the online magazine for bass players

Search Menu
  • Playing Bass without Sheet Music: Time, Feel & Harmony

    Playing Bass without Sheet Music: Time, Feel & Harmony

    Q: I’ve been playing bass for about 7 years. Before bass I was a very good tuba player and a halfway decent cellist. My problem is I never learned to play without music notation. I can’t even play tabs. I either need the notation or the chord progression. What’s the best way for me to... »

  • Connecting Chords: A Guide to Playing Fluid Bass Lines

    Connecting Chords: A Guide to Playing Fluid Bass Lines

    Q: I would like to ask about voicing/phrases on bass when it comes to chord progressions. How should I step into the next chord when I’m phrasing the actual one? Should I try walking lines? Are there any standard licks that can bring the feel of translating to a next chord? Or they are all... »

  • Playing Through Changes with Arpeggios: Exercises for Bassists

    Playing Through Changes with Arpeggios: Exercises for Bassists

    Many of my past columns have focused on answer readers’ questions related to playing through changes. So for this week’s column, I decided to put together the video below to cover a few approaches to getting comfortable with changes, through the use of arpeggios. (Side note: I’m frequently asked about the software I’m using in... »

  • Chord Substitutions, Tritones and Bass

    Chord Substitutions, Tritones and Bass

    Q: When is it ok to use chord substitutions on standards? Also, can you explain tritone substitutions? A: The use of chord substitutions is fun to practice but must be used with caution on the gig. Our role as a bass player is to support the harmonic foundation for the rest of the band, as... »

  • Improving Your Playing: What’s Your Story?

    Improving Your Playing: What’s Your Story?

    Q: What are you personally working on to improve your playing? A: Okay, getting more personal than usual here <grin>… I am in a constant state of flux with my practice habits. Different things bug me about my playing depending on the gigs I have one week versus the next, causing me to switch gears... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Chord Voicings

    Q: Can you help me get away from the standard root position chords that I already know? A: Hopefully, yes! The following will presume an intermediate level of understanding of chords and basic theory. But, if you’re working on this stuff, you’ve probably already got at least enough of a grip on it to follow... »

  • Lesson: Practicing Chord Changes

    Lesson: Practicing Chord Changes

    There are many ways to get better at the changes on a particular tune, but this approach works really well. First, play just quarter notes, and play all the arpeggios to get a “mental map” of all the chord tones in the progression (try to do it with a metronome): Then, still in quarter notes,... »