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  • What’s the Best Way To Learn Electric Bass?

    What’s the Best Way To Learn Electric Bass?

    Q: You can go to school and study electric bass in a jazz program, you can listen to records and learn from them, you can check out lessons on Youtube, you can subscribe to bass player’s online teaching regimens… But how do you know what is the best way to become a competent, professional level... »

  • Musical Goals and Self Evaluation

    Musical Goals and Self Evaluation

    For those of us involved in formal education, the end of the year is a time for evaluation in all our classes, e.g. final exams, papers, presentations etc. When it comes to instrumental study, most students play what is known as a “jury.” This is performance by the student for panel of faculty. The charge... »

  • The Light Bulb Moment: I Want To Be Like That

    The Light Bulb Moment: I Want To Be Like That

    At the age of 15, I dreaded the thought of being caught at a movie theater on a Friday night with my parents. So. Lame. If spotted by my fellow classmates, I would immediately be identified as weird, uncool, and antisocial. Who am I kidding… I definitely was (and am) weird, uncool, and antisocial. It... »

  • Bass Cabinets: On Speaker Sizes and Pairing Them Up

    Bass Cabinets: On Speaker Sizes and Pairing Them Up

    Q: I read the blog of a musician explaining that combining bass cabinets based on speaker size makes a big difference in sound. He also said that combining two 410 cabinets is better than combining a 410 with a 115. I was under the impression that a 410 cab combined with a 115 cab was... »

  • Fitting It All Together: Reading, Listening and Playing Through the Changes

    Fitting It All Together: Reading, Listening and Playing Through the Changes

    Last week, we wrapped up the series on Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions. After that, I had a great moment with a student where there was a small distinction made that seemed to have a great impact in the student’s playing. An immediate impact. We were running the Wayne Shorter tune “Juju”, primarily because it has... »

  • Improving Troublesome Passages: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Improving Troublesome Passages: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Continuing our series of “Tips” columns, here’s one on breaking down troublesome musical passages. 1. Take it Slow Practicing technically difficult passages at slow tempi is nearly essential for mastery. Learning something at a slow tempo is learning it well. Doing so helps us avoid unconscious errors such as incorrect notes, fingerings, rhythms, errant string... »

  • Bass Players to Know: Marshall Lytle

    Bass Players to Know: Marshall Lytle

    If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Bass Players to Know series, you may still be spinning the Brothers Johnson records and practicing your 70’s funk and disco chops. While Louis Johnson, Larry Graham, and many others have popularized what we’ve come to know as “slap bass,” the term was coined much earlier. Dating as... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 3 – Practice Material

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 3 – Practice Material

    As a follow up to this series on harmonic substitutions, I thought that I would include a few choice pages from my book, The Improvisor’s Path, related directly to what we’ve been discussing. First, here are the pages that relate to my breakdown of some available scaler substitutions. Next is the Wayne Shorter tune, “Nefertiti”... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

    In part 1 of this series, we were experimenting with using substitutions that allowed us to play familiar major and minor scale shapes over various basic chord types. Now, let’s move on to melodic and harmonic minor mode choices. First, let’s make sure that we’re all familiar with these two scales: Harmonic minor = Aeolian... »

  • Freelance Gigs: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Freelance Gigs: Five Tips for Bass Players

    The last “Tips” column (on avoiding injury), was a popular one. So let’s continue this series with some tips on freelancing. 1. Be Musically Prepared If there is sheet music, review it. If there are recordings, listen to them. As much as possible, be familiar with all the parts. Be acquainted with the melodies, harmonies,... »