Jeez Mr. Berlin!

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Bardolph, Jul 24, 2004.

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  1. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I have always been a big fan of Jeff Berlin and admired his approach to the four string, but I think this is just out of hand. This is from an interview I saw on

    "Tablature doesn't exist in music. It is written for musicians who don't know the language of music that has existed for hundreds of years in standard notation. If someone can sit there and look at the numbers 15, 16, and 17 which will give them more of an immediate gratification rather than learning G, G#, and A, which way do you think they will choose? They'll choose the more immediate gratification. It's the fault of a lot of the magazines that promote tablature because they know that most of their readers don't know anything about music. Most of the readers of guitar magazines are fans which is fine, and they want to learn how Steve Vai did it. I say if you want to learn how Steve Vai did it, then toss a record on, put headphones on, and listen. That is how he did it. Billy Sheehan, one of the greatest rock bass players of all-time, he listened and he imitated. Tablature doesn't exist. It is a falsehood. It is a lie. It is the end of the development of a musician. Like this or not, it is a fact.

    A lot of people go after me on the internet, and I say watch out for these people because they don't know what they are talking about. They are opinionated and emotional about these things and don't have the skills or the musical knowledge to back up their statements. When you emotionally believe and emotionally attach yourself to a belief system without investigating it, it's going to mess up your musical progress, and you are going to pay a price for it later. Everyone is brave on the internet when posting to forums and message boards, and everyone is brave when writing a letter to a magazine criticizing me, but when it comes to a face-to-face confrontation, they are NEVER able to back up their beliefs.

    Let me emphasize something. I will sound like I am going to brag, but in music I am just about never wrong about these things. Everything else in life, you can take with a grain of salt because I'm not an expert in anything else. In music, not only do I know, but it has been proven a thousand times with Players School students. There's no doubt. There's none. Zero. You can believe it or not. It's up to you, but I will save you years of investigation and problems if you adjust your approach to learning how to play the instrument."

    Does that seem a little extreme to some of you? Is that just the way he is or might he have been having a bad day?
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile

    he does carry on a bit, but I agree with him. Sure I use tabs from the net when I'm cramming to get some tunes learned... but I usually just grab chord charts and run with it from there. I seem to remember better if I actually figure the lines.
  3. yeah, i remember he got a lot of trashtalk from the BP readers regarding the response Berlin gave to practicing without your bass, when he said that it is impossible to practice without your bass. i dunno, i don't hate tab as much as jeff berlin, i use it sometimes, not so much anymore though.

  4. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I do see the point in much of what he says, like extended range basses and certain techniques and tabs being used as shortcuts and taking away from musicality. It just seems that there is no middle ground with him. If you play a six string or use a metronome or slap, you're just WRONG and he is RIGHT because he's a musical expert........ :bag:
  5. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    eh, he does get a little over at the end, but I agree with him.
  6. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I'm saying this as a 5 string E - C "extended range player." Just because I like access to higher notes doesn't mean I'm not playing bass anymore. Heck, if Chick played on a piano with more than 88 keys would he be cheating and not be considered playing a real piano anymore?
  7. I guess one could regard Tab as "pigeon English". Has it's place for those who are new, but shouldn't become a substitute for the real thing.
  8. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    The problem with Jeff Berlin is that he acts like a gatekeeper - the defender of music as a pursuit of high culture. Which is fine. He can do that. Unfortunately, he, more often than not, seems placed in situations where he needs to be an educator. Any credentialed school teacher will tell you that not all students learn the same way. Certain modalities work with some people better than others. Tab is just another learning modality that works better than traditional formal training for some people. Sure, tab seems like cheating sometimes. But, if you have ever noticed that about one in three tabs are correct. You still have to put work into it.
  9. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    I wouldn't want to hear the extra notes, they would either be shrill or way to low.

    He sounds like a jerk in that interview, don't know his playing very well, but still.

    Pretty much anything that gets a person motivated to try and learn a piece of music/play for enjoyment is good in my opinion. That person can later learn to read music or stay using tabs, I don't feel that Tabs will limit their playing.

    I have heard bassists who can read music all day, but they can't hold a groove for more than two seconds without trying to pull a flashy Jaco-esqe lick. I have heard bassists who use tabs, groove all day, whether playing simply or technically.

    I can read bass and treble clef, but I use tabs once every blue moon (Not that worried with learning everyone's songs anymore). From the video I saw of his playing I decided I dislike his style, tone, and lines. But, if I was interested in learning a song of his, I would use tabs as that would make for some ridiculusly hard sight reading/transcription.

    My two.
  10. modflea


    Apr 26, 2004
    Lafayette, LA
    He reminds me of Charles Barkley in his outspokenness.

    Yeah the Charles Barkley of Bass Playing....
  11. Kavorka


    Mar 28, 2002
    Austin, Texas
    I think Berlin has the musical knowledge to back up what he says. I do think its funny, though, that he used Billy Sheehan as an example of how to play right seeing that Sheehan readily admits he can't read music or even knows the notes he's playing - its all feel and experience for him.
  12. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000

    Jeff did say that Billy Sheehan learned by listening and I know that Jeff is a big advocate of ear training. When it comes to this topic I have noticed that Jeffs statements are often taken out of context. These comments are normally directed at players that want to be pro level players that get high profile gigs but don't want to learn the languge of music.
    His comments about extended range basses are taken out of context as well. I have read in other interviews that players that use the extended range bass as a substitute for leaning music or that think they are automatically better because they have more strings are the ones his comments are directed at.
  13. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I think it's in the way he voices his opinions is what nags at folks but I think he's right. Learn your instrument. Learn to read music. Ear training is very important, IMO. I've never had the desire to learn tab. I am ear trained and I learned to read music (not great though). If I get stumped on learning something I usually just ask or seek out what notes I need.
  14. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    I agree. I am so greatful that I learned notation throught the tuba before I played the bass. I think that it has given me such a leg up in the path of bass playing, especially since I am completely self taught on bass. I used tabs in the beginning just because I wanted to learn songs and I couldn't get the sheet music anywhere, and I think tabs are a good way for a beginner to get comfortable around the fretboard. After that though, I think they can only hold you back. To me, it is comparable to leaving the training wheels on your bike. Yeah, it teached you to ride it, but only so far and so fast. You gotta get rid of the helpers and the little cheats to move forward. I haven't used tabs in.... forever. I read transcriptions on the net, or use my ear, which still needs a lot of work, but thats another story.

    I respect Mr. Berlin for his passion about what he talks about. He knows that some people won't like him for it, but he also knows that the people who listen to him and learn from it will be better in the end. He knows what he is talking about, and can back it up with decades of experience, a resume about as long as his bass, and his own school. If anyone knows these things, its him. "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up." He can back it up.
  15. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Although I am a fan of Jeff's, I found him calling someone else opinionated akin to a skunk turning his nose away from a pig.
  16. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    this should be in his brochure for his school-

    "learn music the right way and you too can be ignored by your peers, not get called for sessions, and have very few gigs...just like jeff himself"
  17. i didn't know there was a "right way" to learning music. there's learning by ear, tab, standard notation...the list can go on!

    its the same way or education. studies have shown that some people learn by doing it, some by seeing it, some by carrots. if you can learn music better by seeing the numbers, rather than visualizing the fretboard, fine by me.

    i don't know. don't listen to me, because jeff berlin says i don't know what i am talking about.

  18. Yes.

    Sounds like he needed to go number one or number two, or needed a beer, or was hungry for love, or hungry for food. To come across sounding that irritable makes me think he was preoccupied with something else.
  19. Kavorka


    Mar 28, 2002
    Austin, Texas
    But I would argue that Billy Sheehan hasn't really learned. Admittedly, the man is awesome and kicks my butt on bass with his still in the case, but, I've read interviews where Billy says he doesn't know why he does the things he does, he's just learned the patterns over time from constant live playing since he was very young. As the owner of the Player's School, I would hope that Jeff Berlin wants us to learn more than that (though it has served Billy very well).

    As for extended range, I read where Berlin said he likes his 4-string because its limitations in range force him to find creative ways to approach pieces. Being a huge Berlin fan, I don't take offense to his blunt interviews, I just found the Sheehan reference ironic.
  20. I don't know what you guys are talking about.

    Jeff Berlin is a legend of the electric bass. Simply put, he is considered by many to be the finest electric bass soloist in the world. In the 1970s, he gained worldwide recognition as one of America's foremost electric bass players.

    Jeff's playing continues to influence a new generation of bass players. His teaching continues to inspire and advance players wishing to know about the language of their art. Jeff Berlin is a master.

    It has to be true. I read it on the internet at . :rolleyes:

    - Dave

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