Ask Willis - September - 1999

Hey Willis
I have a dog named Smokey, but over the course of time, I have been calling her various names, such as: poo-poo puppy (she's not a puppy anymore), smokey-doo, smokey-puppy, mocha-mix, hubba-bubba, home-girl, reaper-peeper, pooper-peeper, and the like. Now, when I call her by her real name, she does not respond. Should I stop using these "pet" names, or should I choose one of the names mentioned above. Also, is it wrong to feed her broccoli and play Jimi Hendrix songs while she "toots" along. Maybe this is causing problems with her digestion, which causes me to have to pick up many, many landmines. I guess what I'm trying to ask is, How can I get her to poop less than four times per day, and come when I call her. Thank you for your great shows at La Ve Lee. I look forward to your response.

SL, you should really be more sensitive to your little Smokey's needs. Assuming that she likes Hendrix (as great he was) could be a big mistake. What if she's actually a fan of the smooth vocal stylings of Mel Tormé or Tony Bennet? Try to be a little more tolerant of her needs. Dogs are so anxious to please that they'll suppress their own musical tastes in order to please their masters. This inner conflict could very well manifest itself with digestional problems and the excess poopage you describe.
The same goes for the green stuff. If you like brocolli that's fine...ok, a little wierd, but fine, just don't expect the same from your dog.
Do a little experimenting, find some music and food that you both like and you can rest assured she'll come, no matter what you call her.

Hey Willis
I would like to get away from starting ideas on the tonic. what advice do you have?

Starting solo ideas on the tonic is a very common "sypmtom" of bass players learning to solo.
A quick way to adjust is to start your ideas from the 5th of the chord. A triad from there will get you the 5-7-9 of the chord. If you think of the correct scale frrom there, you'll avoid the 4th, which in this case is the root of the chord.
Also, learn to play as many melodies as you can get your hands on. That'll help you develop a sense of the hamony going on "underneath" what you're playing, instead of the other way around where you're always playing bass notes underneath the harmony.

Hey Willis,
Can I pet my dog as a substitute for practicing my bass technique and still grow musically?

Sure, but it really depends on what kind of dog you have. I've had the most luck with Labradors, but you have to remember that they carry an oil in their coat that allows them to repel water and swim better. If you ever do pick up the bass again, make sure and remove the oil from your hands so it doesn't get on the strings.

Hey Willis I've recently bought the GWB1.
I love the's nice to play, well-balanced, it reacts (?...hope you understand, I am from Switzerland) wonderfully and is very sensitive. The sound is clear and bright (you know it better). I was looking for a fretless thing that just "sings" like it should and am fully satisfied now. And it looks great.
Well, there's one little thing...but I am not really sure about it (I also need to get familiar with the bass): a friend of mine (who's jealous of my new GWB1) told me that there could possibly be a slight dead spot on the d-string (around f sharp or something)...and I say he's wrong. It would be so slight I wouldn't notice anyway. So, what do you know about dead spots ? Is it a specific "fretless problem" ?
But anyway, I say it again, I honestly love the bass. Mainly the sound. But what will happen if everybody on earth will be sounding a little bit like you ??? I guess it depends on HOW it is played. Thanks for your time and I hope you answer this. Not too sunny greets from Zurich,

'Great to hear you like the bass.
I'm not sure about that F# on the D string but anytime a bass is built with a wooden neck and a metal truss-rod, there's going to be a noticeable dead spot or two and it's not confined to the fretless. The most common location is around the B on the G string. You can expect one there and maybe somewhere around the Bb on the D string. It's up to you whether you consider it a "problem". Once you get used to what to expect, you can learn to use those notes to your advantage.
"everybody on earth" is obviously a bit of a stretch, but thanks anyway. If you think about how many different musical identities have been created on the Fender Stratocaster, it's easy to see that there's plenty left to be done on the fretless.
Don't forget your sunscreen....

Hey Willis
Why Do YOu Always Have Your Arms Folded In Photo's?
How Do Those Dogs Sing Jingle Bells On TV?
Why do dogs bark so viciously at deer?
Deer never hurt nobody or nothin

It's a great way to hide underarm persperation.
If it's one dog singing, thenyou know it's fake like pro wresting.But, if it's a dog choir with each one singing a different note, then you can be sure it's real. Every dog has their own resonant frequencty bark.
Deer are gorgeous animals and dogs know this. Dogs are insanely jealous, which explains their agression.