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  • Isolating Your Right Hand: Exercises for Bassists

    Isolating Your Right Hand: Exercises for Bassists

    When confronted with a difficult passage that just isn’t getting any better, most of us will isolate the left hand to improve our accuracy. We may change from arco to pizzicato to isolate the left hand. We may “shadow bow” the passage. Perhaps we may finger the strings in the left hand alone, completely taking... »

  • Singing and Playing: A How-To Guide for Independence for Bass Players

    Singing and Playing: A How-To Guide for Independence for Bass Players

    Q: I have great vocal chops, which I exercise frequently in my alter ego solo acoustic guitarist thing. I play bass in a blues/R&B band and have the best vocal talent in the band. But I can’t sing over a bass line to save my behind. Can this be learned? Any tips? A: Keep in... »

  • Developing Speed on the Bass: Take Your Time

    Developing Speed on the Bass: Take Your Time

    Q: I have been playing upright for about a year and wanted to know what I can do about developing speed. I mostly play jazz and at the college I go to it seems like everyone wants to play uptempo tunes (Charlie Parker, Rhythm Changes, etc.) I feel as though I’m falling behind trying to... »

  • More Forked Fingering Techniques: Using the Thumb

    More Forked Fingering Techniques: Using the Thumb

    Last time we talked about playing fourths across strings using two adjacent fingers, a concept sometimes called “forked fingering.” For example: We can, of course, use the same exact concept in the upper registers of the bass, or thumb position. For example: As mentioned before, this can be easier to execute effectively in the upper... »

  • Metronomes: The Debate for Bassists

    Metronomes: The Debate for Bassists

    Q: What do you think about Jeff Berlin’s approach to teaching music, specifically: no metronomes? A: Uh oh… This could mean trouble! Here’s my spin on it: I think different things and methods work for different people. I disagree with Jeff’s statements that metronomes are bad for everyone. I think he has a bit of... »

  • When The Gig Gets Canceled…

    When The Gig Gets Canceled…

    Let’s face it, we usually don’t enjoy picking up the phone and finding out that our gig is canceled. Hearing the news via email or text doesn’t make it any better, especially if it’s short notice. On one hand, the middle-schooler in us delights in the fact that we can stay home in our PJ’s,... »

  • Asking For (and Getting) Feedback

    Asking For (and Getting) Feedback

    Q: As bass players, we often find ourselves in situations where we do a job for others, be it taking the bass chair in a singer’s project, subbing in a band, teaching, giving workshops, etc. I often find it difficult to get appropriate feedback for my job. I like it when people are happy with... »

  • Forked Fingering: A Guide to Comfortable Double Stops for Bassists

    Forked Fingering: A Guide to Comfortable Double Stops for Bassists

    Playing fourths across strings on the upright bass can be fraught with problems, especially when we are playing double stops. Sometimes it is appropriate to “bar” the notes using the same finger like this: However, this can create a clamping of the hand and needless tension, which in turn limits our facility and ability to... »

  • Custom Shop: BNA Audio

    Custom Shop: BNA Audio

    Great things often come out of solutions to problems. For example, bassist Mark Robertson noticed that amplifying an upright bass to really loud levels was an issue that got overlooked by most manufacturers. He eventually discussed it with friend and electronics guru Justin Herlocker, and BNA Audio was born. The team got into building hi-fi... »

  • Playing in One Position: A Workout Guide for Bass Players

    Playing in One Position: A Workout Guide for Bass Players

    Q: Do you have any exercises that might help with playing in one position on the fretboard? I have a hard time getting away from reorienting myself from root to root. A: I would suggest starting with exercises you’re already familiar with, and adapt them to a single position. I frequently have my students do... »