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

 

Bergantino Artist Matthew Meyers shares his story with us!!

Whitinsville, Ma– Bergantino Audio Systems is proud to welcome Matthew Meyers to our family of artists.

Matthew Myers hails from Sydney, Ohio and is not only known for his massively impressive Appalachain-style beard but his funky and soulful bass playing.  Read about what drives this gentle giant and how he formed into the player he is today.

Okay Matt, right out of the gate, we need to know about that awesome outstanding beard of yours. This is a question Lee Presgrave made me ask you!

Ah yes, the bet! So, I’m a hockey fan and I might make a side bet here or there. Seven years ago, my bearded bassist buddy (say that five times fast) and I made a bet we would shave our beards if our team missed the playoffs and well…we didn’t and I saw my baby face for the first time in a long time. And since then I have not shaved once.

What have you been up to lately?

The pandemic really threw a wrench in my plans for 2020 as I’m sure other folks as well. I dumped my fretless bass funds into a Pro Tools studio build and began learning to use that DAW. It really is nice to be able to organize your thoughts and to have an outlet for ideas. I also began Jeff Berlin’s lessons to improve my reading/writing skills and that has been an amazing experience. I have recorded bass with The Funk Factory on our EP we released this summer and I’m back in the studio Dec 5th and 6th to do another EP so we’ve been busy writing as well as doing live streams and limited outdoor events.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Xenia, Ohio and then moved to Mobile, Alabama at an early age. I went to school in Mobile Alabama, Marietta Georgia, and Sidney Ohio growing up.

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

Bass is the best part of the music I grew up with, all of the Motown and music my mother played growing up. I was exposed to some of the best bass players of our times. So, I’m sure that has to be what made me appreciate the instrument and maybe obsess a bit, too! It’s amazing to hear what folks have done with the instrument throughout the years from the introduction and reintroduction of tapping and slap bass to how bass-forward the mix bass has become in modern recordings.

How did you learn to play?

When I was still in high school,my best friend, Mitch Lawson, played guitar in a metal cover band on the weekends and their bassist departed a week before they had a show. He honestly showed me how to play 13 songs in a week and I practiced on my mom’s old acoustic with five strings until his brother lent me his bass to use. We went on to form the first original band I ever played with who are still a great band playing today! Ever since then, I have been trying to adapt to different styles and playing techniques while working on reading and music theory as I am a “self-taught” bassist.

Are there any other instruments you play?

I have been known to play bass and drums at the same time when there isn’t a drummer available and I did get my first drum lesson from Doug Johns at a clinic but I’m just going to stick with bass if it’s all the same.

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

I’d say that my playing has made some drastic progression in life, no doubt. I started off with metal, then after learning some punk covers we began to write and I have been doing mostly original music ever since. So far I have played with punk bands, metal bands, bluegrass bands, jazz bands and jam bands. I started playing a four string with three fingers to learn that gallop in the Iron Maiden songs then moved to using a pick for fast punk rock. Then I heard Les Claypool and began learning how to slap and tap which threw me down the rabbit hole of Flea, Victor, Larry, Marcus and the folks who can do it justice. Along the way I’ve learned the importance of giving the songs what they need on bass and to serve the music in whatever technique I use to approach it.

Describe your playing style, tone, strengths and areas that can be improved on the bass.

I’m a big (6’3”) fan of diversity in music so I like to play and learn as many styles as is humanly possible. I can do slap, double-thumb, fingerstyle, plectrum, tapping, and right-hand muting well. I would love to know more about soloing vocabulary and harmonics, as well as reading and writing so those are parts that I focus on the most in my daily routine.

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

I see live instrumental music coming back into the fold again and that’s a great future for all bassists. I’ve recently gone with a Midi setup and that changes the game on the flexibility of the bass quite a bit and it’s a new road for me and one I look forward to exploring.

What four bass players influenced you the most?  

Growing up in the punk scene, we were lucky enough to have folks like Matt Freeman show us the ropes on rock bass and how to destroy a four string. The first time I heard “Sailing the Seas of Cheese” by Primus, I locked myself down and really began to see the instrument in a whole new light, so Les Claypool for the win and the reason I play 6 string basses. I’m not exactly sure how it happened and I believe that all bass players have him in their blood the first time a broken string cuts you, but Jaco has been a huge influence but more as an idol than a direct influence. “Soul Intro” is just huge and his version of “Donna Lee” is mind altering. Lastly.was Mr. BakithiKumalo. I’d give credit to my folks for listening to Paul Simon a lot and giving me the opportunity to hear, once again, what potential the instrument has. His style of speaking with a fretless bass is mesmerizing. I’ve never been a fretless player myself but he definitely makes you want to be one.

Let us know what you are currently working on.

I have a recording studio now so I’ve been hard at work learning how to use Pro Tools. I have also gone Midi with my effects pedals and that has quite the learning curve, but I love the ease of operation now. The Funk Factory has an EP out and we are headed to the studio to record our next album.

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

Ah, Bergantino…the worst kept secret of NAMM. I first got to hear the B|Amp at the winter NAMM show and was glued to the floor listening to the flexibility and tone that it put out. That was my first time hearing where I wanted to be, sonically. So, now I have a forté HP and an HG312 cabinet. I really couldn’t be more content with my tone. I think there are two crowds in the bass world: The baked-in-sound amp folks and the transparent amp folks. I’d like to think I fall in the latter category. I have a very, very nice bass and I love to listen to it sing. I think my Bergantino forté HP really lets the instrument come through without being sterile or dry. I assume it’s magic but my EQ is pretty near neutral now and it’s HUGE sounding!

Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

Easy Question: I have one bass, It’s pretty famous and I call her Helga. Helga is a Michael Tobias Design 635-24 made with an ash body and neck with a birdseye maple fretboard and a myrtle burl top. If you could pull the sound a bass makes out of my head, that would be it.

What else do you like to do besides playing bass?

I’m an avid gamer and one day would love to have a restaurant because I love to cook. Bass is pretty much my life for a while, honestly.

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

I’ve really had more time to focus on reading music and getting ideas out of my mind and into recorded material. It’s a lot of fun to explore ideas and hear the final outcome as you originally expected it to turn out and then have your band mates take it a step further to its fullest potential. I don’t have much time to put ideas down while out playing all the time so it really is nice. 

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

Yes, I would like to let folks know how kind and helpful all of the folks at Bergantino have been to me and let you know you are appreciated very much by so many in the bass world. I can’t wait to see what you think of next! Thanks everyone who loves music and thanks to my sister Sue, I miss ya…

Please list all of your social links that I can share on this post.

https://www.facebook.com/matthew.c.meyers

https://www.instagram.com/matthewcmeyers

https://thefunkfactory.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/FunkFactoryToledo

https://www.facebook.com/birdintobear

https://www.facebook.com/dragonwagonband

Thank you Matt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bergantino Artist Ricky Bonazza conjuring up some agressive J tone with the forte’ HP. Having drive, low and high pass filtering and a big, fat tube drive built into the amp makes recording a breeze.

Bergantino Artist Daniel Sing

With incredible technique and a clean style, bassist Daniel Sing is laying a lot of lowdown groove and it’s coming all the way from Down Under. Not only a bassist but he is an educator and musical director based in Sydney, Australia. Whether playing electric, upright or key bass, he keeps a regular schedule working and teaching diverse genres. We virtually sat down with Daniel and he’s what he had to say.

Daniel, what have you been up to?

I’ve been teaching music, practicing a lot and spending time with my family. COVID restrictions are easing here in Sydney. It’s been amazing to get together with old musical friends and colleagues again, as well as meet new ones, too! For all the challenges the year has presented us, it has pushed me and many around me to innovate and create new things.

Where were you born and raised and how did you end up in Sydney, Australia?

I was born and raised in Southwest Sydney and proud of it! I’m privileged to have grown up and live in a city rich in diversity and opportunities.

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

Bass represents the perfect marriage of rhythm and harmony and I continue to learn and understand this more profoundly with every musical experience I have.

The reason I originally gravitated to the bass is probably different to why I still love and play it. I picked up the instrument relatively late, at 15 years old, after seeing a school friend play it in music class. I wasn’t a musician at all and I remember feeling awe inspired when I heard it. I naively thought to myself, “It only has 4 strings? One note at time? How hard could it be?” The rest is history.

How did you learn to play?

It took a while to convince my parents that bass was not just a fad for me. With some persistence, I was fortunate enough to get lessons from some bass teachers through high school who helped me find my voice on the instrument. Like all of us, I’m forever a student of music. Every musical experience teaches us something, even if we can’t always quantify it.

Are there any other instruments you play?

I double on upright bass and keyboard bass, which I really enjoy. I’ve also had formal lessons on guitar and I’m currently learning the trombone too.

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

As I’ve learned to really listen more on stage and in the studio, I find myself playing less, but with more intention and conviction. Anytime I pick up the bass, my aim is to play parts with a compositional mindset from start to finish even if it’s just driving eighth notes!

More specifically, in the last few years I’ve focused on further developing my harmonic vocabulary as well as control over note lengths in my articulation.

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

At risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, I think I’d describe my style and sound as soulful and melodically funky.

Nowadays, I’m ok with knowing my strengths (and weaknesses) as a musician.

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

As I scroll through my socials, I see the next generation of super young bassists playing at such a high level, which is both scary and exciting at the same time! I think it’s an interesting time to learn music, there are really no limits anymore to finding musical inspiration.

It’s also amazing to see companies like Bergantino continue to innovate and push the envelope for what is possible musically.

What four bass players are your influencers?   

In terms of bass players, in no order I’d say, Sharay Reed, Anthony Jackson, Marcus Miller and James Jamerson.

What are you currently working on? 

I’m co-writing some instrumental music set to be released early 2021 and I am recording bass for a Christmas album. Rehearsals are about to begin for a conference I’m directing in January. I’m also in the early stages of a new side project but can’t mention much yet.

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

I’m thankful to have a Bergantino dealer thirty minutes from where I live. Even before hearing them, I’ve always thought the design of Bergantino amps and cabs are beautiful. I’ve spent over a decade messing around with various rig changes and finally, Bergantino feels like home. I’m constantly impressed by how full range the sound is. My Bergantino rig reproduces details in my playing like no other amp I’ve ever played.

Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

My number one is definitely my custom F Bass BN5. I also have a super nice Fender Custom Shop 1960 P strung with flats that I love.

What else do you like to do besides playing bass?

I love spending time with my wife and our 18-month old daughter. I’m a part of my local church community, where I am the musical director.

I also enjoy collecting LP records, automatic watches, trying new whiskies and wearing sneakers!

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

In the past few months I’ve been trying to up my video and lighting chops and I’m realizing what a rabbit hole it is. I’m definitely enjoying the process, though.

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

I want to say a big thank you to the team at Bergantino Audio Systems for welcoming me into your artist family and also to Bass Gear Direct here in Sydney for all the support they’ve shown me. I’m excited to be representing Bergantino here in Australia.

Please follow Daniel:

www.instagram.com/dsing90

www.facebook.com/danielsing90

 

 

 

 

The magical and extraordinary Bergantino Artist “Ayumu” has taken time to share a bit of his background with us. Ayumu’s innovative playing coupled with his stunning videography is something we always look forward too sharing!

ayumu

 

Where are you from?

I’m from Hokkaido, Japan.

Ayumu, you have so many things going on as a creative artist, can you share with us what you have been working on?

I am an instructor and provide clinics, I work on producing videos for Instagram and FaceBook for my social media channels, and I also write columns in Japanese bass magazines.

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

I hated music class in school when I was a kid. I was really bad at the instruments we were supposed to learn, so I received nothing but failing grades. But when I was 13, a friend invited me to play in a school talent show and I tried the bass with a more playful attitude. I didn’t know that music could actually be fun up until that point, so when I managed to learn a song on the bass, it was exhilarating. We started a proper band after that, and I just got more and more into the instrument.

Describe your playing style(s)?

I want people to be able to tell that it’s me just from listening, so I play in a very unique style.

Have you taken any lessons?

I went to a music college for two years and learned the theory.

The videos you produce are stunning. Can you share your inspiration here on how your goals as an artist and objectives are established here?

Thank you. I just play whatever I want to play. In terms of style, I’ve never had a specific person who I aspired to imitate, so I just enjoy myself while searching for the style that feels most like my own.

Can you also share the amount of time and work it takes to put a video together: preproduction, filming and editing. 

It takes a long time! Transcription and performance are the easy parts for me, but I don’t know much about video editing, so that delays my process. I want to surprise people, so I’m meticulous about my performance and about the videos. I sometimes wonder if I’m the first person to shoot a bass video with a drone.

Because I’m aiming for very particular productions, the costs of photo studio space and human resources add up as well. These videos aren’t necessarily funded by the companies whose products I endorse, so I lose money on most of them.

How do you see the role of a bass player in a band?

These days 7and 8-string guitars are becoming more common, and there are some bands now that just don’t have a bass at all. So I think we bass players have to start rethinking our position. If the guitarists can cover the lower registers, then maybe bassists can switch it up as well.

What else do you like to do besides playing bass?

I used to swim before I started playing the bass, so sometimes I’ll go swimming at the gym to clear my head. I also like soccer and often go to watch games.

What are you looking for in sound and quality from your amp and how does the Bergantino B|Amp live up to that expectation?

My ideal amp is one that brings out my style. Since I’ve started using the Bergantino B|Amp, my sound has become very clean.

What is it you like about the B|Amp in terms of sound, tone, etc? 

The high resolution audio means I can hear each individual note clearly. Even when I play chords, which tend to sound muddy on the bass, they ring out very clear. I like the fact that you can fine tune the EQ settings and easily create presets. The Bluetooth foot switch is nice since it gets rid of the stress of cables.

What do you feel will change or would like to see happen with bass amplification in the next 5 years?

I think amps will change as bass performance styles become more varied. I’m sure many players with new styles will emerge in the next five years, so I imagine amps will evolve together with those trends.

What basses do you currently play and do you play any other instruments?

I’m using a custom model from Dingwall Guitars and do not play other instruments.

Let us know what you’re currently working on (studio, band, side projects, etc.)

Various productions have stopped due to the coronavirus. I have some videos and recordings already taken, but I don’t know when they will be announced.

What is your best advice to aspiring musicians trying to make their way in the music business?

There’s no right or wrong in music, so don’t worry about what other people think. Explore what you like with everything you’ve got.

Thank you Ayumu for taking the time to answer these questions for us.

Please follow Ayumu:

Instagram: @Ayumu_bassist

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/ayumubassist/

https://www.ayumubass.com/

  

 

Bergantino Artist Mitch Friedman shares his story with us!

Whitinsville, Ma– Mitch Friedman has been a Bergantino Artist for a few years now.  We’re excited and proud to offer you a glimpse into how he got to where he is today.

 

  1. Where were you born and raised, Mitch, and how did you end up in Brooklyn, NY?

I was born in New Hyde Park, NY on Feb 2, 1987, and after living in Fresh Meadows, Queens, with my parents as a baby, we eventually settled in a house in Smithtown, Long Island. In 1996, when I was 9 years old, my family relocated to Coral Springs, in south Florida, which is where I really began my musical journey. In high school, we relocated to Tamarac, the next town over, but my dream was to always return to New York to “make it” as a musician. South Florida was always a very music-heavy place, with tons of great players, but I couldn’t really envision a career for myself there. Symphony orchestras were folding, I didn’t speak Spanish and I didn’t grow up playing Latin music, so that scene seemed like an impossibility for me, and with the exception of the hardcore/punk/rock local scene, which I wasn’t into, it felt like the beach-bar scene was all that awaited me, and I wanted more. I also envisioned myself as a studio musician, and it didn’t appear like there was a lot of that kind of work happening down there. Or if there was, I didn’t know how to find it.

I auditioned at several out-of-state universities and conservatories for classical double bass performance with the hopes of getting into NYU, and they not only accepted me but gave me the largest music scholarship in the history of the school, which was crazy. So in 2005, I moved back to NYC, and lived in Greenwich Village, which was incredible. After living in a bunch of different spots around Manhattan for the next few years, I eventually moved to Brooklyn, and I’ve been there ever since! I love Brooklyn. Every neighborhood is vastly different, and all the great food and culture you can imagine is here. I now get why some people never even think of leaving!

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

My dad was an amateur guitarist, and I grew up with him playing around the house all the time. He gave me one of his guitars after we moved to Florida, and I dove into music head-first. The following year, I heard the album “Traveling Without Moving” by Jamiroquai, and I had the realization that bass was one of the driving forces of all those great songs and my ears just seemed to be tuned to those bass lines. When I got to middle school, I joined the orchestra, and both the sheer size of the double bass and the fact that nobody else wanted to play it drew me in. Trying to get good at it felt like a game. It quickly seemed like I had found my “thing.” Before I knew it, I won the spot of principal bass in the all-state orchestra. Around the same time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers had released their album “Californication,” and I became obsessed with the idea of playing bass guitar. I bought a cheap fretless Carlo Robelli, assuming it would be similar to the upright, which it kinda was, and between the two instruments, I was hooked. Bass became the main focus in my life, and becoming a rock star like Flea was all I could think about. As I got deeper into different kinds of music, I realized how bass was really the foundation of everything. Tying rhythm together with roots and harmonies, I realized that pretty much every band needed a great bassist to be “good.” Eventually discovering guys like Jaco and Victor Wooten, it was clear that bass could even be its own thing, and the creative possibilities seemed almost endless. Still, it’s that locked in groove and pocket, which makes the song dance, that made me fall in love with music, and controlling it from the bass perspective just seemed like the perfect spot to be in.

  1. How did you learn to play, Mitch?

After maybe a year or so of teaching myself double bass, I was invited to audition for the Florida Youth Orchestra, which was a collection of some of the best young classical musicians in south Florida. When I got the audition music, I couldn’t even read it! I had never seen eighth rests or half rests before, and they looked like ancient hieroglyphics to me. My parents found me a private teacher, an incredible Juilliard grad named Jackie De Los Santos, and I began having weekly lessons with her. I continued to study with her until I left for college. Bass guitar was my secret passion, and I pretty much taught myself how to play, learning songs from my favorite bands by ear and applying what I was learning on double bass, since the electric felt like a toy in comparison. Every morning before school, I would sit on the couch with my fretless and play along with every music video that would come on TV. It didn’t matter the genre or the artist; I would just play along until I figured out the song. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was probably the best training I could have done on my own.

I was extremely fortunate to meet an insanely talented bass player in high school named Adam Lucas, who introduced me to Jaco, Wooten, and Herbie Hancock. Adam taught me a lot of the more intricate techniques that I probably wouldn’t have figured out easily on my own. He played guitar in a band called Way of the Groove, which featured Jaco’s sons, Felix and Julius Pastorius on bass and drums, and I got to jam with them a number of times and had Felix show me note for note how Jaco played a lot of his tunes. It was awesome, and looking back on it, I didn’t even realize how fortunate I was at the time. Sight reading was always one of my best “things,” as I always made it like a game, and that also prepared me for future work as a session player. My mantra was always “never turn down an opportunity,” which led me to all different kinds of musical experiences, and it still does to this day. I didn’t ever want to find myself in a position where I felt like I couldn’t “cut it” in any musical situation, and that thought process has allowed me to be prepared for anything with confidence.

  1. Are there any other instruments you play, Mitch?

So like I said, I started on guitar, but I’m not really that great. I can play chords and solo well enough for recording, but I would never feel confident playing guitar live. I can also play cello decently well, but again, I’m not that great. Bass has really been my main thing, and I never strayed too far from it. I always wanted to be great at piano, but I’m so bad, it’s not even funny. At NYU, I was required to do four semesters of it, but it was beyond embarrassing, and I even flunked two of those semesters. It was bad. But my rule is, if it has strings, I can probably figure it out! I also sang a lot of backup vocals over the years for different acts, but it’s been quite a while now since I’ve crossed into that territory.

  1. You have quite the career that began at a very young age. Can you share some of the highlights you are most proud of?

When I was 13, I got to perform at Carnegie Hall with the Florida Youth Orchestra, which was an incredible experience. That same year, a violinist friend’s mom approached my dad at a Florida Youth Orchestra rehearsal and asked him if he was interested in a gig that her son wasn’t available to play. It was a trio gig playing light classical background music for Donald Trump, at his dinner table at his famous Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach. We decided to do it, and with the help of my teacher Jackie, I was able to put together a folder of about three hours’ worth of music. I played the cello parts on bass. I hired two great violinists who were in high school, and we performed under the name The Palm Trio. We got to meet Donald, who was nothing like the man we see today on TV, and at one point, he even got up from his table of guests and asked us if we were hungry. He personally went into the kitchen and came out a moment later, awkwardly carrying a huge tray of cheese and veggies. He told us to let him know if we wanted anything else. At the end of the night, we were each handed checks for $750. I had never seen so much money at one time, and my dad and I decided to keep going with it.

The Palm Trio continued to gig around south Florida for the next five years, with my dad as our manager, performing at senior living facilities, wedding ceremonies, cocktail hours, and coffee shops. We were sort of a novelty act because of our ages, myself being the youngest and playing this huge bass, and we must have done close to 500 gigs before we disbanded when I left for college. We even got a record deal at one point for a Christmas album and sold thousands of copies. When I was 15, I became principal bass of the Florida Atlantic University orchestra, and was the only musician there still in high school. That same year, I also joined my teacher Jackie as co-principal of the Boca Ballet, doing a whole season of the Nutcracker, becoming the youngest musician ever employed by the company. I was technically too young to work at the time, since you have to be 16 to work in Florida, so they paid Jackie for me, and she gave me the money.

The following year, my high school symphony orchestra won a Grammy for a recording we did of Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet.” A Grammy showed up at school a while later, and we were told that we could get individual Grammy’s with our names on them for $2800 each. Some kids got them, but my family was way too broke to afford that, and I just forgot about it. Years later, I met a woman who worked for the Grammy’s, and I asked her if that was a real Grammy or just a scam by the Grammys to make money. She told me it was absolutely real, and even if I didn’t buy one, I was still an official Grammy winner! It was a weird way to win a Grammy, but I’ll take it!

The summer before I left for NYU, I was invited to live in Vaison La Romaigne, France, for a couple of months, at an inn for traveling musicians. I got to tour around the south of France playing chamber music at 6th and 7th century cathedrals, and it was a mind-blowing experience, having never left the country before. I realized that touring was an incredible way to see the world, and it became one of my main focuses after I got to NYC.

  1. How has your playing evolved over the years and have you made changes from the start until now? Can you tell us about those changes?

My playing has absolutely evolved over the years. In the beginning, it was about playing as hard and as raw as possible, a la Flea. As I got more into Jaco and Wooten, my focus became more on technique and solo playing. There was even a time when I felt more comfortable slapping than I did using my fingers, which seems crazy now. When I got to NYC, I learned VERY quickly that nobody wanted to hear that. Bass was all about supporting the song or the band, and it took me several years to really bang that way of thought into my head.

As I started to gig in NYC’s downtown hip-hop scene several years later, I discovered “Voodoo” by D’Angelo, and my whole world got turned upside down. I traded in my active jazz basses with round wounds for vintage P-basses with flat wounds, and I never looked back. I would never say technique isn’t important, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked to record over a reference track a random producer played bass on and I felt like their reference track was infinitely more tasteful for the song than anything I would have instinctively come up with. So, as I’ve gotten older, the whole “less is more” thing, which I used to roll my eyes at, has really become my mantra. Finding that perfect medium between what’s tasteful for the song, while still implementing my little flavor and making it unique, is the ultimate goal. Guys like Anthony Jackson really do that unbelievably well, and it’s absolutely an art form. To serve the song perfectly, yet as soon as you hear the bass part, you go, “Oh, that’s for sure AJ.” It’s so easy to overplay, and I often listen back to recordings I’ve done from years ago and just put my head in my hands. So I guess evolution-wise, that’s always my goal: to be ever more mature in my playing, while still being able to be me.

  1. What are you working on now, Mitch?

Years ago, I was doing a lot of touring, but suddenly, my main band at the time, Soulfarm, began to significantly slow down for some reason, and my main touring act, Crystal Bowersox, an American Idol runner-up whom I served as musical director for a couple of years, no longer had the label support to continue taking a band on the road. I had recently purchased a condo in Brooklyn, and now I was sitting at home all day wondering how I was going to eat and pay this mortgage. I was even flying back to Florida for months at a time in between gigs just to save some money, mooching off my mom. It sucked. You don’t realize that when you start touring all the time, people sort of forget about you in NYC, and they either assume you’re still out on the road, or other guys steal your gigs, but it’s not like most of them paid that well to begin with, anyway.

The thought of returning to the club scene, playing multiple nights a week with all different artists for $100-150, for two rehearsals and a gig, just seemed daunting, and I’d be busting my ass for not enough money. Sure, there’d be some great music, but I had bills to pay! I didn’t know what to do, and for a minute, I really thought this was the end of my music career, at least doing it full time as I had been for years. Just as I was preparing to rent out my condo and move back to Florida to go into real-estate or something of the like, I got a random phone call from a Hasidic Jewish guy in Brooklyn. He told me he had seen a video of me on YouTube, and he wanted me to join his wedding band. I had done a handful of Jewish wedding gigs back in the day, but they were pretty brutal. I’d have to lug my amp, my bass guitar, and my upright for the cocktail hour, and a stand, where I’d be given a giant book of songs and have to flip through them at random via numbers being thrown up by hand. They were insanely loud, and I often couldn’t really hear anything I needed to, and I’d go home exhausted with my ears ringing. But I needed the money, and I told him I’d be there. It seemed times had changed, as I no longer needed an amp, my upright, or a stand, and everyone was now on in-ear monitors and given iPads, which were controlled by the band leader. All I needed was a bass and a good preamp/DI. I could now hear everything, and the quality of the music had gone up exponentially. I loved it. Not to mention, it paid incredibly well. Within a week or two, my phone was ringing off the hook with all kinds of contract and gig offers, and before I knew it, I was the main bassist in the scene, working five nights a week, playing with at least ten different bands. Then came the big concert gigs, as well as the studio work, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been featured on several platinum-selling Jewish records. I had become THE guy.

It’s been almost seven years now, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve met some of the best people I know, there’s virtually no egos on stage whatsoever, and everybody just wants to have a good time, sound great, and get paid. What more can a working musician ask for? Over the years, the business has gone through a bunch of changes, and the freelance thing has sort of shifted into set bands, but I’ve still maintained just about the same schedule while playing with one main band, and popping in with three or four other bands whenever my main band isn’t working. Concerts have slowed down a bit, but there’s still a decent amount of recording work, and I’ve never been busier. It’s really been a blessing, and it has allowed me to not only stay in NYC, but carve out a nice little career niche for myself.

My passion project for the last few years has been a vintage video game music big band called ConSoul with a bunch of my friends who are all incredible musicians. We don’t really make a lot of money, but we’ve done some great gigs at comic-cons and video game music festivals, as well as some incredible live-stream concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have a ton of great content on both Spotify and YouTube. I’m also attempting to design the ultimate tube/class D hybrid bass amp that doubles as a preamp/DI with a friend of mine who’s a brilliant amp tech, but it’s been extremely challenging and is going to cost me a lot of money. It’s definitely worth it, but this whole pandemic/quarantine thing definitely set me back a bit. I’m hoping 2021 will be a kinder year, and I’ll be able to make some more headway on that front.

I’m also writing a book! Definitely uncharted territory for me, but it’s shaping up to be sort of a “do’s and don’ts” of being a pro sideman in the 21st century, as well as my story of all my failures and accomplishments over the years. I’m really doing it just because I wish I had read something like it before I made the decision to be a musician professionally, not necessarily to discourage anyone, but maybe help clarify certain things, and help others avoid some mistakes I’ve made and get a better sense of what the music business is like these days.

  1. How’d you find Bergantino, and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?

I first discovered Bergantino in maybe 2002-2003 at a local south Florida music store called MAE. I had recently learned about higher-end boutique gear from reading Bass Player magazine, and I had my eye on both the Bergantino HT322 as well as the Epifani UL-310. MAE had them both, and I spent a whole day A/B-ing the two. I was blown away by both the massive low end as well as the clarity of the HT322, but ultimately, I chose to go with the Epifani, as it was much lighter in weight, and I thought it would be the better choice for gigging without a car in NYC when I eventually moved there. After arriving in NYC, I started hanging out at Rudy’s Music on 48th Street, and fell in love with the Bergantino HT115. It’s maybe the nicest-sounding single 15ʺ cab I’ve ever heard to this day. When the Bergantino NV series came out, it felt like the NV215 with that 6ʺ mid-driver rather than a tweeter was made for me. I still have mine, and it’s an incredible cab, especially with a big, fat tube amp, like my old Trace Elliot V6.

I had an endorsement with Euphonic Audio for several years when I was doing the most touring, but after getting into the Jewish wedding scene, I stopped using amps completely and sold off all of my gear. My main rig now is a collection of super high-end tube preamps/DIs. I wanted to play at home and have a rig just in case a gig came up that I’d need an actual amp, and I discovered the perfect solution. The now discontinued Bergantino IP112/EX112. With a 1000-watt power amp built into the cab, I could go XLR in from whichever preamp I wanted, and get the exact sound I was hearing in my in-ears but live through speakers. For smaller gigs, I could just bring a pre and the Bergantino IP112, and for bigger gigs, I could bring the Bergantino EX112 as well. The clarity and low end from just two Bergantino 112s was mind-blowing, and they’re my favorite cabs ever. I even almost bought a second rig just in case something happens to them! I’ve been incredibly impressed with both the new Bergantino forté and forté HP heads, and the whole upgradable features via USB is incredible. I know a lot of guys who swear by their Bergantino B|amps, but I’m honestly the worst with technology, and I just need simple stuff that I can plug and play, but I really can’t wait for some kind of Bergantino DI pedal eventually that I can use on my in-ear gigs! So, get to work, Jim! Just kidding! But seriously….

  1. Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

I’ve had so many basses over the years, it’s insane. I even started a little business when I was 19, buying and selling vintage Fenders around the world. That enabled me to own and play some of the most incredible basses on the planet. My first unforgettable bass that I loved for years was an all-original ’69 Fender P-bass that I toured around the world with. It was just perfect. Not even sure why I sold that one. For a few years I was an Alleva-Coppolo artist, and had some incredible basses, including one made for Jerry Barnes of Chic. Eventually, I became a Fodera artist, and went through maybe six or seven incredible Foderas. The holy grail was Anthony Jackson’s personal Presentation 6 #9. I had never even played a 6 before, let alone a 36” scale bass, but it just felt and sounded so incredible, I knew I had to make it my main axe. I toured with it for several years before it had an untimely accident, and I had to sell it, broken, to a collector. Still a tough one to think about. I went through an incredible Hofner phase and had some really rare ones, but eventually, I got back into the vintage Fender world, and have owned some of the most incredible pre-CBS P-basses ever made. I’ve sold most of them now, with the exception of Shoshana, my prized all-original ’61, which is one of the greatest basses I’ve ever put my hands on, and I still do most of my recording with. I also got to own an incredible ’52 P-bass (serial #0038) for a couple years, with that infamous Tadeo Gomez neck, and just owning a piece of history like that was incredibly cool. These days, I mostly play my Olinto basses, which are handmade in Brooklyn by my good friends, Mas Hino, Isaac Baird, and Jimmy Carbonetti under the La Bella strings brand name, and they’re the closest feeling and sounding boutique P-basses to pre-CBS basses I’ve ever experienced. They’ve made me a ’55 copy, a ’59 copy (which is my main gigging bass), a 5-string copy of THAT bass, and a copy of Shoshana, my ’61, that’s about to be finished. About a year ago, Jimmy made me a “signature model” bass under his Carbonetti brand name that we call the Constantine. It’s a 30” scale hollow body 4 string featuring a roasted alder body, mahogany back, roasted ash heel block, flamed maple top, roasted maple neck, and a roasted Birdseye maple fingerboard that morphs into a floating pickguard design, which I’ve never seen before. Three custom wound humbuckers, a 5-way switch, giant turquoise inlays, and a super unique, never-before-seen string-through method, where the strings come up through an open hole on the top of the body, allowing the use of standard length strings despite it’s short scale size, really make the Constantine a one-a-kind instrument. The coolest part was right after it was finished, we were visited by the one and only, Willie Weeks, who fell in love with the bass and asked to have one made for him! I couldn’t think of a better way to validate it!  To know that a legend like Willie Weeks, one of my all-time bass heroes, will be using MY signature bass is just mind blowing!

  1. Who are your influences?

Originally, I was obsessed with Flea, but I can’t say Stu Zender from Jamiroquai and Rocco Prestia from Tower of Power weren’t also tremendous influences. My dad was a huge TOP fan, and I was raised listening to cassettes of them in his car. They were even my first live concert at 3 years old! By high school, it was Jaco and Wooten, as I fell in love with both Weather Report and the Flecktones. I still think Jaco’s work with Joni Mitchell might be his best, especially the album “Mingus.” Stanley Clarke soon followed with Return to Forever as did Paul Jackson with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters. I even wrote two music theory papers in college dissecting RTF’s record, “Musicmagic” and Herbie’s record, “Sunlight.” The Headhunters’ records WITHOUT Herbie are incredible as well. Nathaniel Phillips from the band Pleasure was also a tremendous influence on me throughout college, but after I dropped out and got more into hip-hop and neo-soul, I became obsessed with players like Pino Palladino and Meshell Ndegeocello, and I eventually fell in love with James Jamerson, who I consider the greatest bass player of all time.

The busier I became as a working bassist, I admit that I kind of stopped listening to music like I had done in the past, which I sometimes regret. I really stopped caring about what other famous bass players were doing, and trying to come up with my own stuff and style became more fun to me. Several years ago, I got really into Steely Dan and their songwriting, and after hearing Anthony Jackson on “Glamour Profession,” I went down the AJ rabbit hole. I never quite understood his soloing, to be honest, but his groove work and bass line writing on all those Chaka records is holy ground, in my opinion. Most recently, I discovered an old defunct band from the late 70’s/early 80’s called Pages, and both the bass playing and songwriting of Richard Paige really blew my mind, not to mention his singing! At this point, I’m really open to what anybody is doing. After a certain point in skill, pretty much anybody can get the job done. It really becomes a matter of taste and personal style, so I feel like I can always learn something new from watching and listening to others! Sometimes, I’m so sick of hearing myself and my “bag of tricks” that it’s super refreshing to hear somebody else’s take on something, even if they’re not super famous.

  1. I know you also work with La Bella Strings as director of Artist Relations for their Olinto basses. Can you tell us more about that?

About 12 years ago, I got my first string endorsement with Black Diamond strings, a small mom-and-pop string company out of my home state of Florida. They make GREAT stuff and gave me basically a 50% off deal on whatever I wanted. A couple years later, my good friend Tim came to visit from Hong Kong, and he brought me a set of La Bella’s new Rx nickel rounds to try. I fell in love with them. When I started playing my 36” scale 6 string Fodera, I needed custom length strings, and Tim told me to reach out to La Bella to see if I could get the Rx nickels in 38ʺ winding. That’s how I met Eric Cocco, who is the VP of La Bella strings. He not only offered to make me custom sets of strings, but he offered me an incredible endorsement deal. I signed the contract and went to go meet him at the Guitar Shop NYC, which was on Orchard Street at the time. I had met Mas Hino once before at a party, but I didn’t realize he was the head luthier at Eric’s shop. We all hung out and instantly hit it off.

A few years later, I had a really scary incident while flying with my beloved ’61 P-bass, and I decided it was time to find another bass for my fly dates. I remembered that La Bella was making these Olinto basses, but I had never played one before. I asked Eric if Mas could make an exact copy of my bass, and he told me he could, but I should come down to the shop, which was now located in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, and try out this red Olinto bass they had just finished. It was so incredible, I bought it on the spot, and it quickly replaced my ’61 as my main bass. It sounded just as great, and the neck was unreal. After buying another few used Olintos, I decided to put in an order for a custom one, and it was the first one they had made with roasted body and neck woods as well as Brazilian rosewood for the fingerboard. To this day, it’s maybe the nicest Olinto I think they’ve made, and it’s been my main bass for 4 years now and counting. Eventually, I pushed Mas to make me their first 5-string, and now it’s a production model.

I was convincing so many friends and players to get Olintos, that it just seemed to make sense that I start working for the shop in some capacity. I now manage the Olinto Instagram account, as well as take and process orders, and deal with new customers as well as those on our artist roster. It was always a dream of mine to work with an incredible bass gear company who made stuff I truly believed in, and to work with such magical people like Mas, Eric, Jimmy, and Isaac is a dream come true. How many people get to say their co-workers are some of their best friends? We’re still an incredibly small company, and I think a lot of people don’t actually realize that, or even how small of a company La Bella strings is, but we’re constantly coming up with new ideas, new models, and I hope to continue with these guys to watch it grow. They’re really making the best pre-CBS spec P-basses on the planet, and if anybody would know by now, it’s me! What’s really special is just how much passion these guys have for what they do. It’s truly inspiring.

  1. Favorite thing to do besides play bass and eat sushi?

Ha! Well, anyone who knows me knows how serious I am about sushi. I even jokingly told a friend recently that at this point, I really only play music to support my sushi habit! The quality of some of these omakase places we have here in NYC is staggering, and I’m kind of happy more people aren’t hip to it or don’t want to spend that kind of money so I can always make reservations! I even took a trip to Japan this past year and blew an ungodly amount of money just eating my way across some of Tokyo’s most famous spots to see how it compared. As incredible as it was, I was happy to learn that some of my favorite spots in NYC are right up there with the best! If you love sushi and you haven’t tried places like Omakase Room by Tatsu or Sushi Noz in the city, you’re really missing out! But great food of all kinds has always been a huge hobby of mine, and NYC is one of the greatest places to eat in the world, hands down. We have the best of everything! I’m also a tremendous nerd when it comes to gaming, anime, and comics, so whenever I’m not gigging somewhere or eating sushi, that’s most likely what I’m doing. Many people don’t know I was a sponsored long boarder at one time, but unfortunately, I gave it up in fear that I would injure myself and ruin my career playing bass. I still miss it sometimes. I’m also a classic Florida beach bum at heart, so anytime I’m not working during the summer, you can most definitely find me at the beach or in the water!

Follow Mitch Friedman on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mitchthebassplayer/

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.

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/