I've been playing for about 2 years now, loving it, and am looking for advice on what to learn next. Here's a little history, what I think I do well, and what I think I don't do well:
- right hand (plucking hand) technique is so comfortable that it happens without even thinking
- left hand (fretting hand) - basically solid, except for trickly lines that require a lot of ring finger and pinky dexterity
- I've learned about 60+ songs - so many that I can't remember how to play them all by memory alone.
- Started playing classic rock and simpler R&B songs. Move on to a next level of "challenge" - which was funk/disco groves at decent tempos. Picked up a little slap/pop with those.
- Started with StudyBass, and expanded to many instructional books, TrueFire videos, etc.
*) What I think I do well:
- timing - always practiced along with songs or metronome. Practiced songs until my notes "covered" the originals - kept repeating until all notes were "perfect"
- patterns - can play the basic one octave scales - major, minor, pentatonics, etc. and started two octave scales, but haven't felt I have really "used" them much yet.
- ear/transcription - I download TABS that I find very helpful, but always find mistakes and correct them - many times in subtle lines (ghost notes, 16th note pick-ups, stuff like that). A good example here was finding that basically every TAB posted for the main phrase in the song "Le Freak" by Chic is wrong.
- theory - I have a very good understanding of critical basics like the circle of 4ths and 5ths, etc.
*) What I think I don't do well:
- scales: Everyone states that practicing scales are essential for the bass. I really don't think I understand this. I can "see" and "hear" the chord tones, and other scale tones in songs. I can play the songs by memory. But I *never* think if playing a bass line by starting with the scale, and playing notes from it. I think that's really bad, and I'm really ignorant because of that.
- very solid technique: Some things I can play very solidly, but some "basics" I think I still mess up sometimes - like crossing strings smoothly, getting solid tone on every note played all the time, etc.
- playing from fake sheets - here's what I think I should be able to do - pick up a fake sheet, read the chords, and straight away start playing a unique bass line. I can't do this. Sure, I could see the chord play the root, play the chord tones, but I can't just pick a rhythm, and easily switch to the next chord and do the same. Am I a dunce bcause I can't do that?
- reading/playing: while I can figure out the notes pretty quickly, I don't know them "immediately". Similarly, I can read standard notation, and pretty quickly - but I'm nowhere near picking up standard notation and just play it right off.
My interests at the moment (what I want to do):
1) pick up a fake sheet for a song, and have enough ability and confidence to just start playing credible bass lines with other musicians at practice sessions with friends, or even "open mike" type gigs with people I might not know.
2) understand how to use scales. I know them, I understand the concepts. But I just don't see how to apply them practically.
3) improvise bass lines (that's kinda connected to the above two)
4) play different styles - *that* I think I'm doing well - I listen a LOT (I'm listening right now), and I can feel the groove in my pants. I'm taking the time to learn slap at the moment, and tying it to playing funk/disco. That will take a bit longer, but at least I think I know how to proceed with instructional videos and books.
BUT for the other three above, I really don't think I have a clue what to do!
**==> Can you help me with advice? What should I be doing at this point in my learning to solidly and profoundly learn the instrument?
Oh - and one more thing - what's your advice on taking the steps needed to play certain lines that I'm *dying* to play well - but are just a bit out of reach. One example, Jamiroquai's "Time Won't Wait" - killer bass line, that is just a bit out of reach at the moment.
Sorry for the long post! If you have read this far, THANKS!