Another "show me the way to the dark side" thread

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Velkov, Mar 6, 2003.

  1. Velkov


    Jan 17, 2001
    Lansdowne, Ontario
    I've been reading a lot of these threads lately and I still have some questions/concerns that are unanswered.

    Some background on me: I started playing the guitar 10 years ago. A couple of years ago I got really bored of that and got a fender fretless jazz bass. I love playing the bass and I am getting better at playing the kind of music I want to play (jazz) but I am realizing more and more that I play my bass as if it was an upright. Subconsiously every note I play was meant to be played on an upright. I think ... Sometimes I even put my bass up on a chair and hold it like an upright and it feels better that way. Of course the action is soooo low that there is no way to get a good sound but anyway...

    Financially I am getting to the point now where I can almost justify getting into the double bass. I am not going to go and buy a bass tomorrow. It's just something that I want to start doing research on and hopefully start playing sometime in the next few months.

    In one of the other threads somebody said "Play a lot of basses and see what sounds right" Well, I have played 3 or 4 basses at stores and they all sound like crap. Because it's me playing them.
    So, how do I buy a bass if I can't make any bass sound good. Yet.

    A lot of people suggest getting a teacher. How do I establish a relationship with a teacher if I don't have a bass to start that relationship with.

    Should I start renting, get a teacher, and start hanging out at luthier shops until something comes up. How playable would a rented bass be. I'm in Toronto, so Long and McQuade is one place where I can rent from. They are a well known chain of stores and have had rental programs for years. So, I imagine their basses would be ok.

    There are a few bassists from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra that teach too. So, I'm thinking of contacting them. What other ways do I have to find a teacher?

    How long does it take until I start to sound ok if I play for about one hour every day?
  2. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    A LOOOOOOONG time.

    you need to carve practice time up something like this:

    1/3 scales both slow and fast
    1/3 material you are preforming
    1/3 sight reading

    So, if you hit it for an hour you only get 20 min each not enough

    With 2 hours you get 40 min each ar you are starting to get there

    If you can do three hours a day you will see drastic improvement.

    Since I put in 14 hours at my day job, I do just one hour a day thing. I find scales the hardest to get into but they do the most for you.

  3. Hello Velkov,
    I myself wish when I started I would have found my Teacher first. He could have a guided me in the right direction on buying my Bass. Teachers also know people that know people and may can help you on your quest. Double Basses are far from Bass Guitars. Yes they both have 4 strings but my Teacher spent alot of time on me breaking bad habits I had being a self taught Bass Guitar player. I would say find a Teacher first to help you find a playable Bass. You said you want to play Jazz so I would Find a Teacher that Plays Jazz "BUT" learning to play with a Bow will help you greatly also for many reasons so try and find a teacher that can teach both. Be picky...interview the Teacher and make sure he can truly teach you. This may sound silly but there are alot of boneheads out there that call themselves teachers..... All well my 2 cents.

  4. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    You'll have to be patient. A better question is how long can you practice before your forearms, hands and finger hurt so much you got to take a break? Of course YMMV, but usually the first weeks on DB you're happy when you can finish a ten bar exercise! When I started my practice regimen was split into two or three separate 10 to 15min sessions per day.

    Good luck, get a teacher...
  5. Hey Velcro,
    Wellcome to the dark side. You have developed a mental addiction to play the Real Bass, so You are here already. Only thing You´ll need is a teacher and a decent bass to start with.
    There are a few Canadians here in the board, some of which may live inside Your reach. Contact them and ask who they have as teachers. Those guys or their teachers also may have different basses You wanna try out and listen how they sound.

    You´ll find the time to practice, the Beast kinda drags You into practicing, there´s no way avoiding it....

  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Velkov, you're in T.O. (poor sod) so you're in the cultural centre of Canada (poor rest of us.) If there be basses, they be there.

    The TSO is a good place to start looking for contacts. For jazz, try York University. My knowledge of their program -- through friends that went there -- goes back almost (gulp) 20 years, but they had a very active jazz scene then. There's gotta be a lotta dark siders. It's even a convenient subway ride.

    Here in the Peg, we've got something called the Manitoba Conservatory for the Arts, which acts as a kind of networking centre and home base for a lot of independent teachers. There's likely something like that in T.O., too.

    Or you could just hang at Top of the Senator and start talking to people. I saw George Mraz there last time I was in town on business. The place was jammed with young players and bassists, there to see each other almost as much as the group.

    Best luck. You come to the dark side, you ain't goin' back. Remember that.
  7. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Hmm, I don't necessarily buy that. First of all, its been my recent experience that intelligent practice (focusing on what needs work, challenging both your mind and your body, etc), even in short bursts, is very productive. I think it is more important to get into a practice ritual than to try to make each practice session 3 hours if that also means you are compromising other areas of your life that eventually have to be ironed out. Better to have a tenable long term strategy such as 1 hour a day than an untenable short term burst of 3 hours a day.

    That said, if you insert at least one or two days a week of actually playing tunes with other musicians for 2-3 hours sessions (at least), this will augment your practice and the two strategies will end up propelling one another forward in leaps and bounds. I used to practice only sporadically and in an unorganized fashion in addition to regular rehersals with my band (so I played about 8-10 hours a week plus any gigs). Now, I play about 9-12 hours a week plus any gigs - which isn't much more. The difference is that it is focused practice (religious adherence to minimum one hour of practice a day on non-rehersal days - I practice longer when I have the time) and I am held in check by biweekly lessons.

    In short, I think it is all about strategy and focus and less about sheer quantity.
  8. Worm Glue:
    Well said. The quality of the practice counts most. The first step is to determine what kind of regimen can be sustained long term, anticipating interruptions from life's many surprises. Whatever it is, don't feel guilty that it isn't longer. That's stupid and pointless. The balanced, well rounded musicians that I know lead balanced, well rounded lives. Whatever you determine, promise yourself that you'll use the time effectively. Do your best, and leave it at that. It's your life, no one else's.

    I have no idea how long it will take to "sound great" on one hour a day. What I do know is that you'll sound better every week. It's more important that you progress; it's the only way you can reach any goal. And if you practice intelligently, I think you'll sound great sooner than you believed possible.
  9. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Hey Velkov,

    Just wanted to add that you should be able to find a teacher that will have an extra bass for you to use. If you can find one, take a couple of lessons before you try a bass with an eye to buying.

    Unfortunately, they will all sound like crap until you know how to get a sound from them... fretless BG techniques will not do the trick here.
  10. Velkov


    Jan 17, 2001
    Lansdowne, Ontario
    Wow, you guys are great. I really like how this is going.

    One of my problems is time. I am newly married, so I enjoy spending time with my better half. And I just found a full time job. (hence I'm starting to think that I'll be able to afford a DB some time soon)

    But I didn't want to make a $2000 investment and then realize that I don't get to play half as much as I wish I did. There is the addiction factor which some people talk about. And I think that will keep my hands on the bass for at least an hour a day. I also remember the last time I had a full time job (I've been going back and forth between co-op jobs and school for a few years, and then I was almost unemployed for a few months until now) and I was able to practice for 2 hours every day and went through some cool jazz books and stuff. So, I feel like part of it is getting into a routine. So, generally I have a good feeling about this. It's like my whole life is changing, new 9-5 job, DB, I may even start going to the gym again!

    I do play for 2 hours once a week with a bass clarinet guy and he just met a drummer. So, the playing with other people part was always there.

    And somebody mentioned reading music. I am mostly a self taught musician but I can read bass music. I can also read guitar and piano stuff...

    Anyway, thanks guys. And keep the comments coming.
  11. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    Not to take attention from you, Velkov, but I'm basically in the same situation as you as far as playing bg but feeling like there's just something missing. If anybody could tell me the names of some good teachers in Austin, Texas or the surrounding area I'd appreciate it.
    I only put this here because I had no idea where else to put it.
  12. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    oh my, you just got married, then you need to be extra careful on the time you devote :)

    I also just took the plunge, in fact I have a
    new Christopher 403 bass on the way, and a local jazz bassist who will start me on lessons before it arrives :)

    I am axious to see how much time i can actually spend playing before I'm too sore to continue :)