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From complete newbie to cruise ship applicant in one year - possible?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tiggar, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. Tiggar


    Jan 22, 2010
    Vancouver, BC
    Hey there everybody. I've always had a deep love for everything bass guitar. I used to play a little in high school a few years ago before I picked up drums and took that to University.

    Unfortunately my living conditions don't accommodate a drum set so I've decided to pick up bass once again. I have pretty basic sight reading skills (I haven't read written music for about 4-5 years, but I'm pretty sure I can pick it up quickly) and very elementary theory skills.

    I have always planned on taking my drumming to the ships, but since that isn't an option anymore, I plan to head there with my bass guitar in hand. Do you think it would be possible to get a good enough grip on the instrument in a years time to start applying?

    How should I start? Should I begin trying to make walking bass lines right off the bat or focus more on techniques such as slapping?
  2. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    I think reading would be the toughest part.
  3. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Reading. Don't worry about slapping, very little call for it in the real world
    unless you are Marcus Miller or a solo artist.
    The cruise ships have adapted a band format similar to Letterman
    and Leno Late Night Show bands.
  4. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I finally agreed to a cruise with the in-laws and there was one great band on board that I caught every chance I got. The bass player had just joined the band for that cruise -- the band was 2 or 3 core horn players and the rest were all recent pickups/fillins. I was greatly impressed with teh bassists ability to fit right in reading charts. Rather an inspriration to me on how I want to play and the skills I would like to have.
    Now I don't think he acquired those skills in a year and I know I haven't gotten that far in a year, but I do believe there are times when one is younger and there aren't a lot of other obligations under foot when it's possible to devote a lot of time to learning an instrument. It seems to me the time I advanced the most on an instrument was when I was bored and kept coming back to practicing to fight off boredom.
    I have more issues finding time and maintaining focus after a long day of work than I do fighting boredom these days, but I do believe the right person in the right circumstances could be more or less cruise ship ready in a year, esp if they found a good teacher who understood and shared that goal. It wouldn't be easy.

    On the other hand have you looked into something like trapKat as a way of adapting drumming to less favorable living conditions?
    It hooks up to kick pedals and hi hat pedals as well
  5. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    It will be really difficult and challenging but you could probably at least get your chops up enough to have a decent audition and at least start networking. But I mean, play your @$$ off! I've been playing for a little over a year and I basically threw myself at the darn thing and literally sat in my apartment for at least 3 hours a day from the first time I picked it up (the first time I picked it up, I played for six hours). Take lessons, get your reading chops up, learn your scales, get out and hear as many bassists as you possibly can, and if you're able to really dig in with it and devote the time and energy (and yes, money!), I think you'll be in a good place in a year's time. :D
  6. If you're thinking about getting into cruise ship gigs, I would recommend checking out this website:


    A keyboardist that I used to work with started it years ago, and they have a number of articles on there about how to get those gigs, and what life on a ship as a musician is really like.
  7. Tiggar


    Jan 22, 2010
    Vancouver, BC
    Thank you very much everyone for the replies. So basically I should spend a lot of time sight reading and learning my scales. I think I can do that!

    Is there a need to learn Treble clef? I used to try to play heads of jazz standards from the Real Book, but my treble clef reading is very very rusty. Do you think I need that skill? Or should I just expect to stick to Bass clef?
  8. DinnerWithAGypsy

    DinnerWithAGypsy Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Louisville, KY
    It can never hurt, but sight reading is where it's at.

    I've been playing for ten years, and I don't even know if I could sight read well enough to pass a cruise ship audition right now; it's always been hard for me to stay disciplined in a practice schedule with sight reading. None of my regular gigs require it.
  9. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    It's the only hope you stand of getting a boat gig so quickly. You sure won't nail it based on how many tunes you know, how many styles you can cop or your ability to fake your way through with your ears.

    Ear training though would be a close second to reading. And don't worry much about scales. No songs are based on scales and you'll never play a scale on any gig. Chords (arpeggios) on the other hand will be of immediate use. And I'm not trying to start a scales vs chords approach argument. It's just common sense with such a strict deadline that you're going to need to prioritize what you learn. In many ways I'm sort of skeptical about the whole thing but it is a one way of cutting to the chase.
  10. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    Let's face it; it may not happen, but if you apply yourself 'as if' it could, it might, and you'd be so much further than you are now -- presumably with a solid base for building further.

    The biggest practical issue IMO would be how to make a living (provide food shelter) and still have enough focused hours in the day to practice as much as required.
  11. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    More like The Lawrence Welk Show than the Letterman Show but still, reading reading reading and reading. Followed closely by knowledge of a lot of standards. And then ability to keep your mouth shut and your hands to yourself.
  12. You can be on the ship in two ways:

    1 - with a pre-made band
    2 - show band , join a band on ship and read.

    for #2. One year is not enough time. No way. You'll need about 4-5 years. You really have to be good.

    For #1, I think one year is not enough to make a band want you over another bassist with better skills, unless you are best friends/lovers with a very strong band member who gets the gig and brings you a long for the ride. 3 years would be a better option, but also it's very, very hard to get a band together, and keep it together long enough to apply for, wait for, and accept a contract offer.

    How should you start?

    Get a teacher who's done it before, and let him/her guide you. Practice, practice, practice, and 3-4 years later you should be in a better position for work.