Questions, Answers, and more stuff you might not need to know.

I receive quite a few questions from bass players, fans, and “others” from around the globe. Here is a sampling of a some recent inquiries.

  1. Am I too old to learn the bass?

  2. How Do I Hold My Bow?

  3. Gig Inquiry Fail

  4. What The Sus?

1. From Vincent the bass player


Hi John, Just wanted to drop you a line to mention how much I am enjoying The Jazz Bass Book. Ive never seen so much useful info gathered in one book. I plan to order Bass Notes real soon. I am 59 years old and returning to the electric bass after about 10 years. Just about to start lessons with a upright /electric player in my area. Hope to make some significant strides in the future. Hope my age isn’t a deterrent. I signed up for your newsletter and just wanted to mention how great your book was and how much Iam enjoying it. Thanks John! 


Hi Vincent,

Thanks for getting in touch. I’m glad you are enjoying the Jazz Bass Book! I’m sure your teacher will be able to guide you in the right direction.

Age is no problem when learning an instrument. The main goal would be to find some other people on your level who you could hook up with and play on a casual basis. Once you have some like-minded fellow players, then you can really start to focus on material.

Good luck and let me know how things work out.


2.  From Eric the bass player


Hi John,

I’ve always enjoyed your playing, and my question has to do with bowing. I think my hand in the bow is similar to yours, and it doesn’t seem to fall into any stereotypes. Do you use a particular bowing grip?


Hi Eric,

I use a version of the Ludwig Streicher grip, which I learned from Michael Moore. Streicher has a series of books on bass technique and there are some videos of him:

Ludwig Streicher

3. From Mr. XYZ, a trumpet player


Hello John Goldsby,

I’m a jazz trumpeter currently living in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve had the pleasure of working with such jazz greats as Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Mongo Santamaria, Houston Person, Lester Bowie and Steve Turre.

I just found out I’m going to be performing in Pittsburgh, PA. in September with a big band. I’m planning on staying in the state for at least a week afterward doing clinics, workshops and concerts. Do you think it might be possible for me to do a performance with you.  Since I’ll already be in your state there will be no need for you to cover my travel expenses. I’ll just need my hotel taken care of. With the economy the way it is I try to be as flexible with my fee as possible.

I put my website link below for you to visit if you’re not familiar with my work.

Let me know what you think.

Talk with you soon.



Dear Mr. XYZ,

Thanks for getting in touch. I guess you used the email contact form on my website. You might have also noticed from the info on my website that I live in Germany, not Pennsylvania.

Anyway, good luck with your tour.


4. From Gary the bass player


Hi John, I’ve written before.  I have a question about the notes in a F7 sus7. What notes can I use? What’s the sus part? You mentioned the D & G in one of your articles. Are those notes past of a scale? I wouldn’t have associated those 2 notes with a sus7 chord. 


Hi Gary,

Here it is in a nutshell:

There are different ways to think of a sus7 chord. Yes, the scale that fits to that sound is also just like the F7 scale:

F G A Bb C D Eb F

but the voicing on the piano is more like this:


or this

Eb triad / F

If you play those chords on the piano, or just run the arpeggios on the bass, you have these notes (from low to high)

F, C, Eb, G, Bb

That sounds like a sus7 chord, because it’s different than the F7 because of the note Bb. An F7 chord would have the note A (the 3rd) and the Fsus7 has the note Bb (the 4th, or sus 4 as it’s called).

Usually for bass lines on a sus chord, you can play anything that does not emphasize the 3rd. For example, a couple of tunes that uses the sus7 sound are “Passion Dance” by McCoy Tyner and  “Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock.

If you play a solo, you can use all of the notes of the F7 (Mixolydian) scale:

F G A Bb C D Eb F

or you can combine triads to make the sus sound, like an Eb triad and an F traid:

F A C, Eb G Bb, A C F, G Bb Eb, C F A, Bb Eb, G etc

or you can think of the Cmin7 over the F root and play a C min dorian scale:

C D Eb F G A Bb C / over the F in the bass.

I hope that clears it up for you. Let me know if it was a specific article you were talking about.