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  • On Soloing: Think Pocket, Melody, Theme, Interplay and Form

    On Soloing: Think Pocket, Melody, Theme, Interplay and Form

    Q: During a recent performance with my bad, I was given a spot to solo in a fast, up-tempo (120 bpm) funk tune. I basically have as much time as I need to “do my thing” with only the drummer accompanying me. My question: during my solo spot, should I stay in the pocket (the... »

  • I Wish I Knew That: The Size of the Crowd Doesn’t Matter

    I Wish I Knew That: The Size of the Crowd Doesn’t Matter

    Greetings, bass players! Although I’ve enjoyed writing about the blues for the past few months, a new year calls for a new subject, and I’ve decided to shift gears a bit. Thanks to you guys, No Treble readers, and to the nifty technological advancements that allow us to communicate in new ways, I’ve been impressed... »

  • Speakers and Power Amps: Don’t Blow That Cabinet

    Speakers and Power Amps: Don’t Blow That Cabinet

    Q: I’ve been thinking about getting a new amp head, and I want to make sure that it will work properly with my current cabinets. How do I make sure that the head I’m getting won’t blow a speaker or ruin my shiny new head? A: While I’m not a super “techy” guy, I have... »

  • Preparing for College Auditions

    Preparing for College Auditions

    As someone who has taught at the University/Conservatory level for a number of years, I get many questions regarding undergraduate music school auditions. Some questions are specific to my school, but many are general requests for advice. As I am currently deep into audition season, I thought I would summarize some of my more common... »

  • Stuck On A Song: How to Finish that Composition

    Stuck On A Song: How to Finish that Composition

    Q: I’m struggling with some new compositions. I have some solid parts I like, but overall I feel that the melody or changes (or both) don’t work everywhere in the tune. It also feels that it may need more movement. How do you approach fine-tuning a tune? A: While I have written and arranged music,... »

  • Rhythms and Transcriptions: A How To Guide to Notating Rhythmic Patterns

    Rhythms and Transcriptions: A How To Guide to Notating Rhythmic Patterns

    Q: I have a question about transcribing. I’m a pretty skilled player and can read, but I have a lot of problems writing down the rhythms that I hear either in my head or from a particular song. Any suggestions on how I should go about learning to notate more difficult rhythms? A: Rhythms can... »

  • Left Hand Thumb: Pressure

    Left Hand Thumb: Pressure

    Note: For Left Hand Thumb positioning, check out the previous installment. When there is excess tension in the hands, the source is often improper use of the thumb and its corresponding muscles. The thumbs of both hands, just like all the fingers, should use minimum effort and pressure to achieve any particular technical goal. Pressure... »

  • Lazy Horns and Keeping Time

    Lazy Horns and Keeping Time

    Q: I’ve started rehearsing with a big band and while I’m finding it a lot of fun and a good challenge, I’ve been having a hard time keeping the time. The horns seem to play way behind the beat much of the time and it just feels uncomfortable no matter what I do. If I... »

  • The Most Influential Blues Bassists: Part 2

    The Most Influential Blues Bassists: Part 2

    After reading the previous column in this two-part series, I’m hoping you’ve had a chance to check out some music featuring the playing of Willie Dixon and Duck Dunn. Their old school approaches to playing blues compliments the players they accompanied and reflects how novel full-band blues recordings were in the 1950’s and ’60’s. Early... »

  • Custom Shop: An Interview with Grant Freifeld of Grant Bass

    Custom Shop: An Interview with Grant Freifeld of Grant Bass

    Armed with passion and determination, Ontario-based bassist Grant Freifeld got his start building instruments after becoming disgusted with “cheap painted plywood guitars” and basses that are “someone else’s idea of custom.” After apprenticing with Joe Kovacic of Lado Guitars, Freifeld created his own brand, Grant Bass. His humility allows him to be more open to... »