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Flying high...my story so far

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by geebee_r1, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. Let's see, where to start. About four months ago I watched a group of my buddies play at one of our base's functions...honestly I had no idea that they were even in a band! They sounded pretty good, but there was no bass...just guitars (x2), drummer and lead singer, so there was a definate lacking of fullness to their sound.:scowl: They were pretty much desperate for a bass player and I jumped at the challenge.:hyper:

    I have some limited musical background (school band - percussion) and plucked away at a guitar when I was even younger. Those days were many, many moons ago (over 20+ years) so in a sense I'm starting out as a newbie, not only to bass guitar but to music in general.

    I picked up a Spector Legend and a few 'teach yourself DVD's and books' and started on building up the calluses. They gave me the song list of what they are playing shortly before I had to go away for 5-weeks on TDY...needless to say my 'off time' would be devoted to learning to play those songs (turned out I didn't quite have the amount of time off as I was led to believe...oh well).

    Anyway, I returned home and we had one jam session together before I had to leave for vacation. We sounded good...a lot better than I had thought we would have since I was cutting out all the 'razzle-dazzle' in some of the songs just to be able to play them. The guys were really, really happy with the sound, though I had learned one or two of the songs in the wrong key (Doh!!!).:rollno: So the same night we all go out for a couple of beers and end up adding another 16 songs to the already 15 song list...oh my...here we go again!

    Fast forward to the morning after I get back from vacation -- we have a gig at 1030 a.m. (another base function) and I haven't picked up the bass since our last jam session two and a half weeks prior (plus the 4-hour time change and late arrival the night before...I was falling asleep standing)! What key was song x in again? Oh no!!!:( So I show up and we sound check for 15 minutes before the guys run out to grab some grub. I'm almost in a panic at this point...my first gig (or playing anything musical in front of an audience) since high-school and I'm not even 80% sure of the music we're playing. Not only that, but the new song list includes several of the new songs we came up with before I left...DOH!!!:bag:

    The first half of the set went like I expected...I fouled up more than I thought I would. Not only that, but one of the guitarists said he really likes the bass loud, so he cranked up my amp so it almost dominated the entire set! So not only was I on 'center stage' in the sound dept, but any foul up was immediately noticable by all.:help:

    During the break, I had to get a few beers in me to calm my nerves and stop the shaking...I was a wreck. The rest of the band kept telling me 'you sound awesome...damn, we rock!!" -- all I could do was smile and keep from screaming!:confused: The second half went much, much better (which was fortunate, because the wing commander arrived and is (apparently) a big fan of the band (a good thing). So kudos for me for not screwing up too much.

    At the end I left with mixed emotions...it was fun but my nerves were completely shot! I really wished I had the morning to become familiar with the songs and remember the right keys (yeah, that one came back to haunt me also...). Apparently I didn't screw up that much as the rest of the band pressed forward to play at a local watering hole a few nights later.

    We were the third band on the ticket for the open mic night at one of the better venues in the area. Even though I played my rear off over the days leading up to this event to make sure I didn't make the same mistakes as last time, I still felt very uneasy about being in front of a crowd without at least another jam session with the band.

    I didn't really start to feel that bad until I met the bassist for another one of the bands (I was getting something out of my case and he wanted to look at the Spector...). Really cool guy and can play very well (as I found out)...however I must have appeared like a complete dork as he showed me his Fender and started rattling off all kinds of stuff that maybe I'm supposed to know..."it has this and that, made here, year made, etc..." uh...yeah.:eyebrow: I did take away that it was a fairly old bass and didn't have a scratch on it (I didn't even think of slinging it over my shoulder as I didn't want to be responsible for any liability to his darling).:eek: I did ask him how long he'd been playing...something like 8 or 18 years or so (it was pretty loud, I was getting some ear plugs out of the case when he came up to me)...so when I told him I had about 2 months experience he pretty much left me alone. Now I felt even worse...:oops:

    We finally get on stage after the AC/DC tribute band...those guys really rocked!! Said bassist above was in that band. We were all really nervous following those guys...they were very impressive to watch and listen to! As I was plugging in to their equipment, their house-band bassist starts asking me about my bass and such...(of course I'm thinking..."oh no, not this again" :bag: as I'm already nervous as heck. I'm not sure what I told him other than of my inexperience and a few other tid-bits of information about the bass. I think he was rolling his eyes as I told him I didn't go and try out a bunch of other basses before picking up the Spector...I pretty much read reviews and bought online. We really don't have local music stores that carry a wide or decent selection...I'd have to go for a pretty long drive to test out any (of course, I don't know how to play or would know what to look for in the first place, other than feel and looks).

    We played, and I did fairly well. Again, I didn't have the 'razzle-dazzle' the other guys had, but the music sounded great and we were asked to play an encore.:bassist: Yeah, we all left there that night pretty buzzed...and professing to play there again...tomorrow night!!! Guess I'd better get back to practicing.

    Thanks for reading guys...just thought you'd enjoy a humorous story about my excerpts thus far. Although my experience (and confidence) levels are farily low in the music dept, I'm having a blast playing with these guys and learning a new instrument. It definately takes the edge off of the day when the stress levels at work seem to skyrocket...;)

  2. that's great you have the support of band members,,,i'm in nearly the same boat,`had' guitars but it was like 3 lifetimes ago(maybe 4?),,and the bass was something i'd never considered,,but that's what i intend to actually play,i seem to always have a `strat' on hand but the bass IS IT:bassist:

    and now with winter ON us and long hours of dark beer er ;)darkness i can really get down

    anyway,enough about me,keep us posted i love it,it's inspirational(YAY!):hyper:
  3. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    I don't know how long the other guys have been playing but if you were in my band, this is what I'd do.

    Have you learn 5 songs a week. Of course we have 30 but I don't want you looking at the other ones. Go to an open mic and play those 5 songs. Once you learn those songs you play them every other day once through so that you remember them. Practice the new ones every day.

    It is very hard for me to learn 30 songs at once. Its easier to break it down into a few at a time. If you're only playing a few songs at a time you will sound best this way. Plus you will start to network at the open mic nights and get gigs scheduled now for down the road when you have complete setlists.
  4. Hey, gee_bee_r1:

    It's wonderful you've taken this leap and are in a band where the members support you and are already playing gigs. Playing live is a GREAT learning experience. It pulls everything into focus. Your school band percussion must have helped your sense of rhythm which is all-important with the bass.

    Good advice from TyCobb73. Glad you understand that you have to keep practicing and expanding your knowledge as well as calluses. It's a tough climb to start and you'll always be learning but the more you learn the easier it will become because you'll know why you play the notes instead of just facing notes to learn by rote. Then you can start the "razzle-dazzle."

    The bass community is rather supportive and you'll find that communication most of the times you share gigs. Hang at TalkBass, music stores near your base, or at Bass Player online and other sites and you'll start to understand the lingo and what's what. The next time a bassist shows you his bass you'll be right in the slot.

    Don't stress about the on-stage blunders -- just don't stop playing! The most important thing about the bass is that you're there, even if you're only playing root notes. Then remember what you did wrong and fix it. The audience is going to be less aware of your mistakes than you are -- they're focusing on the guitars while the bass is shaking their booty and keying in the chords.

    Hey, for playing two months, you've made incredible headway. Sounds like you're having fun. Don't forget to keep doing that!


    PS: ... and thanks for being there.
  5. Thanks for the nice words of encouragement and advice...both are very, very appreciated! I've tried my best to keep to a regular practice schedule (1 1/2 to 2 hours everyday -- once through the list of 'known' songs, learn a new one and the remaining 30 min to work on scales, learn the neck, work on right hand technique, etc.) since I've been home.

    I think playing bass is something I'm going to stick to for quite a while...I've had more fun playing and learning the bass than I ever did playing drums or guitar as a kid. I tried to pick up the guitar again a few years back but there was something about it that just didn't sing to me. It was when i picked up the bass that I realized what it was (the proverbial 'light bulb')...I love the groove and beat of the music...not necessarily the melodies (which is why I rarely listen to the words of a song...just the underlying music).

    I think tomorrow night I'll try to be more open-minded about the other musicians there and be more attentive to what they are saying...you never know, maybe I can pick up some great tips and advice, or even learn of a local bass instructor to help me out.

    Thanks again!
  6. Way to go, man. You just gotta get out there and 'do it.' I'm really jealous, because you are just starting out on a really great adventure. Mine started 26 years ago. It's still fun, but not as much as it was then. Enjoy the ride.
  7. Kudos to ya bud, I hit my 1st band after 6 months of playing to CD's, what a difference it was, best fun I ever had, 6 years later, still learning, still having fun, welcome to the wonderful world of BASS...enjoy :)

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