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Advice from you seasoned vets for a novice?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Pablo Fanque, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. Pablo Fanque

    Pablo Fanque

    Apr 1, 2009
    Hey, all. I'm brand new (first post) to this forum.

    I'm a self-taught (but not very good) guitar player. 15-ish years ago I was decent, at least capable enough to play some fairly simple songs in a little cover band (Beatles, Police, Doors kind of stuff.)

    I never had lessons and other than learning chords or playing by tabs, I never learned much about music, certainly nothing about music theory.

    I've been dying to learn to play bass, so I picked up an inexpensive Dean acoustic/electric a 1 1/2 weeks ago and have been noodling with it.

    I can play a few songs (pretty simple ones.) I've not memorized the fret board, but I can find all the notes (at least through the 12th frets.) I've been doing simple do-re-mi scales (don't know the technical names of all the scales yet) with a, c, d and maybe from f or something.

    I'd like to be able to play rock, maybe some jazz and older country. Maybe I'd play in a band down the road but not sure that's the goal quite yet.

    Given all that, what things would you suggest I do to become a decent player? Should I take lessons? Try to learn to read music? Just learn to play a lot of songs?

    Your advice is appreciated. :)
  2. Kindofblue


    Oct 13, 2008
    All 3 of those suggestions together imo. I guess it goes with what your goals are what you wanna learn ?
  3. Archangel_Bass


    Mar 29, 2009
    all of that and then some, tabs are a good way to start. at least thats how i started, but i definately suggest learning to read music, and learn theory as well. put it this way pick a few songs that arent too technical (acdc is great for beginner to intermediate cause its fun and good to play with friends) then go from there i started out looking at tabs on ultimate-guitar.com then i read a few lessons on there and then forums so essentially practice the basics over and over use some different techniques every now and then and try to learn something new every day. and if you arent too against it take some lessons it never hurt anyone. lessons will also help you learn or at least start off with all the stuff i mentioned before
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    28-year player here.

    Start playing with other people as soon as possible. The idea of practicing on your own, when you're starting out, is to develop the baseline skills that will allow you to function in a band situation. It is a step toward the goal, not the goal itself. Once you get to that point, individual practice is still important but not as important as getting together with others and learning to play in group situations. This is how you develop "big ears" and sharpen your musical instincts. You will get better in a month of steady playing with a drummer than you will in a year dinking around on scales in your bedroom. Trust me on this.

    Good luck!
  5. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Listen to a lot of music and pay attention to the bass. Put on a radio station, and just try to figure out the changes to everything. Nail as many of the licks as you can. Keep at it until you can play it all.
  6. Pablo Fanque

    Pablo Fanque

    Apr 1, 2009
    All sounds like pretty good advice so far. Thanks for the input. Any other suggestions are appreciated. Keep 'em coming.
  7. the_hook


    Apr 9, 2008
    The first thing you have to ask yourself is how serious you are (or can be) about learning bass. If you're not, and don't want any pressure, then just go along as you have, take suggestions here and there, and you'll learn stuff.

    But if you're serious and discplined and committed, then get a teacher right away. I don't have that option right now, but I'm all of those 3 I listed, and I can knuckle down and learn stuff fast.

    I have a few guys I play with, I learn about a song a week (on top of a very busy schedule), and I'm constantly pushing myself to learn more (technique, writing, reading, more songs).

    But if I had the time and money, I'd get a good teacher and learn everything properly, get on a structured program that will hit the nail on every head the first time out, instead of hacking away alone in my basement doing stuff that I hope will lead to something.
  8. Pablo Fanque

    Pablo Fanque

    Apr 1, 2009
    I don't want to make a profession out of playing, although I suppose I would if I could get good enough fast enough. Put it this way: I'm not playing to become a pro.

    I'd just like to be able to jam with good musicians, maybe play @ church or something like that, and just play around the house for my own amusement.

    Depending on the cost of lessons, it seems to me that the things I would like to do on bass justify spending some time/money learning from someone else.

    I made the mistake of teaching myself guitar, with little input outside of books or magazines, and I plateaued within a few years.
  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Take a look at the link in my sig. Lots of great info that may help you out there.

    Good luck.
  10. beaglegod


    Jan 6, 2009

    I have been emailing every pro player that I can, since Im a novice myself, guys that I have actually seen and heard play, one is a teacher at Berkley, another the author of no less than 5 books some of which have been recommended at this website, one teaches at Louis Johnsons school for bass, another is a highly regarded player that has a great website called playbassnow.com they all say something very similar to what you read above, Im taking the advice because if it gets me even close to some of these players its what Im shooting for. As one player that I admire told me who gos by the name Funkstar 650 on youtube, your bass is not the most important instrument, your ears are. Again Im just sharing what Ive been told, some will probably say its awful advice but I have a hard time ignoring advice from guys that blow me away. Check this out also:

  11. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    Learn how to spell chords. Like E major is E-G#B. Those are the notes to highlight over an E chord. You have to also know the E major scale if you want to play other notes to connect those chord tones. A good bassline, IMO, can show the chord progression when played solo.
  12. baddarryl

    baddarryl Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2008
    Cape Fear!
    Not to hijack, but best way I have ever heard to understand that. "Learn to spell chords". Thank you. With that in mind I picked my guitar and played E to get E-B-F-G#. Wouldn't that be correct? Or are just talking about triads? My quickest way would be to do it on guitar or would I be better off with a chord sheet? Thanks.
  13. Pablo Fanque

    Pablo Fanque

    Apr 1, 2009
    Before I can get started on lessons, should I be playing by tab, or does that create too much of a crutch?
  14. Mr. Mig

    Mr. Mig

    Sep 7, 2008
    I say get a the best bass teacher you can find and learn from him. It helps put everything else into perspective.
  15. bonzo4880


    Sep 16, 2007
    Baltimore, MD
    tabs are ok but you never know how accurate they are. best two things you can do have already been mentioned: find some people to play with ASAP - trust me, bass players are always in demand. even as a beginner, as long as your time isn't atrocious - you will have ppl to play with. put in some practice time with a click. turn on the radio/put your ipod on shuffle/etc and just jam to whatever comes on. if you can pick up the bassline, great. if not, at least try to follow the changes and play the root notes.

    i would definitely recommend lessons at some point but you might want to just get some time in on the instrument to get used to the physicality of playing it. that way you can maximize the time and money you invest in lessons.
  16. the_hook


    Apr 9, 2008
    Funny that...months ago I got asked to audition for a rock cover band, and I had barely touched my bass yet. Today a guy at work asked if I want to play for his band (they play Big Band stuff). But I'm just too busy to join these bands, bass is a bit low on the priority list at this time, but it's great to know people need bass players.
  17. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Got metronome?
    accurate timing is far more critical for the bass than for guitar, where sloppy rhythm tends to be more forgivable.

    I would skip a tabs all together, and forge ahead with standard notation reading. If you can find any note on the neck (as you say) and you can figure out pitch from lines and spaces on the staff, and are able to choose from the possible note locations which is the most efficient fingering, then tab is pointless.

    a superior advantage in notation reading is the increased awareness of rhythm you get from knowing exactly your eight notes from your dotted sixteenths etc...

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