Learn to play the Ubass. iBooks preview up! …and some questions for you!

UPDATE 2: (3.10.16) This preview is no longer available on the iBooks Store. Partial books are not allowed. Let me know if you want to try it out and I can send you a download link. Still working on completing my first iBook. More info ASAP!


UPDATE: Had some problems with the Google form I’m using for my questions below. But now it seams to work!

Hi,

If you already subscribe to my newsletter you might have seen that I have a sample lesson up on iBooks store. It’s a preview of my brand new Lesson Packs series- Learn to play the Ubass!

I’m putting the final touches on Lesson Pack 1 – Basic Techniques at the moment and hope to release it early 2016.

I really want your feedback and I know there are a at least a handful of downloads of that Lesson Pack 3 preview. Please help me out answering a couple of questions in the Google form below.

Ok. But if I haven’t got that preview yet, where can I find it? Click here to get the free preview on the iBooks Store.

I went for the iBooks format for a couple of reasons…

  • Digital distribution
  • Interactive media
  • Free updates and fixes

I did a poll a while back checking what preferred platform you have for digital media. Quite a few answered that they use iPhone/iPad or Mac so at the moment the iBooks format seams to be a good decision.

What do I want to know now?

One of the obstacles with the iBooks format is what to include regarding multimedia contents. As you know video takes up space and even if I go for a decent quality (720p) the videos add up on the final size of the download.

So one of the most important questions is how big a lesson pack can be? How much should be included and would it be ok to have links to some content outside of the book, additional videos on YouTube for example?

It won’t take more than a couple of minutes of your time to answer these questions and it will help me a lot to know what you think.

Big thanks to everyone that wants to help me out!

Link to questions!

[Song Teaser-Test Report] Jam Afrique and String test | Part 3

Hi!

Time for part three of my string test and a demo of the first part of the new song Jam Afrique (working title). See these earlier posts for some background info. Post 1 | Post 2

Besides the YouTube video below I also uploaded some versions with less instrumentation (and maybe a bit better sound) on my Soundcloud.

Soundcloud info.
The only thing I have done with the sound during mixing is some EQing. (The last two sound bites have no EQ!)

Update!
The recording path is as follows:
Track 1: UBass into Sheer Acoustic Headway EDB-1 then DI out to Universal Audio Apollo (sound card with built in digital mixer and effects from their UAD family).
Track 2: AKG C414 condenser mic.

There are four bass parts. 1. Regular bass part
2-3. African inspired single string riffs
4. Bass melody

Bass parts 1 and 4 is recorded with both line and mic while parts 2-3…

Test report
I have come to the following conclusion based on the recordings. I guess I like both string types but they do have some things that sets them apart.

Pahoehoe
I have played these strings (that come as stock/standard strings on new Kala Ubasses) for more than two years. I have actually been using the same strings the whole time! I did buy a spare set early on to be safe and prepared for emergencies… Since the strings are solid plastic rubber they are unlikely to break and there are no place for sweat and dust to ‘creep’ in. (As with regular wound strings). I have not felt the need to change them. I have however felt that I should have restringed and rewound them to get rid of the extra turns of string that I got. Especially on the A-string post.
One more reason for the strings to be able to stay on for so long is that I felt it would be hard to part from playing my beloved UBass for that time it would take the strings to ‘settle in’ 🙂
This is also one thing that sets the strings apart. There are quite a lot of tuning to be done in the beginning but once they settle in you’re fine. As I wrote earlier restringing one or two strings, stretching them a bit more, would have been a good thing to do! I know there are players that have done this a few times and then they felt they stayed in tune better. More about this in the Thunderguts section.

Ok. How do I feel about the sound and playability of these strings? Well, I have got quite used to the feel of the Pahoehoe strings under my fingers. I took a while to get used to the rubbery feel – well, it’s almost rubber so that alright I guess 🙂 I think you should try to ‘forget’ about how it feels playing this or that bass and/or strings. If you instead try to do the best of this ‘new and maybe strange’ feeling you’ll soon be on the way to make great music with these strings.

Thundergut
I have had these strings on my acoustic UBass for just a couple of weeks and decided to compare them to my ‘trusty’ Pahoehoe strings. There are a few differences. First of all. They are not that rubbery and the tension is a bit higher. This is on the plus side because of a couple of things. First they don’t take as long as the Pahoehoe strings to settle in making the switch quite fast. (It only took a couple of days untill the (almost) stay in tune). Another reason I like them is that because the higher tension they have a bit more ‘core’ to the tone. (I will make a video showing this soon!)

On the minus side. The Thunderguts have a ‘sticky’ feel. Especially on the thicker strings. This makes them a bit harder to play. Since I have the fretless version I do want to have the option to do slides and this is a bit diffucult to do when you feel like you get ‘stuck’. I don’t know if this will disappear after some use!? But I have read about other UBassists that have had the same feeling.

I will keep the Thunderguts on for a while longer to try some more playing techniques! Stay tuned!

[Song Teaser-Test Report] Trying Aquilas Thundergut on my fretless Kala UBass | Part 2

Hi!

I decided to do some tests, to compare the ‘stock’ Pahoehoe black polyurethene strings with the Aquila Thundergut strings I’ve just put on my UBass. I started jammin’ [with the Pahoehoe stings on] to a loop featuring African percussion. After recording a couple of tracks I transcribed my jammin’ so I could record the same parts with the Thunderguts. I haven’t yet been able to do that recording (but will do as soon as possible!) so I’ll show you the written music first. If you want, why not try to play it before you hear it! It could be a great reading experience 🙂

If any of you are interested in lessons about how to read rhythms like these please let me know! ubasslessons@gmail.com

It’s four tracks of Ubass total. A regular bass part, two harmony parts and a melody. Besides that there are the percussion loops and a choir part. (I might add a drum set part too…)

The PDF of the music can be downloaded here.

Stay tuned for a video with the song played first with the black Pahoehoe strings and then the Thunderguts. I will also share some thoughts about how I feel the differences in their sound are!

So please stay tuned for ”Trying Aquilas Thundercut strings on my fretless Kala UBass” | Part 3 Here’s part 1. [Update: Link to Part 3!]

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

Hi!

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!
/Magnus

 

[Q & A: Playing Technique] Right and Left Hand Playing Techniques

Hi!
I got a couple of questions from one of my readers and thought I share my answers with you!
The questions are about right and left hand techniques. Here’s basically my take on that. Feel free to comment (below the post) or send an email about this or other topics to ubasslessons@gmail.com

Right hand technique
What technique I choose to use depends on (at least) a couple of things.

1. Music style/sound
– Do you need a ‘fat’ tone?
Thumb style mute might work for this. See this video (I will probably make more videos about this too!). Depending on where you pluck the string will also make your tone more or less ‘fat/full’. Plucking close to the bridge will get you a thinner sound but it will be easier to play faster since the string is ‘harder’ here and will bounce back easier. The amp you use and the EQ settings (on the amp, preamp of on the UBass if you play a SUB of California Solidbody can of cause also help you ‘fatten’ your sound. But changing the sound only with your hands is a quicker way and can make subtle changes in the blink of an eye!

Sidebar: When I play on a regular fretless bass with more sustain than the UBass I tend to vary my right hand placement to get the sound I want. Sometimes I pluck the strings where the fretboard ends and even around the last frets to get the best and most ‘fat/full’ sound! Why not try this on the Ubass too! Sound vs. speed can be tricky since the string really bounces back more closer to the middle of the string.

– Do you need speed?
Alternating two fingers (or more) can of cause give you more speed. And please also consider what I wrote above regarding placement on the string.

2. The construction of the bass.
– On the acoustic UBass there are no place to anchor your thumb so this makes it necessary to find a technique that works. I showed examples of this in my first playing technique video.
On a regular electric bass there is almost always a pickup where you can put your thumb. BUT the placement of the pickups differ and sometimes you can’t use this approach. There is however another great way of going around this. Sidebar: On old Fenders there was a fixed rest where you put your index and middle fingers so you easily could play with your thumb..! And later on they put a thumb rest instead…) you can use the E-string to anchor your thumb and the move it when you have to play that E-string. I use this technique a lot since I play different basses and can’t rely on pickups being in the right place.

Left hand technique
Deciding if I play a bass part on the same string or more strings depends different things. I’ll try to talk about a few.

1. If the bass figure is easier to play on one string then please do that!

2. I often tell my students that they should avoid open stings to get more of a consistent tone! (I also say that playing walking bass is an exception. Here I want to emulate the feel of an upright bass where it’s ‘crucial’ to use open strings to get the right sound and of cause a reference to in-tune strings).

3 Playing ‘linear’ on one sting vs. using more strings. Please try to play the same thing in more than one way! This might help you find that one or the other is best suited for that particular bass part or a specific couple of bars in the bass line.

Examples

Left Hand

Here comes two examples of different ways of playing the same bass part.
Also check out my lesson on the song ‘Satellit’ (Ted Gardestad) in Lesson 7.
In that song I use the extended fingering technique you will see in the two songs below.

”Another One Bites The Dust’ (Queen) (Why not check out the Weird Al Yankovich cover ‘Another One Rides The Bus’ for a crazy cover).

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Play the riff on two strings

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Play the riff on one string using extended fingering. On the short scale Ubass this is quite easy but not always the best way. It’s of cause up to you to decide what will work best for you in different situations.

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Another example is the quite simple riff in Help Me (Sonny Boy Williamson) and also in Green Onions (Booker T. And the MG’s) It can also be played on two strings or one string using the same techniques as I mentioned above!

More technique stuff will come in the future. As I wrote in the beginning of this post please let me know if you have any questions regarding playing technique of other UBass questions and I will try to answer them!

Good luck!
/Magnus

[Style Study – UBass Lesson 8] Jazz: Walking Bass | Part 1

Hi!

Ok time for some jazz again! Thanks to Susan C. for your suggestion!

In this lesson I will feature the jazz standard ”The way you look tonight” written by Jerome Kern. This song has been covered a thousand times by as many artists.

But I have a favorite version!

In 1995 one of the most famous jazz singers in Sweden, Svante Thuresson, released the CD ‘Jag är Hip, Baby!’. (Eng: I’m hip baby)
This album features the wonderful lyrics of another famous Swede Mr. Beppe Wolgers! Here’s a link to a web page about him [in Swedish]
He wrote all the Swedish lyrics including the ones for ‘The way you look tonight’. It became ‘Sången’. The lyrics is a celebration to Music and tells the story of the performer and the listener and that you need both to have the complete experience of Music! So true!!

If you use Spotify here’s a link to the version I mentioned above!

Here’s a YouTube clip of an audience recorded video from 2010. (Not the best sound or picture but still…)

Ok. Let’s get on with the lesson!

I’m gonna do one a couple of versions. One in medium-up tempo and maybe even one in uptempo.
And I will also do a slowed down version of the medium-up tempo.

Before we start let’s talk a little bit about what walking bass is and how you could think when you make your own bass parts!

Walking!
First of all: To make your walking bass parts work you have to have a basic understanding on how chords are built. The general idea of walking is to navigate through the chords using quarter notes. Just as you would walk from one place to another using your feet! You could play the same note (the root, probably) over and over again but that would be just like standing on one spot just moving your feet up and down…and that wouldn’t take you very far 🙂 You could just play random quarter notes but after awhile this approach is going to get to ‘out there’ for most regular playing situations. (Just like walking around with no goal…(That can sometimes can be a good thing though…:-)

I think a more chord based approach is what you should work on. This will help you get a firm knowledge and act as a starting point. Then go from there using notes from the different scales that correspond to the different keys and chords in the song you choose to play.

There’s quite a lot going on harmonically in ‘The way you look tonight’ and if music theory is new to you maybe this will be a bit hard. But I’ll try my best to make this as understandable as possible! I will make more lessons based on easier songs if you want! Just send an email to ubasslessons@gmail.com and ask away!

Basic music theory
Let’s divide chords in three basic categories. Major, minor and dominant.
A chord is based on a so called triad. In C major it’s C E G. On a piano it’s three white keys with a white key in between. (This is not always true. It depends the chord and key!)
You can look at it like this: From C to E there’s 4 half steps (On a fretboard it looks like the picture below. I will explain this further in Part 2 of this lesson!). From E to G there is 3 half steps. Se picture below. In a C minor chord it’s the opposite way! From C to Eb (flat) there is 3 half steps and from Eb (flat) to G there is 4 half steps.
Ex. C Major: The notes that make up the triad/chord are called root (C), third (E) and fifth (G). (These names correspond to the C Major scale and refers to the scale degrees).

As you can see below, on the first 4 chords of the song, it’s also common to add a forth note to these chord. This is the seventh degree. In a major chord this will be the major 7 (ex. C7: C E G Bb (flat)) and in a minor chord this will be the minor 7 (ex. Cm7: C Eb (flat). A Dominant 7 chord has the minor 7. In C Major the Dominant 7 chord is G7, a fifth from C (G7: G B D F) More on chords and scales in this previous lesson.

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C Major Triad (UBass – Bass Clef and TAB + Piano, Left Hand)
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C Major Triad (Piano)
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C Major Triad (UBass Fretboard) TIPS! You can play the G on the 5th fret of the D string too!
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C Minor Triad (UBass – Bass Clef and TAB + Piano, Left Hand)
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C Minor Triad (C Eb G) (Piano)
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C Minor Triad (UBass Fretboard) TIPS! You can play the G on the 5th fret of the D string too!

Here are some basic chords in the Major, Minor and Dominant category
Major
C
Cmaj7 (Sometimes you’ll see this as C ”triangle” 7, see the first chord of the song below!)

Minor
Cm
C-
Cm7

Dominant
C7

These are just a starting point. What dictates how the chord is built is often decided upon how the melody is written. You could look at it as the chords are made to fit a specific melody! Sometimes the melody comes first but there are of course times when you come up with a nice chord progression first and then make the melody. One way to make the chord fit the melody is to add ‘extension’ notes like the 9th, 11th and 13th degrees. These are not ‘new’ notes. They are the same as the ‘regular’ notes of the scale but one octave up!
Ex. C major: 1C 2D 3E 4F 5G 6A 7B 8C and then it start all over again 9D 10E 11F 12G 13A. Sometimes you make alterations to these ‘(ex)tensions’. You can raise or lower these extensions depending on the melody and the sound you strive for.

Some examples of these ‘extension’ chords
Major
C9
C11
C13
C7b5b9
C7#5#9

Minor
Cm9
Cm11
Cm13
CØ9 (half diminished) or Cm9b5

So how does this help you when you want to play walking bass? Well if we look at the first 4 chords in our song we can see that there are both major and minor chords.

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As a basis for our walking bass we’ll look at the core of the chords/triads which I mentioned above, the root, third and fifth of each chord. In the next lesson we will go through the chords and check out what notes that will fit the different chords and how to combine them to make a ‘musical’ and hopefully flowing bass line!

Stay tuned for Part 2, with the actual bass parts, coming soon!

Good luck and feel free to comment or send an email to ubasslesssons@gmail.com if you have any questions and I’ll try to help you out!

Ubass Lesson | Make a wish – what song or style will be next?

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A little Q for U!

Is there any song or style that you want me to cover in a future video lesson?

It could be everything from a ‘note-for-note-true-to-the-original-transcription’
to a more free interpretation of that song or style. Ask away!

I hope I’ll be able to make at least some of your wishes come true 🙂

If you want a specific song or a style not represented in the poll below please write it on the ‘free-text’ alternative and why not drop me a line with your suggestions to:
ubasslessons@gmail.com