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Bass in a year. Is this possible?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Paul4703, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Paul4703


    Mar 19, 2007

    I took up playing the Bass a few years ago and enjoyed learning it, but after a couple of months gave up to return to playing acoustic guitar with a folk group. I did this because I felt that I wasn't headed anywhere on my own with the instrument.

    Now, I've been offered a the bass player's job in a wedding band if I can get up to standard within a year. The current bass player is quitting the outfit to move abroad when he gets married next March. Unfortunately, there is no possibility of me practising with them meanwhile, due to logistical issues.

    The band play popular dance music and the odd ballad. I'm not a natural musician but I'm able to put in around two hours a day, seven days a week practising on my own. But I don't want to waste my time if it leads nowhere.

    Can any of you experienced players advise whether it is feasible (I don't say possible, because I guess that anything is possible in theory) for me to be able to get up to a suitable standard to play this type of music professionally in the timescale?

    Many thanks for any advice.

  2. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Two hours a day 7 days a week for a year = 728 hours, you should be able to play their entire book within a year.
  3. How long have you been playing acoustic? If you have good experience playing guitar, it should somewhat transfer over to bass. I would think a year would be plenty of time to learn and get up to speed. I would recommend some lessons, if there's someone in your area. Would seem highly feasible IMO...Good luck!
  4. Hutch1


    Mar 19, 2009
    Twin Cities, MN
    I would think a year would be enough time to get up to par, especially if you are practicing a couple hours a day, every day. Are you not able to ever practice with the band, or is this only a temporary situation? Are you able to learn songs (on guitar or bass) by ear? If you had recordings of the songs, you could play along with them. Or if you can read music you can probably find sheet music for many wedding-type songs on hard copy or on the Internet.

    As far as playing with this particular band is concerned (and not being able to practice with them), maybe you could get a recording of the band playing their sets and play along with it. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

    But one year should be enough time to learn the songs and at least prepare for practicing with the band.
  5. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    It depends. You can certainly learn to play their songs in a year's time. That won't necessarily make you a "bass player", though. One important factor is how much music do you understand? Or put another way, how much do you understand about music? Do understand some theory? Do you know the "circle of fifths"? Scales? Modes? A good bass player can lay down a decent bottom end on even songs he's never heard before (I do it all the time when I'm sub-ing) if he's got a grip on theory, common chord progressions, and can understand the lingo of the band. (eg, "12 bar blues in E with a quick 4, 2 on the turnaround" or "slow shuffle, 1-6-2-5" or like I got last night "you'll hear it ... and that weird chord is a B flat minor"). That kind of stuff comes in time.

    If you do take the time to learn the bass (in addition to learning those songs) you'll find plenty of opportunities to play and will be in demand. I'm an acoustic guitarist/singer, and do lots of solo stuff, and am in an Americana band (on bass). I pick up more sub work in country bands on bass, and make more dough on bass than I ever will playing solo acoustic guitar.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    With your chord background from guitar, you should be good to go. The main thing I would do if I were you is get a BEGINNER bass video. Don't assume that because you can play guitar, that you can play bass. (Of course, it sounds like you already have a good head on your shoulders, so I think you'll be fine). My point is, start from the beginning on your technique. Practice dumb scale excercises until the drive you crazy! In a few short weeks (at 2 hours a day) you should have built up some understanding of how your fingers work on a bass. THEN start working the set list. Another thing is try to get the band to make a recording of a show. When I left a pro band recently, we made a CD straight from the sound board. It wasn't all that great as far as quality goes, but the bass guy who took my place said it was the #1 tool he used to get up to speed on how they do things. GOOD LUCK! YOU GOT THIS!
  7. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    Well that's certainly enough time to learn how to read their book...

    ... my point being that your sight-reading had better be up to speed.
  8. meta


    Mar 11, 2009
    I'd say that is enough time to learn to do it. I also played tons and tons of acoustic guitar before touching the bass, and here is what I found about switching from acoustic guitar to bass:

    1. The bass is not about what notes you hit (you can probably figure those out fairly easily, assuming you know your scales) as much as it is about when you hit them. You have to groove the song and push and pull the beats appropriately, or you're not really playing the bass, you're just playing single notes on a bass guitar. If you can groove a song, be predictable and sound good doing it (you know, something like always coming in on a certain beat with a certain pull or something like that - and sound good doing it!) and find a pocket it won't matter how few / many notes you hit, or what they are, as long as they are in the right key / chord.

    2. the practice you need is to get that meditative groove going. Don't waste time just simply flying through scales, make sure you try to grove the scales when you practice them. Get a beat in your head and try to match it, or get a drum machine and go with that. You're better off grooving for 10 minutes a day than practicing everything else 2 hours per day (assuming you are adept at the acoustic guitar, and scales, chords, voicings already of course ;)) It doesn't sound like you are starting from scratch.

    I've been on and off bass for a few years, and just recently got more serious and started playing regularly (and got some new equipment ;)). I knew I was actually playing bass (instead of just playing with the guitars in the group, or sounding like a guitarist playing bass) when I could lock with the drummer and not be as as concerned with the guitars. You still have to play with the guitars and play the song, but I've always found that kind of easy...
  9. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    If you have the aptitude to play, 1 year is plenty of time to become proficient enough to play out. I was good enough after a year for a handful of local bands to recruit me!
  10. wildhorse


    Mar 15, 2009
    There was a great idea on recording the band here. Buy yourself a Zoom H2 recorder. And then go out and record the band for several gigs. It will be the best $200.00 you've ever spent and yes it will be your number one tool in getting up to speed.
  11. If you have a good ear and willing hands - 6 months is plenty of time.. most of the time is studying "groove"

  12. b_carville


    Jun 26, 2008
    You can do it!
  13. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS

    Who said anything about sight reading???? When I refer to their book, I'm referring to their repetoire which may not be on paper as chords or as a sheet music bass part.
  14. Montsegour


    Apr 1, 2008
    Man are you joking? A whole year?
    Ofcourse you can do it!
  15. blubolt


    May 18, 2005
    Turlock, CA
    I wish I had 2 hours a day to practice!!! That would be awesome! and I would be Victor Wooten after a year! :bassist:
  16. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    It also depends on what type of band you're joining. Wedding bands are not all the same, some focus on a jazzier, more laid-back style while others caters to a crowd that wants to dance to Brickhouse and Achy Breaky Dance.

    Will the gig ask you to sight read ?
    Do they have a rigid setlist and take minimal demands from the crowd on the fly ?
    How many instrumentalists are there in the band ?

    For your run of the mill top 40 band that does 4X45 minutes set, I have no doubt that a player with dedication and hard work on his side could pull it off in 6 months. If we're talking reading from a book at every gig, rotating set lists and faking stuff on the fly (basically being human jukeboxes), a lot more experience would be needed. Some cats who play weddings have hundreds of songs memorized, ready to pulled off of their hat at a moment's notice. You'D need to learn a song a day to approach that level.

    On the other hand, a band that wants you as their bass player a year from now and tells you to buckle up is more likely to be of the "rigid" set list kind.
  17. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    A lot of bands, especially when they do stuff like corporate, weddings, have a binder with known songs that has the basic layout of the chords, lyrics and maybe the melody in musical notation. This is so that when a song gets aksed, the leader can take a look at it, call it (ballad in A, modulation to B after second verse, GO), and then play it.

    Such bands don't have the time to rehearse a song a week since they need to play for 3+ hours very often.
  18. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS

    A little clarification...

    My comment had to do with onlyclave's comment about sight-reading which is different from interpreting chord charts and learning a tune. I interpret sight reading to mean playing standard notation sight unseen in real time.

    Also we don't know what their book is composed of, could be just a list of tunes, list plus arrangement, chart for each tune, and so forth.
  19. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Yeah you can do it... I learned like 20 songs for a sub gig in 3 weeks...I didn't have them totally memorized (still needed chord charts) but I played passably.

    Don't be surprised in August when your like "Ohh man I know all the songs already...now what do I do?"
  20. backline112

    backline112 Guest

    Jun 3, 2008
    I started taking lessons once a week for an hour, and the first week just put in 2 or 1 hour a day (very focused.) Pretty lame for my objectives, but still saw great improvements.

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