As 2013 draws to a close I thought I would offer some final thoughts on my year. Truth be told I have a lot of mixed feelings about this past year. Things have not been so great for me career-wise. Don’t get me wrong, I am still gainfully employed at a pretty decent job, it’s just that I feel like I am stuck in a rut with no clear path out. I have always been one of those upwardly mobile types, yet as it stands I don’t really have anywhere up to go at my current place of employment. This, as well as a number of contributing factors, have made for a very stressful and unhappy year. Thankfully I have music and a fantastic family to keep me going.
In regards to my musical development, however, I would have to say that it has been a stellar year, fueled in no small part by my participation in Roy Vogt’s Fantasy Bass Boot Camp. I truly feel that the personal instruction given to me by Roy, Adam Nitti, Tim Smith and Anthony Wellington enabled me to reach new levels in my playing. Adam and Anthony were able to explain Modes and Theory to me in a way that finally took, while Roy helped me get past some of my roadblocks in regards to playing slap. Tim got me thinking more about the relationship between what I hear and what I play and how to go about getting those two things on the same page. Unfortunately I can’t say I have progressed much in my studies with Teach Me Bass Guitar this year as I am still working on Lesson 13. This is in large part due to the fact that I took Tim Smith’s words to heart and restarted the course from Lesson 1 after I returned from Bass Camp. I am currently re-working my way through Lesson 7 and am truly enjoying revisiting the entire course.
One of the main aspects of my playing that I focused on this past year was my technique. I actually spent a lot of time in this area as I had both wrist and shoulder problems. My shoulder problems have mostly been solved by using a wider, higher quality strap as well as mainly playing my Lakland Skyline 44-01 as it is my lightest bass. Wrist problems can be a bit trickier. I was feeling quite a bit of pain in my left wrist, which forced me to focus on my fretting technique. Strap height also played a part here as well, but once I started focusing on what I was doing with my left hand and how I was holding and fretting my bass things started to improve. At this point I am no longer experiencing any wrist pain, but my shoulder does tend to bother me from time to time. Exercise, or the lack there of, may be a contributing factor here as well.
2013 was also the year that I started exploring effects again for the first time in years. Bass effects have come a long way in the last few years and I am slowly starting to build a small pedal board. For years I was a firm believer in running my bass straight into my amp, no effects, but as of late I have started to change my tune. I still feel they should be used sparingly, but I am really enjoying playing around with the different sounds I can get. So far I’ve gotten a Chorus, a Octaver, a Looper and a Compressor and hope to pick up a Fuzz or Overdrive pedal soon. I also picked up a 5 string bass, which I had previously given up as I never knew what to do with the B string. Again, after attending Bass Camp and gaining a better understanding of music theory and modes, as well as playing in a cover band every week, I began to realize how useful that B string can be. Now I’m not saying that I am playing my 5 all the time, but I am finding in to be a useful tool. This is actually the 3rd 5 String I have owned, but it is 34” scale, the other two where 35”. It may sound weird, but this one just seems more comfortable to play to me. I can’t see how 1” can make such a difference, but somehow, to me, it does.
As I say, music-wise, 2013 was a damn good year for me. I look forward to attending Roy’s camp again in 2014 and to continuing my studies. I will endeavor to write more on this blog, it seems likes sometimes I just can’t find the time. I am getting better at managing my time and accomplishing more in less time, but honestly it is a work in progress. I found that my sleep was suffering and with everything that has been going on at work I was completely miserable. Many nights I am faced with the choice of either practicing bass or writing and practicing has been winning out almost every time. I will definitely continue to write updates in regards to my progress with Teach Me Bass Guitar, and hope to write more consistently.
Here’s hoping that 2014 is a fantastic year! As always, thank you for reading. I hope to interact with more of you in the coming year.