GK-3B minimized

GK-3B minimized

Hey Willis, I see that you “minimized” a GK-3B pickup on your bass, presumably to make it look nicer.

Random Groove Generator

Random Groove Generator

Hey Willis, I’m an American bassist living in Germany for nearly 40 years. I teach here at the Mannheim Music school. One question: When you’re playing random (sounding) lines on funk grooves, how would you describe the process of making your note/dead-note & rhythmical choices. Do you think a lot in terms of odd rhythmical patterns or do you just try to play as random as possible (using no patterns)? This might seem like a weird question but for me this is the main element of your playing style that sets you apart from most other bassists. thanks. Dave Hey Dave, Thanks for qualifying the word “random” with the word “(sounding)” ;-). Otherwise I might be tempted to become defensive 😉 One important part of your question is “Do you think a lot . . . ” and the answer is no. When I’m comfortable with my playing and creativity it means I’m not thinking and letting my conscious brain second-guess my instincts. On the other hand, over the years I’ve critically evaluated and edited my vocabulary so that my instincts are directed to avoiding the predictable. So if you mean that you hear me playing in an unpredictable way then yes that’s always been my goal. The process involves developing an acute awareness of your own vocabulary and when you sense yourself falling into the predictable trap – don’t. Try to create your way out of it by imagining a different idea or moving the predictable idea to a different beat. Still it’s a balancing act because the definition of something that grooves is its repetitive nature. Since...
Ghost in the Machine

Ghost in the Machine

Hey Willis, Good morning, sir. I really like the website and am very impressed both by the attention to detail you give in explaining your playing style, and by your obvious willingness to help out the bass community in general. Excellent job and thanks. My question regards the Graph Tech Ghost MIDI system for bass. Like yourself, I use the Roland VB99, and recently had a GHOST bridge (and accompanying peripherals) installed on my custom bass. The installation went very smoothly and the system is up and running fine (I also had the Acoustaphonic Board installed, and the combination of the Piezo and Magnetic Pickup sounds is really quite remarkable). Obviously the VB99 needs to be tweaked a bit to properly interface with the GHOST system and I certainly understand that, but after all the obvious noodling was completed (choosing the Piezo setting over the GK3, adjusting the appropriate string sensitivity, getting an overall good, even sound from the bridge), I’m still noticing some quirks from the VB99 models in general. Some sound just fine while many others have a distinct overdriven, bordering-on-distorted sound to them. My first thought was that I hadn’t set the string sensitivity correctly (or something similar) but it’s only for certain VB99 presets that this occurs. I turn the amp modeling off when I hear this distortion and of course make sure not to have any type of drive effects activated when previewing the models (just to make sure THAT’S not the issue). Again, some sound clear and sweet while others have an intrinsic slight distortion to them (and many acoustic and upright models...
3 against 2

3 against 2

Hey Willis, I’m originally a guitar player and when I started playing bass about five years ago I tried to learn your three finger technique. It did seem a bit complicated at first and I eventually ended up playing with two fingers instead. Do you think it’s worth the time and effort at this point to give it another try? Thanks, Jonas Hey Jonas, Some of it depends on your situation – how much time you can dedicate to it, etc. I will say this – it’s not necessary that you adopt my 3 finger technique but what is important is that you develop some kind of detailed system for how you want your right hand to work. The study of harmony (left hand) is a slow one and takes years to get an understanding. During this time, most bassists ignore their right hand since it’s fairly easy and intuitive to keep up with the left hand’s slow pace. But, during this time is when most players develop involuntary bad habits that eventually make playing more challenging ideas difficult. From my few years of guitar study, I had the luxury of being semi-satisfied with where my left hand was when I decided to get scientific about my right hand. The hardest thing to do with the right hand is cross strings going up. My 3-finger technique solves this problem for me and gives me access to intervals and ideas that are much more difficult with 3. Still, 2 or 3 doesn’t matter as much as being sure to make it your own. best of luck,...
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