I have no idea what to practice, or what to do

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassMoley, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. BassMoley


    May 20, 2013
    I've hit a rut like everyone does sooner or later. My situation, I want to eventually play music like Anthrax and Megadeth and that kinda deal, speed metal. Obviously playing like that will take years of practice for most. But that's the problem, I have no idea what I should be doing to get better. Typically I practice without my amp since people would be annoyed by it, but when I do use it there's holes in my playing all over the place. I do scales but its just very dull and has no real fun factor at all. At least during the summer I could get high and do it and get enjoyment out of it, but not anymore. I go on the Internet and read what other people think but it's all "move from this key to that key in this scale to that in triplets and arpeggios changing from B to C" nonsense. If you're like me all that is very confusing. I'm not good with theory. I'm in high school and I took the class Music Theory but unfortunately had to drop it in case other work was too much. But it wouldn't have really mattered much anyway my schools music program is a joke. So I want to play speed metal but I have no clue how to get to that point. And it's equally annoying when someone listening says I'm good, even though I know I suck. Anyone have any tips or good routines put simple enough for me to understand?
  2. sadowskyguy


    Dec 24, 2011
    Greenville NC
    Try scotts bass lessons
  3. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Take your favorite Anthrax or Megadeth CD and attempt to play along by ear at lower volume levels. You don't want to upset the neighbors! Practice doesn't need to be loud all the time. You'll need to do a bit of noodling to first find the key then the changes. Don't worry about speed at this early stage, it'll come with practice. Listen to the drums and try keeping time with them. Again, not for speed - if you can only play it at half speed, that's ok for now, but more for timing and locking in with a drummer.
    Playing with others you consider better than you will help you progress faster. It'll get you out of your bedroom doldrums and hopefully fire you up some...
    Just keep at it
  4. Patience young padwan, patience.

    Benefit, in the future with practice you will.
  5. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    broaden your musical horizons. The best players can do many styles.
  6. Or if you can't wait any longer, try installing guitar pro, and download guitar pro files and learn from them.

    The catch is you won't understand what your doing, you are just following what is being shown on the program. Back it up with solid theory.
  7. if your gonna play thrash then practice your 16th's 3 times a day for 10 minutes each time (with a metronome) at a speed that is comfortable. then simply bump up the bpm's every 4 days. In 3 months you'll be flying. Tell'm Kenny sent ya
  8. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Yes, but, you will have to start at the beginning. www.studybass.com or Bass Guitar for Dummies. No pun intended, Bass Guitar for Dummies is an excellent get started instructional book.

    You've been doing your scales. And don't know how to turn them into music -- right? That's fine, you now know where the notes are on your fretboard and you know the sound of the good notes and what the bad notes sound like. Let's move on to chord tones and follow the chords in the song's chord progression - and turn chord tones into music. Call up some fake chord sheet music on the music you like (I list how to do that below) and follow the chord progressions playing the chord's chord tones. C chord coming up in the song. ......... It's chord tones are the C, E & G notes or the R-3-5 scale degrees within the major scale box. Concentrate on chord tone patterns. Scales are for melody and melodic fills, which you are not ready for. Get chord tones under your fingers for now. Scales and melodic playing after you start getting lead breaks. Let the gui****s handle the lead stuff, we provide the basic rhythm - and no it's not boring - done correctly it will keep you on your toes for the rest of your life.

    The major scale box, some chord spelling and some fake chord sheet music should get you going.

    Fake chord sheet music. Google -- chords, "name of the song"

    The Major scale box.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string

    Chord spelling:
    Basic Chords
    • Major Triad = R-3-5
    • Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    • Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5

    7th Chords
    • Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    • Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    • Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    • ½ diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    • Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7

    See a chord and play it's chord tones. As every key will have three major, three minor and one diminished chord it's a good idea to get your major, minor and diminished bass line chord tones into muscle memory so when you see a chord your fingers just know what will work. Now the song may only give you enough room for the root, or root five - adapt and get as many chord tones into your bass line as needed and as many as you can get in before the music goes off and leaves you. Root on 1 and a steady groove from the other chord tones plus something to call attention to the chord change is what we do. With metal I envision you using a lot of just roots R-R-R-R and or R-R-5-5. www.studybass.com has some very good lessons on this. Check this out. http://www.studybass.com/lessons/common-bass-patterns/roots-and-fifths/
    Now look at exercise # 3. http://www.studybass.com/lessons/common-bass-patterns/roots-and-fifths/exercises/

    OK get the chord spelling into muscle memory. Hit the shed. Slow at first and speed up as you can handle it. Follow the chords and pound out roots, throw in a five when needed, maybe an 8. It'll come.

    IMO you need to go back and start over. Do the chord tone patterns the same way you did your scales. Then get some fake chord sheet music and put those chord tone patterns to work for you.

    I hope this gave you a wider view of how you can start making music.

    Good luck.
  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are.

    Try slow downer software with the music you want to learn,
  10. LordRyan


    Dec 9, 2012
    Go back to the roots and study Geezer Butler, John Paul Jones, and Steve Harris.
  11. PipeRain

    PipeRain Operator Of Pointy Basses

    Dec 4, 2012
    Those with more knowledge than I have already spoken, and spoken well. That being said, I find myself in a similar place, although I am many years down the line age-wise. I'm the only guy I know that is old enough to be a grandparent that wants to play Megadeth, and play it well.

    The only suggestions I can add are to shell out the $10 a month and get a songsterr.com subscription. It will let you slow down and play along to the songs you want to play with. Between that and Transcribe, you can figure the songs out mechanically. Couple that with learning the stuff that MalcolmAmos suggested and you will be well on your way.

    My second suggestion is an old Special Forces adage used when training people fire and maneuver. "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast". It is definitely and undeniably true. Learn the stuff right and learn it well. Speed will come, faster than you think. David Ellefson has great stuff on practice techniques in his "Metal Bass" DVD's and his Rock Shop videos on youtube. Take all this to heart and practice like your soul depends on it, even when it is pure drudgery and sooner than you think you'll be able to whip through Tornado of Souls or Washington is Next like it's nothing.
  12. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    My 2 cents: get a practice amp with headphone out. Playing unamplified will lead to bad habits that will have a negative impact on your future progress. Plus you'll hear yourself better, making it easier to pinpoint and remedy your mistakes.
  13. Lobomov


    Aug 2, 2013
    16th with a metronome and the slow downer software as slready stated.

    Have fun (you can probably find TABs online, if your ear is not yet good enough to pick things up by it self)
  14. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    Moley, if you have no interest yet in theory, forget about it. Some day you may become interested in it, and you'll give it a go. You will probably need it anyhow to make a quantum leap to the following level in the future. In the meantime, if you just want to play metal covers, here is my suggestion:
    1) Buy GuitarPro (about 60 bucks, totally worth it) or download TuxGuitar, which is free (limited to older guitarpro files, it can't read gpx files).
    2) Open up a free account at songsterr.com
    3) Download the tabs to your favorite songs, and play them back at lower speeds, so you can play along.
    4) Practice them progressively faster, until you can do full speed.
    5) In order not to "annoy" other people, practice with headphones. All you need is either a set of VOX amPhones or VOX amPlug . I'm sure they're so affordable that Santa could help you out. They both feature an AUX in, you can connect your computer "out" to the device (with this type of cable) , and play along to your favorite tunes with headphones on. Without amplification, you won't get any pleasure out of your practice sessions, as you can hardly hear yourself.
  15. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Listen to the basslines in songs you like. Whenever you find something you think you could play, or have a song you really like, try and get the tabs for that. practice the parts until you can play them without looking at the tabs. start as slow as you need to be to play them fluently, then take it up to speed bit by bit.
    for me it works best, if i do that three or four times a day for a couple of minutes.

    And practice with an amp, if that's not possible, with headphones. You don't need the sound of a cranked up tubeamp, just some sound that's loud enough for you to hear. Dial back on the bassknob if you annoy people.

    to get more strength in your hands, you can practice scales. play them with a metronome and play 16s, hitting each note 4 times before changing. If that sounds boring, try and make it sound good. take two roots and alternate between them, try to make a groove for that, using the chosen scales (the notes provided by them).
    That'll increase your ability to improvise big time.

    I was so bored by that scale-stuff myself, until i got it working when in rehearsal we got no further with a new song and started jamming to ease off the tension.
    Suddenly, i got into that practicing mode and my fingers were flying all over the fretboard - that's when i finally realized what all this stupid practicing is for.
  16. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    For technique and speed, get a metronome and the book Bass Fitness. http://www.amazon.com/Bass-Fitness-Exercising-Handbook-Guitar/dp/0793502489 . Work through those exercises and you'll move towards your goals. And keep at your scales. Boring? Too bad. Do you want it or not?

    Like Stumbo said, try slowing down songs that are too fast for you now to learn them note-by-note. If you play songs off a computer, Audacity will work and it's free.
  17. +1 To this! Every bass player needs to get this down, it'll open up your playing (probably) more than anything else.
  18. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    I'm a pro player and teacher with 20 years exp. Scales and modes are great to practise when you are learning and as a way to learn theory, but when I get in a rut, I play through bach solo cello and violin suites. If you can't read music, they are pretty easy to transcribe from any number of recordings, as the music is (obviously) very exposed. It may sound about as far from metal as possible, but actually, the arpeggios and double stops will certainly build your metal chops...
  19. deckard


    Apr 4, 2003
    My suggestions are pretty simple, mate:

    a.) - get some headphones and practice through those, either through an amp with a headphone output jack, a separate headphone amp alone through which you can also run a music source (CD, MP3, whatever), or a BassTrainer (CD or MP3 version) - I use a cafe' walter but they aren't cheap -you need to practice with the real sound of your bass... but not TOO loud, ok? Don't damage your hearing - I have tinnitus from years of listening to, and playing, music too loud and I can tell you it ain't fun at all;

    b.) - start transcribing (copying directly to your instrument) the music you love to listen to and want to play - this doesn't have to mean actually writing down what you hear... rather, start learning bit by bit, note by note, lick by lick, run by run, *by ear* what is played by the bass players who play the music you love, the guys you want to emulate. This is transcribing, too. ;)

    Starting out, easier said than done, of course - but stick with it and it will slowly get easier as you develop your transcribing ear.

    It would help a LOT to have something that can slow down the music *without changing the key* to a speed that is useful: a BassTrainer (I use the CD version and run it and my bass through my cafe' walter because the sound of the walter is so much better than the BassTrainer alone - but this setup isn't cheap), the Slowdowner, etc.

    With time (months, maybe a couple years - depends on how hard you work at it & how often) and persistence, your transcribing ear will develop, and eventually you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what is being played at the regular speed of a song/tune.

    I'm a firm believer in this method: get better *at the music you love* by learning literally note-for-note what the bass masters of the music you love are doing/how they do it/play. This music is in your head most of the time anyway, right?

    This is how I started out decades ago, in my case with LPs, over and over and over and over, dropping that friggin' needle on the LP over and over and over and over, until I could play note for note what Jack Bruce in Cream was playing, what Jack Casady in Jefferson Airpane was playing, what Rocco in TOP was playing, etc. Later, what Jaco was playing when I switched to fretless. Don't cheat, get it note for note, nuance for nuance, exactly: I guarantee you will learn a lot from this process. I do it to this day, but for me currently it is jazz players...

    JMHO, but I think this is a good way to start.

    Make sense?

    As far as knowing you suck, my jazz pianist pal (who is a far better player than I am) has a saying he got from his main teacher:

    "We ALL suck at our own level."


    Here's another one from one of my kung fu sifus, but which I feel applies to music as well:

    "Speed and power come as a result of relaxed and coordinated repetition."