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Issue 125 January 2016

Ben McKee, Imagine Dragons | Nikki Sixx, Mtley Cre | Michael Janisch | Lucy Shaw, Squeeze | Rhino Edwards, Status Quo | Jeff Berlin | Eve Guitars | Pedulla Buzz Fretless | Little Guitar Works Torzal Jazz | Burns Bison | Schertler Bass Fidelity B15 Bass Combo | Ashdown Dr Green Pedalboard

Nikki Sixx's signature

Schecter, worth over 900!

EVE GUITARS UK 4.35 Issue 125 January 2016

9 771476 521054 >

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id you want to be a rock
star when you were young?
Of course you did: so did
we all. Thank God most of
us were playing air bass with
tennis rackets in the bedroom
mirror long before YouTube
was invented. But did any of us
ever think what it would really
be like to hit the commercial
jackpot as a bass player? The

tourbuses, the long-haul flights,
the screaming fans banging
on the windows of your limo...
and thats before we even get
into bass technique and gear.
Little Guitar
EDITOR Joel McIver, All is revealed about life in the hottest of hot new bands this Works Torzal Jazz
SUB-EDITORS Kate Puttick, issue, as we meet Ben McKee of Imagine Dragons, whose sold-out
Nick Robbins
UK arena tour last month saw them play in front of hundreds
CONTRIBUTORS Bob Battersby, Angus of thousands of fans. Is Ben retaining a reasonable sanity level?
Batey, Duff Battye, Andy Baxter, Nick Beggs, Read and find out...
Jeff Berlin, Jamie Blaine, Silvia Bluejay, Mike
Brooks, Joe Burcaw, Dave Clarke, Stuart Our oft-repeated mission to include all of bass life in BGM
Clayton, Ben Cooper, Joe Daly, Hywel Davies, peaks this issue with a plethora of interviews and columns
Jon DAuria, David Etheridge, Mike Flynn,
Paul Geary, Ian Glasper, Joel Graham, Ruth
from people and players in the know. Look at the genres weve
Goller, Spencer Grady, Paolo Gregoletto, Hugh stuffed into the magazine youre holding: metal (Nikki Sixx of
Gulland, Chris Hanby, Andy Hughes, Ken Hunt,
Kevin Johnson, Steve Lawson, Phil Mann, Lee
Mtley Cre), jazz (Michael Janisch and Jeff Berlin), rock (Rhino
Marlow, George Martin, Michael McKeegan, Edwards), pop (Lucy Shaw) and everything else (the ace bassists
Stewart McKinsey, Greg Moffitt, Chris Mugan, in Bassically Speaking). Weve got representatives from the
Ellen O'Reilly, Franc OShea, Harry Paterson,
Raz Rauf, Alison Richter, Steven Rosen, Kevin Musicians Union, Rockschool and Basschat delivering their

Sanders, Amit Sharma, Joe Shooman, Rob wisdom; the best bass tutors in two continents providing you
Statham, Jon Thorne, Freddy Villano, Ray
Walker, Alex Webster, Sam Wise with bass education at all levels; and a mind-blowing gear review
ADVERTISING SALES Guy Meredith section, covering ground from a 4,000 fretless bass to a 59 fuzz
AD DESIGN Matt Smith
pedal. What are you waiting for? Thank you for making this year
so amazing, and see you in 2016!
Burns Club
STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY Eckie Joel McIver, editor Series Bison
SUBSCRIPTIONS 01926 339808, 48 GEAR
For all subscription offers and overseas
prices visit
or call 01926 339808
Pedulla Buzz
Fretless 48Pedulla Buzz Fretless
Time to bring back
that Dont fret: Mike Brooks
Printed in the UK Blaze Publishing
Ltd 2015. never does quip
All Rights Reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced in any form,

52Little Guitar Works Torzal Jazz

stored in a retrieval system or integrated
into any other publication, database or
commercial program without the express
permission of the publishers in writing. Youre twisting my
Under no circumstances should this melons, man well, my bass
publication and its contents be sold, loaned
out or used by way of trade, or stored or neck anyway. Kev Sanders
transmitted as an electronic file without the
publishers prior written approval. investigates

56Burns Club Series Bison

While Blaze Publishing Ltd prides itself on
the quality of the information its publications
provide, the company reserves the right not
to be held legally responsible for any mistakes Straight outta 1965...
or inaccuracies found within the text of this
publication. McIver tackles a vintage beast
Bass Guitar Magazine is an independent
publication and as such does not necessarily
reflect the views or opinions of manufacturers
or distributors of the products contained
within. All trademarks are acknowledged.
B15 Combo
Bass Fidelity

Swiss Kev Sanders heads

Distributed to the news trade by Comag
Magazine Marketing, West Drayton, to Mitteleuropa to test this
Middlesex, UB7 7QE
PUBLISHED BY precision-engineered bass box
Blaze Publishing Ltd. Lawrence House,

Morrell Street, Leamington Spa,
Warwickshire, CV32 5SZ Dr Green
Bass Guitar Magazine is proud to
support the Music Industries Association.
Brooksy gives Ashdowns
new effects range the stomp
of approval

004 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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f/bassguitarmagazine o/bassguitarmag CONTENTS

70Front Line
Looking for advice
from pro bassists who
actually play bass for a
living? Read and learn:
our four-bassist team is
here to help

Michael Janisch
72Ellen OReilly
Threes the key: into
third position with Ellens
killer pentatonics series

74Paul Geary
Dead notes and
harmonics explored by
funkmaster Geary

76Stuart Clayton
Commander Clayton
takes us further into

Lydian territory

78Rob Statham
Ramping up your
fingerboard knowledge

Nikki Sixx, Mtley Cre
Lucy Shaw,
Rob OConnor
with Obi-Wan Statham

80Franc OShea
Unpacking exotic
scales? Dont forget your

toothbrush, says Franc

84Philip Mann
Double thumbing

22 Ben McKee, Imagine Dragons

No. 1 albums around
the world; endless Grammy,
with digitally dexterous
bass ace Phil

Billboard and American Music

awards; sold-out arena tours
around the UK and Europe.
86David Etheridge
Harmonics, both
real and artificial, with
And thats all in a period of double bass guru David

three years. Joel McIver meets
bassist Ben McKee and finds
out what its like to hold down
the low end in the hottest new
88Mike Brooks
Fighting the tone
wars with covers pro Brooks
rock band on the planet Rhino Edwards,
32 Nikki Sixx, Mtley Cre
Amit Sharma says
Status Quo 90Steve Lawson
Turn that racket
down, warns effects
farewell to metal madman
Nikki Sixx, whose band is
finally calling it a day after
38Lucy Shaw, Squeeze
Cool cat Lucy updates Joel McIver on life in one of the UKs
most revered acts
warlock Lawson

100 million album sales and

counting. Sub-editors rejoice!
40Rhino Edwards, Status Quo SUBSCRIBE
No more and hassle! Quo bassist Rhino on his solo career and forthcoming
London Bass Guitar Show appearance

36Michael Janisch
The Whirlwind Records
42Jeff Berlin
founder and jazz fusion legend
talks bass with Mike Flynn
The maestro reveals plans for his tribute album to the late,
great Jack Bruce DETAILS PAGE 82

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 005

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Tina K
At the end of September, writes Mike Brooks, Sothebys in the
heart of London was the scene of an auction of 35 items consisting
of various memorabilia, lyrics, basses and some rather swanky
items of clothing and costume that had belonged to the one and
only Jack Bruce. All were selected by Jack himself prior to his
death last year. A percentage of the proceeds are to be donated to
the EACH charity, based in East Anglia, close to the Bruce home
and a charity with which Jack had an affiliation.

Although the auction also included memorabilia from the
Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Bob
Dylan, Paul McCartney and the Sex Pistols among others, the Jack Bruce-
related items formed a sizeable chunk of the catalogue. These ranged from signed manuscript
lyrics and poems to stage outfits, fetching between 500 and 1500; a watch from Ringo Starr,
presented to each member of the All-Starr band in 1997; Jacks Hammond B3 and Leslie cabinet;
a 19th century harmonium; and of course, the significant basses in Jacks own collection.
It was slightly odd to see these basses in this context, having seen them less than two
years ago when I interviewed Jack at his home for the cover of our 100th issue, yet here
they were, up for sale. With the likes of Jimmy Page in attendance and bids coming in on
the phones and online, there was a great deal of interest. Naturally, the bass collection
garnered the most attention: none sold below the sort of prices you would expect, especially
considering the large number of Jack and Cream collectors bidding on them.

News and views from the Highlights? Well, Item 16 was a Czechoslovakian double bass that fetched a price of 4,375
quite reasonable considering what some upright players are willing to spend on a fine
bass world, collated by handmade instrument. Item 23 was the first electric bass, a well-used Aria Pro II SB1000 in
natural ash finish. This model is no stranger to these pages, Jack being a leading exponent
BGMs team of intrepid of the instrument at the same time as Duran Durans John Taylor was slinging his SB1000s
around. The bass reached a total price of 3,750, more than other examples of the model
newshounds would cost second-hand: the provenance of ownership always carries a premium.
A Fender six-string bass in sunburst finish from 1996 commanded a price of 3,250, while
a cherry red Gibson SG-Z from 1999 cost the winning bidder 4,375. Then we reached the
Warwick instruments, certainly the most identifiable Bruce basses in modern times after
all, he suggested the recognisable upper horn on the Warwick Thumb. First up was a fretless
Thumb from 1986, which brought in 9,750, although a five-string fretless from 1989
remained unsold despite reaching a bid of 6,500 during the auction process. A signature
fretless four-string from 1990 attracted a winning price of 6,875. The final two basses
the Cream Reunion SG-style bass from 2005, and another uniquely made from Brazilian
rosewood reached bids of 5,500 and 75,000 respectively, although the final catalogue
shows that the sales werent completed.
Some of Jacks instruments have obviously remained with the family: I noted that his
Fender Precision, said to bear serial number 008, was not on the auction list, along with
certain other Warwick instruments. As with any instrument owned by a bass legend, living
or dead, its not until you play them for yourself that you realise just how much of the sound
and tone associated with the player and their instruments, truly came from their hands,
their head and their heart. Thats why theyre lifes originals. God bless you Jack!

006 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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Session veteran and educator Andy Irvine returns with
Bass Mechanics: Crucial Groove, the Warwick clinician
extraordinaires first TrueFire DVD. With 35 lessons
covering 159 minutes, the course covers 12 crucial
concepts and techniques designed to help you develop
a well-rounded playing vocabulary for the stage, studio,
and creative process. Chapters include Palm Muting, Soft
Touch, Note Duration, Adding Expression & Emotion,
The Dog House Technique, Ghost Notes, Double Thumb
Technique, Leaving Space: Using Restraint, Slap Bass
Basics, Glissando Approaches, The Funky Grease, and
Vocalizing Your Bass Lines.He also guides you through
12 Groove Applications, organised into seven groups and
demonstrated over rhythm tracks.

The Bass Centre has announced
the arrival of the Babicz Full
Contact Bass Bridge for Gibson
basses. With complete contact
between strings and body,
they tell us, Gibson players will
see improvements in sustain, tonal
quality and performance. The patented
eCAM saddle allows string height
and intonation to be set with pinpoint
precision, without adding space or air gaps
between the saddle and
the body of the guitar.
Adjustments are firmly
secured via a dual locking
mechanism. The same
bridge used on Gibsons
new 2015 Thunderbird
and SG basses, the Babicz
FCH 3-Point unit comes
in chrome, black and gold
finishes and comes with
three mounting studs,
optional 1/8 shim plate,
adjustment wrench and
installation instructions.

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 007

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Its a balmy evening, and standing in the lobby of LAs uber-hip Theater
at Ace Hotel, Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo couldnt hide his elation if
he tried, writes Joe Daly. After six long years, Jaco the revelatory Jaco
Pastorius documentary that Robert financed, co-wrote and produced
finally premieres tonight, replete with all of the trappings of a full-on
Hollywood event.
Beneath a neon psychedelic poster of Jaco, designed by Roberts wife
Chloe, a parade of familiar faces cross the red carpet a virtual whos
who of bass guitarists, including Verdine White (Earth, Wind And Fire),
Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, Rudy Sarzo (Quiet
Riot, Whitesnake), Leland Sklar and Duff McKagan (Guns NRoses, Velvet
Revolver). Billy Idol, Steve Stevens and members of Jacos family, including
sons John Pastorius IV and Felix Pastorius, are also in attendance, along
with a sold-out crowd of 1,600 euphorically noisy punters.
Flea greets the audience and then Robert, director Paul Marchand and
Jacos son John introduce the film before the lights dim and the opening
credits roll. The first scene is difficult to watch: jazz titan Jerry Jemmott is
filming a teaching video with Jaco, who appears confused and somewhat
overwhelmed, in jarring contrast to the man who spent his career
unironically proclaiming himself to be the greatest bass player in the world.
Jacos inability to process simple questions underscores the dramatic extent
of his decline, and it ensconces the rest of the movie in a tragic cloak.
The movie then winds back to Jacos early years growing up in Fort
Lauderdale, beset with an absentee father and a mother who often
struggled to provide the most basic necessities for her children. Through
the narration of family members and new archival footage, one sees that
Jacos life was steeped in tension from the beginning a

Tina K
tension which he would soon filter through the prism
of his bass. His early years playing in Wayne Cochrans
comically over-the-top soul band eventually lead him to
a solo record deal and finally to his transfixing evolution what any bassist had previously attempted. Stylistically,
with the insurgent jazz merchants Weather Report. Jaco would enter a realm where his influences were no
Adhering closely to the documentary format, a longer distinguishable all you heard was Jaco. But the
star-studded panoply of legends including Sting, film covers far more than the music: it spins a deeply
Carlos Santana, Bootsy Collins, Wayne Shorter, Herbie engrossing narrative that explores the rich nuances
Hancock and Flea explain not just the scope of Jacos in Jacos personality that were too often eclipsed by
influence, but how his compositional outlook and his boastful stage swagger and later his mercurial and
dexterous technicalities so completely transcended troubled behaviours.
Few could even attempt to conjure Jacos eye-popping
onstage theatricality, but his unquenchable thirst for the
late Weather Report organist Joe Zawinuls infrequent
validation gathered a storm of insecurities beneath the
surface. Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine and Joni Mitchell
deliver the richest insights into Jacos humour, fears and his creative
vision: Jonis account of seeing Jaco for the last time is utterly
heartbreaking. By the end of his life in 1987, the worlds greatest
bassist was 35 years old, homeless and living in a park in Florida.
One acutely disastrous television interview features a barely-
coherent Jaco slurring, weaving and interrupting recording engineer
Peter Yianilos, who is entirely incapable of masking his horror.
And yet while such vignettes underscore the dramatic depth of his
struggles, the movie also boasts a number of playful, irreverent and
laugh-out-loud moments, showcasing a captivating 360-degree view
of this enthralling and enigmatic figure.
Rhythm technicians will revel in the insights and commentary into
Jacos compositional achievements but one need not play bass or love
jazz to appreciate this wholly absorbing story. Its also about Jaco as
a father, an artist and a victim of mental illness. The grisly extent
of Jacos death is never discussed, nor is his drug abuse explored
with much specificity, but this was never going to be that sort of
expose. With the focus squarely on the man, the documentary is
arresting, emotional and packed with so much great music that
youll be digging into the Jaco catalogue that same day. Essential
viewing for music fans of all genres.

008 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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MI titans Thomann
has launched a free
app, available for
download for tablet
and smartphone from
the Google Play Store
and the iTunes Store
for Android and iOS.
Bassists can use the app
to browse Thomanns
entire warehouse
containing more than
76,000 different items.
We searched for bass
and got 5,000 results...
dive in!

Thanks to the fine folks at Westside

Distribution, we have a Nikki Sixx Signature
Schecter bass, finished in black and worth
930, for the lucky reader who can answer
this simple question:

Mtley Cres 1981 debut album was called:

A Too Young To Vote

B Too Fast For Love
C Too Slow For Lunch

Answers to
competition or to Bass Competition at the
usual Blaze postal address by 26 January.

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 009

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Peter Hook & The Light are to perform Joy Division and New Orders Factory Records
compilation albums Substance live, sequentially and in their entireties. The first concert takes
place at the Barrowlands in Glasgow on 15 September before a hometown show at the O2
Apollo in Manchester on 16 September. The final date will take place in London at the Kentish
Town Forum on Saturday 17 September.
Released in August 1987, New Orders Substance was originally conceived as a way for
Factory Records boss, Tony Wilson, to play the New Order singles on the CD player of his new
Jaguar. Substance became the best-selling New Order album ever upon its release, the double LP
going on to sell two million copies in America alone.

Every month, keen bass-spotter
Ray Walker brings us an online bargain.
This month: a Sandberg Panther
Price: 550 STEER BACK
Danelectro is reissuing the iconic
This is a rarity for eBay a German-made Sandberg Panther Longhorn bass, based on the original
at an eye-popping price. Its walnut/maple/walnut top placed 1950s design. Including the instantly
on a mahogany body supposedly gives it a warmer, fuller tone. recognisable dual lipstick pickup
Its zero fret is intended to give open notes the consistency configuration and adding an all-black
of fretted ones. On the downside, the pickups are Sandberg finish to the familiar copperburst, the
rather than Delano. The neck has a narrow profile, which new Longhorn (RRP 499) also features a
makes it easy to play but may not be to everyones taste, of traditional bridge with rosewood saddle,
course. Whether youre looking to upgrade or simply incite stacked individual volume and tone
jealousy in your bass peers, this bass is worth investigation. controls, and a 24 fret fingerboard. Info:

010 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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Bassists reveal the tricks of their trade faster
than a snapping D string

BASSES Fender FSR 1975 Jazz reissue
AMPS Ashdown ABM 500 2x10 combo

Im an all-rounder: Ive had to learn most styles of bass playing
because I play everything fromSteely Dan to Merle Haggard to Bob
Marley.I dont play five- or six-string basses I havent really needed
to. Ive had a five-string but I had to change how I played too much
and I couldnt relax with it. I detune my E string to D and C if I need
to get down a bit lower. There are many secrets to playing the bass
well: listen to loads of different music, learn all the techniques, play as
many styles as you can. If youre playing live, listen to whats going on
around you and smile.
My first bass was a Wilson. My favourite bass to date is my 1975
Fender Jazz reissue: Ive had a Badass bridge put on it and had it
sprayed sunburst. Its fairly light and well balanced. Love it!
My bass heroes? Of course Jaco and Stanley, but I have so many,
from Glen Knowles who let me try his Gibson EB-0 bass when I was
about eight years old, to James Jamerson, Tommy Cogbill, Victor
Wooten, Marcus Miller, Henry Strzelecki, Glenn Hughes, Julian
Crampton, Ed Poole, Ray Brown the list is endless.
Want to hear a great story? In 1988, the band I played in were
GEAR playing at a club in Newport News, Virginia. Patty, a friend of ours,
BASSES Fender Jazz, Fender Precision, Rickenbacker 4003 turned up with her two friends Reggie and Joe, who she had toured
EFFECTS Death By Audio Fuzz War, Ibanez TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer, Sinister Analog Ultra Lord, Fuzz Dog, with. I soon realised that I was in the presence of two of the finest
Hartke Bass Attack, Electro Harmonix POG, Whammy, Vinteck looper musicians (and people) on the planet. After the show they told me to
AMPS Fender Bassman, Ampeg SVT Classic, Gallien Krueger 1001RB and MB Fusion 800 check out their little brother Victor who had just moved to Nashville


My playing is visceral, instinctive and introspective. I love both
where we also lived. When I got home I called him to ask if he gave
lessons. Yes I do, he politely said and asked for $20 an hour. Sounds
good, I thought. My wife dropped me off outside the humble abode
playing with fingers and plectrum. I love to search for unusual of Victor Wooten. I had a Kubicki Ex-Factor at the time Victor asked
melodic solutions but still keeping my styleheavilyrhythmic, to try it and I tried his. Fodera? I asked. Where are these made?
deflagrating and loud: I love to push the amps over the limit. Brooklyn, he replied. The bass was amazing, but even more amazing
The secret of playing bass well is being glued to the bass drum was his modesty. At no time did he make me feel any lower than him
and flirting with the other melodic instruments.I especially as a player. One hour turned into two. When I finally did leave, he
love playing Fenders, but I love to experiment and play different wouldnt take a penny more than agreed. A big thank you to Joseph,
instruments for several songs, as it happened on Fertile, the Reggie and Victor Wooten you are amazing. But an even bigger
upcoming record on which I played several bass guitars, including thanks to my wife Gina, who sat in the car with our three daughters
a Rickenbacker. for over an hour, for being very patient and understanding.

012 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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Boris Nazarov
BASS Gibson SG, Fender Precision, Music Man Stingray, Fender Mustang BASSES Fender Jazz, La Bella strings, Velvet Garbo strings, David Gage Realist pickup, Kala U-Bass
EFFECTS Sansamp Bass Driver DI EFFECTS Markbass 112 combo
AMPS Markbass Little Mark Tube 750 Watt with one 1x15 cab and one 2x10 cab AMPS Boss OC-2, Boss Chorus, TC Electronic reverb, Mini Moog ring mod, Way Huge analogue delay, Electro Harmonix Q-Tron


My bass style is solid as a rock. I have never had any desire to be
a soloist and frankly I dont think the bass lends itself to five
minute solos, unless of course youre in the class of Marcus
I am lucky enough to play many differing music genres, which
Miller, and very few are. I stick to what I know I can do well, was always my ambition. Putting my own style on whatever I
and thats holding down a solid groove with great feel and am playing is about time, groove and harmony, and this is what I
timing to create a platform for the rest of the band and of work on a lot. There is no doubt that playing jazz has also hugely
course the song. Im hopeless at slapping and have no desire aided my playing and I apply a lot of that into my work. I do not
to master it. I do appreciate that bass-playing techniques have play a five-string, only because I havent had to use one yet. Im
evolved to an astonishing level of skill; nevertheless, if you in love with my Boss OC-2, so that gives me the low end if I ever
can slap at a million miles an hour, it means nothing to me if it need it. Im a believer in sticking to the roots of bass with my
doesnt touch my soul. The secret of playing bass well is locking four-string but if I did have to play a five, then Id go with the
in with the drums and providing a platform for everyone else low B instead of the high C. If I have a day off, I love to dedicate
in the band to work on. That sounds like a very simple thing to it to practising: I spend the whole day working on specifics or
transcribing records, switching between upright and electric and

IM HOPELESS AT SLAPPING AND HAVE NO DESIRE TO MASTER also taking breaks and listening to records. All of this will in turn
aid time, rhythm, feel and good knowledge of the music that you
IT. I DO APPRECIATE THAT BASS-PLAYING TECHNIQUES HAVE are playing, allowing you to express yourself while keeping true

EVOLVED TO AN ASTONISHING LEVEL OF SKILL; NEVERTHELESS, to the style and form of the music being played.
My favourite bass to dateis a 1962 Fender Jazz. My longtime
IF YOU CAN SLAP AT A MILLION MILES AN HOUR, IT MEANS mentor and friend Herbie Flowers has one: the bass he recorded
NOTHING TO ME Lou Reeds Walk On The Wild Side bass-line with. I was lucky
enough to play it every week in my lessons with him. It looks
do, but in fact its not: it takes self-discipline and a huge degree beautiful and sounds unbelievable. The greatest bass player that
of concentration to achieve. For me its the fundamental basis ever lived was Jaco, of course. His music astonishes me, and Im
of playing great bass guitar, and no amount of flash solos or sure every bass player in the world has a record of his. He had a
posturing can mask a crap bass player. huge influence on everyone he played with, and his concepts of
My favourite bass to date is my 1963 Fender Precision which harmony and rhythm were so ahead of his time.
Ive owned since 1964. It cost 70 second hand, and its played
on numerous hit singles and albums including The Poacher,
widely regarded as one of Ronnie Lanes greatest songs. I had
the honour of using it on the new Slim Chance album, and I FOUR-STRING BUT IF I DID HAVE TO PLAY A FIVE, THEN ID
replicated my original bass-line, which I played in 1974.
The greatest bass player that ever lived was James Jamerson.
He was light years ahead of his time and to this day Ive never We released our first EP,Word To The Wise,this year and
heard anyone touch him in terms of feel and ability to turn a its gone great. Im also in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.
run-of-the-mill pop song into a masterpiece. His playing on Ive been the chair holder with the band for two years now
Marvin Gayes Whats Going On? is nothing short of sublime. an amazing experience. We have our regular Ronnie Scotts
Slim Chances second album, titled On The Move, has just residency coming up at the end of this year. I am also in a live
been released. electronic band called LONO out of Speakman Sound studios in London.

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 013

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James Williams, LiveWire Photography

BASSES Fender Jazz
AMPS Peavey Head


I like a tough tone: I love harmonies and
riffs but mainly try doing all these silly
things while staying locked up with my
Allyn Lai

drummer. I started out as a guitarist and

noodled a lot, then tried it on four-string
bass and found it quite fun.I wouldnt be
opposed to a five-string bass, I just dont
think its for this band. Now, a six-string
bass? Thats getting ridiculous! To each his
own. Primus is a rad band, though. How
many strings does that guy play? The
secret of playing bass well is to always
eat your vegetables, dont drink, no drugs
and always be available. Everyone needs
a bassist and by bassist I mean a guitarist
that is willing to play bass to get the gig!
My first bass was a Gibson Thunderbird. GEAR
Gibson has always been a favourite of BASSES Warwick Stage I, Warwick Stage II
mine. Im currently playing a Fender but EFFECTS Big Muff Deluxe
AMPS Ampeg SVT-3 Pro, 4x10 Warwick cab
on the lookout for a Rickenbacker.Phil
Lynott is an inspiration to me to always
try to be better, to push myself instead of
backing down.I also aim to have my tone
I would describe my bass style as rhythmical and groove-based. I have elements of rock, funk,
and style be more like Lemmys. I have reggae and Motown within my playing. These styles of music make me the player I am today. I do
a dirty, heavy bass tone like his. Overall, not play five- or six-string bass because Ive never needed to get that low deep bass rangewhich
I just think hes a badass that gives zero a five-string gives you. As for six-string players, I admire them for pushing the bass to its limits.
fucks. When I soundcheck and the dork For me, four-string is the true standard. I would never rule out using a five-string in the future
behind the PA is like Ummm, is your though. I do not slap, but I admire players like Doug Wimbish, Flea and Bootsy Collins who have
bass supposed to be distorted? Im like, it down to fine art. I enjoy slapping when jamming or just practising in the bedroom, but for me,
seriously man? I get compliments after a playing is all about the song if it warrants slap bass then it will get it!
lot of our shows from fellow musicians My fingers do all the hard work: my thumb just watches and laughs. I grew up learning bass-
that say they love my tone. My band lines through listening to music, not textbooks. I learned rhythm, groove and feeling before
Biters are currently catching our breath scales. My favourite bass to date is my Warwick Stage II. This bass has so much bottom to it your
from a long West Coast tour and a recent ribcage will shake, but gives amazing clarity to the higher tones. Its a beast of a bass that I can
run of shows in the UK. Ive been in bed only let out now and again. If I could get the bass tone of any album ever released, I would choose
since I got home two days ago! Im beat, so Radioheads Kid A: from the dirty gritty sound of National Anthem to the soft tone of How To
Im relaxing, but it was really exciting to Disappear Completely, this album has it all.
be back in the UK. I have family and good Play bass every day with the same enthusiasm as the first day you picked it up. Put every inch
friends there. I was also extremely excited of your body, mind and soul into it and feel the bass within. In August we released our first single
to see how well our album Electric Blood is Hey Suzy, which went to #1 in the iTunes blues chart. We have since released our debut album,
being received. Buy our album! Edge Of Town. I feel blessed to play in a band with such amazing musicians.

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Fishbones Glover
(yes, they have four bassists)
Filthy I would describe my bass style as
frenzied sloth. I play melodic riffs as a lead
guitar might. The secret of playing bass well
is to blame the drummer at all times. My
first bass was an Ibanez that didnt like being
smashed against the floor and stages.
My favourite bass to date is my current
one: a Steinberger copy I found in a bin. Im
currently having a custom-made Blizzard
bass produced. If I could get the bass tone
of any album ever released, I would choose
Discharges Hear Nothing.
Stomper My bass style is average at best,
I used to be an ultra-busy bassist, up and
down the frets like my life depended on it,
but then I grew up and stopped bothering.
Why play 12 notes when one will suffice?
Apathy rules. I play five-string because its
one string lower. You can be playing E, E,
E, E... Where do you go from there? B. One
string lower. I do not slap, because it hurts.
The greatest bass player that ever lived was
BASSES Awful/brilliant Steinberger copy found in a bin, Fender Jazz, Aria CSB-380
Bernard Edwards. EFFECTS Boss TU-2, EHX Big Muff, Boss MT-2, DigiTech Bass Synth, Colorsound Fuzz Wah, Castledine Overdriver, DAM Red Rooster, Ernie Ball VP-JR, DigiTech RV7 reverb,
Kav I play bass ham-fisted, maybe one step DigiTech DL8 delay, Behringer bass distortion, Bad Monkey distortion, Jim Dunlop Wah Wah
up from a novice: its a very handy style for AMPS Vox 100 Watt guitar amp, Peavey 400 Watt TKO 115, Fender Rumble
playing while blind drunk, though. I once
read in a book a line that went four strings playing a kazoo through the speaker of Careys warbling, it may be technically
good, five strings bad, or something like a teenagers iPhone on the back seat of impressive but sounds crap. My first bass
that. Slapping? Im not in a funk band. Say the bus. was a Westone Thunder and my bass heroes
no more. My bass heroes are Cliff Burton, Prowler I would describe my bass style as are Gene Simmons, Steve Harris, Lemmy,
Geezer Butler, Steve Harris, Bill Nelson and unremarkable. I do not play five-string bass Geezer Butler. Greatest bass player ever?
Gary Peacock. The ideal bass tone would because I detune to C, which is usually low Errr, me.
be like a recording of a very angry wasp enough. I do not slap because like Mariah
Stagedive Photography


I started playing guitar in the late 80s but always found myself drawn to
the bass. As with most people I pick up influences everywhere from classical
through to metal. Im always re-inventing what I play. I also find that I play
at 100% of my ability when Im in the studio and notch that down when Im
playing live, because I cant help but bounce around the stage like an idiot.
I do not play five- or six-string bass, because I dont have one, its as simple
as that. I like the idea of a five-string with some really low-end frequencies
getting out there, but for the life of me cannot figure out why anyone would
want to play a six string for any reason other than looking cool. They dont,
by the way: Im in a thrash metal band and would probably get slapped if
I slapped. That said Suicidal Tendencies got away with it, so watch out for
some on the next album! The secret of playing bass well is to understand
why youre playing it. Ill say that again: understand why you are playing.
Too many people think that its the tool of ignorance, whereas I look at it as
the link between the melody and the rhythm while being complementary
to the song. If the drums are the heartbeat then the bass is the blood thats
being pumped.My first bass was an Axe! Who are they? They used to
advertise in Kerrang! in the late 1980s. Very cheap, very nasty, but enough
to get me playing. After that I bought an Aria Pro II which served me well
for a few years. My bass heroes are Cliff Burton, Steve Harris, Flea and John
Deacon. It was such a massive loss when Cliff died, as it looked like he was
really starting to influence the musical direction of Metallica; theyve not
really recovered in my opinion. Were right in the middle of writing the next
album: its currently shaping up to be awesome (in my opinion).
BASSES OLP Ernie Ball Stingray, Fender Precision
AMPS Gallien Krueger 700 Watt RBII head, Gallien Krueger 410 RBH 800 Watt 4x10

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BASSES Gibson Thunderbirds with EMG pickups BASSES Gibson Thunderbirds with EMG pickups
AMPS Markbass Little Mark Rocker 500, Little Mark Tube 800, Momark T1M-HE Tube preamp, Markbass cabs AMPS Markbass Little Mark Rocker 500, Little Mark Tube 800, Momark T1M-HE Tube preamp, Markbass cabs


I do not play five- or six-string basses. I tried a five-string around
I would describe my bass style as leftfield pop. Ive always
1990 and it felt alien to me. Since our songs nearly always use loved pop music that has a slant to it. I grew up with all the
standard tuning, stepped a semitone down, theres noreal need greats, but once I became a bassist, my ears were always drawn
for it either. I do use a Hipshot tuned one tone down. I write to music and bass playing that had something unique to say.
sometimes with a four-string at home whichhas no G-string Bass playing in pop music in the late 70s and early 80s was a
just a low B, E, A and D. I do slap, because I can, but only for goldmine, with so many great players on landmark albums that
the fun of it and probably for only 0.02 per cent of the gig. still inspire me now.I dabbled with both five- and six-string
Sharlee from Arch Enemy told me once that in metal, slapping basses earlier in my career.
is a cardinal sin. Please forgive me. The secret of playing bass However, I feel that the bass occupies a certain area in the
well in rock and metal is to know your place in the song. With a frequency range: many a gig has been spent fighting with a
fast track, let the drums and guitar take the attention: the bass pianists left hand. I respect all that use the thumb, but for me,
should hold down the groove and build a solid foundation. If its melodic bass playing has been more a landscape that I love to

ATTENTION: THE BASS SHOULD HOLD DOWN THE GROOVE AND inhabit. Also being naturally left-handed, my right wrist has
BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION. IF ITS MEDIUM TEMPO, YOU CAN never been supple enough to really do it well. I can do a little
if a song needs it, but I prefer to play funk lines with fingers
RIFF WITH THE GUITARS digging into the back pickup of my Jazz bass. My first bass was
a cheap Japanese 1982 Cimar Jazz. My mum and dad bought
medium tempo, you can riff with the guitars. For slower stuff, it for me for $90, brand new, when I was 13. I still use it a lot
the bass has a chance to become the main character. You can live, albeit now sporting a Warmoth neck and Curtis Novak 62
introduce a main melody or hook but youre still bass. Dont style pickups. It sounds great.
get too lightweight. Of course, once you step into the realms of My favourite bass ever to date is my 1962 Fender Jazz. It
experimentation then its another world. Youre only limited by has so much mojo to it, and sounds good in any situation. My
imagination. My favourite bass ever is my Gibson Thunderbird, bass heroes are Mick Karn, Jaco Pastorius, Matthew Seligman,
with EMG TB35 pickups, a rosewood fingerboard, a mahogany Robert Bell, Pino Palladino, Paul Webb, Derek Forbes and
and walnut neck and body, with solid mahogany body wings. David Hayes.As Mark Hollis from Talk Talk once proclaimed:
It looks the business and fits our bands sound spectrum like Before you play two notes, learn to play one note. And dont
it should. I have other great basses from LTD: their Phoenix play one note unless you have a reason to play it.
basses are always with me on the road. I also have a Sandberg I am one third of the electronic chamber ensemble Birds
PM California and a Fender Precision... Im spoilt! Our new Through Fire with guitarist/singer Robby Aceto and texturalist
album, Battering Ram, is out now and were touring with Paul Smyth. Our debut album, Letters To Thurza, is out now on
Motrhead in January. the Trench Editions label.

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Applied Improvisation with

Symmetrical Scales Part

III with Nik Preston: this
month, a B flat blues
diminished exercise. Get
those fingers warmed up!

s an extension of our
previous two columns on
symmetrical harmony,
this month we have an
opportunity to apply some
diminished ideas to a context. In
this example, a B flat blues is our
vehicle of choice.
A blues is a great sequence to
try and apply new harmonic and
melodic ideas, as it will be familiar
to many of us. The keen-eyed
among you will notice that we
have a chord built on the sixth
degree in bar eight: not your
standard I, IV, V progression, but
a variation that is often found in
jazz, gospel and soul music.
When improvising over
resolving dominant chords
we are largely free to choose
any of the dominant scales to
create melodic ideas, as long as
the setting is appropriate. The
resolving dominant chords in
this sequence are the Bb7 to Eb7,
the G7 to Cmin7 and the F7 to
Bb7. Although not resolving,
the dominant chord built on the
fourth degree will also take the
half-whole diminished scale
more on the theory behind that
concept another time.
Youll remember that the was playing a root position chord, it might well cause some raised eyebrows, but with a little practice youll
h-w diminished scale gives us find a balance thats right for both you and the setting.)
the allowable extensions: b9, I have used a range of scalic (or stepwise) ideas over chords I and V, and phrases made of larger intervals
#9, b5/#11, 13, in addition to the over chords IV and VI, to illustrate how we can go about applying the exercises from the previous column.
dominant chord tones: 1, 3, 5, As always, the idea here is to illustrate how we might go about applying content to context: thats way more
b7. Some of these extensions important than learning the actual phrases presented here. However, if youre not familiar with this kind of
will sound dissonant, but harmonic/melodic vocabulary, it can only help.
harmonically correct as long as Once youre familiar enough to play these lines with confidence, I would advise practising at a range of
theyre applied musically. (If you tempos and time feels, and be prepared to experiment with articulation. Ive included a tempo marking of
were to hold a b9 interval in the 210BPM, but thats purely aspirational and not to be taken too literally to start with.
low register while an accompanist The mighty Joe Hubbard is back next month until then, take it slowly and have fun!

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The MU and Basschat

Working as a musician is a tough gig, say the Silvia Bluejay from discusses amplification
Musicians Union. Heres how to survive it!
nless were in a position to go completely
unplugged, amplification is the other

ur industry places a range of pressures on musicians, which indispensable component in our rig
can result in physical or psychological harm. Yet this is often after the bass. Before we put our
dismissed as part of the job. So what basic steps can you take to amps and cabs to good use in our search
protect yourself? for the perfect sound, we need to find the
most suitable units for the kind of music
Protecting your ears we play and two main scenarios: practising
Hearing damage is one of the few things that affects all musicians, on our own at home, and playing with our
regardless of where they work. It is a major hazard, so you need to protect band. Its necessary to take into account the
your ears at all times. level of sonic competition (aka those pesky
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 means your employer guitars and kick-drums) we have to deal
if you have one must take steps to protect your hearing. If they dont, with within the band, but also the venues
they could face prosecution. shape, dimension, audience capacity, and even
If you work freelance, there are still things you can do to protect potential turnout on the night. After all, its only
yourself. Our Musicians Hearing Passport, in partnership with wise to make sure the band doesnt turn up to play at the Dog & Duck
Musicians Hearing Services and British Association for Performing Arts with a backline fit for Manowar, or indeed the other way round.
Medicine (BAPAM), offers an in-depth examination and report, advice on The choice of heads and cabs available and the possible combinations
hearing protection and conservation, and regular check-ups. are bewildering. To make matters worse, our choice of effects may
work better with certain units rather than others. Amp-hunting also
Looking after your health means determining how loud or in your face the band want to sound.
Working as a professional musician, you should also think of yourself as (Bassist: 11 is too last century. Can I turn up to 12? Bandmates: No.)
an athlete, according to physiotherapists who treat music-related injuries. Amp heads come with the eternal question: valves or solid state?
There are small steps you can take that can help you protect your health While the difference in the sound and tone obtained through each
in the long run. technology matters a lot, for the gigging bassist the weight of the amp
For example, warm up before you play whether thats a practice is often equally important. Bassists are constantly trying to travel as
session, lesson, rehearsal or gig. Take regular breaks from rehearsals, light as possible while still sounding good, so the Basschat Amps and
demanding repertoires and schedules. Ensure that you have proper Cabs subforum is alive with discussion, inescapably diverging opinions,
seating which is the correct height for you and allows for movement and and advice on the best compromises. Going lightweight is the dominant
rest most musicians should have a forward-sloping seat. Pay attention theme around cabs too: bassists desperately search for cabs that are as
to your body, learn to recognise healthy fatigue and stop before it hurts. light as a feather. The ideal, of course would be cabs that could levitate.
Accept when you are tired and take a break, and ensure that you get Failing that, and if you cant afford roadies, anything that reduces the
enough sleep and rest. risk of injury before getting on stage or after an exhausting gig is a big
You may consider seeing a specialist, such as a physio, with a music step forward.
background. MU members can get in touch with BAPAM ( Were lucky enough to have among our members the founders of
for specialist advice and appointments. several influential lightweight cab manufacturing companies, who
are also great engineers and theyre happy to come online to answer
Risk assessments questions and gather feedback from fellow Basschatters. We have
Increasingly, musicians are being asked to provide risk assessments and given them the third degree on technical specifications, construction
this is often being added into contracts. At its most basic, this means materials, the geographic location of their production plants, their cabs
listing the tasks you carry out, the possible risks and what you are knobs, handles, wheels, paintwork and were not done just yet.
doing to reduce them. It may also cover how you rehearse and practise, Basschats long-scale aficionados looking for suitable amplification
particularly for noise exposure or musculoskeletal matters. know that theres an additional hurdle to take into account, namely
the propensity of the double bass to feed back, usually at the worst
Equality at work possible moments during the gig. Coupled with the need to make
You have the right to work with dignity and respect. Sadly, a survey sure that the kind of bridge pickup/microphone in use is at least on
of union members across the arts and entertainment sectors recently speaking terms with the preamp, amp and cab of choice, thats pretty
found that 56 per cent of the respondents had been bullied, harassed daunting, especially for novices (theres a pickup on the bridge? Oh.)
or discriminated against (Creating Without Conflict survey, 2013). This Our double bass fraternity has repeatedly come to the rescue, not just
disproportionately affects women and freelancers. If you suspect that you with advice but often also with the loan of equipment for pre-purchase
may be the victim of bullying, harassment, stress or inequality, talk to comparisons or last-minute, on-stage disaster recovery.
your regional office ( Those of us who are put off by all this palaver about amplification,
and are beginning to wish we had taken up knitting rather than bass
Get in touch playing, can always make a point of opting for direct input into the PA
The MU provides advice on all of the above, including a risk assessment when playing live. Im sure its no surprise to find that Basschat has a
template, and more on protecting your hearing and health. Find out more popular, long-running thread about that too!
via or, if you are a member, contact your regional office for
specialist help.

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021.indd 21 02/12/2015 15:38
Ben McKee of Las Vegas rockers Imagine Dragons is a bassist in a
hugely enviable position. With his band selling out arenas across the
planet, and their songs breaking records in an era when the music
industry is in its death throes, McKee and his comrades are defeating
the paradigm with ease. Joel McIver asks the questions
Pics: Tina K

ont worry if youve never theyve won dozens of Grammy, Billboard and an interesting demographic, comprising

heard of the American other awards for their songwriting, and thus middle-aged couples, teenagers, gaggles of
rock band Imagine have some useful lessons for the writers among female 20-somethings and the usual balding
Dragons: like me, youre us. Thirdly, they have a killer bass player in geezers. Theres a reason for this: their
probably over 40 and Ben McKee, an affable 30-year-old cove who songs some of which, like their massive
lacking the time or energy has learned pretty much everything there is 2012 hit Radioactive, youve heard even if
to dig too deeply into new to know about bass theory and techniques, but you think you havent focus strongly on
music. But its definitely about time you paid who understands how unimportant that stuff build, release and big-venue dynamics. Those
attention to the frankly amazing music of this is in comparison to the shared communion of a giant choruses get everyone jumping around,
Nevada-based quartet. rock chorus. anchored by massive bass from McKee, who
Why? Firstly, and most importantly, because When BGM meets McKee backstage at also delivers a bit of sampler tweakage and
theyve done the clever thing that so many the Barclaycard Arena (the Birmingham drums as part of the show.
highly trained musicians usually forget to do: NEC in old money), hes getting ready to No wonder the guy is in a good mood when
dump the advanced musicology and write hit the stage in front of 13,000 shrieking we line him up for a shoot (My first cover! he
songs that speak to people. Secondly, because fans. The Imagine Dragons fanbase is exults) a few hours before stage time

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Ben McKee, Imagine Dragons

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How are you holding up, Ben? Imagine
Dragons have been on the road pretty much
constantly since you broke out five years ago.
Were doing great, thanks! The audiences on
this tour seem really happy to see us, and the
venues are amazing. Our new album, Smoke
+ Mirrors, has done really well too, so its all
looking pretty great.

Which basses are you currently using?

Ive been using Sadowskys almost exclusively
on this tour. I have a couple of Mike Lulls
that I like to play too, but for consistency I
only really need two basses on stage for the
show, and so I use the Sadowskys. Roger
Sadowskys a great guy too. I got into them
when we were recording a song called
Battle Cry in 2014 for Transformers: Age Of
Extinction, featuring [the composers] Steve
Jablonsky and Hans Zimmer. I had played
passive basses before that, but this time I
wanted to have a modern active bass tone,
so I called up the Sadowsky shop and Roger
answered the phone. I told him what was
going on and who I was, and that we were
going to be doing this project. He asked me
a couple of questions about how I liked my
basses and two days later there was one
in the studio when we needed it. Thats the
bass I have right here: Ive been using it ever
since. The new album was recorded with the
Sadowsky and some of the Lulls.

Youre using pretty hefty strings there.

Yes, its tuned B, E, A, D. I go down below
E sometimes, and I dont like to play a five-
string bass because I have small hands. For
the new album and that Transformers song,
we really went with a darker, heavier sound
and that low B has really contributed to
that. The previous album, Night Visions, was
recorded in standard tuning, but when we
were playing live, I used a bass tuned down
half a step. That half step gave me the range
that I needed. When we started working for
Transformers, we went with a darker, almost
orchestral metal sound: it almost reminds me
of S&M, the Metallica album they recorded
with a symphony orchestra. Having that
lower range really let us get to those darker,
more intense moments on Smoke + Mirrors.

Do you use amps and effects live?

I do I have a Matchless Thunderman: I got
them to start making bass amps again! That
goes into a Bergantino NV412 cab, which
I love. For effects, Ive used Sansamps in
the past, and I sometimes use a Malekko
B:Assmaster distortion, but I mostly just
go straight through. I do use an EHX Bass
Microsynth for the intro to Radioactive.

Which basses were you playing before the

Sadowsky and the Lulls?
Theres a guy called Chris Stambaugh in New
Hampshire whos been building amazing

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Ben McKee, Imagine Dragons

basses for me for a while. The first bass he Christmas one year. I loved it: it was my only
built for me was when I was still in college at bass for the first seven years of my professional
Berklee. My commitment to music surpassed experience. It was great it did everything
the equipment I was playing at the time, so I needed it to do. I totally abused it, though,
my teacher drove me up to New Hampshire to because I was a little punk kid. At one point I
meet this guy who built basses in his basement, needed the bass, but it was across the room, so
just a one-man operation. I picked out all the I grabbed the cable and pulled it towards me,
pieces of wood for my bass mahogany for the and of course a bunch of the body broke and
neck, rose myrtle for the top, and so on. It was the grounding severed. I put it back together
one of those coffee-table basses. Chris built me with duct tape and used a metal coathanger
a couple of Tele basses and a really interesting to connect the input to the bridge in order to
semi-acoustic hollowbody that I used for our ground it and that actually got rid of some
Grammys performance with [hip-hop artist] of the buzz that the bass had before. It played
Kendrick Lamar last year. Theyre amazing. better than it ever had.

How did you get into bass? Who were your influences?
I started playing music when I was a kid. My Some of the first bass players that I admired
parents made me take piano lessons when I were Ray Brown and Paul Chambers. Ray


was in first grade, and then I started playing Brown is the definition of solid time. I used to
my dads acoustic guitar around the house listen to him with the Oscar Peterson Trio all
after that. When I got old enough to be in the the time: for about 12 years all I listened to was
string orchestra at school, I started playing instrumental jazz from before 1975. I was a big,
violin. There was a string bass player there, big nerd. I got into the fusion stuff for a while
but he graduated and they knew they were too the Yellowjackets and Shakti and all that
going to need another bassist, so because I had amazing stuff. Victor Wooten was another
learned violin pretty quickly the teacher said, idol of mine: I spent a long time working out
Ben, we need you to learn this instrument his double thumbing technique. Mike Dirnt
now. Youre a bassist! So I started learning was a big influence too, and James Jamerson,
string bass: I still play it now, theres string and Pino Palladino was huge for me. I went
bass on the new album. through my Jaco phase, as everybody does. But
Paul McCartney, James Jamerson and Pino are
When did your first band come along? the three bass guitarists that I try to channel
When I was playing string bass my friends stylistically when Im playing.
started forming a rock band, playing 50s stuff
like Louie Louie and Jailhouse Rock. I was You studied at Berklee. What was your goal at
the closest thing to a bass guitarist around, that point?
and it turned out my dad had a bass guitar I went to Berklee planning to be a jazz virtuoso.
somewhere that he had traded a lawnmower It was really what I wanted to do: take crazy
engine for back in the 70s. It was a real solos and play chords on the bass. But there
no-name piece of crap and the bridge was was an attitude there, a competitive vibe that
totally broken, so you had to shove quarters everybody had, where it seemed like people
underneath the saddles to keep the strings off werent really making music to entertain
the fretboard. Then you had to use another people, they were doing it to show off their
quarter to tune one of the strings, because the skills and prove that they were better than the
top part of one of the tuners had snapped off, other people at that school. It kind of turned
leaving just a slot. The action was really high, me off jazz, so I started taking classes on the
of course, but Id been playing a really crappy, music of Joni Mitchell, and the music of the
California public school string bass so I was Beatles, and the music of Laurel Canyon all
used to that. So I started playing bass out of those amazing composers like Warren Zevon
necessity because I was the only bass player in and Stravinsky. I really got connected to
the county. As soon as I knew how to operate songwriting, and learning about music that
a bass guitar and a string bass, I had a job. people who arent necessarily musicians can
That was in fifth grade, when I was about nine relate to.
years old.
You met some of the other members of
When did you graduate to a better bass guitar? Imagine Dragons at Berklee, correct?
My first proper bass was a Squier that I got for Yes. Our guitarist, Wayne Sermon, and

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Ben McKee, Imagine Dragons

our drummer Daniel Platzman, were both

at Berklee with me: we played in a fusion
ensemble together called the Eclectic Electrics.
It was five electric guitarists, bass and drums,
and we would do Bill Evans piano solos
arranged for guitars, or horn tracks from Miles
Daviss Birth Of The Cool. We did that for three
years at school: it wasnt something that we
needed for credits, it was just a treat that we
gave ourselves.

What does it cost to study at Berklee?

Berklee is an expensive school. I dont know
what it costs now, but back then I think a
semester cost between $30,000 and $40,000, if
you didnt get any scholarships. It was a lot, and
you can be there for four years. I was there for
three and a half: fortunately, there were a lot
of opportunities for scholarships there [www. says that the 2015-16 academic year
comes in at around $65k Ed].

Was it worth it?

I wouldnt be where I am now if it wasnt
for that school, although I didnt actually
finish there. I was one semester away from
graduating, and our guitarist Wayne had
graduated the semester before and called me to
say that he had met our singer, Dan Reynolds,
and that theyd started making music with
some promise. They were going to head out
to Las Vegas and dig in and try and make
it a career, and I was at a point where I was
working hard to get this degree that wasnt
going to help me get the career that I wanted. I
didnt want to teach music.

Or write jingles for TV commercials.

That would be way more optimistic than I
was thinking at the time. Anyway, I really
respected Wayne and his musicianship and
style, so when he told me that he was going to
devote everything to this, I thought Why not?
and dropped out of school. He told me that I
needed to be in Vegas in two weeks. I didnt
even tell the school I was dropping out, I just
packed all my stuff up and left my apartment!
I still havent gone in and checked my grades
for my last semester. We actually have a great
relationship with them now: weve talked to
the president, Roger Brown, a lot, and our fifth
touring member Will Wells is a connection that
we made through Rogers recommendation.

Are you keen on slap bass?

I used to slap, but I havent done it in a long
time. I was never quite the master of the double


thumb, but I definitely got into the slap, pop
and tap. Larry Graham and Flea were my two
biggest idols as far as that style went.

TO GET THIS DEGREE FROM BERKLEE THAT WASNT Are you strictly a four-string player?

GOING TO HELP ME GET THE CAREER THAT I WANTED. I When I was in college I had a five-string built
with a high C, because I was playing a lot of


higher stuff. But I dont really like five-strings
for some reason: I think I had some sort of
stigma in my mind about five-string players

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Ben McKee, Imagine Dragons


when I was growing and figure out the top
up. I was half purist 25 that everybody likes.
and half punk. I liked From that, we figure
it when you could take
a bass straight off the BAND: THE PLACE WHERE WE ALL THRIVE IS WHEN WE out what sort of album
we want and what
wall and play it: five-
strings were kind of a COME TOGETHER AND FOCUS ON CREATING SONGS THAT these songs say, and
then we create that


boutique thing when I vision and the songs
was growing up. come from there.
Weve definitely
Have you studied grown and evolved a
techniques a lot? On one level thats healthy, but if you let that lot as a band: the place where we all thrive is
When I was in college I was incredibly anti- run your life, it can get out of control. when we come together and focus on creating
social: there was a long period of time when songs that people can get behind and sing and
I would just lock myself in my room. I was Presumably Imagine Dragons would still have rock out to. The albums are really about an
practising bass for no less than nine hours a become successful without advanced bass experience that you can sing along with, like
day: not working on particularly interesting chops on your part? the albums that we grew up with.
music, just on techniques. I used to play Exactly! Although if you look at some of our
different patterns around a metronome, early, early stuff, there were some jam-out, How do you decide on the correct bass parts
and work on classical tudes. There was a extended solo bass and keyboard moments. for the songs?
lot of three-fingered technique when I was This was well before anyone was remotely It varies, but I like to have a rough idea of the
practising. Its useful for jazz solos, so I really interested in putting our music up on Youtube, orchestration, which well do a rough MIDI
worked hard on that. so I think that stuff is pretty impossible to find version of for the demo in order to test the
at this point. parts. I like to have that done before I go in and
Do you recommend that kind of rigorous study record bass, because I like to know whats going
to BGM readers? Is the secret of your bands success largely to be happening on top of the bass. The bass
Not as intensely as I did. You have to keep down to the memorable songs you write? really needs to lay that harmonic foundation,
some kind of balance. Its worked out for me That has a lot to do with it. We do a lot of and its nice to keep some melodic interest
in the long run, but I was deeply unhappy and songwriting. For every song that makes it to an in there too. But Imagine Dragons songs are
I was having mental breakdowns and I wasnt album, there are many more that are thrown out fairly dense, so you have to be really mindful
socialising at all. If I sat down for 10 minutes, of the door. We all write: a song will start as a of where youre going to put the notes. In order
there would be a nagging voice in my head demo on somebodys computer, and well work it to create the right dynamic range, we start off
saying, Somebody else is practising and theyre to a point where we have a rough version. When with no bass at all and then add two notes
getting better than you. Youd better go start we go into the studio we go through 150 to 200 here and there, or bass for a single section of
practising, or youre never gonna have a future. of those versions, and make lists of our favourites the song, for example. Its all about going on

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Ben McKee, Imagine Dragons

the journey to get to that point. Pino Palladino

is somebody that I really admire in terms of
the way he constructs songs: sometimes hell
play three notes in a whole song, but where
those notes are is perfect, as well as the way
he develops themes, like in Paul Youngs
Wherever I Lay My Hat. The contour of that
song is amazing: I really took that song apart
and studied it.

What advice would you give our readers

about becoming a professional bass player?
Know the history of the music that you want to
play, and diversify. If you want to play music,
you cant plan on just being able to play one
kind of music. Try to broaden your palette, and
youll find that youll fall in love with different
kinds of music through that process, even if its
something that you didnt know you would like.
I never thought I would be listening to George
Jones and Hank Williams, but I love their
music. I never thought Id be listening to Louis
Armstrong or John Coltrane, but I love that
stuff too. Theres so much music out there, and
it can be a great source of knowledge, so
educate yourself. Also, make sure that
you know how to play keyboards.
As a bass player nowadays, being
able to double on synth is really
invaluable if you want to play
gigs. Understand samplers too:
thats a good thing for bass
players to get into. On some
songs I play a sampler, or a
keyboard, or a guitar: its
really about being as diverse
as possible and saying yes
to opportunities, because
you never know where
they will lead you.

Youve spent
literally years on
the road at this
point. Any tips on
retaining sanity
while touring?
Focus on health
and wellbeing.
Its challenging to
maintain connections
while youre on the
road, so be prepared to lose
some relationships, which wont be easy to
deal with. Find balance, which will help
you to find energy when youre at your
darkest and most depressed and you need
to get off the tourbus and play. Go into
town: walk about a bit, itll brighten your
mood. There are lots of experiences to
have on the road... its all about what
you make of them!

Imagine Dragons will be touring the

world in 2016. Smoke + Mirrors is
out now on Interscope. Info: www.

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031.indd 31 02/12/2015 15:17
American rock legends Mtley
Crehave finally quit playing live
shows. Amit Sharma catches up
with bassist Nikki Sixx to find out
whats next for the bassist who
died, was brought back to life
and wrote a hit song about it, all
in one day
ou know, I get a lot of

flak, chuckles Nikki Sixx.
People say, Nikki Sixx
cant play bass! And I
always laugh. Its like, Ive
been playing arenas for
34 years sure, Im not a
good bass player. You know 120 million
records sold, but definitely not a good bassist.
Yeah, I get it.
When you sit down with Mtley Cres
bass player, who formed the band in 1981 with
drummer Tommy Lee, you soon realise that
he rejoices in proving his doubters wrong.
His band played their farewell UK tour this
November and just in case anyone thinks
theyre telling porkies, the four members have
signed a legally binding cessation of touring
death pact. This is it, the end of an era. Theres
no turning back.
Well, Ill be back, but never with Cre,
says the Californian, sitting by the coffee
table in his plush room at Kensingtons
Royal Garden Hotel. Not even the smallest
chance. I dont want to, none of us want to.
The phone calls will start, Im sure the snakes

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Nikki Sixx, Mtley Cre

and parasites will come out saying, Hey man,

what about just five shows at Wembley? Youll
each make this much... and Ill be like, No!
Im really adamant about it. The moneys not
important, but the legacy is. Age is a cruel
monster when it comes to rock bands: what
happens is that people grow and change. Me
and Tommy [Lee, drums] dont even listen to
the same music, he likes electronic stuff, Im
really into 70s rock. Vince [Neil, vocals] is
really into the classics and makes a little blues.
Our common ground is Mtley Cre. But there
isnt as much common ground these days, and
thats not gonna get any better. The band will
end, the movie will come out shortly after,
and then well be sat here talking about my
other band Sixx:A.M. We want to leave it now,
before we end up like one of those bands with
no original members. Thats sad to me when
you see two versions of the same band. Its just
so weird for the fans.
The man raises a good point: no fan
wants to see their favourite band dissolve
into a weak-willed, half-arsed tribute act.
Sometimes its good to quit while youre
ahead. And thats precisely what the Sunset
Strips most notorious sons are doing:
preserving their integrity before the cruel
monster Sixx speaks of can set its wretched
talons upon their name.
Since forming in 1981, the hair metal
heroes, synonymous with sleazy odes to
decadence, also practised what they preached:
at one point, Sixx was pronounced dead after
a heroin overdose, only to come back to life
courtesy of a cardiac adrenaline shot, writing
the hit song Kickstart My Heart just hours
later. But Sixx is open about past mistakes
and how to learn from them without regret.
Its all part of the story, says Sixx.
Mine was a version of rebellion based on
abandonment and a deep brooding sense that

MINE WAS A VERSION OF life is poetry. I think I was a living, breathing

nightmare, to be honest. I probably wasnt
a pleasant person, with a temper prone to

REBELLION BASED ON ABANDONMENT violence. I knocked this guy out in Australia

a few weeks ago, and my wife was sat on top

AND A DEEP BROODING SENSE THAT of me in the bedroom saying, You cant keep
hitting people! And I go, They insulted me


and thats what happens! And then she asked
if I was ever going to stop, to which I said I
didnt know

LIVING, BREATHING NIGHTMARE, My bass style and ethics whether

through sobriety, drug addiction, being a

TO BE HONEST parent or a good friend are down to the

fact that I believe you can do whatever you
want with your life. Sometimes that can
have repercussions that in my case ended up
in drug overdose and death. Im not saying
everyone should go through the stop light, Im
saying tread lightly with the fact you can do
whatever your heart tells you. Follow your
path. There was an American mythologist
and psychologist called Joseph Campbell and
his call to arms was follow your bliss. Follow
what you love and you will find yourself on
the right path.

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Nikki Sixx, Mtley Cre


Its a practice that has My set-up is still pretty
certainly worked out simple, he shrugs. Ive been
well for the four-stringer. with Ampeg most of my
He briefly contemplated
guitar as a young teen, at
IS YOU SHOULD BE MORE FLAMBOYANT. BUT career, and apart from that, I
just use a little compression.
which point he stole one
from a shop but soon IF YOU LISTEN TO AC/DC, FLAMBOYANCE IS Its a real low and bitey
type of sound, which works
realised it was the bass he
was born to play and sold
it. (That 76 gold top Les
SOMETIMES OUT OF PLACE well because I play really
aggressively. Sometimes
Ill put a distortion pedal in
Paul would be worth so much there to bring a little dirt in.
now! he adds.) It was the instruments ability When I get flak, what theyre saying is I like my bass to sound closer to a guitar than a
to change the context of melody that inspired You should be more flamboyant. But if you standard bass, at least for what I play in Cre. I
him, almost like a greater force within the listen to AC/DC, it would be out of place. Or find it really cuts through. And when I do walks,
recordings that were shaping his life. imagine if Pete Way was moving all over they sound really fucked up, like the early Black
I was playing guitar and it was fun, but the fretboard in UFO? It wouldnt be right. Sabbath songs where the bass would be blowing
I wanted that thing which could change Luckily with Sixx:A.M. it isnt out of place. up! I think if it was any quieter, I wouldnt have
everything with one note. With a lot of There is a progressive element to that band the same feel.
the Crestuff like Too Young To Fall In and macabre undertones that allow for really At 56, Sixx looks remarkably young, but hes
Love if you listen, its the bass that moves. interesting melodies. On our last record, more than aware of the clock that ticks inside all
The guitar part I wrote just stays the same. I played six months straight with just my of us. After all, hes already died once and been
So the melody moves with the bass, and fingers. I wouldnt use a pick, unless I was with lucky enough to tell the tale. If that doesnt put
understanding that was how I began to write Mtley Cre. It brought out another side of things into perspective, nothing will.
songs. My first bass was a Rickenbacker. I me, something that was a bit more rhythmic, I understand age, he says. Im experiencing
didnt want it, I didnt like it, but it was all almost a little funky. People had never heard the reality that there are more years behind me
I could afford. I actually wanted a Gibson me play like that! Then Id start using the pick, than in front of me. Unless some miracle drug
Thunderbird. which would sound more like stuff you hear comes along where I can take a shot every week
As Sixx began to broaden his musical on Jack White or Lenny Kravitz records. for a month and get another 30 years. That
horizons, he explored the immortal 70s rock When it comes to gear, Sixx favours the would be great but thats not gonna happen in
of Aerosmith and UFO and developed an simpler things, just like in his note choices: my time, so I need to cherish what I have. Like
ear for songs that affect people. He decided a solid wall of sound with little need for any I said, the moneys not important to me. The
to stick with the less is more school of bass intense parametric tonal sculpting. You could legacy is.
playing serving the song instead of seeking say hes a fairly straightforward, plug in and
opportunities to stand out as an individual. play kinda guy. Info:,

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036 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

036-37 Janisch_rev3KP.indd 36 02/12/2015 11:50

BASSISTS Michael Janisch

Mike Flynn interviews jazz bassist, label owner and producer Mike Janisch

ew bassists have made as like a Bill Withers covers band and the wind I went to New York, he says, and I saw
dramatic an impact on band. I played trombone in the marching all these beat-up soldiers of the scene. I was
the British jazz scene band; I was a drummer in one of the combos; touring with a hip-hop band from Berklee at
over the last 10 years as and also played double bass and electric bass. the time on electric bass, and I got a little bit
Michael Janisch. A road- The tragic death of Janischs younger disillusioned, so I went on a bit of a wander.
toughened virtuoso on brother, a drummer, brought their rapidly I was jumping between New York and the
both upright and electric developing family band to an end. He then midwest and trying to have some fun again,
bass, its apt that the recent release of his put his energy into American football, because it had been intense. Id done two
second solo album, Paradigm Shift, marks the channeling his aggression into the sport degrees in five and a half years.
end of a hectic decade that began with his to get through this difficult time. Studying At this time he met Sarah, his British wife,
arrival in London on a speculative trip. He a degree in history around the same time and headed to the UK, where he immediately
ended up staying and setting up his own fuelled Janischs interest in politics and found himself in the heart of the music
label, Whirlwind Recordings, in 2010, to debating, and then an injury in his third year scene. I went to the jazz jam at the Jazz Caf
release his debut solo album Purpose Built. saw him retire from sports too. There was a in London and played electric and double
Five years later the label now boasts over 60 three-year period where I didnt play bass, he bass. Glinda Powell, who is the mother
releases, with Janisch as producer on the recalls. I remember almost saying goodbye and manager of [singer/trumpeter] Chantz
vast majority. to it. I had locked it up in my room and I was Powell, heard me. This was right when the
Paradigm Shift is an ambitious and like, Yeah, Im not going to be doing music Jamie Cullum thing was going nuts, and
imaginative double album, a funky now it was really sad. But then a year and a Universal were signing a lot of other young
amalgam of early Weather Report-style half later I went back into it and I got hooked artists in hopes of them being stars so
electro-acoustic jazz, electronically treated I went insane Chantz was going to be the trumpeter and
soundscapes and solo bass interludes. Hes Finishing his history degree in Mankato, tap-dancing singer guy from New Orleans.
joined by saxophonist Paul Booth (previously Minnesota, Janisch immediately transferred I joined his band that day and we started
with Steve Winwood and Carlos Santana,) to La Crosse, Wisconsin and started a music playing all over Europe, which is when I met
electronics wizard Alex Bonney, and a trio degree. His reinvigorated love of music guys like Paul Booth. It was insane!
of young American jazz stars including became intense. I grabbed the electric and Gear-wise Janisch needs to cover a lot of
trumpeter Jason Palmer, keyboardist Leo grabbed the upright and just went mental musical bases, but in fact he only uses two
Genovese and drummer key workhorse instruments.


Colin Stranahan. This Im currently playing on
transatlantically-inclined a Christopher Chinese
line-up is typical of Janischs double bass: its about 20
modus operandi: he has
constantly sought to build MY BASS. I LOCKED IT UP IN MY ROOM AND years old now, he tells us.
People are surprised when
artistically vibrant bridges
between the US and UK WAS LIKE, YEAH, IM NOT GOING TO BE I say that they usually
think that I have something


jazz scenes for the benefit from the 1800s. For electric
of both. Its testimony bass, I have a two-octave
to his work ethic and four-string Fender Jazz.
organisational prowess that It was a model they only
he and his Paradigm Shift band made from 2005 to 2009,
has just completed a 20-plus date UK tour in for four months, he says. My routine was to I think. I use Ashdown amps, currently an
these tough times, no mean feat. start practising on Sunday, and then I would Electric Blue 180 for both instruments; a Full
This endurance stems from Janischs practise until Thursday night, and on Friday Circle in the round double bass pickup; and
early musical experiences. He was a classical I would let myself go out it was nuts. I DAddario Helicore medium gauge double
pianist until the age of 15, when the learned every scale you can imagine, all sorts bass E, A and D strings plus a Zyex G string
constant cycle of six months of practice on of stuff. I wish I would have had some lessons from DAddario. For electric I use DAddario
a demanding classical piece, performance at that time, because I was going so far in one as well. I also endorse Planet Waves cables,
and theory testing caused the first of several direction that over time Ive had to fix a few although Im starting to talk with Vovox
burnouts in his life. While he became things. Im talking about physical things, just their cables are amazing. I also use a Carbo
a highly accomplished pianist, he had a to keep your body in check and to be able to double bass bow, the ones made of carbon
simultaneous love of sports track and field, execute things better. That was a big thing. fibre. I have a Boss RC-300 loop station and
basketball and American football. I was Janisch stayed a year and a half in Im working up some solo pieces featuring
seen as a weirdo, he tells BGM, because on Wisconsin and continued his rapid double and electric bass. Its a lot of gear to
the one hand I would get in a fight with the development before he decided to send an lug around to gigs!
jocks if they picked on the musicians, but I audition tape to Berklee College of Music. With the Whirlwind labels busy release
was a musician geek too! So I was an anti- He was accepted with a full scholarship and schedule and the man himself in demand
bully, because I straddled both worlds. But I also gained a place at the Mancini Institute more than ever as both sideman and
got burned out as a pianist: there was a lot of in Los Angeles, where he was tutored by jazz bandleader, Janisch is an inspiring example
pressure, because my hometown [Ellsworth, heavyweights such as trumpeter Terence of how to survive and indeed thrive in
Wisconsin] is like a musical powerhouse. Blanchard and bass don Christian McBride. todays ever shifting musical landscape. Keep
We had an amazing music department and a He followed this with a degree in double bass an eye out for him.
great educator who would churn kids out and performance and music business in Boston,
send them to New York, to the Philadelphia but found that hed pushed himself so hard he Info:,
Philharmonic. I was in a lot of covers bands, had another burn out phase.

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 037

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Lucy Shaw, Squeeze

'm influenced by all sorts
of music, from classical
music and jazz through
to pop, hip-hop and
Motown. I find that four
strings are all I need for
the type of music I play,
and I generally prefer older basses, which
rules out many five- or six-stringed
instruments. I actually find a six-string a bit
of a stretch for my size hands. If I need lower
notes its usually in the context of a more
dub-sounding piece, and I would use
something like an octave divider pedal. I love
a bit of slap bass when its played like Larry
Graham does on Theres A Riot Goin On, but
its not really part of the musical style I get to
play with Squeeze. Maybe on the next album!
Its all about the groove for me listening,
and supporting the other band musicians,
rather than trying to take centre stage. In one
of my first bands, the keyboard player, Jason
Knight, gave me some good advice: bass is
basic. Thats always stayed with me. Its okay
to have maybe one moment in a song where
the bass sticks out a bit, but generally I think
its best to do the accompanying job without
really being noticed. Saying that, I love a bit
of spontaneity and free improvisation.
My first bass was an old semi-acoustic
Hohner, which originally belonged to my dad.
My favourite bass to date is my 18th-century
Dodd double bass: it makes a rich, beautiful
acoustic sound and is a real treat to play.
My bass heroes are Carol Kaye, Gail Ann
Dorsey,James Jamerson,Paul McCartney,
Niels-Henning rsted Pedersen, George
Porter Jr of the Meters and Wilton Felder,
the sax and bass player from the Crusaders,
who played session bass on many Motown
tracks including the Jackson 5s iconic I
Want You Back. The greatest bass player
Rob O'Connor

that ever lived is John Bentley, previously of

Squeeze. How does one fill those shoes?
Its a dream to play in Squeeze and I feel

so honoured to get the chance to share the
stage with them all. Its a joy to play with
a drummer you really lock in with, and
Im looking forward to touring with Simon
Hanson weve played together a lot in the
past, and were in the groove! There are
moments when I play with Squeeze and
Simon particularly, and it feels as if were all
Our new album,Cradle To The Grave,
was released in October. Danny Bakers TV
series, titledCradle To Grave, which features
the songs, was broadcast in September its
really funny, I highly recommend it. We will
tour the US next spring followed by some UK
Bass maestro Lucy Shaw tells BGM what its like to share the stage summer festival dates.

with arguably the coolest British pop band of all time, Squeeze Info:

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040 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

040-041 Rhino_rev3KP.indd 40 30/11/2015 15:20

Rhino Edwards, Status Quo

John RhinoEdwardsof Status Quo has released his second solo album, Rhinos Revenge II, just in time for
his appearance at the 2016 London Bass Guitar Show. Joel McIver meets the wild beast
ohn Rhino Edwards is no and Dexys Midnight Runners, so when he for Andy Fraser theyre good enough for me.

slouch. As we prepare to says that his current bass is the best one hes Andy is the reason Im talking to you now. I
ask why theres been a ever played, you need to take that seriously. was playing guitar in a band when I was a kid,
15-year gap between his I recorded the album with the Status Stealth and I heard him on the radio and went to see
first solo album and the prototype that Ive had since 1996, he explains. Free play. After 15 minutes I said, Thats it, no
new one, Rhinos Revenge I use it whenever I can its the best bass Ive more guitar for me, Im a bass player! It was a
II, he sees the cheeky ever had. I was using Status before I was in real epiphany. My dad saw an advert for a band
question coming and says: It was that difficult Quo, they work so well for me. I also used a who wanted a bass player, so I borrowed a bass
second album! Look, all the stars had to align, Gibson EB3 on the record, although it was a pig and went down there. I couldnt understand
and I dont give a toss if no one likes it, I had to keep in tune! Its got no bottom end but it has why I got the gig when I hadnt played bass
the most amazing time doing it. Im over the tons of honk and cut. And the other thing I did before, but later I found out that I was the only
moon, Brian, as they say! It takes me a long in the studio, which you never see in this day one who turned up for the audition! It was
time to write a song: Im not a gifted lyricist so I and age, was use an Ampeg SVT, which was meant to be...
have to spend a hell of a lot of time on them. incredibly loud, even for me. I didnt even like Is he looking forward to his appearance
But Im thrilled with the way it came out. walking past it. at the London Bass Guitar Show in 2016?
Recorded over an 11-day stint at the Chapel Normally, Rhino looks elsewhere for Im very much looking forward to it. Ill be
studios near Louth in Lincolnshire, Rhinos his amplification, he adds: Ive been using searching for the fourth chord! he chuckles,
Revenge II was recorded withRhinos sons Max Markbass for five years: I was complete and adding: I go to the LBGS most years, although
on drums and Freddie on guitar,alongside utter Marshall before that until I decided it was sometimes the sound reminds me of a load of
Matthew Starritt on guitar and harp and Rhinos time for a change. The Markbass is so versatile, angry wasps, with all the slapping thats going
daughter Mae on backing vocals. I decided and its never let me down, its the most on. I do like Larry Graham though, I was there
about four years ago that I wanted my kids to incredible gear. for the first Graham Central Station album,
play on the record, says the great man. I really Across his career, hes used several you know. Personally Ive never been the most
love the way they play: we all grew up on Free prestigious basses, some of which fared better technical bass player. To me its all in the fingers
and Zappa and the same bands, because for than others. My first bass of any note was a and in the heart, and if you havent got it, you
better or worse I passed all my influences on Rickenbacker 4001 which I managed to smash havent got it. A lot of it is in the strings too: I
to them. Theres a synchronicity there: it was to bits on stage, he recalls. This was before I use Status strings now, and I used to use Trace
one of the most incredible experiences ever, was in Quo. My band had been recording, and Elliot strings but they dont make them any
and we really got into it. Instead of doing it on Id been up for three days and I basically passed more. Ive got one set left, which Im saving for
a computer, we actually played live, horror of out on stage and fell on top of it. Rickies dont my next solo album in another 15 years!
horrors! In this day and age thats not common. have the strongest necks, do they? Ive still got
The kids didnt need any telling. I was totally a couple now, a 74 and a 76. Rhinos Revenge II is out now on Molano Music. Rhino will
confident with what they did. Does he ever play extended-range basses? be touring the UK and Europe in February 2016.
Its been 28 years since Rhino joined Status No, he says emphatically. I do a drop D,
Quo, having previously played with Space occasionally, but if four strings were enough

Bass Guitar Magazine December 2016 041

040-041 Rhino_rev3KP.indd 41 30/11/2015 15:20

Jeff Berlin


engaging and funny: his kind of humour
really appealed to me. He made me laugh from
the first minute, and I loved him even more
after that. He was my hero, my big brother
and my musical guide.
We had a band together, although it never
recorded: just a couple of gigs around LA with
Bruce Gary from the Knack on drums, Jack
on bass and me on guitar. It was awesome. He
sang and played with his usual intensity. We
did a lot of songs from Songs For A Tailor and
Out Of The Storm.
Songs For A Wailer is a pun I came up with
as I reflected on Jack and his songs. Jack wailed
when he sang: I coined a phrase, Scottish soul,
which is what he sang, and I wanted to honour
his legacy. I didnt really want to go into the
Cream stuff that much because its already
been done. The producer John McCracken has
been spearheading this project in terms of the
PledgeMusic campaign and the younger set of
musicians great players all who I might not
normally recruit to the album because I would
normally use what I call my jazz mainstays.
Ginger Baker, Chad Smith, Bobby Caldwell

and Gary Husband have been invited to play

drums on the album, and Mark King is going
to sing on it. I would love to have Ringo Starr
play on it too, because he has a feel that I
have admired for ages, and also because Jack
played with him, of course. For one song, Im
planning to have five or six bass players come

in: the song is Smiles And Grins from 1971,
which has an ostinato bass-line. I want to
invite Paul McCartney to play four bars of the
ostinato, followed by four bars by Sting, and
Flea, and an upright bassist like Dave Holland,
and Les Claypool and so on. There would
be no tone adjustments: each part would just
flow into the next. It would be our chance as
bassists to pay tribute.
The mighty Jeff Berlin, fusion veteran, is releasing a tribute album I wanted to do this when Jack was still here.

to the late Jack Bruce. The great man tells us about his new release, We talked about recording together for years
and years, but sadly time waits for no man.

Songs For A Wailer When he passed away, I told myself that I might
have missed the opportunity to work with him
while he was alive, but that I would honour

ack Bruce was my greatest happening. It affected me so deeply, and I was so his memory now that hes gone and really do
influence as a bass player. I taken with Jacks bass playing in that wonderful justice to his songs. I didnt want to do a Cream
worshipped the musical trio. We all loved Cream, and I understood why covers record: I want this record to encompass
flow that he heard. If you Jack was so great. as many years of Jacks career as possible, even
listen to Creams records, I first met Jack around 1977. I was in before Cream. I have an arrangement of a song
and notice the bass-lines in England with Bill Bruford, recording with him. called Over The Cliff that I want to do. The
a lot of the live music, Jack I mentioned my admiration for Jack to John music is flowing out of me like never before, and
was in an attitude of flow. For me, that is the Hiseman (a legendary UK drummer and friend I cant wait for you to hear it.
highest state a musician can be in, and I caught of mine) who asked if I wanted to meet him. So
onto that as a kid not realising what was going Jack came down to Ronnie Scotts to meet me, Info:,
on, just that something magnificent was and we hung out that evening. He was instantly

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043.indd 43 02/12/2015 15:38
044 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

044-46 Eve_rev3KP.indd 44 02/12/2015 14:37

Douglas Mullen, Eve Guitars


Mike Brooks heads north of the border for a chat with ace bass luthier Douglas Mullen of Eve Guitars
ronted by the effervescent luthier Douglas Mullen, bass For many bassists, the perfect chance to try an Eve bass in the flesh will

brand Eve Guitars have created something of a wave be by visiting the London Bass Guitar Show in March. The LBGS experience
over the past few years. As Dougie explains, an Eve bass is always rewarding for Dougie, with visitors becoming potential customers.
is made with love, care and attention to detail. The shows are an absolute joy, Dougie says. Its one of the few times that
It was the limitations of his own bass that led Dougie Im not in the workshop at the weekend! Our newest bass, the Iona, was
to dip his toe into the waters of luthiery. I became designed as a direct result of customer conversations. Weve found that the
interested in building bass guitars in the early 90s, when shows act as a showroom: customers want to talk to us, play a number of
the limitations of my own bass became quite apparent, he tells BGM. It could different models and then make an informed choice once theyve had time
no longer match what I required, so I investigated the possibility of building to consider the options and price. You can also purchase an Eve instrument
my own instrument. I knew the sound I was after, I loved Jacos tone and from Bass Gear in Twyford.
the crunch of Les Claypools Carl Thompson bass. They were early signposts Were often asked how long a build will take, he adds. That depends on
towards what I was looking for, but I also wanted a thick low end with how many orders we have ongoing currently, and the complexity of the order.
plenty of definition and singing mids. The bass also had to be exceptionally Our custom Elite range tend to take a little longer as the construction is very
comfortable and easy to play. Ive been astounded by how many basses are involved with angled set necks and exotic woods. Our Iona and Classic bolt-on
difficult to play they may offer the tonal value you require, but you find
yourself fighting with the instrument rather than playing it. The idea wasnt a
career choice: it was simply to solve a particular problem at the time.
Back then, there was no internet to consult, so the path to becoming an
instrument builder was akin to learning the art of alchemy or so it seemed
to Dougie at the time. Im entirely self-taught, he tells us. Luthiers were like
some mythical creatures you only heard about in low whispers in affluent
playing circles: they were difficult to track down to seek advice from, so I had
to apply some logical thinking and simply make my best guess as to how to
make an instrument. I was nearing the end of high school and when I told
my woodwork teacher about my plans, he laughed and said that I was on
my own as I could barely make a spice rack which was entirely true. As
the build progressed, though, he saw my conviction and gave me advice,
eventually becoming a great, supportive mentor.
Having a bass custom-built can be a dream come true, but also a
worrying process for some, wondering if their specification will match the
sound in their head. Thankfully, Dougie is on hand for advice. I discuss
every aspect with the customer before an order is placed, he explains.
We may know one or two things about how something will sound with
a particular combination that they may not be aware of. Being a small
business means we can experiment with these things without blowing
the business model out of kilter.
Eve Guitars exists to serve the individual and respond to
challenges, with a strong sense of design and character in both
sound and look. We spend months designing every aspect to make
sure that it is functional first, then consider the aesthetics once
the actual problem has been solved. Good design is not about how
something looks, but how it functions. Every single Eve bass is made
by hand, which is very labour intensive, but we try to keep prices at
a human level. We produce around 20 instruments a year, which is
testament to the amount of handcraft in every single bass. Nothing
ships unless we think it deserves to carry the Eve logo.

January 2016 Bass Guitar Magazine 045

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Douglas Mullen, Eve Guitars

designs tend to have a working time of approximately 12 weeks, with the Elite something beautiful with high quality materials and precise workmanship,
usually taking a little longer than this. We like to send customers photos of the I think it deserves to be shown in its natural state, rather than buried under
build in progress to keep them appraised of the situation: this gives them an paint and lacquer. Of course, this is down to personal taste, but when
insight into the work involved in the production of their instrument. you have such a variety of stunning woods available with unique sound
It wont have escaped your attention that Eve instruments are extremely properties, I think they deserve respect. Firstly, we design the sound character
organic, timber-based affairs none of your solid colour spray jobs here. of the bass and the choice of pick-ups and woods are paramount in this. As
Dougie is forthright in his decision to go down this route. If youre building you can accent the fundamental with different tops, laminates and stripes,
this adds an exciting dynamic to the rich aesthetic, which is enhanced with
our unique oil and wax finish to give an unbelievably luxurious feel. We dont
offer spray finish on any of our instruments, but weve experimented with
many finishes and settled on Danish Oil and Paste Wax as it produces an
exceptionally high quality finish which is easy to maintain, doesnt crack or
chip and feels great under the hands.
With such a wealth of knowledge to hand, we thought wed ask Dougie to
come up with his ideal bass recipe, were he to build a bass for himself. The
fiery luthier replies, Ive only ever built three basses for myself in 22 years:
with orders getting in the way Ive never got around to it, so I suppose Im due
a new one! Ive been thinking for a while of an eight-string double-octave
fretless bass. I love Jeff Aments work on Pearl Jams debut album Ten, and
Ive always wondered if that would work as a fretless. My ideal spec would
incorporate a spalted beech top: I bought several chunks of this stunning
wood a few years ago and Ive been looking for an excuse to use it. The figure
is outstanding and beech has a nice snappy tone. Id match that with an iroko
body as its a great tonewood. I experimented with some last year and was
blown away by the sound.
In such challenging times, its reassuring to see a bass company making
a real go of things and with Dougies tenacity and keen eye for producing
a quality product, Eve Guitars will surely be around for a long time to
come. We live in a very noisy and crowded world, he observes, and it
can be difficult to get your voice heard in any industry thats established
as much as the guitar market is. You need to offer something that nobody
else does, and thats our key advantage: personal adaptability. I believe in
making the greatest instruments we can, with soul and integrity. Passion
and love are built into each bass. We believe in the true art and craft of
instrument making, which isnt driven by market forces or the bottom
line. The customer can be assured that only a single pair of hands has
made their Eve bass from start to finish. When you buy an Eve, thats what
youre supporting.

046 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

044-46 Eve_rev3KP.indd 46 30/11/2015 15:47

GEAR Introduction


48 52
ehold our world-beating
bass gear review section,
where we bring you the
Pedulla Little Guitar Works
crop of each months new, Buzz Fretless Torzal Jazz
interesting or otherwise relevant
bass guitars, bass amplifiers,
bass speakers and bass effects.
Occasionally well review a
guitar effect if its particularly
useful for bassists, and well
test recording equipment and
general accessories every now
and then as well, but generally
speaking, this zone is for bass-
specific gear.
We take the ratings that
we give each item very
seriously. BGM is the only
print magazine devoted to bass
in this country, and we have
readers from all over the world,
so were responsible about our
conclusions. If a product is
worth your investigation, well
say so; if its flawed in some way,
we wont hold back from making
that clear. Were not beholden 56 60
to advertisers in any way and Burns Schertler
our conclusions are entirely Club Series Bison Bass Fidelity B15 Combo
independent of the views of
manufacturers, musicians and
When you read about a
bass-related product here, you
know youre getting a sensible,
balanced review from an
experienced bass tester. Value
for money is at the top of our
agenda in these cash-strapped
times, but on the other hand, we
believe in paying for quality.
Right, thats enough from me.
Remember, this is just about the
only place that its good to have

Joel McIver, editor

*GAS = Gear Acquisition Ashdown

Syndrome (a malaise often Dr Green Pedalboard
suffered by bass players)

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 047

047 Reviews intro_rev2_NR.indd 47 01/12/2015 16:09

Buzz Fretless
If youre going to do something, do it well, as the saying goes and Michael
Pedulla has done just that. Mike Brooks checks out the buzz on the street
Bass Direct

ichael Pedulla has been celebrating 40 years of making his finely
handcrafted instruments this year, and there is reason to celebrate.
Trends come and go, but Pedulla instruments remain as revered
today as ever. We dont see too many of them on this side of the
pond, but fortunately for us, the fine chaps at Bass Direct here in the UK
thought it about time that Pedulla basses were more visible to bass players
here. Lets dig in

Build Quality
The Buzzs curved body with its deep cutaways, slim horns and mild
contouring feels incredibly functional, and with both the body and neck
finished in a glorious purple high gloss finish, this custom ordered bass
already scores big points in the looks department, the gloss emphasising
the colouring to the max. The AAAAA solid quilted maple body wings
and three-piece maple laminate through-neck merely add to what is
already an eye-catching but tastefully assembled instrument. The bass
sits perfectly against the players body, despite only minor chamfering to
the top body bout, and feels very comfortable.

Comfort has obviously been a major consideration, and although the

basic MVP/Buzz design hasnt changed radically over the last 35 to 40
years, it is very much a winning formula as the overall playability is
stunning, irrespective of the fact that this is a fretless instrument. The
balance and tilt factor are excellent, but the neck is where the action
is really at. With a 40mm nut width, the fingerboard is hardly broad
but in combination with the shallow D neck profile and neck depth,
there is enough timber to feel substantial without detracting from the
comfort factor.

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048-50 Pedulla_rev3KP.indd 48 02/12/2015 17:25

Pedulla Buzz Fretless Price 3,999

Price | 3,999
Made in | USA
Body | Solid AAAAA maple
Neck | Three-piece maple, 34 scale
Neck joint | Through-neck
Nut width | 40mm
Fingerboard | Ebony (polyester coated)
Frets | 24
Pickups | Bartolini soapbars x 2
Electronics | Bartolini preamp, three-band EQ
Controls | Volume, pickup pan, bass (boost/cut
+/-15dB), treble (boost/cut +/-15dB), mid boost/
cut switch (adjustable internally)
Hardware | Black chrome Gotoh tuners, black
ABM three-way adjustable bridge
Weight | 4.2kg
Case/gig bag included? | Yes, hardcase
Left-hand option available? | Yes

Plus | Extremely desirable fretless bass that
ticks all of the boxes
Minus | The price tag is prohibitive, but fretless
basses dont come much better than this
Overall | If fretless is your preferred choice,
you couldnt want for more. Try one, you may
just be converted!


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Pedulla Buzz Fretless Price 3,999


JUST AS PEDULLAS ALWAYS HAVE BEEN to finish. The maple body and neck resonate like crazy and harmonically,
this bass sings theres no other way to describe it. The pickups convey
every nuance of your playing, so if your fretless technique is a little rusty,
The unlined ebony fingerboard has been coated with a polyester expect every mistake to jump out at you!
lacquer, which some players may not enjoy: however, this not only offers If you want bottom-end thunder to reduce the intrinsic mids and
protection to the ebony but gives the notes a ringing quality, projecting mwah that fretless basses emit, this provides it. If some extra top-end
everything you play with more presence and sustain. The only position sizzle is in order to accentuate those melodic lines and make them stand
markers are white side dots along the top edge, adding to the Buzzs out, there is plenty of boost headroom. Kicking in the midrange boost and
minimal fuss in terms of appearance. cut needs a little experimentation depending on your playing situation,
Black hardware has been used throughout: the ABM bridge allows the but the trimpots are easily adjusted and you can tailor the midrange to
player to adjust the 19mm string spacing using rolling saddles. The active your exact requirements.
Bartolini circuitry and soapbar pickups are well matched with controls I found the neck to be incredibly playable: the lacquer gave the board
for volume, pickup pan, bass boost/cut (+/-15dB), treble boost/cut (+/-15dB) a sleek slipperiness that I enjoyed, while the hardness of the surface
and a midrange boost/cut toggle switch. Located inside the control cavity and underlying timber provided an audible shimmer that illustrated the
are adjustable trimpots for the level of boost and cut to the midrange and overall tonal character.
overall output of the circuitry.

Sounds and Playability There are no two ways about it: this is a bass of the highest quality, a
Michael Pedulla claims that he uses these electronics only to amplify the seriously top-end instrument, just as Pedullas always have been. You
natural characteristics of the strings and woods. Well, on this showing, almost dont want to play it for fear of marking the bass and its hyper-
hes definitely hit a home run. Fretless basses tend to have a more woody glossy fingerboard. The instrument is a joy to play and fits the player like
sound, with the string naturally vibrating and coming into contact with a glove. At almost four grand, its a serious expense but if fretless bass is
the fingerboard, and this particular Buzz has an amazing tone from start your passion, why not indulge it? Buy with confidence.

050 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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051.indd 51 02/12/2015 15:36
Torzal Jazz Bass Direct

Kev Sanders tries the wrist-friendly Torzal a hand-built Jazz-style bass with a twist

heres an element of stamina involved in playing bass thats often
overlooked. Many players, myself included, have had to cancel shows
or dep out gigs because of painful injury caused by sustained playing.
The most common problem is carpal tunnel syndrome, often caused by
working the fingers hard while the wrists are bent at an unnatural angle.
Good posture and technique will help alleviate this to some extent, but
as luthier Jerome Little says: Instead of asking our bodies to adapt to the
instrument, wouldnt it be easier to adapt the instrument to our bodies?
The Torzal Jazz does just that.

Build Quality
Regardless of the unusual neck design, the Torzal Jazz is obviously a classy
bass that uses top quality materials, electronics and hardware. The alder
body is a take on the familiar Jazz shape, but slightly smaller, slimmer and


lighter than the original. For me, alder is the perfect wood for a bass: more
focused than mahogany, warmer than hard maple and lighter in weight
than both. Its also a very green choice, and although it usually lacks an
attractive grain pattern, on a bass like this with a solid colour finish, thats
obviously not an issue.

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052-054 Torzal_rev2KP.indd 52 02/12/2015 12:27

Little Guitar Works Torzal Jazz 2,250

Price | 2,250
Made in | US
Body | Alder
Neck | Maple, 34 scale
Neck joint | Bolt on
Nut width | 38mm
Fingerboard | Rosewood
Frets | 20
Pickups | Nordstrand NJ4se x2
Electronics | Passive
Controls | Volume, volume, tone
Hardware | Hipshot lightweight chrome
Weight | 3.6kg
Case/gig bag included? | Yes
Left-hand option available? | No

Plus | Well-made, great-sounding instrument
that addresses most of the physical problems
inherent in bass playing
Minus | You may never want to go back to
playing a bass with a normal neck!
Overall | A top-quality, hand-made bass that
your wrists and back will love almost as much
as your ears


January 2016 Bass Guitar Magazine 053

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Little Guitar Works Torzal Jazz 2,250

On the front, the traditional tortoiseshell scratchplate complements

both the chrome hardware and the flawless satin Olympic White finish
beautifully. On the back, the body is gently recessed in an arc behind the
neck join, allowing comfortable access to the 12th fret and above. Helped
by the instruments lack of mass, balance either when standing or sitting
is perfect, again helping to alleviate pressure on your fretting hand.
And so to that neck. Its made from quarter-sawn maple and has a
normal truss-rod system, adjustable from the body end. To add to its
rigidity, the fretboard is made from two rosewood laminates. A glance
at the fretting and neat abalone dot markers reveals that both are
immaculately inlaid and polished. The twist is created by rotating the
angle of the neck at the nut in relation to the top of the bass by -20
degrees, while angling the bridge by +15 degrees by setting it on top of
a rosewood wedge. This gives an overall twist of 35 degrees, an amount
carefully calculated to allow a far more natural position for both left and
right hands, reducing tension in the wrists and ultimately lowering the
risk of injury.
In keeping with the theme of an instrument that your osteopath and
chiropractor will love, the whole bass is incredibly light, something thats
enhanced by the lightweight hipshot tuners and a B style bridge.

Sounds and Playability

In much the same way that playing a Dingwall bass with its fanned frets
can seem a bit daunting at first, initially picking up and playing the Torzal
can be a bit unnerving. But you really dont need to adjust your playing
style at all. Ignore the twist in the neck: youll quickly adapt and find that
after a short time you dont even notice it. For me, the most off-putting
thing for the first few minutes was that in half and first position I couldnt
see the fingers of my left hand, which was scary, at least for a moment.
But once youve overcome this initial adjustment, youll quickly start
to focus on the sound of the bass and youll soon realise that theres
nothing lightweight about that.

The passive circuitry and Nordstrand pickups work brilliantly

together and give you a modern interpretation of all those old Fender
tones we know and love. Theres the familiar bark from the back pickup
when you play hard near the bridge, perfect for soloing, while turning
up the front gives you a smooth, warm tone, full of rich harmonics that
are emphasised and flavoured by the high quality of the timbers. The
simple passive controls work smoothly and without fuss, and give you
more than enough scope to adjust your sound. However extreme you
set the bass and treble, you never lose that classy, detailed and accurate
sound. Championed by companies such as Dingwall and Sadowsky, this
kind of simple passive system has become more and more prevalent on
high end instruments of late and when you try it on a bass like this,
its obvious why.

Without trying a Torzal bass, its easy to dismiss the design as the solution
to a problem you dont have. Perhaps if you were to play a bass like this
from the start, you never would. But if you already have (or want to
avoid) problems with tendonitis, RSI or carpal tunnel syndrome, this could
represent a very sound investment and one thatll keep you playing
bass, rather than spending your time on stage wincing.

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055.indd 55 02/12/2015 15:18
Joel McIver lassos this big-horned steer. Round em up! Rawhide! Etc.
Sutherland Trading Burns London

ostalgia is defined in the dictionary as a yearning for better
days gone by, but in the cynical modern era in which we find
ourselves, its better defined as an easy way to make people part
with their money. Take this Bison bass, a familiar instrument half
a century ago, when real men wore orange nylon strides and sideburns
resembled bales of hay. Look at those big old horns, flatwound strings
and that three-single coil pickup configuration. Theres truly nothing
modern about it. Is all this Austin Powers-style kitsch designed to
make you reach for your wallet in a fit of rose-tinted-spectacles-itis, or
is there genuine quality under the hood?


056 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

056-058 Burns Bison_rev3KP.indd 56 02/12/2015 16:31

Burns Club Series Bison 779.99

Price | 779.99
Made In | China
Body | Indonesian nato, white or black finish
Neck | Hardrock maple, 34
Neck joint | Bolt-on
Nut width | 40mm
Fingerboard | Rosewood
Frets | 22
Pickups | Three Burns Nu-sonic
Controls | Volume, tone, Wild Dog/Split Sound
selector, pickup selector
Weight | 4kg
Hard case/gigbag included? | Hard case

Plus | Excellent reissue of classic design that
feels authentic
Minus | Tone options are a tad eccentric
Overall | Not just for nostalgists, the new Bison
is a killer competitor for anyone looking for that
vintage look and feel


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Burns Club Series Bison 779.99

In any case, youll be too impressed with the neck to care much
about the string choices. Its a serious contender for bass neck of
the year, if theres such an award category (maybe we should start
one?) Neither too grippy that it prevents expression nor too shreddy
that your hand slips off the end, this is one lovely piece of maple. Its
always a sign of a splendid bass neck that the action height seems not
to matter, and in fact our review Bison doesnt have the lowest action.
Build Quality But it doesnt register: were having too much fun knocking out a
Pull this curvaceous beauty out of its lovely furry case and marvel at it bunch of pentatonic and Motown lines and imagining ourselves in the
for a minute. Our review model comes in none more black, although a Hollies in 1967.
white finish is available, and theres something slightly demonic about Control-wise, Bisons original decision not to complicate things with
the pointy midnight-ness of it that will no doubt appeal to our bass- more than one volume and tone pot still seems wise, especially when
playing brethren in the heavy metal world. That said, the retro-looking you consider the range of presets accessible via the nearest control.
headstock and controls, not to mention those single coils, reveals With four positions Wild Dog, Treble, Bass and Split to play with,
exactly where the Bison is coming from the 1960s. plus another four available if you switch the pickup configuration
Flaws are hard to find. The traditional solid construction that Burns from A to B, youre in tone heaven. For the record, the options when
helped to pioneer is still in place, as endorsed by founder Jim Burns youre in A mode are bridge pickup plus a touch of crunch (Wild Dog),
on the manufacturers website. The frets are well dressed, the bridge bridge (Treble), neck (Bass), neck and bridge (Split). Switch to B and its
and other hardware is immovable and theres nary a gap between any bridge and middle, plus aforementioned grit (Wild Dog), bridge and
of the body and neck components. Theres a lot of plastic here, sure, middle (Treble), neck and middle (Bass) and all three units (Split).
as there is bound to be in any bass of this vintage, but its all durable Essentially, therefore, the B mode is for more than one pickup, with
rather than obviously breakable. For around 800, youre definitely a concomitant hybrid sound that is a touch fatter and louder than the
getting respectable quality. pure A settings. My personal faves are Wild Dog B, with its wider,
crunchier sound, and Split B, where all three single-coils are in use.
But everyone will have their preferences: the great thing is that the
Sounds and Playability Bison supplies a ton of easily understandable options, a rarity on any
The Bison is a big old beast: the dimensions of the body mean that pre-1970 bass design.
youll need to be at least average in height and poundage to play it
comfortably. Assuming youre not challenged in those areas, youll
find that this bass sits comfortably on strap or lap, leaving you free to Conclusion
attack the flatwound strings with which the Bison comes by default. Hats off to Burns London, the current keepers of the Burns flame.
You may or may not be a fan of the old railway lines, but for anyone Theyve done a fantastic job of replicating the original, fairly ancient
who prefers alternatives, rest assured that flats are a perfect fit for Bison, in a way that is faithful to the 1960s instrument but which feels
both the bass and its tone options. Theres something quintessentially wholly useful to the modern player. Sure, the old look may not appeal
right about flatwounds on a Bison, for obvious reasons. to everyone, but who said it needed to...?

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059.indd 59 02/12/2015 15:13
060 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

060-062 Schertler_rev3KP.indd 60 02/12/2015 12:36

Schertler Bass Fidelity B15 Combo 1,164

Bass Fidelity B15 Combo
Swiss make Schertler are known for acoustic gear.
Kev Sanders tries out their new electric bass amp

ts a familiar story. Markbass,
Barefaced, PJB, Vanderkley
and now Schertler: these
companies and many others
like them all began in the same
way. A bass player with a
working knowledge of acoustics
and electronics is frustrated by
the quality and sound of the
equipment thats available and
thinks, I can build something
better than this. So they do.
Swiss bassist Steven Schertler
began his own company back in
the early 80s, developing and
making high-quality pickups
and preamp systems for acoustic
instruments, primarily double
bass. That kept him busy for
the next 20 years or so before
he turned his attention to
amplification. Initially the

Price | 1,599 (approx 1,164)
Power | 500W
Speaker | 15 plus 1 compression driver
Features | Single input with -15db pad and
adjustable input impedance control, stereo
jack insert, XLR (balanced line) DI out with pre/
post, 4 band EQ; lo, lo-mid, hi-mid, hi, separate
input gain, mute, headphone out with ground lift
switch, Class D power amp section, transistor
Class A preamp.
Weight | 24kg

Plus | Oozes quality, both in terms of studio-like
fidelity and flawless construction
Minus | No speaker extension facility, fairly
Overall | You get what you pay for. An
impressive move into the bass amplification


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Schertler Bass Fidelity B15 Combo 1,164

company concentrated on developing high quality multi-channel The cabinet is made from dense 25mm birch ply and coated in a
combos for voice and acoustic instruments but now, following the hard black textured finish. Inside, its braced from front to back and
acquisition of their Italian subsidiary company SR Technology, theyve side to side with the same ply, and the interior is neatly lined with
moved into the design and manufacture of combo amps for electric thick white acoustic wadding. Good-quality multi-stranded cables
bass, as well as some PA equipment. There are three models in the connect the drivers and amp, and overall its almost as neat on the
new Bass Fidelity range, the B10 with a single 10 driver and 300W inside as it is externally. The cast-framed 15 speaker and one-inch
output; the B12 which has 400W and a 12 speaker; and this, the compression driver are bolted directly to the front baffle and the
top of the range B15, 500W with single 15 speaker plus one-inch cabinet is ported along the bottom.
compression driver. The large bar handles are well placed either side: although its not
Without wishing to stereotype, the quality of the engineering and particularly heavy, the amps dimensions dictate that its a knees bent,
materials here is as impressive as youd expect given the B15s Swiss back straight lift. However, its well balanced when you do carry it,
origins. Theres a clean, precision-engineered feel to this amp, which is and the four chunky rubber feet mean that it sits solidly on the floor
apparent in the black anodised aluminium tone and volume pots, with when its parked.
a perfectly-weighted soft click as you turn them, and the heavy-duty As usual, the mains on/off and ground lift switch are on the back of
steel amp chassis and grille. Its not the most exciting amp to look at, the amp. Most of the other functions and inputs youd normally find
with a subdued grey control panel, but it does have a monochrome on the back along with the single input and headphone socket have
industrial feel which reminds me of the German-made Dynachord been moved to the front and top of the control panel, with the various
1x15 bass combos back in the 80s. gain and EQ controls below on the front. This makes plugging effects
into the send and return loop or using the balanced line DI really easy.
Personally, Id like to have seen this the other way around, with the


functions and controls you most often need to fiddle with such as EQ
and gains on the top of the amp, and the DI, headphone socket and
input on the front. I say this because the B15 doesnt have an extension

IS A GREAT AMP. ITS VERSATILE, cab output, so unless you can get it off of the ground perhaps by
sitting it on a flight-case or similar its probably going to be at floor

AND THE CLEAN, ACCURATE SOUND AND level. While accessing controls such as the effects loop is much easier
than normal, if you want to adjust your volume or EQ, youre going to
be on your knees in front of it.

WIDE FREQUENCY RESPONSE WOULD So: theres nothing revolutionary about the design of this amp,
its not particularly exciting to look at, and even with those big bar

MAKE IT IDEAL AS A ONE-STOP STUDIO handles either side its still a little awkward to move around. Once
youve plugged your bass in, however, youll forgive it these minor

niggles because it really does sound terrific.
Theres a studio-quality accuracy to the sound of the B15 which
must be due, at least in part, to the experience which Schertlers
designers have gained developing super-accurate preamps for acoustic
instruments. The extended low end in particular is so clean and
precise that on several occasions I found myself playing way louder
than I realised. This is something Ive noticed before with very high-
quality amps, due to a near-total absence of distortion, something that
most (although not all) players will love. The Gain stage does allow
you to add some grit and grind to the sound, and it works well but
with a class A transistor preamp and class D power amp, the B15 is
all about clean, faithful and accurate reproduction of the bass sound.
This is probably not the amp for a player who wants crunching valve
distortion most of the time.
Despite the larger speaker, the midrange is as transparent and
detailed as a 10 studio monitor, and although theres no attenuation
for the HF unit, the bi-amp crossover is seamless and the top end
sounds like a natural extension of the mids. The four adjustable EQ
frequencies (lo, lo-mid, hi-mid and hi) are powerful and well chosen,
and give you plenty of scope for quickly finding your sound, even if
your basss pickups are as wheezing and asthmatic as they are on my
old Jazz. Plugging in something a bit more powerful, in this case a six
string with EMGs and a pokey 18-volt active preamp, meant that a lot
less adjustment was needed from the B15s EQ section, although I was
still able to make the most subtle changes given the smooth, linear
nature of the amps EQ circuitry. Its quick and easy to get a good bass
sound, and with seemingly limitless headroom, volume isnt going to
be an issue in all but the loudest of live situations.
The Bass Fidelity B15 really is a great amp. Its versatile, and the
clean, accurate sound and wide frequency response would make it
ideal as a one-stop studio bass amp. However, its up against some
pretty tough competition. Ashdowns ABM 115H, the Markbass
CMD151 P, Traces 1215 and the rather splendid Ibanez 1x15
Promethean all offer a great deal for substantially less dosh. However,
if amplifying your 3,000 custom bass without anything added or
taken away from its sound is your priority, then this is definitely
an amp to consider and if this sounds like you, youll no doubt
appreciate the quality of materials and build of the B15 too.

062 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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063.indd 63 02/12/2015 15:29
Dr Green Pedalboard
Mike Brooks puts the good doctors pedals under the knife...
Ashdown Engineering


Price | 69 Price | 69 Price | 69
Features | Mute Features | Input, Ratio, Output Features | Direct, Octave
Weight | 481g excluding battery Weight | 522g excluding battery Weight | 581g excluding battery

his recent series of pedals from Ashdown comes under the Dr Green maintain the quality of your signal. The tuner pedal does everything you
label, designed and engineered here in the UK and manufactured in could want it to do, with its large, easy-to-read display and mute facility; and
China, and although the pedals are available as separate units, what we for those who use a dropped tuning, this particular pedal will map down three
have here is the full bass range housed in a very convenient pedalboard. semitones from concert pitch.
The unit is solidly cased and well put together: although some players may The quality of each individual effect is very impressive, with no tracking
wish to play around with the order of the effects. The stomp buttons are glitches at all: a particular relief with the Octa Dose and Doctors Note pedals,
solid and effective and the pedals themselves are robustly manufactured as octavers and filters can sometimes have tracking issues. The Octa Dose did
in their steel casings. Although the chunky controls protrude upwards, in start to get a little niggly around low F#, but thats still an impressive range
a gigging situation they should be safe from being trampled on by punters unsurprising, considering Ashdowns experience with the sub-harmonic
who may have had one too many shandies. feature on their amps. The Bearded Lady fuzz and distortion is also very
We have a tuner (Tune Up), compressor (Aspirin), octaver (Octa Dose), useful, allowing the effect to be added separately in varying degrees to high
fuzz/distortion (Bearded Lady), envelope filter (Doctors Note) and reverb and low frequencies. In practice, it sounds not too dissimilar from the James
(Bass Verb). The input and output are located on the rear of the board and an LoMenzo distortion released by Ashdown a few years ago.
adapter to power the whole board is supplied. Each pedal has a green LED As any effects junkie will tell you, finding combinations of sounds is half
indicator to show when its in use, and all feature true bypass switching to the fun, and with five effects on offer theres plenty of options to play with,

064 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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Ashdown Dr Green Pedalboard 599


Price | 599


Dimensions | 465mm x 80mm x 95mm (Unit)
Power | DC, 9v battery


Price | 59 Price | 69 Price | 99
Features | Hi Fuzz, Hi Out, Lo Fuzz, Lo Out Features | Mix, Sens, Decay, Q Features | Mix, Depth
Weight | 540g excluding battery Weight | 522g excluding battery Weight | 540g excluding battery

even before you place the pedals in a different order. The compressor has a simple but extremely effective control
set: for some truly dynamic funk, use it with the Doctors Note envelope filter, plus a smidgeon of fuzz and soon WHAT WE THINK
youll be creating sounds that Larry Graham would be proud of. The Bass Verb also has plenty to offer, giving your
signal depth and a different edge. Although bass reverb isnt something you will use in every song, when applied Plus | Competitively priced, solidly built and
sparingly and in the right context, it can prove very effective. usable sounds
An obvious omission here is a chorus/flanger pedal: so far there isnt a bass variant under the Dr Green label Minus | Some players may only require one or
but maybe the thinking here is that envelope filters and octave pedals have largely replaced them in the bass two effects as opposed to the whole set-up
players arsenal. I would suggest that one or two of the pedals might benefit from an extra control to give them Overall | A well executed idea by Ashdown that
should appeal to a large number of players: the
a little more flexibility; but, on the whole, the proof is in the listening and as a collection of bass effects, these
sensible layout and quality of the effects should
pedals are truly pleasing. create a lot of interest
All of the pedals were very well behaved with a selection of passive and active basses. The benefit of this
type of set-up compared to a multi-FX unit is that you can take individual pedals out as separate units if you BGM RATING
only need one or two for a certain gig, or if space is limited. You can buy the pedals individually and theyre BUILD QUALITY
priced very competitively. All in all, this is an impressive set-up: players will get plenty of mileage out of these SOUND QUALITY
excellent pedals.

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 065

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Bass Guitar Magazine




Bass Guitar Magazine Presents... Basses You Must Play! collates a ton of reviews of desirable
bass guitars from the BGM archives as part of our magazines ongoing mission to make you a
better bass player. Whether its an 11,000 Fodera youre after and why not? or a bass which
you can snap up for a few hundred quid, this is your one-stop shop for all things bass-related,
and the perfect companion for our first special edition, BGM Presents... The Ultimate Bass Guide,
published last year. Oh, and weve thrown in reviews of cool amps and effects pedals too, just to
round off the package. Bookended by a foreword and afterword from the great Stuart Hamm and
Dave Swift, this publication will take you a long way towards your goal.


* Price does not include P+P

bookazine.indd 1 09/09/2015 15:19

067.indd 67 02/12/2015 15:09
BASS Ellen OReilly is a freelance bassist and vocalist
currently studying at ICMP. Ellen has extensive

experience in gigging, studio and television work.


Paul Geary attended the Berklee College of Music in

Boston and the Musicians Institute of Technology. He
also heads up the Academy Of Contemporary Musics
bass school.


Making you a better bass player

Stuart Clayton is a professional bassist and writer with
elcome to our redesigned tuition section, in which Bass Guitar
over 20 years of experience in the industry. He runs the
Magazine collates the wit and wisdom of the crme de la crme of bass department at BIMM Bristol and Bassline Publishing,
the electric and upright bass world. Were fortunate enough to have which has published a range of tuition and tab books.
some serious talent on the team, from world-class music educators
to experienced touring musicians, who between them have laid down STUART CLAYTON INTERMEDIATE THEORY 76
the low notes in every studio, club and arena in the civilised world. Note
that weve divided the columns according to Beginner, Intermediate and
Advanced level for easy reference. Whether youre looking to improve Rob Statham has amassed over 25 years as a
professional freelance bass player. He has played in a
your playing technique, expand your awareness of theory, set up your rig
wide range of musical settings, including jazz, blues,
to sound like your particular bass hero or simply get on a bus and tour, we prog and classical, and he has taught for the past three
provide the answers you need here. What are you waiting for? Dive in... years at Tech Music School.
Joel McIver, editor

Head of the Bass Department at BIMM Brighton,

Franc has worked with artists such as Steve Howe
(Yes), Lisa Moorish, and Mike Lindup (Level 42). Franc
uses Jeff Chapman basses and Elites strings.


Say hello to advanced techniques columnist Philip

Mann, star of studio and stage. Ready to get those
fingers flying? Mann up...


David Etheridge studied double bass at the Royal College

of Music. Since then hes worked with musicians such as
Nigel Kennedy and Martin Taylor. David teaches double
and electric bass and is the MD of two big bands and a
55-piece jazz orchestra.


Mike has written for BGM since 2004 and has beena
bassistsince 1987, clocking up over 3000 gigs around
the worldin the process. He has played for and worked
withthe likes of Bonnie Tyler and Toyah Willcox, and has
a bass collection to rival a small shop.


Steve Lawson is the UKs most celebrated solo bass

guitarist, with 15 years of touring and 36 solo and
collaborative albums to his name. He also lectures at
colleges around the world.


068 Bass Guitar Magazine October 2015

068-069 Techniques Intro_Rev1.indd 68 02/12/2015 12:45

TUITION Introduction

BGM Notation Legend

The following is a guide to the notation symbols and terminology used in Bass Guitar Magazine
The Stave: most music written for the bass guitar uses the bass clef. The
example to the right shows the placement of the notes on the stave.

Tablature: this is a graphical representation of the music. Each horizontal

line corresponds with a string on the bass guitar, with the lowest line
representing the lowest pitched string (E). The numbers represent the frets
to be played. Numbers stacked vertically indicate notes that are played
together. Where basses with five or six strings are required, the tablature
stave will have five or six lines as necessary.

Notes shown in brackets indicate that a note has been tied over from a previous bar.


Notes slapped with the thumb are Fretting hand slaps are marked Where necessary, down and Fretting hand taps are shown with
marked with a t, notes popped lh and double thumbing upstrokes with the pick will a + in a circle. Picking hand taps are
with the fingers marked with a p upstrokes are shown with an be shown using these symbols shown with +. Specific fingers will
upward pointing arrow (down-up-down-up) be shown with numbers if necessary



Hammer-ons and pull-offs are Slides are performed by playing the Trills are performed by rapidly The pitch of the note is altered by
shown with a slur over the notes. first note then sliding the fretting alternating between the two repeatedly bending the string up
Only the first note is plucked by finger up to the second note notes shown using hammer-ons and back with the fretting finger
the picking hand and pull-offs



The note is played as a harmonic Pluck the string while fretting the The note is bent upwards to the The note is bent up to the interval
by lightly touching the string lower note and placing the edge of interval specified: = semitone, indicated then released back to its
above the fret indicated the picking hand thumb an octave full = tone original pitch
higher (the note shown in brackets)

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 069

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Triviums bass ninja Paolo reflects on the years

best low-frequency performances
2015 has been a hell of a year for bass guitar in rock and metal. Iron

Want to make it as a professional bassist? Listen up Maiden have released an incredible new album after five years Id
say that alone makes this year one for the books. Each member of

as BGMs world-class bass team reports back from Trivium has a fairly wide array of influences, some shared more
than others, but our love for Maiden is equal across the board. They

the tourbus are part of the bedrock that makes up our sound, and with this new
album they
have just given
us a whole lot
THE JAZZ BASSIST more to dive
into. Everything
you want to

Jazz warrior Ruth ponders those school daze... hear and then
some is on the
People studying music often ask me what the best way is to go about record. Its a bit
it. A lot of them play with the idea of going to music college, but its more polished
not necessarily always the best way to go every case is different and overall and the
every person has his or her particular needs. Some people, of course, songwriting
want a degree for more focused
various reasons, and energised.
but if you just They sound
want to be a better like they have
player, performer something to
or composer there prove once
are other cheaper again. Rule
ways, especially of thumb: if
now that studying Maiden can
is so expensive. I still bring the
had a great time power at their
studying jazz age, there
Scott Uchida
bass at Middlesex is no excuse
University for for us young
three years: it bands not to! Lamb of Gods VII: Sturm Und Drang makes my list
suited me at the for two reasons. Musically this album is on point, the lyrics carry
time in terms of the seriousness and turmoil of their recent story while delving
where I was at as into more topics. I am a lyrics dude so this was a big thing for
a player. It also me. Number two, they took a few risks on this album. Having
meant that having known them for a bit, Ive picked up that there is more to their
moved from a musical palate than just thrash metal. Slayers Repentless single
different country, is quintessential Slayer: riffs, thrash beats and Tom Arayas blood-
I was able to build boiling yell. The amazing and severely underrated Gary Holt does
up a network of
friends very
quickly. In a
learning situation it is vital to have like-minded people around you: DELVING INTO MORE TOPICS. I AM A LYRICS DUDE SO THIS WAS A
it allows you to practise together, live in the same areas, and develop
together. This can be a hard thing to do for musicians from abroad who
want to become part of the scene. It was also an awful lot cheaper to incredible work and honours the band Jeff Hanneman helped to
study at a college when I was there. Its quite scary to think that if I build. I was pretty sure drummer Paul Bostaph would fit back in
were 10 years younger, it simply wouldnt be an option for me.Many with no problems since he has been here before, and I was not
bassists just want to become better at their instrument, and a lot of disappointed. Megadeths Fatal Illusion single was amazing too:
them would be better off getting a really good teacher and mentor, and man, its good to hear them firing on all cylinders again on this
studying with them for a longer period of time. With the amount it song. Its got an early Megadeth vibe to it, a cross between songs off
costs to go to music college, you could afford countless private lessons. Endgame and Peace Sells. David Ellefsons bass tone is ripping too!
Also, one-to-one lessons with someone you trust and understand can Then theres Ghost and Cirice. They took a turn back to the slightly
be so much more effective than sitting in lessons with 20 others. You more sinister tone of that first record and reminded me why they
get the full attention of one person, which is invaluable. You may miss are so fun to listen to. I think this song proves their music can
being part of a community, but you can solve this by attending jam carry them without needing to see the makeup. The mix by Andy
sessions and meeting people at gigs. Remember that going to a music Wallace is great he always gets great bass tones in my opinion.
college is an attractive thought, but it is not your only option. Roll on 2016!

070 Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016

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Therapy?s bass monkey Mike on gear-sharing Ten-string warlock McKinsey asks the big questions

If youve read this column with any regularity, you know I have a
propensity to swing into the abstract. No apologising for that, but this
is one of those pieces. Id like you to consider once more your individual
aesthetic. We all get into this for a number of reasons. But whatever it
is that got you here, to paraphrase the great Buckaroo Banzai, here you
are. Now that youre doing this, stop and think why. Understanding
what youre after can actually lead you to greater happiness, less
disappointment and further growth in the ways youre pursuing.
Remember that there are no right answers to any of these things.
Whether you want to be a virtuoso soloist, a professional in the studio
or on stage, a teacher or someone whose greatest joy comes from the
experience of making sounds for no-one but you, none of these paths
is any more or less valid than any other. But if youre hoping to be
the nastiest groove player in history and you end up in speed metal
bands, youre going to be discontented. We can all benefit from open
minds and ears, from exposing ourselves to all manner of music and
musicians. I have learned more from being a teacher than as a student:
to grow and learn we need to never abandon that. At the same time,
we need to look at what it is we want to learn and why. Is your goal
to inspire or entertain? Would you like to be a perfect technician, able
to reproduce anything you read or hear, or are you seeking your own
voice? Do you love one music style to the exclusion of all others, or
do you relish the challenge of the new? Some great artists choose to
abandon what they love. When Miles Davis was asked why he stopped
playing ballads, his answer was, because I love ballads. Thats an
incredibly powerful statement. At the same time, how many of us are
Miles Davis? None of us are locked into one role. Taking a few steps
down an unfamiliar path can only benefit us. But why do you do this? + search Stewart McKinsey

On a recent tour I found myself in the position of sharing a backline

with the support act, which was the first time Ive done so in quite a few
years. Its becoming a norm that makes a lot of practical and financial
sense, not to mention freeing up stage room and transport space. So if
you fancy stripping down a bit, or doubling up with another bassist,
heres what Id advise. First up, reach out directly to the player whose
gear you will be borrowing (theres no point in talking to the drummer,
for example), say hello, let them know what sort of setup you normally
use and work out if you can achieve the right result with theirs. At the
gig, get them to talk you through their setup even if youve used or own
an identical model yourself: its always good to be prepared for any
quirks or mods that might be lurking. Respect where they have their
settings: if theres a complicated graphic EQ I normally steer well clear
and use the basic EQ on my SansAmp pedal. For ease of changeover,
basically aim to deal with the input gain and the master volume. Talking
of which, never crank the volume beyond where they have it set your
rig might sound great pumped, but driving someones pride and joy too
hard is normally frowned upon. Also rather than marking your settings
on the head, risking cosmetic damage, just take a picture on your phone
for quick reference normally thats just as easy to see under stage
lights. If you want the amp moved, ask first and lug it yourself. It goes
without saying to try and bring everything else leads, cabling, stands
and picks where possible. Theyve already done you a big favour so
show that youve made as much effort as you could. A bit of common
courtesy goes a long way, so say thanks every night and even if its not
100 per cent to your sonic tastes be complimentary. Always offer to help
with the breakdown and load-out. The bottom line is: treat the player
and gear as you would like to be treated yourself, respect their cherished
equipment and enjoy using it. That goodwill should go both ways, so
return the favour someday if asked. Happy sharing!

Bass Guitar Magazine January 2016 071

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Beginners Theory
Download the Bass app
for extra content

Pic by Eckie

Three is the key,

explains beginners
bass ninja Ellen

ello again, bass buddies! Over my
past few columns weve looked
at the first two positions of the
major pentatonic scale. This time
well move on to position three and
once we get to the end of this series
of lessons, Ill then show you how
they all fit together.
Scales, arpeggios and pentatonics
work together and within each other,
much like a musical satnav that can
help you navigate melodically within
a given key. Weve been working in
the key of G major up until this point,
which means that for this position,
we will start on the note B, the major
third of the G major scale. Of course,
the best and easiest ways to learn The first two shapes we looked at were major shapes, so as we were using the one-finger-per-fret rule, you started
new scales is to play them repeatedly fretting with your middle finger.
to get the visual shape of the scale The third major pentatonic position is in a minor shape, so start it on your index finger. The scale degrees you play
into your head. Your hands will grow in position three are third, fifth, sixth, root, ninth third (an octave up), fifth (an octave up) and thirteenth. As we saw in
accustomed to the various shapes previous columns, the ninth and the thirteenth are simply the second and sixth, played an octave up. These notes in the
until you get to a point where you key of G major are: B, D, E, G, A, B, D, E.
can just play them without having The notation Ive provided shows you how this looks on a scale. As its the key of G major, we have an F# in the key
to think about them too much this signature, even though we dont play the F# (the seventh) when playing the pentatonic scale. These scales are tools to
is whats known as muscle memory. make music with, so try other major keys as well. Just change the position of the root and away you go!
Knowing the shapes is a great little I have also included grids to show you what shape you are playing in position three: the left one highlights
shortcut to use when asked to solo the root, which is the fourth note you hit as you ascend the scale. Play around with all these shapes and have
on the fly. fun with them. Enjoy!


072 Bass Guitar Magazine October 2015

072 Ellen_Rev2KP.indd 72 02/12/2015 12:39

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Lets start by fretting the E string at the fifth fret and playing the A note. This note is a dotted quaver (eighth
note) The dot increases its value by half. We then play a sixteenth note, semiquaver dead note. As you play
the dead note, try to dig in with your plucking-hand fingers closer to the bridge and simultaneously release
the pressure on your fretting hand finger to dampen and mute the string. This will enable you to play the A
dead note at the fifth fret of the E string. Use the first finger of your fretting hand, as this will probably be
the strongest.
This will take a bit of getting used to. At first you might not actually get a note at all, but rather a
dampened sound, or even a partial harmonic. With a bit of practice, the dead note should start to sound like
a strong percussive thump on the string, similar to a slapped thumbed note. Set your metronome at 100BPM
and begin to repeat that figure, making sure your rhythm and pulse is even.


Dead notes and

harmonics explored, Play the same rhythmical figure on each string across the neck. The first bar starts at the fifth fret playing
with the mighty Geary the D note on the A string. The pattern then moves on to the G note on the D string and finally the C note
on the G string. It is really important to keep the timing and pulse accurate, while making sure the dead note

his month I will concentrate has the right amount of percussive tone and attack. Most mobile devices have a sound recorder, so why not
on dead notes and harmonic record and listen to yourself? This will show what is needed to get the tone just right.
technique. A dead note is a
percussive attack on a string
that helps to create a sound similar
to the thumbed note used in slap
bass technique. It is particularly
useful in projecting rhythm and can
dramatically add dimension to any
bass-line. The dead note is essentially
a technique that has been passed
down from the double bass and
emulated on the electric bass.
Harmonics are really useful and Here we have a four-bar repeating phrase that uses dead notes mixed with actual pitches to create a bass line.
every bassist should have some Start this one at 80BPM and raise the tempo during practice to 120BPM. In bar one we start with a dotted eighth
experience of producing them. note straight into two semiquavers (sixteenth note) dead notes. At the end of bar one we have a B sixteenth note
Check out Jaco Pastorius legendary played on the second fret of the A string that leads to the dotted E eighth note in the second bar. This rhythm is
Portrait Of Tracy. This composition repeated in bar two, adding alternative pitches.
uses harmonics extensively to project
the bass-line. We can also use them
to tune each string. A false harmonic
is one which is not found at any of
the natural node points, so must be
created by the use of the plucking
hand thumb as an artificial nut.



074 Bass Guitar Magazine October 2015

074-075 Geary_rev3KP.indd 74 01/12/2015 14:13

Download the Bass app
for extra content TUITION
Beginners Techniques

Watch out for the dotted eighth note on A, fifth fret E string leading figure is a sixteenth note joined to an eighth note, using A and G. Try to
into the final sixteenth note of that bar played on G, third fret E string. Bar make this one sound as funky as possible. Your plucking hand fingers need
three is the same as bar one. In bar four we add more syncopation based to be slightly closer to the bridge when playing the notes. This, along with
around a sixteenth note pulse on the A note (fifth fret, E string.) The last extra pressure and digging in with your fingers, will create the best tone.

This last example demonstrates how
to find prominent harmonics. These
are easy to find and play. Remember,
harmonics are not always the same
pitch as the frets they are played on.
For example, the fifth fret of the G
string is a C, but the harmonic played
here is a G. The correct pitches are
shown in the notation.
Pluck the E string with your
plucking hand index finger, while
placing the first finger of your
fretting hand over the fifth fret of
the E string. Make sure your finger
is on the fifth fret, not in front of
it as when you play a normal note.
As you pluck the string, quickly
release the pressure and release
the first finger from the fret. With G strings. It is more difficult to produce harmonics on the lower strings: as you practise up and down the fretboard on
practice you should be able to create different frets, you should be able to find higher partial harmonics as well as low ones.
a harmonic pitch. Finally, try placing your plucking-hand thumb over the strings and play E, A, D and G. As you pluck the strings, lift
Repeat this process across the the thumb off the string and let it ring out. You should notice a false harmonic. These are really effective when playing
fretboard making sure your finger actual notes with the fretting hand up and down the neck.
is on the fifth fret for the A, D and Enjoy getting dead good with dead notes, and harmonious with harmonics!

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More Lydian mode

mayhem from the
mighty Clayton

elcome back mode-lovers!
Regular readers will
recall that in the last issue
we began focusing our
attention on the Lydian mode, the
fourth mode of the major scale.
In this issue well look at a longer,
more in-depth study piece that
uses it.
If youve successfully
completed the material from the
previous issue, you should have
a good understanding of where it
can best be used. If for any reason
you missed that particular issue,
heres a quick recap. The Lydian
mode is the fourth mode of the
major scale. So in the case of the
C major scale, which as you know
contains only natural notes, that
mode would run from F to F: F, G,
A, B, C, D, E, F. The chord that is
built on the fourth degree of the
major scale is a major seventh
chord (Fmaj7) and it is over this
chord that the Lydian mode is
best used.
The distinguishing
characteristic of the Lydian
mode is that is almost identical
to the major scale, but contains a
sharpened fourth. This sharpened
fourth (or eleventh if we refer
to it as a compound interval) is
often used as an extension to the

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Intermediate Theory

major seventh chord (Fmaj7#11),

creating a unique sound.
Lets look at this months study
piece. The opening Part A section
is a chordal part to be played
using the chordal fingerstyle
technique. The opening chord is
a tricky voicing of an Fmaj7#11
chord. I recommend fretting the
F on the E string with the first
finger, the E on the D string with
the second, the C on the A string
with the third and the B on the G
string with the fourth. This chord
moves to a simpler voicing of an
Fmaj7 chord in the second half of
the bar. I recommend fretting this
as follows: F on the E string with
the first finger, E on the D string
with the second and the A on the
G string with the third.
In the second bar of the intro,
two simpler chords are played


over an open A string bass note,
which should ring throughout
the bar. When playing this entire
two-bar line, you can allow all
of the notes to ring into one PART C REQUIRES ONLY
At Part B a fingerstyle
groove begins. This is an almost
continuous semiquaver line, with
some tricky syncopations. The
part is based around the chord
tones from the Fmaj7 chord (F, A, QUITE TRICKY SLIDING
C, E) but includes several Bs, the
sharpened fourth note that is the
distinguishing characteristic of
the Lydian mode.
The fingerings for this line are
much simpler, and so my only
advice when learning this part
is to work on it slowly and out
of time to begin with, then start
at a lower tempo, perhaps 70 to
80BPM. Readers of the digital
edition of BGM should also check
out the video performance of this
song as a reference.
At Part C a slap groove begins.
This requires only basic slap
technique, although there are
some quite tricky sliding octave
figures. When playing these, keep
the lower root note fretted as of strong chord tones E (the major seventh), A (the third), C (the fifth). The final slide up to the B accents the
you pop the octave note and slide sharpened fourth (or eleventh). The final section of the piece is a repeat of the fingerstyle groove we saw in
upwards this will really thicken Part B.
up the sound. The hammer-on Good luck with tackling this study piece. Its a quite a challenging part and, as ever with my column, youll
figures at the end of the fourth need to be competent with several key techniques: chordal playing, fingerstyle and slap. Next month we will
bar of the sequence hit a series take a look at the Mixolydian mode. Until then

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the 35 available notes is explained by the fact that the same note can be played at different fret positions on
different strings. We also, of course, have four open strings, but lets leave those possibilities aside for now.
Example 1 is a lesson in mapping out note repetitions on the bass. Youll notice that I have started at the
note Bb, the first fret on the A string, as this is where fretted notes start to repeat. All of the notes on the
E string below the open A can only be played on the E string in the first four frets, so we start to find more
than one fret position for a note once we get on to the A string. As you can see, this means we have two
positions available e.g. first fret on the A string and sixth fret on the E string for a Bb and then, as we
cross to the next string we begin to have three possibilities e.g. first fret D string, sixth fret A string, and
ROB STATHAM eleventh fret E string for the note Eb.
At the most, for some notes, we have as many as four fret positions available, and then, as we continue
higher up the neck, this reduces to three, then two, and, finally, above the note Bb at the fifteenth fret on the
Ramping up your G string, we are back to only one available fret position. I havent mapped out the entire exercise, so it would
be a worthwhile task to finish the process yourself. Of course, if you have more strings and an extended
fingerboard knowledge range e.g. a five-string bass with a two-octave neck then youll have a little more work to do.
Another worthwhile goal to set ourselves is to be able to play any note in a particular key at all available
with Obi-Wan Statham fret positions on every string. For instance, if we think of the scale of C major we firstly tend to think of the
one-octave pattern that we are familiar with. But our goal should be to be able to play any note in the key of

ne easy trap to fall into when C at all possible fret positions. Example 2 can help in this respect; here we are playing all the notes available
playing the bass is to fail to in the key of C on each string in turn, all the way up to the highest possible fret position. I have illustrated
see the fingerboard as an this in the key of C on the E, A, and D strings, and so you can finish the exercise by finding all the notes in
integrated whole: instead, the key of C on the G string. Of course, we would normally avoid playing a scale passage by moving up on
many bassists play in isolated, one string, but the purpose of this exercise is to become aware of all available notes on each string, no matter
one-octave boxes for each chord what position on the neck we are at. Ultimately, we should set ourselves the goal of being able to perform this
change. Although this can be an
effective strategy up to a point, it
does mean that we can fall into
predictable patterns. If, on the
other hand, we can see the entire
fingerboard as an integrated
whole, regardless of chord or key,
then we can find more options
available for any given situation.
Basic fingerboard knowledge
should include knowing how
many notes we have at our
disposal and being aware of
where they repeat at different
frets on different strings. For
instance, on a standard 20-fret
four-string bass it is easy to see
that we have 80 fret positions
available to us: however, we also
need to know how many different
notes we have available. In fact,
from a low E to the top Eb, we
have two octaves and a major
seventh in terms of range, which
means that 35 different notes are
available to us. The discrepancy
between the 80 fret positions and

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Intermediate Techniques

exercise in any key and for any

scale or mode we know.
Another useful way of
increasing our fingerboard
knowledge is a scale exercise that
my first teacher, David Miles,
introduced me to (Example 3).
He called it a round trip, and
it really helped me to know my
way round the instrument. The
idea is to play any scale or mode EXAMPLE 2
over the entire range of the bass,
from the lowest to the highest
available note. I have written an
example in G Dorian, starting on
the lowest G and then playing two
octaves and a fifth to our highest
available note in that mode.
On the descent, dont forget to
go below our starting note and
include the notes in the scale EXAMPLE 3
available beneath the lowest root
note, in this case F and E. Ive
tabbed out a particular fingering,
but note that it is different on the
descent, and that it is only one
possible fingering solution for the
exercise. It would be worth your
while trying the same exercise
with other fingering possibilities
there are quite a few different
options. Here I have used some EXAMPLE 4
open strings, but in other keys
this might not be possible. Try
to complete a round trip in any
key for all the scales and modes
you know.
Finally, a useful idea for
knowing our pentatonic scales in
all areas of the neck is to break
them down to five positions,
starting from each note of the
scale in turn [see Ellen OReillys
columns for an introduction to
pentatonics Ed]. Example 4
shows a G minor pentatonic. The
first position starts on the root
note on the E string at the third
fret and encompasses all available
notes of the scale in that position.
Then, moving to the second note get back to the same position we started with but an octave higher. It so happens that in the key of G minor
of the scale Bb at the sixth the lowest position starts with the root but, as you can appreciate, this wont be true in other keys. So make
fret on the E string we play all sure you practise this in all keys and get used to the relationship between each of the positions, whichever
available notes from there; this is note in the scale you are starting from.
the relative major of Bb of course. Developing a comprehensive awareness of the fingerboard and beginning to see it as an integrated whole,
Next we would start from the rather than a patchwork of isolated areas, will go a long way to ensure you always have options available, no
third note, C, and so on until we matter where you find yourself on the neck. I hope you find these exercises useful in this respect

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Solo bass with Big EXAMPLE 3

Franc, continued: get
ready to unpack!

his month we will look at
unpacking exotic scales to
draw out useful material for
creating solos.
Since there are so many different
scales, you will never get a chance to
study, familiarise yourself with, and
master them all, but dont despair
this is the same for every musician
on the planet. For example, there
are literally hundreds of different
Indian raga scales. V.K. Krishna
Prasads comprehensive tome, Ragas
In Indian Music, lists around 1200
of them. Do you think that Indian A scale possesses a rich body of structure, which can be transformed into creative musical ideas. Unpacking a
musicians would learn all these scale is not easy, but it doesn't have to be drudgery. As the ancient Chinese Taoist master Lao Tzu said, A journey of a
scales? Of course not! It would take thousand miles begins with a single step. In other words, enjoy and savour every step of the journey.
several lifetimes to master them all. The fingering for the A Mixolydian b6, as shown in the tab for Example 1, gives us an interesting view of the
Most Indian musicians will focus symmetrical structure of this scale. On closer inspection, note that the fingering pattern created is exactly the same
on several ragas and have their shape looked at upside down. This is also evident from its tone and semitone structure: T T s T s T T, or 2212122. The
favourites, encountering others as a formula is the same both forward and retrograde that is, the Mixolydian b6 has a self-reflective formula.
matter of course. Example 2 highlights the fact that the Mixolydian b6, which is the fifth mode of the melodic minor, is nestled
Rather than feeling you have in the centre of the melodic minor system with all the other modes branching out from it. All the other modes
to learn hundreds of scales, focus reflect another mode in the system when their formulas are turned backwards. In fact, they progressively and
on particular ones, going off systematically radiate out from the Mixolydian b6 in reflecting pairs. Lydian dominant and Locrian natural 2 reflect
personal preference and playing each other, as do Lydian augmented and the altered scale, and finally so do Dorian b2 and the melodic minor scale.
environments. To get the most out Example 3 demonstrates ascending and then descending the Mixolydian b6 in tetrachords, which is always useful
of a scale you need to understand its when learning a scales structure.
idiosyncrasies, and an effective way Since the Mixolydian b6 is often called the Hindu scale due to its popularity in Indian music, Example 4 shows a
to do this is to unpack the scale (that typical pentatonic sometimes used in Indian music whose formula is entirely concomitant with that of the Mixolydian
is, methodically explore its structure.) b6. The formula is 1, 3, 4, 5, b7, and is the same as the minor pentatonic scale except it contains a major third instead of
I began this with a Mixolydian b6 a minor third. This scale is alluded to in George Harrisons Within You Without You and can be clearly heard in Sheila
scale last time, using an A tonality Chandras hit single from 1982, Ever So Lonely.
for the example but this can be There are too many pentatonic scales to mention here, but I will focus on the ones that work with the Mixolydian
applied to other tonal centres too. b6 scale. Pentatonic scales are of interest since they can function as simple melodic frameworks that the ear easily

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Advanced Theory

Japanese Kumoi scale. Example

EXAMPLE 5 5 demonstrates how Kumoi can
be applied to the Mixolydian b6.
Although Kumoi starts from the
fourth degree of the Mixolydian
b6, it still includes its root, so
that one of its modes (the fourth)
fits with the tonality, giving us
a pentatonic of 1, 2, 4, 5 and b6,
which highlights the distinctive
sound of the Mixolydian b6.
EXAMPLE 6 Example 6 uses a similar
process, but this time the sixth
degree of a major pentatonic has
been flatted, giving us a scale of
1, 2, 3, 5 and b6. This pentatonic
actually works from the root of
the Mixolydian b6.
Another important aspect
when unpacking a scale is to
analyse its harmonic implications.
EXAMPLE 7 Example 7 begins to do just that
by exploring the full extent of its
tertian structure. The Mixolydian
b6 is a heptatonic scale and having
seven notes means you can build a
thirteenth chord from it. Example
7 shows us that a dominant
eleventh with a b13 can be built
in this case. Interestingly, there
is not only a seventh chord from
A, i.e. A, C#, E and G, but also one
EXAMPLE 8 appears at the b7th of A, which
is the note G. So the A7 and the
G7 appear to run into each other,
a product of the fact that you
can also build a seventh chord
from the related mode G Lydian
dominant. This is highlighted
by the choice of fingering I have
indicated in the tab.
Example 8 highlights this
fact further by building seventh
EXAMPLE 9 chords from each degree of the
Mixolydian b6, with the fourth
bar showing the direct stepwise
relation of the G7 and A7 chords.
Since we are using a tonality of
A in the particular scale we are
unpacking, it is worth making use
of the open A string, and Example
9 does just that. By using the
open A as a drone, we can explore
familiarises itself with. The most common ones are the standard major and minor pentatonic scales, which happen how the scale can be ascended
to be related to each other as modes of the same system. Although they work with the Mixolydian b6, they fail in thirds, providing yet another
to characterise the distinct flavour of this scale, which is defined by the b6. We can, however, alter the major insight into its structure.
and minor pentatonic scales to make them more interesting and apply these modified pentatonic scales to the All of these ideas will be useful
Mixolydian b6. when I finally put them together
Just as the pentatonic scale shown in Example 4 is effectively a minor pentatonic with a major third, into a complete solo.
we can also create a major pentatonic with a minor third, giving us 1, 2, b3, 5 and 6. This is known as the Until next time

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Double up, says our

man Mann EXAMPLE 2

hile the traditional
approach to slap bass
requires you to strike the
string onto the fretboard
with the side of your thumbs
knuckle, double thumbing instead
opts for the isolation of the fleshy
part of the thumb right next to
the string side of your nail. In
coming issues we will familiarise
ourselves with this technique,
initially developing some basic
methodology before working
towards more advanced passages
and developing fluency.
Most immediately we associate
double thumbing with Victor
Wooten, and rightly so. His debut
album A Show Of Hands in 1996
had a huge impact on the bass
community. Alain Caron is also a
master of the technique.
This issues examples will focus
on developing what can initially be
a slightly uncomfortable approach.
They are mostly open-string based,
with the focus predominantly on
the plucking hand. While working
through Example 1, ensure your
thumb strikes the string over the
fretboard: this positioning will
allow you to use it as a platform,
similar to how you incorporated Rather than bouncing your thumb on the fundamental in a traditional manner, the execution of double thumbing
the ramp in previous studies. The is actually more akin to using a plectrum, in that the thumb passes through the string and comes to rest on the string
t in the fingering represents the below. This positioning allows the thumb to be ideally located to play a second note via an upstroke. Example 2 requires
initial downwards strike: the arrow you to produce a consistent stream of quavers using this method, while paying particular attention to the positioning of
indicates the upward movement. the accented notes indicated in the notation. Youll notice that in each bar the accent moves to a different beat.

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Advanced Techniques

More or less identical in design
to the second, Example 3 again
requires you to produce a coherent
stream of eighth notes. However,
this time youre required to produce
the accents on offbeats rather than
downbeats. In order to accurately
reproduce them, youll need to
refocus your attention to concentrate
on your upstroke.

The penultimate example requires
a simple eighth note ascend and
descend through the diatonic
contents of a minor pentatonic scale.
The primary goal here is to simply
initiate some form of consistency
and competency with double
thumbing via continual repetition of
the technique.

Finally, heres a straightforward
groove that incorporates a few
plucks from the index finger of
your plucking hand (P1). Work
through the phrase and well
continue our development in
next months column. Until then,
practise hard!

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Double bass guru David

Etheridge introduces EXAMPLE 4
harmonics, both
natural and artificial

wrote earlier about harmonics on
the double bass, and how most of
them lurk beyond the fingerboard
towards the bridge. However, there
are harmonics lurking in the first
couple of positions and at various
points on the neck that can be useful
both when bowing and plucking,
although youll get a longer sustain
(obviously) when using the bow. Lets
have a look at them in greater detail.
The natural harmonics on the G
string can be seen in Example 1. Ive EXAMPLE 7
written everything except the first
bar with an 8va marking to show
that theyre a whole octave higher
than written, to save ledger lines. In
orchestral music, they may well be
notated in treble clef, as in Example
2. Essentially, what you have from
the harmonics is a G9 arpeggio: G, G, Try these out, and youll notice that the upper harmonics on the E string are rather woolly in sound, so theyre not
D, G, B, D, F, G and A. often used. However, if we take a different approach, we can find these harmonics in more accessible places on the
Over on the D string, Examples 3 fingerboard.
and 4 represent the D9 harmonics Here are examples on each string (Example 9). Touch the G string at the harmonic node points of G, D, C and B, and
in bass and treble clef: D, D, A D, F#, youll get G, D, G and B going up. The same principle applies to the D, A and E strings: see Examples 10, 11, and 12.
A, C, D, and E. On the A string (Ex- In fact theres even more going on with harmonics at different points on the string you can get the same note in
amples 5 and 6) the same principle different positions. How does this work? Essentially were dividing the string up into fractions. You know that the
applies for A9: A, A, E, A, C#, E, G, A, octave harmonic divides the string length into two, so if you pluck the string both above and below the harmonic node
and B. Finally on the E string (Ex- point, youll get the same pitch. The harmonic at the fifth point (D of the G string, for example) with divide the string
amples 7 and 8), we have E9: E, E, B, into three: two node points at D a fifth up, and the harmonic D an octave higher in thumb position. Each fraction of the
E, G#, B, D, E and F#. string is an equal length, so you get the same note.

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TUITIONUpright Citizen

Here are some examples of this

principle: as well as the octave and
fifth harmonics, youll get the double
octave harmonic a fourth up from
the open string (C on the G string, G
on the D and so on). When you get
to the third, you also have two more EXAMPLE 9
places on the string that will give
the same note: the sixth and octave
and a third. For instance, youll get a
high B harmonic on the G string on
B, E and octave B, and corresponding
F#, C# and G# on the other strings.
Example 13 shows the contact points
on each string and the resulting note
in treble clef in each bar.
Theres one more to have fun with:
the minor third on each string will
give you a double octave and a fifth
harmonic: Bb, F, C and G on each
string provides high D, A, E and B.
If you extend back a little more to a
slightly flatter version of those notes
youll get a higher harmonic still.
You will learn an interesting thing
about the harmonics that lie under
the fingers in the first few positions
on the neck: theyre the complete EXAMPLE 12
reverse of the harmonics off the end
of the fingerboard. For classical play-
ers, this approach has a lot to recom-
mend it: normally at the top end of
the register the strings are covered
in bass rosin, so fast, accurate playing
is hard. In any case, when bowing EXAMPLE 13
harmonics on a double bass its best
to move the bow closer to the bridge
to get clarity and let the pitch truly
ring out. Some double bass concertos
have entire passages up in the strato-
sphere, and the range of usable notes
is greater than youd think. EXAMPLE 14
However, were still limited to the
G9, D9, A9 and E9 chords within that
framework. How do we get around
this and go even higher? Artificial
harmonics. Jaco and Steve Bailey
fans will know about things like harmonic itself, and the other double harmonic near the end of the fingerboard. So this means that if you touch the
pinch harmonics, and we can pro- string a fourth up from any fingered note, and on any string (in theory, at least it doesnt always work on the E string,
duce similar results on double bass. as youve probably realised), you can get the double octave harmonic.
Heres how it works: if you re- Obviously, this is too much of a stretch in the lower positions, but once up in thumb position things become pos-
member, you can get a double octave sible. For this, youll have to actually press your thumb onto the string itself, and touch the harmonic a fourth up with
harmonic by touching the string your third finger. As the relative length of the string decreases, the higher you go and the distance you have to stretch
a fourth up from the open string will change accordingly (see Example 14.) Remember, everything will be an octave higher than written, including the
itself. Youve effectively divided the resulting harmonic! The only drawback with this is that pressing down with the side of your thumb can be painful to
string into four sections: the double start off with; theres no pad on the side of your thumb to take the stress. Aficionados of this technique will tell you
harmonic a fourth up, the octave about the resulting callouses on your thumb. A low playing action helps greatly here, as always.

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Covering The Basses

In some covers bands, you can do a sterling job with a four-string passive bass. All power to those who
do so on a regular basis: theres absolutely nothing wrong with a gritty, rounded passive tone, and in many
contexts its perfect. But after 20 years of doing this full-time, Ive learned that having a bass, or basses,
which can cover all the ground is what is required. As work has diminished on the covers scene, the bands
that can cover a wide array of different musical genres, and which have a large repertoire of songs, tend to
get more bookings and bigger fees.
For my sins, I chose to go down the active bass route as there are more tonal possibilities when it came to
clarity, punch and top-end clatter. These are always useful for 80s tunes and dance tunes which incorporate
a modicum of slap.
Some songs require boosting and cutting to various frequencies at different parts in a song, and I wouldnt
be the first bassist in history to consider mid-EQ the greatest ally in a live context. Of course, its possible to
over-clutter your sound with on-board EQ, amp EQ and extra EQ from pedals and effects, so keep it simple
but effective. Effects can also be very useful but choose them wisely and dont overuse them. A little can
go a long way.


Covers band veteran

Brooksy considers tone

m sure weve all had that feeling
of being undervalued by our band
at some point. Years ago, I was
enjoying a meal with a band prior
to a gig when the inevitable gear
chat arose. After much interesting,
and some not so interesting, chat
to and fro, I mentioned that I was
having a bass built at the time, all
very nice and exciting. At which
point, a member of the band piped
up but bass is bass, you dont need
middle and treble. Ill admit I took a
minute or two to rein in my initial
reaction. As I recall, I told him he
didnt know what he was talking
about; if what he said was the case,
wed all be playing one-string basses
with the most basic amp, and just a
volume control.
Looking back, I understand the
point he may have been making. In
covers bands, we bassists are there
to replicate the original bass parts,
to a certain extent anyway. Were
not necessarily superstars creating
amazing bass tones and writing
original bass parts and licks. Most
punters dont necessarily notice
what we do, but we are the glue
that holds it all together and keeps
people dancing. Having a large
array of tones and sounds might be
wasted on most listeners ears, but
wouldnt the world be boring if we
all used a tone with no middle or
treble to speak of?

88 Bass Guitar Magazine October 2015

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Advertising Index
Allianz Musical Insurance ...........................................67

Andy Baxter Basses .....................................................15

Ashdown Engineering ...................................................2

Spector (Barnes & Mullins) ..........................................11

Aguilar (Barnes & Mullins)...........................................21

Bass Centre .................................................................91

Bass Direct .....................................................................9

Burns London ...............................................................43

Chowny bass ................................................................51

Darkglass .....................................................................55

Musicians Union .........................................................59

Proel Int. Ltd .................................................................39

Promenade ...................................................................27

Radial Engineering ......................................................19

Rotosound ......................................................................7

Sadowsky ....................................................................63

Stambaugh designs .....................................................59

Stonefield Musical Instruments, Ltd. ............63, 67, OBC

Strings & Things ..........................................................35

Surine Basses...............................................................63

Swan Song Guitars ......................................................89

Warwick ..................................................................3, 31

01926 339 808

089.indd 89 02/12/2015 17:00

Laying Down The Lawson

happened on LPs at home through half-decent stereos. The shift to digital playlists and even worse speakers means that
record producers can end up obsessed with relative level and squeeze an album to death. Google Dynamic Range Day
for a much fuller exploration of the whole area.
This is not just a problem with recordings, obviously. It can happen in our pedal signal chain too either in response
to other musicians turning up, or as we tweak one pedal, we end up turning another up and then another, until
everything is driving everything else so hard that your bass sound has all the life squashed out of it.
The answer is simple: turn down instead of up. Rather than continually pushing the volume up, find the thing thats
loudest and turn it down. Ask your guitarist to drop his volume, instead of turning the output gain on your distortion
up, causing you to hit the front end of your amp even louder and the limiter to kick in.
This is why some bassists have massively powerful amplifiers even at relatively modest levels. Its called
headroom having enough capacity for the loudest notes to be a lot louder than the quietest notes without hitting
the limits of your pedals or amp. I recently toured with Swedish bass genius Jonas Hellborg, whose power amp
weighed more than any combo Ive ever owned. The weight came from the massively powerful output transformers
not because we were playing at loud volume, but so the amp didnt squash any of the dynamics from his sound.
Carrying an amp that heavy around isnt easy, but in the never-ending quest for the perfect tone, thats what Jonas
needs to do to get the sound hes after.
STEVE LAWSON Weve talked before about getting the gain structure of your pedals in order, and how it affects your tone, but
its important to pay particular attention to dynamic range as our ears trick us into preferring things that are
comparatively louder. We hear louder sounds as brighter and more present, and as our ears fatigue, its easy to fall into
Dont sacrifice your the trick of constantly upping the level throughout a gig or rehearsal. Learning not to is one of the most useful skills

tone for volume, warns youll ever master as a musician.

Squashing the dynamics can also cover up deficiencies in your ability to control the dynamics with your fingers. So

effects warlock Lawson this months homework is to experiment with playing more quietly, removing compression, limiters and backing off the
gain on overdrive pedals, in order to get more control over the dynamic output of our sound. We can gradually bring
it back in over time to serve the style of the music were playing, but as we do, hopefully well have a better benchmark

verything Louder Than Everyone for what music can sound like when we dont squash the life out of it!
Else was the title of Motrheads
third live album, and some seem
to have taken it as a mission
statement. If you compare recordings
from the 70s, 80s, 90s and up to the
present day, youll hear a gradual
increase in the overall volume of
everything. Dubbed the loudness
wars by engineers, the quest for
records to stand out on the radio (or
these days, when played through
terrible laptop or phone speakers)
has led to a neverending quest for
the loudest records, entirely at the
expense of dynamic range.
Dynamic range is the difference
between the peaks in a recording
and the baseline average volume
of the track (how low does the
volume drop after each peak?)
and is measured in decibels (dB).
A dynamic range of 12dB or more
is pretty dynamic, whereas a 5dB
dynamic range would be very
squashed. Alongside one another
with the same output volume, the
5dB one would sound louder, but
once you compensated for the
perceived difference in volume by
just turning the first one up a bit,
the value of the dynamic range
becomes very apparent.
This was far less of a problem

when the majority of listening

90 Bass Guitar Magazine October 2015

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