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Advice for Transitioning to a Rock Band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by iambucket, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. Hi guys and girls. I'm out to achieve one of my big dreams, that is to play in a rock band. I've played in college groups and have a degree in music theory but I consider this goal to be so outside of my experience that I see myself as a beginner. I was hoping to get some advice from you all as to what I need to do to get caught up.

    My background is in jazz. I always stuck to electric. I have a good ear, timing and melodic intuition. I know theory but I'm trying to unlearn it for now, or at least relearn as would a rocker. I mosty played in combos that were either 5 or 6 piece.

    I am very green when it comes to gear/sound/technology. I tend to just want to plug in and play and never had to do anything outside of this while in school. My school had a sound crew that took care of all of the set-up. I don't even know what amp I had. It was my dad's Fender but I don't know anything besides that. I had a 70s P-Bass. I admittedly neglected learning about gear so I know that is an area I need to get comfortable with. Right now I'm borrowing my dad's Epi SG because I'm liking the short scale (and equally so, the weight of a short scale). I have a little Danelectro practice amp. I know this is only good for practicing but I wanted to build up my chops before investing in equipment.

    So my question to you all is if you were me what would you do to get rock ready quick? Right now I'm focusing on learning songs by ear. It's going ok but I'm feel like this is just prework to be eligible to begin learning with other people. I see CL ads saying please list what groups you've been in and provide audio samples but I'm not sure how to find people to practice with who are beginners looking to get better. I did the obvious thing and made a post myself but anything else I could?

    That's the essense of my question. Theoretician not sure how to practically apply knowledge. Feedback is appreciated. Thank you.
  2. Learn to play the rock music you like to listen to. There are a million tutorial videos and bass tabs out there on the internet.

    Find people to play with. Look around on Facebook for open mics and meet folks there. Ask around at music stores. Every band needs a bass player.

    It's only rock and roll. If you can play jazz, you can play 90 percent of rock. Most of it's just simple roots and fifths in a I-IV-V progression. Don't overthink it!
  3. Rumble Thunder

    Rumble Thunder

    Aug 5, 2016
    Listen to the kick drum. There are times to go with it and times to buck against it.

    Do not step on the vocals.

    Rock is typically heavy on 1 & 3 not rocket surgery, lol :D

    Make sure to get the groove on, especially chorus parts, it's fun to see people moving to the groovin'

    Don't overplay, let the music breathe. You get credit for what you don't play.

    Do what is best to support the song. Know when to back off and when it's time to bring the Thunder.

    Rock is an attitude. Have fun!!
    Be comfortable in your skin. Smile. Connect to both the audience and your band mates.

    I'm sure I am leaving a bunch of stuff out but here are a few things to get started with.

    Good luck and Rock on. :bassist:
    design, Mugre, gidbass and 9 others like this.
  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Rhythm-wise, it's all about locking with the kick drum. Melody-wise, it's generally simpler than jazz - root, octave and fifth will take you a long way. Just start listening - YouTube is full of isolated bass tracks and bass playalongs (often not accurate, but worth listening to to help). When you post audio samples, that's what I would do.

    If you can sing a few harmonies, it will make you a lot more attractive.
  5. Yeah. The gaps between the notes are just as important as the notes themselves.
    EricssonB, hintz, bolophonic and 2 others like this.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    When I play in a rock band I focus a lot more on leaving holes for the snare and hitting the one with the rhythm guitar than on locking with the kick.

    Then again, if you do both of those you end up being with the kick automatically.
  7. Thank you for all the pointers so far. I figured the best thing for learning the specifics of what to play is play along with songs. I should have been more specific with my question. I'm wondering more about how I organize learning songs. It seems like it'd take a long time for me to learn enough to play with other people. How do I go about finding opportunities to play with people when I'm such a beginner? That's really the crux of my question.

    That being said, thank you for the playing tips.
  8. :whistle:
    iambucket likes this.
  9. Go back to the Fender Precision, because it will be easier to play rock’n’roll with it. I wouldn’t lie to you.
    Go out and listen to bands and check out what the bassist is using, particularly what sounds good to you. You’ll need equipment, of course, sooner rather than later.
    Lastly, yes, it’s going to take time, but good stuff usually does. If you play constantly it’ll be quicker. Play your favorites.
    Mvilmany, the_home and saabfender like this.
  10. Good. Jazzers make the best all around musicians.

    Youre going to need a stage amp, loud enough for you and your bandmates to hear. Common wisdom is that you will need 300-500 watts to compete with a rock drum kit.

    Listen to all rock songs from the last 60 years. Seriously, just learn your setlist—5 to 10 songs per week. Once you get up to 40, you should have a good basis. Now for fun, listen to the classic rock channel on Sirius, or cable, or FM radio, and play along.

    Yes. Put up a card on the community bulletin board at your local music stores. Appeal to the group and purpose you want “Adult beginner looking for others to jam with, and work toward getting gigs.

    Lastly, there are many other things you will have to acquire to gig: a sound system, lights, maybe a trailer or van. Tight pants.
    iambucket likes this.
  11. Play along with the incidental music on TV. Adverts are a good test of picking up a groove. Then you can hit an open mic, jam, whatever, if you are old enough to get in.
    delta7fred likes this.
  12. TuneSalad666

    TuneSalad666 Banned

    Mar 1, 2018
    Forget all you know and all you learned and go with your guts.

    That is what rock music is about!

    Or well should be about.

    That is if you want to play in an original rock band playing original music and not just copy what everyone else is doing.

    And find people to play with.

    The only way you'll learn how to play with people is by playing with people.

    You will find though that the result will depend a lot on if the chemistry right, if you click with people and their idea of music.

    Also your short scale SG will be fine if that is what you want to play with and feel most comfortable with.

    Mike Watt did great with his.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
    catcauphonic, iambucket and hintz like this.
  13. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Do you want to play original musoc or play in a cover/bar band?

    If originals, you will have to find the bamd first. They will either have the songs or you'll write them together.

    If you want to play in a cover band, Google around and find lists. Maybe search up top 100 rock bar band songs or something like that. Then just start learning. That will give you a feel for what you will need in the field.

    As for gear, do you have a budget? Do you prefer lightweight? How would you transport it?

    Give us a little more info ti helpus help you.

    And relax. You'll be fine. Rock music is supposed to be fun.
  14. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    @two fingers ' question is what I was wondering too - are you talking about writing originals, releasing albums, going on tour with this rock band idea? Or are you talking about playing covers around local bars and clubs and such?

    If you're a capable jazz musician, then you'll pick up rock quite easily. Much of it will seem simple to you. Don't overthink being "ready" for it. Music is music.

    When I started out, I played along to CDs for a few months, got to the point I could do that pretty confidently and got bored, and posted a craigslist ad looking for jam partners, totally frank about my noob status. I got picked up by some other weekend-warrior guys and we just started picking tunes and got rolling. I didn't have to show up with a big repertoire all ready. That lasted a year and started a process of building repertoire and skills and getting to understand how bands work.

    Anyway, not to turn this into a covers-v-originals thread (we have lots of those), but they are different beasts. You're young, so if you want to have your go at touring and stardom, you can do the sleeping on couches and eating ramen thing, waiting for your big break. Originals means a higher threshold but also a higher ceiling - harder to get a gig that will pay you $100, but if you DO break through you could be off to fame and fortune. Covers means it's easier to get a gig in a bar and get paid on the weekend; but there's not a lot of work, other than wedding/corporate function bands, that will ever pay much MORE than $100 a gig. Also with originals, no one ever expects a band to play more than an hour, 90 minutes or so of music (think of concerts you've been to), whereas a bar hiring a cover band will expect them to play for three or four hours, with a couple of breaks.

    If you are thinking the covers route, I think you have an advantage over a lot of us in being young; see the rash of threads recently about "dad bands," which reflect the reality that a lot of cover band musicians are middle aged guys and a lot of us play middle aged music. You can much more credibly play modern music to a younger crowd and likely fill a gap in many markets.
    iambucket and Wisebass like this.
  15. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    In the tradition of millions, nay, billions, of noobs getting into a rock band for the first time - don’t overthink it.

    Find some others of a similar skill level to jam with, pick some songs and go for it. Experiment and find what works for you.

    There’s no requirement to show up fully formed. You’re ahead of the curve already.
  16. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Hi iambucket :)

    For rock, three chords you learn and form a band, :D the dark side of the force it is!

    Oupps!:oops: Too late! Another hopeless case! :laugh:;)

    yod unlearn.

    I am kidding! :D

    I am sure as a Jazz guy, you know major and minor (blues-) pentatonics.
    That' s about 90% of what you need, when you play classic rock.
    A lot of it is blues- based and works with these two simples scales.
    So, just relax about theory! :) (at least for the moment)

    Search a good drummer!
    He has to know how to count to 4 (at least!)
    Good timing and a right foot like a rabbit, are a must for rock!

    Look for someone with better skills than you! (and don 't tell him/ her my jokes :D)
    Drummers can be your best teachers, when you want to learn grooves!

    Form a solid union! There is no good bassplayer,
    without a good drummer and vice versa!

    Maybe teach him how to use fork and knife in exchange. :D
    Eventually add a guitarist.

    And do your "thing" together!

    So this was how I started 35 years ago. (I hope I could help :))
    Good luck with your journey!

    May the bass be with you


    btw: Get the drummer before you buy a big and heavy amp! :smug:

    He can help with the schlepp! :laugh:
    design, iambucket, hintz and 2 others like this.
  17. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    If you find some people who are interested in playing with you, just exchange song lists. Using chord sheets and your ear, you can easily learn a typical rock song in an evening and double up on weekends. Then meet up with your new buddies and play 10 songs. Rinse and repeat.
    iambucket and Wisebass like this.
  18. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    What kind of rock are you interested in playing? Rock is a big umbrella! But essentially it is learned no different than jazz, but i guess there CAN be some gear differences but not always. Depends on what you want to get in to.

    But the learning process is no different than jazz really. You listen to alot of it, pick out what you like, and imitate it. When you hear tones you like, you seek out how that tone was made. But gear wise, all you need is an electric bass and a loud enough amp to be ready to play with a group.
    Jhengsman and basslayer like this.
  19. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    learn to play eighth notes 3-4 minutes at a time.

    divide the music into two stacks = one stack for all the tunes requiring 8th notes for 3-4 minutes at a time. and the other stack.
    design, iambucket, Remyd and 3 others like this.
  20. The word 'unlearn' nearly made me panic. Don't unlearn anything! You have a huge advantage, i.e. knowing theory, that allows you to know how to break it.

    Otherwise, I agree with the above. Since you've been studying music for a while, I assume you know how to listen... so listen a lot and figure out what sort of rock lines you like.
    Wisebass and hintz like this.

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