Beginner Bass Player, NEED ADVICE

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by PudRocker182, Nov 22, 2002.

  1. I'm 15 yrs old, and im new to this site. I just started playing bass recently. All I do is look up tabs to play. What should i do to get better?
    Should I take lessons or learn by myself?
    Your help is very appreciated
  2. RoyQBiv


    Nov 8, 2002
    Bellingam, WA
    A lot of people here will recommend taking lessons. It's probably not a bad idea, if you have the money. My recommendation would be at learn all of the basic scales and a bit of music theory, and then just practice until your fingers bleed. Well, maybe not quite that much. Playing off of tabs is fun when you're new to bass, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I can tell you from experience it doesn't do much to improve you as a bassist.
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Moved to General Instruction

    And get a teacher :)
  4. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    "Looking up tabs to play"...been there done that.

    Tabs are a quick and easy way to start playing basslines to some of your favorite songs. I know. I did it. Trouble is they teach you little or nothing. You play the stated fret and string by number. You do not know the name of the notes you play. You don't know WHY you played them. You can't tell what rhythm or timing to play without listening to the song over and over. And you are basically sunk if there is no tab to the song you want.

    The "hybrid tabs" are better because they "glue' both standard notation and tabs together. If you have doubts you can look at the standard notation IF you know how.

    To get better as a player, you need to learn the names of the notes on your fretboard, you need to learn intervals and how they sound so you can begin to "play by ear" without tabs and you need to become familiar with chord structure, chord progressions, scales, keys, the circle of fifths, etc, so you can create your own basslines.

    A teacher will be a great help if you can afford one. Failing that, buy a good basic book/CD set that teaches you the fundamentals I just laid out for you. Also, stick around TalkBass. read the FAQs and study the lessons presented here.
  5. BassAxe


    Jul 22, 2002
    Culpeper, VA
    Mel Bay (or is it Mel Bey?) publishes a great book on scales, pentatonics, and modes for bass. These may be boring as all hell to learn, but knowing them is like having a well-stocked toolbox!

    Learn how to read sheet music w/o tabs. This will be helpful in communicating musically with musicians other than guitar players since tabs do you no good with keyboardists, brass, cello players, etc.

    Get a drum machine, such as the Zoom RhythmTrak 123. A basic metronome is monotonous and always made me dread using it. A good drum machine should have multiple rhythm styles, be able to speed up and slow down the beats per minute, and have rhythms with 2, 3, and 4 beats per measure.

    Learn where all of the notes are on your fretboard. I made up flashcards with the notes on the bass clef scale and a number to indicate the number of places to find that note and its octaves on my bass. This number will vary depending on the number of frets on your bass.

    Get a good teacher.
  6. Learn the notes. It's okay to play on tab for a little while, but eventualy you should learn sheet music and notes. This is kinda hypocritical of me to say because I'm still learning a song by tab, but I've started to learn the more complex aspects of reading music.
    As for theory, I'll go against the general "vibe" of the board and tell you that I'm for the most part against it. I've learned a little, and that's probably the best way to go. If you get to far into it, and you don't watch out, you'll be glued to it, stuck in a rut that's almost impossible to get out of. The best thing you can to with theory is:
    Learn all of it and forget it.
    Learn a little of it and go from there on your own.
    or learn it, but really make an effort to keep your creativity, because it is possible.
  7. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    If you're not ready to commit to a teacher, you might start with any of the various beggining bass/books videos available. This is the route I went 5 months ago. They can familiarize you with different styles of playing, give you some basic patterns and rifs to try, and give you some good starter tips on intervals, 12 bar blues, alternating root/5th, rhythym patterns etc... You can do them in the privacy of your own home and at your own pace. Videos you can play along with are great. Look for books that come with a CD that you can play along with too.. Do a search on "Bass Videos" on Ebay and you'll find tons of new ones and slightly used ones selling for dirt cheap. They got me off to a great start and able to hold my own in the band I'm in. I finally reached a plateau with them though and am starting lessons next week.
  8. BertBert


    Nov 9, 2002
    Here are some things that have worked for me since I started playing about 12 years ago:

    1. Immerse yourself in good music. Find some bass players you like and figure out what it is you like about them by listening to what they do. Don't necessarily try to imitate them yet -- that might just get frustrating -- but listen carefully and figure out their style. Also listen to musicians other than bassists who are good at what THEY do, and listen to good music that is not bass-oriented. For example, a bass player can learn a lot about tightness and locking into a groove by listening to chamber music or even bluegrass music, two genres that do NOT use percussion but thrive on rythmic integrity.

    2. Actually play music with other people. If you go to a church with a worship band, see if you can get into it once a month. Or try out for your school's choir. Whatever opportunities you have to actually play music, take them -- it doesn't have to be as a bass player. I learned nearly everything I know about playing in ensemble, intonation, and listening to my bandmates by singing in a 40-voice professional choir once. Music is a participatory, social thing and the more you can interact with others doing it the better a player you will become.

    3. Talk shop with other bass players. This way you will get the full range of ideas and tips on playing, gear, music, etc. TalkBass is a great place to do this. This covers instructional videos and books too.

    4. Practice. Nuff said.

    5. Practice intelligently. I've learned that just plugging in and playing along with a Led Zeppelin album is not necessarily the best way to improve (although it's fun). I typically spend 35-50% of my practice time doing boring stuff like scales and left-hand exercises; it's not exciting but it makes playing my parts a lot easier and more fun.

    6. Did I mention practice already?

    Finally, I have to mention a game I used to play when I practiced. I would have my bass plugged in and ready to go, and I'd have a radio in the practice room with me. I'd close my eyes and tune the radio to a random station, and as fast as I could manage I'd try to lock into the song that was on at that moment. Sometimes it was rock, sometimes country, sometimes hip-hop, etc. This taught me how to anticipate chord changes and lock into a groove and key quickly, and I can't overstate how valuable that's been for me.

    Oh yeah,
    7. Enjoy yourself! You're playing the coolest instrument on earth (except for maybe the pipe organ, but let's face it that would be tough to gig with.)
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Out of all the advice you're going to get here, I think that this may be one of the most important. The wonderful thing about a teacher, is that they guide and help direct your practice time. Too often, people have no direction for their practice, and wind up essentially, "noodling", for 2 hours and boast of their dedicated practice. The seasoned players on this board are going to really impress upon you the importance of a teacher. Sage advice. If you can make it happen, do it. A lot of time the money and lack of time excuses don't hold water. I always tell people that their are always ways to save time or money to put it into something you love.

    Check out my post in this thread for an idea about practicing:
  10. i would suggest getting a teacher even thoguh i am self taught. youll learn faster and youll have someone to correct you when you do something wrong so you wont pick up bad habits. If you cant afford a teacher get good bass learning books such as bass fretboard basiscs.