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Hi I'm new to bass and I need some advice! :D

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by AceTar, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. AceTar


    Nov 29, 2013
    Greetings, as said in the title, yes I am a new guy in the amazing world of bass. I used to play drums but after a few months, I just got bored to it. So I decided to switch to Bass ( I have a copy of a Fender Precision Bass ). And its been a year now since I started playing it. I learned how to read Tabs and learned major and minor scales. But I just don't know how to use a scale when writing bass lines.

    It's really confusing for me. I watched videos on how bass players play their bass, like Frank Bello, a bassist from a thrash metal band named Anthrax and Robert Trujillo from a metal band called Metallica. I've always wanted to play the way they play their bass. But I just don't know how. I wanna be in a metal band and write cool bass lines that fit my genre, but I just have no idea how to. And whats the right technique? I actually know how to play slapping, the way Fieldy from Korn does it but I'm not really comfortable of playing a whole song with slapping.

    Please help, and if its not too much to ask, can you list down a few things that I still need to learn for me to master my bass. I don't care how many you can list as long as it would help. Your help will be very much appreciated

    The actual genre I'm planning to join in, or form is NU metal or Deathcore.
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Try to dig into chords and chord tones. I'll go out on a limb and say you will rarely see a metal band play a full minor 7 chord except in clean passages or intros and the like (or god forbid, a major 7 chord). However, understanding how tonality works is fundamental to any musical endeavor. From my experience, the extreme forms of metal rely heavily on chromaticism, so it may be very intimidating to make sense of it at first. So it's necessary to begin with the simpler musical structures, like how does this note or that note relate to the tonic, and more importantly, how does it sound? So ear training is a big issue and it may take a few years before it all comes together.

    One thing you can also do is dissect some bass lines you like. Print it out and make notes. What is the tonal center? This note right here sticks out, what is it in relation to the tonic, how does it work? If you encounter a particular passage, or even just an interval you are attracted to, don't be afraid to rip it off. Make it part of your musical vocabulary.
  3. Mitchinboxer


    Jan 25, 2012
    If you really love a genre, really love a player, really love a song and want to be able to approach music in that way, you need to get inside of what is happening in those songs.

    So, here's what I would do. Pick a song and learn every part of that song. Learn the vocal melody, figure out the chords, try to hear what the drums are doing. Then, once you have a good understanding of everything else in the song, really study how the bassline is interacting with the all the other elements of the song.

    If you keep doing this for many different songs you will start to see patterns or licks to use in certain musical situations that you really love the sound of. This will also develop your ears so that you will be able to play without even thinking about what you are playing, and if you hear something in your head you will be able to reproduce this on your bass.

    As for technique, learn picking and traditional two finger style for sure. Those are standard and you can get by just on those two. Beyond that there are sub-techniques like slap, tapping, three ringer rolls, using your thumb, palm muting. Learn those if they make it easier for you to get the sound you hear in your head.

    Oh, and use the "floating thumb" technique in your right hand when playing with fingers. In your left hand I recommend using the "one finger per fret" technique wherever it is comfortable to do that. There are good threads on both of those elsewhere in talkbass.

    Sorry for the long answer! I just kinda saw a young me in your question and wanted to give you some detail on how I became a good bass player.
  4. Bassballplaya


    Nov 18, 2013
    Something that certainly really helps ( you probably already do this because you use to be a drummer), is to at all times practice with a metronome. Also it sounds so cliche but it takes years of course to develop incredible finger speed like Robert's. Just don't get discouraged though and absolutely never pick up a pick haha. Lastly if you're really interested in learning a lot of Metallica practice a lot of triplets because Robert rarely plays straight 16 notes. personally there's no disputing Roberts physical talent, but I love to study the work of bassists who are a bit more theory based. then again I'm a little biased because I've been in a Metallica cover band for years and I just got out of it because I was sick of it! Happy Trails never switch instruments!!!
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Hi and welcome to "Talk Bass." :)

    A lot of useful information so far. Here is my 2c worth.

    As has been mentioned, start learning about chords and chord tones. The "Study Bass" link below deals with them. This is a great all round site and worth keeping in your "favourites" file.

    Developing your ear by listening closely to songs and then trying to play along is much better than using tabs.

    As for technique. There is no "correct" way to play. It is up to each person to find a technique that suits them. Having said that, some types of techniques can lead to injury problems over time. It is generally accepted that having both wrists as straight as possible is important. So, playing with the thumb resting on the pick up is not advised as it causes a severe bend in the wrist. The Floating Thumb was mentioned, and is ideal. It also helps to mute unwanted sounds from unplayed strings. I have included a link to that below also. Lots of Metal players play with a pick, so that might be an option. This has it's own pit falls injury wise. So check out yet another link on how to avoid injury when playing with a pick.

    One important piece of advice I would offer is to have patience with yourself. Try to practice every day. Twenty minutes every day is better than four hours once a week. Take things in small steps and dont try to take in too much at once. Otherwise frustration will set in.

    Best of luck. :bassist:

    Here are the links :

    Floating Thumb :
  6. deste


    Sep 14, 2009
    Bologna, Italy, Europe
    Endorsing Artist: GullanskyLab pickups
    Hi, and welcome on board.
    All the guys before me gave you a lot of good avices: follow them all.
    I just would add one: open your ears! There's a lot of music you can take something from, even if you don't like it. The roots of "hard rockin' music" (I don't want to write "hard rock" or "metal") are in those groups from late '60s-early 70's, and those bass players were really great: a good triad to start with could be made of Jack Bruce (Cream), John Entwistle (The Who) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), I'm sure you noticed their names here on TB. Then, in opposition to the "wall of sound", try to listen to those who play sparse notes, like Aston Barrett with Bob Marley and the Wailers (or any good reggae bass player) and George Porter Jr. with The Meters: sometimes empty may be more effective than full.
    Listen to all music, you may find something interesting even in mid-70's disco (ah, those Bernard Edwards line...) or commercial pop, or 80's fusion. They're good tools to give new aspects to your music.
    Listen listen listen! The more you listen, the more you enjoy!

    edit: learn how to use a pick too: it may be useful. I play 90% with fingers, but also 5% slap and 5% pick, depending on what the music needs.
  7. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Let's get into the nitty gritty. As mentioned play chord tones and with your choice of music roots, threes, and fives will do most of what you need. If you have room a 7 or 8 could work.

    Find the root of the chord (the note that is the name of the chord) on the third or forth string.

    You will want to print out the following......... Take it and your bass to your practice spot.

    Let's say the song has a C chord. OK find a C note on the 3rd or 4th string. Where is it's 3rd? Up a string and back toward the nut one fret. Where is it's five? If you are on the 3rd string the 5 is down a string, same fret. If your C was on the 4th string your 5 is now up a string and over two frets.

    Next chord coming up is an F chord. Where is the F compared to the C? From the C it will be up a string same fret. OK your chord tones for the F are going to be it's 3 and 5. They are in the same place relative to the root as you found them with the C chord. Yep it sounds complicated, but, it is really a piece of cake.

    Next chord coming up is the G chord. Where is the G compared to the F? Same string over two frets. Once there the 3 and 5 are waiting on you in their normal spot.

    Hang on, here it comes, From any root it's........
    3rd is always up a string and back one fret.
    it's 5th is up a string and over two frets. So.......

    R-R-R-R works.
    R-5-R-5 is easy.
    R-3-5-3 gives another sound you may like.
    R-3-5-8 is easy because the 8 is up a string same fret as the 5.

    Get those into muscle memory so when you see a chord your fingers already know what to do.

    O'h those minor chords - flat the 3 - you will find it one fret back toward the nut from the 3.

    Is there more? Of course. But this monster is best eaten one bite at a time. Find the root of the active chord and use what is outlined above.

    You need two things to (see this) make this work. A fretboard chart, and the major scale box pattern.
    Here is the fretboard chart http://media.wiley.com/Lux/72/218172.image1.jpg Print it and then use it with the major scale box pattern I've listed below.

    Here is the major scale box.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Where is the 3?  From the root it is up a string and back a fret. 
    Where is the 5?  From the root it is up a string and over two frets.  
    Notice same string you found the 3 on.  This is going to be a 
    piece of cake. 
    Chord's listed in Roman numbers - I-IV-V  Where is the I? Yep, 
    where the R is.  Where is the IV chord's root going to be?  Up
    a string same fret in the 4's spot, etc. etc.  The box can be used
    with Roman numbers for chords Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3) for notes
    Have fun.
  8. AceTar


    Nov 29, 2013
    Hehehe you guys must've been confused, and I'm sorry.

    I made a mistake in learning bass. I didn't have any guide in learning it. And the mistake I had is that, I learned scales first rather than the basics. And to be honest, I really have no idea what you guys are saying, except about the understanding of the song and studying the bass lines of it.

    I interviewed my cousin who is a guitarist in a local band here in my place. And he told me that I did a common mistake that most bass players make. And that is, learning scales before the basics. He even laughed when I did a slapping line which I thought, was fine and cool. And as a matter of fact, he was the one who introduced me to this site if ever I want advices from real skilled bass players.

    Though I know the notes on the fretboard ( I haven't memorized it though, like when finding D on the E string, I first start at E and go E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C# and finally D). Some players I know memorized it all, like when I ask them to find a certain note on a certain string, they locate it very quick.

    And also, yes I learned how to execute a scale yet I don't know how or when to use it. To be honest, I actually thought it was only for left hand exercise purpose (LOL). So to be accurate of my point, lets say that I really have no idea about playing bass and I need a step-by-step lesson guide to master my bass. Like what to learn first then whats next, etc. I'll do the searching I just need the guide so I won't make a mistake in learning. I also searched for someone here in my place ( Philippines, Cebu ) who is skilled enough to teach me and help me master bass. But their tutorials cost much more than I thought. So I'll just stick here :D

    Sorry for the over shares...
    And thank you so much :D
  9. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    You need a real live teacher, or Bass Guitar for Dummies, no pun intended, it's a great book for a beginner.

    www.studybass.com will be a friend.

    If I was your instructor I would have started you with scales. Why? So your fingers learn how to find the good notes on your fretboard and your ear starts recognizing the sound of those good notes. Scales are the letters in our music language. Want to write a phrase, you'll be using scale notes.

    Get Dummies and start on page one.
  10. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    As has been linked by Malcolm and I, "Study Bass" is the best site.

    Here is the site's study guide with the lessons in order. Start at the beginning and work your way through slowly.

  11. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Does your cousin play bass? Is this an experienced bassist's experience of a "common mistake" new bassists make or a guitarist who doesn't actually know anything about the differences between guitar and bass? :eyebrow:

    There is never anything wrong with learning something and no "rules" that say when you have to learn what. If you've learned scales, good for you, and that's that. I'm actually kind of curious - what "basics" does your cousin say you're "supposed" to have learned before playing a scale?

    OK, things I would make sure I knew if I were you...

    Left/fretting hand position. is a good resources for a do-it-yourself bass course.
  12. AceTar


    Nov 29, 2013
    Well, I kinda remembered him telling me to do the "One-finger-a-fret" stuff, cause I kinda play a note using only my index finger. But the www.studybass.com is TOTALLY helpful, I appreciate the help guys! Thanks so much.
  13. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Hang in there. One day it will all make sense. I think in a way a lot of people started off like you, picking a few songs they like and off they go playing the written lines. I am one of those guys.

    I know theory can be pretty intimidating if you have no musical experience. Get any theory book you like and with time it'll all come together the more time you spend with your instrument. For me it clicked after about 5 years. Now I'm known in my circles as the theory geek (which must sound like a joke to any professional but hey. I know a story about a keyboarder though who is infamous for yelling at people saying "you can't play that note there!".)... My book recommendation is the Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine. Yeah I know it says jazz on the cover but the knowledge written down in this holy time can be applied to about any musical context you are likely to encounter.
  14. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Well, yeah, you shouldn't be fretting with just your index finger.

    One-finger-per-fret (OFPF) is actually much debated in the bass world; it's a guitar thing that often gets carried over to bass, and studybass uses it if I remember right. If you watch the youtube link I gave you, though, a lot of people think it's a bad idea (including me), at least on the lower frets. Bass frets are wider apart than guitar frets and trying to do one-per-fret can stretch your hand in an unnatural and unhealthy way. Some people are fine with it, but you may be better off using "1-2-4" fingering; index finger at the first fret, middle finger at the second, then use your pinky at the third fret. But try both and see what works best for you. Certainly by the time you're playing high on the neck at the 10th or 12th fret OFPF is fine.
  15. Session1969

    Session1969 Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2010
    I find the one finger per fret to be pretty standard as a place you want to get to. It's hard but that's what practicing is all about. No pain, no gain. Stretch those fingers, bro.
  16. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    There is nothing more basic than scales. They teach you the names of the notes on your bass and the standard fingering for playing the bass. Without that context, everything you play is trial and error.

    And stop listening to guitar players. Do you go to a plumber when you get sick, or a doctor?
  17. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Sorry, but that concept went out with the Dodo bird.

    OP, by all means, stretch those fingers...provided there is no pain involved. Bass playing should be pain free at all times. If you experience any, stop immediately, find the cause and correct.

    Dont get confused between actual pain and the kind of burning sensation you feel from exertion.
  18. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany

    One cannot stress the importance of this enough. Playing through the pain will only lead to worse problems later on, tendonitis being one of the most common. Listen to your body and do what feels natural. This also applies to wrist angles, try to keep them straight - not like the stereotypical dropped elbow bass players you see everywhere, I'm amazed they can play at all that way.
  19. Radek


    Jun 12, 2008
    Find a decent drummer to practice with... it'd be the best way to improve. Listen how kick drum works and try to lock with it - it's very important to a good, tight sounding band. Do not overstretch your hands; range of just three frets is enough for 95 percent of time. Look up (there are videos on YouTube) how Billy Sheehan does practice - especially right hand even when using two fingers. You may not like his style musically but it's obvious that he has trained well.