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Willis Takes on Your Questions



Hey Willis,
I know that you’re a proponent of the rest stroke to get that added “thump” to all the notes, but what happens when things speed up? At what point do you stop using the rest stroke? Is it some kind of tempo line that you cross?

Hey Jerry,
I’m not conscious of when my hand uses the rest stroke or when it doesn’t. Of course tempo plays a part but I suppose the role of the bass also contributes. I mean, you don’t necessarily want that “thumpy” attack on every note of a solo. So your question got me to wondering what’s going on?
So . . . this is an almost creepy look at the technique that I use to play a typical solo at a tempo of 180 (Giant Steps changes):


Mr. Willis,
Enjoyed the new Actual Fiction. Downloaded from iTunes. Can’t find CDs that easily anymore, especially Jazz.
My question is regarding your choice of MTB. Liked the pics on your site. Also an MTBer. Currently using a Giant Hardtail though. Interested in the switch to Carbon, and rear suspension. Also good for Cross Country or do you get alot of pedal bobbing?

Hey Paul,
Thanks for the kind words and your support of legal downloading – (try shopping at my site for the actual CD 😉
Man, I can’t imagine riding the trails I ride now without full suspension. Unless you’re a super-elite-skinny-cross-country-gram-counting-professional-racer-wannabe, full suspension is the only way to go, especially if you’re gonna spend more than a couple of hours in the saddle. My C’dale Moto is my first carbon fiber bike (rear triangle is aluminum) and it’s been flawless. My biggest surprise is how well it pedals and climbs. Most of the problems involved in rear suspension design have been eliminated in recent years with the development of platform-based rear shocks. They have the sensitivity to distinguish between pedal input and bump forces so you and the bike can power up the hills without losing energy to bobbing. I noticed that if I keep my pedal strokes smooth, I get almost no bobbing, but the cool thing is that when there’s an obstacle or small bump, the shock does its job evening out the trail and allows you to have that extra traction on technical climbs. Let me know what ride you end up with.


Hey Willis,
I notice you use, and Ibanez installs roundwound strings on your bass. I have always used flatwounds on my fretless (’81 Ibanez Musician) but like the brightness of roundwounds and use them on my fretted. Do you get a lot of wear on your fretboard from the roundwounds, and if so how do your deal with it?

Hey Brian,
I pretty much get no wear on my composite fingerboard from the roundwounds. One of the advantages of playing with less right hand intensity is that it allows me to have lower action. Lower action means less pressure is necessary to fret a note with the left hand. Less pressure on the string means less wear and tear on the fingerboard. For the 4-5 years I was using ebony, it wasn’t an issue then either, although you can expect the roundwounds to eventually do something to the ebony. One thing always to avoid is “pulling” on the string (bending it side-to-side) on a fretless. This is exactly not how to get vibrato and will for sure grind away the fingerboard. It’s a useful technique for fretted playing but something you should eliminate wen you’re playing fretless.


Hey Mr Willis,
Do you have a set of rules as in when to use the open and close position or would it be up to what feels right?
Thanks alot!

Hey Michael,
It mostly depends on what you’re going to play next – no? 😉 (check the video above)
In teaching my right hand technique, of course, we’ve come across gray areas where it’s possible to use either open or closed. The safest thing is when you encounter something like this – learn it both ways and eventually your suggestion of whatever “feels right” will be the solution.


Were you by chance ever in a band in Mannheim Germany in the 70,s with your brother.nce!

Obviously, the CIA hadn’t perfected their memory wiping hand-held devices back in ’76. Actually, it wasn’t even a hand-held, it was more like a breifcase. Anyway, by the time the rest of the world reads this, you will have been located via your IP adress and selected memory synapses will have been zapped so you won’t even remember asking this question about my non-existent brother and my non-existent trip abroad back in the 70’s.


Hi mr. Willis
In what way has Mile Davis influenced your bassplaying if any?

Anybody that attempts to do anything instrumental – jazz-rock-fusion-funk-avant-garde-etc. had better spend a good part of their time worshiping at the church of Miles. I mean, there aren’t many styles or genres of instrumental music that he didn’t influence heavily or sometimes outright create. As far as a direct influence on how I play, probably not, but as a global influence on the important music of the last 50-60 years – undeniable.


Hey Willis!
I have 2 Aguilar GS112 cabs with an Eden Traveler 550 amp. If i get another cab to make 3 x gs112’s
will my amp run too hot or is it bad to run at two ohms all the time?

WHey Rob,
I doubt that the Traveler is rated to go down to 2 ohms. Very few bass amps are equipped to handle that load. Check the manual to make sure.


Hey Willis,
I have a question. First of all I’m a HUGE fan of your music and your bass playing. I just notice though, looking through the book of transcriptions of yours as well as many that I’ve done on my own, that it seems like you play almost exclusively pentatonic scales in your improvisations.

On Dominant chords like C7(#9#5) I don’t hear much of the Altered Dominant Scale (C-Db-Eb-F#-Ab-Bb-C) or the
Symmetric Diminished ( C-Db-Eb-E-F#-G-A-Bb-C) for a chord like C13(b9) . Do you purposely avoid or not like the sound of those scales?

And I also don’t hear much chromaticism in your single note lines. Is that a conscious choice? I mean what you do play is killing, without doubt, I guess I’m just kind of surprised that you don’t use other scales more. Anyway, just thought I’d ask.
Lucas Pickford

Hey Lucas,
Thanks for the kind words and your observations. I will definitely plead guilty to pentatonics, no lo contendre (no contest) They provide a very open sound and a great way to create energy, obviously. As far as the diminished scales (or actually scale sequences in general) true, you’re not going to find me playing them in any obvious way because, they don’t readily lend themselves to an efficient way of visualizing harmony and communicating ideas. With those diminished groupings, no matter how I reorganize the notes – most of the time, they still sound like an insertion or intrusion when I try to use them. Finally, without taking offense, I’ll have to take exception to being characterized as not using much chromaticism. Maybe it’s a function of which solo is being scrutinized.


Hi Gary, hope you’re well.

On the GWB 35 ramp, what do you use to raise it up, I need to prop it up about 2.5mm next to the pickup and 1mm at the neck. I’ve tried making a few wooden shims for it but they either move when they’re underneath, or just aren’t quite right. Just wondering if you had any tips or tricks for this one, thanks!


Hey Joe,
Do I know you? No, I didn’t think so. I’m well, though, thanks. OK so around here I’m called Willis (except for that guy above who had is memory wiped so that he doesn’t recognize me now anyway, just gets this funny look on his face ’cause he can’t remember where he knows me)

For the GWB35 ramp, just use some foam – I’ve found that a little 1″ by 1/2″ piece from those thin foam-rubber style yoga mats work great. Experiment – you might need a bigger piece or double thickness – but the foam will hold the ramp in position without slipping out like wood or plastic.

Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan



Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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IG &FB @bythethousands
YTB @BytheThousands

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Bass CDs

Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents



Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Visit Mark online at

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp



Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.


Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.


At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.


True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.


The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.


While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.


In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram



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 @cb_basses @alesvychodilbasses @odiengcustom @ramabass.ok @mauriziouberbasses @mgbassguitars @capursoguitars @thebassplace @adamovicbasses @ishguitars

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Bass CDs

New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album



New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce "Kingdom of Shred" Album

ALBERTO RIGONI’s New Project NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album, Feat. Super Talented Guests Such as Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner + Many Others

Worldwide known Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI (soloist, BAD As, Kim Bingham, Vivaldi Metal Project, etc.) announces the new album “Kingdom of Shred” of his new project NEMESIS CALL. 

Alberto says: 
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, was released on June 4th 2024, I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental shred/prog/rock/metal/melodic album, that will feature many talented top-notch musicians such as drummer Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner, Alexandra Lioness, Aanika Pai (11 years old!), Keiji by Zero (19 years old!), SAKI and many others TBA/TBC). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025 or maybe for Christmas!.”

As an independent artist, Alberto Rigoni has launched a fundraising campaign to support the project. Support at 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro (, an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Visit online at | | |

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