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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by yukon1736, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. yukon1736


    Mar 26, 2012
    I know everyone experiences it, but I'm curious as to how everyone deals with it. I also understand that there are probably 15000 posts on here related to being frustrated...so if it annoys you, just move on and save the snarky reply.

    Anyway, I have played for just over ten years, classic rock stuff. I'd say I'm pretty decent at what I do...but for a long time I have wanted to expand beyond this in terms of technique (slap/pop/funk playing) and in terms of knowledge (understanding jazz for instance).

    I try to follow along with stuff online like marlowedk, scotts bass lessons, etc...but it seems like it is all way over my head. Then I try to follow some marcus miller lessons or something where songs are broken down slowly and I see some 12 year old barreling through his tunes effortlessly when I can't get past the first 7 seconds. I mean, I love youtube for the wealth of information...but it just makes me want to put all of my bass equipment up for sale sometimes.

    I just stopped taking lessons that I had set up, after about 6 it was evident that not a damn thing was setting in. The lessons were free from a co-worker (music teacher at college) but it truly was a waste of his time and mine. I get that it was a great opportunity to have free lessons, but it really just did not work in the way I thought it would.

    It makes me feel like I have absolutely no idea how to progress forward like I would like. I don't know how to move forward and feel like i'm learning efficiently (a lot of times i'll sit down for a couple hours and go over the same boring crap I always go over, as though I just gravitate towards it due to not knowing what to do).

    While I don't want to quit, I really don't enjoy this lack of growth that I feel has been going on over the past couple years.

    If any of you have dealt with feelings that are similar, what did you do to push through and either grow or just become content with where you're at?
  2. TexasGopher


    Jul 25, 2012
    Yukon---you just posted what I have wanted to ask. I am afraid I can not help you but like you, I am looking forward to hearing what others have to say. It doesn't help you but I share the same frustration. Thanks for asking that question.
  3. yukon1736


    Mar 26, 2012
    On the contrary, it helps, in a way, to know that someone else experiences this as well. misery loves company right?
  4. I've not played long enough to completely commiserate, but a couple if things in your post stand out for me.

    Foremost, I do get frustrated with lessons, tutorials, etc. I know that's bad, but it is how it is. Secondly, it sounds like you're wanting out of a rut and into a different groove.

    Both combined suggest maybe you hook up with another band or group of musicians and learn with them.
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    No matter how good you become, there will always be someone better, so try not to let someone else's talent frustrate you. When you do see someone better, try to reverse the frustration into a positive way of thinking, by telling yourself that you are going to try harder to improve.

    Yes, it's easier said than done, but as you well know, frustration leads to a dead end.

    As for what to actually do. Online tutorials are great, but IMO have one major negative. The majority of them do not follow chronologically, i.e. they are scattered and each lesson does not build on what went before. You just pick a lesson and before long you get bogged down because you dont know the basics. In this respect www.studybass is a great site for the reasons I mention above.

    I dont know what material your teacher taught you, but perhaps he started too far ahead of where you are now. I would still recommend a teacher above going it alone, at least for now. IMO an ideal situation would be to buy the "Hal Leonard Complete Bass Method" book, find another teacher (or maybe your previous teacher), and have the teacher go through the book with you. This way, you have a structured set of lessons and a teacher to explain what you dont understand.

    Finally, try to realise that learning any instrument is a life time journey. The journey itself should be a joyful one ( yes, there will always be pitfalls and ups and downs along the way ) where the destination is always a stop ahead.

    I know this seems a bit deep and philosophical :D, but if it helps to keep frustration at bay, it is well worth thinking about.

    Best of luck, and I hope this gives some food for thought. :)
  6. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    I think it will help to formulate the goals and organize a way to get there.
    And stay realistic - playing that Victor Wooten bass solo 6 weeks after you started on slapping is not realistic. As said by fearceol, it's about the journey, not about getting there. Your goals will change as you get closer.
    I have a similar problem with learning to properly walk the bass, that stuff is tedious and
    my technique is good, so i always tend to skip ahead until it gets challenging and when i'm there i find that i lack the theory learned in the first steps and give up.
  7. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    It takes a long, long time to become proficient at a new skill. When I was learning to double-thumb, it took me easily 6 months until I was comfortable with it. And that's just one little technique - you're tackling entire genres at once. Slow down and compartmentalize. Focus on one small piece at a time, and add skills gradually. Who knows, by this time next year you could be a funky slap master, or a walking-line genius! Just gotta take it slow, and don't get down on yourself.
  8. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I'm content with where I'm at. Sounds like you need a reason for ...........

    Music is great and I enjoy my time spent playing with two bands. That means I'll probably play 12 gigs this month and not receive a dime for my efforts. What with everything else I have to do that pretty well fills my plate. And that is the point in this post. Why do you play the bass?

    In one of the bands we play the same ole 50 +/- songs over and over and over, so I'm on auto pilot with this music. My reason for staying with this band is I like the guys, we are friends and enjoy each other's company. We play the nursing & retirement home circuit in our area. The residents enjoy (love) seeing us -- and that is reason enough to keep doing this every month.

    The other is our Praise band at Church. Here we get 6 new songs a week, practice on Wednesday night and an hour before the service on Sunday. After we do our service on Sunday we go to another small church in town and provide music for their service. Those 6 new songs keep me involved and give me something new to work on each week.

    Should I devote more of my time to getting better? The answer to that is of course, but, like most of us "I'm pretty decent at what I do" playing better is not my reason for doing what I do with music. Music keeps me involved in doing things I enjoy doing... Perhaps a different focus is in order.

    My personality is at ease with close enough, you may be driven by one of the other personalities. If so find which one and get comfortable with it.
  9. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    Since you're already playing and have been playing classic rock for 10 years, I'd suggest you use what you already know to expand what you want to know.

    Classic rock has a theoretical base. The notes that get played are there for a reason and those lines can be expanded toward 4 note chords and seeing how chord tones and scales apply there, applies to every genre. I'd ask your teacher friend to help with that approach to build from what you already know. You might be surprised by how much you already know once the connections start falling into place.
    Most everybody starts by learning one song after another, when you begin to understand how songs work-- how they're constructed -- then you can start to see similar patterns and variations. And then learning a song is more about learning how it fits into a framework of music.
    and be patient, I used to want to learn so many things so fast, now that I know I can't I seem to enjoy the slower pace of picking things up (like I have a choice)
  10. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    This approach is my approach and I like the idea of having a plan and working it. Also it really sets me up for the next steps..For me I completed the 3 Method Books and now have moved on the his Building Walking Bass Lines book (just completed section 1 yesterday). I already know next I'll do his Grooves book or Rock book once completed. All authored by Ed Friedland. My instructor adds songs to learn along the way that reinforce the lessons in the books. AND answers my weekly million questions - without his instruction I'd be pretty confused and absolutely doing things incorrectly.
    Personally, I made a commitment to finish what I start - so once I have a book or song I finish it. Otherwise I'd be overwhelmed with the new "shinny object" and never get s**t done.
    My other personal commitment is to practice playing AND reading everyday. For me, not much would really stick if I didn't practice daily.
  11. DanSRX


    Oct 17, 2011
    Ashford, Uk
    I think I have been through this myself. When some bloody kid on youtube can really put me to shame (im not great or anything) then its a kick in the gonads!

    But there is a flipside.

    In my 1st band, where I pretty much lied and said to them 'Give me a call, I play bass'. The call came and I jumped right in. In the few years that followed I knew absolutely bugger all. I never knew the notes on the fretboard and what scales were etc...

    But my lines were lovely and interesting because I just heard what the bassline could be in my head to go with the guitarists parts and tried my best to replicate them.

    When I looked down at my fretboard it was nice and empty. And this encouraged experimentation. But now I have been playing a while and learnt some shapes, scales and patterns (and the notes) etc, I find myself getting frustrated with my approach to writing things for guitar parts. Because it now feels more regimental. And its like 'I can do it this way, or that way' and it has taken my feeling out of it.

    But i'm loosening up again and not trying to think too much and going back to having fun, which is helping.

    But honestly yes there are going to be people of all ages (especially the bedroom players) that will be twice the player I ever will be.

    I found an easier way of growth, without realising that you are doing it is to play some different genres of music. Or attend some local jam sessions just to mix things up. For a bit of improvisation lessons I put on the music tv channel (generic chart crap top 40 or whatever) and played along to every song that comes on and put your own stuff in too. Playing live with better musicians is in my opinion one of the best ways to progress.

    In regards to slap, I thought I had it good at one point. Then I discovered Scott's bass lessons (which are great) and realised I was living in a dream world. It is coming along, but you will have to be patient, which I know is very hard, but it will come down to muscle and mental memory I think.

    Like other posts have said, you just have to remember why you play. And make up your own mind what you want to get out of it. And the big cliché is practice.
  12. ancientrocker

    ancientrocker supporting member

    Mar 7, 2013
    What frustrates me are the things out of my control. Avoid being frustrated with yourself. There's a line in the song "Get Together" that goes like this: you can make the mountains ring or make the angels cry...You hold the key to (them) all in your tremblin' hand. Just one key unlocks them both. It's there at your COMMAND.
  13. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Frustration comes form focusing on what you can't do instead of what you are supposed to be doing in the moment. When you notice frustration, stop, and refocus. Take a deep breath and think to yourself "I am simply learning < this scale/ this riff/ this concept> "

    comparing yourself to others is useless, let them inspire you but don't compare yourself.

    also beware of comparing yourself to yourself: Since you have been playing for over a decade, let go of comparing your already acquired skills to the skills you have yet to learn.

  14. yukon1736


    Mar 26, 2012
    Really digging the fact that people have some worthwhile thoughts on this. I was ambivalent about posting at first just because of how there is a natural tendency for these threads to sound like whining...

    A couple things that I feel like I'm noticing as a result of reading some replies: I am all over in terms of what I'm trying to learn. slap/pop, walking, jazz, billy Sheehan fingerstyle.... I spend a little time working on these each day in a scattered, unorganized method. A little more focus and just sticking through the boring foundation lessons might help. I mean...some of the lessons...it's like...there are videos that teach the basics, "slap then pop the octave", and then videos that are all mark king/marcus miller/wooten...as though there is nothing in between haha.. Regardless though, a more focused and organized approach may help.

    Also...I don't own a single bass book. Learned by ear, can play live by ear on the fly in a lot of situations, understand the scale we're in but can't begin to explain modes or any of that stuff... Maybe an instructional book could help organize things in a way that allows for a logical progression.

    Thanks a lot for the insights everyone, it is definitely helpful (a) to hear that other people experience similar struggles and (b) to hear advice from everyone in terms of how that was dealt with. Extremely appreciated!
  15. Factory Owner

    Factory Owner

    Oct 11, 2007
    Columbia, Maryland
    Commercial User
    hi yukon1736! i totally get what your feeling... and i do believe all of us, will at some point in our bass career, will experience frustration with our progress! it's only natural, when we as humans just want to become better.

    i know i experienced this when i hit the age of 30! i started reflecting on where i was a bass player and i wasn't happy with where my ability was.

    but, i also did realize how destructive my perception of the situation was at that time!

    a while back i wrote a few blog posts sharing some insights that has helped make the learning process of music a whole lot less painful and really allowed me to progess in my bass playing!

    these are insights and concepts that either were shared to me by other musicians that wanted to help me grow, or insights i came up with on my own.

    i really hope they help open up some doors for you and other bass players that are going through the same experience!

    Here is a simple guide toward personal development and making the learning process less painful:


    Here are 4 Potent Habits that can snowball your practice routine, allowing you to achieve extraordinary results in a short period of time:


    4 easy tips that puts you one step closer to achieving total musical freedom on the bass guitar:

  16. jazzbill


    Jun 4, 2010
    Richardson, TX
    To avoid frustration set reachable goals. For example, if you want to learn to slap, set your first goal be to be able to thumb a good clean sound on the E string in quarter notes. Work slowly on that skill till you can then add a piece. To go from nothing to banging out a Marcus Miller lick immediately is unreasonable. Take it a piece at a time to build the component skills. When you are comfortable with those go back and try the MM thing.
  17. Knavery

    Knavery Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Trust me Yukon, many of us feel like you. For me, it's theory. I've tried and tried and tried and tried to learn it, but it doesn't stick. Each and every Youtube video I've watched and book I've read makes assumptions that you already know this stuff. NOT ONCE have I seen it explained from square one... Like how does it mathematically fit together?

    People here have suggested some books, which I've purchased. But I really don't feel like learning notation at the same time. I know theory and notation go hand in hand, but I'd rather learn one "language" at a time.

    I will tell you this... Learning is very incremental. When I first started playing, I learned things very quickly. I saw progression and was very happy with what I was accomplishing. However, after having played for two decades, I've plateaued. And trust me... I know what it's like to play the same damn licks over and over again.

    Just keep trying new things on Youtube. Practice new exercises--things you aren't comfortable doing. Things will come together eventually. That's what I'm doing.
  18. TexasGopher


    Jul 25, 2012
    I have really gotten a lot out of this thread. thanks everyone