Beginner/intermediate bassist needs practice ideas

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fourstringbliss, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. I have been playing bass for about a year now. I am not taking lessons anywhere, but I know the notes on the fretboard and I know my scales. I can play root notes and some walking type rhdythms in my church band. I am a finger picker. I only have about 20-30 minutes each day that I can practice and I want to improve my technique, speed, and accuracy. What should I be practicing?
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    This may sound stupid, but you should learn some songs. Especially ones that are too hard for you right now. It doesn't even matter if you can't get all the way through it at tempo or if there are parts you can't quite figure out by ear.

    You will learn a lot more about playing bass by working out technical issues in actual songs. As Jeff Berlin once said mistakes solve the problem of wondering what to practice!

    Recently I've been working on one song that my band just added to it's repertoire. It's a simple song in structure (a 12-bar blues) but I decided to write out the entire bass line note for note off the recording. I will probably never play it EXACTLY like that but in the last 2 weeks I have learned a LOT of interesting things that I am already applying to other songs. It also helped exercise my ears which for a bass player is as important as exercising your fingers.
  3. Thanks a lot for the advice!
  4. Continue to practice your scales and modes, at as many neck positions (at least 3) as possible until they are part of your "vocabulary". You should be able to read the notes, know the chords to which they apply, and "hear" where they are in the scale(s) without having to think.

    And if you think you know your scales, look into all of the scales you never heard of, why they work and how they work in chord progressions and changes. Look into tri-tone substitutions. There are some great exercises on this GT thread (see Pacman's practice exercise thread, for example), and on other sites such as Pick's Place Click on Lessons for some scales that I bet you don't know by heart.

    It all amounts to a lot of work embedding this stuff into your subconscious so that it is at your fingertips when called upon!:)
  5. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Get some books, like the Mel Bay 'Mastering the Bass' series or the 'Bass Bible'. You can never know too much theory. The Bass bible has lots of exercises that can be used for a very long time to build up your speed and accuracy.
  6. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi teechomatt, here are some thoughts:

    1. metronome (or drum machine)
    2. play along with the radio or CD's
    3. go to a lot of jam sessions
    4. explore new styles (slap, etc)
    5. buy instructional videos and books
    6. play as many different basses as you can
    7. compose music (use those modes)
    8. talk to a lot of other bass players
    9. play an upright (great for finger strength)
    10. play the piano (good for dexterity)

    Those are my top ten thoughts, hope they help!

    Cheers - Brian
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification