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Guitarist Converting to Bassist, Need a Little Bit of Help

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Frajeff91, May 12, 2011.

  1. Frajeff91


    May 8, 2011
    Hello everyone! Not-so-coincidentally, this is my first post here as well. I'm a 20 year old lead guitarist switching to bass for a multitude of reasons. All of the following questions have been beaten to death, I'm sure, but I'm on the talkbass iPhone app, and if there's a search function, I haven't found it yet. Anyway, my questions are these:

    People seem to say that playing style (picks vs fingers) should be dependent upon the sound you want and the type of music you play, but people seem to disagree with one another about the subject wildly, so I'm wondering what people here think?
    TL;DR: Picks vs Fingers, your stance?

    Also, I was wondering if someone could point me in the direction of a really good book or a good website for DIY learning on bass. I've been a guitarist for a long time, but I want to treat bass like I haven't so that I don't develop bad habits.

    Also, I was wondering what a good "beginner" bass is. As pretty as they are, I don't think I need a rickenbacker just yet :p

    And finally, if you've named your bass, what is its name?

    Thanks in advance for your support, everyone!

  2. kr0n


    Feb 4, 2009
    Top right corner has search, either Google or internal. OH wait... iPhone.

    There's no right and wrong, play what sounds better. Pick gives more attack, fingers round tone but there are loads of in between solutions.

    Online Bass Lessons at StudyBass.com
    Stickies here. Google.
    Something that fits your hands, doesn't neck dive and has decent, even sound.

    And yes you can find loads of posts about each and every question.
  3. flattman


    May 3, 2011
    Another converted guitarist, here.

    I tried to use the pick a few times, and in a pinch I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to convert, but I'm definitely preferring fingers at this point.

    If nothing else, it helps keep me in 'bass' mindset. Don't get all carried away playing Lead Bass.
  4. I use thumb over pick as I like the sound. Does what I like and have decided it'll be thumb for me. I play Country R-5-R-5 with chromatic runs to the next chord. My advise is try all three and then make that decision yourself.

    I've always discounted that bad habit thing, as most everyone I play with has at least one bad habit and they end up making good music. Lot of good stuff out there. Index of / is perhaps in the top 10 free bass sites. Of course IMHO. Scott Devine, Ed Friedland and Carol Kaye's information have been helpful. Scott's videos are great, Ed's writing style is easy to follow and I would recommend anything he has written. Carol, is Carol - people seem to love her or, well let's just say not all get along with her. I find what she has to say fits right into what I do. I have found her material helpful. On her site she has 100 tips that are well worth a cut and paste.

    Now taking everything you learned as a guitarist into your bass is going to be a great help, do not back away from all that knowledge, just remember when we are in an accompaniment mode - they strum, we play chord tones, one note at a time. In a solo mode you've got only the bottom strings, but, the notes are the same, i.e. your licks will move - take them with you.

    Jeff, as to the other questions, no I have not named my bass, my pickup is named Opel, by boat is No Tears, but for some reason I've never gotten around to naming my instruments. I'd recommend you look at a 5 string bass, I do not have one and I now see the advantage of having the lower B string. As to what brand, etc. The one you want to be seen playing and the one that fits you. Spend an afternoon at a good music store and try everything in your price range. I have a $350 Yamaha 4 string and it does everything I've asked of it - except I'd love to be able to grab those lower ledger notes on piano sheet music with the 5th B string.

    Perhaps the one great WOW coming from rhythm guitar to bass was seeing how the major scale box pattern was going to be a friend. Learning the bottom strings and where all the notes are is going to be a piece of cake. http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f22/notes-fretboard-cheaters-673210/index2.html#post9372867

    Welcome and good luck.
  5. Frajeff91


    May 8, 2011
    That's very very interesting. I think you're the first person who's mentioned anything about a "bass mindset," that's definitely something I'll want to explore further.

    Thank you for all of that! I appreciate it a lot!

    Thank you!
  6. Gaius46


    Dec 15, 2010
    The "bass mind" mindset absolutely exists. The instrument fills a different role than lead guitar and if you try to play it as you would guitar you're bound to fail. You're going to become very good friends with whatever drummers you work with.

    I also play guitar, though I was a bassist first, and play both fingerstyle. I can play faster passages easier fingerstyle and find it much more flexible - especially when I need to play chords.
  7. Frajeff91


    May 8, 2011
    Thank you very much :) I think I'll put a greater deal of effort into fingerstyle now, thanks
  8. HeadyVan Halen

    HeadyVan Halen

    Jun 11, 2010
    When your head says "play a fill...play a fill!" your heart says "stay in the groove...stay in the groove!"

    ...listen to your heart

    Other Items:
    You will now be expected to help load drums because you have 34 extra minutes NOT setting up pedals you don't use.

    You are now responsible for making people dance NOT for them to say "Bro, that was a killer solo dude!!!"during breaks.

    You will now attract more grounded, less loud and sloppy drunk chicks..this is good, well sometimes sloppy se..err...nevermind

    You will NOT have to tune up as much.

    You will NOT have to change strings as much, but when you do, bring a debit card.

    You will now overhear people say "who, that guy? Oh, he's just the bass player.."

    You will now find more ways to fit a 4x10 in the backseat of a '82 Cutlass Supreme than the guy who invented Algebra.

    When the band is cookin' and the groove is so thick one could trip on it, you'll know why we all picked the bass
  9. EdMerc


    Nov 30, 2010
    Central Florida
  10. JPSBassist


    Feb 10, 2010
    Santa Barbara
    First, welcome to TalkBass. You're going to find the community here very helpful. I know because after a 17 year break from playing a guitar of any type I picked up the bass and I haven't set it down since. I too started on guitar. So you're in for a fun and interesting journey.

    I did a video about my journey to become a bassist, it's here if you are interested in watchin. A warning in advance, I'm the Marketing Consultant for SPECTOR basses. So the video is also about how I came to play their basses. I'm not trying to sell you on a SPECTOR. I want to make sure I put that out there so there's no issues with TB thinking I'm trying to push product.

    The link to my video is: YouTube - My Spector Story - Patrick Stern

    In the beginning you're going to be more comfortable with a pick. Let me ask you this, in your training to become a guitarist, did you learn finger-style guitar playing? If so, you'll have a much easier time learning bass finger style.

    You are going to have some habits that are hard to break. For me, watching Doug Wimbish's bass playing style was an eye-opener. He doesn't do anything "traditional" with the bass. His slapping technique, his finger style... all are different than the "traditional" methods. And man, can Doug play bass. So don't get so hung up on "proper" style, if you find something that works for you. I find that I use my thumb the way you'd use a pick more in my finger style. And I was so happy to see that Doug Wimbish does the same thing.

    The main struggle for me has been slap and pop. It's just so alien in regards to what you're taught as a guitarist. Also, you're going to have to learn timing.

    I love using the bass as a melodic instrument, but in reality it's part of the rhythm section and the best bassists create a timing lock with the drummer and set the timing of the song while laying down the low end of the melody. It's a different way of looking at melody than from the other end as the lead guitarist.

    Get a metronome and practice with it. It'll help greatly.

    The book that helped me more than anything was "Bass Logic" by Bill Edwards and Steve Hodson. From there the most important resource I've had in my bass journey has been the really cool people right here on TalkBass. This site has been my best overall resource. The Bass Logic book is my offline bible.

    Go to a guitar store and test a bunch out. What is your budget? My first bass was a borrowed Ibanez. I then got one in a trade for some old movie props (I work in Hollywood when not working for SPECTOR as a consultant). I then started the "move up" to nicer instruments. I had an old beat-up Fender P-Bass a friend had modded the crap out of... a MusicMan Stingray (Great Bass), then a Steinberger and finally got my first SPECTOR. From there I've been doing nothing but SPECTORs.

    Look at your budget and then consider what sound you want to go after. You can get a passive instrument for next to nothing... do you want passive pickups and active tone, or active pickups/active tone... you'll never really know until you just spend a couple of hours plugged into a number of basses in the price range you're looking at.

    You may find the Ibanez basses a good first bass like I did because they have really skinny necks. And at first I loved their neck profile because it wasn't thick or wide. Later I came to appreciate a neck with a little more space between the strings.

    You'll never really know until you try them out. That's the best advice I can offer.

    I have 6 SPECTORs (with another two on order) and no... I have not named any of them. I just call them by their model name... NS-4... NS-2 Fretless... etc...

    My wife on the other hand has dubbed them my harem or mistresses. And she's named them all. Milkalicious is my white NS-2JA-R... Molassas is my gloss black NS-2 fretless... Red is my Redwood NS-4... etc... and my ARC6 electric guitar is "that #@!@ noisy thing" and it usually is followed by, "Don't bring that in here" when I want to bring it into the bedroom to get some playing in before bed while she's relaxing watching TV. She doesn't mind the basses. :)
  11. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    iPhone app --- bottom right corner > more > search. Pretty sure that's correct. My phone is out in the car.
  12. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Welcome. I recommend playing a Fender Precision with your fingers. Good luck!
  13. Frajeff91


    May 8, 2011
    Hahahaha, thanks for the heads up! That was an incredibly humorous post :p The pedals one made me laugh the hardest, I think, being a guitarist and all :p
  14. LowGrowl


    Jan 20, 2011
    Mexico City
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    Guitarists can make good bass players --->>> Greg Lake, Paul McCartney

    Playing bass is a cross between rhythm guitar and lead guitar, so develop your style in playing bass.

    Learn pick, Fingers, thumbs, slap, and pretty much any other style you can find.
  16. Frajeff91


    May 8, 2011
  17. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    The ONLY reason I advocate for guitarist learning bass to learn with the fingers instead of a pick is that it helps break up the mental patterns you're used to playing. Put a bass in your hands with a pick in your right hand, and at some point you're likely to adapt a cool guitar lick to the bass' tuning. If you're playing with your fingers, that's less likely to happen because your hands are doing different things than they're used to. Having said that, some of my favorite bassists are converted guitarists who use a pick, including Joe Osborn and Carol Kaye.

    The key point is to think both rhythmically and harmonically from the foundation. Where a guitar groove (assuming you're a guitarist who understands groove instead of soloing :bag:) focuses on the 2 and 4, the bass will focus on 1 and 3. And where a guitarist is thinking extensions of chords for background parts and thinking scales for soloing, the bass really needs to be focusing on the fundamental underlying harmony at all times.

  18. Frajeff91


    May 8, 2011
    Ah fantastic tips, thank you.
  19. flattman


    May 3, 2011
    "The main struggle for me has been slap and pop. It's just so alien in regards to what you're taught as a guitarist. Also, you're going to have to learn timing."

    I'm learning the basic slap-pop octave from 'Fly Away' by Lenny Kravitz. Couple days playing that verse line and voila. Ridiculously simple, incorporates all (four) strings, repetitive, and sounds pretty cool as an added bonus.

    (Then I go dink around with the Seinfeld thing, heh.)

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