Brand New Bassists?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Chillihead, Apr 1, 2004.

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  1. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    Any other brand spanking beginner bassists here?
    I bought a bass guitar a little over a month ago, so I had an instrument I could learn at home (my instrument of choice prior to this is the drums).
    So far I've been teaching myself, with a combination of hundreds of tabs I've downloaded off the 'net, along with various instructional type pages I found. Oh and I got a video too with the bass.
    I'm really struggling with it, but enjoy it immensely. I haven't nailed any 1 song in it's entirety yet, but the closest I've come is Incubus' 'Wish You Were Here'.
    So, to the rest of you noobs, how long have you been playing, and where are you at? And perhaps the most important question: How are you learning - that is self taught or lessons?
  2. Hi there! I'm a noob as well (3rd month of bass, 2.5 years of classical guitar). I'm sort of taking lessons, my guitar teacher is a bassist too so if my mom can take me and my amp over there I get bass lessons, but that's mostly the theory, not real songs yet (just moving to chromatic scales). I'm counting on my teacher to teach me the techniques, slapping, tapping, that stuff. I practise songs on my own. So far, I've done a couple of AC/DC, 'Inside' by Stilskin, 'Walking on the moon' by the police, and I'm working on 'One of us' by joan osborne and '74-74' by the connells. is a nice thread for you.
  3. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    This is more of an issue of General Instruction. The Technique forum is for... techniques...

    Oh yeah, welcome to talkbass.
  4. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    Sorry SM, wasn't sure of the correct forum for this - kinda figured this was appropriate given that as a newbie I don't have any technique (yet)!

    Still, if there's a way to move it, please let me know so that I can do so...

    Hellzgamerz, I'll check out that thread - many thanks for that.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    No need to move it (you can't do that, only I can), but let's keep the discussion in this thread to technique related issues.
  6. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    For the noob, what is the most important thing to learn first? The one thing that underpins the rest of learning to play?

    As someone who is trying to learn by myself, at home, when family commitments allow, I find myself dabbling in all sorts of things. One night I'll stick my learn to play video in the VCR and run through learning simple plucking, etc. The next night I'll sit down with my book of tabs and try to learn a bit more of one of my favourite songs. This has been the most frustrating as the tabs always appear so simple, until I hear the song. Grrr. Then of course there's all the theory, which I occasionally sit down and try and learn, but do I really need to learn what the major and minor chords really are?

    Maybe I just should have done this 20 years ago ;-)
  7. IMHO, you have to know the theory. It was really fun for me when I realised that some songs are just basic notes that were moved up the neck. And it doesn't hurt to lear that stuff. I try to learn it like i learned notes on my classical guitar: play the damn stuff.

    The most important thing to a bass player is probabely rhythm. (correct me here guys) Play some easy songs (it's frustrating not to be able to play the songs you want, i know, but you'll get them in the end), and play it correct, every single note, effect,.... Learn to walk (or crawl ;) ) first, then run.

    How old are you by the way?
  8. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    Rhythm huh? I used to think I had rhythm until I started this. Perhaps it's just my fingers that can't dance, err, don't have rhythm!

    I'm 34. Funny thing is that when I was 16-ish I talked my parents into buying me an electric guitar for Xmas one year, and my brother in law bought a bass guitar. Neither of us ever learned the damn things and both ended up selling them. And boy am I kicking myself now...
  9. Chroma


    Mar 1, 2004
    I'm a bass newbie here too =)

    I've played guitar for about 10 years now, but only started playing bass about a month ago when a few friends asked me if I wanted to learn and play in their band.

    I borrowed a 6 string, and have a 5 string on "lay-away" at a local music store and have been lurking this site ever since trying to absorb all the knowledge I can.

    The two hardest things technique wise I'm trying to deal with would be 1) Not playing like it's a guitar, and 2)Eventually I'd like to not use a pick, but my fingers are just not grasping the concept of moving from string to string =(

    Any tips for a few good ways to deal with these two issues?
  10. Don't play with a pick then :p It will only get better when you actually play with your fingers. Hey, everbody sucked when they started.

    And not playing like a guitar: what do you mean? I hope you don't strum it :eek:
  11. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    Chroma, I guess your fret hand is comfortable with things though?
    You do have that advantage. Good luck, and boy am I jealous of that 5 stringer on it's way...
  12. Chroma


    Mar 1, 2004
    Oh no, I don't strum it hehe

    I just keep feeling like I'm slipping into the mindset of playing the guitar. I guess it's just a mental thing that will work itself out in time but I'm determined to treat the instrument with the respect it deserves instead of just having the typical guitarist attitude of "It's just a guitar with less strings :rolleyes: ".

    As far as the pick goes I would much rather play using my fingers only, but I only have one more week till our first live show so I've been in so much of a rush to learn the basics of bass, learn their material and get in sync with the band that I haven't had as much time as I'd like to push myself in that direction.
  13. Chroma


    Mar 1, 2004

    My fretting hand is pretty well off, I haven't played guitar seriously for about a year prior to this so I was out of shape, but it's like riding a bike. At first I found myself getting pains in my hand but that has almost completely went away now.

    While I'm here posting again I'd like to thank all the posters here for creating such a wealth of knowledge of the instrument. There is no way I would have taken the job as bass player if I hadn't found this site the day after I was asked.

    Oh, and to sorta get back on topic and ask another question: What is a good technique to use to learn to pick with your fingers? I've been using scales and trying to run up and down them just as I did to teach myself alternate picking with a guitar, anything better I could be doing?
  14. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Practice on one string until you can get the plucking thing down, then work your way to crossing to another one, and then to another one above that (E-D), and then maybe E-G. I've been playing for almost two years and my fingerstyle is really clean and such, but I still find it kinda difficult to do an E-G jump if I'm playing something fast.
    Next, practice timing. Once again, try and do this on one string at first. Straight quarter notes, toss in few rests every once in a while, then eighths, then eighths with rests, then sixteenths, sixteenths with rests. Then quarters on two strings. Etc. If you're finding it kind of difficult to keep a steady beat, lay down your bass, turn on a metronome, and slap your knee with the beat. With your left hand, do eighths. Then go back to playing. Don't do this for too long, otherwise you might get bored with the instrument! Work on just plucking one day, timing the next, etc., and in between do whatever scales or exercises come to mind.
  15. SciFiGuy


    Dec 27, 2003
    Madison, IN
    Wow. I too am 34, got a Peavy electric guitar in high school, but never really learned to play it. I had a bass for a short while after college, but didn't have the time to devote to it, and I had to sell it because I needed the money (I'm still kicking myself). About 2 months ago I bought an ABG and I'm MAKING the time to learn.

    I am taking lessons, which is as much to keep me with it as it is learning. My instructor is basically teaching me some blues riffs, etc. He plays guitar while I keep the rythym going. It's OK for now, but I want to learn more theory, and I don't know if he's up to it (he puts all my stuff in tab even though I told him I could read music. I don't think he can). He's a nice guy, but I think I'll be moving on to another instructor soon. The owner of the other store in town plays double bass, so I think he's my man.

    Last night I got to mess around with a couple guitar playing friends. I was mostly playing the roots of the chords, but it was fun, and sometimes I could play AND sing.

    PS I play fingerstyle. I've tried a pick and I can't do it. It feels unnatural.
  16. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    My advice to those learning....

    you need to get some basics down. Basic theory and terms will ALWAYS come in handy. Starting out know all the notes on the first five frets, then build from there. Nothing gets as tiresome as when you're playing and someone says "Try playing that E up an octave" and then you have to count out the frets and sing you alphabet.

    Remember music is largely made up of mathatical patterns. The intervals of every major scale are the same. So if you can learn whole step, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half and remember that finger positions, you can move that sucker around and always have a major scale. Also remember patterns. Two strings over and two frets down is always an octave. Music is all about petterns. Memorize, repeat and learn when to put things and where.

    After you start getting you basics and your theory down, start playing basslines while focusing very heavy on rythms. Remember every style of music has it's only little tale-tells. You really don't want to bust into a an Reggae song and play Punk 1/8 notes. Well you could, but it wouldn't really do anything for most people ;) Find out where the typical rhythm is heavy, say beat 2 and 4. Then put that into your way of thinking when you approach a song.

    Also it really helps to have friends that are more advanced musically then you. Some of my best breakthroughs have came shortly after playing with my guitarist buddy and him giving me pointers musically. Of course we are/were both music majors so we both had a good grasp on theory, so when he said something like "Lead in with a 7th" I knew what he meant (which goes back to "know you theory basics"). There are times when I hit a glass ceiling in my learning and then I was able to bust through after playing and applying my skills with others.

    Now once you start getting everything together, practice, practice, practice. Now I know everyone will agree with me, no matter how good your natural rythm and timing is, there's ALWAYS room for improvment. I advise you to buy a metronome and practice with it. If you can't buy one, go here
    Practice on different tempos. I swear that in a week of doing this, people will notice that your timing is improved.

    These are just some pointers I have. Also, buy books. Books on bass theory, on scales, on types of music. There's no way you can move forward untill you look back and see what others have learned before you. Don't settle to be a master in just one style playing or music. When you stop learning you've lost the war.

    Have fun and enjoy playing :)
  17. Well, like the thread starter I'm 34. I've been 'playing' bass for about 15 years. 1 month ago, while our band takes a hiatus, I decided to seek out a teacher and take some bass lessons (well, I'll keep taking them really).

    He's started me out on 1 finger per fret, doing chromatic scale exercises staring at G#. Going up and down the fretboard. Geeze, after all this time playing, I found that hard - down to my crappy left hand technique. He also got me doing what he calls 'spiders'. So, chormatic scale, but finger 1,3,2,4 etc........

    Now I'm working on C major scale and all the modes of that.....which is good fun. My second lesson he made a 5 minute of so backing track in D minor.....and said go and solo.....use all of the C major scale and modes and learn your way around the fretboard. It's a lot of soloing :eek:

    Anyway, lesson 3 is tonight........and I haven't had time to practise half as much as I'd have liked!

    So, I guess I'm a born again bassist. My advice - get a teacher and start learning technique and theory properly...I could've been a much more competent bassist by now if I had!
  18. norseman


    Feb 19, 2004
    32 and newbie here too.

    I'm even greener than all of You, since I first starting playing today, after buying my first amp yesterday.

    I would just like to recommend a few books, that I bought on Both these books assume that You know absolutely nothing about music, so it's pretty easy to follow.

    The books are: Patrick Pfeiffer's "bass guitar for dummies", and the last book is Michael Miller's "the complete idiot's guide to music theory". Do you see a theme going on here? :)

    So now I'm gonna go :bassist:
  19. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I'm 35 and I've been playing for 2 years. I took lessons until last Fall. I highly recommend lessons from a competent instructor.

    My idea of a competent instructor is someone who starts you off with reading exercises to get you familiar with reading music and the fretboard. As you gain some skill your instructor should run you through 12 bar blues / jazz-blues progressions as this will prepare you to improvise over chord changes and get chord arpeggiation under your fingers.

    Of course, if you decide you want to take a break from the heavy stuff for a lesson, the teacher should be willing to teach you what you want to learn. After all, you're paying his bills, right?

    Other things you will want to cover once you're beyond the basics are minor scales / modes, extended (?) chords (Cadd9, CMaj7#9, Csus4, etc.) as well as improvisation.

    This is mostly what my teacher and I worked on, and I feel I learned quite a bit although I still feel like I just barely scratched the surface.

    Just remember to keep it fun. Don't make practice a chore. My ideal practice would be; warmup, theory, exercises and end with jamming along with a CD. I don't always cover all of these facets every practice session but I try to cover all of these facets at least twice a week. Some days I just feel like jamming and other days I feel like working Pac-Man's sure fire practice method.

    Again, keep it fun. The best advice I've heard so far is this: stop playing while you still feel like playing. This way, you'll want to play again tomorrow.
  20. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Most importantly, get a good instructor and learn proper technique to prevent injury.

    Secondly, while knowledge of music theory is a great skill, consider holding off on that for now. Learning theory at your stage is a little like teaching a three-year-old about nouns, adjectives, etc...

    Among noobs, there often seems to be a heavy reliance on tablature. I would advocate referring to a tab of a song only after you have spent at least four hours (over a span of at least a month) trying to figure out the song on your own.

    This is difficult work, but well worth it. For me, it is liberating to know that I can figure nearly any song out note-for-note (most of the time).

    Try to figure out the bass parts to as many songs as you can - as best you can. To do this, choose songs that have simple bass lines and that feature the bass prominently in the mix.

    Theory should come later. Good luck to you.

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