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  • To Effect or Not to Effect? A Discussion for Bassists

    To Effect or Not to Effect? A Discussion for Bassists

    Q: What’s your take on effects pedals? Do you use any? A: I have been exploring many different pedals and having fun with the sonic possibilities, though I rarely use them outside of my home. My most used pedal is my reverb pedal, because I like the what it offers when playing in small group... »

  • Treat Yourself to Some Inspiration

    Treat Yourself to Some Inspiration

    As artists, we are constantly on the search for one thing: inspiration. Inspiration fuels our art, influences our style, and pushes us to perfect our craft. It’s what keeps us learning bass line after bass line, way into the wee hours of the morning, and it persuades us to call one drummer over another. It... »

  • Choosing the Right Webcam in the Youtube Era

    Choosing the Right Webcam in the Youtube Era

    Q: I am looking at starting a Youtube channel, and I was wondering what you’d suggest for a webcam solution. I’m looking for one that has good audio. Alternatively, what is the best, cheap USB interface to buy? A: As many of you may know, I could stand to focus a little attention to my... »

  • Bass Technique: Shifting and the Feeling of Lightness

    Bass Technique: Shifting and the Feeling of Lightness

    Accurate shifting is extremely important on an upright bass. It may even be the one technique we use the most often. Most other string instruments can play a few two-octave scales without shifting, while we can play a grand total of zero, even if we “pivot.” Despite how often we must execute flawless shift, for... »

  • Following the Singer: A Guide to Dealing with Rhythmically Challenged Vocalists

    Following the Singer: A Guide to Dealing with Rhythmically Challenged Vocalists

    Q: What do you recommend when you’re tasked with accompanying a seriously rhythm-challenged vocalist? I was both music director and bassist for a recent musical review, with our band backing up a variety of vocalists. Two talented singers passed the audition with their carefully prepared selections, but with new show music, we discovered some serious... »

  • Ear Training and the iTunes Game

    Ear Training and the iTunes Game

    As a musician, our greatest tool is our ears. Our job within a musical context is to listen, and quite frankly, to play notes that sound good. As a bass player, we need to be on our toes and quickly decipher the bass line and at the very least, the root notes of the chords... »

  • From Groove to Changes to Soloing: Damian Erskine’s Practice Routine

    From Groove to Changes to Soloing: Damian Erskine’s Practice Routine

    Q: You answer a lot of questions to help bassists out. But I’d like to know, what are you personally working on to improve your playing? A: I am in a constant state of flux with my practice habits. Different things bug me about my playing depending on the gigs I have one week versus... »

  • Better Soloing: An Introduction to Key Center Improvising

    Better Soloing: An Introduction to Key Center Improvising

    There are many methods we can use to come upon satisfying note choices when improvising over a predetermined set of chord changes (i.e. a tune). One common way to approach note choice is using chord/scale theory, equating every chord to a scale. For example: A minor 7 = A dorian. It’s this approach that has... »

  • Custom Shop: Kinal Guitars

    Custom Shop: Kinal Guitars

    With a career spanning over 40 years, Vancouver-based Mike Kinal knows a thing or two about luthiery. Trained as a cabinetmaker, Mike got into building basses early in his musical career and has since made hundreds of instruments. His basses have evolved over the years from following the pattern of large manufacturers to creating his... »

  • A Guide to Making the Switch Fretless Bass

    A Guide to Making the Switch Fretless Bass

    Q: I’ve just removed the frets from my first bass, and this is my first experience with a fretless bass. What advice do you have to start out? A: There are two areas of focus for making the switch. At a glance, these might seem to contradict each other, but one applies to practicing and... »