Playing Instructions for the BASS BOX
The Position - The most comfortable position for playing the BASS BOX is to place the instrument on the floor and sit on the upper left hand corner with the right hand hanging over the keyboard. Drawing the fingers over the keys will "pluck" the keys very much like plucking the strings of an upright bass.
The Notes - The BASS BOX is tuned in a circle of fifths - as viewed from the seated position looking down on the keyboard: F,C,G,D,A,E,B. This arrangement makes playing in the musical keys of C,G,D,A,and E simple. Starting with the musical key note - (this is the I chord) you will find the associated notes either directly to the left of the musical key note - (the IV chord) or directly to the right of the musical key not e- (the V chord). So if you start on the key note, the "fingering" is the same for all keys - i.e. the I, IV, and V chords are all in the same relationship to each other.
The Time - In 4/4 time the bass usually plays on the first and third beat. If the guitar is playing "boom-chuck, boom chuck" - the bass player usually plays on the "booms" and is silent during the "chucks".
Four Step Program:
Watch the guitar player. Listen for the downbeat - the first and third beat - the "boom" of the "boom chuck". On the downbeat, play the note that has the same name as the chord the guitar player is making - the guitar player's "boom chuck, boom chuck" becomes the BASS BOX player's "pluck chuck, pluck chuck".
When you are comfortable with the technique of following the chords and getting a painless, mellow sound; you will want to start playing an alternating bass pattern. This involves playing the root note of a chord on the first beat of a measure and the fifth note of a chord on the third beat of the measure. On the BASS BOX for any chord you pick the blade directly to the right of the root note will be the fifth of that chord. Example - while the guitar player plays a D chord, the BASS BOX player plays the root of the chord (D) on the first beat of the measure and plays the fifth of the chord (A, the blade directly to the right of the D note) on the third beat of the measure -- the "boom chuck, boom chuck" becomes "D chuck, A chuck".
Double slapping is an advanced technique that involves adding a sound right before the "pluck" to give the note just a hint of percussion. On the BASS BOX this is done by striking the blade with the middle part of the finger right before the "pluck" - the "boom chuck, boom chuck" becomes "ba-boom chuck, ba-boom chuck". Alternatively, occasionally I will tap the front of the BASS BOX with the side of my thumb on the off beat, the second and fourth beat of a measure - the "boom chuck, boom chuck" becomes "boom tap, boom tap". Combining these double slap sounds, the "boom chuck, boom chuck" becomes "ba-boom tap, ba-boom tap".