Bass Review: Patterns for Jazz (Bass Clef)

Hey all! It’s currently snowing out and ice is all over the ground here in Nashville. I hope wherever you are, you are safe, warm, and maybe you’ll want to read a blog post!

Like many, I take lessons weekly and I am extremely passionate about them. Lately, we have been working on something that I am so happy about and I feel the need to share it.  We have been working out of a book called “Patterns for Jazz” in bass clef.  I know that working out of a book can be scary. Many say that books have a tendency to box people in or create too much of a crutch. However, this book serves as a great starting point if you or a student is looking at starting the journey through jazz bass.

The book is full of basic jazz riffs, scales, and chordal exercises that help many aspects of playing. On top of each of the scales are two numbers: the starting BPM and the ending BPM. You start the exercise playing it to the slower BPM and slowly play the exercise faster and faster until you get to the desired BPM. So, these exercises help acquaint yourself or the student with standard jazz riffs, they help with the speed of your playing, and your or the student’s technique. Each exercise is played over every key in a variety of positions.

I absolutely love and enjoy playing through these exercises. Generally, I spend about 15-20 minutes on the exercises, so they don’t demand a lot of your time. However, when consistently played, you will be able to hear your playing improving. This book is amazing and I highly recommend it!

You can buy it on amazon here .

Bass Review: Magnetic Hematite Bracelets

Awhile ago, I posted about keeping our wrists healthy.  As musicians, we tend to have to go to “orthopedic specialists” and “sport’s doctors” for the kind of damage that playing can cause over time. In the post, I mainly talked about exercises you could do to prepare your tendons before you play.  If you would be interested in reading it, click here.

Over the past few months, my wrists have been getting worse and worse.  I work as part time barista and I practice for three hours most days.  The general wear and tear on my wrists has gotten to the point where there is almost a consistent pain in both wrists. I wear my braces at night and I try to stretch them as much as possible, but nothing seemed to really work. I found it hard to function while I was at work, or I found it hard to sustain a three hour practice session. So I was willing to try anything that wouldn’t mean taking an extraneous amount of pain killers. So, on a limb, I ordered a set of magnetic hematite bracelets.

These bracelets are more geared towards people with arthritis pain. The magnets supposedly reestablish the electromagnetic impulses created my cells and tissues that can be interrupted due to disease or injury. I don’t know if that’s really what happens or not, but I do know that my wrists feel so much better. The bracelets don’t cure the problem, however, they stop the ache long enough for me to practice and/or work and continue throughout my day.  Then, when I take them off at the end of the night, I am not met with the crippling pain I am usually met with at the end of my day.

If you’ve heard about magnetic bracelets before, but are unsure on whether or not to try them, I believe you should. You can buy two of them on Amazon for five dollars, so really, there’s nothing to lose. I won’t go anymore without my bracelets.  Even though the FDA does not recognize scientific evidence that they work, they have done wonders in my life.  And I really wanted to bestow the knowledge upon my readers! I absolutely love these bracelets!

My New Year’s Revelation

DISCLAIMER: This is completely and totally a personal post. Just thought I should let you all know before you continued! :-)

Hey there ladies and gents! I hope everyone had a great holiday and is enjoying their  New Year!

I love the New Year. This is a great symbolic time. A time of rebirth, of setting goals for yourself, and I truly believe that this time of the year is the time in which the stars align and magical things happen.  For example, we are only nine days into the new year, and already I have had an epiphany of sorts. So, here goes:

I want to do music for the rest of my life.

Alright, I know this is most likely not a surprise to anyone. I really am one of those lucky people, who knew exactly what she wanted to do at the age of nine. However, as of late, I’ve felt sort of…lost. If that doesn’t sound too overdramatic.  Most of this feeling comes from how slow musicians are this time of year.  It’s very hard for me to find work, but at the same time, I am happy to use the time to study and work on my craft.  I’m also happy using the time to spend some quality time with my boyfriend, my dad, and planning out my college studies. It’s all very exciting stuff.  So, with my mind focused on so many different things, it’s easy for me to stray and to think that I’m not doing enough.

However, the other night, some friends and I ended up going out to The Listening Room in Nashville to see a performer, who I previously toured with. I didn’t tour with her for long. In fact, we only did two shows together. I watched her from the front row sing songs that I remembered fondly. I was brought back to dancing on the stage to the upbeat music and to sitting in a van with all of these people that I never met.  Touring with her is probably the fondest memory I have of this year. Watching her brought back all of these amazing feelings and made me realize even more that this, music, is what I am meant to be doing. And nothing else matters.

Sure, I have all of these other interests. Currently, I plan on going to college for Philosophy, I have an amazing relationship, I love movies, I love books… But nothing else comes close to the relationship I have with my bass. See, my bass is always there for me. And it’s ready for just about anything, all the time. If I am in the mood for jazz, my bass is in the mood for jazz. If I want to rock out from time to time, she’s more ready than I am. When I’m ready to go on the road, she’s got her bags packed. She understands that I don’t have anything else that I am good at, and that’s okay with her. She’s my best friend and she’s the best neck to hold when I am feeling anything at all.

Music is a rough business to get into. It has its shares of ups and downs, but we keep doing it hoping that there will be some huge pay off.  When I look back on this year, I realize there was a huge pay off.  I went through a rough patch, but you know what they say? A door closes…another opens.  During the end of the year, I had a lot of opportunities open up for me and I could not be happier. So, here’s to this year and many more epiphanies. I might need them!

Bass Player Live 2014 Day 2

Hello again! I know I’ve kept you guys waiting and that’s not very nice.  Especially since the second day was when I really looked into the gear that was offered there.  I know that’s really what y’all care about. Hell, it’s all I care about.

The big room over at SIR was filled to the brim, packed to the gills, with bass. Bass guitars, bass amps, bass pickups, bass strings, bass picks, and anything and everything else. Carvin, Sadowsky, Aguilar, D’addario, Dunlop, Ampeg, Ashdown, Eden, Elixir Strings, Mesa/Boogie, Spector, La Bella, Kala U-Bass, TC Electronic, Tech 21… oh my goodness. I died and went to bass heaven. And all of the people who were running the booths were extremely awesome! I made some great friends at those booths.

I hung out at the Carvin booth for some time and really got to understand how they model and build their instruments. Their basses are slick and lightweight, making them the perfect bass for a player who needs to move fast and play with precision. They also look super rad, with bright bold colors to catch any eye. I think they’re definitely one of the leading contenders for the most versatile and most respected bass companies.

Another booth I spent quite a lot of time at was Bass Strings Online. They had very knowledgeable people working the booth that were very eager to talk about all the different kinds of strings they offered. They had multiple basses set up, all so that they could help each bass player discover their favorite string. And all at a bargain! After I got home and looked up the prices on their website, I was floored! I’m definitely only getting my strings through Bass Strings Online. Definitely check them out!

Finally, the booth that I spent most of my time at was the Sadowsky booth. Ever since I was a young bass player, I decided that Sadowsky basses were the best basses on the market. Now, many years later, I am still convinced. I’ve met the Sadowsky guys over the years at NAMM and I always look forward to seeing them again. Especially since they bring so many beautiful basses with them. Also, they attract some pretty cool people like Marcus Miller and Talk Wilkenfeld, both of whom showed up to play at the Sadowsky booth.

Overall, Bass Player Live was a great experience and I can’t wait to get there again. If you’re thinking of going, I urge you to. I learned more and played more in that weekend then I will for years to come. Definitely worth it!

Bass Player Live 2014 Day 1

Hey everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been off the map. I’ve just been flying to Los Angeles and adopting dogs.  You know, the usual.

I flew to Los Angeles almost three weeks ago to travel to Bass Player Mecca. That’s right. Bass Player Live. Two full days (and I’m not joking when I say that) of nothing, but bass. On the first day, after hour 11 of straight bass, I was starting to get exhausted! However, the trip, in full, was one of the most fulfilling trips I have taken as well as the most fun.  I got to meet some of my bass idols and hear them speak in numerous clinics. I also got to try out the newest and hottest gear. Let me break it down for you!

Day 1 was insane! The first day, I attended mostly clinics.  My teacher here in Nashville was on one of the earlier panels on music education. It was very interesting to hear how today’s teachers have had to enhance their curriculum due to the internet. They mentioned how most of the students will not know how to read music, or transcribe music, because everything they need is on the internet and most likely has a tab along with it. Ever since then, I have made it a rule that I will never use tabs again. Knowing how to read and to transcribe is a dying art, and one I’d like to know how to do.

The next clinic I attended was with Abraham Laboriel and Bakithi Kumalo. The two of them were exhibiting their own Kala U-Basses. This clinic gave me a new insight to what the bass can offer in several different styles of music. The music they played was largely from different African regions. In this style, the bass defines most of the groove and, as Abraham showcased, the beat. Some of what Abraham was playing was mostly percussive and made to just give the song backbeat. Watching Abraham dance around was also extremely entertaining.

Later that evening I attended an interview that Bass Player hosted with Shavo Odadjian. I believe I took away more from this interview than I did anything else.  In this interview, Shavo talked about how he started to play with System Of A Down and about his influences. He also talked about how he became the bass player that he became. He talked about how he would never be like these “virtuosic” bass players who play up and down the neck with no problem. He’s all about just laying down the grove and locking in with the drummer.  And I truly believe that this is the most important thing about bass players.  It was great having that thought reconfirmed by someone who made a great living at it.

The night finished off with a fantastic awards show. Bass Player’s “Young Gun” award went to Henrik Lender, which was followed by a show with Henrik, Gary Willis, Scott Kinsey, and Kirk Covington. Three of the original players form Tribal Tech. This show was amazing! I never thought I’d be able to see such AMAZING musician’s performing together, but I did! I was marveled at how tight Kirk and Gary were.  I guess when you play together for so long, you really start to have deep understanding of each other’s playing style. The groove was out of this world!

The evening concert wrapped up with Abraham Laboriel accepting the “Lifetime Achievement” award and performing with his band, Open Hands. Yet another amazing group of musicians. The groove was moving and the pocket was tight. A perfect ending to a perfect day.  After the show, I promptly went back to my hotel and to bed, because I knew I had to get up the next morning to do it all over again.

Stay posted! Day 2’s round up will be posted some time soon!

Bass Review: Markbass Little Mark III

Soooo, I’m not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post, but my prized Acoustic 150 head, died. I mean, just all life in this amp ceased to exist. I tried to get it fixed and nothing. It’s just…done. And that’s extremely sad, but more so, it was terrifying.

A few weeks after my amp died, I got the amazing opportunity to play with a band that was opening up for Hunter Hayes in Minnesota. I was beyond thrilled! Then I realized that I couldn’t just show up at a huge venue with my 1×15 combo practice amp. So, I needed to buy an amp quickly. I ran to to Guitar Center that weekend, hoping to score a good deal on an Acoustic Amp to go along with my cab. However, I searched and searched and searched and could not find one they had that was 8 ohms. Furthermore, I could not find an amp, any amp, that was 8 ohms and under $1,000. Which, was highly over my price range. But then I met my Guitar Center angel who got me a huge deal on an amazing amp that I didn’t even think I could afford to look at.

This piece of gold was the Markbass Little Mark III. 500 watts, 8 ohms, 4 band EQ, built in direct out, pre/post EQ, variable pre-shape filter (VPF), vintage loudspeaker emulator (VLE), AND it only weighs six pounds! Everything I could have ever wanted in an amp is in this amp. I’ve never met an amp that sounded this good.

I’ve never taken a punch as strong as this amp delivers. The instant you turn the amp on, all you hear is bass. BOOOOOOM! This tone will blow you away the very minute you hit the string. And no matter how loud you turn up the amp, it stays clean. The problem with my last amp, was that it would start to distort as you would turn it up. But this amp is stays crisp and delicious. After purchasing this amp, I have decided that this is my tone.

Overall, I give this product the most favorable of favorable reviews. Go to your local music store and try it out. You won’t be disappointed!

“Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac (Bass Cover)

I’m really digging this whole video thing, you guys! It’s so easy and I just want to do it all the time! So, last night I recorded a cover of “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac.  You know, only one of the coolest songs ever! Thank you so much to everyone that watched my first video! I hope y’all enjoy the second!