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Finding Your Own Voice: Range by Jimi Durso

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Finding Your Own Voice: Range by Jimi Durso… I read an interview with Paul McCartney where he was asked why he played the bass line to Day Tripper in the same octave as the guitar, instead of an octave lower. He said that AM radio had terrible bass response, and he knew if he played it that low the bass line would be lost to most listeners.

What range you play in can be a very important aspect of how you approach the instrument. Most of us are playing the bass line as far down as we can and leaving the upper range for melody, chords, solos, basically for everyone else in the band. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are two things you can do to open your mind and fingers up to the full range of your instrument.

First is to simply observe how some other players have used range creatively. A great example is Flea’s line on “Give It Away”. The main line is only four notes, but it covers almost an octave, from the low A to the octave G. Or John Paul Jones on “Ramble On”, Where the verses are in the upper range (and he plays what could best be called a counter-melody to the voice), but for the choruses he drops into the lower register (now playing much more supportive lines, and making the sound much heavier).

When you’ve observed some of these ideas, the next step is to try them out yourself. Try playing the verses in one area and the choruses in another. I played a gig on my six string where for one song I stayed in the conventional bass range until the very last chorus, where I dropped down onto the low B string to give a sense of finality to the song. Or, as a fun experiment, write a line (either to someone else’s song or as a potential song of your own) and see if you can use the entire range of your bass. Or when soloing, solo where you normally don’t (like in the low positions rather than jumping up high for your solo spot). Or see if you can answer yourself, playing a phrase in one area and then the next phrase in another. At this point, you might be thinking of other things you can explore that I haven’t mentioned yet. Great! Try those things out first.

Try creating a bass line that spans more than an octave. Then try making one up that spans at least two. Think of all the ways you can do this, pulling off from high notes to open strings, tapping high pitches with your right hand, using harmonics, especially those under the 5th fret, or just conventionally playing across the range of the instrument.

To get more familiar with the entire range of your instrument (whether it be acoustic, electric, 4, 5, or 6 string), here’s a great exercise I got from Marc Johnson (with some variations I created): solo on a 12-bar-blues starting with the lowest note you can play in that key and ending (at the end of the 12th measure) on the highest. Also, do the opposite: start on the highest note you can play in that key and work your way down over the course of 12 measures to the lowest. Then, try starting at the lowest, playing up to the highest and back down before the 12 bars are up. Reverse this and start at the top and play to the bottom and back in 12 bars (you could do this over a form other than a blues, if you like). This is a great exercise as it not only gets you thoroughly familiar with the full range of your instrument but improves your phrasing as well.

Twang!

Also, my rock & roll duo is working on putting out our first CD. Find out more at: CoincidenceMachine.net

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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