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Basic Blues & Funk

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by 707GK, May 5, 2015.

  1. 707GK


    Jun 13, 2013
    Northern California
    I have been playing bass for about 15 years now and would consider myself a pretty good rock bass player (not nearly the best bass player but also not nearly the worst), but I'm 100% self taught, can't read music, play entirely by ear, & have very limited knowledge of theory. I've been asked recently to play with a blues/funk band. I'm looking at getting:

    Amazon.com: Blues Bass - A Guide to the Essential Styles and Techniques: Hal Leonard Bass Method Stylistic Supplement (Book & CD) (0073999715866): Ed Friedland: Books

    And was wondering if anyone has any other good suggestions. I want to pretend like I have never picked up a bass before in my entire life and am learning how to play the bass for the first time, choosing blues as the style I want to learn. I want to start from the ground-up & pretend I have zero idea of what I'm doing.

    I know that reading music is a good skill to have, but unfortunately at this time, that's not what I'm going for. I'm mostly interested in re-training some of my habits. Not that I am against reading music, but this band doesn't play from sheet music so I think learning a new technique will be more beneficial. So a book that comes with a CD or some other kind of audio supplement would be most beneficial.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    The Ed Friedland book you linked is one of the best for learning the basics of blues. Besides that book, I'd recommend that you listen to artists/bands like early Fleetwood Mac/Buddy Guy/John Mayall's Bluesbreakers/BB, Freddy and Albert King/Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Johnny Winter...to name but a few.

    Also, the most important thing about playing blues can not be taught....i.e. to play with feeling. You may know all the notes/chords/structure etc, but if there is no feeling in a band's playing, blues can sound very bland, giving the impression of just going through the motions.
    RandyJoHobbs and 707GK like this.
  3. aggrokragg


    Dec 18, 2013
    I have that book. I used it to get up to speed for a Blues Jam. It's great.

    When I got the book, I immediately ripped the included CD to MP3. Then threw the book on a music stand, and listened to the mp3's using earbuds on my iPod. That way I was able to "practice along" and isolate out the bass by panning left/right.
    vishalicious and 707GK like this.
  4. 707GK


    Jun 13, 2013
    Northern California
    Awesome, thanks for the replies. The "feeling" part is easy for me, but the bluesy progressions and licks seem to be where I'm lacking.
  5. Rmackner


    May 1, 2015
    If you want to take a very stale basic approach and learn how to make generic funk/blues basslines then go get the books. If you can already play with a band without them telling you anything about the song but you can pull it all by ear then what is the book going to tell you that you already know? Go listen to music in that genre and use it as inspiration to interpret that into your playing (this way you might even pull out some ideas you learned from rock and give it a original sound). It's not jazz and will most likely use very basic chord progressions that are also used in rock (theory won't help that much here). Blues is most likely going to be a mellow/sad (think of this emotion when playing your line) and funk is kinda more happy and makes you want to jump and dance. Both genres are more about expressing your emotions into basic lines then making complex chords with guitarist by not sticking to the root.
    707GK likes this.
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    IMO if you are going to go into any music that has tradition, one ought to dive deep. If a seasoned pro like Ed Friedland or Jon Liebman has done the scholarly work to consolidate all the variety of a century-old tradition into a practical catalog for bassists seeking to explore the genre, it seems unwise to just ignore it.
  7. 707GK


    Jun 13, 2013
    Northern California
    I'll likely be putting my own flavor on it but a little instruction would be nice. I kind of want to learn the super stale, basic licks and then build off of those with my ear and sense of feel.
  8. Faraday


    Jun 20, 2012
    A lot of Bluesers learned from other Bluesers. Nothing wrong with learning a little from someone like Friedland, as a start.
    707GK likes this.
  9. T-Funk


    Jul 2, 2005
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
    Jbassrockboy and 707GK like this.
  10. Border


    Dec 31, 2010
    Spokane, Wa.
    I too play in a rock band, but enjoy playing the blues. I have learned a great deal from Mr. Friedland's book and CD. It was one of the first resources I used when I started playing bass. I also enjoy his articles and lessons in Bass Player magazine.
  11. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    If a lick sounds super stale and basic, is it the lick's fault or the player's fault?

    My experience with Salsa began with similar assumptions about how the bass parts were too simple to be interesting without me making an effort to add my own special sauce.
    But several years of playing , listening and studying the tradition brought me to the conclusion that the guys who originated those "simple" lines knew what they were doing.
    There is a level of understanding that comes from learning the whole rhythm sections parts, paying close attention to how the ensemble interacts, and listening
    That is difficult to sum up in words.

    I would suggest opening yourself to the possibility that those " super stale, basic licks" have more subtle aspects worth exploring than you may at first suspect.

    Of course this assumes you have a rhythm section willing to take a similar journey into the tradition.
    narud, 707GK, Jhengsman and 1 other person like this.
  12. 707GK


    Jun 13, 2013
    Northern California
    I would say it's neither the player nor the lick's fault. It's just what was meant to be played at that time given what the rest of the band is doing. Which is exactly why I want to learn the ultimate basics (as if I know absolutely zero things about playing bass). I tend to do well listening to others and playing off of what they are playing. Keeping to the very basics when others are doing their thing and maybe adding a few things here and there when others are laying back. But I lack basic knowledge of the typical chords & progressions used in blues so this gives me a disadvantage when playing with many players.

    I've been watching some of the videos from "Scott's Bass Lessons" and have been enjoying them. I haven't pulled the trigger on the Ed Friedland yet but I think I will soon.
  13. Listening to this album certainly wouldn't hurt.

  14. To also add,
    Books can be a good resource for learning certain things but the blues experience surely transgresses anything that can be put on paper

    I am saying this in total respect to all the people who endowed us with their effort to document it as without documentation our generation would only be that much poorer...

    But it surely must be for anyone in today's world who embarks with an interest in blues, that it becomes an overwhelming experience where one can only stand in awe and deepest respect for what all the blues people created in heritage for us and future generations ..taking into account all forms ...

    5StringBlues likes this.

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