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  • Exercises for Improving Time

    Exercises for Improving Time

    Q: What are some good exercises or practice routines to develop a strong sense of time? A: When I want to work on time, rhythm or technique, I think “What would a drummer do”? There are any number of ways to develop that internal clock. Here are a few ideas for you: 1. Playing Along.... »

  • Solving Bass Hum Problems (Grounding vs. Shielding)

    Solving Bass Hum Problems (Grounding vs. Shielding)

    Q: Why does my bass hum when I touch the strings and play in the rehearsal studio? I use SVT, Digitech multi-effects pedal and a Ibanez Roadstar II with big humbucking pickups. A: There is some confusion out there between what happens when you have a grounding issue vs. when you have a shielding issue.... »

  • Making Theory Work

    Making Theory Work

    Q: I’ve tried to learn music theory many times. I’ve studied it in a classroom setting, private lessons and on my own, but it just doesn’t click with me for some reason. I’m classically trained, so I can read bass music just fine, but when I play anything that relies heavily on memory or improvisation,... »

  • 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... »

  • Right Hand Endurance for Bass Players

    Right Hand Endurance for Bass Players

    Q: I’d like to ask something about right hand endurance. I’m playing in two metal bands, so some of our songs are rather fast-paced (I play 95% of the time with a pick). When rehearsing, everything seems just okay – no problems. But when playing live, my right tends to get this irregular muscular tension,... »

  • Exploring Vertical Harmony in Bass Playing

    Exploring Vertical Harmony in Bass Playing

    Q: I have never studied an instrument aside from bass. In watching countless guitarists pick up my bass and rip out some cool lines (and the left hand of pianists), I’ve realized that I’ve never really found an effective way to internalize “vertical harmony”, and thus my lines lack coherence as a whole. How do... »

  • 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... »

  • Exploring Practice with Non-Standard Bass Tunings

    Exploring Practice with Non-Standard Bass Tunings

    Q: I know some pros play using non-standard tuning (drop D, DADG, D standard DGCF, semitone E♭A♭D♭G♭, etc.), and I read somewhere that practice with other tunings can be good to help think in terms of the notes rather than finger patterns. What is your take? Is it a good idea to practice using non-standard... »

  • Quickly Figuring Out Available Notes For Given Chord Types

    Quickly Figuring Out Available Notes For Given Chord Types

    Q: I’ve been trying to learn how to figure out what notes are available for any given chord type. I’ve read columns here (yours are very helpful), Googled it, bought books… I just seem to get more confused at every turn. Once I think I’ve got it, I’ve lost it. Do you have any quick... »

  • 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... »