Free October Lesson on Technique: The Ubass Fretboard Map

– ”Is there always a “sweet spot” on the fretboard where you should play a bass figure or part”?
– ”The answer is yes” (in my opinion!)

I have played ubasses since 2010 (and electric basses since the early 80s) but during my years as a ubassist it has been ~90% focus on fretless ubass models.
Why?
Well, one reason is that my first ubass was fretless and I played it almost exclusively for the first three years. I guess I choose the fretless model because I wanted to emulate the upright bass and as you probably know it doesn’t have frets.

In 2013 I started to play fretted solid body ubasses too but I have been playing fretless acoustic/electric ubasses a lot more.

So why did I tell you this?

In July (2019) I bought my first fretted acoustic/electric ubass. I have been looking for an early model without the built in preamp to compliment my 2010 spruce fretless that also i ”pre-amp-less”.

I have of course been playing fretted acoustic/electric UBasses but never owned one until now.
It came with the original black synthetic polyurethane Pahoehoe strings. These strings has such a nice tone and it’s not hard to understand why they are loved by many ubassists.

…BUT…those Pahoehoe strings are actually harder to play on a fretted then a fretless ubass, at least in my opinion! I have written about this before in my 2019 Buyers Guide post […and also here: Post 1, Post 2]

If you mis-fret, playing on the fret-wire, using the Pahoehoe strings on a fretted ubass you will probably get a strange not-so-pleasant sound. If you “mis-fret” on a fretless ubass you will play out of tune.

So why is ”out of tune” not as bad as the fret noise on a fretted ubass?

It all comes down to the nature of the polyurethane strings. These strings have a warm tone and because they are made from “solid” synthetic rubber they tend to have a quite short decay; you play a note and it fades away quite fast. If you play a little out of tune the “mistake” will quickly disappear!
You need, of course, to be “in-the-ballpark” of the desired note but you will quickly be “forgiven” if you don’t hit the note spot on! On a fretted ubass everyone will hear if you “mis-fret”…

This is why it is very important to have a clean playing technique and also know where a bass part or riff will sound the best on your particular ubass.

These suggestions are good for all ubass players, both fretted and fretless!

 

First up – map the fretboard

Mapping guidelines
The goal here is to map out where the different notes are located on the fretboard so you can move around easy and navigate through chord progressions and riffs. This also makes it easy to move a bass riff or shape to different locations/boxes on the fretboard.

Count your options – How many notes of the same pitch (and octave) are they on the fretboard?

1.  Start with an open G-string
2. The next available G is on the fifth fret of the D-string
3. The third G is on the 10th fret of the A string
4. The forth G is on the 15th fret of the E string

Can you see the pattern here?

Rule of thumb
If you take any note on the G-string, move to the D-string and five frets higher you will find the same pitch and octave. Continue to the A-string and five frets higher…

How many notes you’ll find will differ a bit depending of what note (what octave of the chosen pitch) you choose to map out. It also depends on how many frets you have. Typically the acoustic/electric ubasses have 16 frets (and most solid body ubasses 24).
We will focus on 16 fret models here.

[Cue drum roll…] The right answers for G pitch is:
G (1), g (4), g1 (1), g2* (1) (For info on the different octaves please check out the movie below!) *) Harmonic ”over the sound hole”

This gives you quite a few options, especially with g!

Knowing the above will help move bass parts and riffs around the fretboard.

But how can you tell where a bass part or riff will sound/work best on the fretboard?

This is where your work and ears come in!

I can explain how I think and work out where to play different parts but it’s really up to you to map your fretboard and find a workable plan for your ubass playing!

Example Bass Part

Example riff played at three different positions on the fretboard

Here’s a simple bass part that I have mapped out on different places on the fretboard. Where you choose to play it should come down to two main things:

  1. Where on the fretboard the bass part/riff sounds the best (in my opinion the most important thing to keep in mind!) In the included example there are, in my opinion, definitely notes that don’t sound perfect in some of the positions. I would probably discard that position ”in real life” for the sake of getting the most consistent tone as possible. All three positions are however included so you can hear, compare and find out what you think is best for you!
  2. Where on the fretboard the bass part/riff is most convenient to play regarding what you played before and what you will play after the bass part/riff

This will of course require some work but here’s some suggestions how what to do:

  1. Listen to a song that you thing has a great bass part and sound
  2. Try to figure out where the bass part or riff was played on the fretboard
  3. If possible see if you can find a YouTube video of a live performance of the song. This can be hard especially since bass player probably isn’t going to be featured as much as the singer or lead instrumentalist… Try to choose a singing bass player since this will probably give you more ”bass-playing-in-view” time!
  1. Try to play the bass part the way you believe (or saw) it was played
  2. Does it sound good there or can you find a place where it better?

I will explore this further in upcoming lessons and ebooks!

Good luck and happy Ubass playing to you!

 

How to read my ebook (ePub) on a PC (or MAC)!

Hi,

My first ebook was released on the iBooks Store in January and for PC/Android in April.

There is a great way to read the ebook if you have the ePub version (PC). Here’s a quick how to.

Loading the ePub into Readiator

Read ePub with Google Chrome on a PC with support for videos and word list

  1. Open Google Chrome (or download if you haven’t got it on your computer yet).
  2. Go http://www.google.com/chrome/webstore
  3. Search for Readiator
  4. Install
  5. Add ePub (drag to window or click + and navigate to Learn to play the Ubass – Basic Techniques) It will take a while to load!
  6. Click the icon to start reading. Videos should play and the word list will work.
  7. Your done, happy learning!

The Lesson links are not clickable in this version. I will remove these false links or try to make them work in the next update!

Although this method will work on a MAC (OSX) i do recommend using iBooks if you are a MAC or iPad/iPhone user!

Using Readiator to read ”Learn to play the UBass – Basic techniques”

The Chrome extension will even keep tabs on where you were last time you used Readiator.

 

You can find the different versions here:

ePub (interactive) (for Win/PC, Android)

eBook (interactive) (for OSX/iOS)

/Magnus

 

UBass Lesson 5 | Playing technique – Part 1

Play close to the fret!

Hi!

This is my first lesson on UBass playing technique. I will cover some basics that I hope you will find helpful. I know I would have liked someone showing a bit of ”up-close-technique-stuff” when I got my UBass last year. Of cause my tips is based on my playing style and how I approach bass playing in general. I have played bass for some 25+ years so I guess I have developed some kind of ”personal technique” that works for me. Hopefully some of what I am about to show you will help you in your UBass explorations!

Jammin’ with my Kala UBass | 11 ”Irony” (Beady Belle cover) + UBass Lesson 3 | Song Lesson

New video! Read more about this video in my previous post.

The sheet music displayed in the video is transcribed from the original recording. Irony (Beady Belle) If you have a Spotify.com account click the link above. If not you can preview or buy the song on iTunes.

As you’ll probably hear I’m not true to the notated bass part ”as is”! I add and take away bits and pieces throughout the performance to make it more alive and ”my own”. I also try to listen closely to what guitarist, Clas Olofsson, does when he is dubbing the bass part. Trying to mimic his slurs here and there! Also pay attention to the great percussion part (Niclas Ekholm) and the marvelous hi-hat work of Micke Dahlen. But don’t forget the keyboards (Christer Christensson) and vocal part Eva Stenstrom) too, they’re also fantastic! Simply put: A great performance!
And keep in mind that we only met 7 hours prior to the show for only one rehearsal!

If you’re interested in a PDF with standard notation/TAB of the bass part for ”Irony” please write your name and email address below

UBass Lesson 2 | Different music styles – lesson 1 – New Orleans Funk

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Let’s try out some ”New Orleans”-inspired funk on the UBass! You can read more about what inspired this groove lesson here.

I’ve listened to a lot of funk with roots in New Orleans. I think that the ”rubbery” groove, that’s all over this style, makes me feel so good when I listen and play this music. It’s that really ”feel-good-wibe” that’s so cool! One of the most famous bands in this style is The Funky Meters (or Just The Meters as their name was when the started in the late 60’s. I’ve also listened to groups like Soulive, Lettuce and Dumpstaphunk…to name a few!

OK. The song is based on a groove played by one of my favourite drummers Adam Deitch (read more about him and why I choose this groove here). Download PDF here!

I jammed quite a bit on the groove and decided to record one of the jams. After that I transcribed the bass part and started to add some guitar parts. Then I added a organ and a clavinet part. Finally I through in some vocals too! Hope you like it.

Stay tuned for more grooves (with other basses and other musicians on my other blog) based on the ”Deitch-groove”! Listen to this clip [@ 5:20] for more of Adam Deitch’s drumming on a Tama Starclassic Bubinga Drum Set!

Let me know if you want me to ”break down” some part of the bass parts to clarify how I play. I can make some new ”in-depth” movies if someone is interested!

Hopefully I’ll be able to go to New Orleans (for the first time) the next time I go to the US!

Now go ahead and play som funky music!

/magnus