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Guide for playing bass

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by ras1983, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Not sure which forum to put this in…

    This thread is intended for anyone that has just started playing bass. i have been playing for 8 months, and i have learned many things from TBers. To make it more practical, i will list the rules i have learned, and i hope that more experienced TBers will help me out.

    1. BE PASSIONATE. Don't play bass just because you can't play guitar. You need to love your instrument. A good way of knowing is: does practicing for 15 minutes feel like 2 hours? :scowl: if so, you should think hard if the bass is the instrument for you. Does practicing for 1 hour go in a flash? this is how you should feel EVERY time you play the bass.

    2. BE OPEN MINDED :) . it has been repeated 1,000,000 times on Talk Bass, everything is a matter of preference. As a bassist, you can’t afford to limit your learning experience by being closed minded on certain issues. E.g. use picking and plucking methods for playing. Listen to as many types of music as you can, each has its own style of bass, and you will go a long way in understanding the ROLES of the bass.

    3. A BASS IS NOT A GUITAR. :mad: Read that line again. The bass is not, and never has been played like a guitar, it doesn’t sound the same as a guitar, and it has infinitely more useful tones and grooves than a guitar. People subconsciously bop their heads to the bass line of ANY song. It is important to understand that if the bass line is out of whack, then everything else will sound rubbish. You can have a music with just a bass and drums, and it sounds fine. But a band without a bass sounds anemic, anorexic and SOUL-LESS.

    4. THE BASS IS THE SOUL OF THE MUSIC. :D Every type of music from hard rock, hip-hop, jazz to country has a soul. This soul is the bass. You should concentrate on providing the groove to music. The bass is about expressing YOUR soul. The sooner you can understand this, the sooner you will find yourself not only playing bass but truly expressing bass. Any one can dance, but only Michael Jackson moves you.

    5. WATCH, HEAR AND LEARN. Watch as many instructional videos as you can, read as many magazines and forum posts as you can, get a teacher. I have yet to get a teacher, but will start looking for one around june. There is NOTHING like human contact when learning.

    6. DO FINGER STRETCHES. It is important to increase the strength of your fingers to reduce lactic acid and fret buzz. A simple exercise is: make a fist, raise ONLY your index finger and ring finger, close them again, and raise your middle finger and pinky finger. Keep alternating, in a couple of weeks you will notice a BIG difference. Make sure you are stretching the two fingers as far apart, this will allow you to reach more frets on the fingerboard without moving your hand.

    7. THE METRONOME IS YOUR MASTER. If you can’t keep a beat, then the music will sound horrible. Buy a metronome and practice with it ALL THE TIME. This is mentioned on another website, which I can’t remember, and is stressed by hip-hop bassists, Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, etc) and Leonard ‘Hub’ Hubbard (the roots, Jay-Z unplugged). You NEED to be able to keep time. This is absolutely essential and goes without saying really.

    8. LEARN THE NOTES ON THE FINGER BOARD. This may seem obvious, but I still don’t know too many notes above the 5th fret of any string. Slowly getting there. This is essential when you want to do runs up and down the neck, or when you want to change keys to add some flavour, or for other reasons that you will think of down the road.

    9. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. :bassist: Arnold didn’t become Mr. Olympia over night, Tigre Woods didn’t become a world champ overnight, and Victor Wooten was not double slapping and Double popping overnight. Do you see a trend? That’s right, you NEED to PRACTICE. I spend atleast 1 hour a day, 4-5 days a week practicing, and I wish I had more time for more. Sometimes I skip something else just so I can play my bass. I am going to make a bold statement, but you wont find ANYONE on TB that doesn’t practice regularly. It takes a long time to master any skill, and the bass is especially time dependant. Don’t expect to be slapping and popping without practicing a hell of a lot.

    It’s 12.14 am and I can’t think of anything else at this time of night, so I hope that all of you newbies are helped in some way by my own experience.
  2. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA

    Well said!


  3. Bob the Bass

    Bob the Bass

    Aug 13, 2004
    An excellent set of rules to live by !! If I were to add one, it would be :-

    Don't Give Up - EVER !! :bassist:
  4. Surgeon


    Mar 4, 2003
    North Dakota
    Can I get an AMEN!
  5. bassjus


    Mar 30, 2004
    Great post.

    10. HAVE FUN :bassist:
  6. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    Corollary: if it ain't fun, you're doing it wrong.
  7. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    11. PLAY WITH PEOPLE WHO CHALLENGE YOU. If you're not being challenged, you're doing the same thing over again. If you're doing the same thing over again, you're not learning.
  8. eric atkinson

    eric atkinson "Is our children learning "Is our teachers teachin

    Feb 4, 2001
    Now thats great advice! I agree you should always jump into a band that challenges you. Or ya might just end up playing the same old classic rock tunes over an over an over agian. A good example is a local band that has been around for like 10 years in joplin and they still play the same classic rock tunes as they did when they started. They arent bad musicians but they have no feeling to there music. They no longer get into it and they look bored. If i found myself in that situation i would have to do some major changes.
  9. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Country has soul? That's news to me. :D

    Great post.
  10. HEY help!
    I can't do this finger stretches! DAMN!
    I cannot lift my third finger (ring finger) without lifting my smallest finger.

    Is it cheating to hold it down with your thumb?

    Help, what to do?
  11. o ****, I realized that I can do it with my right hand, but not with my left hand.

    I try, i try!!

    need help
  12. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    No Semborg, its not cheating if Stu Hamm does it. BTW its meant to be a fretting hand excercise. ;)
  13. Chili


    Mar 8, 2005
    Yeah that was very well sed, i am tryin to get used to lpaynig as many types of bass as i can, i have been playing for nearly 2 year and i have been opsessed with fleas style, just the thump and attacking it with all of my might, and now concentrating on the more 70's style funk with sharp snappy bass lines which i love, and i am gunna try and move through as many differant styles as i can
  14. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK
    Thnaks for the great advice, I am just starting out and will definitely take all that on board!

  15. mattsk42

    mattsk42 Supporting Member

    Bump for a good post more people need to read.
  16. Jonki

    Jonki I will not slap my Bee!

    Oct 14, 2003
    Arendal, Norway
    great list!
  17. ...okay, I'll add one to make it an even dozen. ;)

    12. LESS IS MORE. There is nothing more irritating than a "musician" deliberately filling in every available space with (what amounts to) noise -- this is true for any instrument, but especially true with bass.

    - briand
  18. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    Really? Never heard any Patsy Cline? George Jones? Willie Nelson? Loretta Lynn? Johnny Cash? Hank Williams? That is unmistakably soulful stuff.

    You may have overstated your case a little there, but a good pep post nonetheless.