Few words of advice?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Rohganthompson, May 22, 2012.

  1. Rohganthompson


    May 22, 2012
    Hello, I'v been playing bass a few months now and i'm still struggling to get to grips with it to a degree. I am originally a Guitar player (Electric/Acoustic) and do still play Acoustic occasionally. But now my attention has turned to Bass guitar out of choice.

    But there are a few things i struggle with when it comes to bass.
    Originally i used a plectrum with everything i played due to my background/comfort zone. And people like Lou Barlow-Dino Jr who initially inspired me to pick the bass up in the first place.
    But from this i feel like i lack in the raw bass sound most bassist have naturally and when i listen to other bassists and they just seem to flow while keeping Sick bass lines. I can only Accomplished this if i play like a guitar/ Strumming and plucking and i almost find myself playing Guitar just on a bass. but the soul reason i picked the bass up in the first place was to be able to keep that funk and groove the bass is so capable of giving.. but i just cant get there...

    I have gone back to the roots and started learning from step one again.. but now i find myself just jumping from technique to technique. and some days cant even distinguish the bass sound from my guitar playing my band is starting to go places and i'm scared that my actual knowledge of the bass isn't going to be able to keep up with the creativity i have with guitar and almost set me back as a bass player. apologies if this is slightly confusing. but i am just hoping if anyone could give me a few words of advice..

    P.s i don't learn tabs.. i play strictly my own stuff and just wondering if this is a slightly bad idea?.. and if learning tabs would benefit me.

    Thank you.

    And apologies if this is in the wrong place. i don't usually use forums.
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    It's a bad idea not to learn actual music, and I don't mean tabs...I mean learning to read and write actual music notation, learning chord theory, and all that. You're at a point where you've taught yourself all you know, and you're out of ideas ;) But that's OK because how do you know it if it hasn't been taught to you?

    That's why you should look around for a teacher who can teach you all that. It's not hard, and it'll open up the whole world of music to you to where you can actually play the stuff you have in your head.
  3. wes stephenson

    wes stephenson Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2009
    Dallas Texas!!!!
    ^^^^^^ what he said
  4. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    A good teacher can show you not only scales & modes but the ways to connect them based upon the chords of the songs you are learning. Instruction can also show you how to think for yourself when looking at a chord charts and or, scored music (common in working bands). These things of course depend upon what kind of musical endeavours you pursue.

    Bass players, good ones always seem to be able to move the music along and create tension, tease & excite...that kind of thing. Most of all, diligent practice & attention to instruction can give you the knowledge to walk into many situations and cover the music.

    This is from a 50 year old who goes to a lesson every Tuesday.
  5. +1
  6. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Yeah, I'd forget tabs, but that's just me. I also think its normal to spend some time experimenting with different techniques. There isn't one right way, and you'll find your own. But what you're talking about seems to be a normal part of growing into the instrument.

    One by one, you'll learn a new area of hand position or finger independance that needs work.

    I played guitar for years before I picked up a bass. There were transitions that took a long time to make, and I practice at least a couple of hours a day. It takes more than a few months to get the right bass sound out of your bass, and develop that "tight, but relaxed" style. Be patient with your self.
  7. Tendril


    Sep 28, 2004
    Cleveland, Ohio
    There is no "right way" to play the instrument.

    Get a good teacher.
  8. jarrydee


    Oct 22, 2011
    I recommend "fretboard fitness" by Stu Hamm, I would have NEVER went out of my way to learn modes and crap, but this dude makes it fun, like you are not even practicing. It is a great DVD and I owe so much to it. From scales to modes t chords, and it is fun to do. You will see a difference in your playing right away.
  9. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Remember that the instruments have different roles/functions in a typical setting. Bass is a rhythm section instrument that reinforces the kick drum beat, harmonic base, and pulse of a song. It usually has a "feeling" function, rather than a "hearing" function. [oversimplification of course, but simple works]

    Guitar sits on top and provides the personality and obbligato with riffs and soloing.
  10. How true, and as such it is not neccesary to blind people with rapid awesomeness ....root notes and a little fill here and there will get you a long way. Just be tight and glue your ear to the kick.
  11. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    Take some lessons. A teacher can show you things that might take years for you to discover on your own.
    I've noticed that guitarists that switch to bass fall back on their guitar techniques when they become lost. For that reason, I'd say drop the pick for a while.
    Bass is a different thought process than guitar.
  12. SlingBass4


    Feb 28, 2009
    Kansas City
    I'm 60, formally schooled on sax, and getting ready to begin bass lessons with a local Jazz instuctor who I respect. One is NEVER too old to learn, and knowledge is power :bassist:
  13. mcm


    Oct 2, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Try playing to blues albums, 60's stuff and earlier. If you can get good at that, you will have a great foundation to try other things.
  14. Eff it. I gotta chime in on this...

    Fun Fact: I started out on rhythm guitar and later switched to bass out of choice.

    When I began playing bass, I used a pick quite extensively. Other players would sometimes give me crap for using a pick, but Lemmy uses a pick so 'eff 'em. Over time, I became confident in my playing to stop using a pick.

    Started out using my thumb, and as my dexterity increased, I employed more fingers. Due to a genetic defect, it is quite hard for me to use my pinky fingers, but eventually I was able to use my index, middle, and ring finger to pluck the strings, in addition to using my thumb.

    But then I realized, or rather accepted, that each song has its own personality, and being such, some songs needed to be played with a pick and others with your fingers (and there are those rare songs that require both).

    Here's the thing: Don't sweat your skill level or your sound. Let it develop naturally. I used to hate mid-range, now I have it set at top dead center, with my lows slightly left and my highs slightly right. I used to fuzz out my harmonies, now I harmonize my fuzz. I even use a slide now and then. While I can't fingerstyle like Cliff Burton could, with enough practice and light enough strings, one day maybe I can.

    And that's another thing; you went from an instrument that uses thin little strings to an instrument that uses thick strings. Have you considered getting a lighter gauge until your playing improves enough to go thicker?

    The most important thing is to not give up. Playing bass is so rewarding and calming. Don't ever give up. We are the anchors of nearly every song and sometimes we carry that calmness in the storm everywhere we go.

    Best of luck to you.

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