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Best of 2017: The Top 10 “Ask Damian Erskine” Columns

Damian Erskine is our longest running columnist, for good reason. His Q&A column is one of the most popular features we publish each and every week.

Of the 50-plus columns Damian published this year, here are the reader favorites for 2017.

A Drummer’s Perspective on Bass Playing

1. A Drummer’s Perspective on Bass Playing

For this column, I asked a good friend of mine – Seattle-based drummer Tarik Abouzied – to talk about what he looks for in a bassist, from a drummer’s perspective. I thought he may have some insights as he’s also a pretty phenomenal bassist, in addition to being a complete badass on the drums…

How High Should I Set My Bass Strings?

2. How High Should I Set My Bass Strings?

Q: What’s your take on string height? For over a decade, I’ve subscribed to Anthony Jackson’s view that the neck must be as flat/straight as possible and the strings as low as possible. And while I’ve spent as much time refining a light touch, I sometimes wonder if I’m spending too much time worrying…

Should I Quit the Bass? A Discussion on Burn Out (and More)

3. Should I Quit the Bass? A Discussion on Burn Out (and More)

Q: I’m a semi-pro bassist of 15 years and have been playing for about 25 now, I’ve been with my current band for nearly six years and are about to release our second album. For the past two years, I’ve not been very happy playing, and it is a real conflict…

How to Get Called Back for the Gig (Or Not)

4. How to Get Called Back for the Gig (Or Not)

Damian Erskine recently did a recording session. After the session, the musicians began talking about some of the horror stories of working with a few bassists. That inspired this column, where he shares thoughts on how to make sure you’re called back for the gig (or not)…

Should I Go Active? A Discussion for Bass Players

5. Should I Go Active? A Discussion for Bass Players

Q: I’m once again considering using active electronics on my bass, a pre-amp of some kind. It is still a bit of a debate I notice amongst bass players. Some say it’s “colder,” some say it’s difficult to work with, especially on stage… I’m very curious what your experiences are and if you could shed some light on this matter…

Melodic Minor vs. Diminished Scales Over Dominant Chords

6. Melodic Minor vs. Diminished Scales Over Dominant Chords

Q: You know, jazz theory can be really, really confusing! I know that you can use a melodic minor a half step above a dominant chord as a substitution before resolving to the I-chord to emphasize tension notes (creating an out-sound). But, apparently, you can also use a whole-half diminished scale a half step up…

Who is the Best Bassist?

7. Who is the Best Bassist?

So it happened. A reader sent Damian this question: “In your opinion, who is the best bassist?” Damian decided to answer, without it becoming another one of those “Best Bassist”-type columns that cause an uproar…

Learning the Fretboard Without Getting Bored

8. Learning the Fretboard Without Getting Bored

Q: I’m wondering how to develop an expanded knowledge of the fingerboard without falling into a rut. I have been working on “Straight, No Chaser” for a couple of months. I know I should bifurcate my practice time to learn tunes I like and add melodic and technical ideas to my “bag of tricks”…

Drinking on the Gig?

9. Drinking on the Gig?

Q: I know that my question is very sensitive because this affects us in different ways and it might raise ideas to others I would like to ask: How does alcohol affect your playing? I do not want to hear that it is not suitable at all to play and drink (or drive) but rather…

Getting Away from Playing the Root on Beat One

10. Getting Away from Playing the Root on Beat One

Q: I play mostly jazz and am a pretty facile walker, but I’ve gotten into the habit of playing lines that almost invariably lead to the root being on the 1 (or the 3 if it’s a 2-chord measure in 4/4, etc.). While I am guessing that some of the folks I play with don’t…

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