There's no doubt about it, these are interesting times we're living in right now. We're sure that like us, you're experiencing a wide array of emotions that oscillate between moments of fear, panic, helplessness, vulnerability, confusion, paranoia, and concern. But fear not dear friends, we will make it through this. As you all know, the bass world is full of love and support for one another and we all could use that now more than ever. Us bass folk are a special breed who always take care of each other. It's our role within music to lay down the foundation, bridge the rhythm and melody, and hold the whole band together. Let's carry that mentality from the stage into our lives and keep that groove moving forward.
It's been devastating for all of us to have our gigs, tours, festivals, events, and performances cancelled, and that's taking its toll on our emotions as much as it is our pocketbooks. We all have bills to pay and mouths to feed, and things can feel pretty grim with the circumstances we're facing right now. But like everything, this will pass, and we will all be stronger on the other side.
Just imagine the feelings of happiness, relief, unity, and celebration that we'll all experience when the lockdown is over and we can get back on those stages and do what we do – spread our love through our music to the people who so badly need it. That day will come soon, and it will be epic.
Until then, we're all experiencing varying levels of lockdown and quarantine, where social distancing is keeping crowds to a minimum and is severely disrupting our daily lives. Everybody do your part and wash your hands, avoid crowds, and keep yourselves as healthy and happy as possible while we wait for some resolve.
With so many of us working remotely or being forced to stay in the confines of our homes, our options for keeping ourselves occupied are pretty limited right now. And to be honest, media is pretty terrifying and overwhelming from all angles. So we've put together this collection of activities and resources to help us bass players make it through this lockdown. There's no better time than now to turn to music for solace and comfort and even seize the opportunity to improve on our playing as we wait this out. We hope this helps. We're not doctors or medical authorities by any means, but we do know that music heals, which makes each one of us a healer. And that's what this world needs most right now. So let's do what we always do – stick together, take care of one another, stay positive, and grab our basses and groove our butts off! We got this.
A Bass Player's Guide to Surviving the Coronavirus Lock Down
1. Online Bass Lessons
You know those scales you've been meaning to learn? Those fancy licks you've been wanting to add to your repertoire? Maybe it's sight-reading, modes, arpeggios, or songs you've been dying to dive into. Well now you have some time to finally hunker down and get to studying. And what better way than online lessons to get to that next step of your playing? Luckily, us bass players are spoiled with online resources and outlets that can greatly accelerate our learning and get us to the next level. Even some of your bass heroes offer Skype lessons. How cool is that? Here are some options for online bass lessons that will help you focus and get you through the coming weeks.
Scott's Bass Lessons
When it comes to online bass lessons, Scott Devine is the man. He's built an empire on teaching bass to players all over the world and he covers pretty much every topic imaginable. He frequently has iconic bass guests to teach they methods alongside him and he offers curriculum for players of all levels. Check him out and start your free trial here: Scott's Bass Lessons
Bass Guru is an online lesson site and app for iPhone that features lesson “packs” taught by pro bass players demonstrating and sharing other insights and techniques. Learn from Victor Wooten, Nathan Watts, Ed Friedland, Mark Egan, Linda Oh, Felix Pastorius, and many others with their super in-depth lesson packs. Check it out here: Bass Guru
Berklee College of Music Online
With no application necessary you can sign up for a full course at the most renown music college. Sign up and develop your sound and become a well-rounded bassist. Learn rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic bass lines, and advance your blues, rock, and jazz playing. Their 12-week courses cover a lot of ground and will advance your playing greatly. Their next term starts on April 6th. Sign up here: Berklee Online
My Music Masterclass
This site offers video lessons from masters like Abe Laboriel, Andrew Gouché, Steve Jenkins, Ben Allison, Hadrien Feraud, Jimmy Haslip, and many others. You can either purchase or rent each video lesson. Check it out here: My Music Masterclass
With a strong focus on rock bass, this site lets you learn first-hand from players like Billy Sheehan, Bryan Beller, David Ellefson, Evan Brewer, Rex Brown, and more. Get a membership, or choose a one-off video to start with and get ready to rock! Check them out here: JamPlay
The world's most beloved instrument makers are now offering online lessons that are perfect for beginners who are wanting to get into the bass game. Their app is easy to use so that you can take your lessons on the go or at the comfort of your desktop. Try your free trial now here: Fender Play
Based out of Austin, Texas, 4-String Ranch offers clinics and masterclasses in the area, but their website hosts videos from players giving lessons online for free. So even if you don't live in their area, you can take in some highly insightful lessons from the pros that will spark your playing and encourage you to dig deeper. Check them out here: 4-String Ranch
When they're not touring out on the road (which unfortunately is everyone right now), many of your favorite players offer Skype lessons online, which allow you to get personalized sessions with the bassists you love. If you follow a lot of players online, they'll typically alert you to lesson openings through social media, but here are a few who are currently offering their services:
Norwood Fisher (Fishbone)
Ed Friedland (The Mavericks)
Contact Ed: HERE
(A Perfect Circle, Eagles of Death Metal, Puscifer, The Beta Machine)
Contact Matt: HERE
Contact Ariane: HERE
Contact Jonathan: HERE
Tim Lefebvre (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Black Crowes, David Bowie)
Tim Lefebvre is now offering lessons online along with live performances with his wife, Rachel Eckroth, on Patreon.
Check it out: HERE
Check out his Discover Double Bass video courses:
And John is available for Skype lessons here:
2. Read a Book
Turn off your TV, put down your phone, get in those cozy sweatpants, and curl up in a comfy corner with a good book. Few things are better at transporting us to a happy place than a captivating piece of literature. And there are plenty of amazing bass-centric books out there. Here are some of our favorites that will help you pass some time while learning about the instrument and players you love.
Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius
By Bill Milkowski
A fitting tribute to the genius who revolutionized electric bass playing and bridged the gaps between jazz, R&B, rock and funk. From his early days in R&B club bands through his international stardom with fusion group Weather Report and on to his solo career and tragic death at age 35, this book portrays the life and music of Jaco Pastorius.
Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass
By Geddy Lee
Through beautiful pictures and descriptions, view Geddy Lee's personal collection of vintage electric bass guitars, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s, comes the definitive volume on the subject. This book profiles over 250 classic basses from Geddy’s extensive collection.
Bass Players To Know: Learning From The Greats
By Ryan Madora
Shining the spotlight on players who are too often confined to the background, this book highlights the session aces, band members, and career musicians whose bass lines have permeated popular culture. Bass Players To Know features players who have contributed to the evolution of the instrument, including Ray Brown, Jack Bruce, Cliff Burton, Duck Dunn, Louis Johnson, Edgar Meyer, Willie Weeks, and many others.
Acid For The Children: A Memoir
Flea has penned a soulful and absorbing memoir of his journey from his early childhood in Melbourne, Australia, to the verge of what would become a road to stardom. Read our feature our current feature with Flea on it: HERE
How the Fender Bass Changed the World
By Jim Roberts
This book celebrates the 50-year history of Fender's revolutionary Precision Bass, it also illuminates the full scope of its profound impact on music and society. Focusing on the bass' artistic influence, it details the technical milestones that gave the bass its musical power. It also describes the impact of the bass in the hands of such visionaries as James Jamerson; cheers the innovations of rockers like Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney, John Entwistle and Sting; and honors the inspired work of such virtuosos as Jaco Pastorius. Loaded with black & white and 100 stunning color photos.
The Fretless Bass
By Chris Jisi
Who would have thought the electric bass guitar with its frets removed would transcend the rhythm section to become one of the most instantly recognizable sounds in all of music? From the jazz genius of Jaco Pastorius and the funk/punk abandon of Les Claypool, to the landmark rock of Jack Bruce and Sting, the instrument has a lyrical legacy all its own. This book collects the very best interviews, lessons, and gear and maintenance guides into one smooth-reading compilation. With insight from over 25 masters, including Tony Levin, Marcus Miller, Gary Willis, Jimmy Haslip, and Percy Jones, The Fretless Bass will give you a keen appreciation for the important innovators, as well as plenty of tools to find your own voice on the instrument.
The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music
By Victor Wooten
The Music Lesson is the story of a struggling young musician who wanted music to be his life, and who wanted his life to be great. Then, from nowhere it seemed, a teacher arrived. Part musical genius, part philosopher, part eccentric wise man, the teacher would guide the young musician on a spiritual journey, and teach him that the gifts we get from music mirror those from life, and every movement, phrase, and chord has its own meaning...All you have to do is find the song inside.
Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson
James Jamerson was the embodiment of the Motown spirit and groove the invisible entity whose playing inspired thousands. His life and musical brilliance are explored in depth through hundreds of interviews, 49 transcribed musical scores, two hours of recorded all-star performances, and more than 50 rarely seen photos in this stellar tribute to behind-the-scenes Motown.
Beneath the Underdog: His World as Composed by Mingus
By Charles Mingus
Bass player extraordinaire Charles Mingus, who died in 1979, is one of the essential composers in the history of jazz, and Beneath the Underdog, his celebrated, wild, funny, demonic, anguished, shocking, and profoundly moving memoir, is the greatest autobiography ever written by a jazz musician.
Studio Musician: Carol Kaye
The 503-page book documents Kaye’s life and career, which started on guitar in nightclubs around Los Angeles. She is best known for her studio bass work of the ’60s and ’70s as a first call bassist for LA’s recording sessions. Her bass lines can be heard on thousands of songs and hundreds of hits ranging from Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On” to The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” to Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman.” This book gives the details of her life and career through her own words.
Girl in a Band: A Memoir
By Kim Gordon
Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth, bass player, fashion icon, and role model for a generation of women, now tells her story—a memoir of life as an artist, of music, marriage, motherhood, independence, and as one of the first women of rock and roll. Evocative and edgy, filled with the sights and sounds of a changing world and a transformative life, Girl in a Band is the fascinating chronicle of a remarkable journey and an extraordinary artist.
Bass Books By Ed Friedland
Bass guru Ed Friedland has penned many books on the subject of bass, which many of you have probably read at some point in your musical journey. From Bass Grooves, to Reggae Bass, to Upright Bass, to Bass Method books, Ed has covered it all, and his easy to read, laid back style makes his teachings invaluable to anyone who is wishing to add new tools to their playing. Check out his books: HERE
Cliff Burton: To Live Is To Die
By Joel McIver
When it comes to writing biographies about famous musicians, few have penned more than Joel McIver. As editor of Bass Player Magazine and Bass Guitar, McIver knows his stuff, and his collection of books continuously grows by the month. His bio on Metllica's Cliff Burton is a must-read for any lover of bass or metal.
3. Watch a Movie
From blockbuster action flicks to comedies to horror films, we all love a good movie. Spending two-plus hours getting sucked into an alternate storyline is a great way for us to distract and enjoy ourselves, especially with so much going on around us right now. Here are some bass movies that are definitely worth getting into. So grab your favorite snacks, get cozy, and hit play.
Robert Trujillo Presents: Jaco
JACO, a compelling story of prodigious talent, personal adventures and raw human vulnerability presents the world of the bass guitar phenomenon Jaco Pastorius through the eyes of his family and various musical collaborators. Produced by the Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, and directed by Paul Marchand and Stephen Kijak, this blistering biopic contains incredible unseen footage and photography from the Pastorius family archive, and takes viewers into the heart and soul of this hugely influential cross-genre artist. Featuring interviews with an array of artists (Flea, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Geddy Lee) and friends, 'JACO' unveils the story of his music, his life, his demise, and ultimately the fragility of great artistic genius.
Beneath The Bassline
By Nick Wells
This movie is an absolute must-watch for bass players. It's packed full of personal interviews and stories from some of the biggest names in bass. Featuring interviews with the likes of Billy Sheehan, Bootsy Collins, Duff McKagan, Felix Pastorius, John Patitucci, Larry Graham, Marcus Miller, Michael League, Nathan East and Stanley Clarke, this superb documentary gives you access to some of the most incredible bass players on the planet, delving into their influences and charting several landmarks in the instrument’s history. From first frame to last, you won’t know what hit you.
Standing In The Shadows of Motown
This movie chronicles James Jamerson and the Funk Brothers, who were the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene who began cutting songs for a new record company called Motown. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on "My Girl," "Bernadette," I Was Made to Love Her," and every other hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music.
Scott Pilgrim Versus The World
So this might not seem like a strictly bass-centered movie, but the flick is super entertaining to watch, given its comic book-style editing and visuals. And the main protagonist is a bass player who rocks a JetGlo Rickenbacker, so it definitely has that going for it. All in all, it's an enjoyable movie that we definitely recommend watching.
We still have to wait for this film to be released, but we are definitely excited to watch it when it comes out. SUZI Q is the definitive, unexpurgated story of the girl from Detroit City who redefined the role and image of women in rock’n’roll, when she broke through around the world in 1973. Bass player, singer, songwriter, author, actress, radio presenter, poet, still touring and recording music – there is only one Suzi Q. (Out July 3rd)
4. Sell Your Unused Gear
Given the cancellation of gigs, lessons, and public performances right now, we're all feeling the pressure to pay our bills and stretch our money to make it through this lock down. It's as stressful as it is scary, but there are some ways that you can make some money while you're confined to your home. Look around your room right now. Do you see some bass gear? Probably. Now do you see that gear in the closet that you haven't touched in two years? Yep, that pedal or bass or amp. Now think realistically, how badly do you need that thing? If it's something you use regularly or need for a specific element of your music, we get it. But most of us have extra gear that does unused and simply collects dust in the corner of rooms. Now is a great time to sell that gear online to make a little money in this down time. There are a lot of great outlets for selling used gear, and here are a few of our favorites.
This amazing site is dedicated solely to the sale of musical instruments. It's clean, easy to use, and contains an endless stock of anything you could think of. From industry standard instruments to rare custom builds, they have it all. And the best part is, it is trusted by businesses and musicians alike, so you can feel safe going through them. Sell anything on here from basses to pedals to amps and make a little money during this down time. reverb.com
So we've all probably been down the same late night rabbit holes on eBay. You start looking at a Fender Jazz bass in Candy Apple Red and the next thing you know it's 4am and you're perusing obscure, vintage Japanese basses shaped like samurai swords. It happens. But eBay is a great way to put your gear up for sale to buyers all over the world. eBay.com
TalkBass.com has seemingly been around as long as the internet has. It's a fantastic forum for all things bass, where you can find topic threads on just about anything. It's also a great place to sell your bass gear directly to buyers. Avoid going through third party services, and connect with people one-on-one to sell your stuff. talkbass.com
This site is great if you want to sell things locally in your area. They have a large musical instrument section for you to post sales, but this does require some form of human interaction. Opt to ship the gear upon payment to avoid meeting in public if possible. And beware of scammers. We all probably know someone who has almost been, or unfortunately has been, scammed on this site. craigslist.com
5. Give a Facebook Live Performance
As our contributing editor Jonathan Herrera is proving in the above screenshot, you can still perform for your fans through social media platforms. Facebook Live is a great way for you to play your songs for an audience, even from your own bedroom.
If you want to make some cash for your performance, give an option for donations through PayPal, Venmo, or any other safe outlet. Get your band together, assuming you have less than 10 members and that none of you currently have the virus, and blaze through your setlist. Set up your camera and rock a set of cover tunes. Heck, even just riff for a while. Don't let this distancing thing take away the thrill of live performances. Let's use technology to our own advantage even beyond its scope of selfies and TikToks. Now is your chance to put on your very own tiny desk concert series.
6. Collaborate Online
The beautiful thing about the internet is that it makes the world a much smaller place by connecting us all and giving us access to people we wouldn't typically encounter in our day-to-day lives. Use this to your advantage and make some music with some new friends. Hit up your buddy in Seattle, or Italy, or wherever they might live and get in front of your cameras and get to jamming. Many albums are actually written with this method nowadays, and it gives players the in-person experiences of playing, even from hundreds of miles away. Find Facebook groups of people willing to jam or simply make a post asking for collaborators. Think of all of the albums that could come from this type of outreach and collaboration. Get to it! Just maybe put on some pants when you actually do turn the camera on.
7. Do Something Charitable
In trying times, one of the best ways that we can make ourselves feel better is by helping others. Selfless acts of charity and compassion are good for the soul, and everyone can use an extra hand right now. Whether it's simple acts like taking your elderly neighbor's trash bin up after collection, or donating some goods to a local charity, there's plenty we can do to help.
If you have any money to spare, there are definitely some people and organizations that can use it right now. The performance arts industry is surely hurting right now, so hit up your local venues and clubs and see what kind of assistance they need. Donate to some one in need. Our good friend Juan Alderete (pictured above) is recovering from a traumatic brain injury and is fighting to heal right now. Donate any amount you can, if you have anything to spare. We promise it will come back to you in one way or another.
To donate to Juan's fund: CLICK HERE
8. YouTube Binge
Chances are one of the tabs open on your desktop or phone right now is already docked on YouTube. This never-ending source of entertainment contains millions of videos that cover anything you could possibly think of. That means that there's a surplus of amazing bass content for us to take in on there. Here are some channels that we frequent during our YouTube binges.
This Italian-based internet sensation has over 6 million subscribers and his videos have been watched a whopping 13 million times. And for good reason too. This guys is as talented and creative as they come. Want to hear him play Korn songs with a cob of corn? Want to see him speed battle Mohin Dey? Or perhaps see him play a 36-string bass? A one-string bass? This guy does it all, and he does it very well with an amazing sense of humor. Check out his videos here: Davie504
MonoNeon broke onto the scene by going viral with videos of him playing along with soundbites from other clips (here's a recent one). They're as hilarious as they are impressive, and pretty soon Mono had a cult following because of them. Now he has exploded onto the scene as one of the funkiest players on the planet, playing alongside the likes of Prince, Medeski, Martin & Mono, JD Beck & Domi, Mac Miller, Ghost Note, and Thundercat. He uploads new videos constantly and we're thankful he does, because we could watch them for hours. Check him out here: MonoNeon
Reverb.com Learn to Play Series
Reverb.com offers a great series of short videos where they break down the playing of famous musicians and teach them to you in a simple way. Covering both technique and tone, these videos are very thorough and cover a lot of ground in quick spans. Learn to play like James Jamerson, Pino Palladino, Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, and many others. Check them out: HERE
Nathan Navarro is talented player who puts together creative videos that cover things like playing along with the music of Super Mario, 40 Techniques in One Bass Solo, and a lot of other fascinating concepts. His execution is spot on and he comes up with some great ideas to challenge himself with. Check him out here: Nathan Navarro
9. Read Bass Magazine
If we've ever had a captive audience, it's right now, and we're here to entertain you. We offer free issues of our magazine to anyone who wants to read it. Check out all of our editions, and even send us some emails with who you want to see featured and what you want covered. We're always listening, and we're always here for you. Click on the covers below to read our content:
And once you've made it through all of our issues and have explored the hundreds of articles we have on this site, head over to fellow bass sites No Treble, Bass Gear Magazine, iBass, and Bass Musician Magazine to scope their content and support what they're doing.
We hope this all helps you get through the Coronavirus lockdown. We're all in this together and we will make it through it. We'll still be here daily uploading content to our social media channels and website, so stay tuned for more of all things bass. Stay positive, stay healthy, and keep grooving!