I'm turning into my worst nightmare bass player...:-( Sorry for the long story.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Fassa Albrecht, May 28, 2007.

  1. I really need some advice on this one.
    Basically I've been looking at myself as a bass player. I love my instrument dearly but it's my development as a bass player which worries me the most. I'm basically turning into my worst nightmare idea of a bass player. I play at a fairly standard level and enjoy what I do, but my major fear is that I am going to end up being one of these bass players who can play wonderfully, but can't read music or write a bassline at all. I fear being the bass player I dread being, a parrot who recites tunes and then walks off with no sense of music as a systen and a means of creativity.
    I also feel that I've come to the bass too late and that all the options open to me will stifle my development as a player.
    What advice can you guys offer me? I love my instrument and would hate to have to give up any hopes of performance or playing gigs simply because of this. :crying:
  2. Go buy a "music theory for dummies" book or something of the likes and read...learn.....read....learn some more......put to use....read...learn....ect..
  3. I must add as well, I don't want to just have to learn by rote from books. I've had enough of that anyway being at uni and it just won't have the same effect. Also, the question isn't just about bass theory, but about myself as a bass player and what I can do to make myself a better bassist psychologically.
  4. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Hmmm, psychologically? Well, travel the world, take martial arts, rock climb, listen to everything, while all the time mentally subdividing the beat.
  5. BenderR


    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    Bass can be a rut, or it can be an instrument that allows a lot of freedom, I think it's all in how you approach it. IMO, it's important to understand enough music theory to allow you to analyze and understand what is going on in a bass line but that will not in itself guaranty creativity.

    As far as creativity is concerned I can only suggest that you listen to as many types of music as you possibly can. Think of it like this, if you'd spent your entire life on a desert island with a nice bass but no exposure to music, radios etc you would have a pretty lopsided view of how to play a bass because you would have only your imagination to guide you. OTOH, if you grew up in a home filled with a wide variety of music (something I was fortunate to experience myself) you would have a much broader concept of what a bass can do.

    Try listening to some classical music and see what the bass part does in a tightly orchestrated situation. When I was growing up my father had an album of Leroy Anderson (light classical) compositions played by the Boston Pops. The bass parts are fascinating. I recently revisited another piece of music from when I was a kid, the sound track to "The Music Man" a broadway musical that was made into a movie. Just for kicks I bought the soundtrack a while back and found myself listening to some very inventive bass parts.

    Lee Sklar played bass for James Taylor in the '70s and '80s. He's a very well educated musician that went from classical piano to playing both electric bass and double bass. Some of his work on James Taylor's early albums is amazing. His bass parts are full of soul and hold it together, yet they are extremely inventive and move as freely as any bass part I've ever heard. I'd recommand "Mud Slide Slim" as a starting point for listening to Sklar.

    Want more? Listen to Ron Carter playing jazz on a DB, he's an absolute master. Red Mitchell is another DB player worth listening to and is all the more interesting when you consider that he tuned his bass in 5ths.

    Where that's concerned to listening to other bass clef instruments. Tubas, bassoons and bass clarinets all hold down the bottom end, but they all do it differently. Bonnie Raitt's bassist plays tuba from time to time; it makes for a completely different feel.

    Only one other thought comes to mind, try to think in terms of counter-melodies and not just thumping out the changes on a bass.
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You're killing me here.
  7. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Inactive

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Canning the re-writes of Freewill and Lessons in Love would be a good place to start. That, and relaxing and just making music would help.
  8. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Sounds to me like you're in a good place--You know what you need to work on. Alot of people have no idea where their major weaknesses are, and as such, don't improve in those areas. Now, go out and get some books to sight read through.
  9. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Jan 19, 2007
    I would try to find a good bass teacher in your area and take a few lessons. He can help you work through your issues.
  10. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    +1 on lessons.

    I just wonder how passionate you are about music. Could you live without it? Are you "feeling" the music in the sense of groove and flow? Do you know when the music grooves and when it don't? How well developed is your ear - can you play most things by ear, or do you need chords or so to know what to play? How much do you listen to music, go to concerts etc to get new inspirations?

    I go around with a grooving song, bassline or drum pattern in my head all the time, often drumming at my desk at the same time and thus irritating my workmates... :D

    I don't know how important it is to be able to read music, depends on your goals I think. (You can talk without being able to read, but you better not become a teacher...) I guess a professional bassist wouldn't survive long without being able to read music. I'm terrible at reading, and I wish I wasn't. However, I think I manage rather well without those skills as a fairly good amateur...

    This was just some thoughts on this subject. Hope you find something in it that helps you out.
  11. TimK


    May 27, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland
    Expand! Listen, learn and play music that you never thought you would. Learn country, latin (this is a broad term since there several sub genres of Latin music), classical (learn classical on upright and electric) etc... But most importantly get a private teacher/mentor, someone who can help expand your musical knowledge and vocabulary. Learning new music and styles can completly change your approch to the instrument. And by all means, DON'T QUIT!! There are far too few of us out there!! Music is too great a gift to throw away, not matter what you level you are at.
    Good Luck!
  12. Yngwie 4String

    Yngwie 4String Inactive

    May 3, 2007
    Auburn Nebraska
    Take a music theory course, and watch Victor Wooten and Jaco Pastorius.
  13. dave_p


    Dec 20, 2005
    the first thing you need to do is stop analyzing it. stop thinking.
  14. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    This thread makes me think im gonna have like a fight club type thing for bass players. Ill put you all up in bunk beds, and well get a house, and train 24/7. Nevermind this already sounds like too much work. Music is meant to be fun, if your not having fun take a break. I do this sometimes if im in a rut and it works really well. Im talking maybe a month at most, not like a 6 month break. I play guitar also so ill just play guitar exclusively for a few monthes, then my bass playing is alot better later when i pick it back up.
  15. Pete C

    Pete C

    Feb 23, 2007
    New York
    Squire did it, why not you? Only without the bad LSD trip and all that.

    I suggest looking over the whole theory thing as soon as possible. It will help you a huge amount.
  16. Awwww do I have to? Don't worry, I have canned them.
  17. Hi, Fassa Albrecht

    FWIW, I'd join/form a band, another person(s) are a great source of inspiration, and a set goal (like a gig), is a great motivator to try to improve Your abilities. Just playing by yourself seems to be a source of all kinds of questions ;)

    As for starting out bass too late, hard to say, depends obviously of Your age, determination, previous instruments etc.etc. IMHO it's never tool late to start something one sets her/his mind into, it's just harder with less time available.

    I personally think that people in general tend to take music far too seriously, mainly because the current hype around the music industry. The "15 minutes of fame" is taken as a guarantee for success, not as a goal. IMHO playing music is first supposed to please yourself, secondly to please others. And by pleasing others one draws strenght to keep on improving.

    Just my 0.02€
  18. Seattle_BassMan


    Mar 22, 2006
    dude....don't think about it so much. Just play ....and groove....and enjoy the music. It doesn't have to be so intellectual. Just enjoy the moment while you're playing. And if you don't enjoy it....then it's time to stop. If you enjoy it, then everything else will follow.
  19. If you're looking for some inspiration and ideas on how to make bass more important in all aspects (especially spiritually) then check out Victor Wooten's Biography. I guarantee you'll read at least one part that hits home, teaches you something, and/or helps you out.

    Also, if your playing gets stagnant, then expand! Putting yourself in a constant state of experimentation always results in new experiences. The main thing is to not get too comfortable, because that is the opposite of growth.
  20. I've lately been noodling around on a fretless, & things are starting to happen. I'm being forced to explore new sounds & shapes by the instrument itself & this will come to have an effect on my fretted playing.

    Another thing I've found is not to conciously mimic other players. Sort the basic changes of any given song, then join them up your way - to begin with it may sound derivative, but every once in a while you'll hit gold.

    You're not going to be James Jamerson, Jack Bruce or Jaco, & neither am I - those vacancies have been filled - but it sounds like there could be a vacancy for the post of you.



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