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Amount of time to learn songs?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, May 24, 2001.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Just curious. How long does it take you guys to learn (and play well) typical R&R cover songs (Green Day, STP, Chili Peps, 3rd Eye Blind, etc). I can handle about 4 a week without much stress, 6 if it's important, and probably 8-10 if it's gonna pay really well. That's about tops for me.

    How about you?
  2. Depending on the band, or more accurately how hard the bass line is, I can do between 1 and 5 a day.
    Actually, if they're all like Smells Like Teen Spirit, then I could probably pull off about 10 a day. :D:p
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    When I was just a bare bones beginner, it took me two months to learn Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark." I had the sheet music...no tab...right in front of me, but I just couldn't figure out where in heck in the song the sheet music related. It took me forever. It just seemed overwhelming. I just couldn't hear and I didn't understand things like "to coda" and "coda". Plus the sheet music didn't have the bass line, so I had to try to hear what the bass was doing, but with little way of knowing how to apply the bass lines to the chords.

    Another thing, I couldn't keep up because I didn't know the fretboard well enough, didn't know ways to speed up playing like using an open string and didn't know how to organize a bassline or understand what I thought I heard Steve Harris playing.

    Was I in over my head or what? My advice to beginners is start out simple and easy.
  4. Well, my main gig consists of us playing 35 different songs every week. Generally between 4-10 are brand new to me every week. And about 20 i've maybe played once. Believe me, i've got charts coming out the wazoo. It's hard, even impossible, for the band to get things super tight, but it generally comes off well. A real challenge, that's for sure. I also sing at least one brand new song to me a week. That's tough too, plus trying to sing harmony with the other songs. lol I'm not complaining, i love the challenge actually, but some weeks i wish i already knew all the songs. Trent
  5. Hi All, I am a brand-new player (just started about six weeks ago) and after reading right here on Talkbass that one really should know all the names of the notes on the fret I realized that my approach wasn't quite right! So now I am memorizing as I do my scales. Also just playing around with little rythmic things I make up myself. But that's getting boring fast and given that I have no idea when I will feel "ready" to actually ask people to play with me (ack!), I want to at least try to play along with things I like, which it sounds like you all do/did. So I went on Talkbass' handy link and got the tab for the Cure's Lovecats... and I can't even read it! I am a singer and I'm used to reading sheet music, and tabulature is like a whole nother language. So my point is, can anybody suggest something VERY VERY EASY to start with? So I could listen to it, and look at the tab and figure it out that way? Because doing one song a WEEK seems pretty daunting right now!

    Thanks! kurva

    Oh, and as for singing: who else sings and plays bass simultaneously besides Sting? (I grew up listening to musicals and classical so I am pretty ignorant when it comes to the stuff I want to play now!)

    And apart from the bassist for Sonic Youth and Joe Henry (Jennifer something... forgot argh), what other studley women bassists are out there? I am one (a woman, if not a bassist... yet...) and could use the insipration!

    For all you Russian speakers out there: Derzhi khvost pistoletom!
  6. Rockinjc


    Dec 17, 1999
    I need at LEAST one verse and one chorus to figure out a new tune.

  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    If you are talking about mimicking the bass lines by myself to songs by those groups you mentioned, about 6 a day to, as you say, "play well." I'd be burnt out after 6.

    If you are talking about integrating the bass line with other musicians, which usually involves some revisions, 3 a day if we had all day, (which we don't). The studio version doesn't always cut it, onstage.
  8. I learn at least one new song a week. We do a diffrent cover tune every Sunday...so I get it on Tuesday at practice and perform it that weekend. It usually comes off pretty well.
  9. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Kurva, I'm a lady bassist, too. Welcome to our sorority, a very special one.

    OK, now, here's what I would say about tabs form the Internet. They are darned nearly impossible to read. They are not "professional" tabs. Pro tabs would be in a grand staff with the standard notation above and the tabs below. That way you know the rhythm, timing and structure of the song in complete format. Internet tabs are an abomination and just short of virtually useless.

    So what you need are professionally transcribed and prepared bass tabs or standard notation of bass lines, but you really need simple songs to start. Even Metallica changes key once or twice in many of their songs. I say stick to Green Day, Nirvanna, heck...Brittney Spears, N'Sync, O-Town, Destiny"s Child--very basic music like that.

    Why? Because you will have fewer chord changes, less complex chords, an "easier" key, less complex song stucture, simpler rhytmnic requirements. You may not like that music, but it is a simple start and you will feel the satisfaction of playing a song or two instead of struggling with something hopelessly complex and frustrating. Music with advanced syncopation and difficult timing like some funk would be harder to grasp than a simpler pop song or country/pop song like one by the Dixie Chicks.

    I like your attitude about learning your fretboard and learning to read standard notation. You are way ahead of the game, because if you read some of the posts here at TalkBass you will once in awhile read posts by newbies who want shortcuts and don't want to do "boring" scales and "dumb" chord arpeggios.
  10. kim deal! pixies! check her out!

    also the bass player from A Perfect Circle, but i don't think she played much on the album.
  11. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    I'm not bragging but I know hundreds if not thousands of cover tunes. I can learn about 30 in one day with tabs.

    I learned a whole set in one day a few weeks ago. And I played it fairly well.
  12. twiggy

    twiggy Guest

    Apr 27, 2001
    rayna is the bass player for coal chamber
  13. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    More female bassists:

    Tina Weymouth--Talking Heads
    Sara Lee--Gang of Four, B-52s, Robert Fripp, Ani diFranco, etc.
    Jean Millington--Fanny
    Jennifer Condos--Don Henley
    Rhonda S.--Prince
    Michael Steele--Bangles
    the bassists in Shonen Knife, the Donnas, Nashville P*ssy, Drain STH, L7, Bikini Kill, etc.

    I'm sure I could think of more if I took the time


    If you are used to reading sheet music, you can get books with written out bass lines (NOT tab). They'll be in bass clef but that shouldn't be a problem.

    As far as learning, do you mean getting every note exactly like the record, good enough to get by on a gig, what? I can learn bass lines to 3-4 songs an hour if they are in a style I am familiar with. If I have standard notation I can learn them faster (as I don't have to waste any time figuring out the lines). I often do sub gigs where I have to learn one or two hours worth of material in about a week. I can do it but I simplify anything that I have evn a little difficulty with just because I don't have the time to get it "perfect".


    Apr 13, 2001
    Kent, England.
    I worked out the whole papa roach album in about two weeks.No tabs. I play about 1-2 hours a day most days. So it took about an hour a song.

    Gotta love that solo on between angels and insect.
  15. Hi All, I could add Kim Deal (Pixies, the Breeders) and Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) to my own list. (THey're not like secretly the same lady are they? jus kiddin...)

    Now that I know How Easy it is to Effortlessly Learn 12,000 Songs a Day Through Tab and Heavy Drink, answer me this: how long did people just goof around by themselves (hey now!) before they went and found people to jam with? It seems like with guitar you can hold out playin and singin all by yourself a lot longer, forever it you want, but it seems like the bass just needs (an)other instrument(s) to rock with.

    And corollary question: what do you do if there are people WILLING to mess around, but they are all acoustic? Do you just turn the volume WAY DOWN on the amp? Or just play ampless but really thwack the strings? (If these sounds like dumb questions, remember my novice status!!!)

    Happy Birthday Miles Davis! He would've been 75.

  16. when I´m playing with acoustic guitars, I just take my little 70 watt amp, and turn it down low... you couldn´t hear the bass at all ampless (unless of course an acoustic bass).. :)

    and happy b-day to Miles... he was a great man! :)
  17. ashton


    Jan 4, 2001
    well i love greenday and i can play most of their songs on bass and (forgive me) lead. it normaly takes me a few hours to learn and play well. the longest it has taken me was a few days-2 weeks for longview, the chorus is still wrong on all tabs i have gotten so i made my own, hope its right.
    see ya

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