I stink at bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Duce-hands, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. Codymb


    Mar 26, 2007
    Burlington, NC
    But seriously though, before this train derails; it is important to not get discouraged. Which I think is what I was trying to say.

    Just remember that though you may be looking at players who are more experienced than you and wishing you were on their level, there are probably plenty of people out there who are looking at you and wishing they were on your level.
  2. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    You need a teacher. Books are great but they cant tell you when you are doing something wrong. They can't demonstrate technique - and neither can a DVD or video. It's not the same.
  3. micael


    Dec 27, 2003
    Montreal, Canada
    If you think about it, music is a language. How fluent where you after 2 years of learning English? Chance are you spoke the best you could and no one was there to tell you you sucked. Your parent probably spoke like you to make you feel at ease and proud of yourself. Everyone is different, some have the genius card, but most of us have to work at it.
    Bass playing is a craft that needs to be respected and you will always need to work at it. Having fun is key however for me. My bass teacher used to say: perfect practice makes perfect. He changed the way I practiced for the better, I had it all wrong, no matter my perseverance.
    Exposing yourself to different genres of music, playing in a band where you are challenged with good musicians will definitely get you there. Gerald Veasley once told me when nervous about to get on stage because of my poor playing: "Mike, do not worry about embarrassing yourself in front of others, you are not that important". Since then, I have way less pressure on my expectations of myself and end up having fun and playing better in the end.
    No matter the level, you always get better. Record your playing, one year later, record yourself again, you will realize you play way better and are a bit too hard on yourself.
    Keep it up !!!!

    A fellow bass player striving to be a better player everyday :)
  4. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Honestly, after 31 years of playing, I suck at bass too. Just ask my guitarists!!!! No seriously, I would think that most of us are not as good as we would like to be, but better than we think. Most, IMHO, have some sort of humility and know we are not the best ever or the best we could be. Keep at it. I actually only started learning theory about 3 years ago and I still sit down about 30 minutes a day and run scales and stuff to keep it fresh..
  5. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I've been playing almost a year and a half, so I'm not far behind you.

    The difference is, while I am also a perfectionist, I'm a realist too. I've taken lessons from guys who absolutely amaze me. I don't see how it's humanly possible to play like they do. Then you realize they started as kids, playing HOURS a day. They went to college and got degrees in music, playing HOURS a day. I am a work a day stiff with a wife a kid. I work 10+ hours a day, then come home and spend time with the family. I sneak down to my practice area for maybe 30 minutes a night if I'm lucky. Most nights, I don't get to play at all. Weekends are just as packed, but I can squeeze in a couple of hours if things aren't too crazy. I could play from now till I die, and never reach the level of an Adam Nitti, Jeff Berlin, Victor Wooten...the list goes on. I realize that.

    I might practice 15 minutes if I'm lucky. A couple of hours on the weekend. When I put things in perspective, I realize I'm pretty dang talented to be able to play what I can play for no more time than I've put into it.

    A gigging player probably plays more in a 4 or 5 months than I've ever played, yet I can put on an MP3 and jam along not missing too many notes. I can't play the fancy stuff, I can't solo. But I can function as a bass player.

    I used to spend a lot of time riding motorcycles on racetracks. Not racing, mind you, just doing track days. I'm a dang good rider, but not fast enough to race. A friend of mine, who at the time I could ride circles around, started racing. I told him he'd never win, and he said, "I'd rather be last on the track than setting in the stands".

    That statement sums it up for me. I'd rather be a bad bass player, than just a listener. I keep my focus on what I'm doing this for.....fun. I am not going to ever be good enough to record or play a paying gig. If I work hard, and keep plugging away at it, I really hope to be able to play in my church one day (we have a KILLER band of mostly professional players).

    The times I enjoy the most are when I am tired, stressed out, and beat down from the day and I get to sit down with my bass and just play. Sure, I miss a few notes, but when I get in the groove and start feeling it, there's nothing better.
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
  7. MattyH


    Jul 20, 2010
    Long Island
    Hey I thought I sucked too. It took other players, who I know, or had just met, to tell me that I was good before I could accept it. When I (thought I) sucked I kept going because I was having FUN. Don't think you suck when you play, because 1 - I'm sure you're not as bad as you think. Seriously. 2 - You wont have any fun! It's supposed to be fun! That's why we all do it. It's a way to create, learn, experience, and do something that a lot of people will never try.

    Pick out some fun bass lines to practice to that maybe showcase different styles. Find what kind of player you want to be. Maybe consider getting some lessons. My guitar player and I have been playing for years, and we just recently started taking some lessons with a true veteran, to gain more knowledge, and technique. Hell, FLEA went to college last year to study music!!! It's never too late for that.

    I wish you the best of luck, and for god's sake, don't get discouraged. Because if you do, you wont have fun, and every time you look at your bass, you'll have a bad taste in your mouth that will turn you off from playing. I hope this thread gets you to rock HARDER! We don't want to see one of our Bass Bro's throw in the towel!
  8. Nicolay3535

    Nicolay3535 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2010
    South Florida
    I got my first bass in 1997 and was lucky enough to find a few friends in school that jammed on the drums and the guitar. The guitarist was far more advanced than i was was so i learned allot from him. Because I've always had a diverse taste of music as i started getting better i would play along to my favorite records, which helped me get better fast. I'm 14 years into bass playing now and i have decided to learn theory and sight reading from a co worker of mine who use to be a music professor. Granted his main instrument is classical guitar but his theory knowlage and sight reading skills are flawless on both treble and bass clef. He started teaching me the treble first, because as rhythm misicians we need to compliment the treble instruments so i though being able to see what their doing will allow me to do what i do better. My goal once i have learned all the theory and sight reading skills is to then get few lessons with a jazz instructor who primarily focuses on bass (my teacher is all classical so he pretty much stays inside the box, which builds great discipline so no complaints here). Well my point is, when you reach a stage a musician and you feel stuck, get an instructor and see if that can elevate you to where you need to be.
  9. GladToBeBack


    Mar 21, 2011

    you can make a career out of sucking only if you can sell enough merchandise to make up for it.
  10. Lammchop93

    Lammchop93 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    Books never helped me with anything. The single thing that improved my playing more than anyhting was "jamming" with friends, and eventually starting a band.

    I suggest you find some guys to play with and you'll see how fast you improve.
  11. MattyH


    Jul 20, 2010
    Long Island
    Great suggestion.
  12. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    The only times I didn't have fun when playing was in college as a music major. We each had to play for the student body and faculty together each semester. And for our grade on our instrument we had to play before a panel of professors. People would be going to the bathroom, throwing up, sitting with their heads in their hands, pacing back and forth...ugh, it was not fun. Too much pressure. Ya gotta lighten up and let the joy of playing engulf your spirit.

    I'm a terrible keyboard player, but I always still like to play whatever I can, and to be honest, when I get going and I'm feeling good I have actually talked to the Creator through my music. It doesn't matter if the music was "good" on a scale that anyone could define here, it was good for what was happening at the moment. The deepness of music like that is what makes me a musician. It's what creates that hunger that makes me want to stop whatever I'm doing and go play right then. No one can judge it or grade it. It's in the spirit. Find that, and you will never worry again if you are "good" or not.
  13. ddhm


    Mar 18, 2011
    Memphis Tn USA
    You could also check out the book "Zen Guitar". It's a most refreshing look at playing in general.

    The main things to keep in mind is that we all practice to improve. We write things that are above our playing ability, we are our worst critics and sometimes we have to shake things up to overcome the "hump". Perhaps it's time to venture into another genre? Try a new take on things? Play something you wouldn't normally play.

    I do think that finding an instructor is a good idea. You could try Skype lessons with someone that is not in your area as well.
  14. Don't get discouraged. I've been playing for 15 yrs, now and have been playing out on a weekly basis for the past 2 yrs. My playing has advanced more in the last 2 than in the first 12-13 yrs. Also, I got my 13 yr. old nephew playing bass about 2 1/2 yrs. ago and he can play circles around me already. :bawl:( i really wished i"d picked it up sooner):p Just remember to have FUN -Dann
  15. guroove


    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    My $.02: find a teacher, as others have said, or find someone to jam with. Better yet would be to find both. Don't give up to look for another instrument to learn, but picking up a guitar or piano (or some other keyboard instrument) would definitely help with understanding music, and would likely help your bass playing.

    To the OP, how old are you, and what exactly is it that you "stink" at?
  16. Vlad5

    Vlad5 Chronic Knob Twiddling Tone Chaser

    Feb 17, 2011
    New England
    Play with a guitarist and set up simple jams....

    I am wicked fast with my right hand, I've impressed players better than me... but I am borderline WORTHLESS with my left hand. I have the coordination, I just get mixed up with the patterns that create chords and I keep forget were notes are, so my groove suffers. So better players, even if they can't play as fast as me (who cares anyway?), impress me all to pieces with how accurate and articulate they are.

    I have found that since playing with a guitarist, my short term memory and left hand technique have improved tremendously. I find that I slow my right hand down, and match my attack with my fretting much better. And, by just grooving around (well, heavy metal style grooves :)...) I find my timing to be much better too.

    A teacher will help you stay focused and achieve goals, but remember you are practicing to play, so PLAY! And playing with another instrument will be key to your progression. I used to play classical guitar, and I find I am improving on bass much faster with another guitarist than I did alone on classical guitar with a good teacher.

    If you can do both though, so much the better!
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    i'm all for practicing, but sorry...tab is useless. it's like painting by numbers....yeah, you'll learn where to put your fingers, but you don't get any deeper understanding of music from it. and the only people who think they don't need a teacher are people who never had a teacher. i was self-taught for the first couple years and i did ok, but it was nothing like how much i improved once i got a teacher.

    you'll notice that steve vai took lessons and went to berklee. there you go.
  18. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    Steve and I went to Berklee together. Had breakfast many times together
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    exactly, mike! so even though he may have once said, "find the method that works for you," he took advantage of teachers every step of the way.
  20. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    if you can, find people to jam with. start a band if you can!

    friends, family, relatives, whatever. just play with people. you'll get better REAL fast, I promise.

    and don't be intimidated if the only person you know is a guitarist that's been kicking butt for 9 years or something. these are the BEST people to jam with (as long as they have relatively decent patience when you're trying to figure stuff out)

    you'll get good fast.
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