Help. I think i'm losing direction...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MicG, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. MicG

    MicG Supporting Member

    Hi, I'm not sure if i'm in the right place here so please except my apologies for the long post.

    About me: I'm new to but not to playing bass. I've actually been playing music since I picked up the Trombone back in middle school about 10+ years ago. I only began to explore playing bass about half way through High School (while I was still playing t-bone) roughly 5 years ago. During that same period of time back in high school I meant a friend who played guitar; him and I have been playing together ever since. I'm currently a 3rd year college student who doesnt play t-bone anymore, but rather bass instead. My friend and I jam when we can but because we go to different schools our time practicing together has been significantly reduced, so for the most part I just practice on my own all the time now...

    My problem: The trouble is that all my friend and I ever really played was Alt. Rock cover stuff (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, etc...) Unfortunately that means that a lot of my practice time has been spent by learning tabs and catching things by ear. Not necessarily playing the instrument-just having fun (perhaps too much?). Now I'm finding that we both tend to agree: playing the same covers again and again all the time just becomes boring. It seems that we want to start writing our own material. So needless to say i've discovered a few major flaws about my playing as of late:

    1. I don't know how to "jam" in any key. I'm not sure of my playing when I try to do this so instead I just sort-of "feel" my way around the fret-board by ear, sometimes playing the right notes, often times not.
    2. Because of #1, I can't seem to write a meaningful bassline on my own
    3. I'm not sure of which instructional books to go with because i'm not a complete beginner (I know a few scales, some theory, etc...) but i'm no expert either.

    So, if your still reading this (and I thank you if you are), I'm not sure where to go from here in terms of instructional books, jaming with other musicians while in college, method etc...
    Essentially I feel as if i've lost direction- tired of playing covers all the time yet unable to write original material. I should note that on my own I very much enjoy listening to Rush and watching Lee's if I could only make my fingers do that-LOL

    Any help at this point would be great, thanks for listening.
  2. paintballjunkie


    Jul 27, 2005
    Check out a book called Bass Fretboard Basics.
  3. dwbentley


    May 5, 2001
    Amarillo, Tx
    Go find a teacher. Find a skilled teacher that will take the time to listen to your playing and then teach you the things that you need to work on. A GOOD teacher is worth every dollar that you spend hundreds of times over.
  4. +1

    That is a very good book.
    you should start to play chordally. Dont worry to much on the scales.
    Also you will discover that most songs use a Motion in Chord Movements from E - A - D - G - C - F - Bb - Eb - Ab - Db - Gb/F# - B - E.
    You should start by learning where these notes are located on the fretboard. You will notice that they are a 4th away from each other
    Start practicing the chord movements using Major and Minor triads, and make sure you say the chord out loud. As you feel comfortable start creating bass lines using just the triads. Also, try not starting on the root. I practice these combinations. R35, 35R, 53R of course flatten the 3rd when doing the minor triads.
    This is just the bassics, when you become comfortable try adding other notes. (2nd,4th, 6th, 7ths) With Practice, you will see that you will be thinking chordally and finding the right key will be effortless.

    Hope this helps
  5. MicG

    MicG Supporting Member

    Hey -thanks everyone for your input. If it wasnt for the fact that im in school 8 hrs a day +HW, I would have posted back sooner-lol
    It looks like that book "Bass Fretboard Basics" is what i'm looking for to start. I meant to say earlier that I'm in a bit of a hard finanical situation right now that prevents me from comitting X amount of dollars/week, so when things get less tight (and they will) I will most definately be looking for a good teacher. Right now is just not a good time. I will, in the meantime, try to get ahold of that book. I also like the idea of making this site part of my practice routine-I think i'll try that.
    One other thing i'd like to ask: I have a 4 string p/j Fender and a 5 string standard J Fender - If I began to seriously practice more on my 5, wouldnt that make my playing on the 4 easier/better? would anyone recommend this course of action given my circumstances?
    -Thanks again for your advice.
  6. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Also keep playing and jamming with others! Finding good collaborators really helped me in learning to write songs.

    Bass is a great instrument to write with because it is a single note instrument and I can really explore a lot of directional possibilities with each note. You can outline chords on bass.

    It's good to know basic chords (and their inversions) on piano (and guitar) as well.
  7. MicG

    MicG Supporting Member

    Thanks Tim99, i'm going to try that method along with learning the fretboard and writing and see if I can get anywhere further than where i'm at right now. And yes- I love both of my instruments and would have no problem practicing both of them rather than just focusing on one. Thats the main reason why I bought a 5 string in the first place so that I could have more range and tonal options. With that said...Again, thanks for you input. In the meantime i'll be doing some research and posting again soon.
  8. chasfr


    Jan 4, 2005
    I think you mentioned that you're a 3rd year college student. Does your school have a music department? You might find some help there, either formally in classes or just by hanging out with music majors.

    Just a thought...

    good luck!
  9. MicG

    MicG Supporting Member

    Chasfr -actually my school does NOT have a department, otherwise you can bet that I would be a music major. I go to The University of Michigan-Dearborn which is an extension of the Ann Arbor campus (the main campus). I wish I could but its a 45 min. drive for me to get to Ann Arbor. I just have to stick with Dearborn. Hey- thanks for the advice anyway.