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  • Ask Damian Erskine: Mailbag

    Ask Damian Erskine: Mailbag

    As readers send in questions, one of three things happens: a) I turn it into an “Ask Damian” column, or b) I respond directly, because the question doesn’t quite warrant an entire column (I do try to respond to everybody) or c) it gets put into the folder of questions that I’d like to answer... »

  • Introduction to “Shell Voicings” on Bass

    Introduction to “Shell Voicings” on Bass

    Playing chords on the upright doesn’t only add to our tonal palette, it also strengthens our knowledge of a tune and our instrument. Some voicings, however, are more pleasant than others. Three and four note chords can easily become “muddy” and unclear, especially in the mid to lower register. As a result, many bass players... »

  • The Lightbulb Moment: Learn Lots of Songs

    The Lightbulb Moment: Learn Lots of Songs

    Here I am, once again, on the bandstand with a bass in hand. Two sets down, one to go. It’s a free for all… no official set list and a handful of requests. A guy with a twenty in his hand walks up to the stage and says, “Do ya’ll know ‘Whipping Post’?” The guitar... »

  • Getting Better Intonation on a Fretless Bass

    Getting Better Intonation on a Fretless Bass

    Q: I’ve recently made a switch from fretted to fretless bass, and so far it’s been awesome, but here’s the thing… A couple of the fretted basses I’ve played so far were all 34-inch scale, and the fretless I now play is a 35-inch scale six-string – and it’s unlined. So stretching my fingers that... »

  • Double Bass vs. Bass Guitar

    Double Bass vs. Bass Guitar

    Q: I have been playing bass guitar for about 8 years, got my grade 8, toured, recorded and got myself to a semi-professional session level. As I am going to go full time as a bass player in the next 18-24 months (I am realistic as well as ambitious) I started lessons with an outstanding... »

  • Practice Slow/Practice Fast

    Practice Slow/Practice Fast

    “Slow practice is fast practice” they say. To be sure, slow practice is a powerful strategy. Used by itself, however, it is incomplete. Ultimately, to perform fast passages well, we will need to have practiced them at full speed. In fact, if we are not careful, solely practicing a passage under tempo can drive us... »

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  • Bass Players to Know: Paul Simonon

    Bass Players to Know: Paul Simonon

    Spend an afternoon searching through the stacks of a record store and you may stumble upon a few iconic album covers; the colorful eclecticism of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the eerie prism of Dark Side of The Moon, or the adrenaline enhanced act of destruction on London Calling. A Fender was, in fact,... »

  • Cutting Through a Big Band: A Discussion for Bass Players

    Cutting Through a Big Band: A Discussion for Bass Players

    Q: I’m playing in a jazz band of over 40 people in a song featuring bass guitar. I’m looking for a pedal that will make my sound distinct and rise above the band but not distort it. Any recommendations? Thanks. A: Personally, I wouldn’t change my sound much at all. You might leave yourself a... »

  • Dealing with Sound Engineers

    Dealing with Sound Engineers

    Q: I have a question regarding how I might get my sound man to successfully change all the monitors on stage, (5 stage mixes) before a song with a different lead singer and making the original lead singer a backup and not in the musicians mix anymore. Changing to a song that is led by... »

  • Learning the Double Bass Fingerboard

    Learning the Double Bass Fingerboard

    I received this question recently via Facebook: “How can someone become more familiar with the fingerboard? I can find the positions on my bass pretty easily, but sometimes I have trouble knowing exactly what notes are in that position across the strings. Thank you!” I’m so glad you are looking to solidify your knowledge of... »