Student Teacher

Between family life, gigs, and the business of making magazines, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to take on bass students. But for the past year or so, I’ve made a point to hang on to one—an

Between family life, gigs, and the business of making magazines, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to take on bass students. But for the past year or so, I’ve made a point to hang on to one—an eighth-grader who at the age of 14 is every bit the electric bass player I was in my twenties. In our weekly 30-minute lessons (which I normally stretch to nearly an hour), we typically work through the pieces he’s playing in his middle-school jazz band, discussing theory, technique, and groove. But a recent statement of intent on his part threatens to totally tank our student-teacher relationship: he wants to learn upright.
Of course, I’m all for it—any bassist serious about playing jazz should absolutely get to know his or her way around an acoustic bass. But while I own a lovely instrument (a 1939 Kay C-1), I would hardly consider myself a gig-worthy upright player. Which begs the question: How do I teach it? On one hand, I feel compelled to cut my student loose, maybe hooking him up with a friend or colleague who can actually show him how to play. The other part of me views this as just the kind of challenge I need to take my own playing to the next level. Okay, maybe that sounds a bit self-centered. But when I think back to the most important developments in my own playing, I realize it was the enthusiasm around me—from bandmates, teachers, etc.—that got me really amped about playing bass. If I can get my student half as excited as I am about taking on upright, I think that’s a job well done.
Here’s hoping this month’s issue gets you equally stoked about tackling new challenges, whether in the old-school grooves of Blue Cheer and War, the mind-bending mathcore riffs of the Dillinger Escape Plan, or the fusion workout of David Sanborn’s “Hideaway.” If I did my job right, our cover story on Jonas Hellborg will get you digging in to his amazing oeuvre and wondering how you might better follow your own fancy. See you on the other side.


SXSW 2010 Topspin Demo

The SXSW Festival and Conference is a mecca for live musicians of all stripes, from rock to metal to country to rap to electronic and pop and everything in between. It all has a home here, and as far as music cities go, few can touch Austin's open accommodation of music culture. Of course for most bands, writing songs, playing shows and recording albums is most of the focus, but at some point, nearly all bands to turn to the question of how to get their music out to more people and built their fanbase, which is why many of them play at SXSW. But a festival like this is only the start of one path to stardom, and success never comes without hard work and calculated business.

Lowdown, June 2011

Much as I enjoyed putting this (and every) issue together, I know for sure that next month’s is going to be off the charts awesome. You see, since saddling up to the Editor’s desk for the January 2011 issue, I’ve


The Real World: Joel Loh

Home Base Singapore Occupation Graduate student Gigs Crossculture, freelance pub gigs Basses Eminence portable upright 5 string (EADGC), Korean French style bow Yamaha BB450 Rig Line 6 Lowdown Studio 110 (for small venues), Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI (for


The Real World: Gregori Hofman

Home base Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa (currently in London, U.K.) Occupation Student musician Gigs Noush Skaugen, Hepz Tagoe, Maryland, K Loc Basses Fender Deluxe Precision Bass, Warwick Double Buck 5 string, Fender American Deluxe 5 string, Ibanez acoustic bass

Beller Pedalboard

New Gear Blog: Mike Lull T-Bass, New Pedalboard

First, it's come to my attention that the kind folks at Bass Player Magazine have launched a new website (, and as part of it they're posting blogs by their writers. So some of the stuff I write here will end up over there. If you're reading this at the BP site already, well, hello!

Bryan Beller on Turning 40

By Bryan BellerI just turned 40 years old. It’s funny my mind is sharper and more at peace than ever with the rigors of freelance musician travel, yet my body is showing signs of begging to differ, most notably when


SXSW 2010, A Heavy Opening

There's always so much going on at SXSW that it' impossible to hit every single showcase worth going to, and choosing one over another is no easy task. But when it came to Tuesday and Wednesday nights, there was no question in our minds were we needed to be.