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I just...suck.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BassPlayer95, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. BassPlayer95


    Oct 1, 2011
    Here's the deal guys, I've been playing bass for about 3 years now. I play every day for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and a half. I love music, and I absolutely love bass. I'm just not getting any better. Sure, I'm better than I was day one, but it seems like after about a year, my progession of my skills just stopped. I don't really play all that intricate stuff, just punk-pop and a few different styles of metal, so I shouldn't be struggling. I mean, maybe I am decent and it's just lack of confidence, or maybe, I actually suck. I also wonder if maybe my gear is holding me back. I'm currently on a crappy Dean bass, and a 15 watt amp. I was pretty much forbidden to ask for a bass for christmas because my mom said I have to be more practical. So that's out. Maybe when the new year comes around, I'll (hopefully) get a job. Anyway, some questions:

    1. I don't think my technique is terrible, but I can't seem to get my pinkie up on the fret board.

    2. My hand cramps a lot when fretting notes. Especially down in the lower region of the fret board.

    3. I'd like to, in the future join/start a band, but I'm worried I'm terrible. ANY and ALL tips on how to be a better player would be TOTALLY welcome!!!

    Thanks for reading this horribly long post!!!!
  2. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    I rarely don't get asked to join a band that I audition for. More often than not, I turn down gigs because I'm too busy.

    The number one thing that you can do to improve, is to play with other musicians as much as possible. If you can't find any, play along with music you like, but eq the basslines out. Sometimes try to play the actual song's bassline, but sometimes just improvise your own--concentrate on keeping time with the drummer. If you can get a computer program that changes tempo, etc. that will be even better--then you can learn to play in different keys.

    As for your bass, I know a very good bass player who is struggling financially. His only bass is a Rogue that he bouFirst, you probably aren't as bad as you think you are. I consider myself a hack player at best and yet ght used. But he makes due with it and sounds very good. What you should do is learn to set yours up to play better--there are plenty of good videos on youtube on how to do it. If you are careful to only make small adjustments at a time, you can setup the following without risking damage to your bass--truss rod, bridge/saddle height, and intonation. If it still doesn't play well at the lower frets, you can file the string slots at the nut a little...but be very careful because that can't be easily reversed. A good setup will make your bass play much better...your hand should not be cramping.
  3. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Something happened to the first half of my post...It should read:
    You probably aren't as bad as you think that you are. I consider myself a hack bass player, but (and then the rest)
  4. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    "Suck" is a subjective term. :) You may think you suck, but to someone that just picked up a bass a few months ago, you'd appear to be a mystical wizard with the thing.

    As already noted: Keep playing, and relax when you do it. If your hand cramps, left or right, stop and relax. It's just music. You ain't curing cancer.

    Jam with some folks whenever you get a chance. You'll be surprised how well you play some things, and how much you stink at others. It's all part of a learning experience.

    And don't get down on yourself. Recognize your weaknesses and work on them, but at the same time PLAY and have fun!
  5. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    You're not striving to be better is why. Challenge yourself with harder material and exercises. If you plug roots to Blink 182 songs all your life, you're never going to be Jaco.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    One thing is don't compare yourself to people who have been playing for many more years than you it's easy to do but just look on You Tube there are plenty of folks who are posting videos and they are just starting out as well. I finally got out of the " I will never sound like that person" syndrome and I feel much better about my bass playing and if all you had to do was practice hard every day and instantly become Marcus Miller everyone would be on his level take your time practice and oldcatfish has some sound advice also.
  7. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
  8. bassRunner


    Aug 10, 2012
    Urbana, IL
    A bit of advice I received was to try a different genre of music. I found myself practicing the same tunes for far too long, and I didn't really get much better. Lately, I've been working on some jazz standards and playing with a group of a few guys. Diving into a new genre has given me a sense of accomplishment, even if I am only making baby steps. Walking is harder than it sounds, at least for me :)
  9. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    I remember the first time I had to walk. I had no idea how to do it. I mean, I knew what it was supposed to be, but doing it was something else entirely.
  10. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Stretch yourself a bit. If you're into metal, go back and learn some Cliff era Metallica. Try some old Iron Maiden (Steve Harris - the hardest right hand in the business). Get out of your comfort zone. Victor Wooten once told me he learns a lot more from things he doesn't like than from things he does like. So try some totally different music from what's in your iPod. Get out of your rut!

    Also, look up the term finger permutations and run with that. The finger exercises are boring, but you will be a better player on the other side.
  11. Fuzz Aldrin

    Fuzz Aldrin

    Apr 5, 2012
    I think it takes a lot of time to really develop your hands. I thought for a long time I really wasn't meant to play bass, because it just didn't feel comfortable. Now it is so comfortable I never think about my hands. But it took me a long time to get there.

    Also, +1 to playing with other people, especially people who are better than you. I don't think there is a better or faster way to learn.

    Ask for Ed Friedland's Hal Leonard Bass Method - Complete Edition: Books 1, 2 and 3 for Christmas. That will get you learning new things.
  12. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always puts some stank on it Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
  13. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Go on auditions or post your own CL ad for jam partners, even if you think you suck. Playing with other people is a major stimulus to develop your own skills.

    +1 to playing other kinds of music. That will help you stretch.

    I'm not a big tabs guy, but get the tabs to something by Yes or Rush or some other fairly intricate bass part (it was Yours Is No Disgrace for me). Just learning to follow an intricate part can open up your eyes to more interesting things you can do.

    And, scales and exercises. I recommend this book; http://www.amazon.com/Bass-Fitness-...8&qid=1354448031&sr=1-1&keywords=bass+fitness . Just the first couple of pages started me improving my playing.
  14. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Maybe Mom will go for getting you a month or two of lessons for Christmas. Sure, playing bass isn't as practical as elevator repair, but in practicing music, you'll learn stuff that will help you the rest of your life. The secret to success in most things mirrors the daily practice of music.
  15. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Including the notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep telling yourself you suck and you will suck.
  16. atomicdog


    Jun 18, 2011
    The best way to learn is to perform. Get some band mates, mate. Doesn't have to be anything serious, no pressure. But that immediately helps you set goals and puts you in an environment in which you can derive pleasure from making music with others.
  17. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    You are probably doing fine. It can be a little slow starting out. I started out with the lowest end gear possible (I'd originally put my obscure "Biscayne 4" bass and ear up against a wall so I could hear it... before a Gorilla-5 came my way). Oh man the good old days.

    It really helps if your instrument is "set up" reasonably well and for me I feel more encouraged if I my tone/sound is actually decent. When I started out I felt kind of discouraged about my playing because I sounded so bad (due to the "dead" tone of my gear) compared to any recording of a bass that existed.

    I'd check out the way your bass is set up. For example, are the strings super high (for me more than 1/4 an inch is ridiculously high) at the 12th fret? Or do you have buzzing at all on any frets? You can youtube this type of stuff if you have any obvious issues.

    Then get some new strings, preferably kind of good ones (DR is pricey but worth it). If you haven't gotten any in 6 months and you play your bass often they are probably pretty old and dull.

    Try resting your LH thumb parallel to your neck on the back center more a less. This will clear up your pinky issues because it keeps that side of your hand close to the neck. It will probably help your general issues too.

    Start saving for an amp that can hang with a drummer (maybe a 1x15 combo) and you can get in a band.
  18. Learn some songs that you can sing along with your bass and hit the open mics. Three songs will get you started. You can even do just one, if you want. "Boris the Spider", originally by the Who is a great crowd pleaser. I've been doing it for about 4 years now. I found that the words from "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" fit the music from this song. I got my first standing ovations after playing it last night. It's more fun than playing alone. You might even find other people to play with. I did.

    Go have some fun and find out how much you probably don't suck.
  19. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Learn and listen to as MANY different songs as you can. Here is the key in DIFFERENT Genres, do everything from 80s pop, rock, 90s, 70s, 60s.

    I only got good from learning and playing alogn with 100s and 100s of songs.

    Now my riff bucket is full, for instance I might throw a fill from a completely different song, into another song, or simply make up my own.
    Google the proper technique for fingerign typically I use my 3rd and 4th finger together unless it is a scalar run, particularly if you are in the 1-4 fret area.
    LEARN to USE FINGERS AND A PICK, you will thank me later.
    BASS IME is more instinctual thna many instruments but you have to have some knowledge of fretboard etc. to get good and muscle memory.