Ask Willis - July - 1999

Hey Willis:
Are you bald?

Q:How many bass players does it take to change a lightbulb?

Definitely not. I attribute the obvious lack of density in certain areas to the overly large size (7 1/2+) of my cranium. If it were only stuffed with brain cells....Anyway, hats are cheaper than hair .

Hey Willis:
Recently, upon reflection, I believe Star Wars: The Phantom Menace not only sucked, but represented the pinnacle of uber-suckery. Upon careful consideration of the nuances, synergies and subtly-crafted character and plot development, I have determined that the only method for enjoying the Menace was to enjoy a big bag of dried prunes in the process. Please comment on the benefits of prune consumption, how prune consumption has affected your well-being, and describe why prunes are the most misunderstood foodstuff ever introduced into our heinous cultural landscape.
P.S. I accidentally ate some moustache wax recently. Will it harm me?

PS first:
I will probably go to my grave without having seen any of the Star Wars Trilogy or Septilogy or however many there are. So, the moustache wax reference is lost on me, unless it doesn't have anything to do with Star Wars.
Secondly (or firstly if we're following your line of questioning)
I will also probably go to my grave without having tasted a dried prune or a pickled prune or however they're prepared.
So there you have it. One man's dried prune is another man's Phantom Menace.
May the Prune Be With You

Hey Willis,
what is the fastest and easiest way to housebreak a 6 week old puppy

Hey PJ,
As they say in Real Estate, "Location, Location, Location".
The sooner you can find a place (outside, of course) that they can "go" and get lots of praise for it, the sooner it'll become a habit. The problem is that they're super sensitive to smells so if they "go" inside and the next day it smells like they went there, they'll want to "go" there again. Clean up accidents quickly and thoroughly spray with something like Windex so maybe the smell can go away.

Hey Willis,
I've only been playing for about 2 years and have found hand positioning to be the most difficult aspect of learning to play the instrument. To keep my eyes glued on the notes and make jumps up and down the neck fluidly, and in tempo, is tough.
Half and whole step shifts are'nt too bad, but a big jump, from say a low G on the E string to a high G on the G string, is tough. Either I have to look at the frets and screw up my reading or else hope I land on it, a 50/50 proposition. I know that looking at the neck is a sin, but it's the only way I can consistently make those jumps. This is just when reading of course, playing something memorized with big jumps is easy since you can glance. I play a 4-string jazz, so I don't have the positional opportunities that a 5 or 6 string bass offers. So how do practice making big jumps? AO

Hey AO,
Wow, you kno whow to read? cool. After 2 years of playing, I knew the names of the open strings and a few notes on the neck, but I didn't have a clue what that curly thing with the 2 dots by it was.
"Father I have sinned. For I have coveted my neighbor's neck".
OK, so it makes you read better, I've heard.
I had a classical piano teacher who also played classical organ. They have to constantly adjust and pull out stops while continuously playing. He developed this trick: Add a physical step in between the shift, like tap the bottom horn of the body or touch the nut in between your shift. It'll be more difficult, but once you've mastered the shift with the extra action in it, eliminating the extra step makes the shift seem real easy.
Eventually it's just muscle memory so the shifting thing should develop pretty fast.

Hey Willis,
My bizillion-dollar question is whether or not there is a chart around for "Tunnel Vision". I would love to get my eyes on one. I just ordered the Ear Training book today (I just learned of it today; saw a review in Guitar Player) and am stoked!
Last question: if you and Henderson got in a fistfight, who would win?
Thick- Joe

Hey Joe,
There's a pretty thorough chart of Tunnel Vision in "The New Real Book, Vol. II".
Check out Sher Music.
BTW, I think that tune might be in the Guiness World book of records for having the most chords per square inch on a chart. Although I think I've chilled on so much chord writing in recent years, thank goodness.
Henderson vs. Willis
KO 5 seconds into the first round.
He doesn't participate in any sporting event unless it allows you to hold a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
Hmmm.........Now that you've brought it to my attention, I think there's going to be LOTS more bass solos on the next CD.....