First jam

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mjnyc, Sep 26, 2021.

  1. mjnyc


    Feb 15, 2021
    Playing for just under a year.

    Went to a local jam session yesterday, first time.
    2-3 guitars, drums, me on bass.
    Two people had obviously worked together a lot and called out one song after another.
    We must have done about 30 songs in 4 hours many of which I didn't know at all. Mostly rock, some Bob Dylan.

    Luckily I brought an iPad and at the start of each song could pull up UltimateGuitar chords (some of the others were using it too). Essentially tried to play roots with a little rhythm. Sink or swim, mostly swam sometimes sunk. Enjoyed it a lot. Not sure how well I did, one person said very well for the first time, others hard to read. I assume mediocre bass might be better than no bass at all? Sort of insecure about this but not enough to not do it again.

    Going forward:

    Is UG the best app for this? Any other approaches to finding the chords?
    How acceptable is just roots in this situation? Aim to throw in some 5ths, 3rds, 7ths? I was sweating just putting the roots in on time...

  2. TerenceE


    Dec 6, 2015
    Sounds like you did fine man. Hopefully the peeps you’re playing with are the encouraging type who want to see you improve. Sounds like you have a good ear since you managed to pick the roots
    Out basically on the fly for a pile of songs you don’t know!

    good on you man! Sounds like you’ve got the playing live bug now....keep it up!
    One Way, Outbush, fleabitten and 2 others like this.
  3. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    That's what I wanted to hear.
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Well done !! Looks like you pulled it off, and what's enjoyed it. :thumbsup: I'm sure you'd have enjoyed it even more if the band had told you in advance some of the songs they intended to play. Then you could have worked them out for yourself.

    It would seem to me, that there is much more enjoyment to jamming when the WHOLE band is familiar in advance as to what will be played.
    LeeNunn, Huw Phillips and TerenceE like this.
  5. OOD


    Jul 29, 2009
    Do it again for sure. It takes a minute to get used to playing with others. You’ll be more confident after a few times. You also can record it if the others don’t mind and listen back to see how you can improve. I use my iPhone to record. Works good if it’s positioned well.
  6. mjnyc


    Feb 15, 2021
    Thanks, all!
    I certainly would have liked to know at least some of the songs being played ahead of time.
    Will keep at it, definitely.
    Spidey2112 and EatS1stBassist like this.
  7. Mushroo


    Apr 2, 2007
    Great job!

    Now you can go home and actually learn those tunes, so you are better prepared for next time.

    Maybe at your current skill set, learning all 30 songs is too much, but you should at least pick out a half-dozen or so, that have distinctive bass lines worth knowing.

    A final word of advice is, practice ear training, every day. Having a good ear is what separates good jammers from great jammers. If you can hear what key a song is, and recognize the I, ii, IV, V, vi, and bVII chords by ear, that will get you 80% of the way there for simple Bob Dylan-type songs.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
  8. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    Sounds like you did just fine - especially with that "enjoyed it a lot" part.

    FWIW, I was about 51 when I first got out of the basement and played with others in an infrequent, occasional basement jam. At first I did about what you did and I guess I survived because they were happy enough with what I did to invite me back as their new bassist. They were a pretty good group of players, all of which began playing when they were kids, so I felt like a fish out of water at first and struggled to keep up doing just a mostly root-fifth kind of thing. But I also found that the experience motivated me like nothing I ever did on my own to work out the parts better and to keep getting closer to the recorded version every time we played. Over time, I found myself getting better at learning songs, getting faster at learning songs, and my ability to hear the band and adjust in real time began to improve dramatically. And each time I played I had not only more fun, but more confidence as well. All I can say is keep working at it and you WILL see progress in those skills.

    That fizzled out but I eventually joined two other regular (weekly) basement jams and that regular playing helped my rate of progress even more. After about a and a half I had to quit one of them because I no longer had time for both. Why? Because I joined my first gigging band, playing my first gig two weeks before I turned 55. Like I said, just keep working at it and soon you'll look back on where you were and think, "Wow, how did I get here?!?!". :D And that's a great feeling. ;)

    Personally, I found Ultimate Guitar to be a big help and I still use it. I also learned that a lot of the really good players I've played with use it, including the guitarist and keys player in my current band, both of whom have been playing for as long as I've been alive and have the skills that show it. Just pay attention to which charts you're using (look for the ones with more and better reviews) and don't be afraid to say, "I'm not sure that's right, playing it this way sounds better.". You just might be right!

    Best of luck to you! :bassist:
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
  9. mjnyc


    Feb 15, 2021
    dave64o this was very helpful! Many thanks.
    Mushroo: definitely will work on ear training.
    Spidey2112, bignc, dave64o and 2 others like this.
  10. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    I normally ask one of the guitar players for the chords. "What are the chords? How does this one go?" Most often the guitar player is patient and takes a few moments to run through the chord progression.

    After that you need to pay attention and watch for the changes. And use your ear, because there is usually a "hook" that the guitar player didn't explain.

    If it were me, I would mostly stick to roots until I begin to feel comfortable with the chord progression. Then I would add in octaves and fifths.
    fleabitten, EatS1stBassist and mjnyc like this.
  11. SgtHulka

    SgtHulka Inactive Suspended Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2019
    Your primary job is being a timekeeper and if it is all you know, it's better to play roots and not blow the pocket, than to add fluff.
  12. Tim Craig

    Tim Craig Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Playing with other folks, regardless of genre, is the way to hone your skills.
  13. Huw Phillips

    Huw Phillips Life is like TV if the channel sucks change it Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2019
    Super happy for you well done.
  14. Good for you!
    The important part about chord charts is that everyone’s chart should match.
    Have you ever played any guitar? It’s really good to be able to recognize chords so you can watch a guitarists (fretting) hand for reference. I find sometimes just being able to see the back of their hand gives clues. If nothing else I can often see when a chord change is happening.
    Bass, Huw Phillips and mjnyc like this.
  15. TerenceE


    Dec 6, 2015
    Just follow the gospel of something goes wrong....blame the drummer
    Tendril and Huw Phillips like this.
  16. Outbush


    Nov 6, 2016
    Lot of people say nothing. You'd know if they didn't like it from the body language I'd guess all of which means you probably did pretty well. Its not unusual to play pretty basic lines in those sorts of situations because you don't know what the other musos are going to do so sticking to around the root and making it swing along is a job well done. Thing is to have enjoyed it. Congrats
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
  17. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    Good job

    but the bl / guitarists, etc should say “ this is in X key, nice when they actually have basic chord charts so we can play together
  18. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    @mjnyc , good for you!
    It's very daunting putting yourself out there like this and it sounds like you did a fine job.
    I've had a similar experience with a session (detailed here...Oddly's Adventures: A session report | ) and yes, it takes practice to develop your ear to recognise changes and keys.
    You'll get more comfortable and confident each time, I'm sure.

    Learn a few basic guitar chord shapes, make notes of what songs are being done to practice at home, and of course ask for at least a quick chord breakdown if possible.
    For my sessions, if I was lucky, some of the others would let me know beforehand what they were going to play, and I could rehearse them although it invariably turned out they'd play their own version in their own timing and phrasing, which could be quite the challenge.

    Also, and I learned this the hard way, if you've no idea where or what to play, just sit it out...better no bass than ruining the song.
    Bests of luck, and looking forward to future reports on your progress.
    Malcolm35 likes this.
  19. Quoting you…..”…enjoyed it a lot!”
    That’s what it is all about! The fun! The enjoyment!
    Think about what you learned. Think about all the great notes you played. Think about the fun you had!! Think about what you need to improve.
    Congratulate yourself on taking a huge leap of faith testing your musical skills with other musicians. Sitting on your bed playing bass by yourself is fine and dandy, but your goal as a bassist is to play WITH others!!!
    There is nothing like playing on stage in front of a crowd….you took the initiative to test your skills with other musicians and held your own!!! Be proud of yourself! Be realistic and resolve to improve by accepting a positive attitude about what you can already play and what you CAN play in the future.
    Never take constructive criticism from other musicians negatively. Use it as motivation to improve your skills.
    It was fun, right?!?!? YES, it was!!!! That’s why we play bass!!! Kept up the great work. I was fortunate to meet and talk to the late, great Charles Mingus before he passed and he told me straight up….”Get it in your head John that you will never stop learning how to play bass……”………which means the journey is what matters!!!! Make that journey worth it!!!!
    You are on the right road!!!! Keep following your dream and never be afraid to step out and show ‘em that you can play!!!!
    flannel cat, Oddly and Peter Torning like this.
  20. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2018
    Grab a I-IV-V and pound I's root till it feels like the IV should come in. Watch the guitar's fretting hand and change chords when he does.

    What about that V? Don't worry about the V you will start feeling it also. So you miss a chord change, as long as the guys are not giving you fish eyes, keep on with what you are doing.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
    Oddly and WestyBassBob like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Oct 28, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.