Beginning bassist (kind of)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by vincentpghpa, Apr 24, 2004.

  1. vincentpghpa


    Apr 24, 2004
    I have decided that after owning one for more than 10 years I am finally going to learn how to play it.
    I need some pointers for a beginner. How do you tune? How do you learn? Do you start with other songs (which I really don't want to but will) What are some beginner exercises to get fast fingers. What are some beginner exercises to get fast fingers. Any other pointers and tips are welcome too.

    I thought about lessons but really can't afford them at the moment. Plus I took lessons when I was around 14 (I am 29 now) and all I really learned was how to read tab. I am pretty leary of teachers because of that.

    And just for ****s and giggles Who is your favorite bass Players

    Mine: Jaco, Billy Sheehan, Geddy Lee, Les Claypool.
  2. How do you tune? get an electric tuner and just plug in and tune to the notes you want(probably EADG), this link might help:

    How do you learn? by reading and practicing slow at first and getting faster every day, playing with others will help alot.

    Do you start with other songs? this is usually the funnest way but you can start by just jamming(playing random stuff and repeating things that sound good) and learning theory.

    What are some beginner exercises to get fast fingers? check out some of the lessons on, there is lots of great info there if you can find it.

    How old is too old to start learning? 29

    Who is your favorite bass Players? Flea, Nick Fyffe
  3. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS

    Sir Paul, Cliff Burton, Jason Newsted, Les Claypool, Paul Simonon, Geezer Butler, Roger Waters, Geddy Lee, Sting countless others.
  4. vincentpghpa


    Apr 24, 2004
    Any other suggestions? Thanks so far. It's been a while since I picked it up (again) but when I get the chance I do!
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    You can tune by ear, or use an electronic tuner. The strings should be tuned E-A-D-G from lowest to highest. For electronic tuners I suggest Korg's chromatic guitar/bass tuner model #CA-30. Simply plug your bass into the tuner, and adjust the tuning machines for each string until you're all set.

    This is kind of a vague question. You want a well-rounded program. Musicianship isn't about being able to play really fast, or play all the Megadeath tunes, or have all of Miles Davis' CDs. Musicianship is about being able to translate the sounds in your head onto an instrument. You need to built a diverse a vast vocabulary of sounds, so that you may call upon them, demonstrating the facility on your instrument.

    First, check out a thread of mine, stuck at the top of GI, called "Practice Practice Practice." Learn some basics and solid pointers there.

    Then, check out my homepage, (by clicking on my username, here in this post), and gauge where you're at with that information.

    A practice routine should be well rounded. It should include theory like scales and arpeggios, ear training, technical exercises, sight reading, and much more.

    You can, but you don't have to. You can't just randomly pluck at the bass forever though. You, at some point, will need to do something musical on the bass, whether it's playing a tune that someone else wrote, or playing scales or arpeggios, or creating things on your own. Learning songs of others will open up concepts or ideas that you may not have thought of on your own. While you don't sound excited about learning songs, for many it's a fun and rewarding aspect of being a musician. (It only becomes bad, I think, when the only thing you do is play others' lines, and dismiss bettering yourself). You don't have to start with anything in particular.

    Play the bass. Your goal should never be faster fingers. Never. Just play the bass. By playing scales, arpeggios, etudes, by sight reading material, by doing all of these things, you increase your faculty on the instrument, and with time, your fingers will become more flexible, more dextrous, more able. As you play, anything, you increase finger independence. You increase finger strength. These things lead to the ability to play faster passagers or pieces. Playing faster shouldn't ever be your goal. Playing faster will simply become a byproduct of playing more. It simply comes with experience.

    That being said, here are some things that you can do on the bass to increase your tecnical abilities on the left and right hand.

    Play chromatics. This is something I did for a long time, and helped stress the importance of the left hand concept where it is one finger per fret, (with your thumb resting on the neck behind the middle finger). Start on the lowest string, lowest note, and play F-F#-G-G#, then up to the next string, playing, A#-B-C-C#, then up to the next string, D#-E-F-F#, then up again, playing G#-A-A#-B. Reverse the entire thing once you hit the last note, so that you play chromatically, lower, until you hit the note you started on, F, then start the whole sequence again on the next fret, F#. Play this all the way up the neck, and then all the way back down.

    A variation on that one, has you crossing strings. So, you're still playing a pattern where you're stressing the importance of one finger per fret, and you'll still play this passage all the way up the fretboard, then back down. So, you start on the F of the E string, the lowest fretted note on the board. Then, you climb to the next fret, next string, B on the A string. Then climb up again to the next fret, next string, F on the D string, and finishing with the B on the G string. Then reversing it to head back lower, by playing, immediately, the G# on the G string, the E on the D string, the C on the A string, and the G# on the E string. Then, shift up a fret, and play the pattern again.

    John Pattitucci has his "spider" technique, which he derived from an exercise his brother did on electric guitar. This exercise is great for finger independence. (And by the way, it's insanely hard to fully grasp what I'm describing here, but I'll address that later. If you're going to attempt these drills, take the time to go extremely slowly at first, and fully grasp what I'm trying to convey. Getting it right from the start is important). So, start on the D string, on the G. You're going to play two 5ths, and then two minor 3rds. It works like this. Remember, again, one finger per fret. Play the G on the D string with your first finger, then it's fifth, the D on the G string, with your third finger. Then, without shifting, your second finger will play the G# on the D string, and it's fifth, the D# on the G string, with your fourth finger. Then, using your third finger, play the A on the D string, and it's minor 3rd, the C on the G string, with your first finger. Then, the A# on the D string with your fourth finger, and it's minor 3rd, the C# on the G string, with your second finger.

    Play the exercise fluidly, let each note ring into the next, clearly. Control the strings and fret cleanly. You would continue this exercise by climbing lower on the strings. Like so: After playing this routine over and over, (and really hear the notes), this is what you'll do. Play the D on the A string, then the octave D on the G string. THen the D# on the A string, and D# on the G string. Then the E on the A string, and it's minor 6th, the C on the G string, then the F on the A string, and it's minor 6th, the C# on the G string.

    Then, after playing that for a while, it follows to: Play the A on the E string, then D on the G string. The A# on the E string, and D# on the G string. Next the B on the E string, then C on the G string. Then the C on the E string, to the C# on the G string.

    That spider exercise will become more and more difficult as you descend string, stretching finally from the E string to the G string.

    All of the above-mentioned exercises should always be played with a metronome, at slow speeds, gradually increasing the speed as you get better. The right hand should employ an alternating first and second finger pattern, with the finger plucking the string confidently, following through to the lower string, to get a full, round sound.

    These exercises should be done while really listening to what you're doing. The sounds. Do not do them while watching TV. Musical is auditory, why would you shut that part of the equation off?

    Tell me that you really don't expect me to answer that question again! :D

    Yes, you can. Don't give me that line. 99% of the time it's BS. Skip the trip to McDonald's and have a PBJ at home. Skip that new CD, or new Keanu Reeves movie. If something is a priority to you, you'll find the money by saving on other things, that aren't priorites. What's a vente carmel macchiato cost these days? 20 bucks! Whatever, 3 or 4 dollars. Skip it. Skip it several time and you've bought a lesson. Look, if you can't afford a lesson each week, that's fine. But, you need two or three lessons at the onset to build a foundation. If you are doing things wrong, a good teacher can show you what to do differently, and trust me, you'll actually save money in the long run. You can't afford not to get a teacher.

    I saw a basketball game once where the players rushed into the crowd and started fights, so I'm never gonna watch basketball again. Look, I'll be the first to admit, there's plenty of bad teachers out there. But, there are also plenty of good teachers. Go to a jazz show and ask the upright player who he/she suggests. Go to a college campus and ask the music department chair who he/she suggests. Then, sit down openly and honestly with the teacher, and say, "Hey, I can only swing two or three lessons right now, but I'm just starting out. I want to learn, in those three lessons, the basics I need to know, to build a foundation, so that I know that I'm doing things correctly, and won't injure myself, or waste pressure hours. Bring something along to record the lessons.

    I don't know, maybe Jamerson.

    Avoid tabs.
    Enjoy playing.
    Play with others that are better than you are.
    Listen to a lot of music.
    Don't worry about hi-tech gear right away.
    Don't watch TV while you practice.
    Music is a journey, not a destination.
    Don't ever ignore any genre of music.
    Learn about the history of music and musicians.
    Play like you mean it.
    Don't limit yourself.
    Understand, right away, that many musicians are flakey.
    Learn to sight read.
    Use your metronome.
    Jam with others, as often as possible.
    Learn your theory.
    Be easy-going.
    Have fun.
  6. Eoghan


    Dec 5, 2004
    Wow. That ruled.
  7. Rav


    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL
    Gee thanks for writing people off there pretaanluxis I didn't start learning how to play until I was 32.

  8. Rav


    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL

    Jazzbo still rocks.

  9. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    You are lucky..

    All i learn on my lessons is nothing...
    I think i'm alot better than my teacher...


    Feb 11, 2005
  11. LOL :D I was 53.
  12. tbear33


    Mar 1, 2005
    like Vincent, i to am from pgh and am picking up bass after many years absent..... havent owned or played one in 15 years....
    I have learned that the easy power chords of a mid 80's garage band are not truly bass playing...
    i want to actually learn how to play it the right way, learn the music, not repeat it if it makes sense...
    alot of good information in this post, and some things i will def work on,
    thanks for the help Jazzbo, anymore helpful hints and advice would be great....
    I picked up the play bass today series, and am learning actually playing notes and music.... and for a beginner or a re-learner as my self, i would def. recommended it...
    good luck Vince, who knows maybe see you onstage at the 31st st pub jamming someday, lol.....
  13. schaef


    Aug 11, 2004
    tbear,vincent,where are you guys from in the from the south hills.ive been playing a little over a year.what type of music are you in in to the blues trying to get up enough nerve to go to a blues jam.
  14. tbear33


    Mar 1, 2005
    Am mostly into rock... 80's hair type stuff... but am really into anything i can play, or learn to play... i am also in south hills
  15. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Stop going and find another teacher.
  16. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Always my pleasure.
  17. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    ....for some of us, the best teacher is the one that motovates us the most....My first teacher's tone alone motovated me enough to put a J pup in the bridge of my Peavey Fury to get the "Barney Miller" sound. Since that didn't work I got a 83 Jazz brand new, now THAT worked, so well in fact that it pushed me to develop my own drive and fire...I never really looked back...