Switching Between 4, 5, and 6 String Basses (Video)

Ariane Cap 4 5 6 string basses

Multiple Basses – Switch Routines! (Talking Technique)

Love options? Me, too.

have 4-string, 5-string and 6-string basses (I know there are way more, but those three serve all my needs). Sometimes when switching from one to the other, it takes me a second to adjust. This is even true when using different basses with the same number of strings. It’s also the case with the same brand, same number of strings and equal string spacing!

The bridges of my Marleaux basses have little riders that allow for adjusting the string spacing. Even when those are set exactly the same, on the same model with the same number of strings it still feels different!

So I developed a few routines to help me do the switch with more ease.

Whether you are switching between different numbers of strings, models or string spacings, you will appreciate these drills!

How many strings does your ax have and why?

Download the PDF here.

Here is the original post on no treble: Talking Technique: Switching Drills For 4-5-and-6-string Basses

I use Marleaux Basses, RevSound Cabs, TC Electronic Heads, Tsunami Cables, GruvGear Fretwraps and Dean Markley SR 2000 Strings

Sound by wolftrackaudio.com

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“Dmin sus” Chord – Talk About a Contradiction!

Dmin sus min sus

Dmin sus or “D minor sus”

  • Dmin means a D minor triad, the root, flat three, and perfect fifth.
  • D sus means a triad without a third. The third is suspended, in favor of the 4 (or, if specified as sus2, the 2), so typically root, perfect fourth, perfect fifth. Or, in the case of a sus2 chord, root major second, perfect fifth. Read more on sus chords in this post.

But D min sus?? Which one is it now, “sus” the third or “minor” the third?

That’s a contradiction in terms. In the context of music, sus translates to a note that is placed instead of a third. The addition of “sus” contradicts the minor.

Of course, this confuses the careful musician because it is an oxymoron! (Wait, what did you just call me?)

It is, however, a chord you may run into. It is sloppy and not really correct, but I have seen it used.

Here is the Scoop on “Dmin sus”

It has to do with context. For example, take this chord progression:

|| Dsus | Gsus7 | Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 ||

Let’s say the melody and overall structure of the song suggest that we are in C major. The chords themselves certainly suggest that.

Clearly, in the C major context, the chord scale for whoever solos over the Dsus chord would then be Dorian, which is a minor scale.

So a writer might be tempted to write Dmin sus if they want the D min chord to not have a third and in order to clarify the chord scale and to distinguish it from other possible scales (like Mixolydian). While this is a nice hint for the soloist, it would confuse the chord players (like piano or guitar) who say: “Well, what is it? Minor or sus?” They would most likely resolve their internal conflict by playing a Dmin7 11 chord which has both the min3 and 11 present but likely wasn’t what the writer intended (else they would have written Dmin7 11).

What to do instead of “D min sus”

So if you want a sus chord from the chordal instruments but at the same time give the soloist a hint of which scale to use without producing an oxymoron like min-sus, I suggest you take another route: write D sus and the scale you want the soloist to use on top of the staff. In the above example, write Dsus followed by “Dorian”. I’d do it in a smaller font or in parentheses: Dsus (dorian). That makes it all crystal clear!

Now the example I gave above is fairly obvious because of the unambiguous tonal context, making this addition redundant for experienced players, so just Dsus would do. Other situations might not be as clear. For example, when modulations are involved and you want a minor scale, but a sus chord, it could be Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian, even Locrian to name just the possibilities from the ‘major scale derived’ modes. In cases that are not as clear cut, the musicians will much appreciate the addition of the suggested scale.

Even More Useful TidBits on Sus Chords

When we write 9th or 11th in a chord symbol, this typically means that the third is present in the first octave (everything above 8 refers to the second octave as seen from the root). However, a chord like G7 11 is very uncommon because it implies that the major third and the eleventh (ie. fourth an octave up) are both present.

Why should this be uncommon then?

Two reasons:

  • The major third and the 11 form a very dissonant interval, namely a b9 (which is an octave plus a half step). The only place where this interval is often used and commonly accepted is in dominant 7 b9 chords, which are all about tension and where this b9 very strongly resolves down a half step.
  • This chord would contain both the leading tone (the major third) and its resolution (the 11 or 4) creating an inherent conflict of intention.

There is, of course, an exception to the above, which is modal music. This music uses tonal structures like chords based on thirds (although not exclusively), but does not adhere to functional harmony (meaning the V->I resolution). This means harmonic progressions are not based on the tonic-dominant relationship, but on tone/chord color. Read more about modal versus tonal music here.

For the full scoop on all things Music Theory for the Bass Player, check out my book and course!

Music THeory for the bass player course

Bass Player Magazine Interview

bass player magazine Ariane Cap

Bass Player Magazine Article

It is a huge honor to find myself in this month’s Bass Player Magazine with a great interview that Joel McIver conducted. bass player magazine Ariane Cap

bass player magazine ariane cap


Other players featured in this edition are:

Shez Raja
Jeremy Lenzo
Bill Wurtz
David Friesen
Max Moran
Horace Panter
Jeff Hughell
Stuart Clayton
Heike Mueller
Andrew Taylor-Cummings
Gabe Crisp

Get it in print or digital.

I was also nominated in Musicradar’s reader’s poll for “hottest bass player in the world” right next to some of my own bass heroes. Thanks to all who gave me their vote and the many who supported me so enthusiastically! Thank you! 


Why We Want You to Create Your Own Basslines Right Away

create your own basslines

Why We Want You to Create Your Own Basslines Right From The Start

Have you been playing for quite a while and been mostly copying basslines and learning songs instead of being able to create your own basslines??

Get me right that is a valid way to learn but it is quite limiting if that is all you do. And maybe you are in an originals bands and are toying with the idea of creating your own lines… maybe even on the fly? It may seem like magic to you right now that that is possible…

You do not have to wait for some elusive point in time when you’re ready to create your own bass lines. There is no official license you get, no credential, no certificate – however, you do get a hand emailed certificate these days if you finished our course. And our course definitely enables you to create your own bass lines!

Learning needs a Balance

In our experience, learning needs a balance between

  1. Studying concepts such as theory, technique and fretboard knowledge
  2. Learning songs – ie: imitating
  3. Applying what you learned – ie: creating your own bass lines It’s best to balance the three areas out over time.

What I mean is:

There are phases where learning a program for your band or studying the lines of one of your favorite bass players will dominate your musical time (#2)

In the process of learning songs, you may hit a roadblock of some sort (technically or musically) and feel the urge to go deeper and study what is going on here. (#1)

Then maybe someone asks you to solo. Or you join an originals band. Or you just feel this unexplainable creative itch that you just want to scratch! You may hear something in our head or want to write a piece of music that expresses how you feel. Or you want to give your brain a break and “just play” (#3)

All of these phases are important. They may not happen in equal intensity at the same time (unless you do a structured course like ours). Do make sure that you get to all of them eventually or somewhat equally when looking at this over a longer time period.

We strongly encourage you to create your own basslines right from the start because:

  • It is extremely thrilling to do so because you meet your own inner musician. You meet yourself, your style! It’s exciting!
  • Even with very simple means, you can come up with your own lines: all you need is a rhythmic nucleus and a chord (theory, essentially).
  • It cements all the theory you studied firmly in your mind because it is like learning a new word – use it in a sentence and it will stick (Victor Wooten likes to use this great analogy!). By making it your own, you feel it under your fingers and make it part of you.
  • Creating your own basslines puts all these technique exercises to great use! If nothing else it will show you how useful consistent fingering (and hence technique!) is
  • Emotional impact: if you point your attention correctly it will help you reveal the musical effect certain devices have (for example, various modes have different emotional qualities to them).
  • The lines you studied and learned to play will show you what’s possible and enable you to play similar things (even if simplified). They become part of your fabric and style.
  • And mainly, you bring all aspects of your studies together (doesn’t mean you have to pack everything you learned into each line; you pick from your “library” though). This is a unique task for your mind. Nothing is quite like it. Some see it as finding new combinations of elements you have encountered before. Other times it may feel like inspiration flowing directly from some unexplainable source. Nothing is quite as strong at solidifying what you have learned and putting it to the test.

The great thing is, you can do this creative activity with the simplest of exercises, such as:

  • Inventing a fill using the Little Box notes;
  • Or creating variations for one of our “Creative Notefinders”;
  • Or using a groove nucleus and a rhythmic idea and laying that over some chord changes or the cycle
  • So many more…

Strengthen that creative “muscle” from day one. It will ignite a spark that will propel you forward and entice you to learn theory and rhythms. And it creates a mental space that is a unique challenge not only to your musical self but also your personality. See it shine through even with the simplest of devices. It is not the complexity that counts, but that this is genuine you. Even if it may be “far from perfect” or “not ready for prime time”, it will teach you something about who you are. It’s thrilling. 

In our Course, Music Theory for the Bass Player – The Course – we go through the most important theory a bass player needs and put it to use in a variety of creative exercises. From “Groove and Fill” to “Call and Response” to “Creative note finders” to countless bass line creation exercises, including in various styles. And we show you the technique to make this all possible. In this course you will learn how to create your own basslines.

Music THeory for the bass player course