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Just count the frets.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by xxfaux_punkxx, Oct 31, 2010.


  1. xxfaux_punkxx

    xxfaux_punkxx

    Mar 18, 2010
    Indiana
    In my band I pretty much mimic my guitarist notes with some changes where I feel it's needed. The only way to do this since he never writes anything down is to watch his hands as he plays and count the frets (he has flamed inlays on his guitar)

    This becomes a major pain mainly because he plays 16th notes and has the ability to crunch a 7min song into a min1/2.

    Although I've gotten so good at this that It's quickly became one of my main ways to learn songs.


    ANYWAY .... I was just curious if this works for everyone or if it's just me.
     
  2. coffin blurt

    coffin blurt

    Feb 6, 2010
    Watching never really helped me with that. My previous gui**** has fat fingers :D Thus i had to listen.
     
  3. xxfaux_punkxx

    xxfaux_punkxx

    Mar 18, 2010
    Indiana
    I listen to obviously but I still haven't developed my ear well enough to tell the difference between a G and A, b or #, etc.
     
  4. taphappy

    taphappy doot de doo

    Sep 28, 2007
    Tempe, Arizona
    Yeah, unfortunately I got too good at this for a while. Most of the time, it was from plugging holes for a band's CD, or temporarily sitting in for a couple shows (where 2 turns into 3 turns into "the conversation"). Got old pretty quick when it's mid-scooped metal guitarists who send over mp3s, using god knows what to record rehearsals that sound like zzhzwhapwhapzhwhap, play lots of fast chromatics, and refuse to even jot down tab. So I had to hit their rehearsals to learn the songs.

    Last few guys like this, I invited them over, opened a six pack, and ran 'em through the tunes. Did the jotting myself. Goes quick. Then made sure they had the tab for the new guy. Might be an idea.

    Regardless, if you tab, it'd be good to keep some wide-spaced staff paper in the gig bag for those tricky days. Look for the kiddie paper. I was using "Mel Bay's Manuscript Pad For Children" :)
     
  5. Ive had to do that several times but dont prefer it. Except last week I attended our drummers birthday party along with members from his previous band. They played thier old set list of which I only knew 2 songs, and faked the rest by watching the lead gui****s hands, really pulled it off and had an absolute blast by the way. It was very informal so there was no pressure,we were just jamming, I was good and drunk and folks at the party were none the wiser! Sooo, if you have to, you have to.
     
  6. faux punk, you know a lot of times the bassists are the best musician in the band. this sounds arrogant, but it is true. i have been in bands where i was literally the only one who could read music and write lead sheets, etc. it made me a much stronger player and very valuable contributor to the band.

    so my advice is learn what the 12 keys are and how to recognize them (if you play rock, blues, metal, punk you really only need a few keys: E, A, D, G, C, etc). then you will know if you are playing in the key of E what the root, 3, 5, 7 notes are, etc. for the chords in every song you play. unless your songs are all homegrown, there will be surely be some tabs or chords out there for you to learn from.

    as a good bassist, you always need to know where the root notes are of any given chord anyway, because most often that is the note you will play on the first beat of any measure. even if your guitarist cant read music it doesnt mean you should follow in his footsteps. so study a bit of music theory. as boring as it sounds, it will make you a much stronger player.

    p.s. i found this book to be very good when i was starting out: http://www.bassbooks.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=418
     
  7. treekiller

    treekiller

    Mar 4, 2010
    Iowa
    Then by all means work on ear training!!!

    IMHO, it's the only way you are going to be able to play and improv on the spot & it's something I'm still working on myself. Also, it is valuable to have a good working knowlege of chord structure & theory. I'm working on this too, because it makes life a helluva lot easier!!!:hyper:
     


  8. I play bass with a rhythm guitarist that is singing and accompany his vocals. It's just the two of us. Only problem he plays from sheet music with just the lyrics, i.e. he is winging his chord progression - as it's country it's not rocket science, but he is playing what he feels not necessarily what would have been written so.....

    I started watching his hands and moving with him. That meant I was always behind the chord change. I've stopped relying on watching him and have started listening to what is happening and laying down the bass line the song is leading me to. Seems to work better.
     
  9. JohnMCA72

    JohnMCA72

    Feb 4, 2009
    If you're trying to follow, you're always going to be at least a hair behind. You need to anticipate, not follow. I hope at least the chord progressions are consistent, from one instance to the next! If even they don't know for sure what's coming next, it's hard to expect you to!
     
  10. xxfaux_punkxx

    xxfaux_punkxx

    Mar 18, 2010
    Indiana
    all very true about knowing chord progression. It's something that I have been trying to work on. I say trying because it is a VERY boring thing to learn but the benifits are worth it. As far as following it's only for the first few measures (he's a rythm guitarist) so once I see what he's doing for I'm able to keep up without watching him.


    As far as ear training goes, I've been learning the tabs and finger movements of songs as well as listening to them so that I can hear exactly what's what. I'm Getting better. I'm able to pin point the bass riffs from a song much easier as well as the number of times each note is strung in sequence. (For instance I can tell if its a string of 8ths or if it's more like 1-2---123---1-2---123) It's all a matter of practice practice practice.
     
  11. puddin tame

    puddin tame

    Aug 14, 2010
    You want to use your ears, not your eyes
     
  12. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    Germany
    well, musically "counting the frets" is a dead end street in my opinion.

    ear training is as simple as it is hard, just do it every day - learn something by listening to it and reproducing it on your instrument.

    maybe check out gary willis' book ultimate eartraining. your description of the way you do eartraining doesn't resemble eair training to me at all.
     
  13. taphappy

    taphappy doot de doo

    Sep 28, 2007
    Tempe, Arizona
    Ultimately, yes. But if a guitarist is ripping patterns with chromatics that are changing all over the place, the option isn't available without stopping them in their tracks to slowly go over it. Theory doesn't help, ears don't help. In a pinch, in the extreme situations, it works. Relying on it for anything less than that? Baaaad.

    For the rest of it, some theory, some ear, and consider notation - nothing better for sorting out rhythms :)
     
  14. recreate.me

    recreate.me

    Apr 2, 2010
    Ontario
    I used to have to do this with my guitarist, but when they start muting strings with the fretting hand it gets tricky to tell what chord hes playing by looking. Since then i have started learning proper music theory, and its made our songs so much fuller and more complex then when i was just 'counting the frets'.

    Learn more, and you will be happier. Thats all there is to it on bass.
     
  15. taphappy

    taphappy doot de doo

    Sep 28, 2007
    Tempe, Arizona
    Yeah, that's the other trick. Stop following, and drag the drummer with you :)

    Go, "Hey, dude if we do this poly underneath that..."

    They love the word "poly".
     
  16. recreate.me

    recreate.me

    Apr 2, 2010
    Ontario
    Its true, my old drummer loved that stuff. It does sound pretty cool too
     
  17. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    Germany
    Well, that depends on "how big your ears are". Also, we are talking about jamming/rehearsal here, ie learning songs.
    So asking him to slow it down until you can use your ears is still an option. Anything else will just make you more and more dependent on the "counting-frets"-crutch.
     
  18. wemmick

    wemmick

    May 23, 2010
    Washington, DC
    I've never played guitar, so help me out a bit here. I know that the four lowest strings of a guitar are tuned the same as the four strings of my bass (in standard tuning for each).

    Is the root of the chord usually (always?) played on the guitar's low E string?

    Is there some other visual cue to take from the guitar's fret positions?
     
  19. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    Germany
    No.
     
  20. taphappy

    taphappy doot de doo

    Sep 28, 2007
    Tempe, Arizona
    Which wholly depends on the fidelity of the information passing to your ears through the speakers.

    The OP was asking if the technique worked for anyone else. Which it has, for me, in extreme situations. And I don't use the word "extreme" like they do on energy bars, TV shows, and caffeine drinks.

    In order of beneficial relevance - theory, then ear training, with visual down in the low ranks. It can help in non-conventional situations - recognizing chord shapes and positions. Both guitar and keys if you improv/jam a lot.

    Counting frets is only an emergency chute. As I said before, baaad.

    Having at least basic theory and decently tuned ears are fantastically important to being a bassist. Given the frequencies we deal with are only 2Hz apart in the low registers, and the size of the waveform when we're standing next to our amps, it is very, very easy to be off by a half step. Very, very easy for someone 50 feet away to hear it with booming crystal clarity and go, "That dude...sucks."

    One of my roommates hasn't practiced bass for a couple months, no theory, and was sitting two feet in front of his 4x10 with the bass knob at 3 o'clock, practicing a lick for a gig in A Major, but shifting to A# Major halfway through. Regardless of his ear being out of tune, and where he was in relation to his amp, the most basic theory would've kept his fingers in the happy spots, avoiding the ear problem altogether.

    Now he's learning songs with headphones and his iPhone plugged into a Boss pedal so he can hear everything. er. I better go check on his progress before he puts 500w behind it. heh.
     

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