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How I became a gigging bassist and how I’m returning

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by diverse379, Dec 8, 2018.

  1. diverse379


    Mar 4, 2015
    I don’t know what kind of thread this actually is
    Perhaps a mini autobiography or
    A how to learn the bass for a newbie

    Or just an interesting anecdote to encourage others to share their journey.

    I had a very short bass career 20 years ago
    That propelled me to becoming a music director and eventually a real estate investor.

    But it all started with the bass
    I wasn’t the best bassist on the planet but everywhere I played i got accolades and people always tried to get me to play for their group church or band.

    What I did was really simple and I will outline my methods here.

    The evolving bassist Rufus Reid
    The real book bass clef
    The improvising bassist
    Standing in the shadows of Motown
    The funk masters

    I played out of the Rufus Reid book every day practicing the rhythm studies and building bass lines studies

    (FYI that rhythm etude is in my opinion one of the most important aspects of bass playing
    Right up there wirh syncopation and stick control for drummers.)

    The simandl book I used in conjunction with the real book
    Learning to play melodies of jazz songs
    Then learning to build walking lines after learning the melodies
    Simandl will make you a reading shark.
    And learning James Jameson or any other piece of music possible and effortless.

    Standing in the shadows
    I learned every bass line that was on my current level of understanding and played them daily as if they were warm ups. First one was going to a go go which I still play to this day.

    Funk masters
    I learned bass and guitar parts and recorded them each week doing one new song per week
    Then I created a playlist and would play through all songs learned like warm ups
    First songs were relatively easy
    And learning to play drum and guitar parts helped to shape an understanding of the role of the bass in the context of a groove/
    The early songs (first five or so )
    in this book were blues based so you also got a solid footing in blues and alternate blues forms.

    I Always played with a metronome
    And did most of my practice unamplifed to develop good tone.

    I always played strapped up
    And never let my thumb of my left hand leave the center of the neck.

    I always warmed up with several drills taking them to the
    Twelfth fret and back

    I played scales and appeggio patterns
    Daily in all keys as a warm up.

    Always played deliberately being sure to. Finger right on top of the fret wire
    Not behind it

    Practice thumb thumping technique in terms of scales and appeggios

    Played a combination
    Of one finger per fret and traditional simandl left hand fretting.

    Always took every bass line learned from funkmasters and standing in shadows and sought to integrate the approaches in whatever new song I was playing.

    You didn’t learn groove bass lines
    Only sought to build bass lines based on the progression.
    (I know this is how a lot of people learn by learning familiar bass lines.
    And I guess I got some lines like that from funk masters and standing in the shadows.
    But I feel that by not learning the typical grooves right away
    And focusing on learning how to create bass lines to whatever song I had to play.

    I became improvisational earlier
    And to this day I am extremely creative and my bass lines are unimaginable. Without the solid pedagogy I have undergone all those years ago.)

    Played as much as possible with other people
    (There was a blues musician who was a barber in the neighborhood I hung out in the shop five days a week jamming whenever possible. )

    I Always played with a metronome.

    Finally I subscribed to bass player magazine
    This kept me grounded in what I needed to embody as a bassist.
    Downside it made me lust for new frat all the time.

    Whatever I did must have been right
    Because today returning to the bass
    After so long
    I still have a solid tone and approach.

    I will be going right back to Rufus Reid
    To further my progress

    Thanks for reading.
    GastonD, Badwater, RyanOh and 5 others like this.
  2. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    You covered all the bases for sure.
    Welcome back to the disease of bass playing. lol
    diverse379 likes this.
  3. Great job! Unfortunately fewer gigs and less talented players working them. Learn how to sing back up and wear a funny hat and you will work again.
    Cheez likes this.
  4. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Do you get along with folks ok? Are you a good hang? Makes all the difference sometimes. You can be a virtuoso, but if you're a PIA to hang with no one will hire you. Just asking, not accusing.

    Also, how's your mistake factor? Some bands are forgiving, but many aren't and can't afford to be if they play high profile gigs. In a four-hour gig, how many mistakes would you typically make? I've been in groups where no mistakes are allowed. Of course, that's unrealistic, but that was the expectation if you wanted to keep the job.
    mambo4 likes this.
  5. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Great post! I came back to bass maybe 10 yrs ago (I'm 63) after 20+ yrs away. I started back on electric only, the bought another DB (played both for years). I use similar approaches to you - Rufus R book (although I have to get back to the rhythm exercise; its also great bowing practice), Simandl that I still use daily, have not gotten back into Standing in Shadows and Real book for melodies but will have to do so.

    Only thing that I add to the mix are intervals - two octaves thirds, fourths, fifths, and sixths. Two octaves. Way harder on DB but great fingering/position exercises. Lately I am practicing on DB only, but would like to get back to mixing in some electric bass also. Maybe that's the way to get back into Standing in Shadows stuff.

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