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Best Bass Theory Book? (Opinion)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by coolrays, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. franklindayala


    Feb 8, 2015
    Fingerboard harmony for bass by Gary Willis. It's really easy to understand and gives you solid foundation for more complex theory.
    k.graz likes this.
  2. BossOnBass


    Aug 11, 2012
    Houston, TX
    noeinstein and cactus1 like this.
  3. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    Ann Arbor, MI
    From Ariane Cap's site: "Note: You do not need to be able to read score or TAB to follow along this book. The author believes that learning to read – while a vitally important skill – is a different skill than music theory. Once the theory is understood, learning to read becomes much easier."

    Personally, I did it in the other order. But, she may be right. Anyway, sounds like the book might be a good fit for you.
    coolrays likes this.
  4. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I second the Bass Grimoire. Also, not a book, but studybass.com is an absolutely outstanding resource I used to refer to often when teaching.
  5. ELLP


    Dec 24, 2015
    Cheers, thanks.
  6. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    I'll second this. It's a great reference book too; you don't just play through it once and move on.
    BMGecko, lowfreqgeek and Pbassmanca like this.
  7. Ned Bergerstein

    Ned Bergerstein

    May 12, 2017
    I am very happy with Ariane Cap's book - just need to get at it more often.

    Any feedback on Ron Velosky's book "Sight Reading for the Bass"
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  8. Chuckdesj


    Jan 11, 2015
    +1 this book is awesome
  9. aprod


    Mar 11, 2008
    The bass grimoire is a gimmick book, just a bunch of scales. There is not one note of music in there. It may be a good resource down the line but is not a good introduction to theory. The Jazz Theory book by Mark Levine helped me immensely.
    mambo4, Nashrakh and coolrays like this.
  10. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    It'd be real nice to see a ToC from that book to see if you just might have to know some of those pesky scales before you start. I can tell you that is definitely the case with the Jazz Theory Books by John Mehegan.
  11. Rayjay

    Rayjay If that’s even my real name.. Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    Lahaina, Maui, HI
    I strongly second the above - there is no such thing as "bass theory." Buy books in treble clef - much better.

    I'd also add that theory is much better learned from a private teacher - by a long shot. Not online videos, not reading a book by yourself - from a teacher you can bounce questions off of, and who can slow it down to your learning speed and rephrase things in your language.
    joinercape and csc2048b like this.
  12. csc2048b


    Apr 4, 2010
    amen, hallelujah, hooray, mazeltov and all that.
    serious bassists should not be trapped in their own bubble - it limits growth. the sooner we can think like normal musicians, the better off we are.
  13. ReiPsaeg


    Dec 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    In my experience I've found that to be true. I didn't really read standard notation much before I went to school, but I had an understanding of notes, intervals, and harmony and how they all relate so it was easy to apply that all once I needed to learn to read. Plus I don't think that I was as restricted to one clef or another because of it.

    There are some good recommendations here, I definitely second Mark Levine's "Jazz Theory" and Rufus Reid's "The Evolving Bassist".
  14. csc2048b


    Apr 4, 2010
    dime a dozen and they usually don't get far unless they go down to the crossroads when the moon is full and make a deal. besides, why deprive yourself the fun of learning a valid skill like sight reading or the ability to read standard notation? basic rule of life: you get what you put into it. one gets little if one is LAZY. actually, you can expect so much more in return if you take the craft seriously.
    CereBassum likes this.
  15. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    I've been found this one to be very useful at tying together lots of loose ands and filling in gaps in my knowledge. It's cemented a lot of things I kinda half knew or didn't know I knew, and then puts the whole thing in context. Feels like almost every time I pick it up there's a real aha! moment.
    Very well presented. I second the recommendation.
  16. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    My sight reading isn't great, but is getting better. I played classical guitar for a long time so I read treble clef, and my brain still flips sometimes when reading bass clef and it can be confusing.
    I've been working through Simplified Sight-Reading for Bass by Josquin des Pres (isn't he/she a member here?) and it's a pretty well laid out course.
    There's also a great little app I have on my phone called Fretuoso -- it has a bass-specific version

  17. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Joe Hubbard's book "Functional Harmonic Concepts" is absolutely great! He presents the theory subject, then provides the exercises and drills for the reader/player to functionalize it on the bass, and includes mp3 files for ear training etc. It is also nice that you can get it as a paperback or an eBook download.
    Another great resource is the theory course by Cliff Engel over at instituteofbass.com It is a 12-week course where you get weekly lessons with materials (PDF and mp3), for the price that is lower than many of the books mentioned.
  18. csc2048b


    Apr 4, 2010
    my sight reading isn't great either but basic reading is indispensable when learning new material of the realbook (won't ever see that in tab). one doesn't have to be a super skilled sight reader right away - as long as one can take music one likes off a page. playing the head shouldn't be a privilege of pianists, saxist, guitarist, etc. us bassists have the right and duty to know the melodies of the standards we play.
  19. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Sightreading is not difficult. People just think it is. When I was a kid in the 1960s I learned how to read music in 1st or 2nd grade, it was part of the curriculum. If I could learn it when I was 6 or 7, any adult can learn it. That doesn't mean you can play it at 320 bpm...even today I can't sightread at tempo, but for learning from books that's not required.

    Another thing that helps with learning theory is owning a keyboard. A $10 tag sale Casio is good enough. If you really want to understand chords, you need an instrument that can play them. Again, you do not need to be a virtuoso pianist, hunt and peck works just fine.
  20. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    Ha ha ha, my parents bought me this book when I was about four years into playing bass in 1998. I was 17. I've been telling myself I'm going to work from the front page through to the back for the last 19 years! I really want to learn to sight read well but I seem to lack the discipline to sit there and play through the exercises and read them. I get bored and just start noodling and playing whatever I want. I remember going to see a Victor Wooten Clinic where he talked about reading and explained that it's just seven notes, and everyone should learn how to read. Maybe this will be the year!;)

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