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Guidance needed for Beginner with Bass Goals and Practice Content

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by anandogs, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. anandogs


    Jan 1, 2013
    Hi All, So just a brief introduction about me before I go off into what help I need:

    I have been playing Guitar since the past 6 years and the reason I picked it up was because I love music and wanted to just play some of my favourite songs for myself, my friends, my family etc.

    I have always however been more drawn to the more "bassy" less trebly sound - i find it more - for lack of a better word - peaceful. So I picked up the bass guitar this year.

    I also wanted to experience what it feels like to perform in front of an audience (big / small doesnt matter). I don't want to generalize but there seemed to be a much greater demand for bassists than guitarists and since I wasn't into any other instruments at that point, I decided to pick up my first bass.

    TL;DR my bass goal is to join a band and just play covers - covers that I enjoy playing and covers that can get me to gig. I don't want to create songs (forget improvising!)just yet

    With this in mind, this is the practice plan I came up with and I'd like anyone's suggestions on this:

    30 Minutes - Pacmans scale / modes method (this can become the theory time in the long run)
    20 Minutes - Practicing technique - Alternate fingerstyle / raking / slapping etc on pre-tabbed songs, (how important is it to do it with a metronome?)
    and depending on availability of time:
    45 Minutes - Studying chord structures of songs I like, figuring out the theory behind it and tabbing a bass line myself

    Will this be enough for my goals? Again, I have 6 years of self-taught guitar playing and I have some basic idea of music theory. Any help is appreciated :)
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Depending on what kinda covers, you can get by with just root notes...:bag:

    I think you're generally off to a good start but I wonder whether you need to practice scales after having played guitar for six years. If you have a decent grasp of how chords derive from scales (or vice versa) I would fathom you don't need to put in the practice if you focus on chord tones instead, which are the meat and potatos for bass players really, and your scale and fretboard knowledge will come naturally.

    I'd also advise you to steer clear of relying on tab. Note there's a not so fine line between exercises written in tab or double-checking your line against someone else's and not being able to learn or play anything without it. I'm not a diehard opponent of the former but in my own experience, you are much MUCH better off starting to play by ear.

    The use of a metronome opens a can of worms in itself. I'm kind of on the fence on this one. When learning something new, you're better off getting it down before trying to play it with a metronome. Getting the motion and/or feeling down comes first when learning something new, good time will come with practice and the occasional reality check with a metronome or drum computer (record yourself too!)
  3. anandogs


    Jan 1, 2013

    Because I never played scales on the guitar in 6 years. I mean sure I knew my pentatonic and my major scale, but I never consciously applied it anywhere

    Though I completely understand what you're saying about the chord tones - I was convinced of the importance of chord tones on an article on studybass.com (apparently the need for the site came about because of the lack of (relative) importance placed on chords and chord sounds (as opposed to scales)

    But i get the feeling that if I know scales then I feel i'll have a better view of the chords (does that make sense?)

    Now this advice counteracts my lazy beliefs: what you're saying implies that I won't be able to play a decent RHCP song in several months to come :bag: is the improvement (i'm guessing it worked for you) worth the not-being-able-to-play-cool-fast-basslines?

    I think this is where my 6 years of guitar playing might help - I think I have a good internal clock (of course it can be much better) so I'll take you up on skipping the metronome :D
  4. anandogs


    Jan 1, 2013
    And thanks for taking time out to reply!
  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Joining other musicians is always a good idea. Yes, forget improvising for now. We play chord tones one note at a time. The music will dictate how many of the chord tones we play - before the music goes off and leaves us. Root on one and a steady groove from the other chord tones is our bread and butter.

    I'll not address your practice schedule. Right now you need to get the fundamentals down, how to hold it, how to tune it, how to get sound and how to mute some of the sound, things like that. Yes we have to do our scales so our fingers know where the notes are and our ears recognize the good notes from the bad notes. I look upon the chord tones (arpeggios) as little scales and they too need to become ingrained in muscle memory. See a Cmaj7 chord and your fingers just know a bass line for that chord. Food for thought. You are playing covers looking at the fake chord sheet music and want to play the chord tones for a Cmaj7 chord ----- with out looking at your fretboard, yes, the major scale fingering must be in muscle memory to pull that off.

    Your guitar experience will flow right into the bass. If you want to join a band and play covers - everything you did with the rhythm guitar will transfer right into the bass. And I do agree with the internal clock rhythm guitar people have and I think you may be able to do better with out the metronome. Now that will get slammed by this forum, but, if we lock in with the kick drum and then play one note per lyric syllable, along with the vocalist, and hit the chord changes dead on - that works in playing covers where a vocalist is involved. Now kings X on this if there is not a drummer for you to lock in on. With out the drummer the beat falls to you, and if you are augmenting the beat of the vocalist -- the song will get faster and faster....... You must take over the beat when there is no drummer.

    I'm a pattern guy and live by the major scale pattern and the scale degrees within the pattern. I also transpose my fake chord from chord name to Nashville numbers. Might give that some thought.
    The book Bass Guitar for Dummies and the Internet site www.studybass.com plus anything written by Ed Friedland and Scott Devine's Internet lessons will be time well spent as you start down your bass road.

    Have fun.
  6. I think whatever plan you find helps you grow as a player is best. Try different things at each practice until you find something challenging. Once that is no longer a challenge, find something new and challenging or you won't grow.

    I would definitely work with a metronome. If you're on something new, bring the tempo down so you don't sacrifice technique.
  7. anandogs


    Jan 1, 2013
    Yes! this is what I was talking about. This is a good resource that you have outlined for me. So I'm keen on spending 30 minutes on a scale in any key and then 10 minutes outlining arpeggios to get the sound of the chords in my head

    Yes sir.

    I have come across study bass and scott devine (both amazing resources) will check out the other two things.

    Thank you for your inputs :)
  8. anandogs


    Jan 1, 2013
    That's where I was going with the metronome - I was playing along with raindance maggie and found that while I was able to play along with the song, my technique suffered (alternate picking + raking) If i was to play along with a metronome, I was thinking of using a software like powertab to tab out the song first along with the timing and then playing along with it - is that a good idea?
  9. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I would use something other than tab if at all possible. IMO tabs are OK to get a riff down, but, not to use for a entire song. I use fake chord. If you can read standard notation that would be a good choice.

    As most bands pass among themselves fake chord sheet music, and you being an old guitar guy use fake chord.

    Here is a pre-chorus I'm working on today:

    Our God You reign for - e - ver

    Our hope, our strong De - live - rer.

    OK notice you have a lot of quick chord changes, thus, roots only are going to work here. Remember what I said about using Nashville numbers, and the box....... Songs in the Key of A. Move the box so the R is oven an A note then play the numbers within the box.

    Our God You reign for - e - ver

    Our hope, our strong De - live - rer.

    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Kinda like tabs, but, Nashville numbers relate to the chords used. Your fake chord with numbers instead of chord name is generic. Next time you play this the vocalist may want it in G not A. Just move the box's R over a G note and play the numbers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville_number_system Nashville studio players have their sheet music in this generic format so it works for any key. Thus the name.......

    Here is the full song on fake chord. http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/u/united_live/everlasting_god_crd.htm Notice the transpose button if it's not in A when you call it up. On the slash chords, the bass will play the slash.

    A, Bm C#m, D, E, F#m, G#m7b5

    Now lot of people rely upon tabs - do what is best for you. Fake chord, the box and Nashville numbers have worked out to be the best for me.

    Good luck.
  10. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Make no mistake, I've learned my fair share of songs with tab as well ;) It's just that I wish I had started playing by ear earlier.

    As a compromise, knock yourself out with tab on the rhcp stuff but really sit down (and I mean really, no cheating) and try to transcribe a song; changes, bass lines etc. Obviously you will want to start slow, so pick something with only a couple chord changes and a bass sticking to root notes and work your way up until you can pick about any rhcp song and play it by ear (even if will take you a couple runthroughs). If something is too fast for you, use a program like the amazing slowdowner.

    Personally I went from tab player to ear playing only over a couple weeks. If I can do that, you can too! (one of my mottos whenever I give advice...)

    Okay, but record yourself every once in a while, the result may surprise you (for better or for worse ;)) I use guitar rig for that but I think freeware like audacity will do the same job of recording you playing over a song (by that I mean recording your playing and the song at the same time which is usually no problem for a program like that)