SBL Student Spotlight - Glenn Whitney

Published September 14, 2017

For the life of me, I don’t know how I didn’t stumble upon ScottsBassLessons before. I instantly knew this was what I needed to move my playing in the direction I was hoping. I really connect with the way that Scott teaches and the musical language he uses.” Glen Whitney tells us about his band, his approach to playing bass and how SBL is helping him to ‘own the fretboard’.

In our regular feature we’re going to be shining a light on a select few SBL students. 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. 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.

Glenn Whitney - Straw Dogs

“The biggest thing SBL has given me is motivation,” says Straw Dogs bassist, Glenn Whitney. “I usually wane in interest after three months of doing something, but there’s constant interaction within SBL. All the academy shows, bass hangs, courses and seminars have given me an amazing boost in my life as a bass player.”

These days Glenn delivers the low notes with confidence thanks to his relationship with SBL. Every player has areas for improvement, though, he agrees. “Coming from a classical background and having spent years playing in cover bands, coming up with my own unique bass lines is still a challenge. While I have a strong knowledge of music theory, it’s only now, through SBL, that I’m shaping that theoretical knowledge into a more practical application on the instrument. I am pleased to be pushing my playing and owning the fretboard more. SBL has been a huge help to me in this area.”

Content with his accomplishments, but eager to move forward, Glenn looks to the future to grant him the time for his band’s music to be heard. “We are very proud of the new album, and I am looking forward to playing some live shows. We played a few local clubs in Victoria recently and I’m looking forward to ramping things up over the coming months.”

How did you get started playing bass?

My brother’s best friend heard the outro to Big Money by Rush and was, for some reason, taken by it. He decided to buy a bass and try to be Geddy Lee! They were also huge Duran Duran fans, so between them and Rush, I was exposed to some pretty cool basslines from the very beginning. This all spurred my brother to buy a bass, so I decided to learn it too. I remember how excited I was when I first learned Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes. That was my Smoke on the Water. After high school, I went to a college for bass, which focused on playing rock and jazz. I wasn’t very good, but the experience and the people I met shaped me a great deal. Following that, I studied classical bass at university, for four years in Victoria and two more years in Boston.

What do you remember about your first gig?

My first gig was in front of my high school. In the middle of the lip sync contest, my band pumped out some mediocre Bon Jovi, Cinderella and Poison. Those were good times!

How would you describe your playing style now?

The classical bass world worked well with my brain, as it was a very much a case of playing what’s written with little or no improvisation. I’ve been focusing on working my way out of that, but the basslines I play are fairly straight ahead with a bit of movement where necessary, but not overly busy. I strive to always line up with the drummer and supply a solid rhythmic and harmonic foundation. You will not find any YouTube videos of me throwing down some massive bass pyrotechnics…

Tell us about your project, Straw Dogs

The music is written by our vocalist/guitarist, Todd Harris, and it has been brought to life by a diverse group of 5 musicians with an age range of 22 to 60. We spent over a year and a half recording an album in our keyboard player’s studio (family and work slows down the life of a rock and roller!), and we are now, finally, ready to package it and release it. It’s an album that we are very proud of.

Who are your favourite bass players?

James Jamerson, Bosco Mann (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings), Bob Hardy (Franz Ferdinand), Stuart Zender. I’m aware there isn’t much reflection of those guys in my own playing, but I love their groove and how their lines add to the music.

Describe your bass gear…

This is a pretty simple one. I’ve been playing on a 1984 JV Squier Jazz Bass since the early 90s and have always loved it. I’m currently hunting for a P-bass, but haven’t found the one yet… soon, I hope. I play through an American-made Ampeg SVT-3 and an SWR 2x10 cabinet. I also have an upright bass, which is a blonde German bass from around the 1950’s.

How do you unwind?

I love it if I can find some time to practice my bass playing. Throwing the baseball around in the back yard with my 15 year-old son comes a close second.

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

I’m a high school music teacher, so my career has allowed me to improve as a musician every day for the past 15 years. I love picking up what I learn through SBL and other sources and translating those ideas to my students on various instruments. That has given me a lot of great material. I also teach an R&B band, which allows me to share one of my favourite music styles with younger players. So life is pretty good outside of my bass playing.

What has been the best thing about 2017 so far? Worst?

Number one is bringing our Straw Dogs recording to an end and playing some live gigs at a few bars in the city. As I said, I’m really pumped about our recording and the videos we have been making. Ultimately, we hope that others will enjoy it as well. Number two was finding SBL. For the life of me, I don’t know how I didn’t stumble upon ScottsBassLessons before this year. I instantly knew this was what I needed to move my playing in the direction I was hoping. I really connect with the way that Scott teaches and the musical language he uses. It has improved my technique, my walking basslines, my knowledge of chords and arpeggios and my ability to see the fretboard as a whole and not just in separate chunks.

And The worst?

I have tennis elbow from playing the bass. Playing bass guitar is mostly okay, but I can’t touch my upright anymore without re-aggravating it. I’ve got my people working on it.

Check out Glenn below....

Leo Carrillo After Dark

Baby You Been Draggin' Me Down

Come On

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