I wanna start soloing / ad-libbing in jams...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Spikeh, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    And I really don't know where to start... I don't know my fretboard well enough to just go off on one. I can defo hold a groove, and can learn to play any song pretty quickly... and I have no problem with speed... I just don't know where to go / what to do?!

    I started playing a standard 12-bar blues riff a while ago, and everyone joined in... I got a few little fills in, but nothing fancy... what canI do to actually help myself get to this stage? I'm aware it doesn't come over night, but I'm most definitely willing to push the boat out and practice, practice practice. Exercises? A teacher? Theory?
  2. Skaboy21


    Dec 23, 2004
    W-R NJ
    u wanna start soloing? lol learn ur major and minor pentatonic scales, and all of the E string. with this information alone, you'll have enough in ur arsinal to make an adaquate solo. i mean, with more knowledge of theory and such u will be able to do more, but for now, that's how u want to go. and just remember, rythm. space ur notes to makea great rythm.

    jay :bassist:
  3. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Surely that's the same for most scales? Not just the pentatonic? I know a few scales, but I can't say they could help me in soloing?! Maybe I'm just missing something?
  4. well first of all, have you ever listened to a soloist? and i mean really listened? my advise would be to learn some solo's that you think sound good. then once you have really got them under your fingers, analyse what the soloist is doing. things like phrasing, and if they are playing melodically/harmonically.

    i'm not sure what music you listen to, but jazz is the pinnacle of improvisation. if you're really interested in soloing then i would say get a teacher, learn some theory, and start transcribing!

    all the best,

    ps. there's a very thorough book out there called "concepts for bass soloing" by chuck sher and mark johnson. i really recommend it. though, it is very much from a jazz perspective..
  5. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Generally I'm playing Hendrix, RATM, RHCP, Black Sabbath, Incubus, Wooten - anything really... I really wanna get into Jazz, and I love playing the blues riffs I know / make up.

    I experimented a little last night on my own and I think I might be able to give a little solo a go tonight at the jam, but I'll see won't I!

    I'm defo gonna get more Jazz music - you guys got any suggestions for some cool Jazz musicians? Is Marcus Miller a Jazz bloke? (Sorry for the ignorance!).
  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I'd agree with the idea of working on playing melodies. Look for books that have the vocal melody written out, pick some tunes that aren't too difficult and practise playing them until they sound like music rather than a random collection of notes.

  7. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    If you want to solo, learn the fingerboard. Trying to solo without knowing your fingerboard is like trying to have a conversation but only knowing a few words. Added bonus; when you know your fingerboard you start seeing how all the chords and scales work together. :)
  8. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    When I hear people say "learn the fingerboard", do you mean learn where all the notes are? Or become proficient at playing them?

    I've been playing from tab since I started - I can read music, but I've never applied it to the bass. I think I'm gonna get lessons... I need someone to point me in the right direction in real life.
  9. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Think of a key, a scale or a chord. Now put your hand at some point on the neck. How long does it take to find all the notes that work for your chosen context at that position? If the answer is 'not long at all' then you could reasonably say that you know your fingerboard; just being able to name the notes is not quite enough to make music (and, anyway, it's pretty easy because of the way patterns of notes repeat).

    Unless your bandmates are kind enough to all step back to supporting roles so you can solo over the top of them, your most likely starting point is adding some extra fills into your existing lines. Say you're playing a riff and the context is a bluesy song in G. Take your chosen variant of the blues scale (I normally use G Bb C Db D F G) and think about some points where you could alter the riff using some alternative note choices.

    Listen carefully to the result. Do you like it? If so, practise playing the riff and throwing in that variation until it falls naturally under your fingers. If not, experiment with adjusting the notes (perhaps even playing something that doesn't strictly fit your chosen context) and timing, until you hit something you like, and then practise it as above.

    Once you've got a few options, keep playing round the riff and throwing in your fills, again guided by what you hear. Before long, you'll have a range of suitable fills, which will seem to magically spring from your fingers just by thinking about starting one of them, and you'll probably find that creating new variations begins to happen much more easily. All you then need to do is to work on taste, learning when not to play something different!

  10. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    your ear

    seriously... all you ultimately need to be able to do is imagine what notes you want to play, and then accurately play them... the best way to do this is to sing along with scales, arpeggios and 'random noodling'... try and sing the pitch just before you play the note... if you get it wrong, sing the right pitch and go over it again

    practicing scales is important, not because it's important to be able to whizz up and down loads of scales, but because they ingrain in you all the different intervals and harmonic choices open to you

    you can already probably sing along in your head the kinds of phrases you'd like to be able to play in a bass solo... so it's really a case of developing the skills to be able to express that through your bass

    don't get bogged down in 'finger wiggling' for its own sake
  11. chimp


    Dec 4, 2004
    South Africa
    Its feeling, you've got to be able to feel what is happening. This comes from practising(knowing your instrument) and also from listening!!!! i usually do most of my soloing in a duo setup piano and upright and sometimes electric and because i can listen to what my pianist is doing and he can listen to me we can help each other and make sure we are right there with the other. If you don't know how to play melody then prehaps learn a couple of standards.
  12. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Yeah by learning the fingerboard learn where all the notes are and become proficient at playing them.

    Your ear will greatly help you once you know where all the notes are. The best part of soloing for me is when I can sit back, listen to the music that's under me and start improvising a melody. I can hear what I want to go for in my head but if I didn't know where the notes were on the fingerboard I'd be hunting and peckin to get them. I mean, with all due respect, your ear isn't the only thing you need. You have to connect what you hear to your hands and knowing where the notes are under your fingers makes it a lot easier to play what you hear.
  13. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    If you learn the modes you pretty much know the whole neck... just start wanking :bassist:
  14. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Scales to learn

    -Diatonic Major
    -Natural Minor

    The diminished, wholetone, and augmented scales have multiple key centers.
  15. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    And they don't have a whole lot of use in popular music.

    Major and minor pentatonic scales would be a lot more useful than diminished, wholetone and augmented, wouldn't you agree?
  16. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Don't feel you have to learn everything before you start experimenting and listening to the results!

  17. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    That's the key right there, I think. Use what you learn, right away, to make music.

    So, say you just got the C major in one position down pat. So start playing it in thirds up and down, make some patterns, play with rhythm, etc. See if you can get a program on the computer to make chord noises for you, and start playing around with a CM7 and see which notes sound good over that chord and which don't.
  18. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    Here is how I got started....

    I met a guy who hosted a jam. Acoustic guitar and player sorta fellow. He didn't play lead at all. Once he got to know me and how I played he would yell out bass solo(I Saw Her Standing There - Beatles) and I would go into it without warning before we decided what tunes we were going to do. Sure it isn't a hard tune to figure out a solo to, but the point is I was put on the spot to do it and it worked.

    I am not as chicken about that as I used to since I started playing with him at jams around the city.

    Hope this helps,
  19. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    My guitarist does that every now and again when we do a blues jam... but I just get flustered and don't even know where to start.

    You guys have given me some good advice - I'm gonna start memorising scales... the more I jam with people, the more I realise which key I'm playing in... I still have to count down the neck to a "B" or something, but I'm getting there... the more I do it, the better I'll get I reckon.

    Lessons are my next step - I just need to pull my finger out and actually spend some money on them!
  20. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Oh my god... this is utterly insane.

    I just sat down at my PC, with my jazz... and found the fretboard layout for Pentatonic Major scale (I'm gonna do one a night ;)) with all the notes on it...

    I've spent about 20 / 30 mins learning it... and the penny just dropped. I just made up about 20 basslines that I didn't previously know were possible! It's also just dropped that most of the songs I play are in that scale... then I realised that some of the songs use most of the notes... but they're played in dropped D... the notes that seem to be out of the scale, actually ARE in the scale, because they're moved down the fretboard by one tone.

    I know that's sooooo simple, but it just dropped... how mad is that? I've made LOADS of progress in 20 mins... just cos I eventually sat down and learnt a new scale!! Woo!