A tribute to one of my musical heroes: Steve Swallow

Steve Swallow
This is a little tribute to one of my musical heroes: Mr Steve Swallow. I have listened to his Music for quite some time and have always admired his unique approach to playing bass. In my version I play fingerstyle although Mr Swallow uses a pick. One of his most famous compositions are Falling Grace. You can find out more about him here!
There are videos on youtube with bass players playing solos performed by Swallow but not many (if any) playing one of his chord-bass parts. This one is transcribed from a John Scofield Trio version of the evergreen ”Someone to watch over me” (George and Ira Gershwin) from the musical ”Oh, Kay!”.

I heard this performance last year and decided to transcribe the part when he comps behind John Scofield during the the melody. I wanted to explore the voicings he used with his 5-sting bass tuned EADGC.

In the video I’m using my Kala California Custom Flame Maple solid body ubass. One of the first made using the ”exotic tops” back in 2012-2013. Please check out the new updated ones!

I decided to add the melody singing the Frank Sinatra version of the lyrics. I got some nice help with a great brushes and cymbals part too.

Magnus Sjöquist, kala solid body ubass (EADGC-tuning) and vocals
Mats Nyström, brushes and cymbals

I’m working on more ebooks in my Learn to play the ubass series and one of these will focus on playing chords on a ubass/bass.

Recording info

The ubass was recorded through my RMI Basswitch IQ/DI and then re-amped using a Radial X-amp. Se pic below. I used a combination of mics to capture the sound of the Phil Jones Double Four combo amp. Read more about the amp in my review.

 

 

Annonser

Review: Phil Jones Bass Double Four – small but powerful combo amp for ubass and more

The PJB Double Four at a recent gig. A perfect small combo amp and monitor for ubass, electric and upright. The Ampeg combo in the pic is only used to elevate the Double Four. Behind the D4 is my Slickbag Double Gigbag. It is used to get some more bass response since there was about 50 cm to the rear glass wall.

Let’s take a look at the Phil Jones Double Four combo amp

Background
In 1987 I bought a new amp, a Gallien Krueger 200MB. I used this amp for a lot of different gigs sometimes with a extension cab but for most part as a standalone amp. The MB250 was a small combo amp that was a real breakthrough product back in 1987. Small but powerful and well built. I still have this amp! I have changed the speaker once since the surround of the original speaker dried and fell apart. However once you open the enclosure once it’s really hard to get it air-tight again. The construction is built upon a closed box to get the sound. I have used this amp mainly as a backup only for the last 8+ years. When I planned a trip to Brazil in 2015 the need for a new really small and travel friendly amp grew. I started to look around, getting different recommendations from friends and online searches, found the Phil Jones Double Four and decided to try it out.

Description
The Double Four is a 70 watt (all digital, pre- and power amp) with two four inch speakers (hence the name). It features a specially developed innovation called RALFR®, a special reflex port that greatly enhances the bass response. Besides basic amp controls there is an AUX-input (for your smartphone or more…) with a level control, headphone and Line out. You can use it in either a vertical or horizontal mode. Read more about the amp here.

Although the amp is all digital it sounds very warm and organic and brings out the core tone of everything I put through it, and it weighs in at only 4 kg! It is loud enough for rehearsals and smaller venues. More info below!

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Gig-stories
This little amp has been working hard for me. As I mentioned in the background the initial goal of the amp was to bring it with me to Brazil in 2015 when I visited the capital city Brasília to check out different music schools. I met a lot of wonderful and lovely people on the trip.

The amp was really a great companion to me and my Kala acoustic/electric ubass. I used the ubass with the amp on outdoor restaurant gigs, at a small pub and at the different schools me and my colleague visited, played concerts and held workshops at.

Please read more about the trip here!

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Back in Sweden I have used the small and powerful combo for a lot of rehearsals and small gigs. It has been a great way to always have a great sound wherever I go. The people I have played with have always been overwhelmed and surprised about the small amp with a big sound. It has worked well with ubasses, electric basses and upright bass. Although it’s small and “only” 70 watts i has even worked as the only amplification in acoustically big sounding rooms like stone churches together with guitar and vocals.

Studio recording

Sound examples

Let’s listen to some examples of how the Double Four sounds with ubass in different genres and situations.

Tango (See info above on how this was recorded!)

Acoustic Hiphop (Recorded with a single mic Zoom recorder)

Bossa Nova in Brazil

Recorded through the PJB Double Four

 

Recorded a a rehearsal with a Zoom H6

 

Iso-amp-box

This Summer I also made a ”iso-amp-box” for ”silent recording” with the Double Four.

I made this box for recording dates where I need to get a miked amp sound in the same room with other musicians. Very little sound is heard outside the box and not much sound will get into the box. It can be used for the actual recording or to get a great and organic headphone sound when tracking.

I will do a dedicated blog post about how that works (and sounds) later!

 

Amp-in-a-box-recording

 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a small and ultra portable amp with a warm and natural sound you should definitely add the Phil Jones Double Four to you check-out-list. Playing my Kala Ubass with the PJB DoubleFour is a match made in heaven – a wonderful and small footprint with a big warm sound – a great combination for sure!

What’s in the first ebook-ePub ”Learn to play the ubass – Basic Techniques”? Lesson 4

One of the videos in Lesson 4 focus on the difference of Legato and Staccato playing

Lesson 4 –  combining plucking/picking and fretting hands (and a basic harmony lesson)

Q’s: I need to develop my technique to better sync my left and right hand. I also want to be more expressive and vary my tone/touch, note length and phrasing. Are there any exercises I can do to develop this?

The starting questions gives you a feel of what I will cover in this lesson.

After focusing on the plucking and fretting hand in two dedicated lessons it’s time to work one combining the techniques and work on getting it all to work together as a single unit.

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A little snippet of the word list. You can reach the word list by clicking on bold/highlighted words in the different lessons to get them explained. You can also browse the word list. This can help you vet a broader understanding how different words and phrases connect.
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Once you’re in the word list and have read the explanation of one word it’s possible to reach related words in the word list. This can further help you reach a better understanding on how the musical lingo connect!

Some musical lingo is introduced here, musical lingo is actually described all over the ebook and there’s even a dedicated interactive word list. This list is deeply integrated into the book. Highlighted words in the different lessons are clickable and explained. The word list is also searchable, connects a lot of related words and musical terms and let you browse the word list. When you’re done searching and browsing the word list the ebook remembers what you have been up to. It can easily return to where you were when you clicked that first highlighted word during your reading session, cool huh!

Staccato and legato is a big part of the lesson and these two Italian musical terms, and how to use them is, great to have in your musical vocabulary and playing toolbox.

There are exercises that focus on developing and working on these techniques with standard and tab notation as well as pictures and video.

Having a grasp of these techniques (and going in between) will land you a more expressive playing style that breaths and makes your bass parts stand out, building a steady but musical foundation all bass players need.

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End-of-Lesson-quizzes!

End-of-Lesson-questions are included. This is a great way for you to check what you have learned in the different lessons in the Lesson Pack.

– – –

My parents bought my first ubass at a music store in Honolulu, Hawaii while visiting the islands. I had not been able to try one beforehand. It only took me a very a few moments getting acquainted with the short scale length and rubbery strings. After that I have gotten more and more in love with the feel and sound of the ubass. Hope you have or will get the same feeling for these amazing instruments! Read more about my first encounter here!

https://playubass.com/2010/12/26/the-first-pictures-of-my-kala-ubass/

What’s in the first ebook-ePub ”Learn to play the ubass – Basic Techniques”? Lesson 3

Lesson 3 – basic fretting hand technique

Q’s: Should I use different approaches wether I play a fretless of fretted UBass?

How can I do warm-ups? Basic fretting techniques?

In Lesson 3 the focus is the fretting hand. From where and how to put your fingers on the fretboard to get the best sound to warm-up exercises and more.

With pictures and video examples.

In my videos there is almost always at least two angles including my ”players-view-angle”. That angle lets the player see a natural view of the fretboard and body of the ubass from above.

The ”players-view-angle” is, in my opinion, a great way to get the most out of learning techniques from a video.

Screenshot from a video in Lesson 3 including the ”players-view-angle”

More info about the Lesson Pack here!

– – –

My parents bought my first ubass at a music store in Honolulu, Hawaii while visiting the islands. I had not been able to try one beforehand. It only took me a very a few moments getting acquainted with the short scale length and rubbery strings. After that I have gotten more and more in love with the feel and sound of the ubass. Hope you have or will get the same feeling for these amazing instruments! Read more about my first encounter here!

https://playubass.com/2010/12/26/the-first-pictures-of-my-kala-ubass/

What’s in the first ebook-ePub ”Learn to play the ubass – Basic Techniques”? Lesson 2

Lesson 2 – basic plucking/picking hand technique

[EDIT: This post was supposed to go live last Sunday September 3rd…This means were one week behind my initial plan to release these series of blog posts every Sunday for four weeks…Sorry!]

Q’s: How can I get a nice round tone? Are there any differences playing with thumb, index- and/or the middle finger? Anchor your hand, fingers or arm? Dynamics?

Screen shot from Lesson 2 Picture gallery focusing on plucking techniques

In this lesson the focus is techniques for your plucking/picking hand. You might wonder why I have decided to call it plucking/picking hand…
The answer is simple, I want both left and right handed players to feel at home and welcome to use this ebook so I went for plucking/picking!

There are many ways to get the strings on a ubass to vibrate and make a sound.

In lesson 2 some of the most common ways are described. Besides showing how to play with your index/first and second finger with lots of pictures and video I also show how to get a warm and fat low end response playing with your thumb. I urge you to consider playing with your thumb even when the obvious choice would be your index/middle fingers. You might like the sound of your thumb even more!

This video let’s you see and hear differences in sound depending on the plucking technique you choose to use.

More info about the Lesson Pack here!

My parents bought my first ubass at a music store in Honolulu, Hawaii while visiting the islands. I had not been able to try one beforehand. It only took me a very a few moments getting acquainted with the short scale length and rubbery strings. After that I have gotten more and more in love with the feel and sound of the ubass. Hope you have or will get the same feeling for these amazing instruments! Read more about my first encounter here!

https://playubass.com/2010/12/26/the-first-pictures-of-my-kala-ubass/

What’s in the first ebook-ePub ”Learn to play the ubass – Basic Techniques”? First up: Lesson 1

In a series of four short blog posts I will write about the different lessons in my first Lesson Pack: ”Learn to play the Ubass – basic techniques” (One lesson at the time every Sunday for four weeks!)

First up…

Screen shot from Lesson 1 ”How to hold the ubass”



Lesson 1 – How to hold the Ubass

The first lesson gives you suggestions about different ways to hold the Ubass.

Since the body and over all length is so much shorter than a regular electric or acoustic bass guitar you really need to find a way to accommodate this.

In the lesson I go through different ways I hold the ubass. I have found out a couple of alternatives that can be nice to switch between or at least use as a starting point when you develop your own ”holding style”. I will let you know what has worked best for me and why.

Even though you have been playing regular bass for a long time I think this lesson will help you to get a good ”grip” on your ubass playing regarding how you can hold it to get the most out of your ubass music making!

Find out more here!

Stay tuned: Next Sunday [September 3rd] it’s time for ”Lesson 2 – basic plucking/picking hand technique”

 

Minutes after I got my hands on a ubass for the first time back in July 2010

 

– – –

My parents bought my first ubass at a music store in Honolulu, Hawaii while visiting the islands back in 2010. I had not been able to try one beforehand. It only took me a few moments to get acquainted with the short scale length and rubbery strings. After that I got more and more in love with the feel and sound of the ubass. Hope you have or will get the same feeling for these amazing instruments! Read more about my first encounter here!

New Single Out Today!

First release by Nilsson – Sjöquist Duo!
In this first release, by the Swedish based Nilsson – Sjöquist Duo, we want to show our love for the music of Brazil and this time we feature a Sivuca song!

We play an arrangement by Tommy Nilsson of the song ”Cada Um Torce Como Pode” made famous by Sivuca.

Both Tommy Nilsson and Magnus Sjöqust have been playing in different groups and projects for many years.

The duo format is nice because it gives us a lot of space to express ourselves through our instruments, the accordion and the bass.


Side note: In the recording I used my trusty fretless Kala spruce acoustic/electric ubass. However in the accompanying video you’ll see my new fretless Kala California acoustic-electric ubass!

Quick links to some of the places you can find the song:

cdbaby

Spotify

Amazon

GooglePlay

Tommy is also featured in the latest single release ”Jag vet att vi ses snart igen (Manha de Carnaval)” Link to info about that release!

Playubass at the 2017 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, CA

Long overdue here’s finally a short travel log about my trip to the 2017 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA

I have been to a couple of music trade shows in Europe as a visitor but this was my first trip to the Winter NAMM show in Los Angeles. It was also the first time working closely with Kala. My main focus was to release and letting people know about my first Ebook/ePub in my Learn to play the Ubass series.
I started working on the ebook back in 2013 and it has slowly taken its form. The basic idea and the text was ready after about a year but working on how to present it, all the movies and the graphics and navigation took quite a while to finalize. You can read more about the Ebook/ePub and where to find it here.

After a +10 hour flight from Stockholm ARN I landed at LAX and took a bus to Anaheim where I met staff from Kala. I settled in and started to plan the next coming days.

I arrived on Monday, January 17 with the show starting on Thursday that week. I helped out a bit loading in some stuff and setting up the booth. The booth was fantastic with a really well throughout design that got a lot of compliments from many visitors and booth neighbors.

Load in and set up of the Kala Booth

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Once the show started I met a lot of great people, both visitors, other companies and press. Besides talking to some online magazines myself I was also fortunate to get help to set up some meetings and interviews both from Kala and other friends in the music business. It was, for example, crazy to see Nathan East being interviewed in the exact same spot a day before I got an interview from the same online community! 🙂

You can find the news coverage and interviews here.

I got a lot of new friends at the show and also managed to do quite a few nice jams with amazing musicians. Bakithi Kumalo, Miki Santamaria, Corey Fujimoto, Ariane Cap, was some of the musicians I got to play with. Great fun!

Booth and NAMM show pictures

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The Ubass got a lot of attention at this Winter NAMM show. 8 years after the first Kala Ubass was released its still a ”show stopper”! Many musicians, including lots of bass players of course, came by and was floored by the small footprint bass with the huge sound. It’s so great to see the happy smiles on the faces of the first time players


The California solid body Ubasses was revamped with slightly bigger and rounder bodies as one of the main differences. Check them out here.

I also got to try out the prototype Paddle Bass by Kala. A great one string bass for a quick and refreshing way into the wourld of bass playing! Link to Bass Musician Magazine article.

All in all my first NAMM show was a very nice experience. And although it’s quite exhausting being on the show floor with the intense sound and constant stream of people I hope to return and continue my ”IRL” networking across the pond as soon as possible!

A big thank you to all the staff at Kala and the wonderful Kala and Ubass artist I got to hang and work with!!!

– – –

I read a Kala Ubass review in Bass player magazine back in 2010. At the same time my parents happened to be on vacation and they helped me to buy my first ubass at a music store in Honolulu while visiting the islands of Hawaii. l had not been able to try one beforehand but it only took me a few minutes getting acquainted with the short scale length and rubbery strings. After that I have gotten more and more in love with the feel and sound of the ubass. Hope you have or will get the same feeling for these amazing instruments! Read more about my first encounter here!

First Look: Nik West Signature Solidbody

Yay! Will be a great new signature ubass for Nik West!

uBass Appreciation Society

Nik West Signature A sneak peak at the Nik West Signature uBass.     Photo: nikwestbass Instagram

Here it is. A first look at the newest in the line of Kala Signature uBasses. The Nik West Solidbody, in – what else – Purple Sparkle.

This one is a four string. No word yet on when these will hit the shelves or how much they’ll cost.

Ms. West previewed this on her Instagram. She notes it’ll have Roundwound strings.

I’m sure she’ll let us know when they are ready for the masses.

Stay tuned.

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