I have always been pretty much a cord straight into the amp kind of guy, not going in much for bass effect pedals. Years ago I had a Flanger that I used on 1 song, and I’ve experimented on and off with multi-effects units from Behringer, Line 6 and Zoom, but find these to be more trouble than they are worth. Recently, however, I seemed to have been bitten by the bass effects bug. Fueled initially while experimenting with Piccolo strings and a Octaver on my Zoom B1x multi-effects pedal, I have come to realize that today there are a ton of bass specific effects on the market.
With the passing of Ray Manzarek I’ve been listening to a lot of my old Doors albums. Man is there some great bass lines on those albums. Whether it is Ray on the Fender Rhodes Keyboard Bass or a studio bass player, the bass lines are simply fantastic. It got me thinking how unusual it was for a band to feature bass so prominently in the mix back then. Surely they must have been one of the first Rock bands to do this. One things for sure, Ray had one hell of left hand!
Fender Mustang Bass
Recently I have rediscovered my love for my Fender Mustang Bass. You may remember a while back that I was having some minor shoulder issues and as a results I was tending to play my lighter weight basses, one of which is my Mustang. I seem to flip-flop a lot with this bass, either loving the playability of the 30″ scale and how effortless it feels to play, or feeling cramped and somewhat dissatisfied with the tone. As I am currently in a “The Mustang Bass is the best bass ever” sort of mood I have been trying out different sets of strings, paying close attention to my tone.
When practicing or playing for long periods of time we must not forget the importance of taking breaks. This is especially true if you have the luxury of practicing for many hours during the day. If you find you are practicing for long hours you should strive to take a break every 45 minutes to an hour. This gives your body and mind a moment to relax, preventing fatigue and allowing you to better focus when returning to the task at hand.
Proper technique is an often overlooked, but very important component when playing bass. Recently I have been experiencing some discomfort in the middle finger on my left hand and am not sure if it is from playing bass or from something I am doing at work. This got me thinking about how I play my bass as I know that I don’t have the best technique and am now concerned that this may be starting to causing me physical problems.
Lately I have come to realize that I have trouble practicing effectively. I have every good intention to practice, but tend to procrastinate before doing so, looking for any excuse to delay my start. Of course this is a terrible thing to do as it cuts into my already limited practice time. Part of the problem is that I don’t really have a regular practice routine. I think about things I need to work on, and may start on them but typically end up playing along to songs I already know. While some of this is justified as “homework” for band practice, mostly it is just the easy way to fool myself into feeling like I had a good practice session.
In my constant quest for the ultimate bass tone, I have come to realize that I have recently become seduced by flatwound strings. While I have played flatwounds on fretless and upright basses in the past, I have been experimenting with them more and more on my main basses. The band I am currently in plays a mix of rock, blues and R&B tunes spanning from the 50’s to the 90’s and I am finding that, more often than not, I am preferring flatwounds when we play.
I have often heard that the key to achieving your goals is focus. It’s a simple concept really, but one that I can’t say that I have put much stock in, until recently that is. Lately I have found when I start to do something creative I am easily distracted. Sometimes I feel like I am almost looking for things to sidetrack me. I may have every intention to play my bass, but I keep inventing road blocks to keep me from it. Mundane things, like it’s too cold, or hot, or I don’t have enough time to devote to it today so why bother. It’s always something. I know I am just procrastinating, but I am not sure why. Fortunately I am starting to recognize when I am doing this, which to me is the first step in breaking this bad habit.
While I am committed to completing Roy Vogt’s Teach Me Bass Guitar course, I can’t help but notice that a number of stellar bass lesson websites have popped up over the last couple of years. Some of these offer free tips, tricks and lessons, some are pay sites and many are a combination of the two. In an effort to expand my horizons as a bass player I often browse many of these sites for insight, inspiration and even just a different perspective. Now is definitely a great time to be a bassist as more and more of these sites, as well as miscellaneous videos seem to be popping up daily.