Bucket list bass player

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Gerry Madden, Mar 23, 2020.

  1. Gerry Madden

    Gerry Madden

    Mar 21, 2020
    So... I retired last year at 62... never played any instrument but always loved the bass... a work colleague who's a guitar builder presented me with a fabulous personalised instrument...
    I've been using an online tuition programme for about 6 weeks... I can now play a few scales up and down and I've picked up a few easy and popular bass lines...
    I have the usual problems with dexterity (getting old) and timing... I get flustered if I try to speed up too much but I practice every single day.
    Sorry for all the waffle, here's my question...
    A couple of my pals play acoustics for fun... usually in the pub... lots of ballads and classics and sing alongs like the House of the Rising Sun etc... they've asked me to sit in with the bass but I wouldn't know where to start... my understanding of the music theory is very limited.
    So, do I need to find the backing tabs for each song they play or are there "generic" tabs and scales that I could strum away in the background without disrupting their playing?
    I realise that my question is probably a bit simplistic but I just need a heads up re the process of being a bassist.
    Thanks folks
    Gerry (in co-vid 19 social isolation in Ireland... )
    Stringly, SleazyB, HD007 and 14 others like this.
  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Hey Gerry,

    See if your pals can provide you with a chord sheet for each song.

    Every chord is made up of several notes, one of which is known as the 'root' note. This is the note after which the chord is named. It is also the note around which most bass parts are built. So if they give you "Dm for 4, G for 4 and C for 8", the roots of those chords are D G and C, with a 4-count on each of the first 2 chords and an 8-count on the last. So if you have a fretboard diagram (@Malcolm35 has a few nice ones floating around) showing where these notes are, and you can count the beats or can follow the changes, then you are in with a pretty good chance of being able to accompany them. If you can fit in with the rhythms they play then even better. Remember with bass, less is often more. Good luck
  3. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    I took up music when I retired at 65. I'm now 85, you have plenty of time to learn your bass. Take it slow, a little each day.

    Most good ole boy bands play from fake chord sheet music.
    Google can call up fake chord sheet music for you using these search words --- Chords, name of the song. For example:
    The Animals - House Of The Rising Sun (Chords) Sing the song under your breath and play root notes as they come up.

    When that flows try and get more chord tones into your bass line. Things like root on the 1st beat and the 5 on the 3rd beat. From your root a 5 can be found up a string and toward the bridge two frets --- any root's 5, as this is where they live on your fretboard.

    Follow the chords and pound roots to the beat. Here are some more generic bass lines. R-5-R-5, R-5-8-5, R-R-5-5 or R-R-R-R. That will let you get started with the "band". The 8 is just another R in the next octave. Eights live right over the 5 one string up same fret. Again piece of cake.

    For slow ballads, just do one root at the chord change and nothing more. This will help call attention to the lyric words being sung. Right at first less is more.

    The getting started string in the General Instruction section will be time well spent.

    Good luck.

    Last edited: Mar 23, 2020
  4. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
  5. Gerry Madden

    Gerry Madden

    Mar 21, 2020
    Hey Steve... thanks for the reply... exactly the kind of info I was looking for... I'm starting to get to know where the notes are so that's a good starting point... I'm a long way from playing in public!!!
    TN WOODMAN and SteveCS like this.
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    You're welcome. Here's a fingerboard diagram for a 4-string up to the 12th fret. After that the note names just repeat...

  7. BASS TABS - Big Bass Tabs - Free and Accurate Bass Tablature! is a good starting point for tab.

    If you want to learn music theory, and I highly recommend it, go to Talkingbass and sign up for a free membership. Once you have your free membership and are logged in go to the Free Lesson Map, then expand the Music Theory for Bass category and follow the lessons there. Best of luck on your music journey . . .
  8. Gerry Madden

    Gerry Madden

    Mar 21, 2020
    Thanks Malcolm... you've given me a big confidence boost!
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  9. Gerry Madden

    Gerry Madden

    Mar 21, 2020
    Thanks again Steve... that'll be very useful...
    TN WOODMAN and SteveCS like this.
  10. cattrax


    Oct 17, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Welcome to Talkbass, Gerry!
    You can get chord sheets from sites like UltimateGuitar.com
    Here's the link to House of the Rising Son.
    The Animals - House Of The Rising Sun (Chords)

    You'll see the names of the chords over the lyrics. To get started, play the note on the bass that is listed as the root of each chord. A - C - D - F etc. (Ignore the "m" after the "A" - it means A minor, but you would still play the A for the root of the chord.

    Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 11.08.18 AM.png

    It would be best when playing with your friends to get the chord sheets directly from them, as they may play slightly different chords or play in a different key. That way you can follow them exactly. The nice thing with the Ultimate Guitar site is that you can change the key of the song by using the transpose feature.

    I hope this helps a bit. Enjoy your new found hobby!
  11. Gerry Madden

    Gerry Madden

    Mar 21, 2020
    Thanks for taking the time to reply... much appreciated... I'll certainly be spending a bit of time on Talking Bass...
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  12. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    One more thing. Get with your friends and make some noise. Playing with people is not really all that hard. The music you play will feed off the other guys. So you get lost, or make a mistake, I'll never tell. And I bet they will not either.

    Way back in the dark ages I sat in with the Dallas Banjo Band - do a Google - I got lost many times and ended up playing air banjo quite a lot.

    Good luck.
  13. Gerry Madden

    Gerry Madden

    Mar 21, 2020
    Great stuff Cattrax... much appreciated... I'll give that a go in a while...
    Best regards from Ireland...
    TN WOODMAN and cattrax like this.
  14. Gerry Madden

    Gerry Madden

    Mar 21, 2020
    Spot on Malcolm... the first step will be the hardest... but the lads are very encouraging so they'll help me along the way... problem at the moment is that everything is locked up...
    But it's a good time to practice!!
    TN WOODMAN and HolmeBass like this.
  15. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Totally right. Make this an opportunity to learn. You can run your scales and your dexterity and timing should improve. You can download any metronome or player app if you need basic timekeeping help. Nobody starts out perfect. Once the pubs reopen you'll be more confident and everyone will be so glad to be out drinking that critical analysis of the band will quickly fade into a mass of public intoxication.
  16. The above advice is great! Keep it simple until your skills grow into the occasional flourish. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get to that.

    There’s a guideline for learning any instrument: practice slowly to play fast. If you can’t play a song well when you’re going slowly you’ll not play it well “at tempo” either. After you’ve got it right you’ll be able to play faster and sound good. If, in the beginning, you play faster than you’re able you’ll risk embedding mistakes and bad habits into your playing.

    Don’t sweat learning music theory. You’ll get what you need in conversations. Just listen and play!

    If friends have invited you to play with them, DO IT !! They’ll be sympathetic to your struggling, they’ll have pointers I’m sure, and it’ll help you progress.
  17. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    Love the way people on this forum are willing to help a new bassist.

    Welcome to TB Gerry!
  18. MotorCityMinion


    Jun 15, 2017
    IMO, start with songs you already know in your head, that appeal to you and hold off on theory for a while. Play along with the CD's. Play with your pals in private, not pubs, as often as you can. (C'mon guys, get your mind out of the gutter).
  19. foolforthecity

    foolforthecity Supporting Member

    Gerry, spend a bunch of your time learning scales and note relationships on the fretboard. Really listen to the notes and their sound relative to each other. I’m often surprised by bass players that focus on finger mechanics yet don’t really get the importance of the listening thing.

    Some relationships sound happy, some sad, some pensive, etc., not unlike our own human relationships. When you get really down with this you’ll have a leg up on others that don’t and you will see accelerated improvement on what you do mechanically.

    Not to say that you focus on this to the exclusion of all else, but this should be a core fundamental. If you have no rhythm, you won’t be able to provide solid support for the solo instruments, so timing is another vital study.

    Don’t let that fretboard overwhelm you. There’s only twelve notes out there, just a bunch of repetition throughout. Get to know where all instances of each note are located, and be able to find and cleanly finger them quickly.

    And has often been said, root and fifth are frequently your friend.

    I personally recommend a book by Ariane Cap called “Music Theory for the Bass Player, especially if you don’t have reading down solid, as she focuses on music relative to the fretboard and all the associated patterns and whatnot, so it’s not just a book full of scales with no explanation surrounding them.
  20. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Nothing to add, other than my support, really.
    Seing someone like yourself or @Malcolm35 getting started with new (and not easy!) hobbies at retirement age just makes me happy! Far too many old-ish people just fade away, spending decades in front of the TV...
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