• Steve Bryant

One of the greatest rewards for me as a serious music content ONLY educator is the wonderful messages I receive from current and former students of how they are doing in the REAL WORLD of gigging, recording work, live shows, etc.. This simply stands as to the truth of better musicianship through the hard work of the student as well as the proof of the progress they have made in lessons with me..

Jake Barr is a very busy bassist in Nashville and on the road.. also he is making serious progress in the recording field.. sharing here in his words what studying with me AND his hard work in practicing what I have assigned has contributed to his career..

Jake, my heartfelt thanks for this .. and in your own words and completely unedited by me..

"The first year I lived here in Nashville, I pursued Steve Bryant and seized every opportunity to learn from and be mentored by him. I'm eternally grateful that I did, as he equipped me with the tools and knowledge I needed to succeed as a professional musician, here in what I believe to be the biggest music producing city in the world. I can't begin to count the number of times I drew upon the wisdom and knowledge he imparted, in order for me to succeed in this line of work. If I weren't so busy these days, thanks to him, I'd still be bugging him every week for another lesson! Haha! I still intend to...

Whether it be technical, mental, or relational skills, I felt like Mr. Bryant always ensured that I was well-equipped with what I needed to address any issue in the music industry. In my opinion, his teaching and mentoring abilities are unparalleled. Steve Bryant is not only an excellent teacher and mentor, but he also employs a vast wealth of knowledge and experience that any student (at any level) can benefit from! I'm so grateful to have found such a great example of excellence, discipline, kindness and professionalism.

Steve Bryant is my hero..."

Jake Barr, Nashville Bassist for Tiffany, Jeremy McComb and Bone Feather

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Updated: Dec 10, 2019

In the many years I've been teaching students privately, I have encountered problems that confuse and inhibit progress. Understanding how to develop a strong sense of time is certainly an important aspect of playing well. Some students do not read notation and it's the first thing they are exposed to in our working together. I've never experienced a student NOT improving by regarding the written notes.

Learning to read music is not hard and the basics are grasped in the first lesson. Nothing illustrates music content as well as written music! All aspects of harmony, rhythm, and melody are clearly articulated and allow the student to hone in on aspects of technique.

* Reading music sharpens comprehension and navigation of the the fretboard.

* You are not entertaining assumptions that could be inhibiting to the bassist, such as wasting too much time on things you are already comfortable with and not enough time on your weaknesses. with written music in your practice time You will NEVER run out of things to practice that are truly relevant to being a competent musician.

* All written music addresses technique.. in other words.. no one will disagree that being a competent player means the ability to play '' that note at that time and each note's duration'' - I've said this many times to students and at seminars..

* I don't use tablature with students. When asked why, I tell them tab is not used in the professional world

* As I assign written music to students.. They have specific and relevant material to review and have a metric to gauge progress based on music principles and facts.

* Learning to read does not stifle creativity.. it enhances it! In other words, knowing what something is musically and how it is played on your instrument helps not only in understanding what you are required to do on a gig/session, but helps the bassist outline their own ideas when communicating with others..

* Reading will also increase your work opportunities and broaden the scope of basic musicianship

When I am asked by a student what '' groove'' is .. I state: the ability to produce THAT Note at that TIME'' ( refer to my first paragraph in this article ) Written music illustrates so well in facts how this is done.. which equips the bassists to express the art of music. Consider the world renowned painters Rembrandt and Picasso.. the expression of their art in how they related their experiences were entirely different. However, they each understood the FACTS of mixing colors to produce varying hues to express themselves uniquely.. How does it hurt the bassist to know the facts of music? The answer is self evident.. Craft is the exploration of ''how'' we do something.. Art is the exploration of '' why'' we do something..... note that I am addressing Craft in this article:-)

Comprehending written music also includes counting and knowing where the downbeat is and where '' One'' is of each bar.. The majority of practice time in learning reading is not using a metronome.

It is vital to count out loud the beats and do the very necessary work of making mistakes and correcting them .. hard to do with a metronome demanding that you play in time!

The misuse of a metronome by many is using it to keep a tempo without the player being aware of the downbeat and where the note and phrase is in the bar.. this is musically dangerous! In addition, having the metronome beat on '' two and four'' is essential to good time .. as it requires of the bass musician to be responsible knowing the downbeat of '' One''. it's been so much fun over many years of teaching to see students get '' The Aha moment'' of truly getting this!

Want to learn more or have questions about improving your playing? use the contact form on this website or stevebryantbassguitar71bass@gmail.com. I've taught some of the current crop of top studio, touring, and band bassists in the Nashville music industry....If you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area, I am available for private lessons in my home studio. I am also available worldwide via Skype. You will learn well!

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  • Steve Bryant

As I was asked to recall from sessions past details from by my cadre of bass students, other musicians, or fans of the artist I am tracking with.. I decided to blog about the craft of bass playing in the Studio. I've done this generically at times, and on my facebook page as well ( https://www.facebook.com/Stevebryantbassguitar/)

Here, I'm diving into specifics and discussing technical, musical, and social aspect of bass playing in the studio...

Artist: Gretchen Wilson

Song tracked: '' All Jacked Up'

Studio Location: The Rukkus Room in the Berry Hill area of Nashville...

'' All Jacked Up'' was released in 2005 on Epic Nashville. It debuted at number one in the Billboard 200 with 264,000 copies sold in its initial week.

This was a live tracking date ( All musicians playing together, overdubs added at the tracking date.. a completed track in one session)

If you are a bassist setting your sights for the Nashville Studios, the thing to remember is while technical ability is a given.. the more challenging aspect is '' getting a track '' by coming up with ideas and a bass line that will frame the song and '' build the house' .... this all has to pretty much happen on the fly. yes, there can be a few passes and modifying the parts of each musician as things get refined.. but doing this with a minimum amount of fuss is key.

As customary in the session scene here, number charts were handed out and we listened to a basic outline with just guitar /vocal in the control room in order to get a feel for the tune and discuss very briefly the arrangement and any specific parts that were asked for as a rough idea..

***BTW.. getting comfortable with reading and writing number charts is absolutely a skill you want to have in order to work.. it's not hard, really .. and it opens newly arriving bassists to much more work opportunities.. most certainly, get that together.. it allows specificity for a song , the '' road map'' .. and allows for quick changes to an arrangement on the fly.. THIS is why it is possible to get multiple songs ( 3 to 5 ) in a basic 3 hour demo session. In my private teaching via Skype or in person in my home studio here in Nashville .. I teach this very basic and most necessary skill.

This tracking date, however.. being a '' Master Session'' - a song that will be a commercially released song .. was going to be the single song for our three hour session.. allowing adequate time to do multiple takes, change entire sections of the song, different instrument parts, especially for experimenting with instrumental fills, specific parts etc.

I used my Sadowsky 24 fret quilted maple top 5 string with soapbar EMG's thru a Demeter VTBP-201 preamp and an Anthony Demaria 1000 tube compressor. Regardless of what gear a bassist uses in the studio... the less hum, noise, and easier to dial in a tone, the better! I alway tell my students the the tone is in their hands.. typically, I don't use a whole lot of eq, comp, or processing . I feel that the final tone shaping will be done in the mix and mastering ... giving an overall clean signal gives much more latitude for the final product to reflect the producer(s) vision.. Really, there is so much great gear out there it comes down to personal taste and a bit of trying out things. Many times the type of environment you are working in guide you in choice of gear.

As we got to work on the song.. we ran it down once.. reading the chart as it was laid out. We worked out parts very quickly and got immediate feedback from the control room/producer as to changes to feel, chords, dynamics etc.. it is all very rapid fire and it is very important to keep your ears open to what is being talked about... there were a couple of things I brought up that were adopted into the track.. everyone really got their two cents worth in .. conversations that sometimes sounds like a group of magpies ..Ha! that's how that session was .. and many I've worked on are like that.. However, there are occasions when the producer is very specific and the majority of the time the only one speaking... different production styles and it's all good.. Each an every player wants to get a good track and make the song '' tell the story'' :-)

We had fun doing this track!

Here's the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0wAQNzK0Ow&list=RDD0wAQNzK0Ow&start_radio=1

No, the band shown in the vid is not us studio guys... -)

Playing sessions is a combination of listening to the other players, and finding a bass line that snaps the tune in place.. it very much is a chemistry of hearing and producing your own part.. energy is really playing on the fly with emotion and preparation..

Being confident is important . Equally so with having a work ethic that says '' I'm prepared'' .. laugh a lot and be easy to get along with... music is a participation sport and putting your talent and ability to the service of the song and playing with your brothers and sisters in the studio is a very special thing. Nashville is still by and large a '' live tracking town'' ....

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