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Gary Willis books

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rafterman, Nov 20, 2001.

  1. I just recently ordered 2 Gary Willis books:

    Ultimate Ear Training, and Fingerboard Harmony for the Bass.

    can anyone gimme some feedback on these books?
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I have both books and CDs. They aren't easy, but are worth every cent. Willis is an excellent instructor, but he has high standards...which is why he is so darned good.

    The trick is not to attempt to rush ahead in these books or skip around. Willis has laid out a very disciplined and well organized plan in each book. If you jump around and do what interests you before mastering the earlier parts, you will do yourself a big disservice.

    One challenge I had with his "Fingerboard Harmony" book was that his CD examples were played too fast for me. I had to practcie and practice just to get to his speed, which I'm sure he thought was super slow. Keep at it, though.

    These two books are worth the money and time it will take you to work your way through. Take all the time you need.
  3. what things will I learn out of it.

    What things can I get out of the book that I can use?

    specifics please.
  4. TornadoDDT


    Jun 4, 2000
    The ear training book is very systematic starting with intervals, larger intervals first, then those that are closer together. It starts with ascending first, then goes to descending intervals.

    At first, the student is told NOT to play his bass, but instead to listen to the CD. Also, Willis has a technique I enjoy in which you "fret" the notes of a scale or chord by touching the finger you would use to the thumb of your left hand. An open note is "fretted" by lifting all fingers.

    That way you learn to play scales, intervals, chords in your imagination and get the "feel" of which finger you would use.

    One progresses from simple major and minor intervals all the way up gradually, step-by-step to major, minor and other scales and modes, triads, chords, inversions and to recognizing common progressions.

    There are short "etudes" to transcribe near the end of the course. The course requires self-discipline, patience and persistence. It also serves as an overview of theory.
  5. TornadoDDT


    Jun 4, 2000
    I just found my "Fingerboard Harmony" book and CD. It got pushing to the bottom of the pile. So now I'll tell you about that.

    Willis shows every example as it would be played on a four, five- or six-string bass. Like his ear training book which works well with this one, Willis explains intervals, triads and chords. This is an essential foundation for building bass lines using his "linear approach" which he explains means playing one (well-chosen) note at a time rather than chords as guitarists and painists do. The linear line implies the chord. But he cautions that the right note on the right beat (strong and weak beats)needs to be played or the bass line will sound academic, or like a scale exercise.

    He also tells how to employ passing tones, how to handle chord extensions, choose a key center, and what to play depending on if the chord is used a major or minor key.

    A useful skill he teaches is how to choose a hand position for playing in the key center that will help you avoid as much shifting of position as possible. To help achieve this, he also teaches his "key-finger-string" technique as a building block. These techniques make your playing more efficient.

    There is a very thorough guide to chord types and how they are constructed.

    Again I suggest that you take your time working your way through this book. It has only 72 pages, but every page is chock full of important and useful

    Oh, by the way, this book does not have tablature. You will need to know how to read music. There are some fretboard diagrams, however, that show you what finger to put on what string and fret.
  6. looks like I found what i'm looking for!!!

    Thanks for your help TornadoDDT...it's cool that you actually looked for the books.

    and about that "no tablature" thing...GOOD!...i'm working on my reading also...i can read...but not sight read very well...I tell myself that I can't read unless I can sight-read very well, keeps me hungry.

  7. TornadoDDT


    Jun 4, 2000
    Yes, I know you will enjoy these books. Not only will you learn to read, you will train your ears to hear intervals and chords...a good thing. Willis is a wonderful instructor.

    By the way I am really Boplicity (AKA Jason Oldsted) but I just upgraded to AOl 7.0 and somehow ended up with this screen name I must have used three years ago. I have to get this straigthened out soon,because I can't even moderate "recordings." Sorry about causing confusion.
  8. Thanks for saying that. That's how I felt when I started this book. It made me feel like I must be really lame because I couldn't even play the basic stuff at tempo. At least I'm not alone. I think I'll have to pull this book out again and work through it.
  9. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Actually, I was hesitant to mention that Willis played too fast for me on his CD examples, but then I figured what the heck? I've never pretended to be a super bassist here. It would have been helpful if Willis had played a slower tempo on his example for beginners in addition to the faster ones. Maybe he thinks real beginners wouldn't likely be attempting to even buy his books.
  10. BassBuzzRS


    Oct 18, 2005
    Thread revive!!
    +1 on the examples that are real fast when you're learning.
    Otherwise, a fine book with a great challenge, for me at least. Highly recommended.
    Edit: The book I am talking about is "Fingerboard Harmony for Bass"
  11. I have been working on Fingerboard Harmony off and on for awhile now. One thing that helps me is to use the Ultimate Slowdowner program to slow the tempos down a little while I get the execrcises under my fingers and in my head.
  12. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    I just saw a book/CD by Gary Willis advertised ... 101 Bass Tips a Pro Would Use ... or something along those lines ... anyone familiar with it?? thanks
  13. Jeramaya


    Feb 18, 2007
    Madison, WI
    Is the Fingerboard Harmony book recommended for guys like me who have little skills in sight reading? I should say, I own the book, but I also have the Mel Bay Electric Bass Method books and I was curious if I should start with those first. You know, start with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and then move on to whatever crazy stuff Willis has...thanks!
  14. mstott25


    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    Willis' stuff isn't crazy or difficult. It would be better to start with Willis IMO so you don't have to unlearn any other habits once you get to him. I started Fingerboard Harmony twice and quit before I finally decided to work through it from beginning to end. I'm glad I did. It really supplants a lot of other ways of thinking about note selections during a tune or solo. If you are using the FBH book in conjunction with the Ear Training book, you're doing yourself a huge favor since you're lining up the sounds with the patterns.

    I practiced with Band in a Box the last time I worked through FBH and worked every example until it felt natural. Good luck!
  15. kipsus

    kipsus Physicist

    Sep 18, 2005
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    I have all three books. Actually got "Ear training.." as pdf from eMule but then bought online. Definitely worth every penny spent on them. Original ideas on everything and that "101 tips" book is also useful for someone who doesn't want to spend another month or two searching TalkBass for tips ;)

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