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Bass as an individual

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by thorski, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. thorski


    Aug 24, 2012
    As I get into my 30th year of playing, I have officially become an old fart. I visit these forums and love the enthusiasm others show in asking how to get 'to that point'. Whatever that point is -how to get a sound, how to find tabulature, how to hold my left arm,right arm etc. I love to sepeople searching for a way to better themselves. I don't get much of a thrill out of 16th note triplets I just learned using 3 finger technique or how some have cleverly shown me how to slap pop tap and squidoodle around a fret board. My love for this instrument was only built in MY personal discovery.if I wanted to learn an intricate line , I either had to learn it from a 16 rpm recording or use the crude tape devices of the day that had a manual slowdown feature that allowed me to sit and pound buttons. Stop, rewind stop. Rewind. Over and over. I use and love these forums as much as anyone. But if you are looking to get better-NEVER underestimate the power of discovery on your own.
  2. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    I agree with this, I love bass because I taught myself how to play it. I do like to come on the forums here and ask for good ways to better my technique. Chances are I'll take advice someone gives me and I'll tailor it to my own needs. To me, that's a huge part of what it takes to be a musician, ultimately, you need to play how it feels right to YOU, though a few tips here and there can still go miles if you're stuck and getting discouraged.
  3. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Don't underestimate the power of a good teacher. I've been playing for 10+ years, but some of my biggest gains have been working on advanced concepts with a qualified instructor. Even though I've got no problems 'just playing' the bass, I've been studying privately with a Berklee professor for the past year and a half now and it is paying SERIOUS dividends in my increased facility on the instrument. We're not even TOUCHING the 'squidoodle' stuff (love that word, totally going to use it in polite conversation soon...), we're just going deeper than I ever thought possible into tunes I thought I KNEW - and my playing is so much better for it. For everyone who thinks "I don't need a teacher once I can gig out", there are entire worlds out there that are so much more easily accessible with a teacher/mentor as a guide and colleague.

    And thorski... slowing down/rewinding tapes and LPs is sooooo last century ;-) Check out Transcribe - www.seventhstring.com - and see just how much easier the 'learn 40 tunes by this weekend' game becomes.
  4. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Marlton, NJ
    Let me first agree that there's a lot to be learned from experimenting on your own and following a path that you want to follow. And that has nothing to do with playing bass. It can be said for most any craft, profession, skill, etc.

    But is it universally true? I don't think so. Following the reasoning in your post, it also sounds like taking lessons is worthless also, which I'd strongly disagree with. If you have a good teacher (IOW not a bass Nazi who just shoves his priorities down your throat), you'll get a lot farther a lot faster with good instruction. I'd say that the other resources you pointed out are just as valid if you look at them as real learning experiences (for example, NOT using them as simply "put this finger on this string on this fret, then plug the string with that finger in your other hand). To me, learning is about finding ALL resources I can use to get better and learning what I can from them.

    Here's another way to think about it. If I needed a heart transplant, I'd STRONGLY prefer someone who went to a good college, got a 4.0, went to a top medical school, did his residency at a top hospital with a great cardiac program, etc. I'd steer clear of the guy who learned to do heart transplants on his own and got to experience the joy of self-discovery despite losing 998 of his first 1000 patients! ;). :D. :)

    True, bass playing is NOT cardiac surgery, but the point of the example is the same. You'll most likely get a lot farther a lot faster using whatever resources you have at your disposal. They'll all add something you never thought of in your own or show you new ways to see things that you never realized.

    So, while I completely agree that you can learn a lot in your own, I think that's just one piece if the learning puzzle.
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  6. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    This is comparing apples and oranges. Musicianship comes from within, surgery requires a set of meticulously followed instructions and requires years of medical expertise to even have a shot of success. There still is a lot to be gained by having a good mentor/teacher, but it's even more fun to develop your own playing style with as little direction as possible.

    Anyone who finds surgery "fun" to perform would never be operating on me.
  7. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Marlton, NJ
    No argument that they're different and I said that in my previous post.

    Contrary to what too many TB'ers seem to think (not necessarily you), instruction, music theory, etc. do NOT limit you and stifle creativity. Those who think that miss the point of instruction, music theory, etc.. They're guidelines and jumping off points that you can use to ENHANCE your creativity. Purposely deciding to ignore learning from the discoveries of others will limit you to only what you can discover. Using all resources you have at your disposal will open you to possibilities you never thought of.

    But, just to clarify, I am NOT ruling out the fun or the learning you can achieve on your own. You'll get a lot of both fun and learning that way. However, I AM saying that limiting yourself to only self-discovery IS choosing to limit yourself.
  8. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Taught myself to play piano as a kid, taught myself to play guitar at 13, electric bass at 15. I agree that there is a lot to be said for discovering things on your own. Once I learned some theory the process sped up dramatically. Then, as a music major in college I finally had an instructor on upright bass. I can't say that he helped me all that much. By then I was pretty good at understanding things and figuring them out. But, he did guide me in some ways that I might not have thought of on my own. So, there are benefits to both sides of the story.

    But, I agree with the OP in that we shouldn't underestimate the power of self-discovery. I always used to tell my students to go home and "play with" their instrument like a toy in addition to practicing whatever I gave them to work on.
  9. EmptyCup

    EmptyCup Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2013
    Nashville Area
    Amen brother,
    Some mentoring from a player who is more skilled than you may go a long way towards making that journey a little less frustrating :cool:
  10. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    I misunderstood, I thought you were just coming from the total opposite end of the spectrum. "ENHANCE" is the key word there. Discovery is the key to creativity, but lessons/outside help definitely help hone your skill so you can project yourself through your musical ability. I can't stress this enough
  11. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Marlton, NJ
    Not to worry, we're good. Honestly, I think we were saying the same thing but were just coming at it from different directions. :) Yes, learn on your own and look for new insights in everything you come across in your playing. But don't discount what you can learn from the discoveries of others. You're much more likely to become a more well rounded player by using your own insights as well as by using outsides resources to look for new/additional jumping off points than you will by using either method exclusively. Personally, I'm CONSTANTLY telling my teacher things I noticed and learned from working on things on my own outside of lesson assignments (yep, a 49 year old old fart like me is taking lessons! :eek: :D). And, on the other hand, I'm also constantly telling him about insights I got from my assignments that even he didn't think of when he assigned it.

    And I do have to thank thorski for telling us about squidoodling. Having read this thread, I see there's a new technique for me to work on! :D

    Maybe I came on too strong in the beginning because I've been reading too many of the "Music theory? Pfffft, who needs it? I'm gonna make music that RAWKS!!!" posts lately? :D
  12. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I did some major progress by studying music during my college degree and all that away from the bass.

    The technical side of playing the instrument is very easy but all the things about music is a lot more complex and interesting. During the past 10 years I don,t think I've been able to play faster and all, play more intricate music yes but this is because of my studies.

    Also I never saw so many people afraid of trying or even some stuff that is very obvious for isn,t for a lot of people ... this kind of surprised me.

    The thing that this website tought me is : I see music very differently as almost everyone here.
  13. photogdude

    photogdude ustonsucs Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, Tx
    great post

    and will you teach me how to "squidoodle"
  14. thorski


    Aug 24, 2012
    I completely agree with ALL the responses here. I had to laugh about using crude devices as being so old century. In 1984 with a lack of instructors close to me(I would have jumped on the opportunity if available). -it was all I had and I wouldn't have changed a thing.
  15. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Lemme just add this: when I was a kid learning piano and guitar on my own I wasn't in a hurry. I enjoyed every little nuiance of learning the instrument, and music, as if that particular little piece of knowledge was the end-all of the whole learning experience. That's not to say that I didn't have ambitions and goals, I did. But, it was sweet to get into every little thing, no matter how simple. I remember laying in the back yard at night looking at the stars and strumming my guitar in the dark just to let the notes ring across the sky. Not a song, but just notes ringing.

    I was also obsessed with playing music. Couldn't keep away from an instrument. I'd sit in the cold garage with a coat and cap on so I wouldn't wake anyone up playing guitar, for hours. It was a wonderful journey, and because of my obsession I became a very good player within a couple of years, and had my first band at 15. We even played jazz, and could actually cook.

    None of this is meant to say that we shouldn't press ourselves onward toward being better, but only to remind us of those times when the pressure is off and it's just you and your instrument on vacation together, just playing and enjoying.
  16. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    I'm no good at classes. In anything. I finished high school with good to decent grades but couldn't bear through with college. I consider myself fairly intelligent but most of what i've learned i did on my own time through my own reading or research and application (For example english isn't my native language. I grew up in surroundings where people did not speak a word of english. And i learned it by myself. I was already very functionally bilingual by the time i had my first english conversation, at age 22...) Same for music. I'm not saying lessons or teachers are pointless. They are not. I'm just saying, i can't do with them. It doesn't work for me for several reasons. I don't like to be forced to do things at specific times (and yes life has a way to impose just that on you but i've worked around it as much as i could so far). I don't learn well that way. It has to be on my own time, when i feel like doing it, for as long as i feel like doing it and it has to be what i feel like doing. No pressure, no "you have to know this by next week". Maybe i'll know it by tonight, or maybe by next month, it'll be at my own pace. Classes don't work that way and if at that specific moment i don't feel like being there, or learning that one thing i'm supposed to learn, i'm not gonna learn anything.

    So I taught myself bass, guitar, piano. I've been in bands,i've played gigs, i've done studio and now i mainly just compose my own songs. I know no theory. Aside from the open strings i have no idea what notes i'm playing. I know "things" but don't have a name for them. I understand the concept of scales but don't know what they are by name. I tried to teach myself music reading but had no patience for it. I learned music by listening to it and picking it up by ear. I don't have perfect pitch of course, but i certainly have developed a pretty good one. To the point that i can listen to a song and sometimes more or less know what they are playing (which saves some time when you want to pick something up). I don't think my way was better, i don't think theory is worthless, i'm sure it's useful, and so is learning a wide variety of techniques. I'm even sure it would probably make me a more interesting and better musician to learn these things. But i did it the way i did it. The only way i could do it. And i'm content with the musician i am. I have my limitations, but i like to think work very well within them. And if i really DO want to learn something more, then I will.
  17. LordDog


    Jun 25, 2013
    Norwich UK
    Interesting thread, although I think I'm a bit confused about the "learning by yourself" thing? Surely, unless you never look at any theory, and only ever play music that you have written yourself, you are always "taking advice/tuition" in some way, whether it's copying from a slowed down record, using Guitar Pro or a tutor? Even if the distinction is simply whether or not you know any theory, I would say that by playing any chords and scales and being able to understand how they work, you are in the realms of theory. I doubt that even in it's most basic sense you could absolutely "teach yourself" in isolation?
  18. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada

    i was gonna come back and edit my post last night to say, actually i did get teachers, they just don't know they were and never got any money for it. If I do ever meet one of them maybe i'll give them a hundred or two. Not that these guys need it. :p But i never watched any instructional videos or read "methods". Listened to records mainly. I might have picked up a thing or two from live shows too. I do remember specifically learning how to alternate pick (like everyone who starts i was just downstroking at first) from watching a green day show on tv in like 1996.

    And obviously you always end up knowing theory. But music was around before people tried to figure out why certain sounds worked together. I mean if you tell me its in a key of F. I don't know what that means. I mean i don't know what to play. But by ear i'll figure it out. It's like "oh yeah its that key that if i play on these frets it's gonna work."
  19. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Although I studied theory, and know it well, I also understand the self-taught-in-isolation thing because that's what I was doing as a child on piano. But, as stated above, I did learn some kind of theory while doing it. It just wasn't in the terms like we all use normally. For instance, I had figured out that if I skip every other white key it had a sound I liked. That was my "theory." I didn't know I was building chords in 3rds.

    Of course, once I started to learn standard theory I took off like a rocket.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Man, I would totally seek out a surgeon who has fun doing surgery. If the doctor doesn't find it fun, he or she's going to be miserable and the chances of making a mistake trying to finish up quickly goes up exponentially.
  21. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    Okay, that came off really wrong lol. I meant like anyone who would find it fascinating to "play around and see what fits right" while operating on me would not be my ideal surgeon lmao :D

    However, music is the perfect medium for this kind of experimentation.

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