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Learning Issues

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by tandc, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. tandc


    Feb 10, 2014
    Hi all, I have some questions about learning the bass. Essentially, I'm looking to find the right method for me.

    I'm actually a decent drummer, I also compose music, knowing a few chords on the guitar and piano.but my real love is the bass. Jamerson, Palladino, Norman Watt-Roy, Bernard Edwards, these are my heroes. I've played bass in the past, but really only learned a song at a time. My issue is that I've never had any kind of fluidity on bass. Without counting up I can't tell you the name of any note I'm playing. I dont know any scales, and I can really only play the simplist riffs by ear. I want to learn. But, here's my issue. Where to start? Do I need to know by sight where every note is on my fretboard? Is initially knowing the notes really important? Ideally, I'd just like to listen to a song and just know by ear where the notes are on the fretboard, to play along. I'm not that bothered about knowing what those notes are.

    For instance., tonight I put on an old soul track, I found the root, made up a new bassline for it, and played along, but doing a roll, I came unstuck. My playing just comes to a sorry end. I'll play the wrong notes, or maybe the odd right one if lucky. My aim is to be able to play along, do a roll, and know where to go on the chord changes.

  2. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    first of all, i recommend a few lessons to get started. You don't want to develop a bad technique from the start - if you're doing anything wrong and let it settle in, it'll come back at you later and it'll be be way harder to correct it by then.

    You don't need to know the fretboard by heart from the beginning. You'll grow into this.
    Learning by doing, you know.
    And don't aim too high for starters. Listen to that song. Play along. Make up a new bassline and play that. Do simple fills, ones that won't get you out of the beat.
    Play it again. And again. And once more.
    Now try that roll again. worked better? see. . .
  3. kalanb


    Dec 17, 2012
    Scales and basic theory help because you'll learn the patterns that make up music. Harmonicly, a lot of soul and funk is pretty simple.
  4. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    IMO learning a song note for note is OK, but, not what I do. I follow the chords and play the notes of the active chord in my bass line. The songwriter places harmony chords in specific places in the song so the melody line and the chord line share like notes during the song. Its called harmonizing the melody. The songwriter decided what chord was needed at a specific place in the melody so the two lines harmonize. If we play the notes of that harmonizing chord -- wait for it -- we too will harmonize with the melody. Our job is to provide harmony and rhythm. Playing the notes of the active chord gets the harmony part. How we play those notes gets the rhythm part. Now we just need to call attention to the chord changes and do not step on the treble clef guys and gals' toes. Easy way to do that is make sure we play the root note of the active chord on beat number one.

    So all that is necessary to play accompaniment bass is to play the notes of the active chord. Easiest way to do that IMO is to know the chords that will be in the song and know when they become active with the melody. Lead sheet or fake chord sheet music make this a simple process.

    That little jewel will let you play zillions of songs. That is also why I do not worry about playing a song note for note. Sure there are some songs you will want to cover the bass line exactly as the original artist did, but, I have more fun playing my zillion songs -- pretty close.

    You do not have to know them all. Check out post # 2 on this string http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f147/hello-austin-texas-1051696/#post15478015 It is important you know the notes on the 3rd and 4th string as this will allow you to place your chord and scale pattern boxes.
    Good luck with that.

    Yep its those chord changes that are getting you in trouble. And here is where some sheet music comes into the picture. Yes it would be nice to let our ear guide us to the right notes - but, that takes the better part of a year to just get started doing that. Now days you can find lead sheet and fake chord sheet music everywhere. Yes, some will say you can not count on it being exact. It's someone's best efforts and gets me close, if I don't like what they have I'll change it. Another thing to take into account; Most bands pass out fake chord or lead sheet music for the songs that they will be playing. One of the first questions a band director that does this will ask you is; "Do you read and play from fake chord". If you can not, the interview is over. If you can the battle is half won.

    So after you get to know your bass. How to make noise, how to mute some of the noise, how to hold it, how to tune it, etc. Then start playing some songs to the chord progressions you've been able to find.

    I'd send you to Bass Guitar for Dummies, no pun intended, its a really good book for just starting out bassists.

    Have fun.
  5. tandc


    Feb 10, 2014
    Hi, thanks for all the comments. Guess I need to know where the notes are on the fretboard so will start with that.

    I see a couple of methods mentioned. 1) Do it one note at a time, finding that note all over the board until you are aware of it, then moving to the next note.


    2) Learning all the four notes on each fret at a time.

    Whats the opinion on these methods of note learning?

    (Should reiterate at this point that I'm a drummer, rythmically competent, and I certainly know how to hold, tune and finger a bass - despite what that last poster may think! )
  6. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Last poster was not trying to yank your chain, just trying to help.

    Satriani recommends the first method.

    I've not heard of anyone using the second.

    I memorized the E and A string up to the 12th fret so I would know where to place my major scale box pattern's root note. That pretty well took care of what I needed for fake chord. For standard notation you will need to know all the notes in the first 5 frets, aka first position. I still just rely on first position.
  7. Ralph Walker

    Ralph Walker

    Sep 27, 2013
    I can relate, 40yrs as working drummer, last four working on bass on band nights off, sometimes as bass intern with my guitar players on their duo jobs. Nothing like playing out to get you going. Started with only a couple of songs, then jumped into more and now most of the gig I'm up jamming, great fun. This has helped my vocal harmonies, and my drumming, as I now listen better, understand more and lock in better with bass player, giving him more room and sometimes more correct tempo for him to correctly fit his part in while lead guitar pushes excitedly forward.
    After years of humming bass lines while playing drums the rhythmic part comes easy but the right notes, that's a challenge. Try starting with C major scale. Play C on A string and continue through scale on that one string paying attention to interval between notes and saying each note as you play it. Also, starting on that same C note, learn major scale patterns in one position starting with pointer, middle or pinky fingers while saying the note name. This will start note name recognition on fret board plus the patterns can apply to any root note.
    Combined use of chord notes of a scale, pentatonic notes and the scale itself give you a lot to work with, not to mention modes of the major scale, their chord and pentatonic notes which get you into major, minor etc. type chord shapes.
    Pay attention to Scott Devine of Scottsbasslessons.com and Mark of TalkingBass.net Many great lessons and ways to break it all down from theses guys.
    For me progress was slow but steady and now, give me the key and once my ears pick it up and take over, I can often jump right into a song and now some actually sound good. It is a blast when a tune works and you are running around all kind of notes that work without seeming to have to think too much. Have Fun!