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  • The Lightbulb Moment: A Tale of Two Pickups

    The Lightbulb Moment: A Tale of Two Pickups

    It was a humid, mid-summer night in 2010. Navigating to the venue seemed to take forever as the streets were bustling with 20-somethings heading to this restaurant and that, celebrating their two-day vacation from the confines of their offices. This particular club was familiar… I had played there once a month for almost a year... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

    Q: What are substitutions and how can I make use of them? A: The first answer is easy: a substitution is using one chord in the place of another. For example: We might assume that a C Major chord symbol (CMaj7 or C∆7) would imply a C major scale: C D E F G A... »

  • On Musical Expression and Playing Freely

    On Musical Expression and Playing Freely

    Q: I’ve been wondering about what people really mean when they speak of “music as a language,” and how this applies to improvising. When I take a solo, I feel like I’m just running the same patterns over and over again and never really doing anything different from song to song. What thoughts do you... »

  • Avoiding Injury: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Avoiding Injury: Five Tips for Bass Players

    As bassists, our health is important, and paying attention to our routine is paramount to avoiding injury. Here are five tips to keep in mind to staying healthy and injury free. 1. Stay Loose Keep those joints flexible and muscles moving. Excessive tension is the enemy. Upright players tend to have problems in shoulders and... »

  • Bass Players to Know: Louis Johnson

    Bass Players to Know: Louis Johnson

    A long, long time ago, when I decided to leave the confines of my basement and embark on weekly private lessons, I was lucky enough to find a teacher who opened my eyes and ears to the playing and players of bass. Yes, we focused on technique and theory. And yes, I was a known... »

  • Promoting All of Your Gigs: A Guide for Bass Players

    Promoting All of Your Gigs: A Guide for Bass Players

    Q: Damian, your Artist Data show announcement for tonight just popped up in my news feed. That made me think about self promotion for bassists (aka sidemen where people rarely come to see us play, but the artist we support). How do we promote ourselves when we are not the main attraction and what platforms... »

  • Connecting Written Rhythms to Your Bass Playing

    Connecting Written Rhythms to Your Bass Playing

    Q: I can read the notes on the staff and I can tell you if it’s a 16th note or a whole note, and yet, I can’t seem to play the rhythm. Any advice on fixing this? A: As I’ve said before, learning to read music fluently takes a lot of practice, just like learning... »

  • A Few Tips from a Traveling Bassist

    A Few Tips from a Traveling Bassist

    Performing on the road as an upright bassist can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. Here are a few tips I’ve learned on, and picked up from colleagues, to help things go smoothly. Be Physically Fit We don’t need have the physique of an Olympic athlete, but having a certain level of fitness will... »

  • Bass Players To Know: Tom Hamilton

    Bass Players To Know: Tom Hamilton

    Since Bill Wyman was the focus of the previous Bass Players to Know column, I’ve suddenly found myself excited by the timeless tradition of rock and roll. Whether it’s the loud guitars, eccentric front men, or iconic songs, the great rock and roll bands embody the sound, image, and appeal of “cool.” As a child... »

  • Dealing with a Bad Band Leader

    Dealing with a Bad Band Leader

    Q: Since you have travelled and played with many you might be able to shed some light on this: My band has enjoyed some success in our home country, we have an album released via a label and have played the better venues of our area. We are now on our first tour – a... »