I stink at bass

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

  1. Duce-hands


    Nov 4, 2010
    To answer your question, I'm 32 years old and I suck at grooving, and doing anything beyond the playing the triad and inversions. I pretty good at scales and their 5 position but grooving and theory I am terrible. I am truly floored by the response by the board. I signed up for lesson at the local university and I very excited by the possibilities.
  2. Duce-hands


    Nov 4, 2010
    Sorry that I haven't been as available as the response but I work 12 hour days, and with a family I get to practice about 1/2 hour to an hour every other night. And to answer another question that was asked, perfection to me is not only playing the notes but understanding why that note was chosen and all the alternatives to that one note and every note in the measure, groove, rift song or progression. Moving freely long the neck of the bass note for visual effect but for practical application. Additionally my ear sucks. Outside of E A D G, it takes me a really long time to hear and reproduce the note if I'm trying to figure out a bassline.
  3. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Learning theory will help you. You don't have to know it all, just get intervals down, and chord structure. Then, you'll understand how music works. But, it's just some knowledge, like how to put strings on your bass. For the REAL knowledge, you don't have to know a thing. Playing music is a feeling. And that's why I play. I never run through scales. My practice is all about just playing, making up a groove and digging it for a long time, adding something to it as I go, wondering if it could become a song as I feel the energy and interact with it. It's like the music is an animal that I can pet, wrestle with, or even talk to.

    Stop thinking good or bad and get to know the Feeling. As for ear training, just keep listening and trying. Again, don't worry about it being good or bad. Just enjoy whatever it is.
  4. As with everything you're trying to be good at, you'll have good weeks and bad weeks. I just had a bad week, after a gig where I played sub par, but that stuff passes. Had band rehearsel yesterday and we rocked, now all is well again.

    Do you ever play with other people? 'Cause that's where the magic happens, in my experience. And 'not good enough to play with others' is simply never true, it's where you can learn the most. Locking in with a drummer, just pumping 8th notes, is a great feeling.
  5. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    I've been playing for almost 30 years now and still am not where I want to be. Perfection can never be obtained. Improvement is reached slowly and gradually in little steps. It's the lessons learned along the way that are where improvement is obtained.
    If you love doing something then spending a hundred years doing it will be worth while.

    When I first started, I had no rhythm, no sense of tone, poor timing and couldn't even string my instrument etc... .

    Along the way though I've improved. Sometimes in significant and quick amounts of time and sometimes in very long and slow ones.

    Peaks and valleys.... right? If you look at what you accomplished since you've started you have to admit that you have gained experience and are better than day one, thirty one and four hundred and one right? This is the learning experience that you go through for everything. Remember you only compete with yourself. Take your time learn from your mistakes and keep on going. This is the only way to overcome obstacles and work through challenges. There's an old martial arts saying "A Black Belt is a White Belt That Never Quits". There is a lot of truth in that!

    Even after 30 years I still go through this process. Two weeks ago I was on top of the world as a bass player and once again I'm on the bottom because I'm pursuing new challenges. Don't get frustrated... get busy and overcome your challenges. By now you should have a pretty good method on how to achieve your goals. Take a deep breath and relax. It's all good!

    We all go through this with the challenges that we encounter in life. Practice smart and reflect on what you are doing.

    Here's something to think about: Many years ago I met Victor Bailey and he was setting up for a gig that night. I was talking to him before the show and commenting on just how amazing his playing and composition was on his latest album (Low Blow). His reply was "Well thanks, I'm getting there but I'm still learning and still have a long way to go". Now here is a guy that replaced the bass chair that was held by Jaco in Weather Report when he was just a kid. Went on to play with many great musicians around the world and still felt that he was just adequate and was humble about his current state and past accomplishments. I walked away from that conversation having learned a great lesson on many levels but on top of no matter what you do be humble I learned that no matter what you have accomplished you still will not have achieved your ultimate goals or perfection. It's all good!

    Remember it's the journey that is important not the destination.

    Hope this helps/inspire you? As well, find a good teacher (Anthony Wellington comes to mind) and they will help you with your goals. Also, get out there and start playing with people! You will learn tons and make tremendous strides by doing so!

    All the best!
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Perfection is a myth. Music is a process. Enjoy the journey rather that beating yourself up verbally.

    Learn some songs, get in a band if you can or just jam with some guys. Hey, it's Rock and Roll. Don't worry about it if you make a mistake.

    How long did it take for you to be able to read and write English? To sign your name? Quite a few years IIRC (for all of us). And why aren't you a perfectionist about that? Most people don't worry about having a perfect signature. Everyone has their own style that comes from years of experience. My signature changed when I was in my twenties.

    In the last two years, how many hours have you practiced per week? In total.

    IME, by practicing every day and putting in several hundred to several thousand hourswill get you a lot farther than worrying about being "perfect". If you're trying to get everything perfect, you'll keep repeating everything and not move on. Things you don't get exactly the way you think they should be will come to you later as you improve your playing.

    I've seen it before. A friend of mine took Algebra several times in college because he always missed a few problems. Never did move on in math.
  7. +1 stumbo -If you're trying to get everything perfect, you'll keep repeating everything and not move on
  8. Duce-hands


    Nov 4, 2010
    In the last two years, how many hours have you practiced per week? In total.

    I had say approx 10 hours per week consistently for the last year and a half. Spent tonight taking advantage of the advice and enjoying the process of playing music I dig. I'm resolute in getting past my current state.
  9. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    you really need a good instructor. Learning is a process that involves periods of growth and periods of plateau. During the latter it is often the case that we need the help of someone who can guide us to the next level
  10. I'd say "a reliance on tab is actually detrimental to your development"

    No, it only PRESENTS a single interpretation of a way to play a given piece.

    ...and that certainly isn't completely singular to tabulature. I've played classical pieces, written in standard notation - with every single fingering and bow stroke notated for every note.

    Tab, like standard notation is just a tool. It's a significantly less useful tool than standard notation, but it isn't useless.

    Neither, by itself, is teaching you theory.
  11. As someone who has been reading standard notation since I was 8 years old (just a touch under 30 years now)... I don't really agree.

    Once I learned the theory, patterns in standard notation became clearer... but without the theory, the notation by itself taught me no more than how to read notation.

    You can decide where to put your fingers when using tab also... I mean - it's notation, not a guy with a gun at your head.

    Is standard notation more useful than tab? Absolutely. Is tab USELESS. No.
  12. Here is where tabs are worthwhile.

    You need to learn some cover songs you've never played before for a sub gig.

    You've got a grand total of 10-15 minutes time to completely work up each song.

    Standard notation is either:
    1) Unavailable
    2) Way too expensive ($5-$10 per song when doing a $100 one off gig?)
  13. BassAsAHobby


    Mar 18, 2011
    Chicago, IL (NW BURBS)
    Hey...first off,don't give up. When I first started...I sucked. But as time went on and the more I played...I still sucked. Kidding aside, you have to keep up on it. Use your ears more than these "method books". I spent more time and money on these books in my life. Gotta keep going. And another thing...don't expect to play like Wooten, or Jaco, or any other super players. You could get there...just have to practice like a maniac.
  14. BassAsAHobby


    Mar 18, 2011
    Chicago, IL (NW BURBS)

    I play all the time. Sometimes I learn a Bach tune (very useful in development). Sometimes I just play whatever comes to mind. Bottom line...jusy play. I will spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours or more a day playing, time and circumstances permitting.

    I went through a period where I did not play for about 2 or 3 where I did not play..and when I picked it backed up, seemed I was better than before.
  15. queevil


    Aug 6, 2009
    Many of the suggestions are great. However, I think you need to quit telling yourself that you suck. Instead of saying, "I suck", say, "I'm not as good as I want to be but I know I'm capable of becoming better". Isn't that the truth about any true musician, that there's always room for growth and improvement? IMHO the best musicians are the ones who have a true sense of humility even when their ability is out of this world. If you go around with the attitude that you suck then you've defeated yourself. You don't suck. You are capable of becoming better and growing.

    I hope you don't think I'm being an ass. I mean this with all sincerity. There have been a lot of awesome suggestions but none of them are of any worth to you with the "I suck" attitude.

    I somehow get the feeling that part of why you think you suck is not your lack of ability but that you're in somewhat of a creative rut as if you have writer's block. If this is true then I suggest you put down the bass for a week or so and listen to music that you normally wouldn't listen to. It's helped me to approach the instrument in a different way when I've been stuck creatively in the past.

    I doubt you're a horrible musician. I'm sure you're capable of improving. The right attitude is paramount to all other things.
  16. Duce-hands


    Nov 4, 2010

    Thanks for the suggestion, and I agree with you, when I wrote the op I was complete frustrated at my playing and I'm not as good as I would like to be. I read all post and making necessary adjustments to my approach to playing. Thanks
  17. afinalfantasy

    afinalfantasy Inactive

    Jan 11, 2006
    I'm terrible too, don't feel bad. Been playing for 5 years and haven't improved much. Just be comfortable with the level you are playing at, ignore the critics.
  18. Dungmaggot


    Mar 20, 2011
    True words. I've never been a fan of funk...ever. But once I picked up the bass I know now appreciate it for what it is and by listening to it and trying to play some of it my technique has improved somewhat. Do I love funk now? No, but you gotta admit there's some skills to be gained by playing it.

    As far as perfection goes, I recently attended a Gin Blossoms concert and was excited to get to watch Bill Leen, their bassist, perform. It was going to be my first opportunity since learning to play to actually watch a "pro". Know what I saw? Missed notes, dropped beats, and mistakes. And this was on songs that he's been playing for twenty years! So what did Bill do when he made a mistake? Nothing, he kept playing. He picked right back up at the next note and kept going. It's easy to hear every mistake you make when its just you practicing but when you're playing with a group and you hit D instead of D# no one notices unless you stop. Keep at it dude, don't ever give up!!!!
  19. Robby Hoinsky

    Robby Hoinsky

    Dec 28, 2010
    New Haven, CT
    Art of Noise Audio, fEARful™ builder
    And you know what, out of everyone there you and him were probably the only two who even noticed.

    Most people aren't musicians and even less are bass players and even less are listening to the bass when at a concert.

    To the OP, just based on your practice time and the knowledge that you've demonstrated in your post, you are a fine player.

    Instead of saying 'I suck' to yourself (or us :D) be much more specific. You can't treat a problem until you identify it.

    Also, don't be afraid to fail, just keep pushing yourself. Fail better.

    One other tip to the perfectionist - don't be. It takes 6 months of dedicated study to learn a language well enough to handle
    95% of conversations and 30 years to handle 98% of conversations. Be content with good enough or even great and see that perfect is truly unattainable.

  20. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    put the books down for awhile and learn some straight forward tunes in the styles you like ....you'll gain confidence and have more fun...
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