Ask Willis - May - 2001
Behold the power of Google....
After 31 months of Ask Willis installments, I've gradually started getting more repeat questions. Of course this is to be expected. Thankfully, the folks at Google have come to the rescue with an extremely useful tool for researching the hundreds of answers. Click on the Google link, enter your search subject, sit back and get ready to be inundated. Here's a little sampling of some search subjects and the number of results that were returned.

bass - 83
fretless - 29
practice - 19
EQ - 13
3-finger - 11
guitar players - 10
slap - 7
bass lite - 5
suspension - 4
Yanni - 3
Billy Ray Cyrus - 2
Cindy Crawford - 1
Windows - 0
. . . .


Hey Willis
How does one go about ordering more than one item on your website, without being charged more than once for shipping by PayPal?
Is it possible to pick several items, and then checkout?

Actually, the shipping prices don't really get much cheaper by shipping several things at once. I recently shipped 4 books and 3 CD's internationally and the total was $32. Purchased individually, the shipping total was $35.
Email me with a list of the items you want and I can email you with a specific PayPal link that'll be a one-time purchase for the items...probably faster that way.

Hey Willis
You dont read music? Do you read books? Or What?

I'm not an avid novel reader....I used to read a lot more but my attention span has been somewhat abbreviated by this whole internet thing.

Hey Willis
What kind of radio stations do you listen to?
Just wondering if you check out what's going on out there.

Except for the ocasional talk radio (sports) I don't listen to the radio.
It's hard to drive while rolling one's eyes;-)

Hey Willis,
My question might sound quite odd, but I think it is quite an issue concerning groove and feeling: How does one swing? That is to say: how do you get into this oldtime drive thing (especially medium swing and shuffle) on the electric bass, is there some special sort of approach or is it just hard work? Actually everybody knows where the meter is, but not everybody swings the same, how come?

Good question. The details are fairly specific but still the idea of how something "feels" is a lot more abstract. You have to have command of the duration of the notes (I assume you're talking about a walking feel not soloing). They all have to be completely legato (connected). In a more subtle way, you should have control over the dynamics of the notes. You can slightly make the notes on 1 and 3 a little softer than the notes on 2 and 4.
In a shuffle feel, you have to have command of the "and" notes. I assume you're aware of the triplet subdivision and the basic quarter/eighth way the pulse is divided. That second note, the 8th, can be played as a regular note or sometimes as a dead note. Either way, its placement is crucial to the feel. To get a handle on this concept, put the metronome on 2 and 4 at a tempo of mm=100. ( mm=50 for the sound of the clicks). Alternate strict 8th notes for a couple of bars and then switch your 8ths to a swing feel.
First, do the exercise as legato as possible, then make the notes short. The next thing to do is to apply the same variations to a walking blues bass line. Once you get control of all these subdivisions, you'll start to get the "feel" under your fingers.

Hey Willis

What would you suggest for a good exersize for walking up? My descending walking seems to be more developed and I would like to even them out. I guess it's natural to be able to walk down faster than up but, but i need to even it out.

As far as walking up.... I made it a habit of always turning anything I couldn't do into an exercise. So pick a couple of changes (Dmi7 to G7, for instance) and start as low as you can and make every note higher than the next. Once you have a handle on that, then try a longer progression or maybe a whole tune. In order to keep it continuous, once you reach your highest note, treat descending the same way. Of course, the ultimate guide IMHO to gettting around on the neck is my Fingerboard Hamony For Bass book

Hey Willis
Really dig your site. What do you use to create it?

Here's my "rig":
PowerMac G4, dual 500mhz, 40GB hard drive, CD/DVD ram drive, 1gig of Ram
Apple Cinema Display 22" , LCD 1600 x 1024 resolution
System 9.1 ('experimented with X but Adobe hasn't come on board yet)
web:  Adobe GoLive 5.0
image editing:  Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1
new road toy: PowerBook G4 Titanium 500mhz, 15", 1152 x 768

Hey Willis
Could you please give some of us aspiring musicians,some business when you have a band together and you've burned a couple cd's.., should you ( in your opinion..! ) shop the cd to a label...or set up a merchant account, and sell your stuff via the internet..? in other words..taking the label out of the picture. Also...what to watch out for when dealing with labels...etc..

I'm not sure which way you should go. Maybe you can try to do both. I think most modern labels realize the situation so that even if you start selling your own they shouldn't see it as direct competition. The biggest thing to maintain is your publishing. Some labels want you to give that up but that can be risky. But, if you're not in a position to bargain. .... pick your poison...

Hey Willis
You said once that you weren't going to pursue a 6 string bass because of the whining cat sound from the high C string...Yet, I listen to NO SWEAT and hear all sorts of upper register stuff where a 6 would apply quite nicely... Is it an intonation thing? 

I was referring to a fretless 6. I'm fine with a fretted 6 in certain the ones you mention. That's the Bass Lite (the Ibanez ATK with really small strings. (generally tuned E-A-D-G-C) A fretted won't whine and it functions like a different voice without having to deal with having a "guitar player".