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Coming from Guitar: suggest me songs to start learning the Bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Li Shenron, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. Li Shenron

    Li Shenron Guest

    Mar 17, 2010
    I've just bought my first bass guitar which will be delivered to me in a matter of days. To start learning the bass I have decided first of all to explore grooves and (fairly) repetitive bass lines, by transcribing and practicing excerpts from actual songs, rather than using a book (which is still a valid option however).

    Consider that I have been playing the guitar in-and-out for 17 years. I know the guitar fretboard hence I supposedly know the bass fretboard too, and I have a grasp on theory that is beyond what I need. Obviously, being technically able with the guitar doesn't make me able with the bass straight away, so I need to use those songs for practicing bass technique; however the main target at the moment is to "get into what it means to play bass". I don't want to sound like a guitarist playing the bass! :help:

    What songs would you suggest me to check out? Feel free to suggest any genre, as long as the suggestions are "groovy" and reasonably easy. I have a Spotify subscription that allows me to listen to millions of songs, hence there's a good chance your suggestions will be available for me to listen, unless they are from obscure bands.

    Just keep in mind please that I would like suggestions that...:

    - are played with fingers, NOT with a pick
    - use basic fingerpicking, NOT slapping and popping or tapping
    - use clean bass sounds, NOT distortion or other effects
    - are GROOVY (didn't I mention this?), hence no walking bass or fast 8th/16th lines
    - are suitable for someone who isn't new to fretted instruments, but is new to the bass specifically (your judgement!)

    Thanks a lot for any suggestion!! The BASS rocks!! :hyper:
  2. tk421


    Mar 3, 2010
    middletown, oh
    a bit of advice from a long time guitar / bass player:

    don't try to start out by limiting yourself. there is nothing wrong with playing a bass with a pick. and don't let the internet try to tell you otherwise.

    walking bass lines CAN be groovy. it's called the pocket.

    as for songs to pick up - what do you like? what do you hear on the bass that makes you want to pick it up? if you can start to learn stuff that you a) already know on guitar and b) genuinely enjoy listening to, it is going to spark your interest level a lot more quickly.

    i started off on old Cure, Joy Division, Smiths, Violent Femmes, old punk / hardcore stuff, because that was what i listened to mainly in high school, when i first got serious about the bass.

    and work on the notes first. the groove will come in time.
  3. I am basically in the same place. I played guitar for almost 20 years off and on, have the fretboard and theory knowledge, etc. I've been playing bass for a few months now in a church worship band. I started by playing root notes in time to chord charts. Over the last couple of months, I've been adding different rhythms and using 5ths, octaves, and some walks.

    I started by using the song suggestions on studybass.com under the "common bass patterns" section. I set out to learn all the lines that the owner designated as "1 difficulty" that were also marked "classic basslines". From transcribing these songs, I found that I wanted to work out more Duck Dunn and James Jamerson songs. These old Motown songs are usually pretty recognizable and generally fit your description (fingerstyle, not incredibly fast, no effects, very groovy). I also purchased the book "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" that has a lot of famous bass players playing and notating Jamerson basslines. Highly recommended!

    Hope that helps!
  4. You will catch on quickly. I'd suggest jamming to Blues videos right at first as the chord progression is predictable. We play chord tones so nailing the chord changes is a biggie.

    Root only then R-5, then branch out to the chord tones:
    C - R-3-5-3
    Cm - R-b3-5-b3
    C7 - R-3-5-b7
    Cm7 - R-b3-5-b7
    beyond that you'll know when.

    Get those into muscle memory. The bass fretboard is a piece of cake. The 2nd post on this string goes into detail

    Good luck.
  5. Minotauros


    Nov 23, 2009
    I started learning guitar two years ago this past January (after a 20 year hiatus), and just got my first bass this past Christmas.

    Yes, the fretboards are identical except the bass doesn't have the high B and E strings (takes some getting used to... I kept looking for them... but then, I can be dense :meh: ).

    I took the guitar songs I've been playing and working on and made up bass lines from the chord progressions, or I learn and play the actual bass lines from the songs.

    If I haven't learned a song on guitar, but there's a song I like, I'll give the bass line a try. Play the songs you like. I think that's just one of the better ways to learn... like what you're doing.
  6. I think I've written this before somewhere here to someone else just starting out.

    The bass may look like a guitar and have frets, but that's where the similarities end. Just as an accordion is not a piano.

    It's a BASS first and foremost. That's how you have to approach it. You'll do great, I know. I'm also an ex guitar player, hence my nickname.
  7. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    Get the What Duck Dunn book. You get a classic R&B collection of songs, great transcriptions, a well done audio disc. NO TAB in this book.

    But yeah, fingers only is what I do, until it needs a pick, then I get out a pick. If you have a hot picking thing already, why give it up? Lots of folks like the clean, defined attack of a pick player.

    Lots of greats in the pick camp! In all genres. and your fingers are going to take a while to harden up, so don't work up blisters.

    Somebody name some pick playing greats, I'll start: Andy West of the Dixie Dregs.
  8. atheos


    Sep 28, 2008
    Tampere, Finland
    AWWW, you're spoiling all the fun! The bass has no limits, why should you (or us)?

    Also, pretty much anything by CCR is great for learning basic rock stuff.
  9. pudgychef

    pudgychef In Memoriam

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    Here are a couple of song suggestions that (imho) are groovy and feature some bassisms or feels unique to bass....

    The Meters - Cordova
    Fugazi - Sweet and Low
    The Beatles - Saw Her Standing There, Things We Said Today, Day Tripper (i imagine you know it already on guitar so its a chance to feel the bass and guitar doubling and differ)
    The Who - Pictures of Lily
    Funk 49 - James Gang
  10. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Yes- Starship Trooper

    Rush- No one at the Bridge

    Primus- Wynona's Big Brown Beaver

    All of RHCP Blood Sugar Sex Magic

    Get these down and you'll be well on your way. lol
  11. robthegaff


    Nov 29, 2009
    The pixies would be pretty good. One of my favourite lines:
  12. Li Shenron

    Li Shenron Guest

    Mar 17, 2010
    Thanks for the suggestions! I've picked the following:

    "Hey": one of my favourite Pixies song, it's really simple but I like playing this, it's a good chromatic exercise.

    "Sweet and low": never heard of Fugazi before, this one was a good suggestion again because it's simple and repetitive enough.

    "Funk #49": fantastic exercise, but I didn't try to learn it note-by-note, just the 2 main riffs but then I thought it was a great track to improvise. I am surprised that I am able to keep up with it...

    I tried also The Who track but it seemed to difficult even to just understand what he's playing.

    To tk421 and atheos: I am not limiting myself, I just know too well that if you put too much on the grill you get overwhelmed. That's why I'm focusing on a few things on my first months: the basics of plucking with the fingers (which is a totally new technique, even tho I've played the classical guitar for years strictly fingerpicking AND I've used fingerpicking on the electric too in Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler style, BUT plucking on the bass is totally different!), getting used to larger frets (hard!) and bigger strings (painful!), and most importantly learning the role of a bassist -> groove. I've got very limited practice time, think an hour twice a week, because I'm a family man and I need to fit bass practice, guitar practice, songwriting, and recording/producing in those few evening hours between putting the kids to sleep and banging the wifey :ninja:

    Even tho I know I won't resist trying slapping, I'd better leave practicing it seriously for later, very later... we don't play funk anyway so there's no rush. Same about walking bass, I'm sure I'll engage studying this later, but not now.

    Using the pick is way too easy for me. Coming from the guitar it's a piece of cake, really no reason to practice this even more, but then I am mostly afraid I will sound too much like an ex-guitarist. Because it's so easy, I risk giving up fingerpicking and typecast myself into a pick-user.

    And tapping, no, just no... Believe me when I say I've used way too much tapping on the guitar, I'm not going to use it on the bass, I just don't like how it sounds on it.

    But thanks once again, and if you have more suggestions please go ahead :bassist:
  13. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    another +1 to the Meters, also Cake...Both are easy and fulfill your pre-requisites....RHCP and RATM are a little harder but also groovy/repetitive and fun.

    When picking a song to learn I can obviously tell if its being picked or not but this doesn't matter to me I pluck picked songs all the time, it only effects how close to the bridge I pluck and what my EQ/pan is.

    Also I take it you've read http://studybass.com?
  14. PaulNYC


    Apr 2, 2009
    New York, NY
    i got paid for a gig once.
    Try getting the basic books by Ed Friedland. He does a great job introducing use of fingers and muting. It is worth taking it slow at the beginning to get the technique down.
  15. pudgychef

    pudgychef In Memoriam

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    heck yes...Cake for sure. Hem of Your Garment springs to mind as uber cool. Also Symphony in C

    Also - In a Jar by Dinosaur Jr. cool bass lines with distinct parts.

    I think taking it slow and doing it right is a great decision! You are already a strong guitar player so you can fulfill any desire to step out and shred or wank on guit without having to resort to slapping and tapping and what not...until you are 'ready' or feel a need, to incorporate these techniques (and have already got a feel for the instrument...) just my 2 cents...
  16. idiot box by the aquabats
  17. Prester Dilly

    Prester Dilly

    Jul 9, 2009
    I've been a bassist for thirty years. Whether I use a pick or not depends on the tone I'm looking for. In other words: sometimes I use a pick, sometimes I don't.

    Don't ever be "afraid" to use one. Using a pick will not destroy the space time continuum.
  18. indeed

    pic's make it more punchy, fingers more mellow
  19. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Willie Nelson stuff on RCA from the 70s.. Red Headed Stranger (album) etc.

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