The Story of Skippy [and Last Chance to pre-order with Discounts]

Skippy MacBeat

Whether you call him the “metrognome” (Steve Bailey), the “basscot” (Forrest from our Facebook group), channeling Pete Townsend as “Skippy MacPete”, or by his real name Skippy MacBeat, this lovable little vintage metronome is the star of my new book – The Pattern System for the Bass Player – Sharpen your Musical Mind Through Fretboard Proficiency, Improvisation, and Mental Practice written with Wolf Wein.

He has a bit of an attitude but a lot of wisdom and he will be your sidekick on the epic journey through our Pattern System.

He may just seem like a cute addition at first glance, or even like a distraction or diminishing the academic quality of this book; nothing could be further from the truth, however.

Yes, he contributes a lighter side to a rigorous program, but that is far from all he contributes! Please reserve judgment until you see him in action – there is a lot more to this little cartoon character than meets the eye…


Here is a bit of his story

When diving into the Pattern System you get precise instructions when and how to use the metronome. I wanted the instructions to catch the reader’s eye because one of the main achievements of this method is learning to think ahead in time of the music. For this reason, the use of the metronome is not optional with this method. To underscore that fact, I gave him a personality.

The use of the metronome is vastly misunderstood by many online. While sometimes not using a click can indeed be the right decision, to make blanket statements such as “the use of the metronome is never warranted”, “not musical” or even “detrimental” leads to confusion at best and lost practicing opportunities at worst. There is a lot more to it.

Using the Click for Timing

The metronome has long established itself as a great practice tool for timing and grooving. such as:

  • playing with a drummer
  • preparing for playing to a click in headphones in the studio or at a show
  • more precise situations for practicing timing, from precision to subdivision
  • developing excellent internal timing (independent from an external click)

Many sophisticated and creative ways of practicing with a click exist – for instance:


The Lack of Musical “Feel”

Sometimes Skippy gets vilified for not having a musical feel like a human does.

I’ll tell you a secret: “feel” for musical reasons can only bloom if you know that your “feel” does not stem from other reasons such as unconscious hesitations because of technical issues or not knowing the piece well enough. That’s not feel, that is an excuse. So, start with the correct beat, then (and only then) expand to feel.

Similarly, some rhythm sections are famous for one or more members playing slightly ahead of or behind the beat. Soloists and vocalists often like to lay back.

Again, even when the goal is to play freely around the beat or freely with the beat, my first advice is to play with a click to make sure that the free playing is motivated by musical reasons rather than by inaccuracies or technical deficiencies that are then disguised as “playing freely”. Furthermore, if the vocalist or soloist is laying back on the beat, it is critical that you double-down on staying right on the beat, otherwise you’ve defeated their musical intent and essentially just slowed down the song.

I’ll go as far as to say unless you can play well with the beat you have no business attempting creative freedom. It is too easy to mask a technical deficiency by fudging it and calling it “artistic freedom”.

The Click as an Invaluable Practice Tool in the Pattern System

When acquiring musical skill, we have to learn to multitask on a very high level – moving fingers, keeping track, listening to others and ourselves, creating, supporting or taking the lead, responding, etc… It’s a lot and the Pattern System offers systematic ways to achieve this skill. The correct use of the metronome with the right exercises can help you get better with all of this.

In the new book, the click has a very important function helping you:

  • to think ahead
  • really hear what you are playing rather than what you think you are playing
  • to practice multitasking of the kind we do in music all the time!

We do all this with specific drills on and off (mental practice) the instrument.

The power of the metronome as a practice tool is right up there with recording yourself (which is what we do in our Cohort Courses and yields excellent results).

How to use the Metronome Correctly

Thinking ahead in time with the music is a vastly under-appreciated skill, but an incredibly important one. Learning to think ahead enables you to truly “think music”. Your mindset changes from “chasing the notes” to leading and creating! Sound good?

Attaining this skill changes everything in your playing!

It assures that you are not just poking around hoping to hit the intended notes, but know exactly what notes are next and provides a clear, relaxed path to them.

  • We go into detail about thinking musical processes and why the click is so crucial along that journey.
  • We talk about when exactly to use the metronome and when to skip it and why.
  • How to ease yourself into the use of it when it seems you are not quite ready (I call this the concept of “Cheater Beats”).
  • How to set the best tempo.

I can tell you all about how great and useful the metronome is in theory, but if you actually do the exercises a few times as described in the book, it will “click” on a much deeper level!


Skippy holds a mirror up to you

In the book, I go into detail as to what constitutes incomplete knowledge. Unconscious thinking pauses, for example, can be detrimental – like what happens at home when practicing and you take an extra “moment” to think about the next note or a phrase. In the studio or on stage we do not have that luxury. And without Skippy keeping us honest and providing valuable feedback as to where the downbeat really is, we may never have realized it.


Skippy is the Perfect Practice Coach

Skippy gets some of the most important lines in the book. They are sometimes words, and at other times drawings that illustrate

          • practicing attitude
          • how to be your own coach
          • and how to practice effectively

Pictures are worth a thousand words and learning psychology has proven that images and metaphors help us ingrain material.



Skippy does provide a bit of humor when he channels a few wise people or when he is just a bit of a brat. We thought on an epic journey such as this, a little sidekick would be just the right help along the way!

An excerpt from the book

Here are three pages from the book where I give Skippy a proper introduction.

Throughout the book, you will learn how to use the metronome in order to maximize your success with music. The question is not just when to use it and at what tempo, but what to think (or even say) while using it. I know this works and this effort is very well worth it. Why? Because I have helped hundreds of students get through the typical stumbling blocks of not being able to create their own grooves or take tunes down from recordings, and helped them get to know the fretboard so well that they can play freely. When learning to read, this knowledge gives you a huge leg up as well. Always practice with a beat in order to make sure you don’t insert tiny unconscious thinking pauses.

Everything in music happens to a beat and on a timeline – be it grooving, improvising, thinking ahead, recreating something, or creating something from scratch. Remember: If it doesn’t happen “in time” while grooving, it doesn’t happen!

We show you powerful drills in this program that lead to predictable and consistent progress.

No ifs, ands or buts- non-negotiable, I say! If you are looking to transform your playing, follow along and don’t skip a beat!


May 2nd is the last day for you to participate in our Indiegogo campaign and take advantage of amazing pre-order deals and perks.


Editor’s Note: We have less than 100 Pattern System books (spiral bound) available at this special pricing. Once they are gone… they are gone – at this special price and – (at least for a while) with this binding, so don’t miss out!  Find out more and order your copy here.

Cover basses Ariane Cap








Meet the Cover Girls!

There is a story to these two basses that grace the covers of my books.


Music Theory for the Bass Player Cover Girl

It all started with being hired by my friends over at TrueFire to create my first teaching video with them. I was super excited about this opportunity and wanted to do an extra great job. So I created a program for them with Wolf – I am super proud how it turned out – Pentatonic Playground for Bass. During preparation I thought about all possible details – one of which was what bass to bring. It occurred to me that a four-string would likely be a better choice. The only four-string I had at the time was a black Votan XS that had been a special order to Marleaux that never got claimed. Gerald gave it to me for safekeeping at a NAMM show many years ago and asked me to store it under a bed, so I did. This bass was black and a bit dull looking. As the shooting date came closer I thought this bass would be a great fit but it needed a bit of dressing it up. On camera, black tends to be swallowed and with its dark pickguard and dark fretboard I did not want it to disappear. So I thought a bit of color would help and researched old Fender basses. Seafoam green (and the lighter surf green) were very popular in the 70’s that were making a come back at the time by way of Fender remake models.

So I thought that that would pop well on camera. So I took the bass and went to some builders in the Bay Area with the request to color it. And they all said: won’t touch it! I don’t know this bass. Won’t do it.

Alright now we are just a few weeks away from shooting and Gerald is in Germany. Frantic phone call – can you paint it for me?

Sure, send it. Just the body.

Took it apart. Sent it. First it got stuck in German customs getting into Germany. Alright, sorted that. Gerald spray paints it, lets it dry (stuff takes time and time is ticking away!!) sends it back. Then it gets stuck in US customs. because that bass had been a special order of sorts it had an atypical bridge and pickups I wasn’t too fond of. Gerald sent parts along with the body. Sorted it barely with enough time to put it together and hop on a plane to record the videos! Whew!

But did I love the green Gerald had chosen! So joyful and energetic.

I decided to make it my business color, like so:





And when it came time to decide on the cover of the first book, this beautiful bass body created all sorts of inspiration for Carlo DelaCruz, my awesome cover designer.

I ran the search for a designer as a competition, by the way, and Carlo and his awesome watercolor background idea won me over!

Music theory for the bass player by ariane cap






As for the bass it is a Votan XS with Delano Pickups. It is passive and sounds great for funk playing. It has 22 frets like the Votans often have. It has a Fender character to its tone and sounds great with flats and roundwounds.


The Pattern System for the Bass Player Cover Girl

Fast forward to the new book. By now, Carlo is a fixed part of my team and of course, I wanted him to design the cover.

But we needed a new color scheme and a new bass. I wanted this one to be bright and happy also. “Make it orange, Gerald, a Consat! Four-string!” You do the rest.

Well, what do you think?! Gerald went to town and built me an amazing Consat with super-fast response, programable electronics and he even edged my “Learn-to-play-like-the-cats” logo into the front. WOW!

He brought it to me at NAMM and I loved watching people’s faces when they tested it. These basses are just so player-friendly with their slim necks and perfect balance. With 24 frets and Delano pickups and the programable electronic, I got an amazingly versatile bass that I just cannot put down. (Don’t tell my five and six, psst, they are in the other room!)

Once we had the bass, we needed photos. I found Aren Markusian, a local film student (it is LA after all!) who put the bass into its best light. Handed that on to Carlo and after a few iterations – early drafts had the good old green in it – we arrived at the final version for the cover – all orange please (I think that was Fred Pucci’s idea!):







To learn more about Gerald Marleaux and his epic basses, please check out

If you are looking for a great designer hit me up and I pass on Carlo’s info!

Photographers in this book: Aren Markousian  and SN Jacobson


To visit the epic campaign (now closed), go here

To order the book









More Chromatic Acrobatics [Video]

Chromatic Acrobatics 2

More Permutation Drills in Action?

Chromatic Acrobatics 2!

You don’t have to have Chromatic Acrobatics 1 under your belt to tackle this one, but you surely want to have some permutation exercises  (or these permutation drills) under your fingers. These chromatic grooves are a great creative application of permutation exercises. Sometimes permutation drills get vilified as being unmusical, unnecessary, and boring to practice… nothing could be further from the truth. In this post (and notreble episode), I aim to prove the first point: chromaticism sounds awesome and can really liven up a groove.

As for defending them on the other points, I have plenty on my blog and more coming. In the meantime, do yourself a favor, and just practice them! 🙂

What do you think? Make sure to relax, to keep breathing, and to play softly as a way to let the speed come to you rather than to push for it. Once you get the hang of that, you can dig in all your heart desires. You will feel when you are doing it right because you won’t be working against yourself anymore. Rather, you will be inviting the music in and you will be in a comfortable flow! Enjoy!

Check out the original post on notreble

Get the PDF here

A Beautiful Story

Update September 2021

If you would like to donate to our Initiative please PayPal $50 for a domestic recipient to info[at] and put book donation in the subject line. We will confirm receipt.

This donation campaigns ends on 10-10-2021

A Beautiful Story

When I first launched my Indiegogo campaign for my second book “The Pattern System For The Bass Player”, it was greeted with a lot of eager backers. We were grateful and excited. And then I get an email from a course participant and student named “J.” saying that he just backed the campaign and that he’d like to sponsor someone else by purchasing another book so he can be part of spreading the bass-goodness even further. Would I know someone?

I was blown away by this act of kindness – and I wanted to make sure these donated books made it into the hands of two deserving candidates.

I remembered how back in January, I did a study on my PORA method and asked for volunteers. I got lots of responses and settled on the first 25. These guys committed to a practice routine I gave them, met with me 5 days in a row doing PORA, answering questionnaires and observing their own progress closely. They gave me so much of their time and were super excited to participate! It was such a pleasure to meet them, especially because they were from all over the world!

There were two candidates in particular that I could tell came from backgrounds where purchasing my book would be out of their financial reach. They were apologetic for not having my first book and relying on the free content from my website and other outlets. They were so polite and respectful – I can’t think of two more deserving people to offer a special thank you gift. So, thanks to our student J, we will send each a copy of the book – one going to South America and one to a country on the Baltic Sea.

I have a feeling they will both put them to excellent use.

Then J. wanted to add one more book and this time I asked him to choose a recipient. He picked a friend who plays bass and has fallen on hard times.

Every single book that will ship when this Indiegogo campaign closes in early May is filled with our best wishes for finding bliss through deep bass work and much success applying our materials with bands, at gigs, and on recordings. Please send us your success videos. Film yourself practicing the drills. We’d love to see you bring it to life!

What a beautiful story!

Thanks so very much, J!

And Skippy – our book’s superhero sidekick – agrees that paying forward the smile is good luck!

If you would like to donate a book to a candidate of your choice, please contact us. We would be happy to work with you to make it happen.

May 2nd is the last day for you to participate in our Indiegogo campaign and take advantage of the amazing pre-order deals and perks. Find out more here.

Cover basses Ariane Cap

Chromatic Acrobatics – Finger Twister Alert!

Chromatic acrobatics

Chromaticism in grooves is permutation exercises in action!

Check out the groove that started the Chromatic Acrobatics series for my Talking Technique column on notreble. Learn it using my step-by-step approach that teaches you more than just the groove- but also how to approach and practice such a beast! Ready to check it out?


Step-by-step instructions for you here…

Chromatic Acrobatics (Practicing Technique? Learn a cool groove!)

If you are looking to create your own chromatic grooves, knowing your chord tones is a great start and then approaching those chord tones chromatically creates the cool groove. You can use one, two or three notes to approach the target notes.

To get super fit with this, check out my new book – The Pattern System for the Bass Player – Sharpen Your Musical Mind Through Fretboard Proficiency, Improvisation and Mental Practice.