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Jeff Schmidt

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by westland, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I was intriqued with Jeff Schmidt a non-pro placing top in the Bass Extremes International Contemporary Solo Bass Competition, and visited his web site. There were a few MP3 clips on the site, and I have to say that I am very impressed. Jeff's tone in particular is beautiful and his music quite nice ... and I'm not surprised that he suggests that Michael Manring is a major influence.

    Anyone have any tips on what to work on to improve tone and articulation in one's technique (listening to Jeff makes me realize how far I have to go, and how expressive the bass can be)
  2. Tone is such an elusive thing. The best tone for you is what you hear in your head. It can take years to find the combination of amps, cabinets, pups, bass, effects, strings, etc. to get the tone you hear in your noggin.

    As far as technique, get a metronome and practice. A lot.
  3. practice practice practice!

    also, make sure your gear fits how you want to sound...if you want to sound like jaco, don't get a p-bass. and so on...
  4. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I just knew it wouldn't be easy
  5. i just noticed the original question of what to work on to improve tone and articulation in one's technique, and to add to my original post, practice your right hand technique. imo thats where much of the articulation and tone comes from no matter what gear you have. a sloppy right hand will result in little articulation and poor tone.
  6. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Any guidance on particular technique .. I can really see how this would determine tone (the other half of having accuracy and strength in the left hand comes with time, and I feel myself getting there). I would be very interested in exercises or just pointers for what sourt of technique I should aspire to in the right hand. Any help is appreciated.
  7. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    Thank you very much westland - I appreciate the compliment and your interest.

    I think you really nailed the essence of it when you asked how to improve articulation.

    Articulation is the most important part of having a "voice". It's something I work on both consiously and sub-consciously all the time.

    It's a lot like an accent in speech. And, not surprisingly - much like your vocal accent - your musical articulation can be influenced by the types and kinds of music you're most exposed to. We've all heard stories of people picking up traces of the accent of the "locals" when moving to an area with a different vocal accent.

    The same thing can happen to you musically as well. So that's the first "technique" I would recommend. Listen to as much and as many lyrical and melodic instruments that speak to you as possible and really focus on the articulation - then imagine playing those melodies on your bass.

    MIMICK melodic articulation.

    Step 2 is to actually learn the melodies themselves on your bass - keeping the articulation of the original. But first - just try to mimick the articualtion of a horn. A guitar. A singer.

    If you asked the average groove bassist to play a G Major triad it would sound like a scale. While the same task given to an average Sax player sounds like music. The difference is largely articulation - how the notes are formed.

    The next "technique" if you're serious - is to treat, think about and play the bass as a melodic instrument at least as much as you think and play it as a traditional support instrument.

    The techniques used to play great grooves will not help you play melodically. The techniques for expressive melodic playing won't help you nail a groove. They're different disciplines - but not mutually exclusive. So - for groove playing -certainly listen to lots of great bassists and absorb the articulations of great grooves.

    But for melodic playing - horn players, singers and yes- GASP! even guitar players whose playing speaks you should be your focus.

    Of course - that's just what works for me. Your milage may vary!

    HamOnTheCob likes this.
  8. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    very cool, Jeff!

    I really like what you say about playing bass like it is a different instrument, trying to mimic the timbre through articulation. I find a close timbral-relationship between sax lines and fretless playing, naturally I pull melody lines from reed-sters.
  9. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Thanks Jeff, and thank you so much for generously sharing your insights into your playing and making music. I’ll look forward to your CD (do put me on your mailing list).

    One of the attractions for me of the bass is the potential to realize the sort of expressiveness that you have achieved. Some of the concepts you talk about apply to the piano (my main instrument) but the attraction of bass guitar (among other things) is that it allows very intimate, expressive music. The piano can be melodic, but we too often think in terms of masses of notes (have you ever seen a pianist play an entire piece with just the right hand?). So listening to melodies and the intricacies of articulation is a bit new and foreign to me. I don’t do it at all well, and thus my curiosity at how elegantly you form your melodies.

    Listening to sax, voice and other melodic instruments? I have not done much of this, but I'm now motivated to do a bit more in the future (I’ve already started reloading my iPod for morning exercises :eek: ).

    Thank you again for sharing your insights, congratulations on your performance at Bass Extremes, and best of luck in your future musical endeavors!