn’t influenced by Justin Chancellor? I am a very effects-driven player, and Justin showed how you can use effects with bass and still remain musical. He shaped a lot about how I approach creating fills and melody.
  • Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails. He is my favorite artist in the world. Trent taught me so much about songwriting, layering, creating tension in songs, engineering and everything between.

We know your band the Neon Skyline has a new single “Golden Heart” that just released on June 25. Can you tell us more about this?

  • Yes! The Neon Skyline was a quarantine project that became so much more in such a short time. Randy (drums) Dan, and I (guitar) played together previously for about 7 years, and Golden Heart was the first thing we wrote on the first day we jammed in years. After the music was written, we brought in the IMMENSELY talented Julia Lambert to provide vocals for the project. She completed the vision we had for our band. I cannot wait for everyone to hear what we cooked up for this one!
  • “Golden Heart” was written about Dan’s stepdaughter changing his life forever and how much brighter she made his life. It’s a sappy father/daughter track for sure, but lyrically, I think it will resonate with people much more than that. It’s a powerful story of unconditional love.

What are you currently working on (studio, tour, side projects, etc.)?

  • Currently, The Neon Skyline is writing music for our debut EP.
  • My other band, I Ignite, is starting pre-production on our next releases, followed by entering the studio and releasing our 4th
  • Additionally, I am in the process of writing my first solo album, which will be electronic dance music that I will be writing, performing, producing and engineering.

We know you searched high and low for a Bergantino 610 and found one! How’d you find out about Bergantino, and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?

  • It’s a funny story. My friend Ryan, with whom I nerd out on gear all the time, had mentioned Bergantino about a million times. I had always stopped by the site and said, “Oh these are pretty cool,” and nothing more. When I was in the market to upgrade my cab, Ryan Mentioned the NV610T, and at this point, they were no longer made. So I spent about 12 months hunting one down and then impulse bought a Forte HP, sight unseen, because I was impatient. That was the greatest decision I’ve ever made on an amplifier. Eventually I found the 610T after scouring every Bergantino dealer on the website. It was New old stock, and I was A-OKAY with that! What a monstrous sounding cab! There are so many amps out there and so many that sound great. What’s important to me is when I plug in, I want my tone to inspire me. I want that permanent smile. I want that foundation. Bergantino checked every single box I had, and some I didn’t know I needed (see: HPF/LPF on the HP).

Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

  • I have been a Musicman artist for years, but Just recently acquired my two favorite basses I own. My #1 go to is my Musicman Stringray 5 Special HH with an ebony fretboard, stealth black hardware and a custom neon pink finish.
  • My #2 is a mid-2010s Musicman Reflex 5 HSS with a maple neck and pacific blueburst finish. Something about the 2x jazz and 1x hum configuration just gives me any sound I could want.

What else do you like to do besides playing bass?

  • I love to produce electronic music, spend time with my French Bulldog Oliver, watch TV with my wife, and I am a big gamer. I know I am very boring.

During the down time with COVID-19, what did you work on, and are you now out and playing again?

  • Quarantine was a great time for music honestly. I did some YouTube covers with some friends and wrote a ton of new music. It was an awful time for humanity, but I was thankful to be fortunate enough to have an outlet to pass time and be constructive.
  • We are not playing shows just yet, but as the world heals and opens back up, we will be right back in the grind again!

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

  • Aren’t you sick of hearing me yet? Please make sure to check out my band, The Neon Skyline’s debut single “Golden Heart” available on all streaming platforms on June 25, 2021!

Joey’s social links:

 

 

 

Bergantino Artist Dave Hope shares his story with us! Enjoy!!

 

Dave Hope Interview with Bergantino’s Lee Presgrave 

Dave Hope should need no introduction, but just in case you’re a young whippersnapper and haven’t been introduced to his work, I’ll give you some thoughts. An industry icon and founding member of Kansas, Dave and his band of misfits, from the middle of the US, created, that’s right, created a genre of music. Refusing to be pigeonholed into a specific category, they combined elements of jazz, rock and operatic anthems. The band blazed a trail for many more who follow to this day.

Dave’s task on bass played an immense role in the band’s success by marrying Kansas’ complex melodies into one, cohesive wall of sonic greatness with texture, creative dissidence, and legendary hooks and riffs, all with mind-blowing vocal harmonies. Kansas was truly ahead of its time.

I got the chance to “virtually” sit down with the man himself, Mr. Dave Hope, and ask him a few questions. Please enjoy this as much as I did.

______________________________________________________________________

Dave, it is an absolute honor. What would you like to share about your experience in the music industry for so many years?

For me personally, when I look back at the years in Kansas, the awards and being on stage never crosses my mind. What I value now was the opportunity to experience success and to tour the world with my friends from high school. Who gets to do that?

I can remember playing our first encore at Madison Square Garden, and saying to Rich before we went back on, “This is crazy. What are we doing here? We’re just some rubes from Topeka!”

What I experienced in the music industry could be summed up in our yearly schedule we did for ten years in a row. Nine months of constant touring. One month of working up an album from scratch. One month to record the album. The last month was divided into different four- to five-day breaks throughout the year. I never saw the industry part, but I’m an expert on Holiday Inn rooms.

 

How has the role of the electric bass guitar changed in regard to how it is utilized in the song?

Technically, the players I see on YouTube are much better than in my day. Yet even though I hear better licks, I do not hear better constructed bass parts. It was much more of a team/band mindset, rather than an instruction video/solo mindset then. Growing up, bass was only heard within the context of a band.

Personally, I admire any person who can play a Cello Suite by Bach on bass, but I also find it an extremely tedious to listen to. I want to hear great bass parts, not bass licks and exercises.

 

Where do you see the instrument going into the next decade?

Oddly enough, where I hear some of the freshest approaches to playing bass is from the women’s sector. I love how Tina Weymouth or Laura Lee and many others, have gone back to the bare bones of constructing a solid bass line. I only listen to players within a band context. So, the male players I admire most are along the lines of Joe Dart or Stephen Campbell.

One reason I believe there are more women playing bass is because basses now play much better and the amps are lighter. Very weighty basses and 300-pound SVT rigs were not possible for most women in the 1960s and 70s.

Personally, I do not believe in the mystic of the vintage instrument. I almost had to beat my 60s P basses into submission to get certain tones from them. My mid-priced Sadowsky is superior to any of the many classic basses I’ve owned.

I’ve never missed any of those old basses and neither does my arthritis.

 

Do you still play bass regularly?

When I first touched a bass in 1965, I had one goal: how can I do this forever?

Fortunately, God has blessed me in that I have always had a musical outlet. I am currently playing with a band called The Mulligans. We are a group of old coots who play 60s and 70s hits. It’s a lot of fun and very similar to being back in a high school group again. There’s nothing like going deaf with friends.

 

Tell us about your studio setup for recording the iconic album, Leftoverture.

There were just not that many options or toys to play with in the studio back then. The hot studio setup back then would have been a Neve board, Studer tape machines, and McIntosh tube power amps.

My memory of recording was of sitting in the control room and using the playback speakers as my monitor because I don’t like headphones. Ninety percent of my bass was just a DI into the board with a little compression.

The bass world at that time was void of any foot pedals that sounded good. So I have no recollection of using any effects while recording, they just didn’t exist outside of the studio board. Our recording process was to first get down a keeper drum track, and build from there. Phil usually cut his drum tracks to just a reference guitar or piano with me on bass. Sometimes Steve would sing during the verses so we could tell where we were.

Then, I would sit in the boardroom and play to just the reference/scratch track and “keeper” drum tracks. Studios were not my favorite places to make music, because I could never come close to warming up like I did live (and I’m hopelessly antsy). I can never remember walking away from a studio feeling like I just laid a great bass part. I mostly walked away with a sigh of relief thinking, “At least I didn’t screw it up too badly.”

This was mainly because after the first album, our yearly schedules were something like this: We would come off ten months touring, take a two-week break and then have to get back at it. We only had a month to work up an entire album up from scratch before we went into the studio. So, we hardly knew the songs more than a few weeks or even days before recording them.

We did not build songs from scratch in the studio. What I always felt set Kansas apart from most other “prog” groups (that term didn’t exist then), was not only could we play the highly orchestrated stuff, and also weave in and out of weird time signatures fairly fluently, but we could also turn around and do straight up rock and roll songs like, “Carry On.”

We admired/loved the British groups like Yes, Genesis and King Crimson, but none of those groups, to my knowledge, could just play a straight-up rock song. We never avoided any style because we were fairly apt in all of them.

 

When Kansas started playing some of the bigger venues (arenas, stadiums), tell us about some of your favorite live rigs from back then. 

I started this evolution of rigs back in the club days. As a foundation, I always kept an SVT amp and its 810 cab as half my rig, but I kept experimenting with the other half.

First, I put an acoustic 360 and patched it together with the SVT half. That was too powerful on the bottom end; it was hard to hold down. Then, I got my hands on a used Marshall 415 bottom with a 200w Marshall Major head. This one was the best of the lab experiments. It had that deep scooped sound with that Marshall grunt. (Sounds like me and my dog “grunt and scoop.”)

Then, the stupid musician looking for the euphoric amp took over, and I ditched the Marshall. My third experiment was a Sound City 412 with a Sound City head. It didn’t have the headroom. By the time I got it loud enough to compete with the SVT tone I liked, it went way “farty” (technical bass term) on me. These were rigs that I used on stage during my club on throughout our theater-size concert days. Once we hit the arenas, the bass was a joke in those days.

 

What led you to find Bergantino gear?

After I left the priesthood five years ago, I found the whole bass world had drastically changed since leaving Kansas in 1983. So, as I gathered online information about what the quality players were using, Bergantino was a name that kept popping up. I live in a tourist trap, in the panhandle of Florida, so our music store can only afford to stock the basics. I took a leap of faith and ordered a forté HP.

The first minute I messed with it, I knew this amplifier was a thoroughbred, rather than a work horse. I kind of hesitated when I learned Jim was an engineer rather than a player because engineers usually build amps that come with an owner’s manual the size of a telephone book. I found this a very easy amp to figure out. I’ve never understood owner’s manuals; the options to nail the right tone are vast. I’m loving my forté HP and

my highest compliment is that at the age of 71, for the first time in my life, I am not in the market for an amplifier or a bass! I now have the best of both for my needs.

 

Anything youd like to share with your fans?

To bass players, I would say, don’t get caught up in one genre. Try and learn some very basic theory. I never played a chord instrument until I was out of Kansas, only trumpet and tuba. I will also pick up guitar for church, and it definitely adds a depth to my knowledge of bass. Also, learn the modes and you will learn the neck. Yes, it’s somewhat boring, but you are also in the muscle memory business.

Personally, I think it’s essential you learn to play in a few odd-time signatures; try to learn “Song for America.” You might not ever use it, but it will strengthen your overall sense of rhythm.

But most of all, thank the good Lord for giving us the gift of music.

Thank you Dave!

 

 

Bergantino Artist Christopher Harold Wells

Bergantino Audio Systems would like to welcome Christopher Harold Wells to our artist roster. We first met Christopher at NAMM 2020. With a larger than life personality, smile and penchant for hats! Christopher is a multi-talented musician who’s been busy with the release of his new album with his band, The Neverlutionaries. Welcome Christopher!

 

Christopher, what have you been up to these days?

I’ve been preparing for the release of my new album that will be coming out on Polychromatic Records in February and trying not to lose my mind during the pandemic and recent social unrest. What better time to create new material!

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Philadelphia. We moved to Virginia after that and then Raleigh, NC when I was a teen. Before the pandemic, I was dividing my time between San Francisco and Nashville. I can’t wait to get back out west when the virus is under control and travel restrictions relax.

What makes the bass so special to you and how did you gravitate to it?

After hearing the Rush song, “Freewill”, there was something about the low end and Geddy Lee’s aggressive riffing that really spoke to me. Soon after, I found myself always picking out the bass lines on songs. After that, I really got into playing bass and knew that it was to be a big part of my calling.

How did you learn to play?

I learned how to play, listening and mimicking my favorite records…everything from Zeppelin, to Cream, to the soul sounds of Philadelphia that I was raised on. Bass guitar is the essential anchor for all music. Without the bass, the music would not translate the same way.

Are there any other instruments you play?

I play guitar, a bit of piano and I sing as well but bass will always be my first love!

How has your playing evolved over the years and have you made changes?

My playing has evolved over the years as I have gained more musical knowledge and was exposed to different types of music and experiences. At first, I was influenced by a lot of pop and soul, then as I got older, I got into jazz, hard rock and metal. I try to keep a very open mind when it comes to listening to new music so I can constantly increase the range of my palette.

Describe your playing style(s), tone, strengths and/or areas that can be improved on the bass.

I have a subtly aggressive style. I started out playing with my fingers like my heroes Geddy Lee, Steve Harris and Jack Bruce. When I got into recording later in my career, I started using a pick for some recordings as it made my parts meld with the rhythm better. As far as tone goes, mine is between Geddy Lee and John Paul Jones. As a musician, I will always be open to growing and evolving as more influences get introduced over time.

Who would you say, out of four players, that would make the cut as your influencers and why?  

I adore the unbridled funk style of Bootsy Collins! He is so darn funky that you can’t help but groove to it. Verdine White is so melodic and free that it’s just plain thrilling to hear! John Paul Jones is another huge influence.

He brings versatility to the game. Led Zeppelin played many genres but his sound translated perfectly to whatever type of song he was playing. Last but not least, the late, great Mike Starr had a wonderful style that pushed AIC songs along like a locomotive. That Spector sound is amazing and sits in the mix so well. If I had to choose just one, John Paul Jones is the end all/be all for me.

Can you share with us a little bit about your band The Neverlutionaries and your new release, Ariana?

The Neverlutionaries is my way of celebrating all of the genres that have made me musically who I am today. I have ballads, gritty rockers and tunes in between. I liken it to life. There are easy days, hard days and days in between. I really wanted to convey this while I was recording the record and I hope that we succeeded. “Ariana” is one of my favorites from the record. It’s like a little trip to a beautiful place. I love the bass tone that I got on it and I am pleased about how the listening public has embraced it thus far! It’s a cool little, vibey love song that almost anyone can get into…my humble opinion, of course.

What meaning does the name Neverlutionaries”?

Essentially no revolution will ever be again. I was having a conversation with gifted guitarist, Johnny Axtell, who plays on a couple of tunes on the record and that word popped up. I was looking to name the band something cool and boom, there it was and here we are!

What was it that inspired the song Ariana”? 

“Ariana” is about a love that I’ve searched for for my whole life, that up until now, wasn’t ready to receive. The song is essentially a call to the universe like, “I’m ready for you if you’re ready for me.”

Your new album released February 12th, can you share some of the details?

The self-titled debut album comes out on Polychromatic Records, based in Nashville. It has different vibes and genres represented but it sounds like me as I love all of the different elements on it. Some folks may not dig every song but there’s one or two that should grab you no matter what type of music you are into. It’s my life’s soundtrack.

Let us know what you are currently working on (studio, tour, side projects, etc.).

I am focused on doing press for the record and beginning to write the follow up. When it is safe to tour, I want to rock the whole planet. It seems that I’m always working on getting a cool new sound or something. I’m a studio rat for sure!

Howd you find Bergantino and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?

I was at NAMM 2020 with a couple of buddies and we were walking through the huge floor. Ironically, I was mentioning to my friend how I didn’t want to be one of those guys that plugs in at every booth and just turns up really loud and starts being obnoxious!  Ironically, within twenty or so steps, I heard someone playing one of Bergantino’s amps, my buddy, who was with me who has been a friend of mine since we were teens, looked at me at the same time we said, “It’s the sound!”  Essentially, I told him of a sound that was my dream sound eons ago. Bergantino amplifiers were the closest thing I’ve heard to the sound that I dreamt of and heard in my head. In my opinion, as I have played most of the amps and gear out there, Bergantino amps just have an articulation of the notes that second to none it sounds like your fingers amplified allowing each player to sound like them not like certain amps that are made in no matter who’s playing through it, it sounds the same. Being introduced to Bergantino Audio Systems and their amazing amps has been a game-changer for me.

Tell us about your favorite basses.

I am currently waiting for a Mercury Fender Jazz bass II to become available from my bass retailer . I have always been a sucker for a Spector bass and tracked a couple of songs on the record with one. They are so wonderful sounding and the midrange cuts through any mix so nicely.

What else do you like to do besides playing bass?

I really love to cook as I find that cooking and creating music are very similar. It’s all about timing, the right ingredients, and knowing when it’s done.Since the pandemic, I’ve been smoking briskets and pork shoulders. I’m not an expert yet, but I’m getting close to a really great product.

What have you had more time to work on or explore since the pandemic?

My spirit. I have dug deep with all of this time on my hands and brought to the forefront a few things that I safely stored away in my subconscious. The process was not easy at all but dealing with things and getting through them has made me a lot happier, appreciative and patient, which is something I’ve needed to focus on for a while now.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Yes there is! Thank you all for creating such wonderful products. Discovering  Bergantino’s sonic offerings was the highlight of NAMM 2020 for me!

Please follow Christopher:

www.twitter.com/Neverlutionary1

www. facebook.com/TheNeverlutionaries

www.instagram.com/TheNeverlutionaries