I am a live & studio session bassist from Cape Town South Africa. I have been actively performing and recording for the past 12 years - performing with some of the biggest South African artists. Over the years I have mastered many styles of bass guitar playing, assisted with studio recording and provided theoretical assistance with songwriting.
I would like to grow as a freelance bass guitarist, as I am planning to focus on remote bass recording. Recently I have designed a recording console and created my own home studio from where I will record.
Yamaha TRB 1005, Epiphone Standard iv
TC Electronic BG250, Ibanez 65watt
Intel i7 4ghz, 32gb Ddr4 Ram, 1 tb SSD, 12tb NAS Storage, GTX 1080i 6gb Graphics
Cubase 9 with Mark Bass VST
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Interview with Charlie Black
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I usually perform bass guitar live at venues for a wide variety of clients. I have been performing live and recording at studios for 10 years and have finally decided to start recording bass guitar from home.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have recently upgraded my home studio to accommodate high quality export of audio recordings. Recording Console / Pc: Intel i7 4ghz, 32gb Ddr4 Ram, 1 tb SSD, 12tb NAS Storage, GTX 1080i 6gb Graphics. Sound Card: Focusrite Scarlett Software: Cubase 9 with Mark Bass VST Bass Guitars: Yamaha TRB 1005, Epiphone Standard IV Amp Units: TC Electronic BG250 (Tone-Print technology to simulate any bass tone), Ibanez 65watt 2x Samson Resolve SE7 Studio monitors as monitors, 2x JBL EON1's for relative reference. All cables (1/4 Jacks & XLR's) are Planet Waves Gold Tip insulated.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I used to work as an in-house studio bass guitar session for 3 years. I prefer to be handed some sort of chord sheet / score to see the main idea behind the bass line. If the client asks my opinion I normally create a couple of bass-lines to simulate the feel. My recording process takes up to 3 hours, I also double check the audio to ensure the sample is perfectly on time, with post-equalization on the export to match the song. I then export the audio in raw & post-EQ format. All samples are uncompressed WAV audio. Short previews of the bass samples are sent in mp3 format for the client's approval.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I believe that bass guitar fills the gaps in a song. It binds the audio and provides the low end to balance everything out. It also needs to compliment the song - a single note can be more effective on the precise moment than a solo on the wrong moment. I bring feeling, energy and emotion to a song. Sometimes having the bass play on & off time creates a certain feel. I am able to generate a visual to the listener, building or retracting a dynamic.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My strongest skill would be bass guitar recording. I have completed grade 8 of the Bass Rock School Syllabus. I make use of hammer-on's, pull-off's, scales, arpeggios , triads, harmonics, chords, slides, 7th lead notes and much more. I also enjoy playing with louder & softer tones to create dynamics.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I usually work on acoustic music, blues, country, and rock. Although I have not done many, some clients require technical metal-bass compositions as well.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Over the years I have evolved into a multi-genre musician, I started with rock and metal when I was younger, and soon realized there's so much more out there. I enjoy to play the likes of Chris Stapleton, Kings of Leon, Carry Underwood, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Jessie James Decker and Luke Bryan. I also enjoy the heavier songs of artists like KoRN, Five Finger Death Punch, Tool, Trivium, Stone Sour, Alter Bridge and Skillet.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Less Is More - The Golden rule of recording. If you ensure your mix is flawless, the final mastering will be so much easier.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to perform / session for Kings of Leon. Simplistic bass lines with the focus on energy and emotion.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I have a unique style. I prefer to play theoretically correct with the focus on timing and precision. All my notes are clearly heard, and I prefer to run scales when the song allows it - thus filling a gap. My style can have the bass move in & out of the background without notice, creating a 3rd dimension to a left & right mix.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started playing bass guitar when I was 12 years old. I started playing in our church band, which taught me most of what I know under guidance of a multi-degree, doctorate level pianist / organist. Over the years we started implementing more theory to the music, combining choirs and musical productions. Ever since 2002 bass guitar has been a passion and full time occupation.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: 1. Yamaha Bass 5 string TRB 1005 2. TC Electronic Bass 250rms Amp 3. Line 6 Bass Pod 4. Shure In-Ears 5. Bass Guitar Case :)
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Well, I would say before hiring someone to first see if the person understands where you would like the song to go. It would be a massive waste of time if the session did not interpret the songwriter's vision.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: 1. Would you like the bass part to be busy (front) or relaxed (back) of the mix? 2. Do you have a score sheet / music tab for me to play from or do I need to write the bass part? 3. Time frame / deadline 4. Similar style of song or do you have a similar genre to fit in with?
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: People think bass recordings are not important and that any electric guitarist can play the bass part. I have reached a level where I can hear the difference between software generated bass lines, electric guitarists and the real deal. People also think the bass can be "copy paste" which creates a dull and boring mix.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Q: How long will it take me? A: 3 Hours once I have started. I generally have a lead time of 1 business day. Q: Can you do a bass solo? A: Of course :) Q: Are you new to online sessions? A: Yes, I used to work as an in-house producer / full time session and I am focusing on online work from now on.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Doing something you love cannot be seen as "work"
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That I will do my best to create a bass recording that will compliment their song.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital all the way. Technology has given us the opportunity to replicate all analog gear and equipment. My TC Electronic amp can simulate a 1969 Fender sound perfect, and at the touch of a button switch back to a modern active bass 5 string sound with added compression.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I have had the privilege to perform with Lize Mynhardt (South African Singer Songwriter) and she has referred me to SoundBetter. If you require any vocal samples she will be able to facilitate any style or genre.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am recording a full song for a wedding happening in December. The bride wants to surprise her husband by singing with a backtrack during their reception.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I was the bass guitarist for an artist called Jack Stone. We recorded his entire album called "Walk On" at Stone Studios International in Johannesburg, South Africa. The album was then mastered by Andrew Mendelson of Georgetown Masters from Nashville Tennessee. Andrew’s clientele is as diverse as it is impressive. He has mastered dozens of #1, Grammy winning, and gold and platinum projects by artists including: The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Mariah Carey, Elton John, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Casting Crowns, Ricky Skaggs and Willie Nelson. In 2017 Andrew has mastered more top ten country songs than all other mastering engineers combined.