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  • Approaches to Soloing

    Approaches to Soloing

    Q: I have a question. How do you go about soloing for various styles? Quite often I get the nod to do a solo for 4/8/16 bars. I’ve tried approaching by working out what key I’m in and then by trying different modes… but it just seems that my phrasing is limited and that it... »

  • Book Review: Jack Bruce Composing Himself – The Authorized Biography

    When word reached me that Harry Shapiro’s just released biography on Jack Bruce was available I raced to the bookstore. What a satisfying read; not the typical star worshipping pabulum one might expect in a biography focused on the life of a man who changed the face of rock and electric bass playing 40 odd... »

  • Rhythm Series: Keeping Time

    Rhythm Series: Keeping Time

    Keeping a steady pulse is a fundamental skill for any musician, and it is especially important to any one who is part of the rhythm section. Even in styles of music that encourage flexible rhythmic expression (i.e. rubato, etc.), the ability to maintain an accurate pulse is essential for a musician. No matter what style... »

  • What Doug Did: A Retrospective on Doug Rauch

    What Doug Did: A Retrospective on Doug Rauch

    Doug Rauch (14 September 1950 – 23 April 1979) I’m a huge fan of Doug Rauch, a unique bassist who sadly was taken from us at a young age. He had a funky, bubbling, percolating style based on 16th notes which never failed to ignite the music. I wrote a blogpost about him and am... »

  • Walking Bass (and Getting Away from Tab)

    Walking Bass (and Getting Away from Tab)

    Q: I’d like to learn to create walking bass lines. I don’t read music so tabs would be preferred. A: Learning to walk is immensely helpful in so many ways. It helps you see the inter-connectivity between chords, helps develop a good time-feel and helps you explore how the arc of a line can affect... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: How to Play with a Drummer

    Q: Preston Dickens writes: “I’m a self-taught woodshedder and am about to start playing with a live band at a church. Having never played with a live drummer, what advice can you offer?” A: We come from the same school, actually! I spent my youth in the shed by myself working everything out and feeling... »

  • A Review of Thomson Kneeland’s “Mazurka for a Modern Man”

    There is a special symbiosis that occurs when a bassist and drummer work together on projects for significant lengths of time. When those musicians are as great as the ones on this record, the results can be wonderful. Mazurka for a Modern Man, in part, is a documentation of such a symbiosis. It’s a wonderful... »

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  • The Lowdown with Dr. D.: EFX Questions for Upright Bass

    Recently I got a series of questions from a upright bass player in Norway regarding amplification of the double bass and the use of electronic effects (EFX). Since I get these sorts of questions often, I thought I would print some of my thoughts here as part of the lowdown. If you have your own... »

  • Contract Considerations

    Contract Considerations

    Whether you’re playing a small gig, major venue, or are signing a recording deal it’s crucial that you know the value of a contract and how to navigate one. This lesson will cover some common advantages and pitfalls to having an engagement-contract for a performance and what to look for in a recording-contract. Keep in... »

  • Choosing A Bass: A How To Guide

    Choosing A Bass: A How To Guide

    Q: I’m thinking of buying a new bass. What do you look for when instrument shopping? A: There’s so much that can go into the consideration of a new instrument. The obvious things are: Cost, Function (is this your “do it all” bass, or for recording, or a good slap bass?) It’s good to do... »