Billy Sheehan Masterclass

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by moon-bass, Jan 30, 2023.

  1. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    For Christmas this year my wife got me an all-expense paid trip to Nashville (I had to do the driving though) and a 1 hour private masterclass with the one and only Billy Sheehan.

    He does them every once in awhile at Lane Music outside of Nashville. My session was Saturday - my wife and I drove from New Orleans to Nashville Thursday night then back home Sunday.

    It was an absolutely incredible experience. I probably fanboyed a little too much, but hey, how often does one get to meet and spend time with their childhood idol?

    Billy is a great guy and a wonderful human being. I can't stress this enough. He was humble, warm, and genuine. He made me feel comfortable right away, answered all of my questions, signed a few things and I learned an absolute ton. In the space of a little over an hour, we discussed three finger plucking and tapping techniques, finger economy of motion, multiple playing exercises, bass set up, stage presence, finger strength and dexterity, influences, songs and practice, left hand tapping, note even-ness, reverse tapping, moving up and down the strings (right hand), fret noise .. and more! He looked at my playing and gave me several observations that I put to immediate use (had to do with bunching up the fingers on my left hand at certain points, vibrato, and my light playing touch). There was more that I am forgetting about, but luckily the session was videoed.

    He also answered all of my questions and peppered the session with stories and anecdotes. Finally, I got to play his pink Yamaha and The Wife.

    I didn't get any phone pics, but I'll post some when they send some to me. All in all it was a great experience, and I am hoping to do another one down the road. I would highly recommend it. Oh, and plus it was pretty awesome when i got multiple compliments from Billy!
    Corigan, P. Aaron, BadJazz and 93 others like this.
  2. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Ok cool. What a great Christmas gift!
    So what is the difference between a private master class and private lesson? Curious.

    Can you explain what you mean by reverse tapping? Especially the reverse part.

    And also curious about the setup of his basses. Is the action super low? Or just average?
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  3. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    Not sure what the difference is, I'm calling it what he calls them.

    Reverse tapping is reversing your hands when tapping. Typically, at least for me, I'll hold a chord with my left hand and tap a melody with my right - the left hand has much less motion than my right hand. This is the opposite where my right hand will hold a chord and my left hand will play a melody/have more motion.

    His set up is very low. His basses, especially his Yamaha Attitude, is extremely easy to play - and even with the low action he has no buzz or fret noise. It's one thing that struck me when I picked it up - even though I typically don't like wider necks (1.75 at the nut) I really liked the playability of his bass.
  4. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    man, Billy is a demon! That must have been awesome. Lucky man, your missus loves you.
    P. Aaron, DrThumpenstein, osv and 4 others like this.
  5. cxcxcx


    Mar 8, 2019
    Totally awesome! I’ve spoken with Billy many times over the last few decades and always wanted to meet with him basses in hand at some point. From the outside view, it appears he’s only doing live in-person coaching because the demand would be too great if he did online one-on-one.

    Like many of his longtime admirers, I’ve arrived at my own place with my playing, and leave a lot of the personal stylings and techniques he developed to him. Not because that stuff isn’t awesome - it’s out of respect. The big things I got from him are his focus on confident delivery, clean execution, solid time with both foundation AND lead-style playing, and overall command of the instrument. He’s a living legend and anyone who gets this kind of opportunity is very fortunate and will likely get enough inspiration to last a lifetime.
    P. Aaron, osv, moon-bass and 5 others like this.
  6. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Do you mean tapping with the right hand on the lower frets/lower strings and playing the higher frets with your left hand? So reversing/crossing the hands from place so to say? I am not sure if we are talking about the same thing. Do you have an example video of Billy or you doing the reverse tapping? Would make it easier to understand.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2023
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  7. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    "So what is the difference between a private master class and private lesson? "

    A second mortgage.

    Actually, really jealous. Billy is a master at visualizing the things he wants from his bass and then figuring how to do them. Everything I have seen him explain on line has been A-1 teaching wise. He is the master in his genre.
  8. Hawk256


    Nov 19, 2021
    I am so jealous right now. I was lucky enough to meet him in passing a couple of times but never got to spend any one on one time with him. Always seems like a great guy and based on some of his videos is a great inststructor. I have to laugh when he says "this part might be a little tricky". Translate = this part is near impossible for most people but he would never want you to say that. Congrats to you.
  9. QweziRider

    QweziRider Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    How very cool! My session was Friday afternoon. Flew in from Nevada about midnight and had to fly back right after (work on Saturday). It was incredible, we spent the entire time on little else but mapping out the G major scale the full length of the neck and every tangent from that - like how all of that we did applies to every other scale. "Economy of motion" was the phrase of the day. Very intense work that will be good to go back and pick through the video for practice.

    I spent the next two days at work trying to put it all into practice to see where our styles differ and how I can break mine down and add his to what I do. I was so wrapped up in what he was teaching I didn't even think to ask to play his basses! Great class!
    Corigan, osv, moon-bass and 2 others like this.
  10. Levent


    Oct 26, 2022
    How are you going top that jest? is the real question ;)
    moon-bass likes this.
  11. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    OP, I know this has to be one of your top musical experiences of all time. Billy Sheehan is a great example of why it is misleading to describe someone like him as self-taught or a non-reader. In his own way, Billy Sheehan has worked as hard to master the bass as any chart reading session or Jazz master. He is not a product of just being gifted. I saw him do a presentation in St. Louis years ago, and I watched one of his instructional videos online. The man has studied and theorized about playing the bass as thoroughly as anybody.
  12. majbass


    Jan 11, 2023
    What an awesome experience! Congrats!
    moon-bass likes this.
  13. Koshchei


    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    Amazing! Billy is a stand-up guy and a legendary bassist!
    moon-bass likes this.
  14. 31HZ

    31HZ Glad to be here Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2006
    Central VA, USA
    I would be in full-fanboi mode the whole time. Gonna have to do it sometime!
    moon-bass likes this.
  15. RGerhart

    RGerhart Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2021
    Portland, OR
    That is so awesome! I can only imagine what meeting your bass idol would be like, and you should feel lucky that yours is still alive. :)

    He uses pretty heavy gauge strings, doesn't he? Like a .110 E, I believe? That might also explain how he can have such low action but not have fret buzz.
    moon-bass likes this.
  16. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    She does! I often joke that she is an enabler, but truth be told she's an amazing woman and she encourages me every day. She's definitely a one of a kind! She even encourages my GAS!

    This is it. I don't have a video offhand, but when they send me the session video I might be able to post a small part of it - but yes, you got it.

    I'm pretty sure he does use heavier strings, but I didn't even notice! His bass was soooooooooooooo easy to play. I mean, I feel like I have my basses set up with low action and are pretty much effortless, but i had a definite "wow" moment when he handed me his.
    PaulS, osv, Artman and 2 others like this.
  17. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    It was amazing (I know I am using that word a lot, but hey, it fits) how quickly he was able to hone in on my playing. Literally seconds of watching me play he was giving me tips and feedback.
    osv, QweziRider, 31HZ and 1 other person like this.
  18. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    very cool man! I was so wrapped up that I didn't take any phone pics to post to TB :) My head was spinning, and I can't wait to get the video because I know there are some things that I forgot! Congrats to you and sounds like you got a lot out of it as well :)
    osv, Artman and QweziRider like this.
  19. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    We talked a little about him being "self taught" and his music reading ability, etc. Very enlightening!
  20. Hawk256


    Nov 19, 2021
    If I remeber correctly his signiture Rotosounds were .110, .085, .065 and .042. So a heavier E but a lighter G than most.