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howto "zero in" on the bassline ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Pakko, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. Pakko


    Aug 31, 2008
    I'm a beginner with the bass and I was wondering if there were some excersizes to better learn to hear the basslines in music.

    My tutor gave me a list of notes (B A E) that are played in The Jack (AC/DC, The 92 Live album so not the original with Bonn Scott) and told me to listen to the song and try to follow it.

    At fist he had the Tabs from internet but he claimed they were wrong so he wrote them up quickly himself.

    Now I'm trying to hear the bassline so I know if I'm doing well or not but I cannot hear it (or maybe I do but I don't recognise it) all I can hear is the drums and the guitar that seem to sound much louder (and the Singer offcourse).

    So I was wondering if there were some special learning techniques I could use to learn to recognise the basslines ?

    Or is it something that will come in time (after a lot of practice with the bass guitar and a lot of listening to music) ?
  2. It takes time to recognise the bass in a song if it isn't a main focus.

    Maybe you could try out different settings on your CD player, like turning up the bass, to give yourself a headstart.

    With alot of ac/dc stuff the bass is in almost the same timing as they rhythem guitar, so maybe just be aware of that.

    All the best,

  3. Pakko


    Aug 31, 2008
    Well my CD player doesn't have that much settings (no EQ or stuff like that) but there is a BASS-Boost so I guess I should try that and see what it gives.

    I connect it with the headphones out jack to the MP3/CD in from my Bass Amp so I hear both the song and my own bass from the same source (speakers) but unfortunatly the bass/trebble knobs only control the guitar in (guess that's normal).

    Thanks for the reply, I'll give it a try.
  4. The worst thing will come later: you won't be able to listen a song as a whole composition, because your mind will separate it to parts.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Actually the reason I started playing bass was that I always heard bass lines first and that was what I wanted to play.

    I never heard lyrics - so people would say - isn't that a great line and I would say I never heard it, as I was listening to the bass!! :p
  6. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Very true.

    Jimmy Stewart couldn't watch movies he was in because all he did was watch himself.
  7. Skeletomania


    Oct 25, 2005
    hong kong
    There's a software called Transcribe you can download as a trial version. In it, you can boost the bass as well as slow down the music.
  8. sheikbass


    Sep 13, 2008
    When I'm trying to learn a new song I just listen to it - a lot - on my iPod headphones. Once I think I'm hearing it well, I'll try to follow along with the tabs (and about half the time they don't seem to be correct, as your instructor pointed out). Only then will I try to play along with the song. It's nearly always a struggle at first, then all of a sudden you'll have this "eureka" moment and you'll have it. Good luck!
  9. Pakko


    Aug 31, 2008
    Listen, Listen and listen some more. That's also what my instructor told me (but at work there is to much noise to listen).

    I've burned a CD with The Jack (from the Original Album, High Voltage and the Live 92 version to have some difference) that I listen while driving to and from work, but I don't think my basic Car Radio is the best thing to have to listen for basslines.

    Thanks for the replies and for the Transcribe sugestion. I'll download the trial/demo and check it out.
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    + 1 on everything that's already been said, and I'll add some.

    1st - like Bruce I too always heard the bass in music, but I think back when I started listening to music you actually heard the bass - and it was worth listening to. :) I pretty much grew up on Motown and Zeppelin. A lot different than SR71, Fallout Boy, etc. As already mentioned ACDC is also a little harder than other bands to identify the bass as it's often following the guitar and is blended pretty well. I was goin to suggest finding some songs where the bass is easily identifyable and learning them to start training your ears for what to look for.

    2nd - I don't think there are any quick fixes to this one. Not saying you're looking for that either. Time, practice, and experience will better train your ear. When I was just starting to learn songs it was really hard for me to distinguish between octaves in the bass, now I find it incredibly strange that that was ever an issue at all. And I've gone from learning 1 song in 2 days to being able to nail 10 in a day if I have to. But that's taken years and years.

    I just found out 2 days ago that Windows media player slows songs down. Doh! Right click - View - Enhancements - Play Speed Settings. There's also an invaluable Equalizer setting in the enhancements. I suggest if you don't already have semi decent speakers on your computer to get them and start utilizing whatever music player you use. Pretty sure they all have EQs. Decent speakers can be bought for $50. Feel I'm getting a long winded here so I'll finish by adding that when EQing to hear the bass, don't make the mistake of thinking that that means to crank the bass. Again, find a song where the bass is easily identifyable and then work with the EQ to see what brings that out best. It's different for every recording but with my setuup and media player it usually means boosing 62 and 250 HZ, and then finding the highs that bring the top end of the bass out, usually 2 and 4 khz. It's actually better to pull everything else down than to crank those because the files start distorting, but you get the idea. Fiddle with everything you've got to best bring the bass out. I don't know any of the science behind this but lots of stuff plays into it. Where your speakers are, the angle they're hitting you from, where you're staning in the room. Try everything.... bal, bla, blah... I'm done. :)
  11. Here's what I do... crank the stereo and go into the next room and listen! The bass frequencies will travel where as the mid range and or high end will be diminished, allowing you to here the bass lines.
    Pretty simple, but it does work!
  12. MellowTone


    May 26, 2008
    It takes some time to be able to single out the bass in the mix, some are easier than others. Listen to lots of music and listen to that low end. You'll get it.

    I kind of do the same thing, I find more oftne than not, I will be listening to the melody of the vocalist or other instruments over the actual words. Good penmanship can be lost on me :meh:
  13. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Its like at first you hear the whole song like we all do when simply listening to music period. As you become a bass player and take apart a song to get a feel for the bassline you train you ear for the root, chord changes and progressions. Alot of AC/DC like said here follows the guitar chords. Go online and download the chord and lyric page...not tab. Then follow as you listen hearing the notes played. Soon you will know by experience when a G is coming up etc and you will be amazed how your mind wlll guide your fretting hand near the correct notes.

    I can now listen to about any song and play it in a couple of takes unless its really easy pretty spot on by getting my ear trained. Of course being fed 40-50 songs in the last 3 bands to learn quickly gets ones ear trained fast ;)
  14. Pakko


    Aug 31, 2008
    Hmm, I don't think they neighbours will like that :D
  15. Pakko


    Aug 31, 2008

    So I found a site with the Chords and they say this :

    So I should basically play E E E E A A E E B A E B for the chorus
    and for the verse E E E E A A A A

    or am I missing something ? (and sorry if this is a stupid question :))

    My tutor gave me this :

    Intro : BAEBB


    Bridge : BAEB

    (timing 1&2&3&4&)

    I can follow the intro and it stops around the same time when I reach the last B but I don't hear the bass in the song so I don't know if I'm playing correctly. The chorus starts when I'm still playing the verse notes
  16. This is really true... when I turn on the radio, the first 10 seconds or so I hear a bunch of different things going on as separate pieces and I just can't comprehend it as a whole...

    Or I might have some fatal brain hemorrhaging going on ;).
  17. Try playing just one of the notes. For example, ''Verse : EEEE AAAA EEEE AAAA EEEE AAEE''. Instead of playing E 4 times, try playing it just once. This may help you distinguise the chord changes and timing, and sometimes all it takes is simplicity to nail those songs with difficult timing, although not knowing the song i can't put it in context.


  18. robgo


    Jan 25, 2008
    If you really want to hear the bass line, the best way would actually be to find a way of speeding the tune up. (try downloading audacity, it's very useful and free). With everything higher, the bass line will then magically jump out of the mix, allowing you to get your head around how he's playing it. Slow it down again before you try playing along with it though!

    Edit: In Audacity you can actually increase the pitch without increasing the tempo, which might just help.
  19. How to zero in on a bassline with your stereo:

    if you cross the speaker cables of your stereo by putting (I am going to use the colour cables to make it a bit easier to follow) the red in the red input of speaker A and the black in the black input of speaker B and vice versa. This way you can use the balance button to zero in on the bass which is usually recorded in stereo together with the drums and thereby present on both channels. By turning your balance-button this way or that way, you can let the rest fade away :ninja:
  20. Alakaalex


    Oct 1, 2008
    Listening to the track from a distance or through a closed door will definitely help and you don't really need to crank it up too loud.

    You could also try positioning your amp with the speaker facing away from you and keeping the volume level moderate.

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