Good practice lines (moderate skills)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Raman, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Raman


    Feb 19, 2003
    Montreal, Qc

    So I’m without a band again. :(
    For the second time in a few years, my (to my honest opinion very promising) band imploded due to being subordinated to my singer’s intense emotional life.

    Anyways, I’ve always been a lazy musician who practices mainly when I’m in a project and when I have deadlines. This time, I decided I’d try to keep in shape, and hopefully improve, by joining open mic events with a guitarist friend of mine, and also by practising different challenging covers.
    If I can discipline myself and practice on a regular basis, maybe I’ll start doing it properly with scales and everything. But for now, I’m only looking at ways to practice by playing fun lines.

    I thought I’d start this evening with Chasing Shadows by Deep Purple. That one has been on my “to try” list for 20 years, along with a couple Yes songs.
    But I was wondering if maybe someone would have other interesting suggestions for me. I’m looking for bass lines that are good exercises for technique (right and left hand, as well as pick), speed, chord changes, arpeggios, etc.

    Please bear in mind that I’m technically moderate at best. I’ve always played post-punk, grunge, trip-hop, etc.: I.e. very minimalistic genres as far as the bass is concerned. Even though I'm looking for a bit of technical challenge right now, I'm not especially fond of highly technical music in general. So I’m not about to attack Jaco Pastorius, Iron Maiden, Rush or Victor Wooten lines (I don't even slap!).

    Thanks for any input !
  2. Composing your own bass lines. Praise music is mostly just roots, however, all seven chords can find their way into a song and the way you play the root is many and varied. Some time a whole tone bass note is more effective than pounding out chord tone bass lines.

    Here is one I'm having problems with the bass line, it's not falling into place as most do. We do it in F. Notice the transpose button. See what you can come up for a bass line with this play-a-long. Not a stretch, but, something new to work with.

    I play Praise and Country, both of which leave the specific bass line to me. Coming up with THE bass line I find challenging and rewarding.

    What I'm coming up with on this one is whole tone root notes at the chord change and nothing more. Letting the drums carry the beat and I'm accenting the root note at the chord change.

    Offered as something new to explore.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
  3. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Being a creature of 60's pop, I recently rediscovered this classic. Lots of changes, easy to transpose and demanding in that you have to reference horns and your own ears, no guitar tone clues: Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass, Lollipops & Roses:
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I have the book by Jon Liebman called "Bass Aerobics"

    The title may sound a bit boring but it is a great book for mastering technique. Also, the exercises sound very musical and each one is (I think) forty three bars in length. They range from easy(ish) to advanced. Should keep you going for about a year as there are fifty two exercises with the recommendation to take up to a week to master each.

    Jon does not give advice on fingerings etc, so it's up to you to find what works.
    It contains notation and tab.
  5. jonster


    Nov 12, 2008

    Hmm... I thought I'd included fingerings. Sorry if I left any out. Thanks for your kind words. Glad you like my book!

    FYI, you can get it directly from me here:

    Thanks again!

    kenneffdupriest likes this.
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Hi Jon,

    My apologies !!!! :sorry: I assumed the OP was looking for fingerings for each entire exercise, which when you think of it would be impractical.

    You do indeed include fingerings at certain crucial points in each exercise, which are very helpful. Personally, I think this is all that's required.

    Again....sorry for the confusion.

    I love your books. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
    jonster and kenneffdupriest like this.
  7. how about playing the melody or vocal parts to your favorite songs. Its harder than you think.

    I'd actually recommend finger exercises, a metronome and a practice journal/log book to keep yourself honest. Do 45 minutes, hands on, a day, in one sitting or spread out, five days a week. Start with a comfortable BPM and bump it up every week 4 or 5 BPMs every week. In 3 months you'll be a monster. Guaranteed.

    I also love your books Jon
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
  8. Oldschool94


    Jan 9, 2015
    I don't know about lines because I don't know what type of music you like. But there's a lot of things you can do to keep in shape. You could work on your ears by learning some songs you like by ear. Try to play along to the recording exactly. This will help you improve your ears and feeling. You can also work on technique while doing this by making sure you play the part cleanly, with a good left hand, and good right hand. I tend to think bass player's don't practice their right hand enough. Classical guitar players and violinists must work very hard to get a strong right hand/bow arm. So here's some exercises I like:
    1. Alternating on one string: just try playing 16th notes at about 100-120 bpm on one string steadily. You can play a line or just one note, the point is to keep an even pulse with no accents or clacking for a prolonged period of time. Also keep the alternation perfect, don't skip a finger.
    2. Alternating string crossing. Try playing two notes on one string and then two notes on another. Do this in 8th notes going back in forth. Be careful to alternate the whole time and don't rake across the strings. Practice this starting on 1st and 2nd fingers. Do this on strings adjacent to each other first, then string seperated.
    3. Raking exercises: try playing number 2, but now rake across the strings when you string cross. The pattern should start on another finger every time. Try coming up with basslines that use rakes and practice starting your basslines on your 1st and 2nd fingers.

    Lastly, if you really want to stay in shape, whatever you do, try recording yourself! Play something and record it. Listen back, and be critical. There are so many genres of music and ways to play the bass, what you need to practice can vary. But in most of them, an awareness of what you sound like will help!

    Don't get discouraged without a project. Come up with your own little exercises and make them musical. Come up with things that inspire you so you don't get bored!
  9. Raman


    Feb 19, 2003
    Montreal, Qc
    Hi guys,

    Sorry I haven't responded sooner. I had a hectic week!

    Thanks for all the suggestions. And I'll check out Jon's book.

    This said, maybe I could have been more precise in what I was asking for.

    I've been playing the bass for many years (on and off for 25 years). So I'm not a beginner. I also have a certain background in music theory, although it dates from childhood.
    The thing is, I find it hard to build the motivation to play and practice when I'm not in an active project, which has been the case since a bit before Christmas. Otherwise, these last years I've only been in bands that played original material, so I'm normally used to creating my own bass lines.

    When I say that I'm not technically advanced, it's because I've mainly played minimalistic styles over the years : Classic rock, post-punk, grunge and dub mainly. That's the music I appreciate the most.
    This said, I enjoy a challenge. I've practised Yes tracks for example, even though I'd never envision joining a prog-rock band. Simply, some of Chris Squire's lines have intrigued me enough that I just had to sit down and try to cover them, knowing they'd be a technical challenge for me.
    In a general manner, I've always done that. I started playing the bass when I was 16 because I loved The Cure and thought their bass was so hypnotic. So I covered them in my living room and that was my very 1st initiation to the instrument.

    I'm now looking for new challenges, on top of looking for motivation to play.
    I mentioned wanting to try my hands at Chasing Shadows from Deep Purple.
    I think it's a great and fun bass line. It doesn't seem incredibly complicated, but it's just a bit more intricate and faster than what I usually play.

    In short, I'm looking for other suggestions of this type. Not necessarily rock, although that's what I'm most likely to be interested in. But anything that could both be fun to cover, in order to motivate me, and present a challenge to my lazy fingers.

    Thanks again! I appreciate all the suggestions.
  10. I've seen a lot of success in playing songs I knew were way beyond me when I started learning them. You mention you feel you're "not ready" to hit tunes by bands like Rush etc. after playing 25 years? I started learning YYZ when I had only been playing bass for a little longer than a year, it ate up hours and hours of time and was one of the most frustrating endeavours I've ever been on, but you know what, it got there! Two years later I still play it all the time and it has it's good and bad days, but just learning it made me such a better player! It gave my chops a serious kick in the ass and now there's very few songs I find challenging on a technical level at all. The same happened when I set out to learn Charlie Parker's Donna Lee, it was hard, gruelling, painful and way beyond me at the time, but learning it made me a noticeably better musician than I had been prior. I guess the point here is to never tell yourself you're "not ready" to learn something, or to say it's "too advanced" for your level of technique. If you have passion, drive and a will to succeed you can learn anything you want to! As far as suggestions on what to learn, I mentioned YYZ earlier and that'd definitely be up there, but Muse's "Hysteria" is a really fun one. It basically only has two parts in the entire song, but the main riff is really good for getting your right hand up to shape, I'd definitely recommend checking it out (link below)!

    Raman likes this.
  11. Raman


    Feb 19, 2003
    Montreal, Qc
    Yes man, that's what I'm looking for. :)
  12. jonster


    Nov 12, 2008