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Stuart Clayton - May 2008

With the goal of publishing high quality instructional titles for bass guitarists, Stuart Clayton founded his own media company, Bassline Publishing, in 2005. To date, Clayton has authored over a dozen acclaimed instructional methods for bass guitarists covering subjects such as fundamental technique, theory, and contemporary slap bass techniques. Along with a very successful series of Level 42 transcriptions documenting the playing of Mark King, Clayton has also completed a book of transcriptions showcasing the music of Stuart Hamm. His most recent publication contains complete bass and guitar transcriptions of the classic funk and disco grooves produced by legendary bassist Bernard Edwards and guitarist Nile Rogers. Later this year, Clayton plans to publish a compilation of arrangements for solo bass guitar featuring well known pop songs, classical pieces, jazz compositions, ragtime music, rock tracks, and theme tunes. Since 2002, Clayton has conducted interviews, contributed lesson articles, and written product reviews as a staff writer for the U.K.'s popular Bass Guitar Magazine. Clayton holds a degree in popular music from Leeds College of Music and heads the bass department at Bristol Institute of Modern Music. In addition to his hectic teaching and writing duties, Clayton maintains a busy touring schedule and has played shows around the world as a member of the Carl Palmer Band.

In this interview, Clayton discusses forming his own publishing company, writing and distributing books, developing technique, teaching, and playing with the Carl Palmer Band.

How did you get started on bass and which bassists have been your biggest influences?

Stuart Clayton I started playing when I was 13 years old and was inspired by seeing Mark King play with Level 42 on the Live At Wembley video. This led me to save for my first bass and get started learning. I taught myself for the first few years by copying techniques I saw on videos and learning what I could from books. As I progressed, I discovered Stuart Hamm and Billy Sheehan and learned everything about their playing that I could. I think my initial grounding, which leaned towards highly technical playing, was a great place to start. In addition to developing lots of technical ability, it taught me the value of playing solid time, having a good sound, and knowing the bass could be more interesting than what many of my friends assumed it could be. I always did a lot of transcription as well. Transcription is an invaluable learning aid and is probably the quickest way to develop both your ear and your playing. I still transcribe a lot of music. Aside from those early influences, I was also really into Flea, Gene Simmons, and Stuart Zender of Jamiroquai. These days I listen a lot to Alain Caron, Victor Wooten, and Bernard Edwards. After teaching myself for five years, I studied A Level Music which led to a degree, and I then worked in orchestras on different cruise ships.

What led you to founding your own publishing company?

I wrote seven instructional titles for a U.K. publisher called Sanctuary Publishing. These books included 100 Tips For Bass Guitar You Should Have Been Told, Crash Course Bass, Xtreme Bass, Giants Of Bass, The Bass Player's Handbook, Bass Styles, and The Bass Guitarist's Bible. The latter was never published as the company was bought out by a larger one. I got the job of writing these books through my work at the U.K.'s Bass Guitar Magazine, and I have always thoroughly enjoyed it.

Over the last six years, I have also been self-publishing the Level 42 bass transcription series, a collection of five books, which I did because none of the main music publishers were interested in doing it, and I felt that someone needed to. After awhile, I decided to expand it a little and form a small publishing company which is how Bassline Publishing came about.

Could you tell us about the different books you have authored?

In addition to the seven books I wrote for Sanctuary Publishing, I have also written the five Level 42 books, Ultimate Slap Bass, Stuart Hamm Bass Transcriptions: Outbound & Beyond, KISS Bass Transcriptions, and the latest book which is Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards: Funk & Disco Grooves For Bass & Guitar.

Which of your books are your top sellers?

The Level 42 Bass Transcriptions Vol. 1 book continues to sell really well. Ultimate Slap Bass and the new Funk & Disco Grooves For Bass & Guitar books are top sellers as well.

Has the publication of your own instructional books helped you become a better player?

It has definitely made me think about the how's and why's a lot more which has been really helpful. Also through writing, I have come up with very clear ways of explaining things such as scales and modes which has been really useful for teaching. Writing my new solo bass arrangements book and doing the Ultimate Slap Bass book has certainly boosted my technical abilities and my creativity so writing has definitely made me a better player.

What advice could you offer someone who wants to release their own instructional methods?

Stuart Clayton First of all, it is a very time-consuming process. Self-publishing is a lot of fun, but there is an extraordinary amount of paperwork involved in running it as a business if you want to continue selling books. I run the whole business myself, deal with all orders personally, design and build the web site, and do all the graphic design so it takes up a lot of my time. Writing itself is something that I think either happens or it doesn't. I can't stop myself from writing so in that respect I find writing books easy. As far as creating the books physically, I am lucky in that I have a graphic design background so I am able to do a lot of the page layout work myself, and that is where someone with no typesetting or graphics background would need to spend quite a bit of money. Unfortunately, you can't just stick these things together with Microsoft Word!

In terms of getting the product out there into the world, market research and building a name for yourself on the internet are key factors. Music stores are generally not interested in independent publishers, and Amazon, although they will stock independent books, takes an enormous bite out of every sale you make through them. The best way is to sell independently. Just remember that the bass guitar market is very small.

Where is the most convenient place for someone to purchase your books?

All of my self-published book can be purchased directly through my web site,

How did you develop your technique?

I developed my technique from watching the videos that I mentioned earlier. Stuart Hamm's Slap, Pop and Tap For The Bass was a very important video in my technical development.

What aspects of playing do you emphasize the most to your students during private lessons?

If you want to work professionally as a bassist, don't get hung up on technique even though it is fun. The two most important things to learn if you want to work professionally are to read standard notation as well as you can and learn how to walk over chord changes. Walking bass has a million applications outside of jazz, and that is what a lot of my students fail to realize. Learning to walk helps out in many other areas of your playing such as fretboard knowledge, chord tone knowledge, and playing melodically.

Can you tell us about your appointment as the new head of bass at the Bristol Institute of Modern Music?

I currently teach at the main school at Brighton Institute of Modern Music, and it is something I fell into completely by accident. I went there for a meeting hoping to get them to add my books to their curriculum, and instead, they offered me a job. Since then, I have really started to enjoy teaching. When they made plans to open up a sister school in Bristol, they offered me the position of head of bass which I was glad to accept.

Are you currently playing with any bands, and if so, what is your primary gig?

Stuart Clayton My main gig is as the bassist in the Carl Palmer Band of Emerson Lake & Palmer fame. We tour every year and played for six weeks in the United States in 2006. Hopefully we'll be back in the States in 2009. It is an extremely technical gig that requires lots of slapping, tapping, and crazy progressive music. I love it! Besides working with Carl, I play in a function group on the weekends doing the usual weddings and corporate gigs.

How does the music scene in the U.K. compare to the other places you have toured?

The U.K. music scene varies depending on where you are located. Where I live, it is almost non-existent, and obviously in bigger cities, it is a lot better. There is a lot going on in Brighton. I don't have much experience in the music scene in the places we've toured because normally we arrive, play, and keep on moving.

Do you plan on releasing any additional books or recordings in the future?

I have been working for a few years on a book of solo arrangements for bass, and you can view two of these arrangements on YouTube including "The Simpson's Theme" and "The Jazz Medley." I am hoping to release this book by the end of 2008. I'm also developing a John Entwistle bass book. One day I might record my own project.

Selected Discography

Stuart Clayton
Solo Arrangements For Electric Bass
Ultimate Slap Bass
Stuart Hamm Bass Transcriptions: Outbound & Beyond
Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards: Funk & Disco Grooves For Bass & Guitar
Level 42 Bass Transcriptions Vol. 1
Level 42 Bass Transcriptions Vol. 2
Level 42 Bass Transcriptions Vol. 3
Level 42 Bass Transcriptions Vol. 4
Level 42 Bass Transcriptions Vol. 5
KISS Bass Transcriptions Vol. 1
KISS Bass Transcriptions Vol. 2
100 Tips For Bass Guitar You Should Have Been Told
Crash Course Bass
Xtreme Bass
Giants Of Bass
The Bass Player's Handbook
Bass Styles
The Bass Guitarist's Bible


GB Rumour 4-String Fretted
GB Rumour 5-String Fretted
Jaydee Mark King Supernatural Series III 4-String Fretted
Kubicki Ex Factor 4-String Fretted


EBS Evolution ProLine 2000 410



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