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In regards to lessons and electric vs upright.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Buffalo ill, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. Buffalo ill

    Buffalo ill

    Jan 2, 2014
    I currently play electric bass and have decided to look for lessons. The problem is I live in a relatively small town and there doesn't seem to be an abundance of bass instructors. It wouldn't take much effort to find a guitar instructor, and I'm sure a good one could teach me some useful stuff. With that said, I'd like to find someone who could help with bass technique.

    I recently contacted my old instructor from my very brief attempt at college. About 14 years have passed since I was a student of his.

    In that time I eventually sold my gear to pay bills, and went about a decade without playing. In the last year or so I purchased a bass guitar and have started playing again. My plan is to buy a decent head/cab in the very near future as I currently use a headphone amp. More on this in a moment.

    Back to the former teacher, this guy is a really cool cat. He did offer to give lessons and would be a great wealth of knowledge. I could actually learn much about music theory. My big self critique has been my failing in this area. I have always been a "play by ear" kind of guy.

    The "problem" if you consider it to be one, is he is an upright bass/cello instructor. I already knew this from being in his class, but I guess I assumed he also taught BG. I mentioned to him I do not own an upright. He offered to help me find something used if I let him know my budget.

    The upright bass is interesting to me, but isn't my priority. I think learning to play one well would be fantastic. However, I sort of feel like its more of a "one day down the road" kind of thing. I've been looking forward to buying a decent rig for my electric bass. The purchase of an upright would pretty much negate my budget for an amp/head.

    So on one hand I'm very close to pulling the trigger on some electric bass gear I've been gassing for the last 6 months, and on the other considering using all that money on an upright. Upright isn't really what I am looking for now. Buying one would probably push back the purchase date for my rig another year. There are other things the wife wants me to spend money on, lol.

    Being that I looked up my old teacher, I'd hate to look like a flake by basically saying "nevermind". The guy is actually getting up there in years (was probably well past retirement age 14 years ago) and won't be around forever. Beyond that, my semester with him was the highlight of my brief college career. He is a genuinely good person. Even if I didn't take lessons from him, I like to at least be a friend.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    One thing is unclear to me after reading your post. Is the teacher willing or unwilling to give you lessons where you play bass guitar and he plays upright?

    The role of the bass in music is the same, so I don't see any reason not to study bass guitar with the upright teacher (unless he refuses to do this). Especially since your primary goal is to learn more theory; not to perpetuate any stereotypes, but I find that double bass pro's often have more formal musical education than bass guitarists.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  3. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Electric and upright play like very different animals. You would be further ahead by watching YouTube electric bass tutorials on how to physically play, fret, etc.

    As far as music theory goes, those guys probably don't get into the e minor pentatonic scale or power chords, which are very important for rock, but upright players are masters of walking bass lines.

    What the heck, give it a shot!
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
    Remyd likes this.
  4. Yep.

    While I can totally relate to the challenge of finding a good bass teacher in the sticks, I think you need to keep looking. Your friend sounds awesome, but if your instrument is bass guitar and you're lukewarm (at best) about upright, then you're throwing away time and money (and decent uprights don't come cheap). A costly detour, in other words.

    As far as looking like a flake, please put that thought out of your mind. If he is a "genuinely good person," he will appreciate your honesty. Perhaps by rekindling your friendship, you'll gain some of the musical knowledge you're after just in conversation.
  5. Buffalo ill

    Buffalo ill

    Jan 2, 2014
    A simple question I didn't think to ask. I could look at it more or less as bass themed music theory lessons.
  6. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Those really ought to be covered in whatever theory class. The most common strategy in MT is just to reduce everything to scale tones and move them around wherever. Mostly you memorize what "pentatonic" and "blues" and "Minor7b9" mean and then translate scale tones ad-hoc to get to your notes. Sounds quite a bit harder than it is.

    E minor pentatonic means i-iiib-iv-v-vii to theory people or E-G-A-B-D in this case. Power chord of that is i-v or E-B. Put them on your fretboard somewhere and you're good to go.

    PS: I sometimes cheat and use memorized "boxes" (fingering patterns) that disappoint Ed Freidland (who is/was my hero until he made me cry :roflmao:)

    Edit: Whoops, thanks for the correction Mushroo.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Don't get into double bass unless that is what you want. Different scale = different fingerings, etc. Maybe he can help you with some things, but sit down and talk with him and see if he can teach what you want to learn.
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    A good teacher will give you the tools you can use to build your own musical vocabulary. Then it is just a matter of putting in the hours learning songs by ear until you have assimilated the language. (A teacher who doesn't explain how concepts can be applied to unfamiliar material is not a good teacher.)

    If you spend your time listening to and transcribing songs that use power chords and/or the E Minor Pentatonic scale (which is E-G-A-B-D by the way) then you will become an expert in those musical concepts. Or if you spend your practice time on jazz songs with lots of ii-V-I's, then that becomes part of your literacy as well. (Why not study both? :))

    The important thing to realize is that you can (and should) learn things your teacher hasn't explicitly taught you! Lessons are just the starting point.

    ps Double-bass fingerings work fabulously on bass guitar, and I've noticed a lot of pro's use this method; I wish I had learned this 20 years ago!
  9. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    I would avoid Double Bass unless that is really the sound in your head that you want to hear and play. I have one and I go through phases where I play it (mediocre at best) but it really is a different instrument than bass guitar. The notes are the same and the role of the instrument is pretty similar, but the execution is very different. And as you noted, a decent upright is a substantial cash layout. I would check out Scott's Bass Lessons and studybass.com. And keep looking for a teacher.
  10. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    There are great teachers on the net. If there are any good local bands, get to know their bass players. They'll usually point you to someone who's good.
  11. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Truth, although my "pro" status is questionable at best. I always have to say stuff like "I'm a 1-2-4 fingering guy that stays in nut position if it's at all possible" rather than "I play the 'right' way (that about 500 years of DB and Bass Viol players perfected.)"

    One of these days, I'm winning the lottery, then... BAM! Double-bass extravaganza!
  12. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    True that!

    I see way too many beginner bass guitarists who think "key of C" is exactly synonymous with "2-4, 1-2-4, 1-3-4 at the 8th fret." :(

    One instructional book/CD that really helped me break out of the rut of positional scale-box playing was "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" (about James Jamerson of Motown fame). Highly recommended! :)
  13. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    They are different, but I would expect that a DB teacher will give you plenty to work on. I'm self taught on both and would probably be far better off with lessons at some point, but that's neither here nor there. Many of the same ideas work back and forth, and if you can finger a DB, then you can adapt to an electric more easily than the other way.
    Remyd likes this.

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