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HELP: I've hit a mental roadblock!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Liquidthoughts1, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Liquidthoughts1


    Jan 23, 2012
    Hello there, I have been playing bass for a month or two now and I've run into a couple of problems. I don't know what I should practice in terms of getting better. Sure, I've looked up some tabs and learned some songs I enjoy, but for the most part, everything I look up is either too hard or simply too easy. Thus, I am looking for some exercises that would help shape my skills other than repetitively practicing scales. In addition, I am trying to learn how to actually read a bass clef, would you recommend getting some kind of actual sheet music to practice reading / playing? I know the names of the lines / spaces, I'm just not very comfortable transcribing whats on the clef to notes on the bass. Thanks a ton!
  2. Sometime it helps to see the big picture, i.e. what you will be doing say a year from now........
    I don't know of any musical instrument that does not require us to run our scales. Scales are a right of passage thing so our fingers know where the notes are and our ears recognize the sound of a good note from the sound of a bad note. But, it does help if we know why scales are necessary. Once you get to playing with people you probably will not be "playing scales" as much as you will be "playing chord tones". So in addition to running your scales I'm going to give you some chord tones to practice. You need to get your scales and your chord tones into muscle memory so when you see a Cmaj7 chord on some sheet music you know that the scale degrees of R-3-5-7 will make a good bass line under a Cmaj7 chord. And the major pentatonic scale R-2-3-5-6 would also work as a fill under that chord. No need right now going into why. Right now you need to just get some scales and some chord tones into muscle memory.
    Yes to play from standard notation we have to read a lot of standard notation - every day. Sight reading, being able to read and play the notes before the music goes off and leaves us is a skill that must be practiced. First, we must be able to identify those fly specks and know the name of the fly speck. Be able to identify the note in the same amount of time it takes us to say our name ----- or the music will run off and leave you. And then second, we have a three octave instrument. That fly speck, what octave is it in, and where is that specific note on your fretboard? Not going to happen over night.

    What you play from depends on the music you will be playing. I'm Country and can find fake chord sheet music on just about everything, but, have a problem finding bass lines already published on Country music. Reason most Country bands rely upon fake chord which has no bass clef shown - and expect the bassists to come up with his/her own bass line that fits this specific song. This fake book http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Country-Fake-Book-Instruments/dp/0881882607 has 700 songs none of which have a bass clef shown. That is normally left up to you. See how Sir Paul plays roots. Paul McCartney teaches bass - YouTube Remember he is left handed.

    Here is some fake chord on the song "Cold, Cold Heart". Cold Cold Heart Chords by Norah Jones @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com Notice each chord is held for several measures, boring, no, not if you play it correct. See what the bass does with this song. Norah Jones - Cold Cold Heart - YouTube

    How do you do that? Well you can look for some tabs, or you can use fake chord and compose your own bass line. Tabs are a way of playing some songs till you get to where you can compose your own "stuff". A year from now I bet you will be using fake chord, lead sheet or standard notation and using tabs only when necessary to work out a specific phrase. My point learn how to play from all of the above.

    Right now you need to be working on the fundamental stuff - scales, chord tones and reading sheet music. Let Online Bass Lessons at StudyBass.com be a friend. There is a wealth of information on this site.

    I live by the major scale box pattern.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string 
    Want the major scale - place 
    the R (root) over the C note on your 
    fretboard and play the pattern.  The
    C major scale notes await you. 
    Want to play the Cmaj7 chord tone
    place the R over a C note and play
    the R-3-5-7 scale degrees of the pattern. 
    Want to play the natural minor scale.
    Do the same, however the natural minor
    scale has a b3, b6 & b7 in it's pattern.
    So, alter the major scale pattern into
    the natural minor scale pattern by flatting
    the 3, 6 & 7.
    Basic Chords
    • Major Triad = R-3-5
    • Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    • Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5

    7th Chords
    • Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    • Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    • Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    • ½ diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    • Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7

    • Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7 Let this be your home base.
    • Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 The major scale with out the 4 & 7.
    • Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 The Major scale with the 3, 6 & 7 flatted.
    • Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 The natural minor scale with out the 2 & 6.
    • Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 The minor pentatonic with the blue note (b5) added.

    Generic Notes for your bass line.
    • The root, five and eight are generic and fit most any chord. Remember the diminished has a flatted 5. So a bass line chord tone of R-5-8-5 will work 90% of the time.
    • The 3 is generic to all major chords. R-3-5-3 is a good generic bass line for major chords.
    • The b3 is generic to all minor chords. R-b3-5-8 works with the minor chords.
    • The 7 is generic to all maj7 chords. That Cmaj7 we spoke of earlier -- R-3-5-7.
    • The b7 is generic to all dominant seventh and minor seventh chords. C7 R-3-5-b7 and Cm7 R-b3-5-b7.
    • The 6 is neutral and adds color, help yourself to 6’s. Love the sound of a R-3-5-6.
    • The 2 and 4 make good passing notes. Don’t linger on them or stop on them, keep them passing.
    • In making your bass line help yourself to those notes, just use them correctly.
    • Roots, fives, eights and the correct 3 or 7 will play a lot of bass.

    Right now be satisfied with playing a bunch of roots. When you can keep up with the music playing just roots - then think about adding the five. Still have some room add an eight. Will the music let you use a full chord tone? Give that a try. See what you can do with this. jam track boogie rock - YouTube Look on the right hand side of the screen - have fun.

    Get some of the scales and chord tones into muscle memory and go find some fake chord sheet music on songs you like. Ask Google for a video of the artist playing that song - and see if you can follow along. Now that should keep you on track and give you something to practice for the next few days. LOL What I've given you is not easy to find on one sheet of paper - print this off and save it as reference material.

    Good luck and welcome to the bottom end.
  3. In addition to the excellent info provided by MalcolmAmos, I recommend that you get a copy of the Hal Leonard Bass Method by Ed Friedland. I've been using it with my students who have been very happy with it.

    It comes with CDs for you to practice the exercises with, so you could just go through the book from the very beginning until you find an exercise that challenges you. The book also uses standard notation, so you'd learn to read in bass clef, too. Oh, and it's dirt cheap for the value it provides.
  4. Liquidthoughts1


    Jan 23, 2012
    Thank you both very much, you have been a great help. In addition to the great info, I think I will look into buying that book as well.
  5. you know what's funny is i got seriously back into this using studybass.com and Ed's first book ... these guy above know what they are talking about. I started seriously in Jan of last year and by May i had landed a spot in a gigging cover band.

    since i joined the band i fell off on using the material in my practice time and got heavy on learning songs for the band. I'm slowly starting over with both making sure i do at least one good lesson in a week and playing each exercise flawlessly.

    both are excelent resources... and having both allows you to switch it up. I'll admit the book is boring... but I am trying to learn to read... this starts at the basic one string at a time learning the notes and where they are at on the staff... but you do start reading simple stuff right away. Since that is a goal of mine i have to look past the fact that the first few pages are easy... i still have yet to master everyexercise in the book.

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