Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Major 7th Extensions - Eddie Kohen

Now that Eddie has the video thing figured out, here is an additon to the previous lesson and something else to work on.

Thanks Eddie, for taking the time to help broaden our knowledge!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gary Shea - 10 Questions

Rocker Gary Shea grew up in Conneticut.  Gary has shared the stage with many incredible musicians, including Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, and toured the world with Alcatrazz and New England.  His travels have led him to his his home in Royal Oak. He currently records and performs with New England.

Gary on stage with Steve Vai, in the band Alcatrazz

Gary kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to answer 10 questions about his journey, his musical interests and his gear, for Detroit Bass Players.

1.) How did your bass journey start?

 I grew up in Southington Connecticut in a musical family. My grandfather played piano for Rudy Valee in the 20`s and my dad played played drums in a fife and drum corps. I started my career late at 14 years old, playing guitar, taking lessons and working my way up to buying a brand new `65 Fender Strat. One day I was in an electronics store where a guitarist friend and I had gone to use their tube tester. On the wall were a few used guitars and a bass. I took down the used Fender Bass and had a melt down. It was huge, like an aircraft carrier, kind of like a big Strat. It felt incredible in my hands and being tall it was a great fit. When and plugged it in and discovered it was the heart of all music, no matter what style, I was hooked forever. From that day on I set out to shake the buiding where ever I went.

 2.) What was and do you still have your first bass?

 The bass I picked up at the electronics store was my first bass. It was a sunburst 1964 Fender Precision Bass for $125.00 used. It was amazing, but after seeing Ronnie Wood play with the Jeff Beck Group, I decided I had to have a new Telecaster bass that Fender reissued in the late 60`s. I traded in my P Bass at Manny`s Music in New York City to get one. Bad move, I hated it. Very weak in comparison. I now have a sunburst Fender American Standard Precision 5 string trying to make up for it.

 3.) Who influenced you most?

I grew up on 60`s radio, listening to James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave etc, as well as the English bands. I always loved John Entwhistle who sounded like a freight train and marveled at the musicality and rhythm of James Jamerson. I also love the playing of David Brown on the first few Santanna lps. Amazing groove. I got to see David, Larry Graham with Sly, and The Who all play live at Woodstock. The Earth shook and everyone was dancing to the bass.

4.) What are your favorite recordings?

I have a wide range of favorites and influences. I love Stan Getz with Joao & Astrud Gilberto, Weather Report Heavy Weather, Pat Metheny Letters From Home, Diana Krall The Look Of Love, The Beatles Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour, The Who Sings My Generation, Spooky Tooth Spooky Two, The Nazz, The Jeff Beck Group, Soft MachineTwo, The Court Of The Crimson King, James Brown Live At The Apollo, Stevie Wonder Music Of My Mind, Holtz The Planets, and Samuel Barber`s Adagio For Strings.  Its very hard to only name a few.  Some artists I am a listener and some I listen to for the bass playing, like Yes or Stanley Clarke.

 5.) What do you enjoy most about bass?

Bass is the pulse, the heartbeat of every style of music. It`s what people groove to listening to music, or dancing along with it. The bass is the ultimate instrument of depth and the bedrock of the band.
When the bass is swinging and grooving on the one it`s unbeatable and hypnotic. Every day when I play my bass all troubles are left behind and I am smiling. I love making thunder.

 6.) Is there a favorite project you've worked on?

I am very pleased to be working on new music with New England. We have a wonderful history together and when we stop joking around we get to play some very satisfying music.  Also I am currently recording with my good friend guitarist DH cooper in London along with guest vocal and drum spots from Pete French ex Cactus and Herman Rarebell ex Scorpions. We had a band together in the very early seventies but Herman and I ran into immigration problems in England. It`s great to be part of that again as well.

 7.) Do you have a "go to" bass for recording or live use?

I have many basses but my all time love is my `65 L series Fender Jazz Bass, with a Precision C neck. I`ve been playing it every day for almost 45 years and it is part of me. It sounds and feels fantastic. It is the bass I judge all others against. It sounds amazing in the studio, direct or live in concert. I also have a brand new Dudacus Tiberius bass which features Bartolini pick ups and an Aguilar pre amp. It is super low and thunderous, with beautiful workmanship.

Gary with his Dudacus Tiberius bass

8.) What effects do you use?

I have used many things over the years such as Moog Taurus foot pedals, but at the moment I am keeping it very simple with just a Boss Octave OC-2 and a Sans amp Bass Driver.

 9.) What is your signal chain, from the bass to the board (live and recording)?

From the bass I use My Star cables ( made locally in Sterling Heights Mi ), into a Fender volume pedal, into the Boss Octave 2, into a Korg PX4 processor ( I helped design some of the presets ) and into the Sans Amp. From there I use a One Control Black N Loop A B switching box allowing me to switch between two basses and into an Ampeg PF 500 amplifier and Ampeg SVT HLF4x10 cabinets. From the back of the Portaflex I send a clean signal to the Front Of House.

 10.) Do you have any advice for young players?

The best advice is to play with older muscians as much as you can and play around in different styles. I had a chance to do this and it helped me progress and learn music at a faster pace. Take the time and learn how to play a polka or country tune before jumping into hardcore or thrash metal. Always practice to a click and be honest with yourself if you are doing your best. Try nailing the kick drum in perfect time, every time. Without great timing your cool licks mean nothing to a band. If you want to make music a career never take no for an answer. If a band breaks up or you fail an audition, dust yourself off and come back out swinging. Learn and be as prepared as possible. A lot of this is attitude and being in the right place, at the right time, with the goods.

All the best to my bass brothers and sisters,

Gary Shea


Find out more about Gary at

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kevin Chown - 10 Questions

Main Projects:
Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats (founding member), Tarja Turunen, Bleeding Harp, Cosmosquad

Tony Macalpine, Full on metal, burlesque upright, Chuck Berry. Lots of progressive rock records.

1.) How did your bass journey start?

I grew up in the UP, in Escanaba. Both my parents were musicians and teachers so I was around music 24/7 since day 1. In junior high, I started listening to The Eagles, Zepplin, watching Don Kirshners Rock and Roll Hour and it was about the time MTV started and the first music videos came out. I knew I wanted to be in rock and roll. I loved the music and the people have always just felt like a natural extension of the environment.

I grew up among the artistic types of the world. Lots of people who are amazing musicians and total cultural misfits. Since there weren’t a lot of bass players, It was easy to find gigs.  I started working as a professional musician when I was 15, in a popular local band called Tyrant. It think I did that for a year, then formed my own band. While I was in high school, I already had my own bands, trucks, light shows, and booked my own gigs at bars all over the UP and Wisconsin. I guess this was back in the day when it was OK for a kid to play at a bar and judge wet t shirt contests in Manitique, but that's how it all began. To be honest, the shit I do today on the road is not a whole lot different than what I did right at the beginning.

My senior year of high school, one of my teachers played me “Some Skunk Funk” (live) by the Brecker Brothers and then decided that I wanted to learn how to play like that……….and after I saw one of the groups from Wayne State perform for a student assembly, I wanted to go to Wayne State. I have met such amazing people like Dan Pliskow and Matt Michaels and had class mates like my good friend Brian Lord, Chris Codish, Dale Grisa and a long list of Detroit music anchors, all still doing it to this day. I had a good generation of talented people around me. I even had THE John Sinclair as a teacher!!

While I was playing jazz in college, I still wanted to rock so I played in a few great bands around Detroit which eventually led me to my first NAMM show which led to my first endorsements, which led me to meet Jeff Kollman, who had a band called Edwin Dare in Toledo that I joined my last few years of college. We had some amazing times, and of course I still work with Jeff to this day. I’ve always had my feet in the world of jazz and metal at the same time. But to be direct….. my bass “journey” started the first time I heard Led Zeppelin.

2.) What was and do you still have your first bass?

I honestly can’t remember the make! I think it was a JC Penny special that I bought for $150 WITH a Kustom Padded Amp (silver), AND a bass balls pedal. I have no idea what ever happened to that stuff and it still makes me mad. Especially the classic bass balls. I used my church confirmation money to buy that bass rig!!!!

My first decent bass was a black Kramer p bass copy, then my first REALLY nice bass was a Spector NS2. I regret selling it. I’ve kind of become a bass hoarder ever since. Had many thru the years. Ken Smith’s, Fender, all of which I still have.

3.) Who influenced you most?

Bass player wise? John Paul Jones, James Jamerson, Geezer Butler, Anthony Jackson, Gary Willis. And early on when I played 6 string maybe John Pattitucci.

Life wise? My dad, who is still a great working musician at age 84 and my mom. My brother Mark is the first one that gave me cassettes when I was REALLY young. My sister Amy took me to my first rock concernt.

4.) What are your favorite recordings?

I like such a diverse question……. hard to answer, but since this related to BASS, lets look at it that way.

My personal favorite bass tracks that really changed my life are simple. Jamerson on “What’s Goin On”, John Paul Jones on “The Lemon Song” and “What Is And Should Never Be”. For a little more obscure stuff, check out Anthony Jackson on Michel Camillo’s recording of “Caravan”. And for you total bass geeks, check out John Patitucci’s “Our Family”. AND, I’ll never forget the first time I heard The Brecker Brothers “Some Skunk Funk” (live). I also think Sinatra/Basie “Live at the Sands” is one of the best of all time, as well as Beatles “Abbey Road”, Donny Hathaway “Live”, Mark Mikel “Idiot Smiles” and AC/DC “Highway to Hell” are a small snippet of the best of the best. I wish I had a recording of the best live CONCERT I ever saw, Brecker-Metheny-Goldings-Stewart, live in Warsaw in the late 90’s. THAT blew my mind.

5.) What do you enjoy most about bass?

I like how its the roots that holds it all together. The punch. The power. The sex. But also the simplicity. The space. You are making the listener FEEL the music, literally. And you hold the whole show in the palm of your hands with a good groove, if you have the patience to stick with it exactly, over and over, making it hypnotic.

I enjoy being an interactive person who focuses not on impressing anyone but on supporting everyone. I recently received one of the greatest compliments of my life which was RIGHT in line with what I shoot for…… Alex, the guitarist in Tarja said that he loved playing with me because “I create a carpet of confidence”. So that is my new motto. I try to “create a carpet of confidence”.

6.) Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on?

Left to right: Chad Smith, Ed Roth, Jeff Kollman, Kevin Chown.
The Bombastic Meatbats
The Meatbats for sure. It’s a band. We’re all friends. Over the course of the band, EACH of us has been through some amazing times, good and bad. We all have done gigs in a gazillion places to bring to it. Its us just having fun, not trying to do anything other than be ourselves. A typical meat bats writing session is show up an hour late from the set time, then eat burritos, tell stories, laugh, then jam hopefully with the tape running, and it just falls out of us. When you are good friends with your creative cast of characters, you just let it happen. Its magic. Had some fun subs for Chad too, among them Kenny Aronoff and Matt Sorum and we did a thing earlier this year with Steve Lukather as a member OF the meat bats. Such a trip to have that happen. He was one of my idols as a kid.

Edwin Dare was an amazing band. I love working with Tarja and everyone in her band a GREAT deal. They have all become good friends of mine. Im a lucky man to have worked with so many amazing people.
Tarja Turunen and Kevin Chown

7.) Do you have a “go to” bass for recording or live use?

My main bass for years has been my Red late 90’s Ernie Ball Music Man 5 string. A few years ago, picked up a 76 original year pre Ernie Ball 4 string that completely RULES and its kind of becoming my monster, beside it. I have some early 60’s Fenders, a 62 Hagstrom, the flat black Ernie Ball Music Man is my raised “night wish tuning” metal bass and sounds killer. I have a blond 5 EB/MM with flats that I use with Bleeding Harp. The flats on the EBMM are really, really cool for the blues tone. All cobalts for rock, standard EB’s for the Meatbats.

Kevin's late 90's Stingray 5

8.) What effects do you use?

Line 6 G50 wireless, Cheap ass Digitech bass overdrive, all the Markbass pedals, Boss octave, Digitech synth bass, Boss EQ, Ernie Ball volume.

I keep it pretty simple. If I don’t need it, its not used. typically live, only distortion and an octave pedal.

9.) What is your signal chain, from the bass to the board (live and recording)?

I split the signal chain up to create two different tones. My signal chain would be:

A good power source. (Please throw away the radio shack adapters)
G50 wireless, into the tuner. (I use that as my mute for bass changes).
Tuner (mute output) to Countryman DI (this sends constant clean tone to front of house but allows me to mute it)
Countryman output to Distortion first always
Distortion out to octave and then anything else in line, etc…..
Final signal sent to amp on high quality cable for second tone……..either mic the amp or use a radial box from the speaker output.

I hate the sound of right off the distortion box bass into a DI. I’d rather send clean tone for my main tone thru a good DI. FOH needs your core tone to not change to keep the mix together. This is for all styles of music. You are the glue and can’t be changing your tone all the time and expect the band to sound good. The B-A-S-S needs to be the B-A-S-E. Sometimes I hear a show, and I see a guy step on a pedal and they get lost in the mix. OR they get so loud that the bass is turned down, then the whole show sounds like shit. Keep this simple. Admit that your main tone should simply be into a DI. The pedals are to create a second tone thru the amp to bring it up a notch that builds on the solid clean tone you already are sending, not takes away. And most importantly, it creates a consistent tone for FOH to mix. That is the SAME for every show. (this is important if you are playing on an in ear monitors based tour. Your tone is being pumped into others heads.)

Also, big trick for me is to use the EQ on your bass itself wisely. On my MM, I usually run Bass-mid-Treble flat….. maybe kick up some lows, to get my basic tone. I try to leave myself some room so that during the show, I can make some adjustments EQ - wise, right on the bass. If I don’t think its booming, I turn up my lows, not cutting, the mids, etc…… don’t make the mistake of always having everything on the bass turned all the way up. This all has only been figured out with a few years of doing this!!

It’s the same principles apply to studio recording. Always get a solid DI tone. The amp tone is the flavor. I do a lot of re-amping, for sessions, but that's a whole other conversation, as is performing with passive, not active basses. If you start a conversation of how to create a tone, there are so many things to consider I can’t really say I always do it one way or another.

If I only have one channel however, I do exactly what I said above, only NO DI, and I take the signal from the DI out on my Markbass head. If you are running distortion on a single send, don’t overdo it. My goal is ALWAYS to make my tone EASY TO MIX. If you want to do yourself a favor, just take a simple mixer, take the DI out of your amp with no speakers so you hear what you are SENDING. Your tone could be perfect on stage but absolute crap direct. Do you know? So many dudes overlook this!! Have some knowledge of your tone as its being sent, not just whats coming out of your speakers. This is what will make you get better recording tones as well. And DO NOT be cheap on the cables. REAL good Mogami style cables do sound better. The G50 Line 6 wireless that I have is by far the best. I was at their factory last week and lets just say the next generation will blow you away even more.  And, do the basic maintenance on your basses, clean the pots, etc…… a little goes a long way. Don’t show up with broken gear. Its like going out on a date without showering.

10.) Do you have any advice for young players?

My advice? GIG. Play with people MUCH older than you are. Let them pull you up a notch. Become friends with someone that you know that has a band that plays gigs where you can go sit in and learn and also meet people. Learn the catalog of songs that is rock and roll. The Beatles, The Stones, Sabbath, Santana, Metallica, but also Chuck Berry!! The real roots. Then learn all music, right up to the present. Learn more every day. Whatever genre you are attracted to, become an expert at it. Learn about tone. But above all, don’t play too many notes. Take a simple bass line. “Skin Tight” by Ohio Players. Repeat it over and over with a metronome and make it sound better and better without changing a note, just make it feel better. Don’t make your limited practice be wasted working on things that will never make you a better player. In your free time, talk about music. Listen to music. Play with dynamics.

I don’t know what else there is to say!! Other than have fun!!! And if you have an audition, show up like you already have the gig, the parts perfected. And if you are serious about this, know that you are about to enter a life that is of amazing fun and insanity that you will have fun but its more work than you can ever imagine. And always will be.

Chad Smith and Kevin.  The Bombastic Meatbats

Jeff Kollman and Kevin with The Bombastic Meatbats

On tour with Tarja Turunen

Thank you Kevin, for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions!

Look for Kevin on tour with The Bombastic Meatbats or with Tarja Turunen.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bass Day 2014 – United Sound

This year, Detroit Bass Day 2014 will be held at United Sound System Recording Studios (USSRS).  United Sound was chosen for its long history in Detroit. 

Once a year, the #DetroitBassPlayers group meets to take a group photo.  What started as a simple “meet and greet” has become “Detroit Bass Day” with the help of Kern Brantley and friends putting together a themed concert.  This will be the second year the concert runs in conjunction with the gathering.  Last year’s concert was a tribute to James Jamerson that included performances by several prominent touring and local bassists. The Jamerson family also attended.  This year is a tribute to Funk, to be held inside Studio A at USSRS.  We’re hoping to make Detroit Bass Day an annual tradition. 

There will be various prizes given away throughout the event.  All prizes have been donated by our most gracious sponsors: GHS Strings, Hipshot Products, PickGuy Custom Picks, and GruvGear.

The Detroit Bass Players raffle is free to all members.  You will get a raffle ticket when you arrive. Various promotional items, in gift bags, will also be given to attendees.  Supplies are limited.

A 11" by 17", limited edition, Bass Day - United Sound poster will also be available for purchase. Price to be determined.

The gathering starts at 11:00 am on August 9th. Doors open for the concert at 1:00 pm.  We would love to see you! 

You do not need a ticket to attend the Detroit Bass Players meeting, outside United Sound.  You will, however, need a ticket for the concert.


Press Release:  

Join famed Detroit musician Mr. Kern Brantley and friends honoring funk music pioneers like Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham and George Duke. 

This year #DetroitBassDay will take place at the legendary United Sounds Systems Recording Studio home of the late great Don Davis as well as George Clinton and P-Funk Labs. The day’s events include performances from an elite group of bass players, all whom have been inspired by the hypnotic groove of the Funk and stay on the One. Detroit Bass Day 2014 will “tear the roof off the mutha sucka...”


Welcoming Special Guest - Bobby Vega:

Detroit Bass Players is proud to announce special guest Bobby Vega will be appearing at the Bass Day 2014 event! He's not just coming to play; he's coming to hang out with everyone!

Bobby is a recording artist, clinician, and product representative. He has performed and recorded with Tower Of Power, Sly and The Family Stone, Etta James, Jefferson Starship, and many others! We're looking forward to having Bobby play a tune in the Bass Day 2014 show!

We would like to thank EMG Pickups for sponsoring Bobby's trip to Detroit.

Huge thanks go out to our friend, Rene' Santiago, for his help setting this in motion.

Bass Day 2014 Performing Bassists:

Kern Brantley , Emily Rogers, Nate Watts, Lamont Johnson, Ralphe Armstrong, Brandon Rose, Lonnie Motley, Wendell Lucas, Brad Russell, Craig Skoney, Micheal K. Fredricks, Ivan (Big Ive) Williams, William Pope, Goldie Glenn, Lone Wolf, Bobby Vega, Larry Lee, Craig Shephard, and Edward Tony (T-Money) Green.

The Band:
Eric Gaston, Kevin Ritter, Kevin Carter, Alex Goss, Brandon Blane, Ladarell Sax, D.Love, Paula, Tosha O, Donna, Donal Ray, Lola George, Keithe John, Curtis Boone, and Gwen Foxx.

Get ready for some of the baddest funkin' bass players in the city to converge at the laboratory of the notorious Dr. Funkenstein!


• 11:00 The Detroit Bass Players meet in front of United Sound Systems
Recording Studios
• 12:00 The Detroit Bass Players group photo shoot.
• 1:00 Doors open for Meet and Greet with a “round table discussion” Tours of the historic United
Sound Systems Recording Studios
• 2:00 Awards, Speeches and Acknowledgments: (a small tribute to the passing of Don
Davis and co-founder of Bass Day Yvonne C. Butler)
• 3:00 The Tribute to the Funk Concert (featuring the performers listed above)
• 5:00 Grand Prize Raffle. There will be smaller raffles throughout the whole event from our
most appreciated sponsors.
• Special Invited Guest Appearances: by Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Amp
Fidler, Luis Resto and Jeff Bass.
• 9:00 Official After Party and Open Jam.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Major 7 Fingerboard Pattern Exercise - Eddie Kohen

Detroit Bass Player Eddie Kohen.
Detroit Bass Players is proud to welcome Eddie Kohen as a columnist. This is Eddie's first of (hopefully) many installments in a series of exercises to help improve your knowledge of the bass.  Thank you, Eddie!

So, until I can figure this video stuff out I thought I would try to write out some fun exercises to stay busy during this beautiful weather.  If this is familiar it can be made as challenging as you like, I will explain at the end. This is an exercise that will quickly improve your ability to recognize chord shapes wherever you are on the fingerboard. For the first part of this we will do Major 7th chords thru the circle of 4ths (all keys).

There are 3 common patterns that use 3 strings, forward (starting with 1st finger), middle (starting with middle finger), and backward (starting with pinky). You should try starting the etude with each pattern so it varies, you will pick the next pattern by finding the next closest root.

I'll get ya started with the middle pattern, as it is common. Ascend then descend:
C (2nd finger, 3rd fret A string) E (1st finger, 2nd fret D string)
G (4th finger, 5th fret D string) B (3rd finger, 4th fret G string) 

Next chord F (forward pattern):
F (1st finger, 1st fret E string) A (4th finger, 5th fret E string)
C (2nd finger, 3rd fret A string) E (1st finger, 2nd fret D string)

 Next chord Bb (forward pattern):

Next chord Eb (backward pattern):
Eb (4th finger, 6th fret A string) G (3rd finger, 5th fret D string)
Bb (1st finger, 3rd fret G string) D (4th finger, 7th fret G string)

Continue on through the circle of fourths using the described patterns:
  • Ab (middle pattern)
  • Db (middle pattern)
  • Gb (forward pattern)
  • B (forward pattern)
  • E (backward pattern)
  • A (middle pattern)
  • D (middle pattern)
  • G (forward pattern)

You can make this more challenging by ascending the first chord then descend the 2nd and so on. This is one of many permutations that can keep this interesting. Of course, we will move on to other chord types. In just one week, this will drastically improve your ability to quickly recognize chord shapes on your fingerboard. So, go on! Do It! :)

Eddie Kohen currently teaches at Motor City Guitar, Monday through Thursday. He can be reached directly at 248-880-0042.