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How do I get better without lessons?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Waspinators, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. Waspinators


    Jul 22, 2007
    South Florida
    Well, my technique is incredibly flawed. And I mean flawed. I can barely play anything requiring a lot of string changing, and my timing is beyond horrible when I try to play fast. I've been playing a little over a year, and have never had lessons. I want them really bad, but teachers here charge over $30 an hour, and I have no job opportunities in sight (been looking for over 4 months), not to mention there's no way in hell my parents are going to pay for them.

    So anyone know the best way to practice important techniques without a proper teacher?
  2. Vynns

    Vynns Guest

    May 5, 2008
    Check out activebass.com. It's a great site with lessons and stuff. Furthermore, it's free:p
    Also, find a few songs you like and learn them for yourself. You could use tablature (it's all over the web), or play by ear.
    Another site you could check out is mutantbass.com, though, that is more theoretical.

    Anyhoo. Use the internet. We live in a time where almost all information on anything is available at the touch of a button. Not all of it is good of course, but you can judge for yourself what is solid info and what is bullcrap. Still, this easy access to information is a privilege that most people that are basslegends today didn't have when they were developing their chops. Use it.
  3. Jactap


    Aug 4, 2006
    Bremerton, Wa
    You should try looking up stuff on here or other sites. Youtube has a bunch of helpful videos. You could also try learning out of a book. Investing in a metronome would help you with your time issues too.

    Nothing can substitute practice. Lessons just means that you got someone telling you what to practice. I get out of school at 2:37 and I used to stay after until 4 or 4:30 to practice.
  4. The internet has all sorts of good and bad advice. The biggest problem with using something so unstructured is that you don't really know what question to ask, or what technique you should be learning. Its easy to go off on all sorts of directions, except the correct one.

    My advice for you is to hook up with MusicDojo.com and take their course called "Mastering Right and Left Hand Technique". I've been playing for 16 years and I wish I had taken that course at the very beginning (if it existed then). It really helped my clean up my method; in addition I now play more cleanly than I ever have AND I can play WAY faster!

    Good luck and report back!

    - Andrew
  5. Play with people that are better musicians than you are, especially GOOD drummers. Don't get your feelings hurt. Repeat.

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Move to Chicago and I'll give you lessons for free(I'm serious).
  7. Transcribe, transcribe, transcribe. Learn to sing the part first, then pick it out on your instrument. let your ears guide your hands. This will all take time, so be patient. and always relax and breathe while you pratice. Find a book that explains rhythm and subdivision of rhythm and learn those elements. Remember a year is just a blink of an eye in the life of a musician, give yourself a break and enjoy the climb.
  8. theory028

    theory028 Really Loud Hamburger.

    Jul 4, 2007
    Cedar Falls, IA
    I didn't take lessons, though I wanted to, but I had some experience with playing guitar to build off of. I told myself I was going to see if I could get a slot for the summer with my former guitar instructor. He also teaches bass and is one heck of an awesome dude. I didn't get around to it. My intentions were to expand my knowledge of theory and to work on two finger technique (I cannot do it! It just doesn't work for me).

    That being said, I played for a long time without much incentive for improving. After I got involved by playing with some of my friends, I gained a lot of experience that helped improve my playing. I still need a lot of work, but I can tell that I've gotten better.

    I think a key thing was when I realized that I don't have to play to sound good but rather play to have fun. That opened up my creative channel and I was actually able to come up with some fun stuff that sounded decent.


    +1 to transcribing. I wish I could do it. I need to start working on that.
  9. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    Hey Wasp,

    A teacher is good. Ya know what is better? Being able to teach yourself...and the best teachers teach you this.
    Watch all the greats and players you admire, expose yourself to everything about their music, study their hands and sounds. Imitate. You may only be 16 but you are capable of teaching yourself every bit of knowledge on the planet, as long as you REALLY want to learn. It takes sacrifice, but many of the worlds greatest musicians are completely self taught. Want to be the next one?

    p.s. get a job, ya bum! ;)
  10. pizzicato16


    Jan 24, 2008

    Start off slow, it will improve your sense of time and keep your groove steady. Then increase the tempo and it will help you keep the fast licks in time.
  11. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ

    Is my real response to your question now I'll go off on a tangent...

    Find a way to get lessons! I wish I was doing what I am now 4 years ago (lessons every week and jamming/band stuff). Try making a deal with your folks...birthday present? reward for grades? get a part time job?

    If you still can't get lessons

    Look up practice routines for the following:
    Major Arpeggios
    Minor Arpeggios
    The Major Scale, Minor Scale, Blues Scale
    The Modes

    Learn to play blues, there are free blues lessons everywhere and there are tons of 15 dollar blues method books. It will get you over that string problem and it will teach you how to apply all those chords/how bass lines work in popular music.

    Buy a book of transcriptions like "the bass tab white pages" which has 100 songs in it, learn 1 every week.

    When you are ready enroll in any musical classes you can in school, that means, Jazz band, Concert Band, Pep Band, Music Theory (if they offer it), Choir even...it will all help you understand music better....also if your schools music dept was like mine you can even get free lessons for the band teacher (granted they wont be great lessons, but they are lessons none the less)
  12. www.cyberschoolofbass.com

    Some free lessons from Bunny Brunel :)

    If you're really stuck in a rut, its best to go back and check that your basic technique is good.

    He covers the basic right and left hand stuff very well in the first couple of vids. The other vids are mostly about scale/chord relationships etc.
  13. basste


    Oct 8, 2003
    rythm working: take ZZtop shuffle tunes, or ACDC tunes, an play these three note during hours, listening only drums. A good exercise.
  14. Twiggy Jr.

    Twiggy Jr.

    Nov 17, 2005
    buy a metronome (or download one onto your comp for free)
    look up online scales and start sssssssllloooooowwwwwww
    or follow songs that are simple (with accurate bass tabs online)
    polly by nirvana
    man who sold the world (david bowie, or nirvana cover)
    rape me by nirvana
    minute of decay by marilyn manson
    where is my mind by the pixies
    possum kingdom by the toadies
    love stinks by the j geils band
    caress me down by sublime
    practice, practice, practice
    while your friends are doing "fun" stuff, do this...if you don't mind hanging w/ them and doing this, you'll know the bass is your baby
    i.e., i love hanging w/ my friends, but sometimes i prefer to stay at home and jam the heck out :)
  15. Twiggy Jr.

    Twiggy Jr.

    Nov 17, 2005
    dude, this is all 100% perfect advice
    hell, i think i'm gonna do this
    i have a basic blues workbook and LOVE the bass tab white pages :)
  16. Twiggy Jr.

    Twiggy Jr.

    Nov 17, 2005
    'cept, not to toot my own horn, i learn one a day
    but i've worked hard, HARD, to be able to do that
    and still can't outplay or out learn 1/2 of you fools
  17. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Thanks for the kind words, this is what I have been doing in my lessons for the past few months and my playing has improved 300%. I've also been jamming a lot which was a huge missing link for me.

    As for doing a song a day that for me is a tall order when I still have to do scale and chord stuff, and band stuff and lessons on top of that it doesn't leave a lot of practice time. I need to learn at least 1 new song a week though, or I get bored. I'll trudge through a scale exercise and reward myself with working on a new song.
  18. A metronome (or drum machine) is crucial. I like the Cherub WMT-555C. It's cheap and does the job.
  19. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    +1000 get a metronome, and practice slooooooooowly

    speed comes form accuracy, accuracy comes form slow practice.

    too bad you can't get a teacher. technique issues are hard to address without face to face meeting.
  20. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    Well, looks like you made the first major step "identifying" what you need to work on.

    The next step is to follow through and change/improve where you are lacking. You don't need a teacher to tell you what you obviously know.

    Now, what are you going to do about it and get better? This is step 2.

    You are well on your way to be a great player if you can continuously do what you have done in step 1 and are able to follow through with step 2. Next year ask yourself the same questions and see if you have improved and have new goals.

    All the best,


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