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  • 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... »

  • Developing Timing and Feel: Rhythmic Studies for Bass Players

    Developing Timing and Feel: Rhythmic Studies for Bass Players

    Q: My question is about timing. I realize that the choice of notes make a line hip, but the rhythm and the timing make the groove! How do you practice timing, Damian? A: Truer words have never been spoken! It’s all about the groove and time-feel (fancy words for “pocket”). Here are some goals for... »

  • The Backline Blues: Preparing for the Mystery Rig

    The Backline Blues: Preparing for the Mystery Rig

    Getting hired for a gig is great! Knowing that you’re getting paid well is awesome! And then finding out they’ve got backline? The stars have aligned. This gig just got easy. Will you have to wrestle your cabs into the car? Nope. Drag them back into the house at 2am? No way, Jose! What if... »