Bass Legend December – Kevin Presnell

Xybil Bass Lab Plus Legend, blog 3 Comments

Each month at eBassGuitar the team and I choose a Bass Lab PLUS LEGEND - one of our Bass Lab Plus students who has really blown us away with their progress.

I want to introduce Kev Presnell. Kev has played in a band for a few years but was always stuck learning songs parrot fashion using tabs and YouTube videos, with little understanding of what he was really doing.

Now Kev has a real working understanding of how to play bass… so much so, he has been asked to play in multiple bands and has the confidence to say ‘YES’ to the gig. 

He’s even teaching students how to play with his new bass skills.

… oh yeah… did I mention playing the bass now helps him earn a living as a semi-professional bassist in Kent, England.

How did Kev do it?

In this video I interview Kev about his transformation over the past two years and how to get the most out of the Bass Lab PLUS program…

Also make sure you scroll down so you can watch another video of Kev playing.

… oh yeah… did I mention playing the bass now helps him earn a living as a semi-professional bassist in Kent, England.

More...

James: Hey guys It's time to announce this month's bass lab plus legend. It's Kev Presnell, here's a guy who's really stood out to me over the past couple of years.

So welcome Kev Presnell. How are you doing? 

Kev: I'm doing fine, James. 

James: Brilliant.  It's so great to have you because I've watched you now for  a couple of years, And I remember you sending me a video right in the early days... And it was really, really good, but I could spot straight away that you had so much left in the tank.

I'm wondering if you could tell me what sort of progress, what sort of experiences you've had being a part of the bass lab plus for the last couple of years? 

Kev: Yeah, from the start off right when I very first joined, I didn't know hardly anything about theory. Or any riffs or scale was, or things like that. I don't even know what arpeggio was.

So since then, I've learned so much! All these different ways you've taught me, um, which will now actually be used in a lot of your theory and bass techniques in my band. I've changed probably half a dozen songs using arpeggios, and triads and walking bass lines. 

One example was a monkey song we used to do. I used to just read root notes and I'll formulate my own walking bass line to it. 

James: Amazing. So you've gone from being kind of stuck in one, doing one thing. All the way to having that freedom of doing your own stuff. How has that been? What have your bandmates said? 

Kev: Um, the drummer wouldn't say much about it  anyway.

Cause he’s stuck at the back with his earphones on. But it’s the guitarist and singer… I'll get these funny little sly looks. He goes, "oh, that's different." And I'll play something different. I'll do 'em Ain't no stopping me (us) now. 

James: Oh yeah, McFadden & Whitehead. 

Kev: Which you taught me how to play. And I also use a bass solo in that song, and I use arpeggios. 

James:  Fantastic. So am I right in thinking you had no theory before this? How were you playing before? 

Kev: Um, basically all done by tab, all by numbers and videos of a YouTube. 

James: So it's almost like you were playing the songs parrot fashion. Now you've gone to the point of having that understanding and freedom and what's that understanding of freedom allowed you to do 

Kev: it's allowed me to flow more, get a feel of my playing. I found myself put in other little riffs and runs in that I've never even done before and understand why they're there, which is for me is brilliant. I'll tell you what I did do... 

I had a little jam session with a mate, um, probably a couple of months ago, and I took my acoustic bass, which I bought a little while ago, for the lock down. And I said to him with a little blues jam, cause his wife plays harmonica... well, just learning. I said, “We do a 1 4 5 pound, We've a quick four and five in the end anyway.”

"What? What 'you talking about?" , he didn't know what I was talking about. 

James: That's amazing because you would have never said something like that to me, or never talked in that way 2 years ago 

Kev: No, and I realize now that when I was in the 60's band playing lead guitar, a lot of this theory I was doing then, but didn't know what it was, the way the songs were structured and it's poked my bass playing up tenfold.

How Kev started playing Bass Guitar


James: So let's take it back to the beginning. How did it all start for you? How did you become a bass player? 

Kev: Well, I was playing guitar when I was 13. And my younger brother, he was also playing guitar with a drummer at school and a singer -someone plays bass. My brother was better than me at playing guitar so I opted for playing bass. 

And there was school band playing things like the Shadows, Elvis Presley’s and stuff…

Our first gigs were in old people's homes. Because I was in the air training cadets, which I started playing cymbals. Marching band stuff. Solid drum, bass drum, uh, eventually went to lead snare drum. And we do this gig, —- cielos music. And then I'll do 15 minutes playing snare drum. Military style for all the old people. I did that for about five years. 

I had a disagreement with the drummer. In my…, probably 17, 18 years old. And before I laid him out, he grabbed my arm and said, “look Kev, you’ve got to buckle down or leave.”

And I left, sold all my stuff when I was 18... and regretted it ever since. And then, got back into playing guitar [in] another company I used to work for because the buyer played guitar and drums in a band. And joined the sixties bands - 

James: As a guitarist or as a bass player? 

Kev: As a guitarist, 

James: Then how did the bass come out? 

Kev: Um, well, my, well, I used to be in a band with, at school. Uh, I went to see one of his gigs and he said, "Kev, you still got bass guitar?" And funny enough, I bought one that year just to mess about on..[A] Mexican P bass, which I've still got and he wanted to do a rock band.

But it's not a rock band, as you know, it’s a symphonic metal rock band.. EVANESCENCE.. Well, that's still a music. It's all European heavy, heavy rock. Lots of low-end bass. So I played for  them for about five years, on and off. I bought a five string bass guitar for it. 

And then upon building a studio in my mate's garden, we would chat about having another band and obviously craving the guitarist's now he was sort of the brains behind it all. He wanted a three piece. So I was obviously deemed to be the bass player. And he gave me a list of songs to do, and I learned  probably 20 songs in six months. And I'm still there now. Playing with the same guys, different drummer. 

James: Fantastic. And the great thing is at the time of making this video, we are now about two or three months out of lockdown in the UK. So we made this video a few months ago being a slightly different conversation, I guess, but you are back gigging and 

Kev is now earning money from playing bass!


Kev: I've just done 15 gigs in a row. Um, since the end of July. Ranging from pubs on a pub roof, golden parties. Uh, Uh, we've done a fifth 60th birthday party on Identy Bournemouth doing a Masonic hall lodge party.

James: And these are all paid gigs? Excellent. So what you're learning in the bass lab plus is effectively helping you to earn a living. Isn't it? 

Kev: Definitely, yeah.And one good thing. I've been offered a dip in spot in another band. 

James: Fantastic. Now, when I first met you, I don't think- correct me if I'm wrong, you wouldn’t have had the confidence to do that.

Kev: No. A couple of years ago and not turn it down flatly because I wasn't, my brain wasn't good enough.. I pretty played the guitar alright. But the way I learned stuff would've been would have taken me ages to learn their set list. 

James: That's really interesting. So has the thinking that you've discovered in the base lab plus help you learn songs faster?

Kev: Definitely, yeah. 

How Bass Lab Plus helped Kev


James: Give us an example, what did you do? What do you different now to what you did?

Kev: I've never used to do code sheets. This is one thing you taught me in the courses. And, um, this one find enough with Terry. So I now do code sheets as you do in your work -from the root note then work out as a bass line and put it in. Sorry, I try now not to copy too much. If there's a baseline that is distinctive for that song, I will use that. And then that had my own flare to it. 

James: Great. Fantastic. So you're talking, are you talking Terry Sinclair here? 

Kev: Yes, I am 

The Bass Lab Plus Community


James: Fantastic. He was last month bass lab plus, but this is, there's a great serious point to this that you guys joined the bass lab plus, and then you all started getting to know each other.

There's a real wonderful community for bass players. 

Kev: It's brilliant. That is probably one of the things I've enjoyed most, um, meeting other people. I've probably got 30 more friends or more Facebook page, but they're all bass players!. 

James: But you didn't have that before. Didn't you?

Kev: No, I just didn't have anybody 

James: As bass players, we're sort of lone wolves..

Kev: The guys are, and girls are all over the world. It's just amazing to me, 

James: fantastic. 

Kev: You learn so much from other people. You get inspiration. You've been a big inspiration to me, James. 

The way you teach is absolutely phenomenal. And I highly recommend anybody that was to learn bass is come to your site. 

James: That's very, very kind of you to say. So, I mean, it's one of these things. Thank you. Thank you. It's one of these things. I'm incredibly proud of you guys as students, but I'm also. Incredibly proud of what we've created too, and what it's allowing us to this sort of ripple effect that it facilitates across the world of bass players is absolutely fantastic.

And that's, this is exactly why I've started base lab legend to celebrate guys like you who've made phenomenal progress. So what, what is what's next? Kevin? 

Kev has started teaching others too


Kev: I'm looking at joining another band. 

James: Fantastic. And as we said, that was probably not on the radar before you-?, 

Kev: I can remember having a zoom meeting with yourself and probably with Greg. I'm just talking about myself and, and you said the best way for me to progress even further is to join a band. With other musicians, not using backing tracks. As you know, my band, we use quick click tracks and backing tracks. There's only three of us… and I'm looking for a blues rock band.

James: Great. Something more organic then? 

Kev: Yeah, I can just use the bass with no vocals or switching the lights or anything just sort of to play. So that is what I'm looking at, and possibly teaching. 

James: Oh, wow. Now I never knew you were going to do that. Perhaps we need to sort of eat bass guitar, teacher training school now. 

Kev: I started teaching a, an eight year old to play guitar brilliant, and he never wants to learn, play to play bass

James: And do you have the confidence to pass on some of the skills that you have learned? 

Yes, I do definitely 

James: How amazing. Oh, that was something unexpected that I wasn't, um, wasn't expecting to come out of this conversation 

Kev: Same here mate, but I have just enjoyed my journey and you've helped me tremendously. 

That's a real pleasure.

One more thing, you've made a lot of videos as we've gone through this course, which, or the  programs rather. Um, how has the process of videos helped? 

Kev: Um, at the beginning, with the videos, I was very intimidated. Because it's red light syndrome, as you know, and you end up doing 10, 15 videos to get one right.

But I've learned by the mistakes or watching the video where we go wrong. So then in the next video you think “Oh I did that wrong” so you do better.

But when I do the videos now, I’ve got confidence so I can do it in one take.

James: Oh, fantastic. So it's, it's kind of got you. It's almost like getting it match fitness thing, isn't it?

Kev: So some of the videos are due from memory. Some I have little sheets, um, riff patterns on there, do this riff, do that riff or you know, markers sort of thing, but most of them are the code sheets and you just go by the chords. 

James: How fantastic. So. So you're and you're starting to teach as well. This is. Wonderful stuff. Congratulations. I'm really proud of what you've done. And I, and I want to say thank you for being a really valued member of the bass lab plus community. You were thoroughly a deserving bass lab legend, and it's great to have you. 

So thank you so much, Kev !

Kev:  Cheers guys!

Comments 3

  1. Bass Legend/Kevin’s story is so inspiring! Thanks for putting this video together and sharing, James. Kevin’s bassline for “Fly Me To The Moon” was a treat to hear — I plan to work on that song now!

    Given Covid’s never-ending threat to the joy and therapeutic effects of playing & listening to live music, we all need to hear these uplifting success stories. I’m confident we’ll come out of this with an even stronger appreciation for learning, playing, and listening to music.

    James, you’re awesome (I already knew that — didn’t need Kevin to tell me:). It must be so satisfying to see how many people you’ve taught to “fly solo” [I see an ulterior, metaphorical motive in him choosing that song to play]!

    All through this horrible, scary, and unending lockdown period(s), the seeds of your teaching are germinating, budding (and ideally blossoming – for Kevin, that’s for sure) for your students.

    I’ve learned so much from you, your featured guests (eg, Masterclasses), and the BLP community at large, and I intend to keep the groove thing going into 2022 & beyond (until I’m confident enough to start “flying public” like Kevin).

    Happy Holidays to all in the Bass Lab PLUS. Rock/jazz/blues/other ON, comrades!

    1. Thanks so much Laurel!

      It’s really inspiring seeing how much good the BLP is doing, the results students get and the wider impact it has on students lives.

      Thanks so much for being a part of it all.

      Cheers

      James

    2. Hi Laurel

      Firstly Merry Christmas hope you’ve had a great day.

      Iv’e just today seen you reply to my Bass Legend interview with James I’m so glad that its
      inspired you .
      My story could have gone on for ages but I tried to keep it short.
      I’m glad it also inspired you to have a go at Fly me to the moon,
      I really enjoyed this track . With James help on the Walking bass 90 day challenge I learnt to play arpeggios which was how I played most of the track..
      I’d love to see the video when you have completed it.
      If there’s anything else from my musical journey please just asked..

      Kev

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