Advice on transitioning from guitar to bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Julian Delphiki, Jan 24, 2019.

  1. Julian Delphiki

    Julian Delphiki

    Jan 24, 2019
    I am a long-time guitar player who is interested in (seriously) learning bass. So, my question is what advice would you have (maybe something you wish you would have known) for a guitar player who is looking to learn bass.

    I should add that I am currently shopping for a bass and have a professional instructor lined up who also plays guitar, but I'd love to hear what else you all would recommend.

    Bartrinsic, BurnOut and Bandit127 like this.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    The songs that you can already play on guitar, now learn the bass parts, too. It's really that simple. Good luck and welcome! :)
  3. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Play like a bassist not a guitarist lol. Meaning don’t play a bunch of crap all over the place just to be showy, but stay in the pocket;)

    Use picks and fingers and all styles and after a few years it will be natural.
    Russell L, Jazzish, marcwhy and 7 others like this.
  4. Bandit127


    Dec 30, 2018
    Putting the pick away, learning scales on a foreign fretboard (not that foreign I know but I did lose my bearings), a different feel for the beat, a different place in the song. I did embrace these things to try to be a bass player, not a guitarist on a different instrument. But it did throw me right back to noob after 40 years of playing guitar.

    I am only 4 weeks in but have played a bit every day. My muscles have got used to the extra string tension and neck length so they don't immediately hurt anymore and I can play a few songs now and sound half decent.

    It is immensely satisfying to play some of the bass lines that have always inspired me and it has rejuvenated my interest in playing.
    craigie, Sixgunn, Camarillo and 4 others like this.
  5. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Understand the role of the bass as both rhythmic and harmonic. Play along with your favorite songs, listening closely to the bass part(s).

    Regarding a bass, play as many as you can and find one that is comfortable for you to play and that sounds good. There will be a bunch of recommendations here, but only you can decide what works for you.
  6. Julian Delphiki

    Julian Delphiki

    Jan 24, 2019
    Do you have any advice for how to pick the bass lines out in songs where they may be lighter in the mix? Like any iTunes settings or tools that make the bass more prominent?
  7. I bet you have in the past played from fake chord sheet music. Do the same, but, here you do not strum the active chord. Now on the bass you play notes of the chord one note at a time to the beat of the song... Right at first just get the root note going.

    Woke up this morn-ing...…

    Pound C's till the F comes up and then yes pound the F, G and the C note to the beat of the song. I think just root notes to the beat will get you started.

    As to how to pick out a bass line, my ear is tin, so I use sheet music and follow the chord progression.

    As to playing more prominent. We play harmony and rhythm. Best done in the background. To be more prominent, let the amp help with this. Our job is to augment and let the solo instruments take the more prominent role in the music.

    As you are just starting out you may find playing the Major scale box pattern up and down your fretboard will get your fingers moving on your neck. Post #4 in this link may help. How to get started? If I am playing note or chord name I gather my notes from first position. If I am playing scale degree numbers, or Nashville numbers I use the major scale box's numbers.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019
    Julian Delphiki likes this.
  8. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    What Craigie and others said.

    Bass has a different role than guitar. Learning the groove and the pocket should be a priority.

    There is a universe of free bass transcriptions on the internet plus folks playing bass covers.

    I first picked up the bass on a recording session in the 90s. A few years later, i was selling off my guitars. Bass is addictive.
    Picton and Julian Delphiki like this.
  9. tshapiro

    tshapiro Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2015
    Jax Florida
    Throw away your picks - in 2 years you'll be happy you did. When you happen to play your guitar, do so without a pick.
  10. Playing bass is a unique combination of discipline and restraint... you have to, sort of, fall in love with that to do well with it.

    Reminds me of a saying:

    "Bass players are like goalies in hockey. Few want to be them, no one really understands what they do. But unless you have a really good one, your band, or team, sucks"
  11. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    When I see g*****ists playing bass, you can spot them because the fingers on both hands (but esp. the right) are mostly straight, so they end up hitting the strings like hammers, sending the vibrating string's axis the wrong way. Curl your hands like a pianist and you'll be pretty close.

    Learn how to play a good solid whole note. Then learn how to play a great whole note tied to another. This should take you about a week.
    JRA, Julian Delphiki and IamGroot like this.
  12. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Master finger style, and also with a pick. Two different sound and feel. Also handy if your fingers get blistered or your hand gets cts.
    Julian Delphiki and mcarp555 like this.
  13. FunkyEel


    Dec 29, 2018
    Portland, Oregon
    tpa, JRA, Fretless1! and 5 others like this.
  14. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    The Adam O'McNeely video is really pretty good.
    John j, tpa, Tony In Philly and 2 others like this.
  15. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Btw, there are several threads on TB in the Technique section regarding left hand fingering technique which boils down to the Simandl 1,2,3+4 vs the one finger per fret (OFPF) 1,2,3,4. Each has its merits. Worth looking into, as the string tension is higher on the bass and the fret spacing, esp. on the lower frets is greater. If you experience pain on the lower positions, Simandl may help.

    I was a ofpf guitarist so the transition to ofpf bass was easy. I learned Simandl when i took up double bass.
  16. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    Listen to the kick drum.
    lermgalieu, Sixgunn, Jazzish and 2 others like this.
  17. spvmhc


    Apr 14, 2011
    I also came to the bass via the guitar. You can make the transition easier for yourself. While you're shopping, consider a short (30") or medium (32") scale bass as an alternative to a 34" scale bass. I find little sonic difference but significant difference in comfort.
    Julian Delphiki likes this.
  18. nnnnnn


    Oct 27, 2018
    The OP wanted to know how to make the bass in an existing recording sound more prominent in order to better hear what the original bassist was doing.

    I would turn down the treble and/or just play with the graphic EQ to see what helps for the particular song you're working on. If there's a magic frequency to boost I don't know what it is, sorry.

    There are some YouTube channels that have bass play-alongs with the transcription (tab and/or bass clef) on screen. Obviously seeing the transcription helps, but also the bass is usually easier to hear because the transcriber usually plays along with the original recording.

    There are also a few isolated bass tracks from original recordings available on YouTube.
    Julian Delphiki likes this.
  19. Julian Delphiki

    Julian Delphiki

    Jan 24, 2019
    As a hockey fan/player, this speaks to me...
  20. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Be prepared to embrace a life of celibacy and social alienation.