DISCLAIMER: There will be more parts for this lesson for sure, so stay tuned for them!
When I started this project, the aim was to create lessons which improved your technique through learning real music. Well, this lesson definitely serves both purposes. Learning Bach on the bass is quite popular now (and very-very useful) but Jeff was perhaps one of the first guys who encouraged bassists to explore that area of music as well.
Jeff Berlin is not only a monster player packed with musicality, technique and enormous mental awareness of what he is playing, he is also a great educator. I have read tons of articles, posts about or by him, and I have gained gems of knowledge. If you are interested, search for those material – for some people, it might be offensive what he says, but I strongly recommend reading his Facebook page, or interviews with him – you don’t have to agree fully, but he has some very-very reasonable and simple thoughts to consider.One of the funniest and humblest posts was about his past intstructional video – you can read it here ;)
So, Bach, prelude in C minor. Classical stuff is always extremely difficult to play. You have to be consistent, you have to execute technique with musicality. Begin REEEALLLY slow since all your fingers have to be used and you have to make sure every note is just long enough – no choking, no longer notes.
Being sad that, I can also say that if you are in need of a warm up exercise – this is it. Actually, this is an exercise that can change your playing as well – it moves all your fingers on both hands and teaches you to loosen up while it is quite musical. To reach (or go beyond) the speed Jeff has reached, you have to lighten your touch – both on the right and left hand – let the amp do the work.
On your left hand, try to play with your fingertips – when fretting a note, try to loosen your grip and experiment how hard you have to press down in order to make that note ring. You will find that usually a lot less pressure is enough than you are using. Also, move it as little as you can – if you have ever watched Gary Willis closely, he barely moves his hands!
The same advice goes for the right hand – if you play as lightly as you can, you can save energy and boost your speed. Basically that’s what a ramp is for – it prevents your fingers to dig too much between the strings and the body of the guitar, so it saves you energy and movement. If you don’t have a ramp, you can play exactly over the pickup, or play really lightly, like Gary Willis.
Finally, there is one more thing – I have read an advice for piano players playing this piece – “performers have to control their virtuosity and avoid overdoing it.” Article can be read here, I have used this page for the harmony analysis for the tab – if you have time, or you are interested, it is amazing to go beyond “bass” and read the analysis of the harmony. (I have to make a remark here, in the GuitarPro file, you can usually find chord diagrams. This time the Ddim7/C diagram is not there since GuitarPro has some limitations – it cannot displays chords which nead greater stretch than 4 frets. So, this chord cannot be voiced on the 4 string easily, you would need more hands or to make big stretches. Ddim7/C basically means you have a Ddim7 chord with a C as a bass note on top). Enjoy!
The video does not intend to violate any laws or copyrights, it is to be used for educational purposes (fair use). The original song is available for purchase and listening at:
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Stay tuned for part two! For members, here is the GuitarPro5 file!