the online magazine for bass players

Search Menu
  • Improving Troublesome Passages: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Improving Troublesome Passages: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Continuing our series of “Tips” columns, here’s one on breaking down troublesome musical passages. 1. Take it Slow Practicing technically difficult passages at slow tempi is nearly essential for mastery. Learning something at a slow tempo is learning it well. Doing so helps us avoid unconscious errors such as incorrect notes, fingerings, rhythms, errant string... »

  • Bass Players to Know: Marshall Lytle

    Bass Players to Know: Marshall Lytle

    If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Bass Players to Know series, you may still be spinning the Brothers Johnson records and practicing your 70’s funk and disco chops. While Louis Johnson, Larry Graham, and many others have popularized what we’ve come to know as “slap bass,” the term was coined much earlier. Dating as... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 3 – Practice Material

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 3 – Practice Material

    As a follow up to this series on harmonic substitutions, I thought that I would include a few choice pages from my book, The Improvisor’s Path, related directly to what we’ve been discussing. First, here are the pages that relate to my breakdown of some available scaler substitutions. Next is the Wayne Shorter tune, “Nefertiti”... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

    In part 1 of this series, we were experimenting with using substitutions that allowed us to play familiar major and minor scale shapes over various basic chord types. Now, let’s move on to melodic and harmonic minor mode choices. First, let’s make sure that we’re all familiar with these two scales: Harmonic minor = Aeolian... »

  • Freelance Gigs: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Freelance Gigs: Five Tips for Bass Players

    The last “Tips” column (on avoiding injury), was a popular one. So let’s continue this series with some tips on freelancing. 1. Be Musically Prepared If there is sheet music, review it. If there are recordings, listen to them. As much as possible, be familiar with all the parts. Be acquainted with the melodies, harmonies,... »

  • The Lightbulb Moment: A Tale of Two Pickups

    The Lightbulb Moment: A Tale of Two Pickups

    It was a humid, mid-summer night in 2010. Navigating to the venue seemed to take forever as the streets were bustling with 20-somethings heading to this restaurant and that, celebrating their two-day vacation from the confines of their offices. This particular club was familiar… I had played there once a month for almost a year... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

    Q: What are substitutions and how can I make use of them? A: The first answer is easy: a substitution is using one chord in the place of another. For example: We might assume that a C Major chord symbol (CMaj7 or C∆7) would imply a C major scale: C D E F G A... »

  • On Musical Expression and Playing Freely

    On Musical Expression and Playing Freely

    Q: I’ve been wondering about what people really mean when they speak of “music as a language,” and how this applies to improvising. When I take a solo, I feel like I’m just running the same patterns over and over again and never really doing anything different from song to song. What thoughts do you... »

  • Avoiding Injury: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Avoiding Injury: Five Tips for Bass Players

    As bassists, our health is important, and paying attention to our routine is paramount to avoiding injury. Here are five tips to keep in mind to staying healthy and injury free. 1. Stay Loose Keep those joints flexible and muscles moving. Excessive tension is the enemy. Upright players tend to have problems in shoulders and... »

  • Bass Players to Know: Louis Johnson

    Bass Players to Know: Louis Johnson

    A long, long time ago, when I decided to leave the confines of my basement and embark on weekly private lessons, I was lucky enough to find a teacher who opened my eyes and ears to the playing and players of bass. Yes, we focused on technique and theory. And yes, I was a known... »