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Peter Murray - January 2004

Peter Murray
Biography: I'm a bass player and singer-songwriter working out of Toronto. I started playing bass when I was 15. I had already studied piano for a few years and some trumpet (unhappily) in high school. For Christmas, I got a cheap 4-string and immediately started an original band with some school friends. We learned some covers, wrote our own music, got some opening gigs in clubs and also played talent shows and school dances.

I took some private lessons, but most of my training came from lifting bass parts from records, 4-tracking, and playing with everyone I could. As the years passed, I went through dozens of bands and a wide range of styles, mostly rock and pop. But my listening spanned everything from reggae to funk to metal. I learned some jazz from my dad, an excellent pianist, but didn't develop enough passion for it to study it seriously. I was more interested in rock and pop, partly because those genres seemed so elastic. You could incorporate whatever grooves or techniques you wanted from any other style, as long as it served the song. The Beatles were deep under my skin from birth and gave me a deep love of melody and interesting chord progressions. XTC, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, The Who, The Police, Pink Floyd, Level 42, Steely Dan, UB40, and Neil Young were also big faves. I did get into all of the "fusion" greats, especially Jaco, Stanley, and Jeff Berlin, but didn't really dig the idiom they worked in. I tried to crystallize some of their ideas in a pop setting. I've always found good songs more impressive than flashy licks.

From the very beginning, although I was a bassist, I also sang, messed around on other instruments, and composed. All of this not only vastly improved my bass playing by making me a better musician, it also led to my current career as a singer-songwriter. In addition, it prepared me for a wide range of cover gigs. I've played with a zillion cover bands, often subbing, so I have a very large repertoire in a variety of styles and have amassed a bulk of stage hours that would have been impossible just playing with original artists. I learned the value of logging as many "stage hours" as possible from my local bass fave and mentor, Peter Cardinali.

Original music is usually more rewarding, and I've been lucky to tour the world with artists such as the great songwriter Ron Sexsmith, Surrender Dorothy (my old band which had an international deal with MCA based out of Germany), Damhnait Doyle, Jian Ghomeshi, Martina Sorbara, and many others.

Teaching bass has taught me a huge amount. It inspired me to write Essential Bass Technique, first published by Mel Bay in 1995 and now available from Hal Leonard. It's possibly the only book dedicated to the practical mechanics of bass playing, and it's been happily embraced by the bass media as well as Michael Manring, Alain Caron, Billy Sheehan, Steve Bailey, Rich Appleman, and others. I sometimes give technique workshops and maintain the Bass Technique Forum on my web site. Please drop by if you want to discuss anything to do with bass technique! You can order my book too!

I've also done a lot of writing for Bass Player and Canadian Musician magazines which has given me the awesome opportunity to interview such greats as Victor Wooten, Les Claypool, Doug Pinnick (King's X), Jeff Berlin, John Patitucci, Gary Willis, Carol Kaye, Don Thompson, Joel Quarrington, Mark King, Colin Moulding (XTC), and others.

Gigs: Currently I'm mostly focused on my singer-songwriter gigs (playing electric guitar) and finishing my debut full-length cd, but I can be seen playing bass with a wide variety of original artists and cover bands in the Toronto area including Morgan Finlay, Naked Brunch, Moonrise Jazz Trio, Jerome Godboo, and others.

Peter Murray - vs. the Ants
Damhnait Doyle - Davnet
Cash Brothers - A Brand New Night
Mia Sheard - Reptilian
Jian Ghomeshi - The First Six Songs
Don Kerr - The Sniffing Princess
Stewart Agnew - At the Gas Station
Michael Holt - Pilot Single
Morgan Finlay - Uppercut
Jory Nash - Tangle with the Ghost
Surrender Dorothy - Serum

I have two stunning, handmade G. Gould 5-strings, custom made for me by the legendary Geoff Gould in San Francisco. They sound awesome on everything, and if they have any limitations, I haven't found them! In the studio I usually record direct, sometimes mixing in a Bass Pod signal or miking whatever interesting amp is around. Live, I use an Eden World Tour 800 with either one or two Eden 210XLT cabinets depending on the size of the venue, but I've been checking out some Mark Bass amps that are very impressive.

Strings: DR Hi-Beams 45-125
Cables: Evidence Audio
Guitar amp: On my solo gigs I use a Koch Classictone. It's an unbelievable amp.
Pickups: Seymour Duncans in all my basses and guitars
Effects: I don't use much in the way of effects, but when the occasion allows, I use a Boomerang Phrase Sampler, Bixonic Expandora distortion pedal, and an AdrenaLinn amp modeler/effects unit.

I proudly endorse G. Gould, Eden, DR, Evidence Audio, Seymour Duncan, and Koch.

Contact Information: Check out my bass site at and my singer-songwriter site at