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Colin Hodgkinson & Chord-Melody Playing

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by DaveBeny, Mar 23, 2000.

  1. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Michael - Are you familiar with the playing of the British jazz-rock bassist Colin Hodgkinson? He developed a very advanced chord-based playing technique in the early '70s.

    I have just got a copy of his solo album 'The Bottom Line' (sound clips are available at www.in-akustik.com). He plays covers of old blues songs arranged for solo bass. Of particular interest is a version of Robert Johnson's '32-20 Blues'.

    I'm interested in playing this chord-melody style, but it is very different to how I usually play. Basically, I need to know how to play a chordal melody, but also keep a bassline going at the same time.

    What's the best approach? There's three techniques that I've tried using.
    1) Using a slap-thumb technique, but strumming down across multiple strings.
    2) Strumming/flicking downwards with middle fingers (a la 'School Days')
    3) Using my thumb to play the A and E strings, whilst picking the G and D strings with the first three fingers of my fretting hand.

    Any advice would be most appreciated.


    [This message has been edited by David Benyahia (edited March 23, 2000).]
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    Thanks for the tip - I'll definitely check his stuff out.

    I tend to use the 3rd of your options, thumb for the E and A string and the rest of my fingers for the D and G strings. I use a sort of classical guitar or fingerpicking guitar technique. If you check out my online lessons at www.bassically.net you can see, hear and read more in depth about what I do. There are 2 arrangements there, "Autumn Leaves" and "Misty" with notation, real audio and performance notes.

    As well, there is my book, "The Chordal Approach" available from some very cool bass shops, www.bassbooks.com as well as my site, www.michaeldimin.com (please forgive the plug for the book, but you did ask).
  3. Colin uses the 3rd technique - I worked out part of `Blues For Jimmy Yancey' and it is really hard but I'm hoping that Colin and I are going to spend a day together and he is going to show me how to do it properly! He wants me to show him some slap stuff!!!!

    When you watch him play, he uses all kinds of techniques, such as his thumb playing like a pick; he can slap but his own slap style is more like a downwards `strum' right on the end of the fretboard - he wants to get into the `King' type stuff which is great too! He has massive hands and some of the chords he plays are like `......bloody 'ell'!

    Colin also plays a very mean fretless (Warwick Thumb V with green LED side markers) and it sounds wonderful - very upright sounding (again, he plays this with his thumb).


  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    Since the original post I was able to get Colin's The Bottom Line (at much hassles and great expense). It is worth every penny. What a great recording. Although his technique is pretty cool, it is the musicality of the CD that really gets me. WOW!

    Good luck with your day with Colin


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