A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for January, 2017

Hal Leonard Bass Method ex. 10-17 vids

HLBMI started tackling videos for older exercises in the Hal Leonard Bass Method tonight. I went back to the beginning and recorded exercises 10-17, which are all of the exercises from the E-string lesson. It took about 5 mins to record, because I did it in one sitting and ran each exercise twice at 80 bpm. Turning them into videos took considerably longer – I had to slice up the big video with everything in it, do the same for audio and then combine them into a single file. That’s 8 down and only like 35 more to go…

After I uploaded the videos to my Ugly YouTube channel, I dug up old posts and added the videos to the ones that were about them. If anyone’s interested, here they are, followed by direct links to the 8 videos:

YouTube links:


Practice: 01/25/17 – HLBM 49-56 @ 80bpm

Running exercises at 80 bpm is working pretty well. I’ve just about caught back up to where I was before the stomach bug benched me. Today, I worked on ex. 49-56 in the HLBM. I’ve mainly been focusing on a few bars in ex. 56, because I’m making mistakes when switching between strings in 2 sections (bars 7-8 and 11-13). The next one, ex. 57 (F/X), is what I was up to previously, so I’m right on schedule to tackle it again. I plan on recording practice videos of older exercises, because I haven’t done that for most of the ones in the book yet. It helps me to track the progress I’ve made, and it also seems to be helpful to other people who are working through the book as well.

hlbm56-all-four-one

I’ve found that the exercises that incorporate multiple strings are good reading practice. There are a few that I’ve gone back to expressly for that purpose – ex. 46 (Crossin’ Three), 51 (Gee Whiz), 52 (All Right) and 56 (All Four One) are as much a mental workout as a dexterity one, at my level. I imagine upcoming exercises are only going to build on this. The ones with position changes and string crossing – and the ones that incorporate both at the same time, like going from 1st position on a string to 2nd position on a different string – are particularly challenging. Hopefully, in a few months, I’ll be able to play through these with far less effort, and with greater speed and precision. We’ll see.

The GHS Pressurewound strings are breaking in. They’re a lot easier on my fingertips, so I’ve been enjoying practice more.  I haven’t had to use the Gorilla Tips at all. Regarding technique, I need to work on my pinky finger. It stands upright, like Dr. Evil drinking tea, when its not holding down a fret. I’ve watched some videos about correcting this, and what it seems to come down to is slow, deliberate practice and attention, so I’ll have to start incorporating exercises for this into daily practice.

Finally, I made a Google doc that lists all of the videos I’ve done for the HLBM, with links. Its sparse at the moment, which is what made me really see just how many videos I haven’t made yet. That’s something else I’ll work on during regular review.


Practice: 01/24/17 – HLBM 10-51 @ 80bpm [vid]

I’m finally back after that stomach bug wrecked my January. This Sunday, I started practicing through the Hal Leonard book again. I started back at the beginning, at ex. 10 and did 10-42 on Sunday, 10-51 on Monday, and 46-48 earlier today. It wasn’t so bad. I made some mistakes on the first day, but got better as I went. The new GHS Pressurewound strings play more smoothly that the roundwounds I had before, so I’m able to play for longer periods of time without my fingertips getting sore from holding down the thinner strings.

On the HLBM thread on Talkbass, several more people got the book and joined in. One person finished book 2 and is beginning the 3rd volume. I found it encouraging that he said that when he goes back to older exercises from book 1, they glide under his fingers now.

I made videos of the 3 exercises I ran this AM: 46 “Crossin’ Three”, 47, and 48 “Octa Gone”. I’ve been running everything at 80 bpm, because its not too fast, and it still forces me to read at a decent rate. For those last 2 exercises, I messed with the notes after running the exercise as written, just to see how it would sound doubled-up or played with some slower parts and some faster parts, or as dotted quarter notes in some cases. My aim is to ramp back up to where I was (57 “F/X”) by the end of the week.

Hal Leonard Bass Method ex. 46 “Crossin’ Three” @ 80bpm

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Not so happy new year…

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One of these things is not like the others…

2017 and I are off to a bad start. Sure the first 2 weeks were interesting – I got the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6, wifey’s thesis was released and she started her drum blog, and I got the Gorilla Tips. I even got my old Ibanez 4-string mostly fixed and am waiting to hear back about the acoustic.

Then, wifey caught a stomach bug. It hit her for a few days before moving onto our daughter. That was just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Bopps bounced back from it, and today we finally sent her back to school. However, this week, its been my turn, and I don’t have the resilience that my wife or our +1 does. My immune system is mostly theoretical. I’ve been laid out for the majority of the past week. This is my first time sitting in front of a computer in days. I haven’t touched a bass in 5 days, and spent 2 days completely immobile. I haven’t been this bad in recent memory. I literally didn’t move except to turn from one side to the next for 2 days.

Today, I took my first bite of solid food in days. It stayed down, so things were looking up. The GHS Pressurewound strings came in yesterday – it took 11 days to ship, likely because of the long weekend and USPS. I decided that since I’m finally sitting upright again, I’d restring the 6-string fretted bass with them. I’ve been really curious about them and waited twice as long to get them as I thought I’d have to.

Then I broke the new E-string by over-tightening.

The one thing I had to look forward to, and you took it from me too, 2017!


Practice: 01/12/17 – HLBM 57 @ 72bpm [vid]

Practice has been slow for the past few days. I only got in about 20 mins per day for the last 2 days, until now. I’ve been working on ex. 57 (F/X) in the HLBM and its been going slow. This AM, I ran it at 40 bpm, which is the slowest the metronome goes. I made it a point to say the note names aloud as I played them. I just got in a quick PM session, which I’ve been unable to do recently, and for some reason decided to just start at 72 bpm. As strange as it seems, I was able to handle it, so I did a quick recording for my YouTube hall of shame.

This practice video was recorded with the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 and Audacity. I was going to do it in Reaper, but I think I need to tinker with it a little first – it has exclusive control of the sound system when its in use, and because of that, I can’t use the online metronome that I’ve been using with it.

Hal Leonard Bass Method ex. 57 “F/X” @ 72bpm

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Wifey’s extreme metal thesis and drum blog are here!

This isn’t totally bass-related, but it might be intriguing for some of you who are interested in extreme metal and in drumming (even separately).

individual-thought-thesis

My wife finished her 2nd masters degree this year. Apart from her MLS, she now has a masters in anthropology. Her thesis topic was centered on women’s participation in New York’s extreme metal scene – from musicians and fans to others in the industry like photographers, writers, women who run magazines and websites, women who host radio shows and more. We attended shows (quite a few were around the baby’s schedule), she met and interviewed women in the scene, conducted an online survey with dozens of respondents, and met and presented with incredible metal music scholars – a discipline that I didn’t even know existed until she started doing her thing. Many of them have written books and papers in academic journals and some have released video documentaries as well. Its a thriving and fascinating international community.

Anyway – for those interested, her thesis is finally available for public consumption via CUNY Academic Works. Here’s a link to the PDF (you can click the “download” button on CUNY’s site or read it online):

Here’s a link to her blog where she announced the release of the thesis as well:

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Focusrite Scarlett 6i6

focusrite-scarlett-6i6

I got a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 audio interface from a seller on Craigslist yesterday. Its the 2nd gen model, which is the new one that has ironed out some issues from the older model. The seller listed the device as being in Stratford, CT, which is about an hour away, without traffic. After emailing, I learned that its actually at his mother’s house in Mt. Vernon, NY, behind Cross County Shopping Center – about 5 mins from my house.

So, wifey and I left Bopps with her grandparents and went to see the device. We met the seller in Mt. Vernon. He was a little older than me – maybe in his late 40s or early 50s. His name is Mike and he’s originally from Queens – he had the accent too.

His mother’s place is falling apart. Its an old Victorian house, and in the snowy dark had looked intimidating from outside. Once the door opened, I could hear my wife’s mental cringe in my head. We had to go up 3 flights to a room to see the 6i6. There were boxes and junk everywhere, the handrail finish on the staircase was partially stripped, like if paint thinner had been run in odd rivulets along it, the floors were in terrible condition, and a young, blonde woman in a bathrobe with her hair wrapped in a towel walked out of a room on the 3rd floor, ran into us going upstairs and exclaimed, “What, there are more people?!”

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