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A Few Things to Look for when Purchasing your next Bass
By Wade Craver
When it comes time to purchase a bass, whether used or brand new, there are many factors that should determine which bass is right for you. I can tell you from experience, that purchasing a bass that looks cool, may not be an instrument that you'd want on a 3 hour gig. Custom ordering a $5,000 exotic 10 string might seem like a great investment at the time, only to end up floating online for months at a much lower price...Ouch. Here's a few things to think about on your next bass purchase....
BALANCE: First of all, check to see how a bass balances both while sitting and standing. If you notice that the neck wants to dive to the floor because of the weight, don't buy it. A heavy neck means fighting to hold the neck up, which causes more strain to your shoulder and wrist.
NECK: Play as many basses as possible before any purchase. Once you find a neck with the proper shape and string spacing for you...take note of it. Find out the exact string spacing and remember it. As bassists, we spend a lot of time on our bass neck. Having a comfortable feeling neck makes everything easier. Choosing which type of fretboard to get is completely your call. Again...experiment.
BODY: Choosing the right body style for your bass falls into a few categories. Balance is greatly affected by body shape, woods in the body and size of the body. Of course, the looks of a bass plays a role. Heck...you have to look at the thing. Whether painted, stained or left natural, choosing a wood for the body can provide an array of tonal choices.
PICKUPS & CIRCUITRY: A bass that can provide a wide range of tones is a bass that can be used in many situations. Determine what your needs are. Will you be doing sessions where you may need to achieve that wide array of tones? Perhaps you prefer a passive, vintage tone. One thing to remember is that pickups and circuitry can always be changed. Most pickup manufacturers can provide you with a wide variety to meet your needs.The thing about tones is that what sounds good to one player may not to another.
One thing I would like to add....if possible, shop at your local music stores. Keeping your local music store in business may be a great help down the road, when you need that broken string or cable replaced. That being said, once you find the perfect bass for you....BUY IT and slap a da bass!!
Right On Time
By Tyler Mansfield
The biggest revelation that I have ever experienced was related to the concept of time and the exercise that follows. Are you conscious of your time? Are you aware of your time and it's ability to coexist with others and their concept of time? Some tap their feet, some don't. This is something interesting to observe with players. Either way, the musician must keep appropriate time.
I've been trying to understand how to swing for instance. How can one swing convincingly? Here's a fantastic exercise that will help. Make the click of your metronome represent NOT the beat itself (in the case of 4/4) but the slower subdivision, the half note. The click will be beats TWO and FOUR (this is simulating the hi-hat on the drum kit). Start by counting and tapping your foot in conjunction with the metronome: TWO, FOUR, TWO, FOUR, etc. Get the feel. A relaxed tempo of 60 is a good place to start (60 is the half note, therefore the quarter note beat will be at 120). Then start counting: one TWO three FOUR. Fill in beats one and three prior to the click and your foot. Apply this exercise to melodies, improvised lines over changes, and accompaniment patterns to your favorite tunes or your own compositions. I recommend something simple at first. All while keeping that TWO and FOUR feel, improvise melodies exclusively using the notes of the blues scale for example. Limit yourself even further. Devise a simple motif or phrase and play around with it. Play with time, think about your phrasing. Make your playing dance! Can you feel yourself swinging? Do you play across the bar lines? Do you playthrough modulations if and when they occur? Can you start your motif on another part of any beat? Can you subdivide in time? (whole, half, quarter, eighths, sixteenths, eighth note triplets, quarter note triplets, etc.) I would rather hear a musician play nothing but “wrong” notes in time than a musician who plays all the “right” notes out of time. Maybe another exercise to consider. I stress good time over anything else...now I need to go practice what I preach.