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Willis Takes on Your Questions

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Hey Willis,
In the lessons portion of your website you have a cool random note generator. Love it! However I play a five string bass and have not yet found a generated note lower than the F. It’s set up so we can choose sharps, flats or none. Can it be re-written to allow the user to set the range for a 4,5 or 6 string bass?
JP

image Hey JP,
You asked for it, you got it! Buckle your seatbelt, it’s time for Red Bull Extreme Sight Reading!image*not affiliated with Red Bull GmbH or Red Bull Company Limited

Hey Mr Willis,
What would your right hand fingering be if you were to play a Am7b5 arpeggio that looks something like this

Closed Position
————————-12—–14——-12———————————
——————13——————————13———————–
—-12—–15——————————————-15——12———-
——————————————————————————
1 2 3 1 2 1 1 1 2

if I were to use the closed position, i’ll be using the ring finger to play Eb note but after that, its a leap to the G note. so i’m not sure if there’s a better right hand fingering for it.

Open Position

————————-12—–14—-12———————–
——————13————————–13—————-
—-12—–15—————————————15——12—
——————————————————————
1 2 1 3 2 1 1 1 2

i’m pretty confused as in when am i suppose to switch positions. both the open and close position seems to work well or arpeggios except for m7b5 chords.
please help me out on this one! thanks

rgds,
Mike

Hey Mike,
I’ve always been baffled by Tab notation. It’s usually sitting on top of a staff of music that I already have enough trouble reading. And I have to learn that, too? ‘Don’t think any amount of Xtreme Tab Notation Reading (insert sound effect here) would help me with that.
So here’s how I’d do it:

It’s not really open position but it feels like the most natural way that I’d play this sequence. Since I play it twice, you can see that you end up starting out the 2nd rep with the 2nd finger. This allows you to get to open position briefly by placing your 3rd finger on the G string as you reach for the D string with the 2nd finger to play the Eb.

Here’s how I’d do it in closed position.

Notice how it’s possible to dampen all the notes using this position. Something not possible using open. Try it and you’ll see the difference. Either way is correct, but one lets you play it fast without dampening a note or two while closed gives you the control over the duration and works better for learning preparation. I’d say work on closed first.

__________________________________________________

Hey Willis,
can you help me i am looking the song summer time a tab mr graydenver

Mr. graydenver,
Check the above answer for my opinion about Tab. Now, although I think Will Smith is a fine actor, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend his early 90’s version as a way to get better on the bass. And, I think we all can all just agree to stay away from the New Kids on the Block’s latest single. (except for Donnie’s younger brother Mark, who I think is a better actor). Mungo Jerry – now there’s a trivia answer just begging for a question. I kinda like his In The Summertime in a weird kinda way.

Anyway, I always try to stress learning by ear. Even though I create Extreme Sight Reading Xercises, you’ll reinforce a much better connection with the fingerboard if you learn how to play Summertime by listening to the melody in your head and finding where it is on the fingerboard. Next thing you know, you’ll be imagining things and playing them automatically.

__________________________________________________

Hey Willis,
What’s What are your preferred headphones for recording sessions, mixing, etc.?
Neal

Hey Neal,
I’m really happy with my Sennheiser HD 650’s. And, BTW, I don’t have any relationship with Sennheiser. . . Although, I believe I would be a superb representative for their complete line of fine audio products . . . hello? . . . Sennheiser . . . anybody listening . . .?

__________________________________________________

Hey Willis,
I really appreciate the time you spend answering our questions. The Ibanez GWB1 is perfectly fine except that the “willis” ramp can’t be adjusted but it isn’t a big problem cause i’m playing my fingers directly above the pickups. but it would be good if there’s a way to adjust the ramp to the same level as the pickups though. I’ve been wanting to ask you about your opinions regarding your struggles between guitar or bass when you were in college. What made you choose bass? Even now do you still play the guitar? Would it be wise to work on both instruments together or to simply to transcribe the guitar parts on bass? thanks again,

Sincerely,
Mike

Hey Mike,
Actually, the ramp on the original GWB1 is adjustable. It’s just not obvious from looking at it. The idea is to remove the ramp and apply different-length layers of tape to get to ramp to sit at the angle you want. Here’s a more detailed explanation.

As far as bass and guitar. I wasn’t struggling between guitar or bass – I was fairly mediocre on both. I was forced to make a choice because I had to get together enough money for my 3rd year in college. (the bank turned down my loan application). I had a Les Paul Deluxe and a P-Bass. I noticed that when I played guitar in a band that it didn’t matter how well I played, the music just didn’t feel right. But when I played bass in the same band, the music felt like it should. So I figured my instincts we better suited to bass. (that, and I got $450 for the Les Paul instead of $200 for the P-Bass;-)

I have a guitar, a 7-string with low B. So it doesn’t confuse me too much when I try to transfer fingerboard geometry. But I mostly just use it for writing. If you have a 5 string bass, then it could create some problems switching but otherwise, feel free to continue to study both. Eventually, you’ll end up focusing on what allows you to express yourself best.

__________________________________________________

Hey Willis,
I recently found some YouTube videos of a seminar you did, and you were describing working an exercise over A7 and D7 in one position – across and back, really learning the shapes and getting them under your fingers (and by extension, learning the notes and the note functions in the chords). And I have a question I’d like to ask you.

Now, especially with the D7, if you stretch down to get that root on the 3rd fret B string, there’s a position choice – you can finger the C at the 3rd fret of the A string (e.g., 2 frets below the root, same string) or on the 8th fret of the E string (one string over, 3 frets above the root).

I know that from one perspective, it doesn’t matter – either will work. But from another perspective, if you’re trying to really get a shape under your fingers, and develop muscle memory and make it automatic/unconscious, then it matters to choose one and really work it.

I’ve (kind of arbitrarily) chosen the second choice (7th on the prior string) to work on, because I already really have the “7th 2 fretsdown” strongly under my fingers.

But I’m wondering which you prefer, and why. Thanks for your input, and for the input you’ve already had on my playing.

Oh, while looking for an email for you, I found you on MySpace, so I took the liberty of adding a “Friend’s Request there.
Be well,
JK

Hey JK,
Someone recently pointed out to me that the last time I logged in to my MySpace page was back in October. I’ve found that procrastination is really the best way to handle the pressure associate with pending MySpace friend requests. That way, everyone gets ignored equally 😉

As far as the fingerboard harmony goes. I don’t remember that exact example but the basic concept of my fingerboard harmony approach wouldn’t have you starting that arpeggio with the first finger on the D. I was probably trying avoid giving a long-winded answer about the ins-and-outs of my specific fingerboard harmony approach and just stressing the note-by-note choices necessary to create good sounding bass lines. Anyway, yes, the idea is that you want to get the shape under you hand but that shape should be associated with a particular key center. Since no one is telling you where to place your hands you can put your hands where the most information is available with the least amount of shifting or stretching. In this case, D7 is technically a 5 chord of G so your hand needs to be “looking” at the key of G for this chord. If your 1st finger is going to play the3rd fret D on the B string, then go ahead an move 1 more fret and play it with your 2nd finger. This lets your hand look at the key of G based on the 4th finger G key position on the E string. (the abbreviation is G4E, key-finger-string), But you hold that position for the arpeggio without shifting – keeping the finger-per-fret position established with G4E. The next higher hand position for the key of G would be G2D but that doesn’t take care of the notes below. Those would connect to a G4F#. Of course, we don’t have an F# string but that’s the position that you’d base the lower notes on. The transition between a 4th finger position connecting to a 2nd finger position involves a half step shift. So for the purposes of learning the geometry it’s better to isolate the 2 positions and become comfortable playing lines through different chord changes before you tackle the transition stuff. (see what I was trying to avoid, now). Anyway, it’s all in the book.

__________________________________________________

Hey Willis,
I’ve seen clips from your “Progressive Bassics” instructional along with clips from various clinics as well as reading interviews from various magazines. I’m fully aware that you are of the belief that a lighter touch is beneficial. From this I assumed you would be “anti-slap”. I recently bought the album “Bent” and I notice that on the title track you are slapping. I was wondering if you had calculated any specific slapping techniques as you have done with your fingerstyle. Do you favour a lighter touch with slapping too? And if so how light can one go without generating the authentic slap sound? This is merely an enquiry based on interest rather than an accusation of hypocrisy or otherwise.
Thanks a lot,
Henry Durham

Hey Henry,
Thanks for taking it easy on me, although I’m sure I’ve been called worse things than a hypocrite.
Anyway, it’s true I’m only what you’d call a recreational slapper nowadays. Actually, on Bent I was playing the Bass Lite and its small string gauges would get a slap sound if you played normally (fingers) with just a little aggression. But that was for a particular effect. As far as how light you can go, you’d have to determine that based on how soft you wanted to play with your right hand vs. how much control you could maintain over your slap technique. A long time ago, I designed a bass specifically for this problem. You could switch between a single J-Bass pickup for fingerstyle and a 2-pickup configuration for slap. And the volume could be adjusted independently so it was really the best solution. Eventually fretless took complete control and I had to say goodbye to the slap. Only coming out of the closet for special occasions.

 

accu groove

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Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

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Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)…

Flemish Master Pieter Bruegel the Elder probably had many things in mind when painting his Hunters in the Snow in oil on oak wood in 1565. This masterpiece tells plenty of little stories about winterly pastimes and precarious livelihoods in the Early Modern Age. What Bruegel presumably did not have in mind was that this painting would, several centuries later, become one of the most popular ones in fine arts globally, displayed in a permanent exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) Vienna. The painting’s popularity was lately taken to a different level as it was replicated by hand to design an exclusive BITE bass.

An international art collector and bass player who regularly visits Vienna to immerse himself in the wonderworld of Kunsthistorisches’ Bruegel Hall asked BITE to replicate the painting on a bass body. BITE Guitars, an Austrian premium manufacturer exporting most of their basses to the US, has become renowned for colorful artwork basses, offering a range of manual and digital techniques. The firm’s art director Peter, a trained scenic painter of Oscar and Palme d’Or rank, specializes in photo-realistic reproductions. He also painted the bass for Robbie Williams’ 2023 world tour by faithfully replicating Robbie’s own stage design onto the tour bass.

Peter copied the Bruegel motif onto the bass body in minute detail, little twigs even by one-hair-brush. Positioning the rectangular image section on the body shape proved to be a special challege that he met by repositioning little elements, a bird here, a horse and cart there.

It all came together in a memorable video shooting in front of the original painting in the Museum’s Bruegel Hall: venerable fine arts, premium handicraft and groovy jazz tunes.

View video at the museum: www.youtube.com/shorts/2evdqfR6gUE

What’s the conclusion of BITE’s client, our Vienna, art and bass lover? “It’s a magical bass! When I touch the strings, I feel warm inside.”

Specs highlights:
Bass model: BITE Evening Star, the proprietary BITE premium model with inward curved horns
Pickups: 2 x BITE 1000 millivolt passive split-coils (PP)
Neck: roasted maple neck and roasted flamed maple fretboard

Price tag incl. insured door-to-door express shipping:
New York: 4726 USD
London: 3645 GBP
Berlin: 4965 EUR

Full specs available at bite.guitars/old-master-bass/

Bruegel Hall at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna: 
khm.at/en/visit/collections/picture-gallery/the-best-of-bruegel-only-in-vienna/

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

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New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar…

Black Ice Enterprises introduces Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort, small, battery-free devices that can be easily installed in a bass or guitar.

Black Ice Boost offers two selectable stages of up to 7 dB of boost, broadly concentrated in the midrange frequencies to add humbucker-like qualities to Strat®, Tele® and other types of single-coil pickups. Black Ice Distort is an overdrive module that can be configured to offer anything from slight overdrive to distortion. Both models are compatible with all passive guitar pickups and electronics (they’re not compatible with battery-powered active pickups).

Black Ice Boost (SRP: $119.95; MAP, $79.95) can be installed using several wiring options, including a simple “stealth” install that utilizes a single push-pull pot, and a dual-switch option that allows users to select between two different levels of boost. For those using the boost along with Black Ice Distort, a second push-pull pot or switch can be used to select a clean or distorted boost.

The Black Ice Boost module is approximately 2/3 the size of a 9-volt battery, and can be easily installed in most instruments with no routing or permanent modifications required. The tone of the instrument remains completely unaffected when the boost is bypassed.

In addition to use with popular single-coil pickups, Black Ice Boost can also be used with other pickup types. Use it to fatten up a P-90 style pickup, or add girth to a low-wind humbucker. Jazz Bass® players can use the additional midrange content provided by Black Ice Boost to produce a sound that’s reminiscent of a P-Bass® or soapbar-type pickup. Black Ice Boost is not recommended for use with high-output humbuckers and other dark-sounding pickups.

Black Ice Distort (SRP: $27.95; MAP, $21.95) is an overdrive module that can be configured for just a touch of grit, or a more aggressive grind, all the way to a 1960’s-flavored fuzz. While its battery-free circuit will never replace the more refined sound of a well-designed pedal, it provides handy, there-when-you-need-it access to a variety of fun old-school flavors, and is a great way to add additional textures to an already overdriven amp or pedal. Bass players will especially dig its raw dirty grind.

Like Black Ice Boost, the sugar-cube-sized Black Ice Distort provides a lifetime of tone with no maintenance or power source required. A variety of wiring options are included that let you activate the Distort via a switch or push-pull pot, or by easily converting your guitar’s tone control into a control for the Black Ice Distort circuit. It can be used in conjunction with the Black Ice Boost for a wide variety of useful tones.

Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort are now shipping.

Visit online at www.blackiceoverdrive.com

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @loritabassworks @meridian_guitars @alpherinstruments @phdbassguitars @mgbassguitars @mauriziouberbasses @utreraguitars @sugi_guitars @branco_luthier @blasiusguitars

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

D’Addario’s New Humidipak Absorb Protects Instruments Against Excess Moisture…

Utilizing two-way humidity control technology, D’Addario’s new Humidipak Absorb protects against damage to wooden instruments in environments with too much humidity. 

Humidipak Absorb allows players to safely return an instrument and case to the ideal relative humidity level. Using Boveda’s patented two-way humidity control technology, Absorb automatically soaks up excess moisture at a safe rate, re-establishing the right humidity level and eliminating the guesswork of revitalizing your instrument. 

Like all the Humidipaks before, using Humidipak Absorb is easy—there’s no dripping sponges or manual adjustments. All players need to do is put the humidification packets in the included pouches and place them in the instrument case, close the lid, and relax. The instrument and case will remain at the optimal 45-50% relative humidity level for 2-6 months. 

D’Addario’s other Humidipaks, Restore and Maintain, are still available for those who need to increase and sustain the humidity around their instrument. 

To learn more about Humidipak Absorb, visit ddar.io/absorb-pr 

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