Review: Bass Master Billy Sheehan Pours Heart and Soul Into West LA Bass Clinic

Already known for his work with a multitude of bands and musicians, including Steve Vai, Talas, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big and NIACIN, bass maestro Billy Sheehan recently kicked off two new projects — PSMS (Portnoy-Sheehan-MacAlpine-Sherinian) and the Winery Dogs with Mike Portnoy and Richie Kotzen.

And don't forget the new NIACIN record, Krush, which you can read about here.

Sheehan recently took some time out of his insane schedule to conduct a bass clinic tour, stopping off at the Guitar Center in West Los Angeles on May 13.

It was a very intimate setting with a crowd of around 30 people. Sheehan arrived amid cheers and opened with his usual amazing bass playing, showcasing a sizable chunk of his skills through a host of impressive licks and runs. He then introduced himself and promised attendees that he'd make every attempt to make sure the clinic would be useful for music enthusiasts — not just a place for him to show off.

He talked briefly about his gear setup then kicked off a long Q&A session. But it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill Q&A; he brought along a stack of items related to his career, which he gave away, one by one, to everyone who asked a question. There were shirts, CDs, DVDs, hats — all kinds of good stuff.

He answered a wide range of questions and addressed a host of topics related to his career. His responses were detailed, sincere and often humorous. He shared stories from old shows, plus opinions on bass-playing technique, his thoughts on four- versus five-plus-string basses, influences, signature models, playing with "rhythm freak" guitarists like Paul Gilbert, neck bends, jazz players, developing a music "vocabulary" and more.

He was more than happy to demonstrate certain points by playing bass whenever appropriate. Without turning it into a marketing campaign, Sheehan provided a detailed description of his bass and setup and explained why he uses them and not others he has used in the past. Perhaps the most entertaining part of the session was his lesson and demonstration on how "good writers write, great writers steal." The crowd also enjoyed his dig at flashy musicians who can’t play basic rhythm parts.

Sheehan’s clinic tour is over, and even though you’ll probably be able to find YouTube clips posted by people who were in the audience, I suggest you visit one of these clinics in person when Sheehan comes to your town. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction with a musician like Sheehan. He poured his heart, soul and energy into this West LA session.

Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website — with the help of a small group of people. He briefly moved away from the Los Angeles scene and explored metal in India, but he is now back in LA continuing from where he left off.

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