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Taking Off the Rose Tinted Headphones by Steve Gregory

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I am fortunate to have an appointment to meet with an amazing teacher each week.  This teacher has the remarkable ability to show me positives of my playing, flaws that need to be corrected, and specific situations that I can analyze.  The lesson time is tough, but ultimately rewarding, because brutal honesty is an understood requirement.  It is not uncommon to have a weakness exposed and unapologetically (sometimes relentlessly, it seems) examined.  I leave each lesson with a catalog of things that are good, things that need work, and homework to do for the week.  This teacher is one of the very best I have ever had!  I am very happy to say that this teacher has immediate availability for students and I truly hope you will try to schedule a lesson time soon!

The teacher is your own playing, recorded, and then listened to with an honest and critical ear.

A recording is simply unable to lie; therefore, what you hear is what really happened.  This is a revealing and sometimes humbling practice:  flaws that weren’t realized during performance become evident and spots that seemed to be perfect fall flat in retrospect.  Fortunately, there will also be moments that are wonderful and even some pleasant surprises that escaped the ear in live performance.

This practice is invaluable!  With discipline and honesty, these listening sessions can accurately determine what is happening during live performance.  Further, there is a great opportunity for playing refinement and becoming a better bass musician with every single lesson.  Here is a suggested outline for doing this:

  1. Get a recording. This can be from the soundboard, from video, from a recorder placed in the audience or given to someone, or from a personal line out.  The capture doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to have a level of clarity that allows for accuracy in playback.
  2. Use a good set of headphones or speakers. Make sure that the system used for playback is of good quality.  It does no good to capture a performance, but not be able to determine later what was played.  I personally like to use headphones for this, but I know of players that prefer to use quality speakers.  Whatever the choice, audio quality is important.
  3. Perform an intention check and put your ego aside. The purpose of this exercise is to get better, not to prove worth or inflate a sense of self.  Make sure that all listening is done with an honest and critical ear.  If this doesn’t happen, the session is usually a waste of time.
  4. Listen to the entire recording and note the spots that are good, bad, and ugly. The first review is used to find the spots that should be explored in more detail. Just make notes with a time mark and a quick description, such as, “5:10, rushed chorus” or “18:11, locked with drums!”.
  5. Go back and listen to the specific moments listed and determine what happened and why it happened. Using our examples from above, in the section that was rushed, was it because of emotion?  Lost focus with the drummer?  Anxiety?  Technique problems?  Remember to do this for positive notes also.  When there was a good lock with the drums, was it a part that was worked out in rehearsal?  Had the section been practiced separately?  It is just as important to figure out what is good as it is to discover what is not going so well.
  6. Determine the lesson and the homework for the moments you have studied. What can be done to either remedy the problem or repeat the positive?  Continuing with our examples above, the rushed section may lead to more metronome work, increased practice of technically challenging pieces, or an emphasis on in-performance focus.  The solid rhythm section example may reveal the good that came from practicing a specific song section or rehearsing the figure at slower tempos with a drummer.

I know from experience that this plan will lead to amazing results and transformed playing.  This same process can also be applied to individual practice – record a session and listen back a later time.  When I do this, I am constantly amazed at the wealth of information I gain.  Also, if a video recording is used, there is another set of variables to study, such as hand position, body stance, technique, and much more.

Whatever your choice, I encourage you to sign up for a lesson with this great teacher today!  I’d love to hear about your experiences – leave a comment below to share what you discover when you try this exercise.

Until next time, I hope that your bass playing is blessed and that you can bless others through your bass playing!

Bass Videos

Artist Update With Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Artist Update With Mark Egan, Cross Currents

I am sure many of you are very familiar with Mark Egan as we have been following him and his music for many years now. The last time we chatted was in 2020.

Mark teamed up with drummer Shawn Pelton and guitarist Shane Theriot to produce a new album, “Cross Currents” released on March 8th, 2024. I have been listening to this album in its entirety and it is simply superb (See my review).

Now, I am excited to hear about this project from Mark himself and share this conversation with our bass community in Bass Musician Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Mark Egan

Visit Online:

markegan.com
markegan.bandcamp.com
Apple Music
Amazon Music

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Bass Videos

Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB…

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB – Hearing protection has always been front and center on my mind because I love music so much, I cannot imagine my life if I were unable to hear.

You might remember back in 2021, we had a good look at the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs featuring adjustable protection. This system has a lot of very good features but there was always the question of how much sound attenuation to choose.

Now, the great folks at Minuendo have come up with a new version of their earplugs that has a set 17dB noise reduction. You still get a lot of the great features of the adjustables but you just don’t have to think about the specific sound level. In addition, this new version of earplugs comes at a very attractive price point.

For more information, visit online at Minuendo.com

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Bass Books

Review: The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass by Brian F Wright 

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Review: The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass by Brian F Wright 

I was intrigued when The Bastard Instrument showed up on my desk… let’s dig in!

When we dive into the history of our beloved instrument, the bass, we find roots that go back as far as the 15th century. This instrument was a member of the violin family and was for the longest time, an acoustic instrument. As the years passed and music changed, there was a need for the instrument to evolve and the electric bass was born.

Comparatively, the electric bass is a relatively new instrument with its earliest appearances dating back to the 1930s and it is exciting to be an electric bass player while this history unfolds around us. Fortunately for us and future generations to come, Professor Brian F. Wright has taken on the herculean task of documenting the trajectory of the electric bass with this excellent book.

The Bastard Instrument presents an extraordinary amount of fine details about the instrument itself, the development of the amplification to handle its output, the pioneers that dared play it, the rapidly evolving music that flourished because of its presence and so much more. 

When I first started reading this book, I noticed that it felt a tad academic, like a textbook (it might be one someday) or a doctoral thesis, but to present all this information accurately, this approach is more than appropriate. Another detail that might be a bit of a spoiler is that the book only gets us up to the late ’60s. I was left wanting more as we know that so much has happened in the bass world since that time frame; I hope there is another volume in the works to get us up to the present!

All in all, “The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass” is a must-read for all of us who play electric bass and understand its essential place in music.

I found that there was a lot that I already knew but also quite a bit that I was unaware of. I believe that to know and understand where you are, you must know the history of exactly how you got here.

Highly recommended.

The Bastard Instrument is available at Amazon.com (beginning July 2024)

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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 @meridian_guitars @adamovicbasses @anacondabasses @mgbassguitars @xylembassguitar @officialspector @edwinpaanakker @alesvychodilbasses @boyarskycg @dmarkguitars

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Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

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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

Follow On Social

IG &FB @bythethousands
YTB @BytheThousands

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