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Break the Cycle

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by DaemonBass, May 6, 2004.

  1. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    I hope there is someone that can help me. But first let me explain my problem.

    I picked up my first bass used 4 maybe 5 years ago. In the beginning I was thrilled to learn and play my favorite songs. My dad played the bass also I remember watching him play concerts, so somehow it was just in my blood. Now up until a few months ago I felt I was progressing naturally and self taught. This means playing by ear to recordings and trying to de-cypher some crappy tablature. Normally I will take a crappy tablature and use it as a blueprint to get me through the rough spots where I just can't figure it out. Usually it is incorrect but I will almost always edit it mentally to match the song. I have never played in a band only with other lesser musicians (that barely play) on guitar. I don't mean this as "I am so great" but merely that they have barely played guitar at all and they don't have any idea what they are doing.

    Here is the problem: Lately I just can't pick up my bass and feel motivated and full of ideas like I used too. When I try I just end up playing the same tired old ideas that sound o' so familiar. When this happens I feel I am not progressing. Maybe two or three times a month I will figure out something new and exciting. Overall I would say I play bass at least one every day and seriously practice something when it occurs to me that practicing it will actually help me. I don't "practice" every day like people say because I can't think of anything to practice that's interesting to me. Sure, I can practice scale modes up the neck but who wants to hear that?

    Anyone else experienced this frustrating mindset? My hunch is that just simply playing with some decent players would humble me and give me something to work on, but I don't have that right now, there must be some other solutions?
  2. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I know that situation all too well. Try a few of these ideas:

    Learn to read music. Go get "Note Reading Studies for Bass" by Arnold Evans. Great book.

    Try an alternate tuning. Make up a cool new riff. Re-tune your bass, and then try to play that same riff in standard tuning. You may fall flat on your face, but you might come up with some ideas along the way.

    Play whole notes. Re-associate yourself with sound, rather than a stream of notes you are so familiar with.

    Sing and play at the same time.

    Go buy a CD from a band you've never heard of. Learn all their songs.

    Force yourself to play in a different time signature. I suggest 17/8.

    Take a break from your bass for a week, or two. Record everything you do from the moment you pick it up again.

    That's only a few I can think of off the top of my head. Good luck! Oh, and PM me your mom's phone number. :D
  3. Isamu


    Aug 5, 2003
    Pick a song that is challenging for you to learn and play. Figure it out piece by piece. I am currently learning yyz by rush. It's pretty hard, but I'm having fun. I had to start at half the speed and then gradually increase the speed.
  4. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    Wow, what an awesome quote. I completely understand your proposition here. At this point I feel that I just need to play with some people, or person, that is levels above me so that I have a CHALLENGE. And someone that is willing to be patient and let me develop some insane ****. As I see it the bassist is like the Regulator which defines all the sucka's playing guitars and keyboards.

    Anyways, I can't play time signatures with a metronome like 17/8 or whatever. I just practice to the metronome where I feel my downbeats should be (I make up all my basslines in my head, I have no idea of the time sig). And I have taken a break from da' Bass for a week at the max and when I come back it is AWESOME!!! But at this point I feel the need to practice every day something to improve.

    Damn it all, I need a band that pushes my limits. :bassist: Maybe I just need to fore-go development and wait for a good group opportunity...
  5. Hurley


    Feb 12, 2004
    Cape Cod, MA
    I agree with everything that's been said so far. You might find a few more ideas here.

    Good luck.
  6. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Playing and singing is DEFINITELY a challenge (at least for me). Oh man, what a disaster sometimes. But then sometimes, wow, it magically comes together.

    I tend to learn the most when I try to play songs of another band's or my own band's songs that require techniques I have not yet learned. Like, of course you could take the tabs of any song and learn it, but to play the song with the same techniques that the respective bassist plays it is different.

    Like you are already on to, playing with your same level of musicians helps too. Playing with MASTERS may not be as enlightening as you may think (it's mostly just embarassing haha) but when you are matched at skill level, then there starts to be some friendly competition at who's better than who, and that's fun and challenging.

    Last that I can think of is writing your own songs. Oh boy. If there was ever a challenge, try that. The cool thing is, if it's not a challenge for you and it's easy, your on your way to getting rewarded! But writing songs for me has always pushed my skills to their max as I realize that all songs start to sound the same until you learn more technique-vocab, get better chops, and learn to tweak your style.

    Lotsa luck!

  7. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Unlike many other instruments, the bass guitar is not primarliy a solo instrument. It is kind of hard year-after-year to just sit around by yourself playing scales and chords or playing along to CDs.

    No wonder you are lacking motivation after four or five years, to keep on with the same old, same old! I really believe the very best thing you can do for yourself as a bass player at this point in your development is play in a band...any band. You wouldn't even have to gig. Just find a group to jam with.

    The interaction musicially with other musicians will do wonders for your motivation. Afterall, you are playing bass to be with others not sit alone. Once you manage to find a band, your development as a bassist will speed up tremendously.

    At least for me, nothing else motivated me as much as having a band. And when I wasn't in a band, motivation to practice disappeared.
  8. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH

    I agree with Bo. Playing in a band can be fun, enlightening and motivational.

    Contrary to Bo's suggestion that "you wouldn't even have to gig," however, I feel that it would help your progress and attitude if the band played out at least once in a while.

    Having a performance to prepare for makes practicing more purposeful and, for me at least, more enjoyable.

    Good luck to you.
  9. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    Wow everyone is so right on! I will work on trying to find a band to jam with, gigs or no gigs. Thing is I would like to play some metal, hardcore, punk, but I enjoy good rock'n roll and especially funk. I think the coolest would be to get into a gigging party-funk band and play every party in the state! Free beer and mass chicks, hell, I can even pretend I am bootsy and dress up pimp style! But then reality sets in and what I really need to do is just get a crappy day job :D
  10. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    If you can read music and are good enough why not join a pit orchestra? Most music directors I've worked with prefer bass guitar in the pit over double bass because you can hear it better. Playing every weekend as the support for a whole cast singing is a great feeling and you get to play in an ensamble that you normally wouldnt play with. (Ex.: Right now I am playing with 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, and a piano.)
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Not in my experience.