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SBL Student Spotlight – Tim Hill

Nick Wells meets Tim Hill, bassist with latin quintet Agave.

In this regular feature we shine a light on a select few SBL students regarded by many as ‘ones to watch.’ Throughout the year, we’ll be catching up with a diverse set of breaking and established talent to air their thoughts and experiences about bass playing, tunes and music in general from their own vantage point (the only thing that anyone can do, really). Want to join them? If you're studying with SBL and would like to share your experiences, then please don't hesitate to Contact Us

Tim Hill - Low Note Music

As a bass player who plays in a latin quintet, and is in the process of forming an acoustic blues outfit, Tim Hill has a professional outlook from which we could all learn. “If I’ve got a gig then I try to arrive one or two hours in advance of the first downbeat, just so I can get setup calmly and still have plenty of time to chill and focus before the gig. So even if I arrive on time I actually feel as though I’m late!”

In the past, Tim was most commonly seen onstage sporting a Gibson Grabber, but a recent hook up with Warrior Instruments has led to a new arrival. “I have an Isabella fretted 5-string that’s in the final stages of build,” says Tim. “I also have a DM 5-string fretless that’s also from Warrior Instruments, a Kiesel Icon IC6 and a 1976 Gibson Grabber.” For amps and pedals, Tim likes to stick with what sounds and feels best for him. “I play through a Phil Jones BG400 combo and use a pretty simple pedalboard that’s kitted out with an MXR Envelope Filter, an EHX Soul Food overdrive, a Tech 21 Preamp/DI and a TC Electronic SpectraComp, Corona, Chorus and Hall of Fame reverb.”

So what’s Tim’ philosophy when it comes to practicing? He replies: “My practice routine doesn’t have a set time frame. I’ll go on until I’ve achieved what I set out to do that day. It can last anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on what I’m working on. I always start out with a stretch and a warm up period that usually involves some kind of finger independence work and some material from one or two SBL courses. Finally, I’ll focus on the music that I’m working on for an upcoming rehearsal, video shoot or recording session.”

How did you get started playing bass?

When I was in 9th grade we were offered a band class for the very first time. I wanted to play guitar, but I didn’t have the knowledge to handle that, so my band director suggested I take up bass, which I did. That was in 1979 and the rest is history.

What do you remember about your first bass?

My first bass was a Montgomery Ward, short-scale P-Bass knock off. It didn’t last but a couple of months. After that, my parents bought me a 1978 Gibson Grabber and that’s the bass that took me through High School. I sold it just before college to get another P-Bass clone and instantly regretted it. It took me 30 years to acquire another Grabber, but this time one from 1976.

How about your first gig?

My first real gig didn’t take place until my first year of university, but it wasn’t on bass. It was on tuba for a dixieland band. The top bassist/tubist at the university was taken ill literally hours before the annual jazz festival and I was called in to play in three different ensembles. It was the single most impactful moment in my musical life.

How would you describe your playing style now?

My playing style has evolved a bit over the last four or five years. I started out learning jazz and then moved on to pop and rock. In 2013 I started really honing in on latin music as well as my own material, so my style now is a combination of roots, rock, finger-stlye funk, latin and modern jazz.

How did you find ScottsBassLessons?

I first discovered SBL in 2014 through Scott’s YouTube videos. After watching several of those I joined the academy in 2015.

What have you gained from being a member of SBL?

Wow! There’s so much I could say about what I’ve gained. The main takeaway for me was successfully correcting some long-standing bad habits and re-discovering a structure to my practice time through the logs.

Tell us about your projects outside of SBL

My primary project is my latin quintet called Agave. We play Afro-Brazillian, Afro-Cuban and Latin Jazz classics. Beyond that, I’m in the process of forming an acoustic blues project and a bass guitar duet that has programmed accompaniment. Down the road I have plans to remix my first CD and do some more songwriting.

Who are your favourite players?

At the moment I’m really into Jaco, Jimmy Haslip, Stefan lessard, Nathan East, Mark King, Oskar Cartaya and Abe Laboriel.

How do you unwind?

These days my favourite thing to do to unwind is to play with my young son. Whenever possible, we head out to Malibu with my wife to hang out and hunt sea shells in tidal pools. I also like to just unplug from everything, turn off the lights and bask in the quiet!

What would you be if you weren’t a bass player?

I’d probably be playing tuba in an orchestra or a brass quartet.

Find out more about Tim at www.lownotemusic.com

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