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  • Heavy Music with a Hollow Body Bass?

    Heavy Music with a Hollow Body Bass?

    Q: Here’s my problem: I’m a big fan of archtop guitars and I love the lighter tonal quality. I also don’t like playing solid body basses since they don’t go well with my slightly weaker left shoulder (which is made worse since I’m left-handed but play right-handed). That’s not the real problem though. The big... »

  • Easy Experimentation for Artistic Growth in Improvisation

    Easy Experimentation for Artistic Growth in Improvisation

    Students of improvisation are often looking for the quickest way to learn vast amounts of new material, all while sounding great immediately. Oftentimes this translates into playing a large number of tunes for a few minutes each. In the short term, such practice sessions can be helpful. This is especially true if we need to... »

  • Thoughts on “Making It” in the Music Business

    Thoughts on “Making It” in the Music Business

    Q: I’m a bass player in Chicago. I’m 17 and have been playing for 10 years. I’ve always wanted to be a bass player and I always will be. I wanted to ask you about being a bass player in today’s society. When you listen to interviews with older bass players, they say they played... »

  • Makers of the Melody: Part 1

    Makers of the Melody: Part 1

    As we begin our journey as bass players, we are drawn to particular types of grooves. Perhaps our ears perk up with a soulful R&B line, the sound of a walking upright, or a rock tune where the bass is pedaling the roots. Many of us are intrigued by vibrant staccato grooves, the slaps and... »

  • Learning Modes and Scales: A Study Guide for Bassists

    Learning Modes and Scales: A Study Guide for Bassists

    Q: I hope that you’ll be able to explain this problem. I learned so far that major and minor scales have certain patterns (i.e. minor steps: W,H,W,W,H,W,W). Now, I’ve moved to modes and, for example, the Lydian mode. Does it have the same pattern for minor scale? I found some other patterns on the web,... »

  • Improving Vibrato Control: A Guide for Bassists

    Improving Vibrato Control: A Guide for Bassists

    If the first step in acquiring control of our vibrato is to obtain a smooth motion that we can turn on or off at will, then the next step is to gain control over the speed and width of the vibrato. Being able to adjust the speed and width of a vibrato is indeed a... »

  • Transcribing Hard-to-Hear Bass Lines

    Transcribing Hard-to-Hear Bass Lines

    Q: Sometimes I have difficulty extracting the bass line from a song my band has decided to cover, especially for songs where the bass is deep in the mix. Can you recommend any applications or techniques for isolating the bass line or at least bringing it up to the surface? While there is something to... »

  • Fumbling Fingers: When Common Tasks Take Their Toll on Bassists

    Fumbling Fingers: When Common Tasks Take Their Toll on Bassists

    For some of us, finding the time to playing bass is a luxury. We don’t get many opportunities to sit down and groove, learn our favorite songs, or hit the woodshed to practice technique. Work takes up too many hours in the day and after having to make dinner, spend time with our friends or... »

  • Memorizing Chords and Scales

    Memorizing Chords and Scales

    Q: I’m lucky enough to attend a college with a robust and demanding music department, and like a lot music in academia, this means I’m playing a fair amount of jazz. I’ve been a fan of the genre for a long time, but I am new to playing it and seem to have run into... »

  • Finger Independence for Bassists: A Preparatory Double Trill Exercise

    Finger Independence for Bassists: A Preparatory Double Trill Exercise

    Complete independence of the left hand fingers is a laudable goal for every serious bassist, guitarist and string player. Below is a short beginning exercise designed to prepare us for playing double trills, (trills on two notes simultaneously). Strictly speaking, there are no double trills in the exercise below. However, it is a necessary step... »