Ubass: Small Bass Big Sound

I have been searching for a travel bass for the longest time and I think I've finally found one that matches my need.

I introduce to you the Kala Ubass. Don't be fooled by the size of this short-scale (20") bass. It packs quite a wallop largely because of its unique polyurethane strings.

Check the following jazzy demonstrations.

And here's the Ubass as played on a more contemporary tune.

A solid-body version would be cool. I would definitely love to have one. Well, what do you know, the people of Kala are already working on producing one:

Visit the following links for more info on the Ubass.


Michael Jackson Tribute

I was in elementary school when I first heard of Michael Jackson. His hit songs "Thriller", "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" were enjoying heavy airplay at that time. I wasn't into music back then so I didn't really pay much attention to those songs. I did, however, enjoy watching other kids my age copying Michael's dance moves. Like them I also tried learning Michael's signature moonwalk although it didn't take long for me to realize that I was better off learning the guitar.

A few years later I became part of our high school band. We played cover versions of popular new wave songs. One of the new wave bands I particularly liked back then was The Bolshoi whose song "A Way" became an anthem of sorts for our generation.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this. Well, you may not be aware of it but there's a Michael Jackson connection here. The Bolshoi was one of the first groups that did its own version of one of Michael's hits. They did a live version of "Billie Jean".

I must admit I was a bit of a pseudo-purist back then. I didn't want our band to play pop music especially American pop like Michael's songs. That changed partly because of this Bolshoi performance. Too bad there doesn't seem to be any online copy that I can attach here but I did find this acoustic guitar version played by a young, prodigious performer. It should suffice as a fine example of how interesting Michael's songs are regardless of how they are performed.

By the way the performer is Korean fingerstyle guitar prodigy Sungha Jung. Now, here are a few more cover versions of Michael Jackson songs. This one is by Emily Elbert

Here's one to make all those guitar players out there wet their pants. Brace yourselves for Tuck Andress.

Now let's all pay tribute to the King of Pop himself.


My Ukulele Fascination

I've been wanting to learn how to play the ukulele for some time now. The ukulele caught my attention a few years ago when I heard the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain play its version of "MacArthur Park." They also have a version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Very interesting, really.

With my interest piqued, I researched on other ukulele artists and I discovered the so-called Jimi Hendrix of the Ukulele, Jake Shimabukuro. Jake is best known for his version of The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Conincidentally, this rock ballad was written by George Harrison who was himself a fan of the ukulele.


If you're up for some ukulele music then you might want to check out Jake's album Gently Weeps and his DVD Play Loud Ukulele. Of course, I'd also recommend the Ukulele Orchestra's Secret of Life. And in case you decide to move on from simply listening to actually playing the ukulele then perhaps the instructional book Fretboard Roadmaps - Ukulele: The Essential Patterns That All the Pros Know and Use can help you.

I haven't done any real research on the best ukulele's to buy but the Oscar Schmidt OU2 Concert Ukulele may just do the trick if you're just starting out.

Punk fans out there might like this Clash tune performed on the ukulele. Oi!


RiffMaster Pro: Go Slow To Get Fast

When it comes to learning guitar solos it helps to have perfect pitch or the ability to immediately identify notes by ear. However, perfect pitch can only go so far when you're dealing with blistering solos. You can strain your ears all you want but, at a hundred-notes-a-minute, these superfast solos would probably just leave you questioning your own abilities.

But fret not because there's always a way. Go slow to get fast is an advice that would help you in your quest for speed. Back in the day, guitar players learned guitar solos by slowing down the speed of their turntables or tape casette players. You can do the same and lay claim to being Old School. But, if you want an easier way you can check out RiffMaster Pro.

RiffMaster Pro is a computer program that I wish was invented back when I was starting out. I'm sure I would have become a better guitar player if I had this software then.

Imagine being able to slow down the solos of virtuosos such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, John McLaughlin and many others. Feel the power at your fingertips. Waaaaaahhhhhh!!!

I'm at a loss for words. All i can say is RiffMaster Pro is a valuable tool that should have been invented back when I had the time to practice seriously. If you're an intermediate player who have just discovered the joys of playing fast solos this is for you. If you're an oldtimer who can no longer spare too much time for transcribing note for note RiffMaster Pro is also for you.

That's all I can say about it for now. To find out more about RiffMaster Pro Click Here!


Drumming Till It Hurts

I used to have a drummer friend who could play without a bass drum but make his set-up sound like a complete drum kit. All he used was a snare drum, a cymbal, and a floor tom. If you listened to him play with your eyes closed you'd swear he had a bass drum.

Sadly, this friend of mind passed away a few years ago. His death was quite poetic in the sense that he died just as he had always wanted, which is right after performing a mean drum solo. My friend was doing a soundcheck with the rest of his band mates for a concert. On the last tune he played on he performed a drum solo. After the song he collapsed. He suffered a heart attack.I kid you not, even his wife knew about his morbid yet dramatic idea for a final performance.

As a drummer, my friend was exceptional. He did everything from straight-on-take-no-prisoners rock drumming to sophisticated jazz improvisations. He was also a joy to watch because of his energetic yet effortless technique. He also had a rather funny facial expression whenever he was in the zone. I do miss my drummer friend.

He and I shared the belief that, when it comes to playing music, one should be open to all kinds of styles. We were of the same opinion that being able to jam along all sorts of music is the best way to expand your musical knowledge and skills.

So jam to pop songs, funk, RnB, disco and even the occasional novelty song we did. But, of course, there were days when the mood was perfect for nothing else but rock. The Canadian rock trio Rush was a particular favorite. My friend really enjoyed rocking out to "Limelight" and "Tom Sawyer." I did too although I found playing Geddy Lee's rubbery basslines quite a challenge.

Here's a video of Rush's "Limelight." The guitarist is Alex Lifeson and the drummer is Neil Peart. Hope you like the song.


Great Lyrics: Across The Universe

It is quite common for people to explore songwriting immediately after learning to play an instrument. I had the same transition from merely playing other people's songs to writing my own not long after I learned my first three chords.

As I soon found out though, three chords can only get you so far. I also learned that stringing chords together is far simpler than composing the lyrics. Some people would say it's the opposite; that writing the lyrics is nowhere near as hard as creating the music. Well, this only shows that composing music and writing lyrics are two different processes requiring different skillsets.

Oasis main songwriter and lead guitarist Noel Gallagher has reportedly said that the secret to great songs is the melody and not so much the lyrics. I don't know about that but I'm sure great lyrics also make for great songs.

One of my favorites is the lyrics of the Beatles song "Across The Universe," which were written by John Lennon but credited to Lennon/McCartney. Lennon himself said that this was one of his best and most poetic lyrics. He speaks the truth no doubt about it.

Across The Universe

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me.
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
That call me on and on across the universe,
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box they
Tumble blindly as they make their way
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views inviting and inciting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a
Million suns, it calls me on and on
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Here's Fiona Apple's version of this classic Beatles' tune.


Sing Like Susan Boyle and Paul Potts

I'm a little saddened by the recent loss of Susan Boyle in Britain's Got Talent. I was rooting for her just as I did for Paul Potts. Both of them have great voices. I must admit though that their underdog appeal also helped me make my choice.

Someone should sign Susan up for a recording contract. It's not unlikely an album by her will be a bestseller especially among lovers of musical theater.

Nice voice. Now let's revisit Paul Potts' finals performance.

Susan and Paul are a real inspiration to many. Without a doubt their success in Britain's Got Talent have led to a newfound interest in this kind of operatic/musical theater-style singing. Young kids singing in this manner would be a refreshing change from the undulating RnB and growling heavy rock vocal stylings.

Operatic and musical theater style singing demands a lot more discipline I think. Students of this vocal style would do well to develop perfect pitch or the ability to recognize and identify notes by ear. Some people are supposedly born with this ability like this kid in this video

If you're interested in developing perfect pitch go to this link. Hope you like it.


About This Blog

It's all about the music. This is the place to be if you're looking for resources to help you with your musical journey.

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