Monday, 30/11/2020


If you know Jaco Pastorius you’ve probably listened to Donna Lee. 

If you’ve ever looked for bass videos on Youtube, you surely know Jeff Berlin’s Tears In Heaven.

What’s connecting these songs?
They’ve both been written by other artists (Charlie Parker in the first case, Eric Clapton in the second) and other instruments (trumpet, guitar), and these artists arranged them for bass.

As I said in the week two chapter: how to learn a song, this is a job for your ears: listen, find the notes, play. But! You can imagine how different can be to learn a bass line instead of music that was originally written for another instrument. The main question is: is it possible to play this kind of music with the bass and make it sound the same? The answer is, obviously, no.

So, why should you develop this technique?

Every instrument has its language, that depends by its structure, material and even its tradition. When you play their music you discover a whole world of possibilities that you couldn’t imagine before, exactly like you’re travelling in a far country and you eat the foreign food for the first time. You can improve your playing by absorbing this language and create something original for your instrument.

That’s especially true for solos! You can take a lot of ideas from, for example, brass solos, because their language is pretty comfortable to play for us and the result is often very nice to hear.

Also, not all musicians want to trespass this limit for the same reason, some want to test their technique in a different way, maybe transcribing a sax solo, some want to arrange their favorite song with the bass, others are just curious.

Your goal, anyway, has not to be imitating note by note, but instead to create something new that’s as good to hear as the original, even with some adjustments.

Every musical instrument has its particularities that make it peculiar. Most of work is about to recognise what we can play similarly and what we can’t. It depends first by the nature of the instrument itself. As you know, in fact, there are many kind of instruments: plucked strings, bowed strings, wind instruments, percussions and so on. Any of these has its way to produce the sound and it cannot be easily reproduced. The more it’s different and the more you’ll have to arrange the part.

For example, large intervals like octaves are easy on the bass but they’re pretty challenging on woodwinds. For them, instead, legatos are simple figures that we often can’t play at all. When you find a part that was expressly written for that instrument, try to replace it with something yours, so you’ll create your own bass arrangement and you won’t risk to play a bad imitation that’s gonna sound bad for sure.

Obviously not all music can be played with every instrument. Some things are pretty impossible, others just sound bad. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the effort.

Now, let’s see together some points you have to considerate before to start.

Fingering. Composers often write music in a comfortable way for the instrument that has to play it, and they use different intervals depending on that. In this case you have to be a little creative with your fingering to make it flowing on the bass. Don’t be discouraged if it seems hard and try to figure out how to make it sound. Change octave and position, use open strings if you need, try new chords positions and anything you have in mind.

Speed. Some instruments, like bagpipes, usually play upper than 130 bpm. In this case you may write notes down and start playing the song slowly. Pay particular attention to the fingering to be correct since the beginning, because some passages that seem easy at a low-speed can become tricky when it gets faster and it’s hard to correct them later.

Dynamics. Some instruments have a huge range of dynamics that is hard to mimic with the bass. If you’ve ever listened to classic music you probably noticed how the orchestra jumps up and down in the volume level, to give a sweet or dramatic impact to the music. It could be quite interesting trying to do this. Dynamics are all in your right hand, and this is a perfect exercise!

Notes duration. On bass, the time taken by the note to expire is called sustain. The more it takes, the more is sustain. Even if you’re bass has a good sustain, you cannot play a never-ending note like, for example, the violin. It means that if you want to play a violin part you have to arrange it in a way your note attacks sound good and natural, or you can use tools, pedals or softwares to create a sound that works. The E-bow, for example, is a tool that permits you to create an infinite sustain on bass and guitar.

Playing range. A classic four string electric bass has a range that goes from E1 to E4 at the 21th fret of the first string. It’s the lowest range except for the double bass, that’s the same. Sometimes changing the position on the neck it’s enough to play an higher instrument’s line, but sometimes you won’t have the notes and you’ll be forced to play it lower. If you’re thinking about a solo transcription you can just choose the position you’re most comfortable being indifferent to the octave. If you want to do a bass arrangement, and you’re supposed to have multiple sounds at the same moment, you need a smaller sound. You can try to make it with your right hand or a software, so your line will sound clear and not swollen of low frequencies.

Hope I’ve been helpful, and welcome to the bass arrangements world! See you next week,


Monday, 23/11/2020


There are many factors that determine if you’re a good musician or not. Having a good technique and an appropriate language on your instrument, for example, is fundamental for it and there’s only one way to improve them: practice.

To practice is not easy for everyone, because sometimes it’s complicated to find time to dedicate to it, and if you only have 10 mins a day you could just prefer to play a song instead. 

So I’m here today to give you some tips for a good practice routine and try to make it easier for you. 

First of all, you have to make your goals clear to yourself and understand what kind of musician you want to be. Ask yourself what do you want to learn and what would make you more satisfied about your playing, so you can choose the correct exercises. Ask yourself what’s your level, at the moment, compared with the musician you want to become and how big is the gap that separates you from your goals, so you’ll understand how much you need to practice. 

Having objectives to be achieved is a very good way to start.

If you did this you’re ready to begin with your practice routine plan. Where to start from? 

1) Best results come with a daily approach. Find a moment in your day you’re free and make the most of that. It would be better if it’s the same every day, so you can maintain a routine, but if your schedule make it hard for you, you can try planning your weekly free time to have an idea when you can practice day by day.

2) Ten focused minutes are better than one hour of continuous distractions. If you’re bored or tired than reduce your practice time, and if you feel you can’t concentrate just stop. 

Play a song, or don’t play at all. Remember though that concentration is an ability you can improve, you have to take the habit of been focused on studying for the period of time you need. 

3) Record your progress: make a video or audio recording, take notes of bpm of your exercises. If you’re doing technique exercises always use a metronome and start slowly with the speed you’re more comfortable. Pick up metronome few bpm at a time, and make sure you’re playing correctly before to continue. If you increase the speed while you’re still making mistakes the exercise will be pretty useless.

4) If you can, leave the bass out of the bag even when you’re not playing, so you’ll be ready in a second and you won’t waste time in preparing the gear. 

5) Co-working: if you have a friend who also has some work to do, you can consider to study together. Having an engagement with someone can give you more reasons to do things, even if the work you have to do is different. On the other hand, if the other person studies the same thing of yours you can compare to each other. I used to do this with my classmate at the music school and it worked well.

6) Don’t avoid your weakness points. If you’re studying it’s because there’s something in your playing you want to improve, and if you want to improve it it’s because you’re not satisfied. If you only practice on what you already know well you’re only reconfirming your skills, and you’ll never get better. 

I’d like to make one thing clear: this article refers particularly on that kind of practice made by exercises, scales, modes and so forth. But practice is not only how much time you spend playing scales and exercises, but also the time you choose to dedicate to your instrument in any way.
Listening, for example, is an activity that can really improve your playing, and you don’t need to have the bass to do it. When you listen to music and you’re paying attention, you’re practicing. When you’re playing with your band in the rehearsals room, you’re practicing. Of course it’s a different kind of study, but any of this activities develop music skills and they’re all important. 

Either than you do your exercises or play a song, the best thing you can do is to dedicate some time every day to play. This will help you taking the habit and you’ll become more and more confident with the instrument. 

Disclaimer: don’t practice without amplifier or headphones. If you do you won’t be able to recognise if your sound is good and you will tend to pick the strings harder than necessary with your right hand to hear better.

As usual, I hope I’ve been helpful with this guide! Let me know if my suggestions work for you!

See you next week,


Monday, 16/11/2020


I wrote this post something like ten times. That’s because I thought it would have been an easy work, about something I know very well, and then I discover it wasn’t so simple and I was risking to give many things for granted. Even worse, I was concentrating mostly on common mistakes rather than giving correct advices about what you should do instead. 

This topic means a lot to me, because through years I’ve met many people that couldn’t figure out why they weren’t making progress although they played every day. It was because they weren’t learning anything but only copying: they used to look for the song they wanted to learn on the internet and read tabs or watch video tutorials. But this approach is exactly like when you write notes on piano’s keys and push them in order but you have no idea what you’re actually doing.

That’s why, when students come to me for their first lesson, the first thing I say to them is to avoid these kind of stuff.

I mean, if you want to have some relax after work or school and play your favorite song on the bass there’s nothing wrong with that. But if your goal is to learn how to play a musical instrument, that could not be the right way.

So, if you ask me how you can learn a song, my answer will be: listen.

Listening is the most important skill for a musician. Unfortunately it’s often the most underrated too, because even if a good ear can be an innate quality, it’s a skill that needs to be trained anyway. If your ear is lazy even your playing will be, and it will always be hard for you to learn things that have not been prepared for you by someone else, like for example music for other instruments.

But what does it mean to learn a song by ear? 

It means you have to listen to the song, pay attention to the bass line, listen to every note and look for them on your bass. That’s all. There are no secrets or special tricks.

If you never did it you better start with an easy song, with few instruments so you can clearly hear the bass. The best would be a song you know very well: it will be easier to recognise if you’re making mistakes.

The first time it’s gonna be hard if you’re not accustomed to it, but it’s important to not give up: every musician was in your shoes at the beginning, trust me.  

Sometimes it can be really hard to identify each note, because of the mix or in case of complex bass lines. A trick could be to boost low frequencies on your speakers. 

I remember when I was a teenager I used to push headphones into my ear to get a kind of subwoofer effect. 

As you become more confident with your instrument you’ll learn to know which note you’re gonna play before you do it, and you’ll be able to play a song without listening note by note: that’s because intervals between notes sound the same no matter the tone. Once you get how a third minor interval sounds like you’ll hear it in any song, and that’s the same for every interval.

Thanks to this, once you’ve learnt a song, you can play it in the tone you prefer and it will sound exactly the same, that is convenient if you play with a singer who can’t sing in the original tone for any reason.

Remember there are different ways to play the same song and they depend, among others, by your instrument and your music taste. Explore your instrument and find how many ways there are to play the same note on it and how they differ in sound. In the download zone you can find two PDFs named Basic Scales that will help you in this: they contain all the main scales in two tones and with variations in fingering and position on the neck, so you can listen to the differences playing them yourself.

And be creative! If you can’t hear a note in the song you’re learning, try to imagine which one can be. Try to play it and listen if it sounds good or not.

Once you’re able to play by ear you can recognise if a song is well played or not, in case of videos, or if the fingering is good, in case of tabs, and you won’t risk to learn something by someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

This is because internet is not always a bad thing, there are many qualified musicians who share bass lessons and courses online, amazing means if you can’t take lessons in person for any reason, but there are also a lot of people who just play in front of a camera and you need to see the difference before to trust anyone of them, and the best way to do that is to use your ears.

To stay on the same topic this week I prepared for you some ear training exercises in the download zone.

It’s an audio file that contains some bass lines you have to listen to and try to play on your bass. 

Let me know if you found it useful! 

As usual I hope this short guide helps you a little bit to understand the bass world, if it does leave a feedback here in comments!

See you next week!


Monday, 9/11/2020


When I started this program I received a message by a guy who asked me about those who’d like to learn but don’t have any instrument. It made me think “what can I do for these people?” 

So I decided to write some tips that may help them to find a good instrument with a few money, and it seemed the perfect topic where to start.

The first bass is always an important choice, and I hope to be helpful in making it less tricky to you!

So, let’s start from the most obvious point:

New basses 

If you want to get an instrument easily and quickly the best choice is to get a new one, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money for it.

There’re many brands that produce instruments for every price range and most of them have models that are perfect for beginners. 

Cort, Yamaha, Ibanez and Squier are some of them, but there’re many more that have models you can easily find in stores in the 150$-300$ range. They also often have the bass+amplifier+cable formula to be ready to play as soon as you get home!

If you’re getting a new bass there’re just a few things you have to consider:

  • If it’s your first bass, it’s better to buy it in a store. Ask to shop assistants to help you, they’re there for you;
  • You have to feel comfortable. Your bass must allow you to play for a long time without feeling tired after five minutes. The best shape and weight of the bass are very personal so try different models and pay attention on how you feel playing it. If it’s possible try it sitting and standing;
  • Be sure every fret sounds good. Even new instruments may have manufacturing faults. I got a bass once that had a serious issue with the neck and I discovered it at home. I had to return it and I waited a month for a new one!
Used basses

Used instruments are always a valid option, but there’re some things you have to pay attention to. First of all, it’s different if the bass is a used by store or a private one.


Stores have quality standards on their used instruments and they often apply a warranty on them. You will probably pay a little more, but you’ll be sure you’re buying an instrument ready to be used and to have some customer care on it. 

If you decide to buy from a private, here are some tips that may help you to make a good choice:

  • Ask for the reason of the sell: if the bass is sold for a gear improvement it’s probably been recently used and it could be in a better condition that if it’s been stuck in a garage for years. If it’s sold for inactivity it will probably need a setup;
  • Ask for pictures: make sure they’re not stock pictures and the instrument you see is actually the one you’re going to buy;
  • Compare the price with the same model in the store or in the brand’s website and consider if the bag and the strap are included;
  • Try it in person before to buy it: this rule is mostly true for used instruments. Check the status of the bass, put an eye on the neck and the electronic if it’s an active bass. Make sure the jack entrance works well;
  • Accessories: some models need their own keys to do the maintenance. If the seller doesn’t have any you’ll have to buy them in a store so it could change the price of the bass;
  • Buying from a professional musician or a music teacher is a warranty of more reliability.
Basses for rent

If you’re still not ready to buy a bass there’re some ways you can try to play anyway and decide if it’s the right instrument for you. Of course the first is to ask people you know if they have a bass they can land to you. It seems obvious but it isn’t.

  • Music schools sometimes have instruments for students, ask if they’re willing to make you try;
  • Music stores and rehearsals rooms may have a rent service, so you can bring home an instrument for a week or two and decide later;
  • Rehearsals rooms also have instruments available for customers;

Sometimes governments give special bonuses for students so they can get an instrument for a special price, check on it too if you are a student!

Ex demo basses

Ex demo are instruments that’ve been used for demonstrations and masterclasses. They’re sold for a lower price to the public because they’re not considered new anymore. If you find one it could be a good deal.

A separate category is for instruments that reported aesthetic damages from transport like scratches or dents, but are still perfectly usable. They’re often sold in stores for a much lower price, but they’re not always exposed so you may have to ask. My first bass was one of these!

I hope this short guide can help you to find your new bass, if it does leave a comment and let me know!

The most important thing is you have to feel comfortable with your bass and you have to like it! If you can’t wait to play it, it’s the right one. If you feel good when you pull it out the bag, it’s the right one. 

Always remember that playing an instrument has to be funny!


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