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Drum kit music is either written down in music notation (called "drum parts"), learned and played "by ear", improvised or some combination of some or all three of these methods. Professional session musician drummers and Big Band jazz drummers are often required to read drum parts. Drum parts are most commonly written on a standard five-line staff. In 2016, a special percussion clef is used, while previously the bass clef was used. However, even if the bass or no clef is used, each line and space is assigned an instrument of the kit, rather than to a pitch. In jazz, traditional music, folk music, rock music and pop music, drummers are expected to be able to learn songs by ear (from a recording or from another musician who is playing or singing the song) and improvise. The degree of improvisation differs in different styles. Jazz and jazz fusion drummers may have lengthy improvised solos in every song. In rock music and blues, there are also drum solos in some songs, although they tend to be shorter than those in jazz. Drummers in all popular music and traditional music styles are expected to be able to improvise accompaniment parts to songs, once they are told the genre or style (e.g., shuffle, ballad, slow blues, etc.).
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However, with the technological advances, recent digital pianos are mostly capable of recreating string resonances, reverberations and other acoustical effects via digital signal processing (DSP) and modeling technology. One example is the Casio Privia, which is able to generate such acoustical effects by means of a simple DSP, which is far less complex than physical modeling.
Most basses have a volume potentiometer ("pot" or "knob"), which can be turned up or down, and a tone potentiometer, which rolls off the high frequencies when it is turned to the player's right. Some basses may also have a pickup selector control or switch, to select single-coil or humbucking pickups. Since the 1980s, basses are often available with battery-powered "active" electronics that boost the signal with a preamplifier and provide equalization controls to boost or cut bass and treble frequencies, or both. Some expensive basses have even more equalization options, such as bass, middle and treble.

Of our three picks, the Alesis Recital Pro is by far the easiest to use. All instrument selection is done with six buttons on the console (two sounds per button). Buttons for modulation, chorus, and reverb effects are provided, and there’s a display to show all the settings and parameters. Unlike our other picks, the Alesis’ metronome function can be adjusted anywhere from 30 to 280 BPM, with the speed shown on the display.
First and foremost, it's hard to go wrong with the classics. Fender can definitely take the credit for making the bass guitar the instrument it is today, and with a Precision Bass or Jazz Bass from Fender or Squier, you can experience the sound and feel that laid the groundwork for all others. Of course, what those others have done with the bass guitar is nothing short of amazing, and you'll also find plenty of artisan axes here from the likes of Schecter, Rickenbacker, Warwick and more. The bottom line is choice: there's a bass to satisfy any player.
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The bass guitars will have either 4, 5 or 6 strings. Though it may be tempting to go for the guitar with 6 strings, going for the 4-stringed is good for a new player. A bass guitar is a type of stringed instrument that plays a lower tone and sounds more impressive than a regular guitar. The most notable difference is that a bass guitar may have as few as four strings and they are much thicker. The thicker strings are what give the bass its low tone.
Like the Casio, the Yamaha has a duet mode that allows two people to play in the same register at the same time. However, the P-45 has only one headphone output, so you’ll need a splitter for both players to use headphones while playing together. The headphone jack is located on the back panel of the keyboard, making access a bit more difficult than with the Casio’s front-mounted jacks. The console controls are minimal, and while Jack liked the simplicity, Brent and I found them unintuitive.

At the heart of most stages is the acoustic drum set. It's made up of tom-toms, snares, at least one bass drum and an array of cymbals. You'll find all of those here, and there are choices for anyone. If you're just getting started as a drummer, you can get up and running fast with a shell pack or drum kit that gives you everything at once. Or, if you prefer, you can pick individual pieces ""a la carte"" to customize your own set from the ground up. The choice is yours.
The meanings of both numbers and letters vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and some sticks are not described using this system at all, just being known as Smooth Jazz (typically a 7N or 9N) or Speed Rock (typically a 2B or 3B) for example. Many famous drummers endorse sticks made to their particular preference and sold under their signature. Besides drumsticks, drummers will also use brushes and rutes in jazz and similar softer music. More rarely, other beaters such as cartwheel mallets (known to kit drummers as "soft sticks") may be used. It is not uncommon for rock drummers to use the "wrong" (butt) end of a stick for a heavier sound; some makers produce tipless sticks with two butt ends.

In 1971, Alembic established the template for what became known as "boutique" or "high-end" electric bass guitars. These expensive, custom-tailored instruments, as used by Phil Lesh, Jack Casady, and Stanley Clarke, featured unique designs, premium hand-finished wood bodies, and innovative construction techniques such as multi-laminate neck-through-body construction and graphite necks. Alembic also pioneered the use of onboard electronics for pre-amplification and equalization. Active electronics increase the output of the instrument, and allow more options for controlling tonal flexibility, giving the player the ability to amplify as well as to attenuate certain frequency ranges while improving the overall frequency response (including more low-register and high-register sounds). 1973 saw the UK company Wal begin production of a their own range of active basses, and In 1974 Music Man Instruments, founded by Tom Walker, Forrest White and Leo Fender, introduced the StingRay, the first widely produced bass with active (powered) electronics built into the instrument. Basses with active electronics can include a preamplifier and knobs for boosting and cutting the low and high frequencies.

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Drum bags are made from robust cloth such as cordura or from cloth-backed vinyl. They give minimal protection from bumps and impacts, but they do protect drums and cymbals from precipitation. They are adequate for drums transported in private vehicles to go to local gigs and sessions. They are often the only option for young drummers who are just starting out.

When playing bass solos, rock and metal bassists sometimes use effects such as fuzz bass or a wah-wah pedal to produce a more pronounced sound. Notably, Cliff Burton of Metallica used both effects. Due to the lower range of the bass, bass guitar solos usually have a much lighter accompaniment than solos for other instruments. In some cases, the bass guitar solo is unaccompanied, or accompanied only by the drums.


I brought in several other pianists for our test panel. Liz Kinnon is a pianist/arranger/composer/educator from Los Angeles who has performed with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and Andy Williams. She was an orchestrator on the animated shows Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Histeria. At the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, she teaches jazz piano and is the Director of Adult Jazz Combos. She was Ryan Gosling’s piano coach for La La Land and recently worked with Simon Pegg and Juno Temple for the film Lost Transmissions.
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