In this video, I play my own arrangement of the jazz standard Autumn Leaves on my Warwick Alien Deluxe 6-string acoustic bass guitar.
Why a 6-string acoustic bass guitar?
I wrote this arrangement specially to play on my Warwick Alien Deluxe acoustic bass guitar. I’ve tried playing it on my 6-string electric basses and it’s easier, but I don’t like the sound as much. There’s something about the sound of a 6-string acoustic bass guitar. It’s somewhere between a baritone acoustic guitar and a double bass.
How does it sound?
I’ve tried to demonstrate in the video that the Warwick Alien Deluxe has a very clear sound across it’s entire range. From the clear low B-string all the way up to soloing above the 12th fret. It has a very clear and pleasant acoustic sound.
How good is the build quality?
Very good. Surprisingly good in fact. So, all of Warwick’s acoustic basses are now made in China. Even the more expensive Warwick ALIEN. The Warwick Alien Deluxe 6 features all of the standard Warwick hardware including Warwick Machine heads and Just-a-Nut III. It also features Fishman electronics including a piezo pickup and a Fishman Prefix Plus T Electronic preamp.
However, the most important thing about the build quality, and the thing that makes Warwick instruments stand out in general is the quality of the woods used. The Warwick Alien Deluxe 6 boasts a mahogany neck, a wenge fingerboard, a laminated spruce top and, as you can see in the video, beautiful back and sides made of laminated Bubinga. It’s the quality of the look of these materials and the tones that they produce that really makes you feel like you’re playing a high quality professional instrument.
The Warwick Alien Deluxe 6 is an outstanding, high quality professional acoustic bass guitar. It is fairly expensive, but not considering the build quality of the instrument and the quality of the materials used.
If you are looking for a high quality, great looking acoustic bass with a clear sound across a wide range from low B-string and playable above the 12th fret then the Warwick Alien Deluxe 6 is the instrument for You.
In the video, I play the Warwick Alien Deluxe 6 through my Warwick Hellborg rig. The Hellborg Preamp is quite simply the best preamp for bass on the market and I use it for virtually all my recording. It’s so good that I use it when recording other instruments and vocals as well.
When I started writing Electric Bass: Improve Your Groove in the summer of 2016, I set out to write a book to help bass players improve the most fundamental aspects of playing bass lines. Groove is exactly that. It’s the heart of what it is to be a bass player.
So I started by asking myself, what is groove? Can it be defined and more importantly, can you learn it?
Groove is a combination of many things, first and foremost time feel. To control the feel of your bass lines you must first have excellent timing. This involves firstly understanding rhythms and then having a system for playing them very accurately. So if you want to increase your rhythmic accuracy you must experience rhythmic sub-divisions when you play.
Therefore I decided to explain sub-divisions in the opening chapters of Improve Your Groove starting with the basics.Then I set out my system for improving rhythmic accuracy by using the sub-divisions.
Using Konnakol to Improve Your Groove
My system for experiencing sub-divisions involves first of all borrowing syllables from the ancient Indian system of vocalising rhythms called Konnakol. Which is sometimes called the ‘language of rhythm’. Using three simple sets of syllables from Konnakol you can very quickly learn to differentiate between eighth and sixteenth note grooves as well as triplets, shuffles and swing feels. As a result you will not only learn to differentiate each sub-division and time feel. You’ll also play them much more accurately by placing your notes on the sub-divisions
Finally, each time feel and sub-division is demonstrated using lots of Mp3 audio examples in a variety of styles. All the audio is downloadable for free from www.fundamental-changes.com.
Is there more to groove than great timing?
There certainly is. While timing is essential, there is more to being able to groove than just placing a note accurately onto a sub-division. Another huge aspect of groove is sharing your time feel with the musicians you play with. First of all you must know how to play with a drummer. There is no relationship in a band closer than the bass and drums, hence I’ve dedicated an entire section of the book to playing with drums. You must make the drummers sub-divisions your sub-divisions if you want the music to groove.
The final section of the book involves sharing a collective time feel in a group. For a performance to groove the whole group must groove and not just an individual. Therefore I’ve included five pieces with backing tracks to help you practise locking in with the collective feel.
Groove is such a huge topic for bass players, so there will be more from me on the subject in the future. In my first book Electric Bass – Improve Your Groove I’ve laid out some approaches to rhythm and playing in a group that I believe will help any bass player to improve their groove.
“I hope that after reading this book you’ll start to think about time and rhythm in a different way and it will give you a deeper understanding of feel and groove and open up your playing to explore new musical cultures.”
I want to thank Joseph Alexander and Tim Pettingale at Fundamental Changes for publishing the book and making it look amazing.
Improve Your Groove Cracks the Code of Rhythm, Groove and Feel on Electric Bass Guitar
Build your groove and play bass like a master
Discover how to groove flawlessly on electric bass in any style of music
Understand bass guitar rhythm and placement
Play in the pocket, every time.
Every bassist wants to play with great feel. It’s what ties a performance together, moves the music forward, and keeps it “in the pocket”. Therefore groove is what your audience wants to hear.
Electric Bass – Improve Your Groove is a complete course in rhythm on bass. Groove is built by understanding rhythm, playing accurately and sharing that feel with other musicians.
What you’ll learn:
How to play in time on bass guitar
Learn to play “in the pocket” and create a tight, grooving performance
How to crack the code of rhythm
The secrets of syncopation and building your internal clock
The Konnakol vocal counting system to help you groove without thinking
5 complete pieces with backing tracks that put theory into practice
Over 140 exercises and examples with FREE supporting audio to download
In Electric Bass – Improve your Groove, building perfect time and feel on bass is explained from absolute basics and teaches you how to play bass lines with great rhythm; from the simplest, to the most complex grooves.
You’ll discover grooving bass guitar rhythms and develop devastating accuracy and feel. Rock, Funk, Jazz, Blues and Latin feels on bass are all intimately addressed with over 140 examples and backing tracks.
Electric Bass – Improve Your Groove contains over 140 exercises and supporting audio examples so you can hear exactly how each exciting example should sound. Learn to lock in with the live backing tracks and dramatically boost your progress.
In this video, I’m jamming with myself at home using my fretless Warwick Thumb Single Cut 6-string bass guitar. I’m improvising on the spot and the bass is being played through my Warwick Hellborg Amplifier rig, including the Hellborg preamp.
Here’s a video I made with my Warwick Thumb SC Fretless, it’s such a beautiful sounding bass and I just love to play it.
I’m a jazz musician at heart, so I love fretless bass guitars. My Warwick Thumb SC is now the only fretless bass I own, for the simple reason that it’s so good there was no point in keeping any of the others I’d owned previously. I owned two fretless basses before I purchased my Thumb SC and I sold them both on eBay within months of it arriving.
The tone of the bass is absolutely beautiful and the build quality and the quality of the wood are second to none. The body is made from Swamp Ash with a one inch Bubinga Pommele top. The neck is Flamed Maple and the fingerboard is Tigerstripe Ebony, which is a very hard wood, so even round wound strings won’t chew up the fingerboard.
It features full line inlays on the fretboard which is a custom shop option. All Warwick’s custom shop basses have their own page on their website. You can see mine by clicking on this link.
In my opinion, all fretless bass guitars should come with fret lines. I’ve never met anyone who has perfect intonation without them. Really no one, and I’ve met many of the worlds best bassists. So, choosing not to have lines is just macho nonsense, there is no benefit to not having the lines. Jaco Pastorius had fret lines on his bass.
I’ve heard many people say, “double bass players don’t need lines on their fingerboards”. I know, and it’s not relevant because bass guitar necks are nothing like double bass necks. There are much more notes in a smaller space on a bass guitar neck which makes them almost impossible to hit accurately at high speed without markers. Also, double bass necks start narrow and get wider, so it’s much easier to feel where you are on the neck than it is on bass guitar.
The Warwick Thumb SC is quite simply the best fretless bass I’ve ever played. In fact it’s the best bass I’ve ever played and that includes Fodera’s. It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for. Don’t forget, if you want to go fretless, get the full line inlays.
In this video I’m playing the composition Raju by John Mclaughlin and a vehicle for demonstrating my Warwick Artist Series Steve Bailey 6-String bass guitar.
Some of you will know that I’ve installed a Roland GK-3B divided pickup onto my Warwick Artist Series Steve Bailey 6-String bass. Most of my demo videos featuring this bass use the GK-3B and a Roland GR-55 guitar synth pedal.
I decided to make this video because I wanted to show what the bass sounds like without the Roland GR-55. In this video, I’m not using the GK-3B pickup at all, and you are hearing the bass exactly as it sounds coming out of the factory.
How is the quality of the Warwick Artist Series Steve Bailey 6-String?
Excellent, and as usual, Warwick’s commitment to using high quality and resonant wood to build their basses shines through. The bass has an Ovangkol neck with Ekanga veneer stripes and a Tigerstripe Ebony fingerboard. The body is made from Swamp Ash.
The shape of the bass is that of a Warwick Streamer Bass but Steve Bailey has slightly extended the cutaway to give better access to the upper frets. This is a good edition, you can see from the video that I like to play in the upper register which is why I choose this bass over the standard Streamer shape.
Another input from Steve Bailey is the electronics. The Warwick Artist Series Steve Bailey 6-String features active Seymour Duncan Soapbar pickups. The onboard preamp is Seymor Duncan Steve Bailey Active 2-way electronics.
Steve Bailey’s final input on his Artist Series bass is the fact that the standard model is fretless, however I’ve got the fretted version, because as good as this bass is, there’s no way that it’s as good as my fretless Thumb SC, check out my posts for that bass if you haven’t already.
The Warwick Artist Series Steve Bailey 6-String is a high quality professional instrument. It has become a real work horse for me because I now use it for most of my gigs. So, that should tell you how good it is given the quality instruments I have at my disposal. The fretless version may not be in the same class as the Warwick Thumb SC. However at less than half the price of the Thumb SC, you can’t go wrong.
Arun Maheswaran with Johnny Cox Mixing Jazz and Carnatic Music
In this video, Carnatic musician Arun Maheswaran is playing Mridangam and jazz musician Johnny Cox is playing his fretless Warwick Thumb SC 6-string bass guitar. Carnatic music is South Indian classical music. We’re playing a composition called Chasing Shadows by Anoushka Shankar.
Can You Mix Jazz and Carnatic Music?
Arun Maheswaran thinks you can. Arun studied Mridangam under his guru Shri K Anandandesan from the age of 10. In addition to performing and teaching the Mridangam, Arun also played the Ghatam and Udu Utar.
Recently Arun invited me to join his band Cosmic Rhythms. Which beautifully mixes Carnatic and jazz music. So, we took some time at a rehearsal to shoot this video together.
It’s been quite an education for me learning about Carnatic music. I’ve had to learn Korvai’s. A Korvai is a rhythmic phrase repeated three times in unison, each time the sub-divisions get smaller giving the impression of getting faster. Therefore, the Thalam or rhythmic structure doesn’t change. Also, Korvai’s are usually played at the end of solos or the final end of a piece.
A Koraipu is a call and response section, and as the Koraipu continues the phrases get shorter. Koraipu literally means reducing.
Why a fretless bass
The fretless bass is essential for combining Jazz and Carnatic music. The ability to bend pitches and slide between notes is essential to the phrasing in both jazz and Carnatic music. I’ve posted plenty of times about my fretless Warwick Thumb SC. I honestly believe that there isn’t a better fretless bass on the planet.
Using the Godin ACS Slim for Solo Fingerstyle performances
I made this video to demonstrate playing my Godin ACS Slim guitar solo fingerstyle. I think the ACS Slim works particularly well for playing solo fingerstyle. The guitar has two different inputs, one for a standard guitar jack cable and the other for a 13-pin midi cable. This second input allows the Godin ACS Slim to be used with Roland guitar synth pedals. In the video I’ve demonstrated both inputs.
Here’s another demo I’ve made with my Godin ACS Slim.
I made this video to demonstrate the versatility of the Godin ACS slim. In doing so I’ve done something I very rarely do. I’ve made a video of myself playing other peoples compositions. All my previous videos have contained 100% original material. But in this video, I tackle some solo fingerstyle arrangements of tunes by musicians as diverse as Sting, Stephen Sondheim, Mike Stern, Coldplay and Norah Jones. My reason for doing this is to demonstrate the styles that I think the Godin ACS Slim is ideally suited to playing and how brilliant the Godin ACS Slim is as a solo fingerstyle instrument.
What are the strengths of the Godin ACS Slim?
In my previous video I demonstrated the guitar in both a solo context and as part of a group. Here I wanted to really show off what I feel is a big strength of the Godin ACS Slim which is as a completely solo instrument capable of playing fingerstyle chords, melodies and bass lines simultaneously with no overdubs or accompaniments.
The vast majority of this video features just the sound of the nylon strings. Unadulterated by effects or MIDI sounds. It was recorded using the standard guitar jack output only.
The one exception to this is on the Norah Jones tune Don’t Know Why where I have featured the synth access using a Roland GR-55 pedal. In this case it is to demonstrate a capability which I did not demonstrate in my previous video which is that of changing the tuning on the guitar without retuning the strings. On this particular tune I had the guitar tuned in standard tuning but the sound you are hearing is that of Pat Metheny’s take on the Nashville tuning with the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th strings tuned down a 5th and the 3rd and 4th strings tuned up a 4th.
Once again I have to stress that the retuning was entirely electronic and done with the 13-pin synth output connected to a Roland GR-55. Have a listen to Don’t Know Why it starts at about 3 mins 30 secs into the video. You wouldn’t guess that the notes you are hearing are not the same notes that came from the guitar strings. Whatever your personal feelings are about synth access guitars you have to admit that the technology is amazing.
About the Godin ACS Slim
The dimensions of the guitar are similar to that of a standard electric guitar. The scale length is 25 1/2 inches and the width at the nut is close to 1.7 inches. Which gives it a much narrower string spacing than on acoustic nylon string classical guitars. The advantage of this is that if you’re used to playing steel string guitars but you want a guitar with a nylon string sound. Then the Godin ACS Slim gives you the sound of an amplified nylon string classical guitar. But feels much more like an electric guitar to play. The dimensions of the “Slim” body and fingerboard radius also generate the feeling of holding an electric guitar. But the Godin ACS Slim is still light because the body is chambered rather than solid like a standard electric guitar.
The Godin ACS Slim has two inputs. One jack input for a standard guitar cable, and the second input is a 13-pin connector for synth access. I know not everybody is a fan of using guitars to trigger MIDI sounds. And if that’s you then you should think about getting one of Godin’s other multiac guitars without synth accessibility. But for those of you who are interested in the synth access then the Godin ACS Slim is outstanding.
The custom RMC electronics that are installed in the bridge not only give fantastic sound quality when amplifying the nylon strings, they also provide outstanding responsiveness when using the guitar as a synth controller. If there is any latency when triggering synth sounds then it is so small that it is undetectable and hopefully the video I’ve made can give a very small example of what the Godin ACS Slim is capable of when plugged into a Roland GR-55 guitar synth.
Not an acoustic guitar
One word of caution I must add is that this is an electric guitar and it does not function un-amplified. When you play it acoustically, it doesn’t make any more sound than an un-amplified solid bodied electric guitar. So, you must use it with amplification.
I feel that while this guitar is extremely versatile and works well for virtually all styles of music. I’m personally not a fan of using it to play classical music. This will come as a surprise to some because nylon string guitars are usually classical guitars. But there’s something about amplifying the Godin ACS Slim that just doesn’t quite sound right for classical music. For me the Godin ACS Slim comes into it’s own for jazz, pop and most contemporary styles of music both playing solo and in a band. But for classical I would always prefer to play an acoustic classical guitar and use a good quality microphone for amplification if needed.
The pieces I’ve performed here in this video are as follows:
I made this video to demonstrate my Godin ACS Slim guitar. The guitar has two different inputs, one for a standard guitar jack cable and the other for a 13-pin midi cable. This second input allows the Godin ACS Slim to be used with Roland guitar synth pedals. In the video I’ve demonstrated both inputs.
Here’s a quick demo I made with my Godin ACS Slim. It’s a brilliant guitar, with a great natural nylon string sound and synth access.
The dimensions of the guitar are similar to that of a standard electric guitar. The scale length is 25 1/2 inches and the width at the nut is close to 1.7 inches which gives it a much narrower string spacing than on acoustic nylon string classical guitars. The advantage of this is that if you are used to playing steel string guitars (which most of us are) but you want a guitar with a nylon string sound then the Godin ACS Slim gives you the sound of an amplified nylon string classical guitar but feels much more like an electric guitar to play. The dimensions of the “Slim” body and fingerboard radius also generate the feeling of holding an electric guitar but the Godin ACS Slim is still light because the body is chambered rather than solid like a standard electric guitar.
The Godin ACS Slim has two inputs, one jack input for a standard guitar cable and the second input is a 13-pin connector for synth access. I know not everybody is a fan of using guitars to trigger MIDI sounds and if that’s you then you should think about getting one of Godin’s other multiac guitars without synth accessibility. But for those of you who are interested in the synth access then the Godin ACS Slim is outstanding.
The custom RMC electronics that are installed in the bridge not only give fantastic sound quality when amplifying the nylon strings. They also provide outstanding responsiveness when using the guitar as a synth controller. If there is any latency when triggering synth sounds then it is so small that it’s undetectable. Hopefully the video I’ve made can give a very small example of what the Godin ACS Slim is capable of when plugged into a Roland GR-55 guitar synth.
Does it work as an acoustic guitar?
One word of caution I must add is please be aware that this is an electric guitar. It does not function un-amplified. If played acoustically it doesn’t make any more sound than an un-amplified electric guitar. So, it must be used with amplification.
I feel that while this guitar is extremely versatile and works well for virtually all styles of music. I’m personally not a fan of using it to play classical music. This will come as a surprise to some because nylon string guitars are usually classical guitars. However, there is something about amplifying the Godin ACS Slim that just doesn’t quite sound right for classical music. For me the Godin ACS Slim comes into it’s own for jazz, pop and most contemporary styles of music. Both playing solo and in a band. However, for classical I would always prefer to play an acoustic classical guitar and use a good quality microphone for amplification if needed.
In the video I start by demonstrating the sound of the nylon strings using the piezo pickups in the bridge. Then in the second half of the video I add the synth sounds with a Roland GR-55 synth pedal.
This is a video I shot with my friend Lewis Davies a few years ago. We spent the afternoon hanging out and having a jam at his studio. We recorded this to show what we came up with.
I took my Warwick “Steve Bailey” Artist Series bass and my Roland GR-55 over to my friend Lewis’ studio in South London during the summer of 2015. We spent the afternoon having a jam together and this is what we came up with. I hope you enjoy it.
Warwick Steve Bailey Artist Series Bass
You can find my video demo and written review of my 6-string Warwick Artist Series bass guitar by using this link.
Jamming at Home Playing My Bass With a Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth
This is a video I shot at my house with my good friend Siemy Di. We didn’t prepare anything, we just turned on the camera and jammed. I’m using my Warwick “Steve Bailey” Artist Series Bass and a Roland GR-55.
Siemy Di and I have worked together since 2006 and we have a fantastic musical relationship. We were introduced when I was in my early twenties by a mentor, Lucky Ranku, leader of the African Jazz All-stars.
In the video I’m using my 6-string Warwick Artist Series Bass with a Roland GK-3B divided pickup that I installed by the bridge. I’m playing it through a Roland GR-55 guitar synth pedal. The pieces are entirely improvised.
Around the time this was filmed, Siemy Di and I were performing live regularly around East London at venues such as The Servant Jazz Quarters, The Vortex, Open The Gate and The Passing Clouds. The gigs were almost entirely improvised and we deliberately did very little preparation for each gig. Some performances were better than others but it was always great fun to play with a great musician like Siemy. This video captures a little taste of what those performances were like. Not perfect but always interesting.
Siemy Di and I are still close friends but we don’t do those gigs anymore. We both have young children now, so spending our evenings at jazz clubs is out of the question these days. Maybe one day in the future we’ll do something similar, although I imagine it will be quite different. This video captures a moment in time that was an important time for both musicians.