MANY BASS PLAYERS KNOW GARY WILLIS THE PLAYER
Founder of Tribal Tech.
Played with Allan Holdsworth, Scott Henderson, Wayne Shorter…
One of the driving forces behind modern fusion music, not to mention modern bass playing.
WHAT THEY MAY NOT KNOW IS GARY WILLIS THE TEACHER
I remember what it felt like to be “ok” as a bassist - heck, I was already playing gigs with good players… but honestly, I’d listen to complex music and think “I don’t even know how to approach that…. I don’t even know where to start!”
I loved the music, the vibe, and dreamt nightly about being able to play like Gary Willis (or Rich Brown, or Evan Marien)
... but it felt miles away from where I was currently at.
I’m sure you’ve been in (or likely are in) the same boat. You end up asking yourself things such as:
“does my technique need to be better before I even attempt that stuff?”
“don’t my solo’s need to be better? I don’t even feel like I can improvise!”
“don’t my walking lines need to be less… errrm, boring?”
Well, you’re not alone. Because that’s exactly how I felt too
... until I studied with Gary Willis.
"Gary Willis was one of the first individuals in the bass community to leave me utterly gobsmacked. His phrasing and use of articulation had me completely spellbound growing up. He also taught me the most valuable academic lesson I ever learned. A true Jedi of low-end"
HOW I FOUND GARY WILLIS
Stay with me - I promise I’m going to wind this around to your bass playing.
But allow me a couple paragraphs of story time ;)
So my name's Scott. I’m the guy behind ScottsBassLessons.com. I’m a dad, husband, and yes, a bass geek like you.
I’ve lectured at music schools around the world, played with some of the best musicians on the planet, and founded a world-renowned online bass school, but… it did NOT start out like that.
I was 18 years old and desperate to become a professional bass player.
I’d just tried-and-failed to get into my local music school, Leeds College of Music (long story short, my high school grades weren’t good enough).
I had two options left. Quit trying to be a professional musician (at this exact time I went for an interview in the factory my dad worked at), or dig in, and somehow figure out how to do this music thing on my own.
So I asked myself, if music school was going to give me access to great bass teachers… was there any reason I couldn’t search out great teachers myself? Obviously, the answer was no.
So, the search was on. And I’ll be totally honest, I was really upset that I was rejected by the music school… and in a “ha, I can do even better” moment I thought, “what the hell… I’ll email Gary Willis and ask him if he’ll teach me”… there was NO WAY in the world I even expected a response… but…
To my complete surprise, he said “yes” (I know, mind blown!)
So began a year of my commuting monthly from England to Spain (where Gary was living) for monthly lessons.
... I recorded everything meticulously on a Dictaphone (yep, those old tiny cassette tapes, lol)
... I transcribed everything when I got home
... I was trying to learn as-fast-as-possible (it wasn't cheap flying to Spain each month!)
We’ll come back to the dictaphone...
But first, here’s what I realized:
Sure - Gary’s one of the most famous bass players of the last 30 years.
But that’s not what makes his teaching special.
What makes him special is his unique way of teaching
... it’s that that allows him to break down seemingly-complex subjects, so that practically anyone (except a total beginner) can learn and understand them.
Over that year, I realized nobody is thinking of the bass like this. Gary is like the “Yoda of Bass”.
Now, fast-forward umpteen years, and yeah, I’ve had a pretty successful career.
... but I trace a lot of the bass player I’ve become back to that single year with Gary.
I was a different player after that year.
... and I did it without any Whiplash-style “hard-knocks”
... and without my hands bleeding ;)
BUT HERE'S THE DEAL... WHY SHOULD ONLY I BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE THAT?
Recently, I was speaking with a team member about the impact studying with Gary had on my playing.
“I wish I could package-that-up and offer it to other people,” I was saying.
“Why can’t you?” my team member shot back.
... so you know where this leads
We asked Gary, and he agreed.
Systems and Formula’s for Mastering Your Fingerboard
In this module you’re going to learn Gary’s very specific systems and formulas to learning and navigating around the bass fingerboard.
Using systems and formulas to organise your fretboard is absolutely key to the development of your bass playing. Using these is by far the easiest way to start ‘seeing’ all of your available options, wherever you are on the neck. Whether you’re playing a heavy groove, or going for a killer bass fill or solo, your fingerboard begins to look like a map and not a mystery.
Remember when you learned your first pattern on the fingerboard and you felt that lightbulb moment as you found you could move it around the neck and use it in different areas of the fingerboard without changing the pattern. Well, imagine that, but on steroids.
MODULE BONUS 1: An in-depth Interview with the man himself, Gary Willis
You’ll learn about Gary’s background, his struggles, his wins and everything in-between. This is the first interview that goes into detail of how Gary went from a struggling guitar player in music school to a true titan of the bass world in only a few years. And, exactly what it took to get there.
MODULE BONUS 2: Exclusive Performance of “Everything’s Cool” featuring Gary Willis & Gergo Borlai
You’re going to see one of the worlds greatest rhythm sections pulling out all of the stops on this amazing performance of a Gary Willis original.
Bass Soloing Deep Dive
Let’s be honest. When it comes to bass soloing, Gary Willis is “the godfather”, and is simply one of the best soloists on the bass to have ever walked the planet.
In this module you’re going to learn Gary secret’s of soloing. Everything from what he’s specifically thinking about when soloing, how (and why) he links his solo phrases and the scales he uses (or doesn’t as the case may be), right through to building intensity within a solo, how to shape your solo’s and everything in-between.
This is your chance to learn from the best there’s ever been, and then take these specific approaches and use them to push your development as a bass player to that next level.
MODULE BONUS: Gary’s Solo Performance of “Have You Met Miss Jones"
This is Gary’s beautiful arrangement of the classic standard, Have You Met Miss Jones. You’ll hear how Gary interprets the medley, and then (as you’d expect) goes on to play an astonishing solo over timeless chord progression
Pentatonic Applications and Substitutions
OK, so I know you ‘think’ you know your pentatonic scales. You know the good old “blues scale”. But let me put this out there, you probably don’t. I know this, because I thought I knew my pentatonic scales too, and then I went to study with Gary and found out the truth!
“Pentatonics” are Gary’s secret weapon, he uses them like no other bass player I’ve ever heard. In this module you’re going to learn exactly how Gary uses pentatonics and more importantly you’re going to learn how to use them in the same way. But here’s the best bit. Because you’re NOT going to be learning a mind boggling amount of new patterns… you’re going to learn how to take just a handful of patterns and shapes, and start moving them around the fingerboard in a way that gets you all those of those “sexy notes” without having to do any brain gymnastic.
MODULE BONUS: The Giant Steps Workshop
In this special bonus workshop, you’re going to learn how to navigate around John Coltrane’s famous piece “Giant Steps” (one of the trickiest chord sequences there is) with only 3 pentatonic shapes. 3!
The Ultimate Plucking Hand Technique
One of the most commonly ignored parts of a bass players technique is their plucking hand, and this is a big mistake! Your plucking hand is your engine. It’s where your tone comes from, it’s how your speed is controlled, it’s where your dynamic range comes from, and much more. It’s essential.
The great news is that Gary has one of the most highly developed plucking hand techniques of any bassist on the planet, and in this module he’s going to break his technique down piece by piece and teach you the all of the inner moving parts so you can turbo charge your own technique with same concepts and exercises. Linear lines, grooves with octave jumps, ghost notes, dynamics and articulations - it’s all in this jam packed module.
MODULE BONUS: Exclusive Performance of “Ancient Promise” featuring Gary Willis & Gergo Borlai
In this week’s bonus, world renowned drummer Gergo Borlai is back in the hot seat as he and Gary kick out some amazing grooves and solos over this original piece, Ancient Promise.
"If I was to pick three of my favourite bass players of all time, they would be Jaco Pastorius, Skuli Sverrisson and Gary Willis.
Gary Willis is one of those complete bass players. Here’s a dude that can go wild on any groove at any given time, but has also got a beautiful sense of melodicism. Listening to him play - it’s some of the most melodic bass playing I have ever heard."
Structuring Your Practice Time
Gary has never practiced more than 3 hours in any one day. Now, that is a crazy statement baring in mind that he’s one of the heaviest bassists to have ever existed. I’m sure you’ve heard of all the giants of bass that spent 8 hours a day (and many times even longer) hauled up in a tiny room shedding away honing their chops. Well, not Gary. In the interview you’ll receive within Module 1 you’re going hear how he could never focus for more than 3 hours, and further more, had other hobbies and a life he wanted to live.
In this module you’re going to learn about the specific practice techniques Gary used to compress time and focus in on what was most important, giving him the ability to increase his ability on the bass without having to spend each and every waking hour with his instrument in his hands. If you’ve got limited practice time, other commitments in your life, or simply want to maximise the practice time you have so you get more done in less hours, this module is for you.
MODULE BONUS: Gary’s Exclusive Performance Video of Norwegian Wood
This is Gary’s stunning arrangement of the Beatles classic song, Norwegian Wood. You’ll hear how Gary weaves his fretless lines around the melody, stretching and compressing the phrases, and then as you’d expect, he then goes on to improvise a beautiful solo over the chord sequence showing how remarkable and lyrical, as an instrument, the fretless bass can truly be.
Gary’s Gear Theories and Tips
As you’ll have probably realised by now, Gary is “the Yoda” of bass. But playing the bass is only half of Gary’s talents, he’s also a visionary when it comes to the instrument itself. Ever seen a bass player play with a “ramp” underneath the strings? Gary invented that concept, and it’s now being used by thousands of bass players around the world. Ever seen the cool “sure grip” machine heads on an Ibanez bass? Yep, Gary invented those too. I’m sure you’re starting to get the picture.
In this module you’re going to learn about bass construction, body woods, neck woods, fingerboard materials, amps, strings, and everything in-between. If you’re into all things ‘bass gear’… then you’re going to love this module.
MODULE BONUS: Gary’s Bass Set-Up Tips and Tricks
In this bonus Gary’s going to show you exactly how to set up your bass, adjust your truss-rod, set your intonation and your string height, plus he’ll be showing you some secret fretless bass set-up tricks too.
Playing and Interaction within the Rhythm Section
Being able to play and interact within a rhythm section is of vital importance to any bass player. That’s why we knew that to make this masterclass a truly amazing educational experience, we needed to enlist the talents of a world class drummer… and that’s where the phenomenal Gergo Borlia comes in.
In this module Gary and Gergo are going to teach you how to lock in, how to interact within a groove, and how your bass line or groove is directly related to what’s happening on the drums at each specific moment in time, and how that can change as the bass line or drum groove develops.
This module alone is worth the investment of the entire 8 week masterclass program.
MODULE BONUS: Gary’s Exclusive Performance Video of Bowlegged
In this exclusive performance you’re going to see Gary and Gergo turn up the funk and go head on into this grooving classic from his classic album “Bent”. This is a fantastic example of sitting back in the pocket and using an amazing groove and feel to create an exceptional performance.
Bass Line and Groove Construction within the Rhythm Section
We saved the best till last. In this module Gary is going to show you how bass lines and grooves are created, and then go on to demonstrate how that works within the rhythm section in conjunction with the amazing Gergo Borlai.
You’re going to learn about locking in and playing with the bass drum, how to play in the gaps, replicating rhythms on the bass that come directly from the drums, what to do specifically when the drummer moves to the ride cymbal and much more. For anyone wanting to be a fantastic all round bass player, and someone who cares about locking in within the rhythm section and really making a band groove, this module is for you.
MODULE BONUS: Gary takes us out on a groove
To wrap up the module bonuses Gary, takes a killer drum groove, kicks on the envelope filter and shows us how it’s done! In this exclusive performance you’re going to hear how Gary can almost replicate a human voice within a groove by adding additional effects to his already amazing tone. This is a classic example of how Gary can seamlessly move between an earth shattering groove, to a lyrical solo and back again with amazing ease.
YOUR EXCLUSIVE FREE LIVE CLASS BONUS ($300 VALUE)
Any world class educational program needs to be interactive. It’s what’s going to keep you motivated, accountable, and give you the ability to get answers to any questions you may have.
That’s why we knew we had to create an amazing live-stream bonus for The Gary Willis Masterclass. Thankfully with today’s technology we now have the ability to stream these live classes around the globe. So wherever you are based, you can tune in, interact with you fellow students, and ask the man himself whatever burning questions you may have, in real-time.
Usually to get this type of interaction with Gary you’d have to be a student at Berklee College of Music (where Gary is a faculty member), but let’s not talk about how many thousands of dollars that would cost (a lot!). We’ve included these interactive live classes with Gary, at no extra cost.
And don’t worry. If for any reason you can’t make one of the live classes, they are recorded and uploaded into the masterclass portal within 24hrs after going live, so you can catch the replay in your own time, and at your own pace.
LIVE BONUS CLASS 1: The Welcome Party ( April 3rd )
LIVE BONUS CLASS 2: The Mid-Term Check In ( April 24th )
LIVE BONUS CLASS 3: The End-of-Term Wrap Up ( May 22nd )
"Gary Willis is one of those guys that’s got it all. Monster pocket for grooves, brilliant solo phrasing, and a technique unlike anyone else. Anytime I hear him is just awe inspiring!"
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
When I studied with Gary, I spent close to $10,000 (USD), between lesson costs, and commuting and lodging.
I’m going to give you that experience, in condensed form, for less than Gary charges for a single lesson.
OH.. AND GUESS WHAT ELSE
When I studied with Gary, I had to use a dictaphone
You’ll have lifetime access to professionally recorded lessons, with transcriptions and workbooks for every lesson
When Gary would talk about bassline construction during my lessons, it was abstract
In the masterclass he has a live rhythm section, and most lessons come with musical examples
Combining a unique three-finger picking style with his effortlessly light touch, Gary brings a supreme level of both groove and musicality to all that he plays.
Perhaps best known as co-founder of jazz fusion outfit Tribal Tech, Gary Willis has arguably done more to refine and advance the language and technique of modern bass playing than any other bassist playing today.
Scott played his first professional gig when he was 16 and has spent the following 24 years honing his craft, eventually finding a passion for teaching that led him to create the ultimate online bass school, ScottsBassLessons.com.
He has taught, lectured and spoken at music schools around the world, and currently has an online community of over 1 million bass players.
30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
When you enroll in the Gary Willis Masterclass you are fully protected by our 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t feel like you’ve received amazing value and you decide this program isn’t for you, no sweat. Just let us know within the first 30 days and we’ll send you a prompt refund - no hassles, headaches, hoops to jump through or funny business.
If this program isn’t rocking your world, we don’t deserve your money
“I realize what a tremendous blessing it was to study with Willis. He was the perfect teacher for me. He helped me organize the fingerboard, solve a myriad of technique issues, harmony issues, melodic issues, groove issues, how to organize and memorize a boatload of tunes. The list goes on and on...
His ability to teach me how to troubleshoot problems and challenges was life-changing. I often joke that studying with Gary was like studying with Spock (from Star Trek) because he's so smart and makes everything so logical. So many things that are a mystery for the rest of us are simple and logical solutions for Gary.
And, Willis is arguably the best bass player I've ever heard. If it gets better, then I've not heard it. Stunning musicianship.
On top of all that Gary is a world-class human being. He's always been kind, generous and encouraging.
Do yourself a favor and soak up everything Gary plays and teaches. I know I will be!!"
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Frequently Asked Questions
The course starts the week of April 1st and runs for 8 weeks, which includes 3 live one-hour seminars with Gary himself.
Don’t worry if you get behind, though - you’ll have access to the Masterclass forever.
How does lifetime access sound?
We understand that sometimes life gets in the way (I have two kids under the age of 6 so I know all about that, lol), and we also get that people learn at different speeds. This is why after enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own. For life.
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with this Masterclass and find you’re not having multiple “light-bulb moments” throughout the program, contact us within the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund - no questions asked, and no funny business.
Any level besides a complete beginner will have their world rocked by this masterclass.
Gary teaches concepts like fretboard organization systems, technique and much more, but most importantly he teaches in a way that will progress in difficulty as you progress as a bass player.If you can play basic scales, grooves, and bass lines, you’ll absolutely improve your bass playing with this course.
The Gary Willis Masterclass includes 8 modules of instruction, 3 live one-hour seminars with Gary himself, and several other bonuses.For a complete summary CLICK HERE
The SBL Membership will continue to include new courses and seminars.
We like to say it’s easily the best resource for a developing bassist who wants to...erm… ”cover all the bases” - existing and new courses, bass hangs, the Student Focus, support and interaction in the campus…...and, given the minimal investment we ask for, the Membership is still horridly underpriced. From time-to-time, we develop a seminar or masterclass that’s so comprehensive - and its mission different enough from that of the Membership - that it stands on its own. For such masterclasses, which also include the Accelerator programs, we offer members a discount.
Most importantly, members who do enroll in these special masterclasses often rave about them.If you’re not getting way more value out of both the membership and masterclasses like these than the money you paid, we aren’t doing our job;)