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  • Dealing with Dead Spots on the Fretboard

    Dealing with Dead Spots on the Fretboard

    Q: I’ve played a Fender ’61 Anniversary Precision the last year or so. It sounds great and is very comfortable to play, but I have drama with the G note on the E string being noticeably “plonky” sounding. A slight truss rod adjustment clockwise moves this down a semi tone. I’m fearing a dead spot…... »

  • Talent vs. Hard Work

    Talent vs. Hard Work

    Q: I have a question on talent. Here is some background first: three years ago, I took up learning electric guitar (aged 45) without any prior learning of music, instruments, etc. – truly from scratch. I took classes in a music school and practiced daily a half and hour to 2 hours every day. I... »

  • Bass in Death Metal?

    Bass in Death Metal?

    Q: What is your opinion of the role of bass in both Death Metal and Black Metal? I’m a big fan of both styles and have tried to work out by ear, exactly what the bass is doing, but within these styles, the bass is very seldom heard. In a situation like this, what’s the... »

  • Multiple Basses or Just One? A Discussion for Working Bass Players

    Multiple Basses or Just One? A Discussion for Working Bass Players

    Q: I’m a fairly busy bass player working with five or six different bands ranging from funk to soul to hip-hop/neo-soul to jazz to disco to metal and a few function bands which encompass just about everything else! For the last four years, I’ve mainly used one sound (neck pickup, flatwound strings) on one bass... »

  • Playing without a Chordal Instrument

    Playing without a Chordal Instrument

    Q: I was curious about your approach to playing jazz without a piano player or guitarist. I lead a secret, soon to be a quintet because our piano player is moving away. I respect the kind of stuff presented by Charlie Haden in his work with Ornette Coleman, but aside from the free really “out... »

  • Creating Tasteful Bass Lines

    Creating Tasteful Bass Lines

    Q: I’d like to know what your thoughts are on the subtle art of variation within bass lines; the where’s and whys, and indeed, the where nots and the why nots. I believe that this kind of understanding is one of the key factors separating good bass players from great ones. I know for myself,... »

  • Dealing with Different Environments and Bass Tone

    Dealing with Different Environments and Bass Tone

    Q: In 25+ years playing, one problem has plagued and perplexed me the entire time… from one band practice to the next I swear the tone of my bass changes. One day my bass tone sounds like it’s dialed in right where it needs to be the next my strings sound dull or my amp... »

  • The Lightbulb Moment: Time For A Change (of Strings)

    The Lightbulb Moment: Time For A Change (of Strings)

    A letter, documenting the moment when you realize that things aren’t what they used to be but that you have the power to amend the situation. This particular moment, and the frequency with which it occurs, is different for everyone. That said, this letter highlights a few subtle signs to help you determine when it’s... »

  • Best Strings for Two-Handed Tapping?

    Best Strings for Two-Handed Tapping?

    Q: I’m looking for the brightest sounding flatwound strings I can find. I play a highly modded ’66 Jazz 5-string with Barto pickups and have used round wound strings consistently since 1972… yes, that long. The sizes I always use are 45 65 85 105, and 125. I want to experiment with the two-handed chordal... »

  • Learning Music: To Pursue a College Degree (Or Not)

    Learning Music: To Pursue a College Degree (Or Not)

    Q: What I want to know is this: by not pursuing a higher education in music (music college), what am I missing out on and what is most important to take away from that experience? A: Professionally speaking, a degree in music won’t do anything for you unless you are are shooting for a career... »