Other players are supposed to be able to follow us. We set up chord changes like drummers set up sections of a song with fill. It is one of our primary functions. We always have to be first on the scene.
Writing a clear chart with your own music-shorthand notes around the chords will enable you to play confidently without really knowing a particular song.
During my years playing in bars, I would often go out to watch friends play on my nights off and inevitably get invited onstage to sit in and play with them. But when you sit in with a band to play songs they know—songs you might not be familiar with—the situation can get hairy quickly. On the occasions I’d tell my friends that I wasn’t too familiar with a song, they’d always say: “Man, you have great ears, you’ll be able to follow, no problem.”
Herein lies the problem: As a bassist—when playing an actual song (not just jamming)—we can never follow! Our primary job is to always lead, and lead confidently. We can’t wait a millisecond and come in on the second eighth-note of a bar if we are unsure of the changes, and “get by” like a guitarist or keyboardist is able to do when they aren’t 100 percent sure of what they are doing. That latency and attitude is just not a luxury afforded to us bass players. In almost every genre of music with a set song form, we will set up the next chord with a bass line or a walk leading into it. Other players are supposed to be able to follow us. We set up chord changes like drummers set up sections of a song with fill. It is one of our primary functions. We always have to be first on the scene.
To be able to do this with confidence on every chord change and arrangement twist—even without truly knowing the song in question—you need to really refine your note-taking skills so you can perform a given song after hearing it only once or twice. By doing this, you will be able to grasp the broad strokes of a song and nail a few of the details without the luxury of adequate time to really learn the particular song. And I am not only talking about the number system we use here in Nashville. (If you are interested, there are several books and articles that explain the Nashville Number System very well.) I am talking about the notes around the chords. The system I use for these notes is very personal and the purpose of this column is to share examples of how I use it. Hopefully, you will be inspired to use whatever symbols or words that best enable your brain to recall the information in the absolute quickest way. So feel free to make up your own shorthand.
Section length. For starters, I label every section (verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, etc.) on my chart or “cheat sheet” on the left-hand side of the page and underline them. By doing this, I’ll clearly know where sections begin and end, which enables me to confidently lead the band into the next section.
Rhythmical pattern. Right under the name of the section will be my “groove indicator.” This is of tremendous importance, since it’s very common in popular music to have different kick-drum and bass patterns from section to section. For example, if the kick-drum hits are on beat 1, on the and of beat 2, and on beat 3, I write “heart.” This is short for heartbeat, which is slang for perhaps the most common kick-drum pattern ever. The next section may have steady eighth-notes—most often seen in choruses— so I will write two eighth-notes in front of the section on my sheet. Another very common pattern, especially for verses, is the kick drum on beat 1 and the and of beat 2. I call it “push groove” and label it “push.”
Range/neck location. As a bassist, the octave placement of a section is a very important element in making one section “pop” from another, and I have three very general octave descriptions: low, middle, and high. I use these terms to describe exactly where on the neck a particular part is played. For example, a song in the key of E might have the verse based around the E located on the 7th fret of the 3rd string, while the chorus of the same song might drop down to the open E on the 4th string.
Signature line direction. For those signature walk ups or walk downs that occur in many songs, I simply write “W.U” or “W.D” on my chart. Doing this helps tremendously with giving direction to the chord progression in the spots where people expect to hear it. I play a fair amount of country/pop, so these two abbreviations show up a lot on my sheets for that genre.
Amount of notes. To direct me to the correct liveliness, or amount of notes in a bass line, I use a different terminology. For example, the last of the double choruses in a song may have a busier bass pattern, so I comment “busier” under that line of chords. During breakdowns, the bass will often add some melodic content played above the 12th fret. If you are learning a song quickly, the term “high melody” will get you in the ballpark without having to learn all the high, solo-like notes in that section note-for-note.
In order to use this technique efficiently, good ears are required. That said, the people that gave you the song to check out just 10 minutes earlier will think you have amazing ears when they hear you play it. Once you start coming up with your own shorthand and “cheat” notes, you can plow through a lot of material very quickly, while still staying true to the recording in many of the important areas. Developing an efficient notation technique is no replacement for learning to read and write music properly, but it’s still a very necessary and fun tool.
Nashville bassist and producer Victor Brodén has toured and recorded with more than 25 major-label artists, including LeAnn Rimes, Richard Marx, Casting Crowns, and Randy Houser. His credits also include Grammy-winning albums and numerous television specials on CMT and GAC, as well as performances on The Tonight Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.