Interview with Jimmy Miller Part 2 of 3

Teaching

Do you also teach?

A little bit, but I don’t really do much.  I will if asked but I don’t advertise as a teacher or anything.

What method or methods do you teach?

I am very big on reading and chord theory and learning how to play music.  I might run you through a few exercises to get you used to moving your fingers across a fretboard, but I think the best approach is to plow straight into the music.  But don’t come to me if all you want to do is be told where to put your fingers to play your favorite punk rock song.  I’ll teach you how to write a punk rock bassline, and you’re also going to learn how to write it out on a staff, too!

Do you have a set program that you take students through in terms of technique and scales, or do you tailor everything to the individual student?  How about for repertoire?

A little of both.  Obviously a beginner gets a different treatment than a more advanced player.  But the idea is the same…work on music first and foremost.  I don’t do a lot with scales and modes because the chords of a song tell you everything you need to know about what to play.
Do you have students keep a written record of their practicing?  If so, what are some of the benefits of doing this for the students?

Nope.  I can tell when they practiced and when they didn’t.

Gear questions – both what you use and what you recommend

What kind of bass / basses do you play?

I’ve got way too many electrics.  A 76 Fender Precision that’s been modded way beyond any collector’s value, a 95 Fender Precision Lyte, a PJ I built out of parts, a couple Guitar Factory boutique 4 and 5 strings made in the 90’s, a 2010 Danelectro Longhorn, and a late 60’s Realistic violin bass.  I also have a Jay Turser violin bass and an SX PJ, but they don’t get much play these days.  Mostly I play the P Lyte and the 76.  My upright is an Upton Hawkes.

How long have you owned these instruments?

Bought the 76 Precision new, got the Guitar Factory basses in the 90’s, and everything else in the last few years.

Is it your “dream bass”?  If not, what is?

For upright, it’s clearly the Upton.  I’ve yet to play any plywood upright that sounds anywhere near as good as it so it’s a keeper.  For electric I don’t really have a dream bass.  I use the Fenders mostly but I like all my different basses.

What instruments do you recommend for beginners?

Not really that important, to be honest.  Just get a bass and amp that’s solid, looks cool to you, and won’t strain your budget too badly.  Beginner and intermediate bass gear is quite good these days for the most part, and it’s all about the player and not the gear anyway.  We all have our preferences, but a good player can make anything sound good as long as it works.

What strings do you use?

D’addario Chromes and D’addario XL’s in gauges 40-95 on most of my basses, but my Realistic violin bass has LaBella Deep Talkin’ Flats in gauges 39-96.  For upright, Thomastik Superflexible Mediums.

Pickup / Preamp / Electronics?

Various.  My P Lyte and Guitar Factory basses have EMG PJ’s, my 76 Precision has a Fender 62 Reissue P and DiMarzio Ultrajazz J, my parts PJ has DiMarzio Model PJ’s, and the rest have their stock pickups.  Upright has a Clef Revolution Solo II.

Amp?

All Ampeg all the time.  1969 SVT, 1964 B-15N, PF350, Micro VR, BA108, rented SVT’s on the road.

Cabinet?

1973 Ampeg 810, two SVT 210av’s, two PF115he’s, Vintage Blue and Fliptops B-15 repro cabs.

Direct input / direct box (DI)?

A-Designs REDDI.

Effects?

Tech 21 VT Bass Deluxe, Barber Linden EQ, modded Tech 21 British pedal, Hartke Bass Attack, Electro-Harmonix Micro Pog octave pedal and Small Stone phaser, Boss OC-2 octave pedal and SYB-3 synth pedal set to envelope filter, Zoom B2.  The only thing I use all the time is the VT Deluxe for some occasional grind and a splitter for electric and upright, and the Linden for EQing the upright.  The rest I just use as needed.

Patch cord preferences?

Whatever’s cheapest.

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