He Won't Learn The 'Boxes'

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by SurferJoe46, Jan 17, 2013.


  1. SurferJoe46

    SurferJoe46

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Location:
    The Bitterroot Mounts, Montana
    Got a guy who already plays guitar, fiddle, 5-string Banjo, and mandolin - so he asks me to teach him to play a bass. He is an accomplished Bluegrass artist, has a few CDs out and gets some airplay on the local radio stations.

    Now he wants to play some bass too.

    OK -- one thing, he adds: "I don't want to learn to read music, not learn the names of the notes and just want to go 'boom-boom' on the bass".

    I've tried to show him some basic forms of the common boxes in the first five frets, and he just doesn't get it. He wants to know when he can 'just play the bass and not have to worry about knowing anything complicated or technical'.


    I keep on telling him it won't work without some patterns at least. I told him if he was learning to dance, I'd cut out footprints and place them on the floor for him to step on to learn the moves - but he doesn't seem to get it and his eyes get all glazed over and kinda squinty.

    I do believe he thinks I'm trying to mystify bass playing to keep him outta the secret fraternity somehow.

    Drawings, sketches, chalk-talks and playing with him watching me play at the same time don't seem to work when there isn't an ounce of natural talent - which he seems to think isn't all that necessary to play a bass.

    He cannot hear the changes so he wanders into the wrong notes or key constantly - usually by flatting or just going a few steps sharp when he cannot find the octave. hits the wrong notes and gets frustrated that he cannot resolve a 7th or minor.

    Personally --- I like the guy a lot and I get free haircuts from him all the time, but I'm getting upset when he pays me for a lesson that went nowhere, he learned nothing and he's all squinty-eyed in the end of that time period.

    Just venting. :rollno:
  2. ReiPsaeg

    ReiPsaeg

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    Dec 1, 2012
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    If he doesn't want to learn anything why is he taking lessons? Also, if he's "accomplished" on those other 4 instruments as you say he is, wouldn't he be able to figure out for himself how to go "boom-boom" on the bass?
  3. fmoore200

    fmoore200

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    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    How can he be so talented at other instruments, and still be unable to hear when he hasn't hit the octave or is out of tune?
  4. Nev375

    Nev375

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    How did he learn guitar and banjo without learning patterns on the fretboard?

    he adds: "I don't want to learn to read music, not learn the names of the notes and just want to go 'boom-boom' on the bass".

    My response to that is that he doesn't want lessons then. That sort of thing can only be self-taught.
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  6. SurferJoe46

    SurferJoe46

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Location:
    The Bitterroot Mounts, Montana
    I realize his accomplishments should give him a boost for learning the bass - after all it only has four strings - right?

    It may be to low freqs of the bass that screw his ears up and he cannot hear when he'sopff pitch or key.

    He can hit an G/C rock and he's figured out a few other 'side-by-side note thingys' and he feels that's all he needs, and then he tries to get into a song and he cannot find out where to start (don't EVEN bother calling a key to him) and he's not sure if he starts on the fattest string or the one next to it.

    In all the time he's played guitar and the other instruments, he's just had a knack for eventually finding it (The Columbus Method) on a guitar or whatever else besides a bass - but the low frequencies seem to blow his mind.

    I keep telling him a bass's job is to not be on the same note as the singer - kinda: harmony-like, 'n all - but that goes right over his head and the eyes get narrow again.

    There's a guy in his group who plays an upright, and he's (pathetically) just going 'boom-boom' holding the simplest 'groove' if it can be called that. In Zen --- it might be a normal albeit: minimalist approach - but to hold the bottom end together, it needs something besides an G/C rock with an occasional trip to a A/D or whatever.

    He also somehow believes that there is NO music above the fifth fret.

    Yet he likes my arpeggios and runs and asks me to teach him how to do them. But I'm totally lost to teach that without some simple box-forms learned first.

    How would YOU handle someone who won't learn a simple box, a few notes on the neck (only a few, mind you) and yet wants to play a bass?
  7. bassinplace

    bassinplace

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    Based on what you've said, it sounds to me like the guy has no desire to play bass. Not much you can do about that. Just keep taking his money or don't.
  8. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

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    Why does a guitar player need lessons just to go boom boom on the bass? If he plays guitar then he know where the notes are and should be able to hear what he wants to play. Either we are missing something or he is.
  9. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Supporting Member

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    Santa Barbara, CA
    Give him a good smack on his head.
  10. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks. Supporting Member

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    Tell him to go buy a bass and figure it out on his own. 'I want you to teach me how to play bass, but I don't want you to really teach me anything at all!'
    .....? I'd tell him that the method he's chosen for himself leaves no room for my instruction.
  11. the yeti

    the yeti

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    raleigh, nc
    possibly one of the more ridiculous things i've come across in a while... it's not that it's "only 4 strings" it's that they're the same 4 strings, an octave lower. if he can play guitar but not bass i question his ability on guitar. and vice versa

    doesn't have to be particularly good, but can't do it? not plausible.
  12. HolmeBass

    HolmeBass Supporting Member

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    This.

    I'd tell him the bass is just the "four fattest strings on the guitar, only an octave lower" and let him work it out for himself.

    I cannot believe that he's that good of a flat picker if he's having this much trouble on the bass. Good flat pickers double the bass in their parts, it should be just about as easy as falling off a log, once he gets his calluses in shape.
  13. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

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    If he plays guitar he knows how to strum the I IV V chord progression - if not give up and just take the money.

    OK show him how to go boom on the 3rd string root note for the I chord. Then boom on the 2nd string for the IV chord . Then boom on the 4th string for V chord. Repeat till done.

    If he will not take to that, show him how to slap it like a drum.

    5 string banjo is full of hard to do stuff. If he played banjo he can play bass.
  14. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

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    If he plays guitar he knows how to strum the I IV V chord progression - if not give up and just take the money.

    OK show him how to go boom on the 3rd string root note for the I chord. Then boom on the 2nd string for the IV chord . Then boom on the 4th string for V chord. Repeat till done.
    [​IMG]

    If he will not take to that, show him how to slap it like a drum.

    5 string banjo is full of hard to do stuff. If he played banjo he can play bass. Mandolin is a bitch with those little frets and big fingers, If he can play mandolin he can play bass. Ask him to define boom.
  15. Shakin-Slim

    Shakin-Slim

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    How about figuring out a particular song. That way it suits his need to just know where to put his fingers, without any technical stuff, it will give you something to do and maybe, just maybe, some 'technical stuff' will inadvertently seep through.
  16. joebar

    joebar Supporting Member

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    Jan 10, 2010
    i have a buddy who is a great guitarist and he cant play a bass to save his life
    sometimes it doesnt carry over i guess...
  17. lavmonga

    lavmonga Supporting Member

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    I'd like to be a world class stockbroker without actually learning anything or knowing anything about the market, do you know anyone who can help me out?
  18. Big Brother

    Big Brother Supporting Member

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    Eyes glazed means he doesn't understand and needs to be taught in a different way that he can relate to. No idea what that might be for him though. You would think he'd already understand a bit having played bluegrass.

    This guy sounds a lot like someone I happen to know in the Bitterroot. :smug:
  19. SquierJazz72

    SquierJazz72

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    It almost sounds, as well, like he's just expecting to be able to play bass, and is not allowing his skill with other instruments to carry over. Maybe.

    It seems to me that if he can play these other, fretted, stringed instruments, he should be able to understand the value of the same things on bass. Unless he really does think all we do is hit random strings to go boom-boom-boom.

    Just seems odd to me that he could be skilled in other instruments and not be able to grasp the same things about this one. Unless he's just being stubborn, in which case, what can you do?
  20. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

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    Location:
    East Central Wisconsin
    So he's basically saying, "I want to play bass, but I don't want to learn anything." You can't teach someone like that. I'd skip even trying.
  21. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Location:
    Montreal
    To use your quote and the OP post I would say this:

    If the guy as some talent for music, he seems to do, and he wants to learn how to play bass, then show him what it means to play bass from a more technical and functional view.

    First, make him aware of the sound and the technic to use. How to have a good sound from the bass with different attack positions with the fingers or the pick. Make him aware of the ghost notes, notes length,register,phrasing and rhythms. Then make him be aware of the role of the bass player from a bass player's perspective. Your the only one that can teach that to a guitar player. TIME and GROOVE are something that a lot of instrumentists are not aware of unfortunately. And may be you can use this for your teaching ;-)

    I think most of us underestimate all the subtilities involved in our playing that make a band sound great!

    Good luck

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