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.




Over the rainbow…new track from ”Speaking UBass” vol. 1

Over The Rainbow-bandcamp-2-big


Its Christmas and time to release the third track from the first ”Speaking UBass” album!

This time it’s a track that I started working on quite sometime back! I have always loved the classic song from The Wizard of Oz, ”Over The Rainbow”. I love to sing it and thought I should do something with my voice and the ubass. I decided to start with the lesser known verse and wrote a ubass chord arrangement using mostly arpeggios but also some ”regular” chords. Playing this in tune was quite a challenge and took a while to learn and record.

Anyway, I hope you have a great Holiday and that you will enjoy my ubass version of this classic song!


Playing Ubass with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra

The Bass Section of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and me!
The Bass Section of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and me!

One of my goals with this blog/site is to take my Ubasses to places you normally don’t see one!
Here’s a new experience for me and the Ubass 🙂
Besides blogging I do other stuff too 🙂 I work as a music teacher and ICT-pedagogy in a Swedish secondary school with an arts program (music, dance, theatre, and visual arts).
Among the highlights we give our music and dance students is a collaboration with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra that is based in our town. Since our hometown <a href=”http://www.orebro750.se/”turns 750 years in 2015 we decided to do a concert with songs that is either performed or composed by someone from here. (There is even a bass neck and head in the logo! 🙂

I had to (which wasn’t a sacrifice at all) chime in and play two songs on these concerts. One of the songs lend itself towards the Ubass. So I decided to play my trusty acoustic/electric on a jazz ballad. It is composed and arranged for orchestra by one of Sweden’s premiere jazz pianists and composers, Lars Jansson. The song is called Hilda’s smile. Below is a sneak peak of one of our performances of the song. It was great to play together with this wonderful orchestra once again. I have done it a couple of times before in different projects, but never before with a UBass. It was also nice to talk and hang with the nice fellows of the bass section. See pic above!

Ubass + Chamber orchestra = check 🙂

More of Lars Jansson’s music here!

More about the orchestra here!

NEW INTERVIEW SERIES! Ubassists of the World – Gunnar Hjorth (Sweden)



I’m super exited to post the first (of hopefully many) interviews in my new series.

This interview can be also be downloaded as a PDF if you want a nice reading experience 🙂

Ubassists of the world!
In this series of interviews I will try to find out how and why Ubass has become a new tool for different musicians around the world to express their Music!

Interview by Magnus Sjöquist for playubass.com

Interview 1 Gunnar Hjorth (Sweden)
To kick of this series I asked my long time friend Gunnar Hjorth if he wanted to be my first interviewee. On Saturday 8th of March 2014 I visited him in his studio. Besides the interview we also got to do a quick Ubass duet jam in his studio! Pure fun!

Let the interview begin!

This interview was done in Swedish (made sense since we’re both Swedish)
so this is a translated transcript of the interview).

Magnus: Hi Gunnar!
Gunnar: Hi Magnus!

M: How come you play the Ubass?
G: It is a fantastic instrument, fun to play and very versatile!
I’m mainly a guitarist but do play quite a lot of bass in different situations, live and also on different recordings in my studio, I have been looking for a bass that gives me a big sound but also is easy on my hands. If I play a lot of electric bass I often get blisters on my finger tips. Since this is the case I always have to take this into play when I’m about to do some electric bass recordings. Recording bass and then wait a while until the next session so I don’t get blisters. Then suddenly I come a cross a instrument that sounds almost like an upright bass, is totally ergonomic and easy on my hands (body), fun to play and with a fat/full sound and fits the hands of a guitar player perfectly!

M: I know you play a lot of classical guitar that requires nails on the right hand fingers to be able to get the desired sound.
G: Yes, and here lies a big part of the problems that faces a guitarist that wants to play bass.
M: Playing bass however requires short nails to get a full/round sound.
G: Exactly, I have to turn my fingers to a certain angle to avoid nail sound.
M: So you have found a technique that works? Is it easier to use this technique on a Ubass than it is on a regular electric bass?
G: It’s a lot easier on the Ubass! Much because the strings are less tough on the fingers/nails than on a regular electric bass. If your nails touch the Ubass string they won’t break because of the softer material. (Gunnar talks about the original Pahoehoe strings here. Thunderguts and Silver Rumblers by Aquila are also softer on the fingers. These three are the most common string choices for the acoustic/electric Ubass). This makes the feeling more similar to an nylon guitar than a electric bass. I can use more of my classical guitar technique on the Ubass than I could on a electric bass.
M: Do you play only with your right hand index or middle fingers or are you using your thumb as well?
G: Yes, sometimes I use my thumb to get a more fluffy and round tone. But I do play a lot with my index and middle fingers and it works really well.

M: What turned you on to the Ubass? Where did you find out about the instrument?
G: Well, I heard a good friend play the instrument and it sounded so very nice and felt like a really cool instrument. I got very interested in the Ubass and wanted to find out more so I asked him a lot of questions that he answered gladly! I thought about it for awhile and started looking for them in the music stores but they were hard to find so I ended up buying one online.
Once I got the Ubass I started to play it for a couple of months to get to know it before I brought it to a gig.
M: To get more familiar with the feeling of the Ubass!?
G: Yes. Playing the Ubass has become increasingly more fun and nowadays I almost always prefer the Ubass instead of a regular bass if the situation let me choose!
M: I think that it is quite easy to get used to playing the Ubass. And for a guitarist I presume it will be more like a guitar since the scale length isn’t so far from a regular guitar.
G: It’s very easy on the hands.
M: You don’t have to stretch your fingers that much on the Ubass.
G: It’s the ideal bass instrument for someone that’s mainly a guitar player


G: You can use your basic guitar technique. I also think it has the possibility to get a lot of different and diverse sounds. I like the fact that mine is fretless. I really love the fretless bass, maybe because I have played with a great fretless player for many years!
M: Did you hesitate when you choose between the fretted or fretted model?
G: No, for me it was the fretless I wanted to play.
M: Did you have the chance to try both models before you ordered your fretless?
G: Only a quick test.
M: Was that enough?
G: I felt it was a bass instrument I could invest time practicing without the fear of getting blisters after a short while!
M: I do recommend the fretless, or at least that you try it out before you decide. If you’re used to play a regular bass the change to a smaller scale length can take some adjustments and the lack of frets will help you avoid playing on the fret wire since this will produce an unpleasant sound.
G: I wanted to get a sound close to the upright bass because I’m interested in jazz music and I have been using my fretless Ubass on music in that style.
M: And on a upright bass there are no frets…
G: You’re right, it’s a well known fact! 🙂


It’s the ideal bass instrument for someone that’s mainly a guitar player

M: How long have you had your Ubass?
G: Almost two years.
M: And after about two months you started to use it live!
G: Yes, but I did stare a lot on the fretboard to play in tune. It has however been easier and easier to play in tune in the 21 inch short scale.
M: When you play the Ubass what styles do you play? We have already talked about jazz. Are there other styles you play live and in your studio?
G: I have been using it on Latin inspired music (from ex. Brazil…) and also pop songs.
You can vary the sound a lot so I think it is a versatile and all-round instrument.
M: So by varying the playing technique you can get different sounds?
G: Yes, it’s surprisingly easy and it’s easier on the Ubass than on a regular bass
You can easily go from a upright-like tone to a snappy pop sound just by varying the playing technique.
M: That’s interesting. You might think that the rubbery original black strings should be very round sounding but they can really sound very snappy and short too!

M: You are a multi instrumentalist with guitar as your main instrument,
can you recommend other musicians that don’t have bass as main instrument to start playing the Ubass?

G: Yes I can, and I do! There are people I have played with that have picked up their own Ubass, wanting to have that tool of expression too! The Ubass has so many benefits!
I can really recommend it to other guitarists that want to have a great bass instrument in their toolbox. And it isn’t too expensive!
M: I know that many guitarists (and people with other main instruments too) have a home studio and might want to record, for example, music that ”requires” the sound of an upright bass. Why not play it yourself instead of trying to record it on a midi keyboard with an upright sound patch!
G: It will be a more live/living feel and maybe even more authentic than if you play on the midi keyboard keys.

Find out more about Gunnar Hjorth and his music on gunnarhjorth.se


Jammin’ with my Kala UBass | 39 Fretless Ubass x 2

More interviews soon!

Jammin’ with my Kala UBass | 33 Footprints (W. Shorter ‘cover’)



Back in March I recorded some music at a friends house. This jam on the classic Wayne Shorter tune Footprints was some of the music that was captured. Hope you like it!

Daniel Björnmo, guitar and Mats Nyström, drums has been featured on this blog before. Please check these posts out if you want. Post 1 | Post 2

Wayne Shorter Documentary in the making!
If you want to help the people that are making the documentary about the life and music of Wayhe Shorter please hurry and contribute here: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/wayneshorter
Hurry up there are only 11 days left (until 6.20.13) of this pledgemusic.com opportunity!

Jammin’ with my Kala UBass | 25! ”Fly me to the moon” w. Frank Vignola Trio

Welcome to the 25th ”Jammin with my Kala UBass” video!

In April 2011 I got to play with the amazing guitarist Frank Vignola and his trio. I have shared one video from that day in a previous post. [Jammin’ with my Kala UBass | 7]

This is the first song we played together. I had met the trio during a workshop at a Music University in Sweden just a few days before and they invited the musicians to come and play with them. I don’t live that far away so me and a friend went there…

During the intermisson we decided that we should play two songs together about 15 minutes into the second set!

So I got called to the stage to ‘sit in’ with them…Great fun 🙂

[Later that year I met Vinny in NYC and we had a great time going to Birdland and a to a jam session at a great little place in East Village called Mona’s! Thanks for that Vinny!]

I hope I’ll be able to play with them again soon!

[Style Study – UBass Lesson 8] Jazz: Walking Bass | Part 2


Finally part two is done! I decided to make my bass lines based on the backing tracks made by Jamey Aebersold. Please check these out they are really good and makes a perfect practice partner…almost as good as playing live with living breathing musicians in the same room…

If you haven’t already please check out part 1 before you continue! In the first part I try to give some background theory in the art of making/playing walking bass lines.

Time for part 2!
The tune starts of with a short intro followed by a vocal melody ‘chorus’ (the whole song form through once). The bass part is played exactly as on the Aebersold practice mp3/cd or vinyl!

During my vocal scat solo I play a improvised walking bass line. (Although not at the same time as you can see…Playing walking bass and singing a scat solo at the same time I’ll save for later 🙂

I will also write/compose a bass line based on a couple of different walking bass concepts that I will show you and analyze in part 3 of this walking bass style study. You can follow along in the ‘on-screen-sheet-music’ and/or in the PDF you can get if you’re interested. Just email me at ubasslessons@gmail.com and I’ll send you a link!

The same song form is played two times as follows:
1. As i described above (Three choruses in original tempo)
2.. As 1. but without the bass part.

In part 3 I will also analyze the bass parts in this part using a special version of the sheet music with written comments.
I will also do a slowed downed version that you can download and practice to if you want!

We will take a look at more jazz tunes in the future! I already have some suggestions but feel free to email me more at ubasslessons@gmail.com

Stay tuned! Now take out that Ubass (or any bass) and get started (or continue) to play some walking bass!

Good luck!


Jammin’ with my Kala UBass | ”Organ Jazz in Trollhattan”


I’m exited to announce some new jammin’ buddies! Recently I was back in my hometown to visit my parents and thanks to Facebook and a bit of luck I got to jam with two great musicians! I have known Mats [drums] for a long time. He was my first sound engineer teacher back in the late ’80s. Sven [organ] is a new friend that I met for the first time on the jam! I was lucky because everything was setup for recording direct to 2-track in the rehearsal room so I got our jams on ‘tape’ too! (And some of it on video…stay tuned for some ‘videosnippet’ soon…) We decided to play some more and I hope it won’t take long ‘til it’s time for some jammin’ again!

Sven has made a great ‘shell’ for his Key B Duo organ! It’s based on the exact measurements of his original Hammond B3 (that he has in his living room!). Check out these pics. It looks absolutely lovely!

You can have a listen to some of the music that came out that night right here:

Mats and Sven have played together for many years and have a project called Hammond Voyage Concept. Check out the links below!

Myspace  Facebook

If you like Hammond organ music please check out my 10th Jammin’ video too!

Sven Ericson, organ
Mats Berggren, drums
Magnus Sjoquist, kala ubass