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help is an understatement

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by aron86, May 2, 2006.

  1. aron86


    Mar 14, 2006
    alright here we go "sigh"...i've been playing for about a year and a half and i'm decent at playing and make up bass lines. however, i'm concerned because i don't know any of the basic musical scales and notes and i just feel like lately that i can't write anything that is good enough. recently my band was writing a new song and i wrote the bass line for the verus and it worked but it just didn't strike me that it was very good. i want to make it better and i think about how all day but i'm stuck. i know there is no magical answer. any advice would help.
  2. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    Do you have a teacher? IMO, that would be the most important step to take. Even if you can go only once a month, it is well worth it.
  3. aron86


    Mar 14, 2006
    i do not have a teacher. were i live it is hard to find a teacher. i have heard of a few but most are dicks.
  4. Somebody might shoot me for saying this but learning scales is secondary to having a good ear and having a good feel for music in general. There are probably bass players out there who are technicians with every scale in the book but still can't come up with a funky/grooving bassline to save themselves.

    Do a lot of listening to other bands you like and their bass players, try and pick up from your listening, and most importantly - be inspired.

    A good bass teacher in this context can help inspire your playing and expose you to a lot of other things you wouldn't see/hear.
  5. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    get a programable drum machine and or one with footswitch and play with it incessantly. this really helps your timing and pulls licks and lines out of you.

    I have the alesias sr16, you can loop or program whole songs, sounds great, built from real drums.
  6. Zachass

    Zachass Peavey Partizan

    Yeah having a good ear is important, but with scale knowledge you can put your ear to work so much faster and get to groovin. PLus without it it's impossible to write basslines off of charts or do a lot of other basic stuff. I remember BG for dummies had a decent amount of scale stuff and how to use it, or maybe look at some of the Ed Friedland books, in lieu of a teacher they're the next best thing. Really try to find a teacher though, just look for the best bassist you know and try to get a lesson or two, you'll progress much faster.

    Also the most helpful things I learned that helped me write creative basslines are scales, and listening to other bass players on records.
  7. You are gunned down. Its not secondary is complimentary man. Take the example of my most recent student who can groove but can't play a major scale with the correct fingering. He got lessons from a guitar player and now I have to work with him to correct his bizzare fingering style for scales.

    As Joe Satriani said "scales are simply their to show you what notes you can play. You don't play scales."

    Techique and artistry and groove are not separate things.
    And as to your claim that there are probably bass players that know all this stuff and can't play a groove is well gibberish.

    A bass player is the groove. If you can't groove you are not a bass player.
  8. I agree, bad technique is bad all around. But he's off on a good start because he can groove, he's got it. Put that student in a band and the very least that is going to happen is that band is going to get the crowd on the dance floor with an inspired performance.

    There are plenty of musicians out there who can pull off the most technically proficient set of scales on their instrument at a moment's notice. But ask them to swing and groove, and all that technique goes down the drain because they don't know how to apply it in context of a moving, live performance. I've known a few trumpet players who know all their scales but can't swing convincingly over a jazz standard.

    I've known highly technical drummers who can paradiddle a 100 miles an hour without missing a beat but cannot swing and groove at band rehearsals. We had a high profile gig coming up one time, the impromptu band was put together by the lead singer for one rehearsal before the gig. The drummer she called played all the parts without a hitch but the problem was, he could not play with 'feeling' (for lack of a better word), he simply couldn't cut it. He was replaced at the last possible minute with another drummer who nailed it at the gig.

    In saying all that, I do stress that technique is very important and I know because I come from a background consisting of classical training. But understanding 'groove' in your soul, learning how to listen and draw inspiration from music and other band members/musicians is more important. After all, you can seriously groove with just one note or two notes. Give a bass to Bootsy Collins and tell him he can only use one or two notes... I guarantee he'll get you tapping your foot at the very least.
  9. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    ok... you don't need a teacher in order to learn scales & music theory... in fact I think it's a waste of your money to sit a room and pay $$ to learn what a major scale is, what dorian mode is, what a minor 7 arpeggio is etc...

    what I think you need to do is learn basic music theory... there are zillions of resources linked from Talkbass, or available with use of Google... look up major scales and the varieties of minor scales, modes, chords & arpeggios... and learn how they sound when played on your bass

    THEN... listen to recordings of bass lines and other musical material that you consider good.... and (this is my main advice) work out what's going on

    I don't just mean learn how to play the line parrot fashion (do parrots play the bass?), but really use your music theory knowledge to understand what's being played and how it works amongst the other musical material...

    most of the time you'll think 'oh... that sounded really cool but it's actually made up of this or that little simple combination of notes'... and then tuck that idea away and try and use it later in your own lines... or even better, sit down and try and come up with variations in a similar vein...

    it's not about learning scales and wiggling your fingers (that ain't being a musician)... it's about arming yourself with useful mental tools to make music...

    I think this 'grooving vs whizzing up & down scales' argument is a distraction... the original poster wanted advice on how he should go about learning to express himself on his instrument in a way that satisfies him personally.. and the only answer to that is: "listen to what you like, work out how and why it pleases your ear, and try to add it to your vocabulary"
  10. I agree with your entire post, in fact the last line is a summary of exactly what I was trying to say.
  11. ebe9


    Feb 26, 2006
    South Africa
    Bass Guitar for Dummies

    Has a very decent selection of theory and general advise, that should help you get going on the theory side.

    Another site you might want to have a look at is www.musictheory.net
  12. aron86


    Mar 14, 2006
    thanks for all the advice. i'm going to go learn some basic scales and learn what notes relate to each other and try again.

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