Bergantino Artist Jacob Smith has become very well-known in the music scene with his bass playing skills and lessons on Instagram but he is far more than just a social media sensation.

Jacob Smith has become very well-known in the music scene with his bass playing skills and lessons on Instagram but he is far more than just a social media sensation. Jacob is a smooth operator who is composed well beyond his years. Born, raised and currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Jacob Smith is a bass player, composer, producer, instructor and session player. We had a chance to sit down with the modest master of musicianship to get a glimpse into his upbringing and why he loves the instrument so much. 

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

The bass is something that feels like it has always been there with me, and it just about has. I’ve been playing since I was nine years old and from around age of fourteen, I knew I wanted to play bass for the rest of my life.I originally wanted to play drums and like so many other musicians, so did the rest of the students in my class. I gravitated to an instrument on the sign-up page with no names beside it: The electric bass. I came home the next day and my dad had a Squier bass waiting for me and I instantly fell in love. 

Who were your influencers and how did you even decide to get involved with music? 

My family has an intense passion for music. My dad played guitar and sang at church and at home a lot. He always had a guitar in his hands it was a part of everyday life when I was younger and my sister played some guitar and clarinet as well. This was a big part of why I gravitated towards playing an instrument. The first day I had a bass in my hands I played for a few hours and couldn’t put it down.

What genres of music do you like? 

I love just about all styles, especially when done well. The music I perform the most would be Gospel, R&B, Funk, Soul, Rock and Pop. My own personal music ends up falling more Into the Jazz Fusion category.

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

I would definitely say I have some strengths in the JacoPastorius style of playing.  That is what I am best known for on Instagram. What I am not as well known for is that I love just playing traditional bass like James Jamerson on the P-bass with flat wounds.  Playing strictly the groove and the bass line has helped me get some of my various gigs. I definitely would like to continue to improve gospel music. I look up to and admire the bass players in this genre who are so talented and I try to woodshed that a lot. I always also want to work on my flat-style bass playing as well.

Who were your influencers in terms of other musicians earlier on or now that have made a difference to you?  Who have learned from or inspired you early on?

When I was in the fifth grade at Saint Paul’s, I was thrust into the top bands in the school program as the bass player. They had an outside band program called Learning Music Band. The Saxophone Director, Bruce Bohnstengel, would sit next to me and play the EWI which is like an electronic saxophone. I am thankful for his knowledge he had of the bass players roll and how solid you have to be, as well as how you have to know where you are in a song and cannot rely on other people when you are playing. I actually still work for him a lot which is very cool. 

In addition to my high school mentors, another large influence was JacoPastorious. I managed to get my hands on a copy of his first CD from a drummer when I was eleven and thought that was pretty cool. Charles Mingus – Big Band, is the best of both worlds with the upright was a big influence. Marcus Miller and also Victor Wooten are huge influences on me, also.  I went to Victors Bass Nature Camp when I was 17 years old. I’m from the city so it was good for me to get out of my element. Victor during an exercise on having good tempo said, “Your time feel is very good.” That seemingly small comment from him meant so much to me.

We see you studied at the University of North Texas.  Can you tell us what influence your studies had on your career? 

I went to UNT for Jazz Studies from 2007-2011 and it was great because of the relationships I made.  I also played in the prestigious One O’Clock Lab Band from 2011-2013 and as a result was able to able to travel the world. Those relationships help me in my career on a daily basis. They also helped me learn to adapt and stay ready to play whatever a gig throws my way. I was playing majority upright bass during those years.

What are you working on during this lockdown period? 

I am very fortunate to be a part of a church group that has a TV broadcast set up and has the info-structure for daily broadcasts.  In addition, I also have Zoom Lessons, producing tracks and creating play-along tracks for churches as well.

I have also had the great opportunity to work with Daric Bennett, who I met at NAMM this year. We are working on Instagram, with 15 minute lessons and techniques and teaching moments, together. We meet fairly often and Daric recently posted an interview with me on his website. Lessons can be found on his site where you will find some great insights on my playing. It has been really great working with him! We hope to do some in-person stuff in the future.

Currently, I’m working on a YouTube channel that will showcase lessons, gear, gigs and playing. I’m going to start with “Ask me a Question”.

What advice would you give to others during this lockdown to stay positive? 

Press into your instrument. Try things you have wanted to do but just haven’t had the time. Turn toward music and try to get into new elements of it; Try to practice more than you have had time to before, try new ways to play that you haven’t before.  When I am working on my craft as a musician, it does bring my mental well-being to a better place. A book that I like a lot is called The Dip, by Seth Godin.  It talks about the moment before you really start to take off and see improvement in something is where it’s going to be extremely difficult or feel that way for most people. You have to know if you should keep going or know when to quit as well. Eat healthy and workout, as it can help fight off the lower points a little better! Being a chocoholic, this isn’t always easy to do. I feel people’s pain out there, just try and take care of yourself and your family as best you can. 

You have quite a presence on Instagram (@jacobsmithbass). Can you share how this all came to be? 

I started an Instagram channel as a way to get my music to a large audience. I had released an album and I was really thankful for the people that checked it out. That said, I realized I needed a platform for a release that would have a larger amount of people to see it after all the hard work and effort I had put in. It was a better way to market my craft.  The first year I was hoping to maybe hit 30,000 followers.  I never thought it would blow up the way it has and I’m very thankful for where I am at now.

This inspired me to give my music and Instagram more interest, so I started to post every day for 6 months, and to see what would come of it. It’s been very cool to meet some of my bass heroes, thanks to the IG platform.  The effort I put in led me to try other things and see what would work for me and my process because it involves sitting down, getting the camera going, and trying to be as professional as I can. I wanted to bring my style in and get my voice out there and I did this every day. Sticking to it is what really helped me out.

What advice would you give to others for the social media success you have had with Instagram? 

What I love about Instagram is that it is uniquely me and my own voice. What I say to others is, ‘be yourself and have your own voice to bring out on Instagram’. Your content should be uniquely yours. If you try to do something that you are really not about, you will pigeonhole yourself and not be happy creating your content. I genuinely love what I am doing and enjoy creating the content. Figure out how often you should post and when you should post.  For strategy, look at other channels that you like. I find in most parts of life, if you put your full attention and effort into something you will get better at it and you will reap the benefits.  There is no secret to music, there is no shortcut, the real part of it is putting the work in.

Also look to other channels for inspiration. I looked at pages like Scotts Bass Lessons, Daric Bennet, The Real Free (Darrell Freeman) and Bubby Lewis, just to name a few. You’ll inevitably put your own spin on things and find a way that suits you best. 

You just released a book of online lessons, “Ghost Notes”. Can you share a little more about this and how you came up with this name? 

Ghost Notes is a book of exercises and grooves with detailed tutorial videos for each chapter. I want it to be a book that people of any skill level will read and then walk away feeling inspired to practice more. 

Ghost notes, in bass context, is a muted note.  When you pluck the string but your left hand is just laying across the string so it makes a percussive-type tone and Jaco used them a ton!  It is a technique that is used and is frequently called “dead notes” or “muted notes”. In trying to appeal to everyone, I didn’t want to use “dead” in the title. Some people can get superstitious about things. The drumming term is ghost notes. It’s to help you implement those types of techniques into your playing and it’s something I had not found any practice method on.  A student asked me during a lesson, “How do I get better at playing ghost notes?”  I came up with this idea in a lesson. It’s a great book for beginners as well as advanced players.

There is far more going on with you outside of Instagram. Can you share more with us about your session work? 

I’ve been working at Modern Electric Studios in Dallas a lot more, recently. My friend, Jason Burt, is a seriously talented producer who’s helped get me on some exciting projects there and beyond. One in particular is an album by David Ramirez. That, along with a few live performance videos, is something I’m very proud of.

Over the past five months, I have started working with Leon Bridges. I’ve done a few gigs with him and spent time with him in the studio. I hope to do a lot more when COVID-19 is over. Leon is from Texas, which is very cool and he’s a Grammy Award winner.  It’s inspiring working with him. He is an incredible writer and singer. We recently did a live stream video to raise money for part of Fort Worth.  We raised 70,000 dollars in an hour. It was great to give back to an area of Texas I love so much. 

Can you share more with us regarding your teaching? 

Currently because of COVID-19 and the quarantine, I teach online lessons. The younger students are very talented individuals who come in prepared and with a ton of questions. They inspire me and remind me why I love the bass. I am now giving lessons via Zoom online, as well.

Please share any of your accomplishments and achievements.

I’m proud to have toured with the late Bob Belden and his fusion group, Animation.  Also, performing with Leon Bridges, Jimi Tunnell and George Colligan. 

Can you provide us feedback on your Bergantino gear. 

I first found Bergantino about 8 years ago. I was in the market for a new cabinet and looking for the best. After reading countless reviews and information, I decided on a CN212, which resulted in some of the best tone I’ve been able to get from a rig. Then, just last year after rediscovering my love for the 212 cabinet, I started talking with Holly and Jim. They were kind enough to add me to their artist roster. I love the clarity the products bring, especially at high volumes. It packs a huge punch without sacrificing tone, which I love. Then, add to that the EQ tools needed to successfully adapt a less than friendly room acoustically and you can’t go wrong!

What do you like about the B|Amp and how are you currently using it? 

I use the B|Amp in the studio a lot as a preamp, direct to the board.  Also, I use it in my rehearsal space and with the church band.  What I love about it is how valuable it is to my craft and how you can get downright surgicalbut it is really easy and intuitive to use. You can get in there and tweak frequencies, which I love, because sometimes you get into a weird room and you really need that flexibility. I love the variable high and low pass filter. That is just amazing and been so useful!

What do you like about the forté HP and how are you currently using it? 

I’m crazy about the forté HP. First and foremost, I just love the 1200 watts of headroom.  The EQ is very useful and you turn it and it does what you are looking for it to do. You have endless headroom and well-made circuitry…you can get it to do anything you want. I even played an upright bass with it and the HG410, it sounded amazing!  I was in this giant glass room and I’m able to lower high and low pass filters to clear up the mess of the room.  The sound tech still gets the full signal which is just genius on Jim’s part.

Tell us your thoughts on the HG 410 cab. 

I use this cab all of the time. I have the 212 as well and bring it out if I am concerned about a weird room or if I need two cabinets. The back firing driver works out very well. The cabinet packs a serious low end punch and it looks amazing, too.

Which basses are you currently using? 

Right now, my main two basses I’m playing are my MTD 535 and a Fender AVRI 63 P bass. I also have Moog Sub 37 I use for synth bass. I recently got a new Fender Ultra that I am loving. 

What would your followers find surprising to know about you that they have not read about yet?  

I’ve been working on producing Pop and Trap music when I’m not playing bass.

I love playing basketball. I’m not an amazing player but I am a good shooter and like to play with my son outside in the driveway with a hoop we have. Riding bikes is another passion I have. Mountain and BMX bikes…I am getting my son into this, as well.  I adore spending time with my family, my wife Lisa and my five year old son, Haden.

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Bergantino Artist Kevin Freeby shares his bass story with us!


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


Where were you born and raised and how did you end up in San Diego, California? 


I was born and raised in San Diego, California. My original plan was to move away when I was in my early 20’s, but I started getting travel gigs and realized that although there are many beautiful places in the world, San Diego was definitely the place that I wanted to come home to. I did spend a brief period in Los Angeles but when my son was born, San Diego was the clear choice to raise a family.


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


When I was young, my dad wanted to create a family band to bring my half-siblings and I closer and he bought me a keyboard. I didn’t study piano formally, I just goofed off on it as most young kids without a teacher would do.  Later, I wanted to play drums so my Dad got me drum lessons and I did that for awhile. Then one day my Dad brought home a bass, apparently somebody had owed him money and couldn’t pay so they gave him a bass instead. I picked up the bass and never put it down, so at the risk of sounding a bit cliché, the bass chose me. Lol!


How did you learn to play?


I was self-taught in the beginning and then I started getting private instruction. After a while, I stopped taking private instruction and went to a local college as a music major. I’d like to mention that I started playing in a band almost immediately after I picked up the instrument. I believe that there is no substitute for playing with other musicians, no matter what level of player you are.


Are there any other instruments you play? 


I’ve dabbled on enough other instruments over the years to know that I am a bass player.  Rather than spending the time on another instrument, I try to apply those concepts to the bass, in my own way. For instance, harmonic concepts that come from piano and my rhythmic concepts that come from drums.


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


My playing has changed drastically over time. My first band was a pop-punk band, followed by a prog-rock band and then I started studying and playing jazz in college. That’s when I became a hard-core fusion nerd. Shortly thereafter, I started playing with a ton of world music artists. A lot of music from other cultures use odd meters which was something I was familiar with from prog-rock. Even though each individual rhythm might not be approached in the exact same way, I was still comfortable playing in rhythmic structures outside of 4/4. I am still madly in love and passionate about all of the music mentioned but I have a family to feed, so I’m playing a lot more pop music than anything else. It’s really fun and has its own unique set of challenges, which I enjoy.


Prior to Covid-19, you had a lot going on with other bands.  Can you share some of this with us and how the future plans look so far? 


It’s funny that this question comes up, because I am actually leaving the house for my first gig since the whole COVID-19 pandemic began. First and foremost, I am a freelance musician, so I go wherever the phone calls take me and thankfully I get to work with a lot of amazing people and talented musicians. The only band that I am actually a member of is my band called, Side Hustle. That band is a group formed out of like-minded musicians and we all met playing freelance, and it just clicked. Our goal is to play and record original instrumental music as well as original arrangements of popular vocal tunes. Since all of us have similar schedules, the band really works. We write and record  as much as we possibly can.


I know you started a YouTube channel and are offering fantastic complimentary lessons during this lockdown. Can you share with us what you’ve been working on to pass the time during COVID-19 and what you have learned during this time so far?


I know that this pandemic is a very, very serious situation and my heart goes out to anyone that has suffered any pain or loss. I want to make sure that nobody misinterprets or misunderstands that, especially because that seems to happen more and more these days, but the quarantine has been a very positive experience for me. I really got back in touch with my creative side musically, as well as, gone back to my roots as a music teacher. I’ve been teaching for 20 years now and I have always enjoyed helping people grow and accompanying them on their journey. A lot of my students had to take a hiatus during quarantine because they suffered a financial loss and due to social distancing. I am still teaching some students remotely and that fixed the social distancing aspect, however, the thought of a musician that still had the desire and the passion to learn but was unable to do that, really bummed me out. A lot of us have so much time on our hands and knowing that this time could be spent learning and growing, I decided to upload free lessons onto my YouTube page. I understand that it might not be not much when compared to the bigger picture but at least it’s something.


One of the things you shared with me is that this lock-down has allowed you to be more creative than ever as you are able to work on your craft and your art with the extra time on your hands. What encouragement can you offer others that are going through this pandemic to keep people motivated?


The first thing would be to understand that if you are happy and healthy then this “downtime” is a gift. I typically gig 250+ times a year, so I’ve had more time on my hands in the past 2 1/2 months than I’ve had in the past 2 1/2 years. Knowing that this all will eventually come to an end, it would be a bummer not to have anything to show for it. If you look at the positive side, this is a time for exponential growth, a time that might not happen for any of us once everything picks back up. That is definitely something that motivates me, hopefully that can helps others stay motivated as well.


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


I’ve known about Bergantino and have been playing Bergantino off and on for a long time. I originally played Bergantino cabinets before you all made amplifiers…back in the day when the cabinets still had the silver mesh grills. I loved those cabinets and used the hell out of them. I remember being at a rehearsal space in L.A. before a tour and making a bet with the other band members that my 2 little 1×12 cabinets sounded better than the big 810 cabinet that was back-lined. Obviously, they called me crazy, so on one of the breaks I went and grabbed my two 112’s out of my car: Long story short, I won the bet.


In full disclosure, I did take a break from Bergantino and played another companies amplification for a while, but once I heard that Bergantino was making amp heads to go with your cabs, I immediately went and checked them out. Needless to say, I loved what I heard and now I’m back.


Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.


Anybody who knows me or has seen me play in the last 8 years would know that I play F Bass instruments exclusively. I have four of their instruments in possession:  A BN 5 (fretted 5 string), a BNF 5 (fretless 5 string), a BN 6 (fretted 6 string) and a VF 5 P/J (fretted 5 string). As of right now, the VF 5 is my go to instrument.


Who are your influencers?


This is a really tough question. I feel like it would have been an easy one to answer before YouTube took over the planet.  I really like hearing new voices on the instrument that I haven’t heard before, regardless of style or technique. Obviously, I had the standard, go-to legends of the instrument like James Jamerson, Jaco, Victor Wooten and, of course, Anthony Jackson but I also like players that are absolutely amazing but aren’t as well known like Carles Benavente, Matthew Garrrison and Dominqiue Dipiazza.


Can you share more about your studio work?


I’m a full time freelance musician and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to make a living doing that. This consists of playing whatever gigs come my way whether its studio work, club gigs, private events, large or small stages, crazy instrumental fusion music or backing up vocalists playing dance music or singer/songwriter stuff. Thankfully, I do work in the studio quite a bit but I have also just revamped my home studio and am currently doing a good bit of remote recording sessions from there. I love doing studio work because it forces you to be extremely versatile.  It’s not a choice, it’s either be well-rounded or don’t eat, and I enjoy the challenge.  Studio work also allows me to stay fairly local to southern California. I have a family that I love very much and want to make sure that I’m there for them as much as possible. This is something that can be tough as a musician, especially if traveling a lot, so doing studio work has allowed me to stay close to home and that’s very important to me.


Favorite things to do besides play bass?


I know that it’s similar to playing bass, but when I’m not playing bass or gigging, I enjoy writing music in my spare time. I also enjoy exercising and spending quality time with my family.


Follow Kevin:

instagram – @kevinfreeby



Ricky Bonazza

Bergantino Welcomes New Artist Ricky Bonazza

Ricky Bonazza has been living the dream, growing up in Italy and now living in Los Angeles. A bassist, producer and songwriter, he’s the embodiment of the hard working, never-say-die rock and roll spirit. He has an interesting story that goes well beyond his bling.

Where were you born and raised, Ricky, and how did you end up in Los Angeles, California?

I am from Italy. I relocated to LA when I decided to pursue my dream in music to become a professional musician and artist. I knew it had to be a city like Los Angeles where there’s a scene. For the person I am, LA just seemed to give me the best chances to succeed.

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

To me, it’s just the rhythm and the groove, the low end, the vibration, the backbone of every band, but enough to still be able to shred, if you will. I always wanted to be a drummer, but we lived in an apartment, so it wasn’t very convenient, so I picked the instrument that was closest to the drums.

How did you learn to play?

Pretty much by playing Iron Maiden songs all day. I took lessons and played in high school bands. I remember sitting down with just a metronome and practicing.

Are there any other instruments you play?

Yes, I play drums. I didn’t give up on them! With my first paycheck and some help from my parents, I bought a kit and put it in my friend‘s room. I play guitar as well and a little bit of piano.

Can you share some of the highlights of your career that you are most proud of?

There are a few, actually. The biggest one for sure is joining the Butcher Babies and playing Dimebash 2020 with them, one of the biggest events during NAMM. Then there’s my first US tour, which had always been a dream. I toured with a band called Dead by Wednesday, and we opened up for metal legends Flotsam and Jetsam. My second US tour with the band Zero Theorem was a highlight as well. We opened for Nonpoint and Hyro the Hero, one of my favorite artists. Performing at the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame during NAMM with former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland and Phil Demmel was huge. I was playing with David Ellefson’s solo band Sleeping Giants.

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

Yes, it has. I started by just hitting the root note to incorporate fills, then I started to incorporate slap and tapping techniques. The biggest evolution happened here in LA, playing all kinds of different genres and styles at these jam nights every week has definitely made me a better player.

What are you working on now during the pandemic?

On many things. I am writing a lot of music for my own stuff. Obviously, I’m always trying to create interesting content for my social platforms; the videos I’m doing right now seem to have a good reaction on people. We have been jamming/writing with the Butcher Babies, and next to that, I am mixing/producing different artists.

I am also working hard on my bass skills and videos and on improving my mixing and studio skills. I also started to write songs for a solo project, which I plan to submit for licensing in film and TV with a producer I work with.

What advice do you offer to the bass community at this time?

I would say just keep working hard if not harder; create something of you own. If you always relied on playing shows, it might be the time to learn something new or to improve a skill. To me, it really helps to see all the great reactions to my videos and my playing. It seems to resonate with a lot of people, and this gives me faith.

Can you share with us a little bit about the bands you are working with, including Butcher Babies?

We have a busy year of touring with the Butcher Babies, including some huge festivals. We just shot a new video for the upcoming single. As mentioned before, we have been jamming and putting together some ideas for new material. I am working with an incredible artist, an award-winning guitarist from Berkley, AM Dandy. I just completed mixing his upcoming EP, and I co-produced and played on the lead single that just came out. I am working with another killer guitar player from Switzerland called Clode Savage. I co produced, mixed and played bass on his last two singles.

Unfortunately, like pretty much for everybody, our tours and shows have been postponed because of COVID-19. We are still confirmed for a couple of festivals later this year in Europe and in the US, but who knows if it’s going to happen at this point really.

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

My friend Matt Denis, who also uses Bergantino gear, introduced me to it. It was right before NAMM. I was just blown away by the forté HP: the sound, the features, everything. It has pretty much everything I want from a bass amp. It is very versatile and powerful.

Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

Fender and Fender. I have been playing Fender all my life! At the moment, there’s really nothing else for me. I have tried all kinds of basses. I dig the Dingwall stuff a lot, but at the end of the day, Fender just does it for me.

Who are your influencers?

Steve Harris is definitely my biggest. Also Jason Newsted, Geezer Butler, Frank Bello, Geddy Lee and Duff McKagan.

Can you share more about your studio work and experience here?

My studio work, as mentioned before, includes a lot of mixing and recording. I am constantly writing music as well for Music Libraries for film and TV licensing. I completed sound school and then freelanced in studios in the LA area as an assistant engineer. I was a Pro Tools operator, etc. That’s why I came to Los Angeles, because bass is not my only skill, and I feel this is the town where I can put all my musical skills to action, from playing to writing to mixing and producing. That was the goal.

The experience has been great but extremely hard. It’s been a grind ever since. I literally came to this town with a suitcase and a bass. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know the U.S system, how everything works, and on top of that, dealing with all the immigration stuff was challenging. I have no family here. It hasn’t been easy. It still isn’t, but I am very grateful for this time and to be able to be here.

Favorite thing to do besides play bass?

I’m an audio nerd! Everything from mixing, recording, engineering, and sound designing. Other than that, I just love to travel. For real, touring is my favorite thing in the world.

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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 cab-inets 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.

Bergantino Artist Jacob Smith

Bergantino Artist Mr. Claudio Rocha!