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Who to transcribe?

Discussion in 'Ask Todd Johnson [Archived]' started by Jaret, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. Jaret


    Mar 29, 2011
    Hi Todd,

    My name is Jaret and I've been playing electric bass for over 10 years and 2 of those were spent getting a jazz diploma. I'm at the point where I want to do more transcribing of walking bass lines. I'm just wondering if you could recommend particular players, over others, to transcribe. Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers. In other words, who is the go to guy for great walking bass lines?


  2. mstott25


    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    Hey Jaret,
    I know you asked Todd and he'll respond for sure but I'll jump in because this is an interesting question and it's something I've asked Todd about in the past.

    I know Todd will tell you that you can't go wrong with Ray Brown, Ron Carter or Paul Chambers although I suspect he would have you start with Ray Brown.

    Most importantly, and something Todd shared with me as well, it will make a HUGE difference if you go after a particular tune or line that really appeals to you. Definitely we need to hear from guys like Todd and take their advice to give us a direction to start in but we get much more out of a line when it's something that catches our ear and appeals to us.

    Personally I got really turned on to transcribing by Todd and I started transcribing blues first. I went after lines I liked and gravitated towards players I was really interested in at the time. So I transcribed Ray Brown, Doug Watkins and a ton of Steve Swallow in the beginning (all of them playing over Blues). Then I started moving towards songs/standards that I really wanted to learn.

    Oh yeah, another thing, of all the times I've seen Todd play I've never see him anywhere near a Fakebook. I wanted to be like that also and have all these tunes internalized, so I never approached any of them with Real Book or chord charts.

    It's fun, it's addicting, and I think my playing has grown tremendously once I started transcribing and internalizing all of these lines.

    Anyways, Todd will give you the straight scoop but I wanted to chime in because it was Todd that told me I should really start transcribing about a year and a half ago and I was very intimdated at first and put it off for a while. Once you get going, your confidence builds and you start to feel like you can tackle any song out there.

    Oh yeah, get Transcribe! Free trial for I think 30 days or something.
  3. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
  4. mstott25


    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    ha! This is an interesting point because I almost mentioned not to start with LaFaro!!!

    He definitely changed everything for bass players but this is a perfect case in point, if you dig 'em transcribe them. I have nothing but respect for LaFaro (and Mike Dimin!!!) but LaFaro doesn't do as much for me as he does for others (and that says just as much about me as it does for Lafaro because he's held in the highest esteem by so many great players).

    I know guys who can't stand Steve Swallow and would never be interested in transcribing him and he's one of my favorites, so different strokes for different folks!
  5. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Funny because I would have left out Swallow. ;) LaFaro brings a melodicism that was really innovative and remarkable for someone so young
  6. mstott25


    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    Blasphemy! :D
  7. Todd Johnson

    Todd Johnson

    Sep 27, 2005
    Anthem, AZ

    Micah answered the question perfectly in my opinion. He knows my answers better than I do...HA!!!

    Start with Ray Brown or Paul Chambers and the blues....It's the foundation for most everything. GAIN SUCCESS WITH THIS FIRST...just like Micah said.....It will get good to you...You'll gain confidence.......which you'll get better at...which will make you feel like transcribing more etc. etc. etc.
    If you start with stuff that's too hard, then you'll get discouraged and give up....Oh,....you could also try taking off some Ron Carter or Rufus Reid things from some of the Aebersold CD's...they're easy to hear because of the separation.

    I also have a bunch of new $1.99 videos available at my website. Go to Todd Johnson Music and check out the $1.99 downloadable lessons from "PLAYIN THROUGH THE REAL BOOK" series. These are right up your alley....they have close ups of my hands, play alongs and transcriptions provided...and all for $1.99. Did I mention that they're only $1.99 Ha!! Check them out and let me know what you think!!

    FWIW.....I LOVE SCOTT LAFARO, but his entire thing is harder to grasp at the beginning. Get the simple/but effective stuff together FIRST....gain some confidence....then go after La Faro, Eddie Gomez, NHOP etc. later on. Make sense???

    I hope this helps!!