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  • Replacing Lead Guitar with Piccolo Bass?

    Replacing Lead Guitar with Piccolo Bass?

    Q: I am a high school musician in a relativly serious band with my friends, and we are about to make the transition into college. Unfortunately, our fantastic lead guitarist is going away for college, so rather than find a new lead guitarist, our frontman asked me if I would be willing to play lead... »

  • 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:... »

  • Playing Bass without Sheet Music: Time, Feel & Harmony

    Playing Bass without Sheet Music: Time, Feel & Harmony

    Q: I’ve been playing bass for about 7 years. Before bass I was a very good tuba player and a halfway decent cellist. My problem is I never learned to play without music notation. I can’t even play tabs. I either need the notation or the chord progression. What’s the best way for me to... »

  • Bass Players to Know: Bakithi Kumalo

    Bass Players to Know: Bakithi Kumalo

    Of all the great moments in bass history, one of my favorites is the short and sweet solo on the Paul Simon tune, “You Can Call Me Al.” If you’re unfamiliar with this musical snippet (or the entirety of the Graceland record), it’s high time to give it a listen. With a career as diverse... »

  • Playing Under Pressure and Facing Your Fears

    Playing Under Pressure and Facing Your Fears

    Q: I’ve been playing electric bass for about five years, and I’m currently attending the third year in a Music Conservatory. When I play music while other musicians observe me (not the members of the band), I become quite uncomfortable. I feel judged, and my heart starts pounding, especially if it’s someone I respect like... »

  • The Lowdown with Dr. D: A Call for Questions

    The Lowdown with Dr. D: A Call for Questions

    Over the years, I’ve received questions from aspiring bassists, and many of those questions have turned into the Lowdown columns you read here. I’d love to do more of this. Please send me questions you’d like to see me cover in future Lowdown columns. You can send them to drd@notreble.com or post them in the... »

  • Connecting Chords: A Guide to Playing Fluid Bass Lines

    Connecting Chords: A Guide to Playing Fluid Bass Lines

    Q: I would like to ask about voicing/phrases on bass when it comes to chord progressions. How should I step into the next chord when I’m phrasing the actual one? Should I try walking lines? Are there any standard licks that can bring the feel of translating to a next chord? Or they are all... »

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  • Bass Players to Know: Jack Bruce

    Bass Players to Know: Jack Bruce

    Time to throw a little rock and roll into the series! This column features Jack Bruce, the classically influenced singing bass player from across the pond. So who is Jack Bruce? Widely known for his work with Cream, Bruce has had an amazing career both as a band member and solo artist. Hailing from Glasgow,... »

  • Getting the Most Out of Music Books

    Getting the Most Out of Music Books

    Q: Do you think you could run through / give some examples of how to make use of rhythm books like Modern Reading Text In 4/4, and theory books like Jazz Theory by Mark Levine or Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns by Nicolas Slominsky? A: Nice selection of books! Generally speaking, my approach is... »

  • Grouping Multiple Notes Into a Single Action/Thought

    Grouping Multiple Notes Into a Single Action/Thought

    When playing at slow speeds we can concentrate on our physical movements for every single note we play. However, this becomes impractical at high rates of speed. When playing at high speed it helps to group notes, and motions, together into a single action. The number of notes we can combine will depend on the... »