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How do you guys learn songs by other artists? By ear or other.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Ian the bassist, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. I have to say I'm almost a completely by the ear man. There was a time(like I'm sure everyone has) that I used tabs.

    Sometimes, if I really just can't get my head around what the player is doing(usually if it's a tap riff or complex slap pattern) I'll look up a cover of someone else playing it.

    What about the masses? Only by ear? Or are there tab users and cover watchers here?

    I'll be doing covers myself soon, mostly ones that aren't done much on youtube like Graham central station and a few others.
  2. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    Listen over and over again until you can sing/whistle/hum it or play it in your head. After that, note by note I try to find it on the fretboard. If that fails, I'll slow it down and go from there.
  3. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Just by ear. I generally start at the beginning and start working through the song to the end. Helps me learn the format as well.
    I don't trust written parts, because they are usually pretty inaccurate and tab just takes too damn long. Between the two I like reading notes 1000x better.
    This is just the way I like to do it.
  4. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    I also like to hear cover versions. If I can't understand what the original bass player was going for, or if I just don't like what he was doing, I will try to find something different.

    I will definitely use the same notes, though. But I'll try a different rhythm that fits with the rest of the song if I don't like the original bass rhythm.
  5. Paul M

    Paul M

    Jul 21, 2005
    I often start with a typical guitar chord chart from the Internet just to get an overview of the song's structure. I will fake my way through that a couple of times just to get the feel of the song.

    This makes for less guess work when I really sit down and pick out the original bass line by ear.

    Then if it's really difficult to hear exactly what is being played, I use a program called Transcribe! to slow down the music or filter it to hear the bass. Sometimes I will even pitch shift it up an octave if the bass is really muddy.

    The Transcribe! program is useful for it's playback and looping features even if you don't use the pitch or tempo shift. Much easier than a standard music player like iTunes.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    By ear. Then I make simple charts. Some are number charts roughly similar to the Nashville number system. Some are letter charts. I have come up with my own little system after a couple of decades.
  7. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    if i need help learning a sound by ear, i pull out my Tascam DR-05! (i love the variable "slow-down" and "marker" feature)
  8. Error


    Dec 10, 2012
    I'm just starting, and I can barely tell notes apart so I go by tab. I have been trying to learn a song by ear since no tabs were available and it's sounding pretty accurate.
  9. SactoBass

    SactoBass I like all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA
    For me, 100% by ear.

    I spend time with the original recording and headphones to learn the notes. For the past 20 years or so, I listen to the CD or my iPod using Sony MDR-7506 headphones.

    I never write any of it down. I just commit it to memory.

    It's a method that has worked well for me for 40 years of playing bass.....everything from simplistic stuff to 70's era YES material when I was in a YES tribute band.
  10. Most of the time I can find fake chord sheet music on the Internet. Sure it's someone interpertation of the song and is probably not exactly the same as the original artist played it. But, it will be close and you can flesh it out after you get the structure going.

    OK I now have the fake chord sheet music showing the chord progression and the lyrics. I then find a video of the song on the Internet and use that with the fake chord sheet music to start pulling the song together.

    My point, no need to start from scratch. Someone has posted the fake chord and the audio. Use that for starters. If you do not like what you have, change it and make it your interpertation of the song.
  11. I pretty much learned how to play bass by ear, I know some music theory but I mostly just play what sounds rite to me without thinking, I had to play alot of wrong notes to get where I'm at today. Same thing goes for learning new songs, when you're familiar enough with your fretboard it only takes a short time to suss out a typical bass line, some songs you might have to look for musical notation or tab especially if they are real quick or a non repeating riff or just back further in a mix.
  12. js1


    Oct 1, 2006
    By ear.

    Since Cubase 6 came out, I've been using for slowdown learning. It has really good beat detection and pitch tools. The beat detection means that I can map bars to the recording. The pitch tools let me slow it down.

    Result - I can take a challenging bar or two, and loop it slowed down. Makes it dead easy to really hear what's going on.
  13. ics1974


    Apr 13, 2012
    I am a tab addict. Trying to kick the bad habbit but it's hard because it's quicker and easier with tab.
  14. CraigTB


    Feb 16, 2012
    When learning a new song I listen to it a dozen times or so first, without a bass, while I'm doing something else. Like while at work, while commuting, etc...

    Then I get my bass, put the CD in, and learn it by ear. Listening to it first a bunch without a bass helps me to internalize a lot of it so actually learning the song is pretty quick.

    I am OCD with covers and I like doing them as close to the recording that I can get. I'm sure I wouldn't do this if I was in a gigging cover band with a big set, but since I have the luxury of time, I find there's always something to learn from really looking close at someone else's recorded part.
  15. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I use sheet music 90% of the time well in my type of music almost everything is avalaible as sheet music. I'm starting to really use more my ears for music like Dream Theater or videogames music.
  16. Mostly by ear. As I'm working through the song the structure comes into focus and it gets burned into the memory. When I come upon spots I can't figure out, I go to tabs.
    I have found tabs can be inaccurate when put up against the song so I'll continue the tab search or based on a tabs' positioning figure out the rest.
  17. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    +1 this approach works for me and just about anyone I play with. I then make adjustments to the song after hearing it and comparing chords sheets.
  18. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA

    One of my former guitarist said I have really good "radio memory", because I can play things after only hearing them a couple of times. It only takes me a run or two through practicing it to be able to play it pretty accurately, even if I haven't actually heard the song in many years. I have so much music stored in my head.... It Hurts!!!! :help:
  19. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA

    OMG... It's horrifying how bad some tabs are! That could make a good thread!
  20. zfunkman


    Dec 18, 2012
    I'll start by learing by ear. If its a complicated song and I my ear is having a hard time I look for the sheet music (not tabs); if I have the sheet music I can learn it. If I can't find the sheet music and tabs are the only thing available I'll use them as a reference since tabs are usually wrong in some way, shape or form; but if I've already tried by ear its easy to tell where they are wrong and figure out the correct way. I've also gone to youtube; there's always some egotistical bass player who is willing to share that he of she has knows how to play a difficult song; I love those bass players. The key for me is to learn the song as quickly as I can. I always like to learn by ear but if I don't have time and the song is hard I go for the sheet music and youtube right off the bat.

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