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Beyond the Weekend Warrior
Ask Damian Erskine

Beyond the Weekend Warrior

Q: I wanted to know if you have any advice for players like me who still work a full time 9-5 but want to eventually move to playing professionally. My goal is to session/sideman and teach, but opportunities are harder to come by and I’m having trouble getting my foot in the door. A: Man, it’s a tough biz! A...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Common Upright Bass Tunings (Part 2 of 2)

This is part 2 of the Common Upright Bass Tunings series. This time, we’ll cover 5 String Tunings, C extensions and some practice suggestions. Check out Part 1. Five String Tunings As long as there have been basses, there have been basses with 5 strings. Traditionally, the extra string has been used to extend the range of the instrument lower....

Ask Damian Erskine: Working with Tricky Drummers
Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Working with Tricky Drummers

Q: I was wondering how you play with jazz drummers who seem intent on messing everyone up with syncopation. I’ve seen and played with drummers who will start a polyrhythm and repeat it for two measures to set up a downbeat, and they expect me to come in on time? I want to be able to have fun and interact...

Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Breathing

Q: I’ve been playing for over 30 years and I’ve heard the subject of breathing as relates to playing. I’ve come to know that disciplined relaxation while playing can work wonders for stamina and affects the accuracy and musicality of one’s technique. I’ve become aware that breathing is very closely involved too, e.g. holding ones breath or even breathing too...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Common Upright Bass Tunings (Part 1 of 2)

One of the beautiful things about upright bassists is their unwillingness to conform. When it comes to tuning, we often refuse to conform not only to the practices of other instruments in our family, but also to each other! Although 3 string basses are largely a thing of the past, there are still uprights with 4 strings, with and without...

Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Regaining Inspiration

Q: I’ve been playing professionally (clubs, studio, festivals) since I was about 18. I’m 43 now, and I find myself in a bit of an uninspired phase. My urge to play, practice and create is currently AWOL. Do you ever go thru periods where you and the bass are mortal enemies? if so , how do you get thru these...

The Lowdown with Dr. D.: Buying Your First Bow
The Lowdown with Dr. D

The Lowdown with Dr. D.: Buying Your First Bow

Using the bow on an Upright Bass can open up a world of creative possibilities. Most people who get into it never get out! Before you can wow and amaze your friends, however, you will need to own a bow. When you start investigating bass bows you will find that there are two main styles of bass bows. Their physical...

Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Teaching

Q: Do you teach? If so, how do you approach different players needs and styles and needs? Do you like teaching or would you just rather gig? A: I do teach occasionally, although I’m usually too busy playing and traveling to take on too many students. That said, I did just accept an adjunct position at PSU here in Portland!...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Dr. D. Mailbag: Electric to Upright, Upright Reinforcement & EUB’s

This week, I am going to answer some recent questions I received via Facebook and email. Can you give advice about learning the fretless bass or upright bass while you can only play a fretted one, as there’s a load of challenging intonation problems in the absence of frets? Speaking strictly about the upright bass, I believe your question arises...

Amplifying the Upright Bass
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Amplifying the Upright Bass

Most of us will need to amplify our upright bass at some point. Besides… you know you want to! When amplifying your bass, there are a number of components involved in creating the sound that comes out of the speakers. Today, let’s consider a few of them. Your Bass Of all the things involved in amplifying the upright bass (pickups,...