Located in Stockholm, Sweden, founders by Bo Engberg and Technical Director Matis Kristoffersson, launched their first product: an EBS-1 rack mounted Bass preamp, marking a new high end Bass amp manufacturer in Bass equipment. Adding power amps and speaker cabinets in 1990, and the OctaBass Pedal which has become a classic effect pedal in 1993 to a continuing growing company.
This year at NAMM 2016, EBS brought new additions to their already impressive lineup of Bass equipment, which includes; EBS Billy Sheehan Signature Drive Deluxe Pedal, EBS Reidmar 750 lightweight Bass amp, EBS Magni 500 Bass combo series, EBS Black Label Pedals Studio Edition and the EBS Red Label Pedals Guitar Edition.
One of the bassists who’s developed a long standing relationship with EBS is Bjorn Englen, known for his current work with Dio Disciples, Tony MacAlpine and Soul Sign, as well as his previous efforts with Quiet Riot and Yngwie Malmsteen.
It’s through his efforts that Englen has been able to stand up as one of the top metal bassists and play on a few albums that are among the best selling of 2016. Music Enthusiast Magazine recently caught up with Bjorn in the EBS Booth at NAMM 2016 to dissect his rig and his plans for Dio Disciples.
Music Enthusiast Magazine: Hello, how are you?
Bjorn Englen: I’m doing great. You know, this NAMM show gets more and more crazy every year but this is probably the best one. People have been here many times before and it’s wonderful. I’m here at the EBS booth, I’ve been endorsing these amps and pedals thirteen years, and it’s easy when you endorse something, that just sounds amazing and I am always like, always believe in playing just like Billy Sheehan. I’m just making sure your hands sound good and your fingers, you don’t really need your amp to do the work for you but the EBS amps, when you plug into it, it sounds like you.
It doesn’t color your sound and its high quality, and it’s durable, so I don’t even have to lie to back anything up about it. If I have a problem, I have a great relationship with these guys and I tell them and I’m honest with them about everything, so it’s wonderful that way when you get to that point where you feel like you’re… it’s like family. It’s like your dad, you could yell at him and he understands and it’s wonderful.
So right now I’m playing; actually I’m using a lot of these different amps, but I’ve been working with the EBS Fafner 11 a lot which is over here. You can’t see it because it’s on the audio. The two channel amp separating the overdrive and the clean channel which is an old trick by many bass players. When the pick people played back in the day, they played Marshalls and they played, you know they just…the amps were overdriven because they were guitar amps.
Jack Bruce and John Paul Jones and these guys… but when Doug Pinnick from King’s X were playing sets and Billy Sheehan and the Modern Days were playing, they were like well we need to separate the clean and the dirty channel and this amp does it wonderfully and its loud. Now this new amp they have is called Reidmar 750 lightweight amp. Viking name, but the Reidmar 750 is really loud but its super light, picking it up and it weighs nothing. Put it in your backpack and its 750 watts.
Now you need to only plug it into one cabinet because it’s a four-0 minimum load so you have to remember that so you don’t break the amp. Wonderfully loud and it sounds great. It took them a long time to make me, give it a try it I’m like I don’t know…try the amp! And then it’s like wow, I really like it.
The EBS Reidmar 750 lightweight bass amp, is a new product?
Yes, it’s unbelievable and the cabinets are fantastic these are lightweight Neodymium; they are really lightweight but loud, loud speakers. On a deep, really deep stage they project the sound really far, really quick and that’s really good if you play at a festival, something when the stage is really, really, really deep, you need to push it; push the tone and the sound out really far to the end of the stage where you’re standing.
So they’re amazing and these are the classic, not the Classic line – the Pro line; beautiful looking, you can never go wrong with these. Then you have the Classic line that’s very vintage sounding it’s like an old vintage, no names amp but better, much better sound. I’ve been working with the pedals too for many, many, many years and I use in any situation. A lot of times when I record, I just go straight overdrive into compression or vice versa.
They messed around with it because you get a different tone when, the order that you put the pedals but I always use those two pedals. They have a new addition EBS Black Label pedals, upgraded and quiet when you step on it; and they have different colors. So when you’re on a dark stage, you step on a different color pedal you can see which one you’re stepping on much easier.
So, I’m always using the compressor and the overdrive but I’m using the DynaVerb, the reverb pedal for a lot of solos and stuff like that and all the other pedals are wonderful, like the EBS Bass IQ is like a WAH pedal, but you don’t have to work the WAH with your foot, you just play and it’s like an automatic WAH pedal [imitates WAH pedal sound]; and then we have the OctaBass, which brings it down or up an octave.
It could have a lot of pedals, but the guitar players would accidentally try the pedals and they loved them so much that they started endorsing the bass pedals so they were like, we need to make a guitar line. You can still play through the bass pedals and it sounds wonderful but they actually do have a guitar line of the pedals now too, so this company is all about the quality.
Is EBS from your hometown?
No Stockholm is the Capital of Sweden. I’m not from Stockholm; I’m about four and a half hours, south of Stockholm, but I met these guys through the NAMM show actually and they were like when are you going to endorse some stuff and after I tried the stuff I was like that’s it. But it’s nice when you find something like Marcus Miller said, find your gear and then start playing music.
People have searched their whole lives for better gear and that’s okay but at some point you’ve got to just go like, listen, you know? Find something that works for you and just play music.
So that’s the good thing about EBS, I don’t worry, it’s the best sounding stuff. I don’t have to worry about searching for something better because there isn’t anything better and I’m honest about that, so you just plug in and play and that’s it, and you can focus on making music.
There is a different look to some of the cabinets, what is the difference?
They look different, they are all high quality. The one to the right is the Classic line, a little less expensive but they sound amazing and a lot of people like them better because they have more of a vintage tone, a lot of warmth in their tone.
These are very precise, the Pro line is varied, has a lot of attack and distinct tone so you hear every note you play which is wonderful for many bass players that are amazing and when you record, you want a mic and cabinet.
Now the Neo Line with Neodymium speakers is somewhere in between, but it’s extremely loud but it is extremely light so for working musicians who are touring or roadies or whatever, it makes life easy. Loud and light you can’t go wrong; and this head right here extremely light but it sounds wonderful and you would never think, you would be like wow, but this cannot sound better because its heavier, but actually its almost the opposite.
So I really recommend people trying out that head and the thing is you can fly with it, you put it in a backpack and take it on a plane. You go to Russia; you go to China to play two shows…you know what tone you’re getting. You’re not getting there and playing on a surprise gear, because that’s stress. When you’re flying you don’t want to be stressed out, you want to go to sleep and know that when you get to the town you’re playing in, you have the tone that you need.
What’s on the Calendar for 2016?
For this year, I’m a camp counselor at the Rock and Roll Fantasy camp in a couple of weeks. With a bunch of great rock stars, musicians, friends, it’s going to be a lot of fun, then I’m doing the Monsters of Rock cruise out of Miami into Bahamas with Dio Disciples.
Oh! Dio Disciples are back on the cruise this year.
The east coast Monsters of Rock cruise?
We skipped last year but yes, the east coast cruise and it’s an unbelievable cruise. If you’ve never been on a cruise, go. It’s the best cruise, it’s fun, it’s great, it’s a good time and wonderful vacation. Although its work for us, but we get a couple hours at the bar at the end of it, so it’s cool and it’s worth it and yeah that’s it. Hopefully back out again with Tony MacAlpine, soon as he gets better.
How is Tony MacAlpine doing?
He is recovering, he is doing good. Wonderful guy, wonderful friend and most amazing musician if you could even imagine and he’s a strong guy, he’s going to be fine. We’re just waiting for our friend to get better so we can go out and play again.
Will Dio Disciples have any shows or tour this year?
Just the cruise, we have some other offers but nothing’s confirmed so hopefully we’ll get out and do somewhere in North or South America or something like that. Possibly Europe too later, you know that everybody’s busy, Simon Wright is busy with the band Operation: Mindcrime and Craig Goldy has a couple of different projects and everybody’s busy and then you know Oni he has Lynch Mob and all that stuff so everybody’s really busy so trying to time in all the scheduling is a little tricky, but they are wonderful, wonderful guys and I’m really honored to be a part of that and I can’t wait to play with them again.
Any updates on your band Soul Sign?
Soul Sign is working on a new record, as most people know Mark Boles on vocals and we are going to lay down some vocal tracks pretty soon and it’s going to sound amazing. You know, no other singer I’ve ever worked in my life that sounds better, more professional, nicer guy than him; and I don’t know, how can you not ever get a wrong note in your life? He never sang a wrong note or something in his life and I don’t understand it but it’s wonderful and we’re really honored to have him in the band and he’s a nice, sweet guy so it’s wonderful.
So we’re working on a new album and as soon as we get that out, before we’ll do some shows, I think around in Nevada and California and Mexico, stuff like that, more semi-local you know and just, that’s it.
Good! Looking forward to seeing Soul Sign play again.
Keeping busy…which is good for you…
Yeah, busy is good. Keeps me out of trouble sometimes… [Laughter] can’t promise but…
One other thing. Your Signature Bass Strings, with Mari Strings how could I forget?
I know! My signature strings. A wonderful, good master, grandfather of string making Daniel Mari, last year came to me and said let’s make your signature strings. They sound incredible, consistent and custom made gauge strings; so I kind of stole the idea from one of my heroes Billy Sheehan, who would have a lower E-String that is thicker so when you turn it down to D it stays more stable, and it makes a lot of sense.
Especially with Dio Disciples when we go as far down as D, so when I go down, I flick the hipshot tuner down in C. If you are working on a 100 or 105 string, you’re going to run into problems and when you travel and the neck shifts, so where your neck is not straight anymore you’re going to have a lot of rattling maybe sometimes accidentally because of humidity and temperature. It’s something people really need to think about.
If your string is thicker when you play, it’s going to stay more stable and lift away from the neck and not move around in the, what do you call it, much of a radius. Thin strings move in a big radius to get the same frequency a thicker string doesn’t have to move in a big radius.
So you’re not going to get as much rattle and that’s very important when you need that low string to sound strong and punchy. And the strings are very consistent sounding, long lasting and actually fairly inexpensive. Do check them out.
How is it going?
It’s going good, yeah. It’s going well. He is selling them, the company is distributing them all over the world and I am selling them on my own as well on my website; but wonderful strings, I have endorsed them for Nineteen years now. My first endorsement ever was the Mari strings and I never switched because I was like, you know what? When you have a wonderful thing and the relationship with the company is good just like with EBS.
A wonderful relationship, that’s the most important when you can have good communication, you can develop a good product and you can get the product when you need the product.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Go to my website BjornEnglen.com, you can buy CD’s and Picks and you can hire me for Bass lessons and I will teach lessons on Skype, Facebook or Facetime. I do that all the time and it’s wonderful. You can hire me to play on your album; I promise you it’s going to sound incredible and people love it whenever I do tracks for them and I don’t leave anything that’s not great.