I want to be able to call myself a bassist - not a guitarist who has a bass. Help!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MackieBass, Jun 17, 2021.

  1. MackieBass


    Jun 3, 2021
    I recently bought myself a bass and am enjoying it beyond what I thought - to the point I want to really learn this amazing instrument. I've been playing guitar for 17 years now and studied jazz performance at university so I'm pretty well versed in things like theory, ear training and composition.

    Where I'd really like help is in the technical/practical side of the bass. I've made myself a bucket list to start off with and any pointers to things relating to this would be very much appreciated.

    3-finger technique
    I've been playing with a pick but I want to learn proper finger technique. Right now I can play groups of 3/4 with fingers on open notes crossing strings, but scales and licks is a no-no.

    Im not sure when I should be using different fingers or if I should just stay with 3-2-1 all the time as I would alternate picking on guitar.

    Slap/Rhythmic Technique
    Here I'm talking about basic slap/pop with left hand percussive noises and ghost notes etc
  2. Explore Talkingbass - Bass Lessons, Courses and Resources

    Go to the Free Lesson Map and you will find a plethora of lessons, all organized by topic, for just about anything you want to learn. This should get you started untill some others come along with some more advice . . .
  3. It's interesting that you want to learn three finger technique. Most bassists, when playing fingerstyle, use two (index and middle).
  4. And by the way, welcome to the low end!
    fleabitten likes this.
  5. MackieBass


    Jun 3, 2021
    I'm a huge metal player/fan. That's the main reason
  6. Happy Face

    Happy Face Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Portland, Maine
    The big difference is that when you play bass, you are part of the rhythm section. Many beginners, myself included, fail to understand that at first.
    LeeNunn, MonetBass, rafunk and 12 others like this.
  7. Ellery


    Mar 25, 2015
    3 finger technique is extremely useful, definitely worth spending some time on that!
  8. sedan_dad


    Feb 5, 2006
    Most important advice. You're playing DRUMS. You just do it on a bass.
    Bioflava, mb94952, jw23mind and 16 others like this.
  9. sxaxsx


    May 23, 2012
    Harrisburg PA
    I think when playing fingerstyle each finger can sound a bit different. So sometimes if you want a steady consistent sound you may just use one finger, but then other times if you want a more bouncy feel you might play with two, but then if you want a fast roll like lick you might use three fingers. Also if I am playing a root octave lick I will use two fingers to bounce back and fourth on the different strings. At least that is how I play. I choose which fingers and how many fingers to use based on the tone and dynamics I want and will go back and fourth between using one two or three fingers several times in the same song.
    jdh3000, bolophonic and Matthijs like this.
  10. Ductapeman

    Ductapeman Ringmaster and Resident Geriatric Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2016
    The West Pole
    I started life as a drummer, but I got better
    Don't get too bogged down on technique, find something that works and makes your ears happy. There really are no right or wrong ways to do it, though there are a couple of ways that work pretty well, and you will find over time what fits you best-- just play, play, play! Best advice I can think of is go find a copy of a movie called "Standing in the Shadow of Motown" and watch it through. Listen to how the bass and drums are basically parts of the same instrument, And remember, if the music don't make you dance, it won't make anybody else dance either--
  11. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    Just practice. Slow, with a metronome. The secret to speed and fluidity is to relax, which is hard when you're concentrating.
    Also nothing wrong with using a pick no matter what some people say.
    I started out on classical guitar and I still play bass with thumb and 3 fingers (never could get the hang of using the right hand pinky).

    mb94952 likes this.
  12. pluki7


    Feb 12, 2019
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    I can only say it took me years before I could comfortably play licks and scales using 3 fingers, so patience is a must.
  13. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    If you're practicing bass with the aim at becoming a better bass player, then you're a bassist.

    As for the rest, it seems you have the background to know what to do musically, so just continue practicing as you are - techniques for using the fingers on your plucking hand to play the bass. However, note that pick playing is also an acceptable way to play bass (it's a separate skill with a separate sound), especially in metal and similar genres.

    Note - if your aim is to focus on metal, then there's much less difference between what the guitar does and what the bass may be doing, so don't worry too much about being a "guitarist" in that sense. (Often, bass and guitar may play riffs in unison. Bass can also be busy and melodic in verious types of metal.) Other genres of music may have slightly different requirements (specifically in terms of rhythm, groove, and embellishment), but given your background you should have no problem.

    Best of luck.
    leadfingers likes this.
  14. I started out as a guitar player (I was 12 years old) and continued to be one until I was 17 and then our bass player quit the band. The other guitar player in the band was good , so I decided to become the bass player. I assumed (yes, THAT word) that being a decent guitarist would make me a decent bass player. I was wrong, as most of us already know, but although I could not identify the issue, it was not until I experienced a mescaline induced epiphany that I realized that I was missing the essence of bass playing. So I made some corrections.

    The band noticed immediately and asked me about my sudden change after the song we were playing was finished. The overall response I got was “what happened to you - suddenly you are playing like xxxxxx (a player we all knew and appreciated)”. It was bizarre.

    In the blink of an eye, I was transformed from a lousy bass player to a decent (if mediocre in the overall scheme of things) bass player.

    Sometimes the bell rings and we answer.
  15. HardNHeavy


    Apr 17, 2014
    listen to lots of Maiden, i use to think he used 3 fingers for the "galloping" technique but it was only 2. That tricked my ear into using 3 fingers ..Dunno if that's proper or not but it seems to work imo
  16. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    If your goal is to not sound like a guitar player playing bass, hate to break it to you: it has nothing, okay, very little to do with technique. You must stop thinking like a guitar player and think like a bassist, fulfilling the various jobs in a musical fabric that entails. Theory, groove, time, articulation, just to name a few.
  17. petch

    petch Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Medina, Ohio
    Be the bass.
    lermgalieu and BassAndCigars like this.
  18. edencab


    Aug 14, 2013
    Toronto, On
    what .....was ....the ...Epiphany !!!!!
    ACRock and mexicanyella like this.
  19. MJ_Sotti

    MJ_Sotti formerly "Mike in Chicago"

    Apr 3, 2011
    no comment
  20. Whale guy

    Whale guy

    Jul 12, 2018
    Learn the fretboard like the back of your hand, then buy a couple of cello or string bass etude books and sighted until the cows come home. That way, you will be able to play what your soul tells you, and you can steal some pretty cool bass lines that no one has ever heard before. Have fun, buy lots of equipment.
    bassb66 and TheReceder like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 27, 2021

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