Stuff for people who play. Or want to play. These are the questions I get most often.
You Do A Lot Of Thumb Playing With The Bass. Any Tips?
Pretty much everyone and their mother plays this stuff nowadays–and way better than I do. But here goes…
- Listen to Marcus Miller. He’s got the pre-eminent tone. And tone is what it’s all about, baby. Most other guys sound wimpy and overplay.
- Learn to do both up and down strokes really evenly with your thumb. You should be able to use your thumb as fluently as a pick. I use this technique on SAFE (Compartments) andI’m Telling (Home)
- If you have an amp with a volume meter, use it to gauge the evenness of your playing. I used to notice how great players could play so cleanly that the needle barely moved from note to note, regardless of tempo.
You Use A Fretless Bass On A Lot Of Songs. Any Tips On Playing In Tune?
Same way one gets to Carnegie Hall. On a serious note? I used to practice in the dark.
Explain Your Right Hand Technique For Guitar
The first guy I ever saw play anything with strings played a banjo. I think that scarred me for life because I still pick like that for the most part. Sometimes I hold a pick as per usual, but often I move it off to between my ring and pinky fingers and play a ‘frailing’ or ‘clawhammer’ style. I do the same thing with bass. This ends up being mostly a three-finger style of playing. Often I grow out my thumbnail and dispense with the pick altogether. I squeeze my thumb and forefinger together and ‘pick’, but without the pick, if you take my meaning. The pinky I tend to reserve for messing with the volume knob.
Explain Your Left Hand Technique For Guitar
From a melodic standpoint, I tend to play the guitar like a guitar. I use open strings as much as possible and all the idiomatic stuff that makes guitars fun. Even when playing jazz, I don’t try to emulate a horn player because, let’s face it, they can always do that stuff better than you can. On a practical level? I have terribly small hands. There are lots of things I don’t even attempt in the standard repertoire because I simply can’t make the stretches. That’s not such a big deal in terms of playing ‘lead’ but for chording, I focus on really knowing the harmony. Think about a three horn section: with the right arrangement they always sound huge. That’s what I go for: the three or four note chords that sound the coolest. You really have to learn your theory to make that work but in the end it sounds much better than trying to force all those five and six note patterns from a Mel Bay chord book! My guru was always John Lennon. Even before I was aware of the ‘why’, I always dug the early Beatles. John always played these very simple triads, but since they were layered with George, it sounded great. If one learns enough theory, one can do the same thing in any style of music.
How Can I Encourage My Kid (Or Myself) To Practice?
My answer will sound flip, but go buy Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography ‘Education Of A Bodybuilder’. It’s the best motivational book I’ve ever read. See, you have to want to play. I got drunk with a lot of bodybuilders in college and I totally dug the commitment and the loneliness of bodybuilding. Playing an instrument is a lot like bodybuilding. A lot. You can’t cheat–either you’re big or your not. Either you can play or you can’t. No one can do the work for you. And a lot of it is repetitive and boring and uncomfortable. So you have to not only want the results but also dig the process almost as a religion.
Oh… sorry. Got too deep. …er… go on Youtube and watch some videos. You can pretty much find out how to do anything in ten minutes on the vast Interweb. 😀