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Hey Willis,

What’s up with that palm mute thing?



Hey Frank

Since it produces a darker tone, it allows you to be more active without competing for the midrange territory of other instruments. Since the duration of the note is under control, you can use the lower register more without it becoming too boomy.


from Gege251: about Installing a Ramp Part 2,

great video, thanks!

one question: is it necessary to use vinyl, or it’s just for decoration?

Hey Gege251,

Not? necessary – but ,unless you use an oily wood like rosewood or ebony, you’ll need put a finish or protect it somehow.


Hey Willis,

I’ve searched through all your great Q&A, but cannot find an answer to a fundamental question, why do you like to play fretless instead of fretted bass?


Hey Doug,

Good question, actually. Back when I was playing a lot of bebop and jazz at North Texas State I went for a fretless because I couldn’t get my fretted bass to function or feel like it belonged in that music. And I knew there was no way I would ever be interested in upright. I played fretted and fretless for more than 15 years until it became obvious to me that fretless was what I should be doing exclusively. There’s just a lot more expressive possibilities, especially after the note starts.


Hey Willis

In your YouTube video Progessive Bassics (where you look 12, btw), you go through a 12/8 blues bassline in F while adding dead notes on the upbeats. Are those notes deadened by RH or LH muting? I can’t even fathom RH muting on those exercises!

Thanks for this site. It’s a good thing you’re doing,


Hey Glenn,

That would definitely be right hand muting. I realize you say that it’s hard to fathom but it’s quite possible. The main problem is rewiring the subconscious circuitry that you’ve conditioned to play without RH muting. If you commit to redesigning your technique, sure, you’ll suffer an immediate drop in ability and confidence but the reward will be that you’ll be able to surpass the limits that you are experiencing now. Yikes, I sound like some kind of new-age motivational life coach. Look, just take a hard look at how you dampen notes and then decide if you need to change it. If you do, send me an email:


Hey Willis!

I’m a jazz and session bassist, I’ve been playing about 20 years. I know that in order to improvise faster and more fluently you need to think and react faster so the brain has enough time to process the info. Do you have any challenging exercises or advice on how to further improve thinking ahead while improvising? Also any tips on keeping the concentration undivided are welcome.

Thanks very much, Greg

Hey Greg,

Sorry to report that unfortunately you’ve been operating under the wrong assumption about being fluent. It’s a language. Sure, to learn a language it has to be conscious with a lot of repetition. But the eventual goal and the eventual result is that it becomes subconscious. You don’t consciously think about the elements of language when you use them. For example, you don’t say to yourself “I’m going to interject a really witty adverb in combination with the 3rd person plural pronoun and that will really get my point across”. The elements of language become invisible to the speaker and the listener when it’s fluent. When I’m playing well, I have no idea what I’m doing in the moment – in a theoretical sense. Sure, I can go back and analyze the hell out of what I did but if I let those elements (labels) become conscious they’re just going to get in the way of any kind of fluency. I’m not saying you can just ignore them and learn play well. But the goal is to internalize the language elements to the extent that you can just concentrate on the ideas you’re playing and not the elements (labels) that make up those ideas. To put it another way, the more I think, the worse I play. If I could condense learning a language down to a few exercises or a bit of advice, it would make me a very rich man. Anyway, at lease I hope this helps you to start to look at it differently.


Hey Willis,

I recently got a computer program that allows me to slow down digital recordings to half speed while retaining original pitch, so I started transcribing bass solos that I like. My question is: What is required of me to publish or otherwise reproduce or distribute these solos legally?

Thanks, Michaell

Hey Michael,

Thanks for considering the legal implications of music distribution during these times of piratebay and bittorrent proliferation.

Unfortunately I think it would be difficult. First you would have to get permission from the various artists, negotiate the percentages, get a lawyer to draw up a publishing agreement, and then once you’ve got an actual book to shop, you’d need either a book deal with a publisher or find a printer and distributor for it.

When do I get my complimentary copies? 😉


Hey Willis,

How can I keep the fingerboard in good shape using roundwound strings on  my fretless bass.Just got it sanded up a month ago and it is already full of string marks. Thanks for your answer, Peter

Hey Peter,

What is the fingerboard material? If it’s ebony, it might last for years. If it’s rosewood, then odds are it will die a slow agonizing death without some kind of protection (polyurethane or epoxy). One thing that will help extend the life of an unfinished fingerboard is to play with less pressure in the left hand and also avoid any string bending. It’s fretless, so get your vibrato the way the pros do and don’t grind the strings into the unprotected wood. So unless it’s ebony and you develop a light left-hand technique (which requires rethinking your string height and overall setup) I’d recommend putting a finish on it.


Hey Willis,

What pedals do you use?


Hey Nico,

I just use one big one 😉  The VB-99.

The live gear I use is here:


Hey willis,

My bass tutor showed me your site and just wondered what your opinion of a the 6 string for heavy metal and which would be the best one to choose?


Hey Tom,

You’ve made a common mistake. Lots of people look at page 65 of the 2010 Ibanez catalogue and think that it’s the heavy metal bass page. Really, how would you know? And what’s more confusing is that Fieldy and I do have a lot in common besides just looks and gender. We both play 5 string basses and they’re both made by Ibanez. We both like good food and then of course there’s that whole whole breathing oxygen thing. Also, thanks to his recent lifestyle about-face, you can confidently say that now we both play concerts totally sober, so there’s that.

A 6-string for heavy metal? Maybe try here.

Interested in asking a question? Drop me a line here…
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