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From Newb to Performing... How long

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Soonerbldr, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. Soonerbldr


    Jul 31, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    I have been wanting to learn to play bass for a long time (20-23 years). I would eat a cheap bass and amp, noodle around for a while the sell it off. Part of it was just life and part no confidence.

    About four years ago I struck up a conversation with the bass player of a band that always played at the restaurant of the hotel that I frequented. I asked him how long he had been playing and he said three months... Granted it was a band that played Irish pub music but still, there seemed to be some complex rhythms in some of the songs they played. He had no prior music experience which to me was more astounding.

    More recently I was at a work function and was talking to a work acquaintance and he mentioned he had just bought a bass and was taking lessons. Now about 5 months later he is in a band playing gigs on weekends.

    Neither of these guys are virtuosos ( well the one guy may be one by now after 4 years) for sure but I was amazed how fast both of them picked up the instrument and were competent enough to perform.

    Inspired by this I cracked out my P Bass that I had stuck away and have decided to take some lessons starting in April. Not sure I will ever perform live but the thought of playing even in front of a small bar crowd sound fun. I digress...

    So the question out all of this is how long did it take you to learn to play and start performing?
  2. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    I'm still learning to play and at age 57 I still take lessons. I have been performing in front of others for 42 years. I say start performing as soon as you can despite your playing level. Growing and learning and practicing and all that stuff is quite different than playing with others live in front of people. It requires a whole nother kind of energy, and execution etc to pull it off. Even if you just play for someone in your living room, start playing what you have developed in front of others to get used to it. You have to be pretty brave to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and play for them. Right now I have to return a call to a leader of a band I quit several years ago. His message was like, hey man, how are you? Listen. holla back at me I have a couple of questions for you. And the dance begins :)
  3. Drunk Heffalump

    Drunk Heffalump Tone that I have. Skill? Oh, that? Well....

    Feb 28, 2009
    Great White North
    Usually before you're fully ready.............

  4. JGbassman

    JGbassman Supporting Member

    May 31, 2011
    Once you get a taste you will be hooked. I live for those perfect moments when there is magic happening and all members feel connected. There isn't anything like it. Everyone starts the same. By stepping on that stage for the first time. Personally, I played bass for five months before my first performance back in high school. If you want it bad enough you will find a way. Desire and drive will place you on the fast track
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I waited a long longer than I needed to because I thought I needed to be "better". I soon found out in my first few bands that I was already better than everyone else in the band, all I lacked was stage experience.

    If you can get through songs at tempo without train wrecking, you're ready to play with others.

    As you noted in your post, plenty of players are up and running in just a few weeks. There's stories of players of some other instrument who took an offered bass gig, went to the music store to buy a bass and got on stage that night.
  6. seescottrock


    Apr 13, 2011
    Utica, NY
    Play out early, play out often. Even if it's in the relative safety of church worship, you should play in front of people soon. You'll never learn to live in the pocket until you have a chance to see what that means, right?
  7. sam davis

    sam davis

    Apr 3, 2013
    it's good you are taking lessons because learning from the internet isn't the way to go,a teacher can correct you when you are making technical mistakes, a computer can't.

    it's gonna take some time till you are ready to perform live, but if you get the chance to play a gig just for fun, do it!

    don't be afraid other musicians will judge you, believe me, they will be more likely to give you advice then tell you you suck at bass.
    (ofcourse there is a chance of you encoutering an egocentric ass who thinks he's the best musician in the world, but that is just part of it i guess -_- )

    I know it's scary at first to just go to a jam session but when you just do it, you are going to learn to play the bass a lot quiker and a lot better.

  8. The Wiz

    The Wiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2013
    Dont wait long. Once you can keep a steady beat play live with a band. You will love the feeling of being on stage and it will motivate you to practice more and more. It was about 3 months for me.
  9. This. So hard this. It sounds like fun to be better than everyone until you try it. I don't mean I started out as some virtuoso, just that it's frustrating to want to run when the people around you are crawling. Less of a problem if you live in a more musician-dense area than I did.

    Besides, you're 'just a bass player', people expect you to suck :p
  10. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    As soon as you can, really too soon isnt soon enough. If you can keep time with a recording, your ready, then keep practicing.
  11. hsech

    hsech Work hard. My Social Security needs a raise.

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    I'm self taught on both bass and guitar. I learned from a chord book for guitar. Bass.... I just picked up one and started playing after knowing my way around a guitar neck. I think natural ability has a lot to do with how quickly you can start playing professionally. I constantly learn new material by ear. I inherited music ability from my Mother. She taught piano and voice lessons all of her adult life. My path was easy for me transitioning from guitar to bass. After having major thumb surgery and a bone graft on my right thumb I now very rarely play guitar and I gig three or four times a month on bass. What I'm trying to say is the more natural ability you have the easier it is to start gigging and being confident.
  12. I originally played two years before ever joining my first band. While it helped to be much more musically adept than my band mates, I got incredibly cocky and frustrated.

    Do yourself a favor and don't wait for approval, just play your **** off and start working with people.
  13. tmntfan


    Oct 6, 2011
    Edmonton canada
    I think a lot of ppl are scared to try things. the two guys you mentioned probably had a band (or the offer/intention of being in band) before they had a bass. I started playing at 14 in church. had the bass for a couple months before playing in front of ppl.

    I would advise you to find a band -talk to them and be realistic about your abilities- and jump in.

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