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Email I sent to my buddy, GOOD FOR BEGINNERS {[LONG!!!]}

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by tpmiller08, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    (My buddy just picked up a bass. I told em to learn this first, and we'll go from there. Feedback on what I said wrong, or overcomplicated things would be appreciated. So if your a beginner and your reading this, let me know what you don't get. I'll clarify for you, and my buddy :D
    Just so you know, the 1234, 4321 thing Im talking about is the exercise he's doing now. He told me he hits the first 4 frets on every string acsending then desceding. )

    Sup dude?!

    If you cant get all this by thursday its cool. But save it as a reference. It'll come in handy. If you took lessons its a ******** of info. Ya gotta think you only sit with a teach for an hour tops at a given time. And most of them dont cram info down your throat like this. One thing you need to keep a constant eye on, while playing your 1234, 4321 exercise, is your plucking hand. Make sure that you ALTERNATE between your Index and Middle finger. Its very important to learn how to alternate now, as later it will make you a speed demon on bass. And when you play on an amp, your going to notice your probaly playing too hard. So once you get the amp, focus on playing as softly as possible. When you play soft, you get a clean sound, when you play hard, you get a distorted sound. Both have their place, but finger control is key.

    Before you read all this....and its alot to swallow at one time....sit back, take a deep breath, get all loosey goosey. Key to playing any instrument good is being relaxed. This **** can get boring. You have to have a good time, so your thoughts can be expressed with your bass. So if you lose your drive, and get flustered, take a breather. Put the bass down, or learn a simple song you had your eye on. Ill teach you all this **** and how I use it. You digest it, **** out what you dont want, and keep the rest. This is the WHY of the bass. When you learn a song, the bassist before you allready did all this (for the most part). Everything you do fits somewhere in music theory. When you get a firm understanding of the basics, you'll see it applied to every song you learn. If you didnt learn this, you might come across a great bassline by yourself. But when you know it, you'll always have a great bass line. Music is a neverending lesson, you'll always keep learning. I'm going to throw you balls deep into it, so dont get overwhelmed.

    Ok lets start with the open strings

    The Smallest string is G (Its the lowest on the bass physicaly, but called the highest string because it has the highest pitch ya dig?)

    Below that is the D string

    Next is the A

    Then followed by the E ( Called the lowest because it has the lowest pitch, yada yada yada. Its your biggest and deepest string)

    So when you tune, you tune your strings to E, A, D, G. This is crucial to remember. Write it down if you have to.

    Notes on the bass

    This might take a lil while to understand. But familarize yourself with it now and it'll be easier to understand after a little while.
    The notes in music are A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Easy right? Now, every note except for B and E have a sharp. Its basically the same note, with just a higher pitch to it. A sharp is represented with a number sign (#). So all the choices of notes you have to play are - A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G# (notice how theres no B# or E#. If someone says to play B sharp or E sharp, you play C or F respectively)
    Now... on the other side, there are flats (represented by . Its looks a lil different in standard notation, but pretty much looks like a lowercase b). Flats....ARE THE SAME THING AS SHARPS. They are just played in the other direction. So going from the C note to the D note, you play C, C#, B. with C sharp(#). Going from the D note to the C note, you play D, Db, C with D flat(b). Its the same notes. I think they made it that way to confuse people. If ya cant get a handle on that we'll go over it more on thursday.

    Believe it or not, with going through every string and doing 1234, 4321, your playing almost EVERY note on the bass. If you played your open(0) string, then you would actually be playing everynote on the bass, and actually start repeating notes.

    These are the notes as seen on the fretboard, starting with the open string, then followed by the first fret, then the second, ect, ect. (remember, EADG)
    0 1 2 3 4 (5)*
    G| G# A A# B (C)
    D| D# E F F# (G)
    A| A# B C C# (D)
    E| F F# G A# (A)

    *Notice how the 5th fret on your E, A, and D string is the next highest strings open note. As in, the 5th fret on your E string is A, which is the next string up from E

    So play your open E string. Now play your 2nd fret on your D string. Its the same note, but the second one is called an OCTAVE. Now play your 1st fret on your E string (F) now play the third fret on your D. Its the same note too, and also an octave. This is true for anywhere on the bass. Remember the spacing ( two frets up [two frets toward your plucking hand], and two strings over towards G). This is the beginning and end to every scale and mode ( I'll go over the most important scale C MAJOR in a bit).

    Alot of bassists dont know how to play what the guitar is NOT playing. And octave is a safe and easy choice to throw in at the end of a riff, lick, measure, bar, or whatever you want to call it. Its the same note, so itll sound like it fits, but change the texture and tone of the song.

    C Major Scale

    This is the most important scale you learn. Its the building block for EVERY other scale in music theory. Playing rock, your going to play alot of minor scales. I'll show you that one soon. But for now, memorize the **** out of the C Major. Before I show you what it exactly is, I'll tell ya what scales are all about.

    The C Major scale starts at the C note, and ends at the C note, all scales do this (start off on a note, and end on the same note , but an octave higher). Every scale has a different sound, from happy to sad, to medeval sounds to arabian. All a scale is, is how you get from the Root note (the first note in the scale, always the deepest / lowest note) to the Octave of the root note. Theres alot of deep meaning behind scales, but we'll get into that slowly. Its crucial that you learn each scale, and learn to play them without making any mistakes. It'll work on your technique, and you use every finger for any Major Scale, so it'll both strenghtin and work on your finger finesse / dexterity / speed.

    Go back to the little fretboard diagram I made. ( you should print one out to keep handy. I still keep mine close by. I got mine off of studybass.com . Ya gotta play with it a little. But put it to like 15 - 24 frets and hit SHOW ALL under the notes section.)
    Look at the third fret on the A string. This is your C note. Now, play every WHOLE note (as in no sharps) from there on.

    It goes:
    3rd Fret on the A string (C note)
    5th Fret on the A string (D note)

    2nd Fret on the D string (E note)
    3rd Fret on the D String (F Note)
    5th Fret on the D String (G Note)

    2nd Fret on your G String (A Note)
    4th Fret on your G String (B Note)
    5th Fret on your G String (C Note)

    After playing all that, you just went C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C (no sharps) Theres a method behind the madness. Its called intervals. You'll learn that later. But this is the MAJOR SCALE. The MINOR SCALE is the same thing, but it starts at A. Either start at your 5th fret on your E string, or your open A string. Play all the whole notes (remember no sharps). Thats your natural minor scale, also called the Aeolian Mode. The C Major is a happy sounding scale. While your A MINOR is a "sad" sounding scale. If you can figure the A minor out by yourself, your ahead of the learning curve. Make sure you have a fretboard diagram handy, and just play A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.

    Play the C Major (and A minor if you got it). Memorize the **** out of it. Burn it into your brain. Once you can play it slowly (try counting to 3 or 4 as you play every note. So let it ring for 3-4 seconds before hitting the next note). Speed it up, play it backwards, play part of it, and just plain play around with it. Its absouletly imperative you learn to play things slow. Believe it or not, playing things slow is harder then playing them fast, and it works on your technique a ********.
    If you play something that sounds cool in C major, try to apply it to the A minor scale. Basically, if you play C D G in the C major scale, play A B E, for the A minor scale. If you got all this (which you shouldnt, its a bit much to soak in all at once) you just inverted what you were playing. Its a good way to solo, improvise, or change the feel of a song, to invert the notes your playing. Inverting is just another way of saying play what you played in Major, and drop it 3 frets and apply it to the notes on the minor scale. You can do more with this once you learn the cycle of fifths and fourths and how to invert other notes besides C and A.

    Thatll keep ya busy for a bit. Focus on what you can. Make sure you ask questions about the things you don't get. Good luck man!


    What comes next? (This is more or less just a note to myself)

    Bass Chords for C Major and A minor
    D - Dorian Mode
    Blues Scale
    Keeping time with your awesomeness
  2. TRob1293


    Feb 1, 2008
    Louisville, KY
    subscribed - looks good so far - following along
  3. basscheez


    Nov 6, 2008
    Cleveland, Oh
    I see what you're trying to say in "Flats....ARE THE SAME THING AS SHARPS. They are just played in the other direction", but it really doesn't matter which direction you're playing. It's a function of the key signature, i.e the key of F has a B flat. The key of G has an F#. Whether you're ascending or descending. See the cycle of fifths. I also suggest you start teaching some kind of notation, tab or standard, from the beginning.
  4. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA

    So it depends more on which way around the cycle your going? Or just what key your playing? I assume you mean if you play F Major from C Major it's B flat, not A sharp, right? If im off let me know :smug:

    I am teaching him to read :p Im teaching him paranoid. I have the official tabs, with the standard notation above it. So I figure I'll show him the tabs. Tell him to tell me what notes he's playing for the verse, then show him how to apply the rhythm with the notation. Some kind of tab/notation frankenstein heh. Think that would be a viable way for him to understand both?

  5. TRob1293


    Feb 1, 2008
    Louisville, KY
    I understand all that you've put down so far - but I've been reading about and boring myself with Scales for awhile now. I can read TAB, understand the note names (A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, etc...) but not yet memorized where on the fretboard (i.e. press a string to a fret and I slowly, mentally run back to open string note name and progress down until I have the note name - too slow), and have a basic understanding of how scales are formed and what the intervals are.

    I think that my areas of trouble are similar to many others.
    (how to hit that note clean, no noise, and no movement noise when going to the next note)
    (1 finger per fret does not work for a person with a slightly 'bent at the 1st knuckle towards the middle finger, ring finger', so I am having a hard time finding true 3-finger fretting technique instruction, even when searching for the upright player's wierd name fingering technique).

    Key Signature:
    (How does one determine what 'Key' you're in if you do not have to start on the note the key is named after, or ever even play the darned note)? Does one play the scale that the Key is named after, hitting whatever notes one wishes to form his/her musical run, and 'poof' you're in KEY 'X'? Different or same names as the Scale? Yikes!
    (X standing in for the name of the key, E or C#, etc...)

    THAT is what I find confounding in music theory - Keys and how they relate to Scales and how they relate to Chords, etc..., and trying to tell my brain to strangle my left arm, hand, and fingers for not moving to the next note or up and down the neck effectively/correctly/at all!. ;)

    I call it: 'Student Not Know S**T Syndrome So Get Scared and Freeze A** Up!'

    **Edit - I've confined myself to learning the 12-Bar Blues for now, but WOW... this stuff wracks the brain! :confused:
  6. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    12 Bar blues is easier than you think. Its playing the "I" four times, then "IV" twice, followed by "I" two more times, then "V" once, and then "IV" once. rinse....repeat

    If you know your blues scale, play that. If not, play any scale. Play it four times on your E string (any fret / note). Now...play the same thing on your A string twice (Same fret as the E string, just on your A, bam, you just played the perfect fourth or "IV" of the scale you played on ur E string). Now play it two more times on your E string (same thing you played at first).
    Now go back to your A string, move up two frets, and bam! You just played the perfect fifth or "V". Play that once
    Next play two frets lower on your A string ( the second part again) once.

    Congrats, you just played 12 bar blues.

    Rinse, repeat. Thats the basic 12 bar blues recipe heh. Pretty simple if you think of it that way. Unless im totally off. Then its just a cool way to play the blues lol.

    Good luck man,

  7. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Cali Intergalactic Mind Space - always on the edge
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    You can also get some info from the link in my sig. It may help.
  8. TRob1293


    Feb 1, 2008
    Louisville, KY
    I have been using this as a warm-up:



    If I hammer-on all notes (except open), I get a more ''steppin' type feel to the groove:

    My issue is: What is the I and IV and the V (I know Roman numerals though), just why so many labels for the same thing? What actually is the I, IV, and V? The first note, 4th note, and 5th note of any scale?

    Does this match your description above (in C-Major)?
    ....C C C C..F F..C C..G..F

    Thanks - you rock! (or '- you blues'?) :smug:
  9. D Rokk

    D Rokk Banned

    Feb 19, 2009
    Delta Quadrant
    i was taught by three different teachers and all of them told me the bass scale was

    Ab, A, Bb, B, C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G

    i know the way the OP stated it is the same thing but i was just wondering if the way i was taught is the standard or did i just by some fluke have three different people teach me the same way?
  10. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Fundamentally yes. If the tempo was 1/1 (? basically if it was one beat per bar, then that would be then that would be 12 bar blues for it)
    Try playing the whole blues scale out. Each note you played on your example would be a root note. So try

    Then progress through the I IV V progression. And yes, I IV V is the fifth of the ROOT note. But it would also fall on the perfect fourth and perfect fifth of the root notes intervals.

  11. TRob1293


    Feb 1, 2008
    Louisville, KY
    I'm a fundamental (or maybe just mental) type of guy!

    So, 1/1 tempo - would that be the addition of the 1/1 (non-divided) making a II, or second note of the C-Major-Medium-Minor scale, in the key of E while playing in 3/4 time with the Fb (or B#) note and the universal dip-thong pointed north-east? :)

    Just kidding, does seem like it all reads like that some days ;)
    Just so you know I'm a total idiot - no such notes (Fb, B#). :)

    Thanks for the info - I'm on my way to bein a blues-dude!
  12. TRob1293


    Feb 1, 2008
    Louisville, KY
    Sorry to hi-jack your thread with this Blues talk - please continue with your next 'email to a friend'.
    I am certainly interested in your next post.

    ...and thank you for the attention provided, very much appreciated.
  13. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Not a problem man. It's a half-arsed explaination at most though. Feel free to email me at tpmiller08@gmail.com if ya need some more help, and / or don't get what I'm talking about.

    It would help if you went to local blues jams too. Alot of bassists there have been playing for ages and will help you out alot. Especially if you sign up to play. Grab a drummer you know, head down, sign up, play. Even if its bad. Then go to the bassist(s) you saw play before you and ask them for advice. Works wonders.

  14. the_hook


    Apr 9, 2008

    First off a big thanks for posting your email to your buddy. He's very lucky to have someone that's willing to lay out the information like you are.

    I'm in a similar boat to tlr1293 in that I too "find confounding in music theory - Keys and how they relate to Scales and how they relate to Chords, etc...,".

    Maybe I have a learning problem with theory, but frankly I'm more convinced that no one imparts the information properly. As far as I can tell (at this point) a student trying to learn notes, intervals, chords and such has a very tough time (I know I am) because:

    a) the naming conventions make little sense (major, minor, augemented, perfect 5th, major third, etc.). The student is left with 'just memorize it all and eventually you'll see everything enough times and it will make sense'.

    b) no one takes the time to show it Visually. Text is important, but show a person a picture of the notes on the freboard and you've just made that task much easier to learn, instead of explaining it all. Show visual correlations and relationships of a scale to chords, and suddenly the lightbulb will go off much faster.

    I know this isn't an absolute, but I'm seeing things like this at this point:

    Notes are like letters of the alphabet. In order to form words you build chords. Except, just like with letters, you don't just string them together like a, b, c, d, e, it doesn't sound right. So you select specific letters to get the 'sound' you want. So you pick letters that are sometimes further apart to make a word like 'sing'. So with chords you have root, 3rd, 5th, and sometimes 7th notes out of a particular scale to convey a certain word or 'tone'. Of course this doesn't (always) work with inversions.

    When a bunch of Jazz guys get together to improvise, it's like one guy (trumpet) says 'today I want to talk about big yellow trucks'. Right away everyone else is on the same page about trucks (chords, notes). So when the trumpet player launches into what sounds like musical jibberish, the other guys know he's talking about trucks, and they thrown in their piece about trucks, big tires, back hoes, terrain, etc. Everyone is talking about the same topic, just using different words and voices.

    I'm confused why you build chords with 1, 3, 5 and 7, but then you use the chromatic scale which as 12 notes? That only works if it's 7 notes, but then there are augmented, or diminished chords, suddenly you need the 12 notes to bring out the b and # notes. Confusing.

    And I too thought for # you are going Forward, for b you are Back. It's this inconsistency of 'this key signature uses flats' and it's going forward? Or has ### and it has notes going back?

    I'm trying not to let all this confusion bury me, but it ain't easy. The sad thing is I can play fine by ear, and I can easily transcribe tab to notes, and make my own rythym style to fit a song. I've even written my own bassline groove. I've played cover tunes with a bunch of guys already too, and that helps with the learning experience.

    But I also want to learn and understand the musical theory blueprint, because I know that knowledge will help me be a better bassist.
  15. Something's not quite right in there; that's only 10 bars.
  16. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Wow......seems I lost the ability to add at my old age of 24 lol. Nice catch man, sorry about that all
  17. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Cali Intergalactic Mind Space - always on the edge
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    You might want to get your friend to check out the link in my sig. There's a lot of good info there for beginners including several online sites where he can get "lessons".
  18. Dude, I'm 43. I had to use my fingers. Lucky for me really you stopped at 10.


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