Reader Spotlight: Joanna Smith

Joanna SmithMeet Joanna Smith, a bassist who plays both electric and double bass, and has now for two decades.

Joanna is this week’s reader in the spotlight (you could be next!) Here’s her story…


Joanna Smith is a professional upright and electric bass player based in Fredericksburg, VA. She received her BA in music from the University of Mary Washington studying bass performance with Chief Mast Sgt. Paul Henry (Airmen of Note). She can often be seen playing on the local, national, and even international level with various groups in styles ranging from jazz to bluegrass and rock. Her most recent projects include playing for The Kingbolts and Jon Tyler Wiley & His Virginia Choir and regularly plays in the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts’ pit orchestra. She teaches private lessons out of her home studio and through Bang! Music, Inc.


Fredericksburg, VA

Years experience:

Since 2001. Happy 20 years!

Why I play the bass:

I started on piano at seven, per my mother’s wishes, and in the 4th grade was presented with the option to join band or orchestra. I like to think the bass chose me, but honestly I think I just went for the bass because it was the biggest instrument I saw.


  • Ampeg Pf-500 Portaflex
  • Frankenstein Fender p-bass with Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups
  • 2006 Rosalia B-9 upright from West Coast Instruments with Realist piezo pickup

My Influences:

James Jamerson has become an increasingly significant influence in my playing. The more I follow the history of the instrument it becomes clear the electric bass really came alive in his hands. I love reading through “The Shadows of Motown” and using the chromatic and rhythmic techniques in coming up with my own bass lines.

My bass superpower/claim to fame:

What has saved my butt a bunch is my ability to read music. It got me my pit orchestra gig at a time when I thought I’d have to give up music as a career. Being able to interpret notation and communicate in musical terms has made me a top pick for bands and ensembles spanning genres from classical to experimental.

More on the web:

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