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  • Secrets of Playing Great in a Group Setting: Listen, Acknowledge and Respond

    Secrets of Playing Great in a Group Setting: Listen, Acknowledge and Respond

    Be it on the bandstand, the concert stage, or the corner of a bad club, most musicians yearn for great musical communication in an ensemble. Great musical communication between players leads to great ensemble playing. If you have experienced it once, you will want it again. To have the shot at this, we need to:... »

  • When to Play with the Harmony: A Discussion for Bass Players

    When to Play with the Harmony: A Discussion for Bass Players

    Q: The (new) guitarist in my band has mentioned a few times that I’m not “holding it down” because I don’t always play the root, and he finds it “detracts from the song.” He is an extremely good musician and I respect his opinion. However the chords in our songs are super vanilla. Our vocalist... »

  • Playing Music with an Open Mind

    Playing Music with an Open Mind

    Playing music is a curious thing. We excite at the opportunity to play with and for other people. We look forward to it, prepare for it, take pleasure in it, and enjoy the feeling of making music together. Sounds perfect, right? Well, the funny thing is that the more you play in a “formal” scenario... »

  • It’s All in the Hands: Time to Dust Off the Old Axe

    It’s All in the Hands: Time to Dust Off the Old Axe

    I’m sure than we’ve all heard the saying “it’s all in the hands.” Many of us, myself included, are willing to support this statement. But is that really all there is? Is our musical voice the same regardless of what we play or what we play through? After all, we’re the one picking up the... »

  • Overcoming Stage Fright

    Overcoming Stage Fright

    Do you ever get nervous about performances? I certainly do. I’ll spend hours and hours learning material, charting it out, listening to it in the car, and getting everything in order for the gig, and even after all of that, I’ll still be nervous! For some reason, I think that everyone else will be cool... »

  • Consistency: From the Practice Shed to the Bandstand

    Consistency: From the Practice Shed to the Bandstand

    Photo by kmlz Q: I seem to have an issue with consistency. I seem to be able to pull certain licks and lines together when practicing, but it always falls apart when I’m actually playing with the band. Any tricks to develop consistency? A: Tricks? No. But I do have some thoughts. 1. Context I... »

  • Stage Volume: Turn Up and Play Light (and Other Considerations)

    Stage Volume: Turn Up and Play Light (and Other Considerations)

    Q: In hard rock and metal music, many players – including me – resort to playing with a heavy right hand to cut through the mix of distortion. As time goes by my right wrist starts to experience some pain and I’m thinking I should be playing lighter. Jeff Berlin and Gary Willis have been... »

  • What Makes A Great Bassist? Part 3: Defining Groove

    What Makes A Great Bassist? Part 3: Defining Groove

    Photo Credit: Mika Hiironniemi As bassists, one of our main goals is to make the band groove. The only problem is that the term can be vague. Many young players that begin their quest for the elusive groove are met with descriptions like, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” In an effort to... »

  • What Makes A Great Bassist? Part 2: Expressing Yourself

    What Makes A Great Bassist? Part 2: Expressing Yourself

    With all the things to work on to improve ourselves, it’s easy to lose sight of why we play bass. That’s why we’ve been polling famous bassists and the community at large on what they think makes a great bassist. (Be sure to check out What Makes a Great Bassist? Part 1: Playing for the... »

  • What Makes a Great Bassist? Part 1: Playing For The Song

    What Makes a Great Bassist? Part 1: Playing For The Song

    It’s easy to get wrapped up in the “hows” of bass playing: scales, chords, arpeggios, slapping, tapping, harmonics… Maybe you’re working on getting that one awesome lick just right so you can use it someday. With so much information to digest, sometimes it’s best to take a step back and remember what it is we’re... »