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Should I Use A Compressor with My Bass?
Ask Damian Erskine

Should I Use A Compressor with My Bass?

Q: I wanted to ask about running a compressor, as everyone seems to suggest how beneficial it is for the instrument. I like how it tightens up the low end and brings up latent harmonic content in my otherwise quite dull sounding bass. However, I mainly play jazz and I realize that I might be missing out on the subtler...

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The Lightbulb Moment: One, Four, Five
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: One, Four, Five

“Hey, so we’re in G and it’s a one, four, five thing. Cool? Count it off.” Here we go again… Whether it’s a local blues jam, and evening hang at your friend’s garage-turned-music-room, or a gig where someone decides to deviate from the setlist, the notion of calling a “One, Four, Five” can leave us bass players a little high...

Taking Criticism in a Positive Light
Ask Damian Erskine

Taking Criticism in a Positive Light

Q: How can I learn to take musical remarks/criticism from a bandleader/conductor in a productive way? I can’t help it, but I always get a little offended and/or insecure. A: Remember this: If you weren’t good enough, you wouldn’t have the gig. While not every band leader may have the best delivery, in general, suggestions and statements of preference are...

Learning Tunes: A Checklist for Bass Players
Ask Damian Erskine

Learning Tunes: A Checklist for Bass Players

Q: I’ve started learning jazz bass about 7 years ago, coming from over 20 years of violin (classical) training. The first thing I did to move from classical music to jazz was to get all Aebersold play-a-longs, and every transcription I could get on Earth, and dig them. I now feel that this is holding me back quite a bit,...

Bass Players To Know: Rutger Gunnarsson
Bass Players To Know

Bass Players To Know: Rutger Gunnarsson

If there’s a nation of people that I truly respect for their cultural contributions, it’s the Swedes. Meatballs, streamlined and affordable modern design, and, of course, pop music. No wonder they are some of the happiest people on the planet. Thanks to their feel-good vibes, infectious beats, and accessible musicality, people all over the world have spent years dancing and...

Finding A Quality Luthier
Ask Damian Erskine

Finding A Quality Luthier

Q: How does one go about finding a quality luthier for the bass? We all have heard, “I know this guy…” Yet, how do you know if they are “your guy” too? I can do complete basic set-ups on my own instruments: truss adjustments, bridge/saddle adjustments, intonation, and other general maintenance, etc. Yet when I need ding repairs, potential fretwork...

Fighting The Urge To Improvise
Ask Damian Erskine

Fighting The Urge To Improvise

Q: I’ve been a bassist for 14 years now, when I started out (much like everyone, I assume) I played what we know as “bass lines”, the notes that the bassist played on the recording to the song. As I developed and learned more about chord construction and harmony I started to understand how these lines were built. I got...

The Lightbulb Moment: Easy Come, Easy Go
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Easy Come, Easy Go

In true professional musician fashion, I recently received a set list for an upcoming gig and had a mini panic attack when I took a look at the final song. An anthem, that’s for sure, but one that is rarely attempted in a live setting. It’s a song that most people are familiar with, thanks to the fact that Wayne’s...

Staying Motivated Without Playing Opportunities
Ask Damian Erskine

Staying Motivated Without Playing Opportunities

Q: I read your column for years, but I don’t know if you have answered this already: I have been playing bass for many years and, due to circumstances beyond my control, I cannot find people in my hometown to play (long story, small Greek city). I am taking some jazz theory lessons (via Skype), but I am stuck in...

Playing Etiquette While Subbing
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing Etiquette While Subbing

Q: While I am stoked that I have been asked, I am a wee bit apprehensive. I have been asked to be a substitute bassist for a classic rock cover and original band by the band leader. My current gig is as a bassist in a trio which plays punk and alternative originals. The slight apprehension comes from not knowing...