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  • Learning Modes and Scales: A Study Guide for Bassists

    Learning Modes and Scales: A Study Guide for Bassists

    Q: I hope that you’ll be able to explain this problem. I learned so far that major and minor scales have certain patterns (i.e. minor steps: W,H,W,W,H,W,W). Now, I’ve moved to modes and, for example, the Lydian mode. Does it have the same pattern for minor scale? I found some other patterns on the web,... »

  • Fumbling Fingers: When Common Tasks Take Their Toll on Bassists

    Fumbling Fingers: When Common Tasks Take Their Toll on Bassists

    For some of us, finding the time to playing bass is a luxury. We don’t get many opportunities to sit down and groove, learn our favorite songs, or hit the woodshed to practice technique. Work takes up too many hours in the day and after having to make dinner, spend time with our friends or... »

  • Ten Prescriptions for Productive Practice

    Ten Prescriptions for Productive Practice

    Playing is fun, and important, but real progress happens when we practice. In fact, the most significant element in our development is our daily practice regimen. So, how we approach it is vital. To help us get the most out of our sessions, here are ten principles for productive practice: For best results, practice 6... »

  • Thoughts on Improving Your Technique on Bass

    Thoughts on Improving Your Technique on Bass

    There are voluminous technical exercises designed to make us better instrumentalists. Nearly all have benefit when executed properly. Unfortunately, many people focus solely on the musical result expected (e.g. How fast can I play that trill today?) when doing technical work. However, the best results are gained when we balance our focus between the musical... »

  • Perfecting the Double Thumb Technique

    Perfecting the Double Thumb Technique

    Q: I’m hoping you can help me perfect my double thumb technique. I have a few questions: How can I improve the sound of the upstroke so that it sounds more like a slap as opposed to a ghost note? When I try the technique on the A string I always strum the E string... »

  • Looping the Bass: 7 Activities for Musical Growth

    Looping the Bass: 7 Activities for Musical Growth

    Fruit loops, drum loops, loop-the-loop roller coasters… there are all kinds of loopy things out there. Lucky for us, the looping pedal is one of them. After a recent acquisition and an afternoon of messing around I wondered “why didn’t I get one of these sooner?” As a matter of fact, I did. I just... »

  • Practicing Without Your Bass: Some Exercises to Keep the Music Going

    Practicing Without Your Bass: Some Exercises to Keep the Music Going

    Q: Are there any exercises that you could recommend that can be done when away from the bass? A: You know, I’m surprised that I’ve never written about this before as I do actually have a number of things to recommend when you’re without your bass, to keep the music going. 1. Visualization of the... »

  • Learning New Tunes: Go Beyond the Bass

    Learning New Tunes: Go Beyond the Bass

    Let’s face it, we’re not all singers. Some of us opted to join band in school instead of choir, and in doing so, we missed out on the vocal warm-ups and breathing lessons. We never took the bull by the horns and sang lead, be it on stage or around a campfire, and maybe a... »

  • Pyramiding: An Approach to Musical Exercise

    Pyramiding: An Approach to Musical Exercise

    There are many ways to approach a given exercise (e.g. trills, vibrato, etc.) and each have benefits. Some, of course, are more thorough than others. When I want to truly want to intensive on a particular area of technique I sometimes apply a concept borrowed from bodybuilding known as “pyramiding.” In simplest terms (when applying... »

  • Rhythmic Bass Playing: Making it Fit the Musical Setting

    Rhythmic Bass Playing: Making it Fit the Musical Setting

    Q: For a while, I’ve been focusing on developing a percussive finger style bass technique, in a similar style to yours. I have great fun with it when playing on my or own or looping, but whenever I try it in a band situation, it just never sounds as good. All the detail – and... »